March 8, 2021
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How to Maximize SharePoint's Out-of-the-Box Features

  • By Daan De Brouckere & Raj Agarwal
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The solution

To provide users in the English Department the ability to dynamically control the dropdown of tutors' names available to assign to a request, a lookup column can be leveraged. "Tutors" is a custom list within SharePoint with a "Tutors Name" column.

The use of the feature has multiple advantages. Some of these advantages include:

  • As the tutors get added to the "Tutors" list, they will also automatically get added to the lookup column in the "Request Assistance" document library.
  • All tutors are managed in one central location.
  • The IT Department can delegate any administrative rights to the English Department on the "Request Assistance" document library to manage the columns.

The following steps demonstrate how to implement the dynamic dropdown "lookup" column:

  1. On the site, click Site Actions and Create.
  2. Create a Custom List named "Tutors".
  3. Click Settings and Create New Column called "Tutors Name" (or change existing, unused, column "Title" to "Tutors Name"). See Figure 6.

    Click here for a larger image.

    Figure 6: Column name settings

  4. Follow Steps 1 and 2 above to create a Document Library called "Request Assistance" and Create New Column of type "lookup" and name it "Tutor Assigned".
  5. Note: The "Tutors" list and "Request Assistance" document library have to reside in the same site within SharePoint.
  6. In the Get Information From field, select "Tutors" from the dropdown.
  7. In the In This Column section, select the column as "Tutors Name" from the dropdown (see Figure 7).

  8. Click here for a larger image.

    Figure 7: Create new column page

  9. Click OK.

Now, as the requests get added to the "Request Assistance" document library, the supervisors have the ability to assign the request to a specific tutor from a dropdown. This dropdown dynamically pulls all the names of the tutors in the "Tutors" list that is managed separately, as shown in Figure 8.

Click here for a larger image.

Figure 8: Edit document properties

Taking It to the Next Level

Now, with a library that captures the tutors' names, the SharePoint Business Data Catalog can be leveraged to connect to a back-end system that contains the tutors' availability. Then, with a custom .NET feature, new requests automatically can be assigned to a tutor based on availability. This process automation can result in increased efficiency and cost savings for the English Department.

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This article was originally published on September 10, 2008

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