Learning more about workspaces in SharePoint Workspace 2010

This help article describes the different types of workspaces you can create in SharePoint Workspace.

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SharePoint workspaces

With this workspace type, you create a copy of a SharePoint site on your local computer that is automatically synchronized with the server.

A SharePoint workspace is your own personal copy of the SharePoint site, or selected lists and libraries you choose to take offline and synchronize from that site. The workspace contains only you as a member. You share content updates with other SharePoint users as the workspace is synchronized with the SharePoint site.

 Note   Unlike Groove workspaces, SharePoint workspaces do not synchronize across multiple computers on which you have your account. You must create separate copies of your SharePoint workspaces on each computer.

In simple terms, a SharePoint workspace gives you access to SharePoint site content at any time, whether or not you are connected to your network.

 Note   SharePoint workspaces can synchronize only with sites running on Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 or later, Microsoft SharePoint Foundation 2010, SharePoint Online 2010 servers or later.

Why create SharePoint workspaces

The most obvious reason to create a SharePoint workspace is to have access to your SharePoint site data when you are unable to access your network, or when you are offline.

Additionally, many users may prefer the features and work environment found in SharePoint workspaces, as compared to those found working directly on SharePoint sites in a Web browser. For example, SharePoint workspaces provide quick and easy navigation among lists and libraries. You can switch among these lists and libraries by clicking with the mouse and thus avoid loading Web pages. If you work with content from several SharePoint sites, you might download this content into a number of SharePoint workspaces, and organize them in the SharePoint Workspace Launchbar for quick access.

Finally, many users may find that they enjoy the rich application features found in SharePoint workspaces, and appreciate the simplicity of performing many standard activities, such as adding or editing new items or files to lists and libraries.

Ways to create a SharePoint workspace

You may choose to create a SharePoint workspace from either of the following locations:

  • The SharePoint site in a Web browser
  • The SharePoint Workspace Launchbar

Creating a SharePoint workspace while visiting the SharePoint site in a Web browser

This is the easiest and most foolproof way to create the workspace, given that the starting point is the SharePoint site you want to copy to your computer. In short, you have already accessed the SharePoint site you want to synchronize to your computer.

To create a SharePoint workspace while visiting the SharePoint site, click the Site Actions menu, and then click Sync to SharePoint Workspace.

 Note    If you do not see a Site Actions menu, this means the SharePoint site is hosted on a later version of SharePoint, such as SharePoint Server 2013. If this is the case, you must create the workspace starting in the SharePoint Workspace Launchbar, described in the next section.

Creating a SharePoint workspace from the SharePoint Workspace Launchbar

You can create a SharePoint workspace from the SharePoint Workspace Launchbar or from the Backstage view. In this case you must type in or paste the Web address of the SharePoint site you want, and you may need to supply SharePoint site credentials.

Download options in SharePoint workspaces

When you first create a SharePoint workspace, the initial download settings are set to download all items from all supported lists and libraries on the selected SharePoint site.

You can optionally configure the download so that it fetches items only from selected lists and libraries. Doing a selective download simply gives you the option of postponing the downloading of items from other lists and libraries until you want to work with this content. The lists and libraries still appear in the SharePoint workspace, but instead of a list of items, you see options to download the items now or to go to the list or library on the SharePoint site.

About using external lists in a SharePoint workspace

Some SharePoint lists are created via Microsoft Business Connectivity Services (BCS) applications. When you create a SharePoint workspace, these lists display in the Content pane under "External Lists" when it is sorted by Type. For detailed information on how the usage of this type of list differs from other SharePoint lists, see Using external lists in a SharePoint workspace.

 Note    Although BCS is now supported in SharePoint Online Service Update 1, you cannot synchronize external lists hosted on SharePoint Online in a SharePoint workspace.

About unsupported content types

You can synchronize most lists and libraries in a SharePoint workspace, although some heavily customized lists may have problems. When you create a SharePoint workspace, unsupported content types appear in the Content panel under the heading Available on Server, when the workspace is sorted by Type. If you select one of these content types, you see an option to Open the list in a browser. If the content type is supported in SharePoint Workspace, you also see an option to Connect Listname to Server.

The following content or site types cannot currently be synchronized in a SharePoint workspace:

  • Calendar/Events lists
  • Wikis
  • Blog sites
  • Portal sites
  • Meeting Workspace sites
  • Form libraries
  • Slide libraries
  • Surveys
  • Site directories
  • OneNote notebooks stored in document libraries
  • IRM-protected document libraries. However, individually protected files can be synchronized in non-IRM-protected document libraries, given proper authentication.
  • Visio process repositories

About synchronizing content between a SharePoint workspace and its corresponding SharePoint site

A SharePoint workspace is essentially a live copy of the content stored in the SharePoint site on the server. As a result, your updates to content in the SharePoint workspace will be reflected on the server version whenever the workspace and server are synchronized. For example, if you delete or rename items in the SharePoint workspace, these items will be deleted or renamed on the server. Similarly, if items are deleted or renamed on the server, these items will be deleted or renamed in the SharePoint workspace.

About deleting SharePoint workspaces

Deleting a SharePoint workspace from the Launchbar only has the effect of removing this local copy of the SharePoint site; it has no effect whatsoever on content stored on the SharePoint site on the server. In other words, deleting a SharePoint workspace will not also delete the content that was downloaded to the workspace from the server. After deleting a SharePoint workspace, you can, if you wish, create a new SharePoint workspace, referencing the exact same SharePoint site.

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Groove workspaces

This is the original workspace type developed for Microsoft Office Groove, before the product name changed to SharePoint Workspace.

With this workspace type, groups or organizations with common purposes and goals can share ideas and work together. A Groove workspace typically contains two or more "members," that is, people who join the workspace via invitation. Workspace content is highly dynamic. All members who are currently online see instantly any updates either they or other members add. You and other members send and receive updates as you come online.

Groove workspaces allow members to work with a variety of specialized application tools. For example, suppose you conduct a weekly meeting to discuss developing marketing materials. Activities might involve setting deadlines, assigning tasks, and reviewing completed work. To facilitate this meeting, workspace members might post files in a Documents tool, discuss issues in a Discussion tool, and collaborate on meeting agendas using a Calendar tool. All members currently online at the same time in the workspace could interact using real-time chat.

The Lists tool is used in conjunction with Microsoft Office InfoPath to create custom tools to be added to a workspace. The complexity and features in a custom tool can vary widely, depending mostly on the goals and creativity of an InfoPath tool designer. Any designer should be able to build a simple tool that consists of a variety of data-entry and input fields laid out on a form.

Groove workspace limitations

Although there are no specific size restrictions for workspaces, for optimal performance, we recommend limiting the size of any workspace to 2 GB or less. You can view workspace properties to see the current workspace size.

 Note   SharePoint Workspace cannot send a Groove workspace that exceeds 2 GB to new invitees.

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Shared Folders

As an alternative to a Groove workspace, you can also create a shared folder in your file system. This workspace type allows you to share the contents of a folder in your Windows file system across all computers on which you have your account, and with other SharePoint Workspace users by invitation. For more information, see About shared folders.

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Applies to:
SharePoint Workspace 2010