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SharePoint 2010 Taxonomy and Managed Metadata


SharePoint Server 2010 provides advanced metadata management features including additional capabilities to create reusable enterprise taxonomies and folksonomies. Taxonomies are hierarchical sets of terms, or tags, usually centrally defined. Folksonomies are similar to taxonomies in that they are a collection of terms, but they have no organization or hierarchical structure. Metadata is used in many more places throughout SharePoint, such as refining search results, filtering and navigating content within SharePoint lists and document libraries using the new Metadata Navigation Settings list, and enabling users to tag pages in social solutions.

Taxonomy is a categorization framework agreed upon by business and content owners (with the help of subject matter experts) that will be used to tag content.

The process of defining Taxonomy for a SharePoint environment is an important role for an Information Architect. Taxonomy affects the information enterprise-wide in the following areas: Navigation, Content Management, Search, and Tagging. Taxonomy can be represented by following types: flat, hierarchical, faced, network, functional, subject-oriented

When you create your Taxonomy project plan consider the following steps:

  • quality metrics
  • content analysis
  • metadata specification
  • vocabulary development (+ thesaurus)
  • semantic network
  • cost benefit analysis model


– About 10 discrete divisions (called facets)
– 4-6 levels deep.
– Up to 15 terms at each level.

SharePoint 2010 Taxonomy Improvements

While it’s true that SharePoint has always provided the option to associate metadata with the data stored in SharePoint, organizations using SharePoint would have to either build their own taxonomy solution or rely upon business rules for how their users should add metadata. This meant that different users could tag items with slightly different terms, thereby eliminating most of the value of taxonomy. There were also technical constraints that prevented creation of a custom solution. For example, the logical place to store terms would be in a list, but lists couldn’t be shared across site collection boundaries, so the taxonomy would have to be duplicated if you

wanted to share terms. There was also no concept of hierarchical metadata and no way to share a collection of terms with delegated permissions. All of these issues have been resolved in SharePoint Server 2010.

Managed Metadata service

With managed metadata, SharePoint 2010 enables you to create centrally managed taxonomies and use them across lists and document libraries. In addition, users are able to navigate by using the metadata items. As an example, you might want to tag proposal documents with a

custom property called Offering, which consists of one of the following: product, service, or training. To do so, you can create a new Column in SharePoint called Offering Type and select Managed Metadata as the Column’s type. This enables you to point the new Column at a managed term set in the term store. When users enter information into this property, they are able to select from a hierarchical view of preset value choices.

You can also use the managed metadata type to provide hierarchical navigation for users. For example, users can get a navigation tree. If a user selects Service under Offering Type, SharePoint will apply a filter to the current view, only showing items that are tagged with a service offering type. In addition, users can use the Key Filters text box to type in the value of an offering, thereby applying the filter.

Management and syndication of metadata is facilitated with the new Managed Metadata Service (MMS). The MMS allows users to create and manage taxonomies and folksonomies. SPS2010 supports both taxonomies and folksonomies. Taxonomies can be defined either as global or local. Global taxonomies are available to all site collections in Web applications associated with the MMS. Local taxonomies are defined and managed at the site collection level and are not shared across site collections.

Administrators serving the role as librarians, information architects, or records managers use the Term Store Management Tool to manage taxonomies and folksonomies. Start the Term Store Management Tool by selecting the MMS instance in Central Administration on the Manage Service Applications page and clicking the Manage button on the Ribbon. Each MMS implementation has a single term store that contains one or more groups of term sets. Groups are used very much like site column or content type groups, in that they make it easier to find relevant term sets.

The following definitions are adapted from the MSDN Library article “Managing Metadata” (

  • Term A word or phrase that can be associated with an item in SharePoint Server 2010.
  • Term set A collection of related terms.
  • Managed terms Terms that can be created only by users with the appropriate permissions, and are often organized into a hierarchy. Managed terms are usually predefined.
  • Managed keywords Words or phrases that have been added to SharePoint Server 2010 items. All managed keywords (also called enterprise keywords) arepart of a single, non-hierarchical term set called the keyword set.
  • Term store A database that stores both managed terms and managed keywords.The Term Store Management Tool is available in Central Administration (and Site Settings). This tool manages terms centrally for the whole farm and can be used to create, copy, reuse, move, duplicate (for polyhierarchy), deprecate, delete, and merge terms The Term Store Management Tool is also used to manage permissions on term stores.