Chapter 4: User Guide

Published: February 28, 2008


The SharePoint site you are using has special features for collaboration between users who belong to your organization (internal users) and users from outside of your organization (external users). This chapter provides additional information that might be helpful to you as a potential owner of a SharePoint Collaboration Web site.

Using SharePoint for Collaboration

To start collaborating with external users, you will need to create a new space where you can add documents, create discussion lists, and use all of the other collaboration features offered by SharePoint. In SharePoint terms, an area for collaboration is called a site collection. For more information on the relationship between SharePoint top-level Web sites, site collections, and subsites, see Create a SharePoint site.

When Should I Create a New Site Collection?

In general you should create a new site collection for each unique collaborative effort with external users. External (and internal) users will generally have visibility across all content in a particular site, so if there is content that you want to be viewed only by a certain group of external users, you should create a new site collection.

Creating a New Site Collection

Your administrator will provide a URL or a link from an existing SharePoint site or Web application to a page where you can create or request a new site collection. The interface for doing this will be similar to the following figure.

Figure 4.1 Create Site Collection Web Part

There are two different possible results when you click the Create Site button. Based on how the administrator configured the site, either the new site will be created immediately or an approval workflow process will start. If the site is created right away, text at the bottom of the screen will indicate that the site was created and will display a link to the new site. If administrator approval is required, the request will be put into a queue awaiting administrator approval or denial. When the administrator takes one of these actions, you will receive e‑mail that indicates the decision made and provides information about the new site if it was approved.

Using Sub-sites

If some content on your site will be viewed or modified by every user, but you want to create different collaboration areas, you can create a subsite under the site you already created. For example, you might have a large project team and want to have one subsite for developers and another for marketing personnel. To create a subsite, go to an existing site and use the Site Actions menu, click Create, then click Sites and Workspaces.

Managing Collaboration Sites

Your administrator will provide you with a URL that you can use to manage all of the collaboration sites that you have created. You can also view the sites that you have requested and are waiting administrator approval. The interface for doing this will be similar to the following figure.

Figure 4.2 Site Collection Manager Web Part

This URL is a handy place to bookmark because it also allows you to navigate easily to all of your different collaboration sites.

Add External Users to a Collaboration Site

Because external users don’t typically have user accounts in your organization, there is a special process to register them with the SharePoint site and give them permissions. Even if you are familiar with giving users permissions through the SharePoint interface in a typical internal SharePoint site, you should review this section carefully to note the important differences between giving permissions to internal and external users.

Adding an External User

When a new collaboration site collection is created, you can begin to give external users permissions to use your site. To do this, browse to your new site, click All People, click the down arrow next to New, and then click Add External User.

Important   If you click the New menu item directly or just click Add Users, you will not be able to add external users to the site.

In the collaboration site, external users are identified by their e‑mail addresses, which are guaranteed to be unique. Type the e‑mail address of the external user into the text box and then click the Check Names button to see if this external user has already been registered on this site.

Register a New External User

If the external user has never been registered on this SharePoint site, the interface will indicate that the e‑mail address is not registered, as shown in the following figure.

Figure 4.3 Add External Users Web page

The figure shows that has not been registered with this site before. You can click the Click here to register the external user’s email address link to register the external user. The administrator of your site can either allow users to register any external account that they want or can opt to require administrator approval for each account requested.

In the first case the interface will inform you that the account was created immediately. You will also receive e‑mail within a few moments that will provide additional information such as the new external user’s password and instructions on how to relay that information to the new user.

If administrator approval is required, you will be notified of this by text on the Add External Users Web page. When the administrator approves or denies your request, you will receive e‑mail with information about how to proceed.

Add a User Who Is AlreadyRegistered

If an external user has already been registered to collaborate through this SharePoint site—perhaps because the user is working on another project within your organization— the interface will indicate that the e‑mail address is already registered.

If a user is already registered, you can immediately assign permissions, as discussed in the “Modify User Permissions” section that follows.

Note   If a user is already registered by another person in your organization, that person will be that external user’s contact point within your organization. If there is a problem with the external user’s account, you should try to find out who his internal contact might be, or contact the site administrator directly.

In either case, you can immediately establish the permissions that the user will have on your site when their account is registered and you have given them the password they will need to log on.

Add Internal Users to a Collaboration Site

Unlike typical internal-only SharePoint sites, the newly created collaboration site does not inherit or start out with any permissions for any user other than yourself. You must explicitly give internal users permissions to use your site. To do this, browse to your new site, click All People, click the down arrow next to New, and then click Add User.

Type the account name of the internal user into the text box and then click the Check Names button to resolve the user’s name. If the account name is correct, you can then select a permission level, add a personal welcome message that will be sent by e‑mail, and then click OK.

If you want all internal users in your organization to have access to your collaboration site, you can click the Add all authenticated users button, assign the appropriate permissions, and then click the OK button. All internal users will be able to get the selected permissions on your new site. Note that external users must always be added manually.

Modify User Permissions

You can give any registered external user or internal user permissions on your collaborative site. It is recommended that you add users to the appropriate SharePoint groups to give the user permissions that correspond to Member or Visitor.

Important   Although you can grant external users Full Control on your site, this is not typically recommended. Users who have Full Control can modify or delete any content on the site, change the site configuration and grant or remove any user (even yourself!) from the site.

Remove a User From Your Site

To remove any user’s permissions on your collaborative site, click People and Groups, and then click Site Permissions. If the user was given permissions by making them a member of the Members, Owners, or Visitors groups, click the group to which the user was added, select the check box next to the user’s name, click Actions, and then click Remove Users from Group. If the user was given permissions directly, click Site Permissions and follow the same steps to remove the user’s permissions.

Note   Removing a user from your site does not delete them from the collaboration environment. You can add the same user again to your site or any other collaborative site at any point without having to redo the registration process.

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