Document and Records Management site column behavior in SharePoint 2010

Last week I was diving deep into the SharePoint document and records management  features of SharePoint 2010 with a colleague (@MikeFortgens). While we were working on setting up sample sites and libraries we ran into some unexpected behavior with regards to site columns.

The first thing that we found out that if we added columns from the “Document and Record Management Columns” category to a library we were unable to remove them from that library.
I looked into the columns a bit further and noticed two things:

  • Most of the columns are of the type single line of text, which doesn’t necessarily makes sense for all columns. For instance the priority field is a single line of text, but there is also a priority field in the “Core Task and Issue Columns” that is of the choice type.
  • Checking out the names of the columns more closely it became clear that they are remarkably the similar to the options that are available in the content organizer rules. 

Screenshot of Document and Records Management Site Columns


All this leads me to believe that the site columns in this category are all site columns that make up the content organizer rules content types and that they were meant for internal use. A little further investigation confirms this. The site columsn from the "Document and Records Management Columns" category are used in the Rule content type in the "Content Organizer Content Types" category.

Screenshot of Rule Content Type

The fields should probably have been hidden from the user interface, or at least placed in a separate "content organizer" category. Using them doesn’t add a whole lot of useful functionality as they are single lines of text. And if you figure that out after adding them to a library you’re in trouble, because you can’t remove them anymore.

My advice: stay clear of these columns and use other standard SharePoint columns or create your own custom ones.

Comments -
  1. Gravatar

    SharePoint Publishing Features Functionality

  2. Gravatar

    Thanks Mirjam! I was about to add those columns when I found your post. You probably saved me some headaches. I will add custom ones instead.

  3. Gravatar

    You're right; that particular Description column is a special predefined SharePoint column which is marked in such a way that it can’t be deleted from a document library once it’s been added. Hint: It CAN, however, be deleted from the back end using PowerShell on the server, if you're stuck with this little "Gotcha". (We have a consultant who knows how to do that.) Maybe someone will add a detailed explanation, here, on how it's done.....

    This is one of many lurking 'Black Widow Spiders' that await users....what could be more logical, when looking for new columns to add to a document library, than to go looking into available content types and, lo and behold, find a nice, convenient 'Document and Records Management Columns' group that Microsoft so kindly provided to help users?

  4. Gravatar

    I just found a way to work around this mistake, at least if you have inadvertently added this column-from-hell to a document library and it's now causing 'error messages' every time a user tries to save a new doc into the library because it's a Required-Content field: Go to Library Settings\General Settings\Column Default value Settings, and assign the column a default value (suggestion: a period, or "n/a" or 'don't use this column', etc.) - Then, at least, every time a user adds a new doc, they won't suffer the error messages. Then, turn the column off in your view settings....and the 'problem' goes away. This might help, at least until you find a PowerShell consultant.....

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    Document and Records Management site column behavior in SharePoint 2010

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    Comportement de la colonne du site Gestion des documents et des enregistrements dans SharePoint 2010
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