Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Taxonomies and tagging in MOSS 2007

Although MOSS 2007 has many benefits, two of its most apparent weaknesses are its lack of built in support for creating taxonomies for document classification and for tagging documents with user-defined tags.

I have been exploring Microsoft’s SharePoint site and MSDN forums about Social Computing and Enterprise Content Management and can conclude that I found virtually nothing there about taxonomies and tagging. The most interesting information I found was a forum post called “Document Classification Taxonomy in MOSS 2007” which describes a typical business use case that can be supported by classification taxonomies:

“We have approximately 300 different document classifications and we could create a content type for each, but this would require users to scroll through a list of 300 options every time they upload a file. This is not particularly friendly. What I would like to create is a mechanism whereby users, upon uploading a document, are asked the basic nature of the document."

The only answer to that post recommended to either add 300 content types and use many document libraries or to look at a third party tool such as RAPID that I mentioned above.

My exploration of Microsoft’s ECM blog did not either result in much. What I found was a single post from early 2007 (by Adri Verlaan, a developer on the ECM team) which introduces a “Tagging Starter Kit for SharePoint Server” including a “lightweight working prototype”. I quote:
“Currently, the kit allows authors to attach tags to content and readers to specify tags in which they are interested. Using this information for a specified content source, a customized Content Query Web Part shows only the items that match a reader’s respective tags. “

In other words, there seems to be little about taxonomies and tagging from Microsoft. But, are there 3rd party tools available to make up for this weakness? Well, KWizCom recently released a third party product for MOSS 2007, called “SharePoint Tagging Feature”:

“KWizCom SharePoint Tagging Feature enables the tagging of SharePoint content such as documents, list items, pictures, forms etc. Furthermore, with the included Tag Cloud Web Part, SharePoint Tagging Feature enables many new capabilities such as presentation of items according to tags, tagging e-mail alerts, and more..”.

To add support for taxonomies, there is “RAPID for SharePoint” from Artemis Corporation:
“The RAPID 'Taxonomy' Classification framework allows the application of any taxonomy within SharePoint content. An unlimited number of taxonomies can be
created and used within a site to classify documents and list items. Once classified documents and list items can be filtered, indexed and queried using standard WebParts, List Controls and Views. Fully integrated into Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007"

It is hard to tell from these descriptions how capable these 3rd party tools are. If anyone has had hands-on experience of these or equivalent tools, please share.