Tag Archives: Columns

Cataloging Choice Columns

It’s been a while but it’s time for a new post.

Someone asked on TechNet () how to get a summary of all the custom choice columns and the options they have. I didn’t have the time to put it together at that moment but I thought It’d be a good exercise.

This will work for 2010 or 2013 but will not work for Office 365 or SharePoint online. For that a different approach would be needed.

“I inherited a SharePoint 2010 Foundation site that contains about 40 custom columns and about 10 of those custom columns are of the type “Choice”. Is there a way using Powershell or something else to export to a .csv file a list of the custom columns and if they are the type “choice” to show the list of what the various choices are for each column?”

So, let’s assume that we’re only interested in the site columns. To do that we’ll have to grab the SPWeb object and loop through the columns there that are of the appropriate type and list them out.

#Get the web
$web = Get-SPWeb "http://sharepoint.domain.com/sites/sitecollection/subsite"

#Get the columns (note, these are named fields)
$Columns = $web.Fields | ? { $_.TypeAsString -eq "Choice"}

#Print out the number of columns
Write-Host "Number of columns found: " $Columns.Count

#Loop through each choice and print the name
foreach ($entry in $columns)
{
Write-Host ("Field Name: {0}" -f $entry.InternalName)
#Loop through the choices and print those out
foreach ($choice in $entry.Choices)
{
Write-Host ("  Choice: {0}" -f $choice)}
}

From here

That’ll list out the columns to the screen but it’s not a great solution. It’s printing out too many columns, it’s also just printing them to the screen. We need it to serialise this into a format that we can use.

Let’s start with serialisation.

There’s loads of ways to do this but my preference is to create custom objects to contain the information we collect, then assign them to an array which we can process later.

For a quick guide to PSObjects have a look here
So, after changing the write-hosts to write verbose and putting in our custom objects we get this!

Add-PSSnapin Microsoft.SharePoint.PowerShell -ea SilentlyContinue

#Get the web
$web = Get-SPWeb "http://portal.tracy.com/sites/cthub"

#Get the columns (note, these are named fields) 
$Columns = $web.Fields | ? { $_.TypeAsString -eq "Choice"}

#Print out the number of columns
Write-Host "Number of columns found: " $Columns.Count

#Create empty array
$ColumnDetailsArray = @()

#Loop through each choice column and create an object to hold it
foreach ($entry in $columns)
{
    $choicesArray = @()
    Write-Verbose ("Field Name: {0}" -f $entry.InternalName)
    
    #Loop through the choices and print those out
    foreach ($choice in $entry.Choices)
    {
        #Add each choice to the (local) array
        Write-Verbose ("  Choice: {0}" -f $choice)
        $choicesArray += $choice
    }
    #Create a result object to hold our data
    $ColumnDetailsArray += New-Object PSObject -Property @{
                        "Name" = $entry.InternalName
                        "Choices" = $choicesArray
                        }
}

Which actually makes things worse as we no longer get any results! Let’s add that in some xml work. I’m still not entirely happy with the way PowerShell and XML work together so this example is a bit clunky but it works.

#Create a starter XML for the system to work with
[xml] $xml = "<root><summary rundate='{0}' web='{1}'/></root>" -f 
    (Get-Date -f ddMMyyyy), 
    $web.Title

#loop through the results and genearate an xml object
foreach ($column in $ColumnDetailsArray)
{
    #Create an element to hold the top level item
    $columnElement = $xml.CreateElement("Choice")
    $columnElement.SetAttribute("Name", $column.Name) 

    #Loop through the choices and add entries for each
    foreach ($choice in $column.Choices)
    {
        $choiceElement = $xml.CreateElement("Choice")
        
        #Note that you need this Pipe Out-Null to prevent it writing to the console
        $choiceElement.InnerText = $choice
        $columnElement.AppendChild($choiceElement) | Out-Null
    }
    #Once it's built add the element to the root node
    $xml.root.AppendChild($columnElement)  | Out-Null
}
$xml.Save("C:\ResultFolder\ColumnSummary.xml")

So, this now dumps out the data we’ve asked for but it also dumps out all the pre-packaged columns. This is a problem that isn’t easily fixed, there isn’t an ‘OOTB’ flag on fields but there are a few we can use to filter them out.

If we grab a column from the results and run Get-Members on it there are a couple of fields that should be useful for filtering the results:

Sealed – This shows if the column is not supposed to be edited by human hands. Note that this could give false negatives in scenarios where a column has been deployed via the CTHub which I think seals columns (it definitely seals Content Types) as it pushes to consuming site collections

Hidden – Not relevant in this case but often handy. In this case we’ll filter out groups that are part of the ‘_hidden’ group earlier.

So if we now add that criteria to the earlier $columns filtering process we get

$Columns = $web.Fields | ? { $_.TypeAsString -eq "Choice" -and 
        -not $_.Sealed -and $_.Group -ne "_Hidden"
    }

But that’s still not perfect, so instead of filtering the terms out right now let’s make it a bit more useful first. When you look at columns in SharePoint they are organised in Groups. We can see those properties in PowerShell and group our elements using that field.

Add-PSSnapin Microsoft.SharePoint.PowerShell -ea SilentlyContinue

#Get the web
$web = Get-SPWeb "http://portal.tracy.com/sites/cthub"

#Get the columns (note, these are named fields) 
#Also filter out the sealed fields
$Columns = $web.Fields | ? { $_.TypeAsString -eq "Choice" -and 
        -not $_.Sealed -and $_.Group -ne "_Hidden"
    }


#Print out the number of columns
Write-Host "Number of columns found: " $Columns.Count

#Create empty array
$ColumnDetailsArray = @()

#Loop through each choice column and create an object to hold it
foreach ($entry in $columns)
{
    $choicesArray = @()
    Write-Verbose ("Field Name: {0}" -f $entry.InternalName)
    
    #Loop through the choices and print those out
    foreach ($choice in $entry.Choices)
    {
        #Add each choice to the (local) array
        Write-Verbose ("  Choice: {0}" -f $choice)
        $choicesArray += $choice
    }
    #Create a result object to hold our data
    $ColumnDetailsArray += New-Object PSObject -Property @{
                        "Name" = $entry.InternalName
                        "Group" = $entry.Group
                        "Choices" = $choicesArray
                    }
}

#Create a starter XML for the system to work with
[xml] $xml = "<root><summary rundate='{0}' web='{1}'/></root>" -f 
    (Get-Date -f ddMMyyyy), 
    $web.Title

#Get a unique list of the groups in use in the site
foreach ($group in $ColumnDetailsArray | select Group -Unique)
{
    $groupText = $group.Group
    Write-Host "Group name: " $groupText
    $groupElement = $xml.CreateElement("Group")
    $groupElement.SetAttribute("Name", $groupText)
    
    #loop through the results and add them to the xml object
    foreach ($column in $ColumnDetailsArray | ? {$_.Group -eq $groupText})
    {
        #Create an element to hold the top level item
        $columnElement = $xml.CreateElement("Choice")
        $columnElement.SetAttribute("Name", $column.Name)

        #Loop through the choices and add entries for each
        foreach ($choice in $column.Choices)
        {
            $choiceElement = $xml.CreateElement("Choice")
        
            #Note that you need this Pipe Out-Null to prevent it writing to the console
            $choiceElement.InnerText = $choice
            $columnElement.AppendChild($choiceElement) | Out-Null
        }
        #Once it's built add the element to the root node
        $groupElement.AppendChild($columnElement)  | Out-Null
    }
    $xml.root.AppendChild($groupElement)  | Out-Null
}
$xml.Save("C:\ResultFolder\ColumnSummary.xml")

Of course once you have the group name you can filter those options out by using a blacklist of groups to avoid reporting on.


Add-PSSnapin Microsoft.SharePoint.PowerShell -ea SilentlyContinue

#BlackList Group Names
#These are the known groups you get in a non publishing team site:
$blackList = @(
    "_Hidden",                                                                         
    "Base Columns",                                                                    
    "Content Feedback",                                                   
    "Core Contact and Calendar Columns",                                               
    "Core Document Columns",                                                         
    "Core Task and Issue Columns",                                                          
    "Custom Columns",                                                            
    "Display Template Columns",                                                          
    "Document and Record Management Columns",                                                
    "Enterprise Keywords Group",                                                             
    "Extended Columns",                                                             
    "JavaScript Display Template Columns",                                                   
    "Reports",                                                                  
    "Status Indicators"
)

#Get the web
$web = Get-SPWeb "http://portal.tracy.com/sites/cthub"

#Get the columns (note, these are named fields) 
#Also filter out the sealed fields
$Columns = $web.Fields | ? { $_.TypeAsString -eq "Choice" -and 
        -not $_.Sealed -and $_.Group -ne "_Hidden"
    }


#Print out the number of columns
Write-Host "Number of columns found: " $Columns.Count

#Create empty array
$ColumnDetailsArray = @()

#Loop through each choice column and create an object to hold it
foreach ($entry in $columns)
{
    $choicesArray = @()
    Write-Verbose ("Field Name: {0}" -f $entry.InternalName)
    
    #Loop through the choices and print those out
    foreach ($choice in $entry.Choices)
    {
        #Add each choice to the (local) array
        Write-Verbose ("  Choice: {0}" -f $choice)
        $choicesArray += $choice
    }
    #Create a result object to hold our data
    $ColumnDetailsArray += New-Object PSObject -Property @{
                        "Name" = $entry.InternalName
                        "Group" = $entry.Group
                        "Choices" = $choicesArray
                    }
}
#Create a starter XML for the system to work with
[xml] $xml = "<root><summary rundate='{0}' web='{1}'/></root>" -f 
    (Get-Date -f ddMMyyyy), 
    $web.Title

foreach ($group in $ColumnDetailsArray | select Group -Unique)
{
    $groupText = $group.Group

    #Check to see if the group name is in our blacklist
    if (-not $blackList.Contains($groupText))
    {
        Write-Verbose "Group name: " $groupText
        $groupElement = $xml.CreateElement("Group")
        $groupElement.SetAttribute("Name", $groupText)
    
        #loop through the results and genearate an xml
        foreach ($column in $ColumnDetailsArray | ? {$_.Group -eq $groupText})
        {
            #Create an element to hold the top level item
            $columnElement = $xml.CreateElement("Choice")
            $columnElement.SetAttribute("Name", $column.Name)

            #Loop through the choices and add entries for each
            foreach ($choice in $column.Choices)
            {
                $choiceElement = $xml.CreateElement("Choice")
        
                $choiceElement.InnerText = $choice
                #Note that you need this Pipe Out-Null to prevent it writing to the console
                $columnElement.AppendChild($choiceElement) | Out-Null
            }
            #Once it's built add the element to the root node
            $groupElement.AppendChild($columnElement)  | Out-Null
        }
        $xml.root.AppendChild($groupElement)  | Out-Null
    }
    else
    {
        Write-Verbose "Group skipped:" $groupText
    }
}
$xml.Save("C:\ResultFolder\ColumnSummary.xml")

And there you have it. A working report that will summarise all custom choice columns in a SPWeb object and save them in an XML file.