Blog SharePoint

Dealing with content type hub

Date 27/10/2011 - Written by Sylvain Girault - Sharepoint Expert

Content type syndication hub is an interesting new feature that we have to consider when implementing document management on the SharePoint 2010 platform. It offers a centralized content type management. Content types are then published to the desired site collections.

Theory is great… let’s talk practical…

Planning for content types in your environment is a key point to consider before implementing a centralized content type management. A first best practice is to dedicate a site collection to manage content types and publish them to the subscribers. This involves that SharePoint administrators have hands on this site collection. If you planned to allow business to modify content types on their own, it will be quite dangerous because they will be able to manage all the content types…. This problem can also appear if you only want to let them the ability to add a choice in a choice column of a content type.

In terms of limitation, Microsoft doesn’t give any limitation on the number of content types that you can centrally manage. If you are talking of a middle-enterprise global documentation, it could be interesting to know if SharePoint will be able to assume all the enterprise content types that you have to implement.

And what about columns that are in a centrally managed content type syndication hub… Lookup? Calculated? Hidden columns? Default values?

Let’s first talk about look-up. When adding a look-up column to a content type, the system registers IDs of the list you are pointing to. If you create a lookup column in the dedicated content type hub and publish it to another site collection, the system won’t be able to retrieve lookup information as this list ID doesn’t exist in this other site collection. A best practice here is to create your list via a feature and deploy it to every site collection that will use that content type. Maintenance will become even more time consuming than managing content types at the site collection level so you may forget lookup columns in these cases.

Calculated? Simple, calculated columns are not managed during content type publishing so you can forget it…

Hidden? Hidden works really well until you add your content type to a list or library. In Lists or Libraries content type management this column doesn’t appear anymore… Forget it!

Default values? They are defined in site columns, you can not override it in content type columns. Practical case: you have a column called “Department” for all your enterprise content types. So you have got 1 column used in n content types, but depending on the content type, you want to have a different default value HR, Finance or whatever: impossible. Oh sorry, yes it is possible, you have to go to every library that stores this content type to assign the default value…


In this article, I won’t deal with content type workflows that don’t work with content type publishing…. ;)

To resume, if you wanted to implement a specific codification based on a calculated column that concatenate a look-up value with a hidden value and the current content type name, you can stop nowJ!!! A centrally managed content type is a really good thing… but keep it simple!!