Introduction to customizing pages by using Web Parts

This article is intended for Web page owners and administrators. It provides an overview of Web Parts and Web Part Pages and explains how you can customize a page by adding, changing, or deleting Web Parts.



Overview of Web Parts and Web Part Pages

A Web Part is a modular unit of information that forms the basic building block of a Web Part Page. You can add Web Parts to Web Part zones in a Web Part Page and then customize the individual Web Parts to create a unique page for your site users.

The following example uses the Image Web Part to describe the basic features of a Web Part.


Sample Image Web Part

Callout 1 The Web Part title bar contains the heading for the Web Part.
Callout 2 The Web Part menu contains functions that enable you to minimize or close the Web Part, edit the Web Part, or get Help for a specific Web Part. When the page is in edit mode, you can also use this menu to delete the Web Part or connect it to other Web Parts, depending on the type of Web Part that you are using.
Callout 3 The body of the Web Part contains the content that you specified for the type of Web Part that is being used. In this example, the Web Part is an Image Web Part, which displays an image.

A Web Part Page is a special type of Web page in which you can use Web Parts to consolidate data, such as lists and charts, and Web content, such as text and images, into a dynamic information portal that is built around a common task or special interest.

Your site home page is one example of a Web Part Page. When you create a new site or workspace site, you are creating a Web Part Page. You can also create a Web Part Page by selecting one of the available site templates, or you can use a Web design program that is compatible with Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services, such as Microsoft Office SharePoint Designer 2007, to create a Web Part Page from scratch.

You can use a Web Part Page to present a variety of structured and unstructured information in an organized, useful, and convenient way. Web Part Pages often contain several Web Parts that are connected so that you can dynamically display data and content to see the results that you want.

For example, you can create a Web Part Page called Customer Orders that you frequently use to display critical information. You get a call from a customer who has a question about an order, does not remember the order ID number, but does remember the date when the order was placed. You can use a Web Part Page to do the following.


Customer Orders Web Part Page with several Web Parts

Callout 1 Look up an order by order ID number or, in this case, the order date.
Callout 2 Display all orders by date.
Callout 3 Select the correct order, based on the customer's name, and look up the order details as well as the customer details.
Callout 4 Select a line item in the order (in this case, the lamp), and display a product picture to confirm the customer's question.
Callout 5 Scan for late-breaking business news that is pertinent to the customer's order.

Web Part properties

Each Web Part shares a set of common properties (also called base class properties) that are organized into sections in the tool pane and that control the Web Part's appearance (such as the title, height, and width), layout (such as the Web Part order in the zone and the direction of the content), and advanced characteristics (such as the image icon and description).

Many Web Parts also have custom properties that are unique to the Web Part. These are usually displayed either above or below the common Web Part properties in the tool pane. For example, the Image Web Part has additional custom properties, including the image link, its horizontal and vertical alignment, and background color.

 Note   Depending on how the Web Part was created, a Web Part custom property may be displayed in a default Miscellaneous section below the common properties in the tool pane.

Web Part views

You can customize a Web Part in one of two views:

  • Shared view    You can add a Web Part to a Web Part Page and then edit the Web Part Page in a shared view. Shared Web Parts are available to all users of a Web Part Page who have the appropriate permission.
  • Personal view    You can add a shared Web Part to your own personal view and then edit your view of the Web Part. The changes that you make to a Web Part while you are in a personal view are available only to you. Other users who did not make changes in a personal view continue to see the shared view of the Web Part.

The view of the Web Part that you are working with can be important because:

  • You may have permission to edit only some Web Parts on certain Web Part Pages but not on other Web Part Pages.
  • You may be able to connect to certain Web Parts on a Web Part Page but not to other Web Parts on the same Web Part Page.

Web Parts and Web Part connections

An additional feature of Web Parts is the ability to easily connect them by passing data between them and synchronizing their behavior. By connecting Web Parts, you can manage data in dynamic and interesting ways. In many products and technologies, the task of connecting sets of data from different data sources is not easy and often requires programming skill. But with Web Parts, making data connections is as simple as using menu commands. By connecting Web Parts, you can, for example, present data from two Web Parts in alternate views, perform related calculations between two Web Parts, and filter a Web Part by using values from another Web Part — all on one Web Part Page.

Web Part zones and their properties

Web Part zones are containers of Web Parts that are used to group and organize Web Parts on a Web Part Page. Web Part zones also have a set of properties that serve a dual purpose. You can use one subset of properties to organize the layout and format of Web Parts on the Web Part Page. You can use another subset of properties to provide an additional level of protection from modification (or "lock down") of the Web Parts within the zone.

The Web Part zone properties each have default settings or behaviors. As you add Web Parts to the Web Part Page, some of these property values are automatically set. These property values are not designed to be edited in the browser, but you can edit them by using a Web design program that is compatible with Windows SharePoint Services, such as Office SharePoint Designer 2007.

For more information about Web Part zone properties, see the Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 SDK, which is available from the Windows SharePoint Services Developer Center on MSDN.

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Types of Web Parts

Windows SharePoint Services provides several Web Parts that are ready to use with your site. You can use these built-in Web Parts, customize them to suit your needs, or create new Web Parts and upload them for use throughout your site.

Default Web Parts

The following Web Parts are included by default in any site and can be customized to suit the needs of your team. Many of these Web Parts can also be connected to each other to create a variety of unique solutions:

  • Content Editor Web Part    You can use the Content Editor Web Part to add formatted text, tables, hyperlinks, and images to a Web Part Page.
  • Form Web Part    You can use the Form Web Part to connect to and filter a column of data in another Web Part. Both Web Parts must run on the same server.
  • Image Web Part    You can use the Image Web Part to add a picture or graphic to a Web Part Page. To more easily coordinate the image with other Web Parts on the page, you can control the vertical alignment, horizontal alignment, and background color of the image inside the Image Web Part by editing its custom properties in a shared view.
  • List View Web Part    You can use the List View Web Part to display and edit list or library data on your site and to connect to other Web Parts, including other List View Web Parts. Lists are information that you share with team members and often display in tabular format. List views display this information in different ways for different purposes, such as filtering, sorting, or selecting specific columns.

 Note   There is no Web Part called List View. When you create a list on your site, a List View Web Part is automatically created and named after the list. For example, if you create a list called Boats, a Web Part called Boats will be available in the Site Name gallery. The Web Part automatically displays the data contained in the list that you created.

  • Page Viewer Web Part    You can use the Page Viewer Web Part to display a Web page, file, or folder on a Web Part Page. You enter a hyperlink, file path, or folder name to link to the content.
  • Site Users Web Part    You can use the Site Users Web Part to display a list of users and groups who have permission to use a site. The Site Users Web Part automatically appears on the home page of a Document Workspace site. You can also add the Site Users Web Part to any Web Part Page.

 Note   In sites that are running on Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services 2.0 and earlier, the Site Users Web Part was called the Members Web Part.

  • XML Web Part    You can use the XML Web Part to display Extensible Markup Language (XML) and apply Extensible Stylesheet Language Transformations (XSLT) to the XML before the content is displayed. For example, you might have an XML file that contains a list of boats, prices, and links to images of the boats. You can use the XSLT to transform the data to display a list of boats and prices and make the boat name a hyperlink to display the image in a separate window.

Preconfigured List View Web Parts

The following Web Parts are built into the Windows SharePoint Services team site template and are automatically configured and ready to use on a Web Part Page when you create a new team site. Different combinations of these Web Parts are included when you create a team site or workspace site, depending on which site template you select.

 Note   These Web Parts are derived from the List View Web Part and use preconfigured Web Part templates to create their unique layout and design. To add data to these lists, on the Quick Launch, click View All Site Content, and then click Lists. On the All Site Content page, click the name of the list for which you want to add data.

  • Announcements    Use the Announcements Web Part to post news, status, and other short bits of information that you want to share with team members.
  • Calendar    Use the Calendar Web Part to display upcoming events or team schedules.
  • Links    Use the Links Web Part to post hyperlinks to Web pages that interest your team.
  • Shared Documents    Use the Shared Documents Web Part to share files from the default document library with site users.
  • Tasks    Use the Tasks Web Part to assign a task to a member of your team, specify its due date and priority, and indicate its status and progress.
  • Team Discussion    Use the Team Discussion Web Part to provide a forum for talking about topics that interest your team.

Custom Web Parts

By using a programming environment that is compatible with Windows SharePoint Services, such as Microsoft Visual Studio, developers can exploit the full feature set of Microsoft ASP.NET to create custom Web Parts. A Web Part Page is an ASP.NET file (.aspx), and Web Parts are derived from Web Form Controls. To further enhance Web Part Pages, developers can create their own Web Parts that provide new functionality. Developers can also add custom properties to the Web Parts, add custom builders in the tool pane for specialized user interfaces, and connect to other Web Parts by using Web Part connections. For more information about creating and deploying Web Parts, see the Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 SDK, which is available from the Windows SharePoint Services Developer Center on MSDN.

You can also use Web Parts that other people or companies have created. You must have appropriate permissions to add a third-party Web Part to your Web Part Page or site. Some Web Parts may need to be deployed directly to the server. If you are unable to add a third-party Web Part to your Web Part Page or site, contact your administrator for assistance.

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Ways to use Web Parts and Web Part Pages

You can use Web Part Pages in the following ways:

  • Consolidate data from different data sources.
  • Report and summarize critical data.
  • Analyze and aggregate data (for example, sums, totals, or counts).
  • Summarize key information that you want to see at the beginning of each day.
  • Prioritize and highlight project or customer data to help you make effective decisions.
  • Display an up-to-date work schedule and meeting information to quickly plan your day.
  • Get quick access to business news, local weather, and your favorite Web sites to focus your Web browsing.

Ways to create and customize a Web Part Page

There are several ways to create and customize a Web Part Page:

  • The New Web Part Page form    The most common way to create a Web Part Page is through the New Web Part Page form. On the Site Actions menu Site Actions menu, click Create, and then click Web Part Page to open the New Web Part Page form. After using this form to create a page, you can begin designing the page right away in the browser. When you want to browse through the page, just close the tool pane.
  • A Web design program    By using a Web design program that is compatible with Windows SharePoint Services, such as Microsoft Office SharePoint Designer 2007, you can make advanced customizations to a Web Part Page, including the following:
    • Customize the theme of a Web Part Page that uses the site theme by default.
    • Edit a Web Part Page template or create a new one.
    • Customize the page layout.
    • Edit zone properties.
    • Add HTML code or Web controls.
    • Change the way Web Parts are ordered inside a zone.
    • Add Web Parts outside a zone, or add a Web Part to a Web page that is not a Web Part Page.
    • Create connections between Web Parts on different Web Part Pages.
    • Publish a Web Part Page to a Web site that is running Windows SharePoint Services.
    • Customize the Form Web Part and use the Data View Web Part.

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Web browser support for Web Part Pages

Web browser support for Web Part Pages can be categorized into two levels:

  • Level 1 support is the highest level of visual and functional support. Browsers that provide level 1 support include recent versions of Microsoft Internet Explorer for Microsoft Windows.
  • At level 2 support, a few visual and functional features are not available to some browsers, and some other features are compromised and behave differently from the way they behave in level 1 browsers. However, the majority of features are still available to users. Browsers that provide level 2 support include Firefox 1.5 and later for Windows and Netscape Navigator 8.0 and later for Windows. Level 2 browsers are not supported for Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 Central Administration.

 Note   Level 2 browsers do not support the creation of connections between Web Parts.

The following table shows the level of support that some common browsers provide.

Minimum browser version Operating system Level 1 Level 2
Internet Explorer 6.x Windows Yes Yes
Internet Explorer 6.x 64-bit version Windows Yes Yes
Internet Explorer 7 Windows Yes Yes
Firefox 1.5 Windows No Yes
Netscape 8.0 Windows No Yes
Firefox 1.5 Unix No Yes
Netscape 7.2 Unix No Yes
Mozilla 1.7.12 Unix No Yes
Safari 2.0.2 Macintosh No Yes
Firefox 1.5 Macintosh No Yes
Other Other No No

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Applies to:
SharePoint Server 2007, Windows SharePoint Services 3.0