The CodePlex Corner: SharePoint List Field Manager

The link to the Project is https://listfieldmanager.codeplex.com/

This edition of the CodePlex Corner turns its attention to a product called the SharePoint List Field Manager. At the time of its launch, it was created as a value-add product for CorasWorks customers and has been developed by their VP of Technology, Adam Macaulay. In May 2010 the company decided to release the product into the SharePoint community via CodePlex. The List Field Manager currently comes in three flavours: –

  1. SharePoint 2007
  2. SharePoint 2010
  3. SharePoint 2010 Sandbox

The List Field Manager does one thing but it does it very well. It allows you to set the Boolean properties on any column within a SharePoint list or library. In plain English, it partially addresses one of the perceived gaps of SharePoint. That’s the lack of granular permissions insofar as column/view level security is concerned. Once this product is installed and activated it allows you to configure, on a field by field basis, the following settings: –

  1. Hidden: This sets whether a field can be displayed in the list
  2. Read Only: This controls whether a field can be modified by the users
  3. Show in Display Form: This controls if a field is displayed in the DisplayForm.aspx
  4. Show in Edit Form: This controls whether a field is displayed in the EditForm.aspx
  5. Show in New Form: This controls whether a field is displayed in the NewForm.aspx
  6. Show in List Settings: This controls whether a field can be modified via List Settings
  7. Show in Views: This controls if a field is visible within List Views
  8. Allow Deletion: This controls whether a field can be deleted or not
  9. Show in Version History: This controls whether a field is displayed within an items Version History

These properties can also be accessed and changed in PowerShell and the SharePoint Manager, as seen here. Their only configurable options (in true Boolean style) are True or False. The List Field Manager simply provides a more accessible interface for accessing them.


More information on the Field Properties is available on MSDN on this link.

Let’s think about some of those options for a moment and the power that they provide. What other major SharePoint technology gives us the alternative to work with columns in such a way? InfoPath forms. Whilst the List Field Manager isn’t (and was never intended as) as a substitution for InfoPath, it does provide a great “no cost” alternative. This means that you can use things like calculated columns for various effects (such as calendar colour coding) and hide them from various .aspx forms and views. This allows either the Foundation or Standard versions of SharePoint to be extended and manipulated in simple but powerful ways.

Post installation the List Field Manager is available in the Web Part Gallery and allows you to select any list from a provided URL once it’s been activated. You can then select the field and set as appropriate. Compare some of the options below to the earlier screenshot from SharePoint Manager and you’ll see the same properties.

I was also curious as to whether this worked with the forms generated with External Content Types. So I set up the AdventureWorks Community samples, built an external content type and an external list from the customers table. All the typical CRUD operations were defined with the end form looked like this.

With a few grammatical tweaks to the labels this would make a workable list but that Demographics field really doesn’t serve any purpose being surfaced within SharePoint. The List Field Manager picked it up just fine but wasn’t able to tap into any of the properties that we can manipulate with SharePoint Lists.

Link to SharePointReviews.com product review

The link to the SharePointReviews Product category is to be located under Content Management à Lists and Libraries on the following URL: http://www.sharepointreviews.com/sharepoint-lists/1988-sharepoint-list-field-manager

“End User – Developer” scale

Working on the basis that an Administrator will have installed this web part in the appropriate fashion; the List Field Manager is fairly straightforward to use. I can see this product presenting an acceptable alternative to InfoPath form development. On that basis, I’m rating this product at Power User level. Administrators & developers shouldn’t have that many problems with the List Field Manager in return for the functionality it provides them.

Potential pitfalls / problems

I’ve only been able to test this version against SharePoint 2010 so I can’t comment conclusively on any problems that the 2007 edition might encounter. The only potential problems that I could see for this are: –

  1. Limitations of Sandbox Deployment: Sandbox 2010 Deployment doesn’t allow cross site list management (this is referenced in the CodePlex documentation however)
  2. Settings not added to Site Settings: As this is a web part, not a link in the site settings, an administrator might potentially forget where this web part has been deployed. In a potential workaround, you could possibly set up a dummy view page called Admin, delete the list view and add this web part to it
  3. Hidden vs. Read Only Fields: The differences between the Hidden & Ready Only properties are confusing. Read-Only won’t surface a column but then lock it for editing, it removes it from the form.
  4. Internal Content Types Only: Doesn’t work on external content types

Conclude and add any relevant links

In closing out the article, I think this is a great tool. It provides an awful lot of utility and is something that can conceivably be farmed out to well-trained or experienced users which removes a small dependence on IT or the SharePoint professionals.

The links below are my reference list: –

  1. CodePlex List field Manager
  2. Corasworks Community: List Field Manager
  3. Field Properties
  4. SharePoint Reviews: SharePoint List Field Manager
  5. AdventueWorks Community Database
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