Vedant Kulshreshtha

I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.

Using SharePoint Workspace 2010 to access SharePoint content offline

Using SharePoint Workspace 2010 to access SharePoint content offline

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Microsoft SharePoint Workspace 2010, the new name for Microsoft Office Groove,  is a client application (included with Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2010) for SharePoint Server 2010 and SharePoint Foundation 2010. It provides offline access to SharePoint documents and lists from desktop and enables real-time synchronization of content in desktop with that in the SharePoint. When you are connected to the SharePoint server, all content updates on the server and in the workspace are automatically synchronized. When you are not connected, changes you make in the workspace are cached locally. The next time you connect to the SharePoint server, all changes are automatically synchronized.

SharePoint Workspace 2010 also provides options for creating Groove collaboration workspaces and synchronized shared folders. SharePoint Workspace supports Windows Search 4.0. So, you can search from the Launchbar, the Workspace, or directly from the Windows Start button. For this and more features, refer to SharePoint Workspace 2010 features and benefits and Top 10 reasons to try SharePoint Workspace 2010 for more details. Technical features are listed in Technet article - SharePoint Workspace 2010 overview.

Workspace Types

SharePoint Workspace offers three workspace types: 

  1. SharePoint workspaces, new in this release, allow you to create a copy of a SharePoint site on your computer that is automatically synchronized with the server. This type of workspace can include only one member, the creator of the workspace.
  2. Groove workspaces will be familiar to anyone who has used an earlier release of this software, such as Office Groove 2007. This type of workspace typically contains a variety of productivity tools, added as needed, and usually contains two or more members who join via invitation.
  3. A shared folder is a special type of Groove workspace that enables you to share the contents of a folder in your Windows file system

Based on the business scenario, users can choose to create appropriate Workspace. For example, many Enterprises discourage Peer-to-Peer file sharing so they disable the options for creating Groove Workspace and Shared Folders. More on doing this in my next blog post.

To learn using SharePoint Workspace, you can refer to the Basic tasks in SharePoint Workspace 2010 page or the SharePoint Workspace 2010 Product Guide. The 40+ Cool Features of Microsoft SharePoint Workspace 2010 post on the MicrosoftFeed blog is also a good reference.

Topology options for SharePoint Workspace 2010

Planning a SharePoint Workspace 2010 deployment begins with selecting a topology that best supports your collaboration strategy. Refer to Topology options for SharePoint Workspace 2010 section in the Plan for SharePoint Workspace 2010 Technet article for more details.

1) SharePoint Workspace as a SharePoint client - This topology supports or builds upon:

  • Access to SharePoint Server 2010 or SharePoint Foundation 2010 document libraries and lists.
  • Team contributors who work online and offline.

2) SharePoint Workspace as a peer collaboration client - This topology supports or builds upon:

  • Team contributors working online and offline.
  • Flexible, agile peer collaboration. Groove workspaces support multiple communication protocols and organizations can control which ports are open for peer message transport.
  • Team collaboration that is extended outside a private network to trusted partners and field sites.
  • Valuable contributions from clients that have no access to the organization’s SharePoint sites.

3) SharePoint Workspace as a SharePoint and peer collaboration client - This topology supports or builds upon:

  • Access to SharePoint Server 2010 or SharePoint Foundation 2010 document libraries and lists.
  • Team contributors working online and offline.
  • Flexible, agile peer collaboration. Groove workspaces support multiple communication protocols. This lets organizations control which ports are open for peer message transport.
  • Team collaboration that extends outside a private network to trusted partners and field sites.
  • Valuable contributions from clients that have no access to the organization’s SharePoint sites.

4) SharePoint Workspace and Groove Server as a managed collaboration system - For more information about this deployment topology, see Groove Server 2010. This topology supports or builds upon:

  • Centralized management of peer collaboration to address the organization’s security and management requirements.
  • Team contributors working online and offline.
  • Flexible, agile peer collaboration.
  • Team collaboration extended outside a private network to trusted partners and field sites.
  • Valuable contributions from clients that have no access to the organization’s SharePoint sites.
  • Existing integration with Active Directory system.

Performance and scalability

SharePoint Workspace stores downloaded SharePoint library documents in the common Office Document Cache (ODC) on the client device. The number of SharePoint Workspace documents that are stored in this cache has a direct impact on client system memory and performance. Because the ODC supports multiple Office applications, the implications of cache utilization by one Office application can extend to other Office applications on the system.

In the case of SharePoint Workspace 2010, as more documents are stored in the ODC for synchronization, system memory fills up and performance decreases. As the number of cached SharePoint documents approaches 1,800, depending on file size, types, and contents, available memory and performance may decrease significantly. This approximate upper limit is based on tests in a controlled environment. The limit may be higher or lower in actual scenarios with documents of different sizes, types, and contents.

For more details, refer to Scalability and performance considerations section in Plan for SharePoint Workspace 2010 article. If it helps, you can also change the location of Office Document Cache - How to change the default location of the Office 2010 Document Cache.

Useful Blogs and Posts

Learning Resources

Training: SharePoint Workspace 2010: An introduction - Learn how SharePoint Workspace 2010 lets you download and synchronize your SharePoint sites on your local computer. This course includes:

  • Three self-paced lessons.
  • A short test at the end of the third lesson. The test is not scored.
  • A Quick Reference Card you can print at the end of the course.

Video: Creating a SharePoint workspace - This video shows you how to take a SharePoint site offline into a SharePoint workspace. You see three ways to do this starting from the SharePoint site...

Video: Changing synchronization settings in SharePoint Workspace 2010 - Which lists you synchronize in a SharePoint workspace depend on how you chose to create the workspace. You might have chosen to synchronize all supported...

Useful References

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