Folders vs. Metadata – Round 3

Folders vs. Metadata - Round 3

by Tom Robbins 


In my final installment regarding the use of Folders in SharePoint I want to just outline a few bullet
points and recap the previous blog posts. And finally give a list of other resources on the web around
this topic.
1) Folders constrain you by not allowing you to use all the features of Views
2) Folders are usually named very liberally. The URL can become too large.
3) Search cannot use folders because folders cannot have metadata
4) If you are using folders because of permissions, consider Document Sets!
5) Items that need to be classified in multiple ways would mean you would have to put a copy in
every folder
6) Metadata is scalable
7) You can slice and dice your data using Views with metadata

Below is a great matrix that I found on the web. The link to the original page is listed below: 

  Folders Metadata
Security Folders can be used to propagate permissions and control the access to the resources the folders contain  None.
Content Type Order Folders can control which content type’s users can create using the New menu on the list toolbar. Folders can also control the order in which the content types appear in the menu  None.
Navigation Folders are intrinsically part of the navigational infrastructure in the SharePoint platform Metadata can be used to control navigation, but this requires creative approaches. List View web parts showing filtered list views can provide metadata-based navigational capabilities. While this requires no custom code, it can be labor intensive to add the web parts to a large number of pages. Additional metadata-based navigation can be accomplished through custom code.


SharePoint 2010 Update: SharePoint Server 2010 supports the use of metadata-based navigation for files in document libraries and list items

Url Folder names form portions of the URL of the SharePoint resources the folders contain. None.
Tools Support Most Microsoft and 3rd party tools inherently know how to work with folders in the SharePoint platform Metadata support in 3rd party tools is spotty. While a tool from one vendor will generally understand how to handle its own metadata, the tool will generally not understand how to handle the metadata from another vendor’s tool. This can make it challenging to incorporate metadata from multiple vendors’ tools into a single SharePoint information architecture
Search None. Metadata is indexed by SharePoint search and will return results based on keyword searches. SharePoint Server also supports promoting selected metadata to searchable properties. SharePoint 2010 Update: SharePoint Server 2010 and FAST Search for SharePoint supports using metadata to refine search results.
Sort None. Metadata can be used to control the order in which items are displayed in list views.
Filter List views can be configured to show only the list items contained within a folder and its sub folders. Metadata can be used to control which items are displayed in list views.
Group None. Metadata can be used to group list items together in list views. List views limit grouping to two hierarchical levels
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