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SharePoint Lists and Libraries: How to choose the best one?

SharePoint Lists and Libraries

The battle between SharePoint lists and libraries has been going on for a long interval. We understand it is a complex task to make the final decision. You might have come across the famous dialogue by Dumbledore from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

“It is not our abilities that show what we truly are, it is our choices.”

This means it is crucial to make the right choice based on your business requirements and expectations to succeed.

We will be disclosing the main differences, limitations, benefits, and challenges of using SharePoint lists and libraries.

Let us begin the journey from the basics first:

What are SharePoint Lists?

It is one of the flexible and powerful features of SharePoint. You might think that it can be used only by IT professionals and people with sufficient technical knowledge. To be honest, they are not that complex, and you can get hands-on with them after some time.

SharePoint list is a collection of data in a proper structure. They can be in the form of a table, database, or spreadsheet. You can add various types of information like numbers, images, or texts. When it is organization data, it is regularly updated, which makes lists the perfect choice. The SharePoint lists give it more value by helping in visualizing, storing, and managing the information in proper structure.

What is SharePoint Library?

This is a place to create, upload, collaborate, and update files with other members. Every library has a list of files and key information about the last modifications. SharePoint Document Librarygives you the freedom of customization.

As a user, you can control the ways a document is created, managed, or viewed. It also gives you the list of versions for a single file. This helps to handle the workflow of the projects and business procedures efficiently. 

Let us look at the main differences in SharePoint Lists and Libraries:

1.     Check-in and Check-Out

The main purpose is to prevent conflicts where multiple people want to edit the same content at the same interval. Check-In is the process of adding or modifying an item in the SharePoint lists and libraries. Whereas, Check-Out means the process of getting a version of the list or document items.

  • List: Does not support 
  • Library: Supports

When you choose an item from the list, it gives you the freedom to edit them directly. There isn’t an option of check-out and then update. In contrast, in the library, when you choose a document, it will give you options to Check-In and Check-Out.

2.     Document Set

This is a special Content-type. It is a folder that has metadata. The SharePoint Libraryset gives you the ability to combine metadata with documents and folders.

  • List: Not Available
  • Library: Available

Add document Set content type in the SharePoint list. Redirect to the list, then add an item of Type Document Set. This will display an error as it is not supported in the SharePoint lists. In comparison, you have the document set in the library. Add the Document Set Content-Type in the library, and you can see it.

3.     Versioning Support

Users who have permission to manage the lists can manage the versioning in the lists and libraries. This feature is available for calendars, default lists, issue tracking lists, and custom lists.

  • List: Only major versions
  • Library: Major and Minor versions

The main purpose of versioning is to track history, restore the previous version, or view version history. In the list, you can specify if you want a version or not. It gives you the freedom to specify the number of versions that can be retained.

In the SharePoint Library,you can decide the major and minor versioning. Also, adjust the number of versions a user can retain.

4.     Item-Level Permissions

This permission helps to define who can read and edit items in the SharePoint Lists and Libraries. SharePoint gives you the capability to set the permission for reading, creating, and editing access for the users.

  • List: Available
  • Library: Not Available

In the List Advanced Settings, you can see the Item-Level Permissions. In lists, you can set site, list level, and item-level permissions for the users. At the same time, item-level permission will not be applied to users with site, list, or design level permissions. For the SharePoint library, you do not get this facility. This can be a major drawback for certain organizations where they want to apply permissions for specific items.

5.     Custom Send to Destination

This helps to copy files from one place to another. It helps people to share and publish information from a central location.

  • List: Not Available
  • Library: Available

The list does not provide support to send the documents to the destination. In contrast, the document library has advanced settings where you can specify the destination name and URL. When you choose the document, you can see the destination in the ribbon.

What are the limitations of SharePoint Lists and Libraries?

  • There can be a maximum of 30 million items in the list
  • The maximum file size that can be added to the list item is 250 MB
  • Users can add a maximum of 30 million files to a library
  • The name of files and folders is limited to 400 characters
  • The file size uploaded in the SharePoint document libraryis maximum 15 GB
  • Users can have a maximum of 511 minor versions and 50000 major versions.
  • A maximum of 12 lookup fields is added to a list
  • Both SharePoint lists and librariessupport a generic menu. You do get permissions to add custom menus.
  • They do not support column-level permissions, which means you cannot hide columns from users or teams.
  • SharePoint lists and libraries do not provide support for view-level permissions.

Key Takeaways!

We hope you now have a clear mind when it comes to SharePoint lists and libraries. We have shared with you the essential differences between the two Benefits of SharePoint. Lists are simple to use and give excellent control over the dynamic collection of information. Whereas, SharePoint library helps in managing and organizing documents.

So make the right choice based on your requirements!

Happy Reading!

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