Soon after I learned about the introduction of the Managed Metadata Service (MMS) in SharePoint 2010, I was thinking about how you could use it in Publishing (WCM) sites. One of the ops I saw as a big win was the ability to use it for navigation purposes. In my mind one of the biggest challenges with SharePoint 2010 (SP2010) WCM is that it forces you to create content in specific places & it’s hard to reuse content throughout or across sites. Other products let you create content and stuff it in one big bucket. The way you get it out is you tag the heck out of it and let the tags define the navigation.
I did a few proof of concepts in where I swapped out the main, what I call “structured”, navigation in WCM sites with a metadata-based implementation. Content was pulled from the site using search and people were directed through rollup pages to where the sites lived. This approach worked great for me and for many customers. I had submitted a few sessions to conferences to speak about this topic early last year and also started working on blog posts about it. Around that time is when I started working with Microsoft on SharePoint 2013 (SP2013) and saw what you see now in the Preview release: WCM sites are built on search, pages are rendered straight from the search index & navigation is based on metadata.
At first I was thrilled because not only is this a much better implementation than what we had, but this idea I was gravitating to (using metadata-based navigation & search for driving the content) was validated indirectly by Microsoft. Then another thought hit me: you better not publically talk about this until it’s made public by Microsoft because that’s perilously close to breaking any NDAs. Well crap! There’s this idea that I’ve been showing to some customers & in some of the classes I taught for Critical Path Training & it’s in my best interest to stop talking about it.
Thankfully that time has passed and yesterday I got to present on the subject at SPTechCon in Boston! In that session I broke down the challenges traditional structured navigation based SP2010 WCM sites presented. You can grab the slides & code I used in that session from this blog post. While it seems so many people are only talking about SP2013 Preview, I’m going to fall back for a bit and talk about the virtues & how to implement metadata-based navigation in SP2010.