Thursday, October 25, 2007

OneNote and SharePoint: Better Together!

OneNote 2007 is great for note-taking. My colleagues and I have been using it for the last little while and we love it. There's always something new to learn about it.

After many months of using it individually, we decided to start sharing our OneNote notebooks with each other. Here's the cool bit: the notebooks can back onto a WSS 3 or MOSS library.

If you create a new document library somewhere on your SharePoint portal, you can choose a OneNote Section as the document template rather than the default Word template (although any library document template will apparently work just fine).

Now if you go back into OneNote, you can choose to share a notebook and host it in the document library you just built. It's easy to do; just click "Share" on the top menu and then "Create Shared Notebook". Give it a title and pick a template (we use "Shared Notebook - Reference Materials" or "Shared Notebook - Group Project").

Then when it asks "Who will use this notebook", just click "Multiple people will share this notebook" and choose to share it on a server.You will be asked to confirm the location: paste the URL of your site into the path textbox and then you can browse to the OneNote document library. 

Once created, you'll find a new folder in the SharePoint document library with the title of the notebook. Inside the folder there are OneNote files, one for each section (OneNote pages and subpages aren't actually individual "files").

You can invite people to the site just by giving them the library URL. Clicking on the OneNote notebook file will download a cached copy of it and open it in their OneNote client on their desktop.

We had a lot of fun adding content and pages, and watching as the clients synchronized changes first to the master files in SharePoint, and then down to each others' desktops. It's a very seamless process.

OneNote is very effective at synchronizing changes, although it doesn't use Groove apparently (Groove does file-based synchronization while OneNote seems to do more in the nature of content merging). 

You can view the standard Document Management panel in OneNote by clicking "Tools" and then "Document Management", which will allow you to view the site membership, see what's been updated, and set alerts if you want to keep on top of changes.

In order to search the OneNote content in MOSS 2007, you'll have to install OneNote 2007 on the Index server to get the OneNote 2007 iFilter, and then add the .one filetype to the Shared Service Provider's search settings. Instructions on how to do that are here.

This OneNote-SharePoin t combo is like a team Knowledge Base on steroids: fully searchable, disconnected, synchronizing, shareable, and with all the rich SharePoint functionality of any other library. Yet another example of the power of client software leveraging SharePoint's rich repository services!

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