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Webucator's Free Advanced SharePoint 2013 Tutorial

Lesson: Content Approval

Welcome to our free Advanced SharePoint 2013 tutorial. This tutorial is based on Webucator's SharePoint 2013 Power User Training course.

Content approval can be used on both lists and libraries in a SharePoint site. With content approval enabled, you have additional options to control the visibility of items. Content approval is enabled through the list/library settings page.

Content can be approved manually through the context menu and toolbar of an item or it can be automated with workflows. SharePoint includes a workflow specifically for approving content.

Lesson Goals

  • Learn how to enable content approval.
  • Learn how to set the visibility of items that have not been approved.
  • Learn how to approve items.
  • Learn how to enable out-of-box workflows.
  • Learn how to assign out-of-box workflows to a list or library.
  • Learn how to start the out-of-box Approval workflow for a list/library item.
  • Learn how to approve an item using a task created by the out-of-box Approval workflow.

Enabling Content Approval

The following walk-through will show you how to create a custom list and enable content approval for it.

  1. Create a new custom list in your site named "Approval Items".
    1. Click the Settings icon and choose the Add an app item.
    2. Select Custom List from the template choices and type "Approval Items" in the Name field.
    3. Click the Create button to complete creating the list.
  2. Enable content approval on the Approval Items list.
    1. Click the Approval Items link in the Quick Launch to navigate to the new list.
    2. Click the List Settings button on the LIST tab toolbar of the Approval Items list.
    3. Click the Versioning settings link under the General Settings group of the Settings page.
    4. Click the Yes radio button option for the Content Approval setting. Content Approval
    5. Verify the Draft Item Security setting is set to Only users who can approve items (and the author of the item). Content Approval
    6. Click the OK button to save the version settings change.
  3. Create a new item in the Approval Items list and approve it.
    1. Click the Approval Items link in the site's Quick Launch.
    2. Click the new item link.
    3. Type "Red Widget" in the Title field of the New Item form and click the Save button.
    4. Verify the Approval Status column is set to Pending for the new item. Content Approval

      The lists Draft Item Security setting determines who can view items that have not been approved. Since you left the setting at the default, only users who have the right to approve items and the creator of the item can see it.

    5. Click the ellipsis button to open the drop-down context menu for the Red Widget item and select the Approve/Reject option. Content Approval
    6. Select Approved from the Approve/Reject dialog and click the OK button. Content Approval
    7. Verify the Approval Status column is now set to Approved. Content Approval

Approved items are visible to all users with at least read permissions to the list.

Content Approval Workflows

In addition to manually setting content approval for items, SharePoint supports using workflows to approve items. For custom workflows, SharePoint provides the action Set Content Approval Status (custom workflows and actions are covered in the next lesson in this course). For SharePoint 2013 standard or enterprise installation, there is an out-of-box workflow for approving content.

The following walk-through will show you how to activate the Workflows site collection feature and assign an instance of the Approval - SharePoint 2010 workflow to the Approval Items list.

The out-of-box content approval workflow is not available with SharePoint Foundation. If your site is running on SharePoint foundation, you will be unable to perform the walk-through.

  1. Activate the Workflows feature to enable the out-of-box workflows that come with the standard installation of SharePoint 2013.
    1. Click the Settings menu and choose the Site settings option.
    2. Click the Site collection features link in the Site Collection Administration group on the Site Settings page.
    3. Click the Activate button for the Workflows feature. Content Approval
  2. Assign an instance of the Approval - SharePoint 2010 workflow to the Approval Items list.
    1. Click the Approval Items link in the sites Quick Launch menu.
    2. Click the List Settings button on the LIST tab toolbar of the Approval Items list.
    3. Click the Workflow Settings link in the Permissions and Management group.
    4. Click the Add a workflow link on the Workflow Settings page. Workflow Settings page.
    5. Select the Approval - SharePoint 2010 workflow from the Select a workflow template list. Content Approval
    6. Type "Approval-Demo" in the Name field of the workflow.
    7. Leave the rest of the workflow settings at their default values and click the Next button.
    8. Type your account name in the Assigned To field and click the Check Names icon. Content Approval
    9. Type "This task was created by the Approval-Demo workflow" in the Request field.
    10. Check the check box at the bottom of the form in the Enable Content Approval section labeled Update the approval status after the workflow is completed (use this workflow to control content approval). Content Approval
    11. Click the Save button.
  3. Create a new item in the Approval Items list to use with the assigned workflow.
    1. Click the Approval Items link in the sites Quick Launch menu.
    2. Click the new item link.
    3. Type "Blue Widget" in the Title field and click the Save button.
    4. Verify the Approval Status column for the Blue Widget item is set to Pending.
  4. Start the Approval-Demo workflow for the Blue Widget item.
    1. Click the ellipsis button next to the Blue Widget item and select Workflows from the item menu. Content Approval
    2. Click the Approval-Demo link under the Start a New Workflow heading. Content Approval
    3. Click the Start button to start the workflow.
    4. Verify the new column Approval-Demo has been added to the list and its value is In Progress for the Blue Widget item. Content Approval
  5. Use the workflow created task to approve the Blue Widget item.
    1. Click the Site Contents link in the sites Quick Launch menu.
    2. Click the Tasks link on the Site Contents page.
    3. Click the Please approve Blue Widget task link.
    4. Click the Approve button at the bottom of the Workflow Task dialog. Content Approval
    5. Click the Approval Items link in the sites Quick Launch menu.
    6. Verify that both the Approval Status and Approval-Demo columns have the value Approved for the Blue Widget item. Content Approval

Enabling and Using SharePoint Content Approval

Duration: 10 to 15 minutes.
  1. Navigate to your team site.
  2. Create a new document library named "Approved Docs" to use for this exercise.
    1. Click the Settings menu and select the Add an app link from the drop-down of choices. Exercise - Content Approval
    2. Select the Document Library template. Add an app
    3. In theAdding Document Library dialog form that opens, type "Approved Docs" in the Name field. Exercise - Content Approval
    4. Click the Create button to complete creation of the new document library.
  3. Grant or verify a user account other than your own is a member of the Contoso Home Site Members SharePoint group so that he can read and create new items.
    1. Click the Settings menu and select the Shared with... link from the drop-down of choices. Exercise - Content Approval
    2. Click the ADVANCED link on the Shared With dialog form. Shared with dialog.
    3. Click the Contoso Home Site Members (your site's Members group will be prefixed with your site's title) link to view the list of current members.
    4. If you are going to test approval with a user that is not in the list of members, click the New link to open the Grant Permissions dialog. Exercise - Content Approval
    5. Type the account name you are using to test approval within the field and click the Share button. Exercise - Content Approval
  4. Enable the Content Approval setting on the Approved Docs document library.
    1. Click the Approved Docs link from the Quick Launch menu. Exercise - Content Approval
    2. Click the LIBRARY tab on to open the toolbar.
    3. Click the Library Settings link on the LIBRARY tab toolbar to open the settings page. Exercise - Content Approval
    4. Click the Versioning settings link on the Library Settings page. Exercise - Content Approval
    5. Click the Yes radio button in the Content Approval area to enable Require content approval for submitted items for the library. Exercise - Content Approval
    6. Verify that the Draft Item Security settings area is set to the Only users who can approve items (and the author of the item) radio-button option. Exercise - Content Approval
    7. Click the OK button at the bottom of the Version Settings page to save your changes.
  5. Create a new document in the Approved Docs library and verify content approval setting is working.
    1. Click the Approved Docs link from the Quick Launch menu. Exercise - Content Approval
    2. Click the FILES tab to open the toolbar. Exercise - Content Approval
    3. Click the New Document link on the FILES tab to open a new document in Microsoft Word. Exercise - Content Approval
    4. Enter the following text in the new document: "This is some sample text to test content approval."
    5. Click the Save icon in the upper left of the Microsoft Word window.
    6. Click the Approved Docs link on the Save As page in Microsoft Word. Save As.
    7. Enter "Content Approval Test" in the File name field and click the Save button to complete saving the new document.
    8. Close Microsoft Word.
    9. Click the Approved Docs link to refresh the view of the library.
  6. Verify the new Approval Status column that shows the current state of the new document is "Pending". Exercise - Content Approval
  7. Test the visibility of the new "Pending" document by opening a second browser window and logging in with an account that belongs to someone who is not the owner of the document and does not haveApprove Items permissions.
    1. While holding down the Shift key, right-click your browser icon and choose the Run as different user option. Run as different user.
    2. In the Windows Security dialog window, enter "Wilbur" for the account name and "Pa$$w0rd" for the password. Click the OK button to complete the logon.
    3. Try to navigate to root of your team site. Root site url
    4. Verify that this account cannot see the new document "Content Approval Test" in the Approved Docs library.

      If you are able to see the document as this user, then either the user has more permissions than he or she should or the Draft Item Security setting is not set to Only users who can approve items. You can check the setting by revisiting the earlier step in this lab where you enabled Content Approval.

    5. Switch back the browser window running under your main student account but keep the second browser window open for a later part of the exercise.
  8. Approve the "Content Approval Test" document.
    1. While logged in as the site administrator, click the ellipsis button next to the "Content Approval Test" document in the Approved Docs library and then click the second ellipsis button on the balloon pop-up and select the Approve/Reject option. Exercise - Content Approval
    2. Select the Approved radio-button option in the Approve/Reject dialog to approve the document and click the OK button to save the change. Exercise - Content Approval
    3. Verify the new Approval Status column that shows the current state of the document is now "Approved". Exercise - Content Approval
  9. Test the visibility of the new "Approved" document logged in with the account that was unable to view the Pending document in the earlier steps.
    1. Switch back to the browser window running under the user credentials that only have edit permissions to Approved Docs.
    2. Refresh the view of Approved Docs and verify the account can now see the new document "Content Approval Test".
    3. Close the second browser window and switch back the browser window running under your main student account.

Enabling and Using SharePoint Approval Workflow

Duration: 10 to 15 minutes.
  1. Navigate to your team site.
  2. Activate the Workflows feature for the site collection to enable the out-of-the-box SharePoint workflows to be used.
    1. Click the Settings icon and select the Site Settings link from the drop-down of choices. Exercise - Approval Workflow
    2. Click the Site collection features link on the Site Settings page in the Site Collection Administration group. Exercise - Approval Workflow
    3. Scroll to the bottom of the features list and click the Activate button next to the Workflows feature. Exercise - Approval Workflow
  3. Add the Approval workflow to the Approved Docs document library.
    1. Click the Approved Docs link in the Quick Launch menu to navigate to the library. Exercise - Approval Workflow
    2. Click the LIBRARY tab to open the toolbar.
    3. Click the Library Settings link on the LIBRARY tab toolbar to open the settings page. Exercise - Approval Workflow
    4. Click the Workflow Settings link on the Settings page within the Permissions and Management group. Exercise - Approval Workflow
    5. Click the Add a workflow link on the Workflow Settings page. Workflow Settings page.
    6. Select the Approval - SharePoint 2010 item from the Select a workflow template list box. Exercise - Approval Workflow

      Activating the Workflows feature made the Approval - SharePoint 2010 workflow and the others you see in the list above available to be used with lists and libraries. If the Approval workflow does not appear in the list, then the Workflows feature has not been activated for the site collection.

    7. Type "Approval-Exercise" in the Enter a unique name for this workflow: field. Exercise - Approval Workflow
    8. Leave the rest of the workflow settings at their default values and click the Next button.
    9. Type your account name in the Assigned To field and click the Check Names to verify the account name. Exercise - Approval Workflow
    10. Type "This task was created by the Approval workflow exercise." in the Request field text box. Exercise - Approval Workflow
    11. Click the check box at the bottom of the form in the Enable Content Approval section labeled Update the approval status after the workflow is completed (use this workflow to control content approval). Exercise - Approval Workflow
    12. Take a minute or two to read the rest of the Approval workflow options, but leave everything else at their default values and click the Save button to save the changes.
  4. Create a new document in the Approved Docs document library to use with the Approval workflow.
    1. Click the Approved Docs link from the Quick Launch menu. Exercise - Approval Workflow
    2. Click the FILES tab to open the toolbar. Exercise - Approval Workflow
    3. Click the New Document link on the FILES tab to open a new document in Microsoft Word. Exercise - Approval Workflow
    4. Enter the following text in the new document: "This is some sample text to test the Approval workflow and content approval."
    5. Click the Save icon in the upper left of the Microsoft Word window.
    6. Click the Approved Docs link on the Save As page in Microsoft Word. Save As.
    7. Enter "Approval Workflow Test" in the File name field and click the Save button to complete saving the new document.
    8. Close Microsoft Word.
    9. Refresh Approved Docs and verify the new Approval Status column that shows the current state of the new document is "Pending". Exercise - Approval Workflow
  5. Use the Approval workflow to set the Approval Status of the new Approval Workflow Test Word document to Approved.
    1. Click the ellipsis button next to the "Approval Workflow Test" document in the Approved Docs library and then click the second ellipsis button on the balloon pop-up to view the context drop-down menu and select the Workflows option. Exercise - Approval Workflow
    2. Click the Approval - Exercise link in the Start a New Workflow area to start the Approval workflow. Exercise - Approval Workflow
    3. Verify that your account is in the Assigned To field and click the Start button to start the workflow. Exercise - Approval Workflow

      Note that you can change the workflow settings before starting it, including who the task is assigned to as well as adding additional users or groups. These settings are the same as the ones you can configure when you add the workflow to the library. The setting you choose when you add it to the list or library become the default settings when you start the workflow.

    4. Verify there is a new column in the Approved Docs library titled Approval - Exercise and that it is set to In Progress for the Approval Workflow Test document. Exercise - Approval Workflow
    5. Click the Site Contents link in the sites Quick Launch menu.
    6. Click the Tasks link on the Site Contents page. Exercise - Approval Workflow
    7. Click the task link Please approve Approval Workflow Test to open the task. Exercise - Approval Workflow
    8. Verify that the Workflow Task dialog has a link to the item needing approval as well as a field to enter comments and buttons to Approve, Reject, Request Change, or Reassign Task. Exercise - Approval Workflow
    9. Click the Approve button to approve the document and close the Workflow Task dialog.
    10. Click the Approved Docs link in the Quick Launch menu.
    11. Verify that both columns Approval Status and Approval - Exercise have been set to Approved. Exercise - Approval Workflow