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SharePoint Reusable Content: A forgotten beauty

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In my previous post, I compared Publishing sites with Team sites. Today, I will dig on a nice feature of the Publishing site. The Reusable Content is a list in the Publishing site where you can add content (HTML or Text) that can be inserted into Page Content field. The list have two content types: Reusable HTML and Reusable Text which each have respective column for content (Publishing HTML and Multiple line of text).

You can add new content in the list: Site Actions > View All Site Content > Reusable Content List

SharePoint Publishing Reusable Content

When you add a new element, you have some interesting fields:

SharePoint Publishing Reusable Content

The Title is pretty obviously the name of your content. The comment part is underuse, but consider working with other contributors, it’s nice to have a description of the intention behind creating this content. The content category is simply for grouping the content together. You will notice that the default view of the list is group by this field. As being a choice field, you can add more categories in the List Settings > (Click on the column) Content Category. From there, you can add new values. The automatic update is the most important field. It’s saying that if you have automatic update checked, all your instances of this content will be read-only and linked to this original content. If you change this one, you change all of them. When unchecked, you basically create a copy of the content on each instances. You will be able to modify them, since they are not linked together. The show in drop-down menu is the ability for contributors to use insert these reusable content in their pages using the ribbon option. If you do not check this option you will still be able to add them into pages but only using code, which I will not cover in this post. Finally, The Reusable HTML is the field where you create your content to be reused.

Testing the Reusable list

Now, let’s use it. I want to point out that the Reusable Content items are subjects to content approval, as explained in the warning.

SharePoint Publishing Reusable Content

Once we have created a content, we go in a page and simply insert it. To do so, edit the page and go to the insert tab, then select the Reusable Content.

SharePoint Publishing Reusable Content

So I created (from MSDN) a page about the Server object model. I have a note box about sandbox solutions. This note is a reusable content, so I added it to the page. Its looks like this:

SharePoint Publishing Reusable Content

I’ve made a spelling mistake in the Developing word. My boss also asked me to remove the “For more info” because it’s not valid anymore. Normally, I would search for all the pages that have this box and modify each one of them. If there is 10 pages, we are on publishing remember, we also need to approve those 10 pages etc… So much efforts when you can just modify the reusable content and approve it. That’s what we do now. We open the note content in edit, make the changes and save (submit for approval if applicable).

SharePoint Publishing Reusable Content

Now simply hit F5 to your Server object model page and BAM! Note here that it will not work if the automatic update is not checked when adding this content into the page.

That’s a real cool feature that very few Publishing sites are using. Take advantage of it and save time!

Will it work after migrating to SharePoint 2013?

SharePoint 2013 still offers the same publishing feature for Reusable Content, therefore everything will migrate ok as long as no code were added. Besides, the new SharePoint 2013 supports running a site collection in 2010 mode so you will have plenty of time to transfer the content you need.

Overall this is a great Publishing feature that is too often forgotten, centralizing reusable content in one place can save us many hours. On top of that, it allows us to enter HTML as content, what’s not to like.

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