How often are business proposals or projects summarized in a single document? In many business scenarios it involves a collection of documents of various types that will eventually be assembled into a single report. The new Document Sets feature in SharePoint 2010 will make working this way much simpler.
One of the limitations of SharePoint 2007 that our customers often have to deal with is that documents are treated as individual units. While it is possible to organize content with judicious use of metadata, it wasn’t easy group related documents together. Compound document assembly is useful for:
- Assembling RFPs
- Business proposals
- Case management
- Regulator submissions
For SharePoint 2007, PDF for SharePoint supports multiple-document assembly via the “Merge Document” workflow. Invoke the workflow and it will convert and merge all of the document documents in a document library to PDF. SharePoint metadata columns are used to define the order in which the files are merged and for the user to specify whether a document is to be included in the merged result. The merged document can be enhanced with the addition of a Table of Contents, PDF bookmarks, page numbering, headers, footers, and an automatically generated index.
A Real Compound Document Assembly Solution
In SharePoint 2010, the Document Sets content type will allow users to easily create collections of related documents. Another convenient feature of Document sets is the ability to invoke a workflow on the entire set. We would certainly like to enable the creation of a report in PDF format of the documents within a document set in a single operation. The report would include all, or a subset of the document within the set, whether they are Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint. Visio, or even an AutoCAD DWG file.
Looking forward, I see great possibilities for this feature, With the addition of few more user options to control the ordering of documents, and the ability to include documents that do not reside within the Document Set, there are makings of a real compound document assembly solution here.