Posted tagged ‘SharePoint Terminology’

What is a Dashboard?

August 25, 2008

The term Dashboard gets tossed around a fair amount in the world of SharePoint and is used often with workflows, or in business process solutions. The harder part is understanding what a dashboard is. The even harder part is trying to explain what it means in the context of SharePoint to someone.

This is my attempt to help explain the concept of a dashboard in SharePoint, and how they are typically used.

What it contains of course depends on the context of where it is used, and I assure you I am not talking about that thing in your car or if you are filthy rich, in your plane. However these both also indicate the most basic aspect of ANY dashboard.

1. A Dashboard is something which PROVIDES TARGETED INFORMATION to the user.

That’s a good starting point. The key is that it is providing targeted information to the user based on what the expected users needs are, the pages context, and/or who the user is. It is often interactive (but doesn’t have to be) and uses SharePoint web parts to render information from lists, libraries, and sites to the user.

2. Typically (in SharePoint) a Dashboard provides a place to initiate related actions.

Because you have visited a dashboard page for either yourself, a department, a service, a subject, or some other reason the page should be designed to not only provide the important information related to your ‘query’ or reason for visiting the page, but also ways to initiate related actions. This could be quick links, links to related items, links to forms, or in some cases embedded forms so the user can submit information right on the page itself.

That’s all folks! It’s pretty much that simple. Dashboards present information to the user to digest and are normally chalked full of SharePoint web parts and provide a way to execute related actions.

So what does this mean? Almost everything is a Dashboard in SharePoint context, which makes it very hard to explain. Adding a content query web part and quick links to a page turns it into a dashboard for someone and almost every web part can be described as a dashboard component.

Hope this helps someone new to the term Dashboard understand it’s context in SharePoint a bit better,
Richard Harbridge

SharePoint Terminology

August 20, 2008

Lots of people ask me what certain SharePoint terms mean and to help I have decided to write a quick blog of many of them with a brief description of what each term or acronym means. I will try to keep this updated as I remember more, or people ask.


To notify users of changes to existing information or new information add an alert to track new matches to search queries, changes to content in an area, or a new site added to the Site Directory


A means to organize portal for navigational simplification


Groups of users, who meet certain criteria, created for targeted distribution of information. Users are said to be a member of an audience if they meet that audience’s membership criteria. The criteria are associated with properties found in the Active Directory.


Business Data Catalog

Collaboration Content

Collaboration content is content stored in lists like calendars, task lists, and document libraries.


SPS supports two types of discussions: discussion boards and Web discussions. Discussion boards are similar to any newsgroup forum. Web discussions, on the other hand, are a new way to comment on documents and share those comments with others. When a new site is created, a discussion board is automatically created.

Document Workspace

SharePoint Services site that contain a document library, tasks, links, and other information. Document workspaces can be created directly in SPS as a new site, or they may be created ad-hoc from within an Office product. End users can collaborate without having SPS open alongside Office.


In order to share files, SharePoint makes use of libraries. The three types of libraries available in SharePoint are document libraries, form libraries and picture libraries.


Along with document libraries, lists form the foundation of content within SPS. A list is a collection of information items displayed in an area or on a site. List types include: Announcements, Links, Contacts, Events, Tasks and Issues.

Meeting Workspace

A specialized SharePoint Services site. Can be created directly in SPS or in Outlook as a part of a meeting request. Should not be confused with Live Meeting, etc.


Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007

My Site

A single page portal that contains the user’s personal sites, links, etc. My Site consists of both a public and private view. The private view is intended as a personal workplace for the individual end user. The public view, on the other hand, acts like a business card that can be accessed by other portal users. You can see the different views by clicking either Private or Public under the Select View list.

Private Web Part

A Web Part added to a Web Part Page by a user who is working on the page in personal view. Private Web Parts are available only to the user who added or imported the Web Part.

Publishing Pages

Publishing pages are pages under /Pages/ document libraries on each site that include specific content types. Content for these pages are stored in this document library like columns in a list, with each column storing data for a page field.

Shared Web Part 

A Web Part added to a Web Part Page by a user who is working on the page in shared view. Shared Web Parts are available to all users of a Web Part Page who have the appropriate permissions.

Server Farm

A central group of network servers maintained by an enterprise. A server farm provides a network with load balancing, scalability, and fault tolerance. In some configurations, multiple servers may appear to users as a single resource. Each SharePoint farm has a single, unique configuration database where information and configuration settings for the farm are registered. Each server in the farm relies on that configuration database to get information about the farm and to provide services in the farm.


A complete Web site stored in a named leaf of the top-level Web site.

Site Collection

A set of Web sites on a Web application that has the same owner and share administration settings. Each site collection contains a top-level Web site and can contain one or more sites (or subsites). There can be multiple site collections on each Web application. A site collection can use only a single content database. Everything is now a site collection: a portal is a site collection where Home is the top-level Web site and the areas are sites (or subsites), a channel hierarchy is a site collection where the root channel is the top-level Web site and sub-channels are sites (or subsites).

Site Groups

Site groups are custom security groups that apply to a specific Web site. Users are assigned to site groups to grant them permissions on a SharePoint site.

Site Templates

Whenever you create a new site, SPS use predefined templates to simplify the creation of the new elements for the site. These templates allow you to create everything from a specialized team site to a blank site you can use to create content from scratch.


SharePoint Portal Server


Shared Service Provider



A named subdirectory of the top-level Web site that is a complete Web site. Each subsite can have independent administration, authoring, and browsing permissions from the top-level Web sites and other subsites.


A Web site component that enables users to respond to a set of questions specified by the creator of the survey. Results are tallied in a graphical summary. Surveys provide a way to poll portal users for input on a subject. Surveys support a wide variety of response types from simple Yes/No answers to free-form text.

Top-level Web site

The top, root default site in a site collection. Every site collection has, at its root a top-level Web site. Access to the top-level web site is provided supplying the URL of the site collection (like http://ServerURL or http://ServerURL/sites/SiteCollectionName) without specifying a page name or subsite.

Web Application

A virtual server that resides on an HTTP server but appears to the user as a separate HTTP server. Several Web applications can reside on one computer, each capable of running its own programs and each having individualized access to input and peripheral devices. Each Web application can have its own domain name and IP address.

Web Part

Customizable Web page element that can be added to SharePoint pages

Web Part Zone

A container with a set of properties that can be configured to control the organization and format of Web Parts on a Web Part Page. Web Part zones can also be used to provide protection against changes to Web Parts.


Windows SharePoint Services

Hope this helps,
Richard Harbridge