Synopsis: So why would you Ever Ever need to feel the pain of creating Content Types from scratch and associate Site Columns also in code with them? Well, the one glaring reason is that if you create site columns and content types out of Code, you loose the control of assigning the GUID which is in effect the id designator of the object. If you cannot control that, then as you move through a proper SDLC with a DTP environment, you in essence loose control over the same ID’s [objects] being the same across all the environment. The second reason is that you have a clean and automated way to deploy your solution to any environment, inherently you could package and sell this solution if you wanted to.
So how do you do it?
Sahil Malk (@sahilmalik)has a great book in Building Solution in SharePoint 2010 and he has a great chapter on this topic. I used that as my premise for creating a full fledge Content Type with Site Columns to boot. Doing this in Visual Studio 2010 on SharePoint 2010 and the entire process to deploy is so easy now, even a caveman can do it.
Like Bud Light — Here we go!
First we need to start a new SharePoint Empty Project and start to build your solution out.
Next, and very appropriately, we are doing this as a Sandbox Solution because EVERYTHING we are doing for this effort will be in the Database, nothing will be on the File System. This is where you as a developer can do all the damage you want without worrying about the Farm Admin calling you saying “…hey dude, you brought down the server..” will never happen, sure you can bring down the Site Collection but hey, thats on you buddy..
Once you have your Sandbox Solution set, lets had some “SharePoint Items” first will be a Content Type
As you see below, I am calling mine AdotobClient. The idea here is that for my company Adotob, LLC, I am creating a Content Type that inherits from the Item Content Type which will hold Client specific data. The important thing here is that as a Content Type, this can be used all across the Enterprise in any Web by anyone. Build it once, use it many.
Once named, now your project will look like this.
As I mentioned before and as you will see below, everything in SharePoint inherits from a base, in this example I am inheriting from the Item Content Type, the wizard asks me to choose and i selected my choice
Now we will do some clean up. When you add the Content Type, you also get an elements.xml file created for the definition of the Content Type, now realistically if this content type is to be of any use, it will need Site Columns, but for now, we will just rename the elements.xml to something more descriptive.
So, this Content Type will have a few site columns to express what it is about the client we want to capture, it will be of many data types, text, date/time, etc. lets go and add an Empty Element which will be the Site Columns and populate the Elements.xml with the fieldtypes.
Before we do lets spot check what our Project looks like now.
As for clean up, lets rename the Site Columns elements.xml to a more representative name…
Lets us now flesh out the Site Columns, as you see below i am capturing all the necessary information one would capture about a client. Name, address, contact info, social content, etc. Below I use the Make Guid tool in Visual Studio to create those Field ID’s, and i with all my cut and paste, i screwed up the last entry, that type was to be a Text but i left it as date time.. oops.
Once we do that, we now associate those site columns via the GUID [Field ID == Field Ref] in what was the elements.xml of the Content Type
Once you are done, go ahead and build and deploy your solution. Oh make sure that you have Sandbox Solution Service turned on in the Central Administration before you do that, it is not on by default. Below if you inspected your Site Settings at the top level you will find the new Content Type
Trust but Verify
Click inside the Content Type, and you will find the site columns we defined.
Once we have done that lets spin up a new Custom List. We will include this content type in there and create an entry
To do that we need to manage content types…
We select the one we created and move it over
I also disabled the Item default content type what was there before so the only one that is an option is the one we created.. see below
Now we will make an entry for a new client
And our result is..
Voilla! you have a Content Type with Site Columns that you can manage NOT ONLY across the enterprise, but between Development, Test and Production Environment.
As usual, your comments, critique and questions are welcomed.