Getting Started with SharePoint Lists

SharePoint lists are a great way to build quick "applications" and registers. 

If, like me, you've migrated from IBM Domino, and you were wondering where the Office 365 development functionality is, this is where it starts.  For everyone else, who has never heard of domino, don't worry, I'll explain what SharePoint lists are and why they're a great tool for you. 

What Are SharePoint Lists?

SharePoint lists are essentially a "cloud way" to store data that you want to share and search. You can put documents into lists but the best use of lists is to store and update "data".

Essentially, SharePoint lists are a kind of database. They're not incredibly powerful, like SQL server but they're usually going to be powerful enough to replace a lot of the things you might have in Microsoft Access.

One of the easiest ways to determine what applications are a good fit for SharePoint lists is to look at your spreadsheets.  Spreadsheets, like Excel are great for maths and finance but they're less suitable for simple lists -- especially if those lists need to be shared. If you're keeping track of things in excel but you're not doing maths or graphs, a list is probably a better fit.

What can I use them for? 

You can use SharePoint lists for almost anything but here's a few business ideas to get you started;

  • Inventories and Asset Registers; to track serial numbers, device allocations, IMEIs and even problems against devices.
  • Contracts; to store the actual contracts but also record information against them like start and end dates, terms and contacts.
  • Share Passwords; In most IT teams (and other business teams) there's a bunch of shared URLs, user names and passwords. Putting these into a central list makes it easier to search for them when you need them.
  • Keywords: Lists can be used to power other lists (I'll talk about that more in a future post).
  • Changes: If you're putting together a Change Management system, a list can be a good way to register a change and set a status on it.
  • Collection management; If you collect anything; books, dvds etc, Lists can be used to manage the collection. 

Building your own SharePoint List

Without further ado, here's a slideshow that walks you through the process of building a simple SharePoint list. I've ignored a lot of options and a lot of the opportunities for a slicker experience in order to keep this as simple as possible. 

Where to From Here?

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to lists and there's a whole lot of other places we can go from here. In particular, we can "skin the list" to make it look nicer and we can built a mobile app using PowerApps (it's very easy), we can also add validation and security.


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