Can SharePoint help me to improve the way my Microsoft Office templates are deployed and managed?
MacroView is very well placed to answer this question, given that we have over 20 years of experience in creating document automation solutions based on Microsoft Office Templates, combined with proven expertise with using SharePoint for document management.
Many people have the impression that in a SharePoint environment, you need multiple Content Types in order to have multiple Office templates – one Office template for each Content Type.
That is certainly true if you want to initiate the generation of your Office documents from the web browser, using the OOB SharePoint web browser UI. When you are in that UI and located on the page for a document library, clicking New Document brings up a list of Content Types that have been defined for that document library. Choosing a Content Type initiates a document based on the Office template that has been defined for that content type. So if you want to start your document generation in the web browser UI, you will need as many Content Type as Templates.
In my experience, users in organizations that are into document automation and so have lots of Office templates normally prefer to kick off the generation of new documents while they work in Word, or Excel or PowerPoint. They regard having to jump out to the SharePoint web browser UI to start a new document as counter-intuitive and inefficient.
On the other hand there is some appeal in having Office templates stored in SharePoint. The templates are then in a central location, accessible via a web connection. Surely this makes it easier it easier to deploy templates, compared to having to deploy them to C: drives or even to file shares?
One point to note is that deploying to C: drives makes templates accessible even when you are completely offline.
MacroView Professional Services can create a document automation solutions that are popular with uses but which do store templates in SharePoint for easier deployment. These solutions allow a user to start the generation of a document in the familiar way – i.e. from within an Office application. They also allow a user to start the generation by right-clicking on a document library, document set or folder in a MacroView tree display and choosing Create Document.
The user will then see the same menu of available Office templates that they would see if they were in an Office application. The advantage of the right-click, Create Document approach is that the new document can easily (even automatically) be saved into the area that the user has right-clicked, with metadata captured as part of the process. In some situations this approach can feel quite intuitive – more so than starting the generation in Office and then having to pick the save location and respond to metadata prompts.
These MacroView solutions can use the one-template-per-content-type approach described above. But they can also store the templates in a folder structure in a SharePoint document library – either On-Premises or Online. Effectively the templates are relocated from the Workgroup Templates path (e.g. on C: drive) to a library or libraries in SharePoint. The need for multiple Content Types to accommodate the multiple templates is removed.