Managing Versions and Checking Documents In and Out

Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services gives users the ability to keep versions of documents, and to check documents in and out.

About Document Versioning

Document versioning allows you to keep multiple versions of a document. If a change needs to be reversed, you can restore the previous version and continue working. A Version History command is included on the drop-down list users see when they click the arrow next to a document name and on the toolbar in the Edit Properties page for the document. The Version History command is also available in client applications compatible with Windows SharePoint Services, such as Microsoft Office Word 2003, Microsoft Office Excel 2003, and Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2003. When the user clicks Version History, a list of the previous versions of the document appears. The user can open an old version, restore a version (replacing the current version), or delete an old version.

When versioning is enabled, versions are automatically created whenever a user updates a document in a document library (document library: A folder where a collection of files is stored and the files often use the same template. Each file in a library is associated with user-defined information that is displayed in the content listing for that library.). Versions are created in the following situations:

  • When a user checks out a file, makes changes, and checks the file back in.
  • When a user opens a file, makes changes, and then saves the file for the first time.

 Note   If the user saves the file again, without closing the file, a new version is not created. If the user closes the application he or she is using to edit the file, and then opens it and saves the file again, another version is created.

  • When a user restores and old version of a file (and does not check it out).
  • When a user uploads a file that already exists, in which case the current file becomes an old version.

Members of the Administrator and Web Designer site groups (site group: A custom security group that applies to a specific Web site. Users are assigned to site groups to grant them rights on a SharePoint site.) for a site can determine whether document versioning is enabled for a particular document library. To enable document versioning, you use the settings page for that document library.

Enable versioning for a document library
  1. Navigate to the list, and on the left link bar, click Modify settings and columns.
  2. On the Customize "Document Library" page, click Change general settings.
  3. On the Document Library Settings page, in the Document Versions section, under Create a version each time you edit a file in this document library?, click Yes.
  4. Click OK.

About Checking Documents In and Out

Checking documents in and out allows users to obtain exclusive write access to a document, eliminating the need to merge changes from multiple authors. When a user checks a document out, that user is the only user who can save changes to the document. Other users can read the document, but they cannot make changes. The user who has the document checked out can update the document, and see the latest version of the document, but other users will not see the updates until the document has been checked back in. Members of the Administrator and Web Designer site groups (or members of any site group with the Cancel Check-out rights (rights: File-level and folder-level permissions that allow access to a Web site.)) for a site can override a document check-out if necessary, and force the document to be checked in with the previous version.

To force a document to be checked in, you use the same command as the user would use to check in a document normally.

Cancel a check-out and return to the previous version
  1. Navigate to the document, click the down arrow next to the document's title, and then click Check In.
  2. On the Check In page, select Discard changes and undo check out, and then click OK.
  3. On the confirmation message that appears, click OK to check in the document.