First of all, what the heck am I talking about?
This is one of the things I will be covering at SharePoint connections this November where I am presenting 3 talks on ECM in SharePoint.
One of the fairly common things you will end up doing in an ECM project is to implement custom RM policies. RM = Records Management. Basically to make things simple, based on certain characteristics of any content, it is classified as a distinct type of record. Depending upon the record type, you may want to apply different kinds of policies and actions.
- A policy may be .. this record will expire, if it's column "Collectable" value is "Yes", and it hasn't been touched for the past 1 month.
- An action could be ... if this record expires, delete it from Tier 1 storage, and move it to cheaper Tier 2, or 3 storage. (and thus tiered storage is totally implementable in SharePoint, don't let anyone tell you any different!!)
So there you have it. And this is very easily implementable in SharePoint, and deployable as a feature. Lemme explain!
Craft up a solution, that contains a WebApplication scoped feature. Here is my feature.xml -->
1: <Feature xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/sharepoint/"
3: Title="Winsmarts Expiration Policy"
5: Description="Winsmarts Expiration Policy"
6: ReceiverAssembly="Winsmarts.RMPolicies, Version=188.8.131.52, Culture=neutral,PublicKeyToken=44050b881185bf1b"
Such a feature has to be web application level, and frankly that makes sense, because your RM policies should be scoped to everywhere the content may appear. This is very good architecture, since you have a singular place to maintain your record definitions and rules, rules that include policies and actions.
As you can see, I have a feature receiver. Keeping things brief, here is the feature receiver's FeatureActivated event -
1: public override void FeatureActivated(SPFeatureReceiverProperties properties)
3: string xmlManifest;
4: TextReader policyStream =
5: new StreamReader(Assembly.GetExecutingAssembly().GetManifestResourceStream(
7: xmlManifest = policyStream.ReadToEnd();
What I'm doing here is that I am adding a policy.xml definition to my Web Application. The PolicyResource and PolicyResourceCollection appear in the Microsoft.Office.RecordsManagement.PolicyFeatures, and Microsoft.Office.RecordsManagement.InformationPolicy namespaces.
So, what is policy.xml? It's an XML file that has it's build action set to "Embedded Resource", so it can be retrieved as above. Here is what it contains -->
3: id = "CustomExpiration.CustomExpirationFormula"
5: type = "DateCalculator">
6: <Name>Winsmarts Filtered Expiration</Name>
7: <Description>Items Expire based on a filtered critereon</Description>
8: <AssemblyName>Winsmarts.RMPolicies, Version=184.108.40.206, Culture=neutral,PublicKeyToken=44050b881185bf1b</AssemblyName>
Finally, you are at a point where the underpinnings are done, and now you can implement the Expiration policy or Custom Action.. here's a sample Expiration policy -->
1: public class FilteredExpiration : IExpirationFormula
3: #region IExpirationFormula Members
5: public DateTime? ComputeExpireDate(SPListItem item, System.Xml.XmlNode parametersData)
7: if (item["Collectable"].ToString().Equals("Yes"))
9: return DateTime.Now;
12: return null;
Nice huh? Basically, the Item needs to contain a column called "Collectable" and then if it's value is "Yes", delete it immediately. You can make this logic as involved as you want. But I'm a simple guy, so I'll keep it simple.
Okay good! Now, package up the above feature in a solution, install & deploy the solution and activate the feature on your port 80 site.
Debugging the above
Well, your code is basically done! But the problem is, the information management policy is a job definition defined under "PolicyConfigService" service, which is a farm level service. All these jobs are configured to run once a day. That seems like a good idea for production, but it's a sucky idea for development, because you can't wait a firkin' day to debug.
So, author up a quick console app to fix the schedule as shown below:
1: static void Main(string args)
3: foreach (SPJobDefinition j in
4: SPFarm.Local.Services[new Guid("675d6a05-c321-414b-bd6e-ee936540c719")].JobDefinitions)
6: j.Schedule = SPSchedule.FromString("every 1 minutes between 0 and 59");
Yeah I know what you're thinking! Why didn't I use stsadm? Well heck I wud've, but stsadm's commands don't let me target the above job .. if I'm wrong, please leave a comment below. There are some jobs that are targetable via stsadm OOTB though.
So anyway, once you run the above, and you check out the jobs in central admin, they should look like as shown below:
As you can see, all the jobs are now set to run every minute. NEAT! Now lets take it for a spin.
1. Author a policy based on the above.
Such a policy can be created at a Site Collection Level, List Level, or Content Type. For this article, I will create one at the site collection level. Go to Site Settings --> Site Collection Administration --> Site Collection Policies, and create a new policy called "CollectMe" with Expiration details as shown below:
2. Go to your favorite list, and add a column called "Collectable" with 2 values - "Yes" and "No" (default is No). Then assign the policy as follows:
Go to List Settings, and under "Permissions and Management" click on "Information Management Policy Settings". In there, choose a Site Collection Policy that you defined earlier as shown below:
3. Create a new list item to test it with.
Leave Collectable to "No". Go for a long walk. Come back in an hour .. what do you see .. the item is still there. Now, change the "Collectable" value to "Yes". Wait a minute. What do you see? The item is deleted. WOOHOO!!
NEAT! Now for some FAQs -
- Why is the above useful?
- Well, the above is RM 101.
- Why should my company care?
- I'm guessing the email your CEO wrote carries more weight than the joke you sent me this morning. Well, they need to be treated differently then, the above will let you distinguish the two.
- Is the above scalable?
- Totally! You have to be careful though that your schedule shouldn't be too short to cause re-entrancy issues. SP will get confused if you don't care for re-entrancy yourself.
- Give me a typical usage scenario
- The above can be used very easily to implement a tiered storage model in SharePoint.
- The above can also be used to move content based on size to external storage such as DFS
- Can I write other kinds of custom policies and actions?
- Sahil, why are you so cool?
- I don't know .. I just am.
- Can the above be used for formal records management?
- Totally! But you'd have to implement all those standards.
- How does the above compare with ECM products such as Documentum?
- Well, DCTM comes with many of the above built in, SP means you can write your own in .NET. And as you can see, it wasn't that hard to write. Where it gets hairy is formal records management, but I think if enough demand existed, 3rd party vendors could easily fill that gap. Obviously enough demand hasn't cropped up yet (large orgs don't move that quick).
- Anything else?
- Yeah, I gotta go sleep. Goodnight!