External Data in the Document Information Panel, aka Woe and Misery RRS feed

  • Question

  • I have a client with the following requirements:

      • Four content types (inheriting from Document content type) to be used across a web application (multiple site collections)
      • Content types consist of required External Data columns
      • Users must be able to set these fields in the Document Information Panel

    The obvious answer is to set up the content types in the client's Content Type Hub, which indeed is what we originally tried. However, External Data columns are read-only in the Document Information Panel for some ungodly reason, so the obvious approach is a non-starter. (Why, Microsoft, why? *gnashes teeth*)

    Requirement #3 is set in stone, but I can play around with #1 and #2 a bit, and so I've thought of a number of workarounds:

    1. Replace External Data column with a standard Choice column, sync the choice options with the External Lists nightly with a PowerShell script. PROBLEM: whenever an External List item changes, any documents with that value in the Choice column will retain the old value.
    2. Replace External Data column with a Lookup column pointing to a SharePoint list that is synchronized nightly via PS script with the External Lists. This solves the problem with Workaround #1, but means that Requirement #1 can't be met because Lookup columns cannot be used in Content Type Hub content types. So, PROBLEM: Each content type will have to be recreated for each site collection.

    The client is planning on implementing about 130 additional content types in the future if these first four work out, so that pretty much makes Workaround #2 a non-starter, and neither of us is wild about Workaround #1 due to the very high potential for mismatched data.

    Any other ideas? Any additional info about the situation that may help? Is there a chance Microsoft might release something to make External Data editable in the D.I.P.?

    Brandon Murray | MCTS | SharePoint Administrator

    Wednesday, October 3, 2012 3:17 PM