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Version Controlling SharePoint Documents

With some of the clients I have worked with, have noticed that the “Edit Document” option (as below) is used widespread and very popular while editing documents stored on the SharePoint. This is okay but not ideal given they have access to office 2010 (on Windows 7) as min software configuration.


Screen clipping taken: 31/03/2015 11:46

The following are some of the issues/restrictions in the above approach.

  1. Creation of new history version is not exactly in your control – SharePoint decides this!
  2. There are no comments/notes added on historic versions on update done.
  3. No control on Semantic versions (i.e. when to overwrite an existing version, increment minor version or major version number etc.).

In order to overcome these issues and truly leverage the potential office 2010 integration with SP provides, when editing document instead of selecting the “Edit Document” option, open the document in read-only mode.

  1. And when you need to make a change, Select File Menu on top and check-out the document under “Manage versions” button (as below)

    Screen clipping taken: 31/03/2015 11:29

    Screen clipping taken: 31/03/2015 11:32

  2. This will check-out on SharePoint (Exclusively – so others can’t make updates at the same time), and enable the document for editing. Once done, to check the changes back in, again select the File menu (as above) and select the check-in option (as below).

    Screen clipping taken: 31/03/2015 11:34

    And this will prompt a dialog on version options (depending on the changes made) – as below

    Screen clipping taken: 31/03/2015 11:35

    Semantic versioning guidelines states that,

  3. Any insignificant changes (like typo errors, cosmetic updates, etc could simply re-use existing version – no need increment the minor version). (re-use 0.3 in above screenshot example)
  4. Any minor non-breaking changes (i.e. changes to apis that doesn’t break existing clients, or design changes at that level without impact to other modules, etc or no new functionalities) then these could be tracked using minor version increment. (0.4 in this case)
  5. Any major changes, like new functional module, major breaking changes to library, or TD approval of a version could be tracked as major version. (1.0 in this instance).

Also the version comments will provide crucial information on what exactly updated and why, etc.

All of these versions can then be obtained from SharePoint version history as below.

Every office application provides this feature (I.e. Excel, Word, PowerPoint, Visio etc.) – with some subtle differences to the check-out, check-in options.

Also there are other features like Comparing versions, etc. available as you can see in the check-out screen-shot above.

[Edit] – Also you could enforce version control using the “Require check-out” option for any SharePoint items, this will prevent users from Editing the document directly (without checking out).


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