Never Display Lists or Libraries Directly on Public Web Sites

Most people think of SharePoint as a collaboration tool. Relatively few of these people think of using SharePoint to create their corporate web presence. Like all tools, there are pros and cons to this decision and I’m not going to debate those here. I’m just going to assume that you your organization has made the decision to create their public facing web site using SharePoint.

In fact, our organization made that decision seven years ago. Because of the size of our organization, content management was decentralized giving each department control over their own site content. Overall that decision has been good. However, there have been several issues that have come up over the years. Their solutions may also be of interest to others. Therefore, I will occasionally explore one of them as a blog topic just in case they might help others.

A common problem that occurred on our public sites when we were using SharePoint 2007 and SharePoint 2010 stemmed from anonymous users attempting to click on links in the navigation that attempted to display a list. While it is possible to display a view of a list or on a public site page (see next week’s article), that view cannot contain a link back to the properties of the list items. The problem occurs because anonymous users do not have edit rights to the contents of a public site. It does not matter whether are attempting to open a list or library directly or attempting to access the properties of an item in a list, SharePoint displays a prompt to log into the site. Since an anonymous user does not have a login, this situation is frustrating.

Lets first deal with the first problem, the one where you attempt to directly open a list or library. In this case, the content editor probably created a site but did not select the option to NOT include it in the navigation. When creating the list, the content editor simply supplied the name of the list and clicked the Create button. This resulted in SharePoint making some assumptions. The assumption of concern is the automatic inclusion of the new list in the Quick Links navigation. For a collaboration site or even an intranet site, this assumption may be exactly the choice you would want so that users could easily navigate to the list and interact with it. When these users click on the list link in Quick Links, SharePoint opens the default view of the list and allows the user to view and edit the contents of the list (assuming they have rights). However, anonymous users will never have edit rights to the lists or libraries in a public SharePoint site. But because SharePoint does not know who the anonymous user is who is attempting to open a list directly it asks the user to log in. As a public facing site, this action can be frustrating to these users because they have no way to log in.

Fortunately, there is an easy fix for this problem. In fact, the content editor only needs to click on More Options after supplying a list name instead of simply clicking on Create.

By going to More Options, the content creator has the ability to not display the list in the navigation (the Quick Launch) by selecting No in the Navigation section.

If they forget to do this, they can recover by selecting Site Settings in the Site Actions dropdown.

Then they select Navigation in the Look and Feel group of the Site Settings page.

Next, they can select the entry for Lists in the Current Navigation (which is the Quick Launch area) and click on Delete in the header options in the Navigation Editing and Sorting section.

This removes the heading entry for the list since there could be multiple lists. However, they must also go back and remove the list entry as well because an anonymous user cannot open the list directly. If they only remove the actual list, the heading entry would still remain.

After removing these entries from the Current Navigation area, the content creator must click on the OK button at the top or the button of the page or their changes will not be implemented.

Next time I will look at the similar, but related problem that occurs when inserting a view of the list on the page rather than just providing a link to the list to show how even this can cause problems with anonymous users. Of course I will explain how you can solve that issue as well.

C’ya next time.