In my first post regarding SharePoint Designer 2010 (SPD 2010), I took a shot at introducing SPD at a very high level. Going on forward, I will be creating individual posts which will dig deeper into each of the areas of SPD. This post will focus on the user interfaces of SPD (that would be the stuff you see when you open up SPD and what does it all mean).

For a video tour of SPD 2010 interfaces, watch the videos here.

A Site Administrator or a Designer of a SharePoint Site are the primary folks who will want to look into using SPD to create solutions on top of their SharePoint sites. Let’s assume You are that person. You are looking at your SharePoint site and thinking “there has got to be more I can do with this thing than what the browser allows me to do”. You are absolutely correct! You have the rights to create some powerful solutions, but the internet browser as an application has limitations on what it can do. For example, if you wanted to create a data connection from your site to a source of data that you have access to, the browser is not the tool to do this with. Visual Studio can obviously be used to accomplish this, but then it requires programming experience. Don’t know how to code? No worries! This is a job that’s well suited for SPD. Similarly, if you are looking to create robust business processes (or workflows) on top of your sites, SPD is the answer for that as well. So let’s see exactly where these things and more are located within the SPD interface.


The first thing to do is to download SPD 2010. Open up SPD and you will see the Backstage environment first.

Backstage is now a standard interface that is built into all Office 2010 applications. Think of it like the old File menu in Office 2003. In fact, the tab that shows the Backstage options is called File as well. When you first start SPD, you will need to use the Backstage to either open an existing SharePoint 2010 site or create a new one. Keep in mind a couple of things here:

  • Only SharePoint sites can be managed and customized in SharePoint Designer 2010.
  • SharePoint Designer 2010 is not backwards compatible and cannot be used to open sites in SharePoint 2007 or earlier products.

The Backstage continues to be helpful after you open up a site in SPD (click on the File menu to access it). A site as a container needs to be populated with information and processes before it can have any value to the end user. Backstage can be used as a quick way to add Pages, Lists and Workflows to your site.

Once you have a site opened in SPD, you see the three major interface components: Navigation Pane, Ribbon and Summary Page. Let’s dig into each of these separately.

Navigation Pane

The left navigation pane in SPD provides access to all of the components of a SharePoint site. The links in this pane are all security trimmed. If you don’t have access to something, you won’t even see it there (for example, the Master Pages link would be hidden if Enable Customizing Master Pages and Layout Pages option is unchecked in the SharePoint Designer Settings within Site Collection Administration).

Following are all of the options in the navigation pane and a brief explanation for each:

<Site Name> (SPeL in the screenshot above)

Shows the summary page with information about the site at a high level. Site permissions, site navigation settings and any subsites underneath this site are all displayed here.

Lists and Libraries

Shows all of the lists and libraries that currently exist on the site. This is a security trimmed view and will not show items that a user does not have permissions to.



Three types of workflows can be created in SPD: List, Reusable and Site. In addition, the built in workflows (Approval, Collect Feedback and Collect Signatures) can be copied and modified. All of the workflows that currently exist on the site are listed in this view.

Site Pages

This shows the Wiki page library called Site Pages that gets created automatically for every new site. The home page of the site is stored here. All pages contained in this library are wiki pages. Each wiki page can be organically linked to other pages within the same library.

Site Assets

This library gets created automatically for every site. It can be used to store images that are shown on wiki pages of the site. In addition, site assets such as javascript, xml, css and solution files (wsp) are all stored here for the site.

Content Types

The content types for this site and from the parent site are all visible here.

Site Columns

All site based columns for this site and the parent site are visible in this view.

External Content Types

External content types represent connections to data in back-end Line of Business (LOB) systems. These connections are created using the Business Connectivity Services (BCS) which is installed as a service application among other services in the farm. This view shows all of the connections not just on this site but the whole site collection.

Data Sources

SharePoint sites can create connections directly to a variety of external data sources such as databases, web services (both SOAP and REST services) and xml files. The data sources section in the navigation pane shows all of the existing connections.

Master Pages

The master pages section shows the master pages that are available to be used for the site. Default.master, minimal.master and v4.master are available by default in a team site. If others are created, they would appear here as well.

Site Groups

SharePoint groups are used as a container for Active Directory users and groups. All the SharePoint groups, whether they have permissions on the site or not, available in the entire site collection appear here.


Shows the subsites directly below this site. This list of sites is security trimmed. If the logged in user does not have access to a particular subsite, he will not see that subsite in this list.

All Files

This view shows the URL structure of the web site. The subsites, lists, libraries, hidden folders and more all appear within this folder tree view.



The ribbon that appears on top of the SharePoint Designer 2010 environment provides the fluent user interface which has now been rolled out to all of Office 2010 applications. The ribbon provides a quick and easy way to perform actions on objects that are currently in context. For example, if you are looking at the Workflows section in the navigation pane, you will see the options for creating new workflows and working with existing workflows in the ribbon.

In addition to the default options in the ribbon, additional functionality “lights up” as specific objects on the page are put into context. In the screenshot below, the focus is on the picture which is inside of a table structure. So as a result, the ribbon shows two additional tabs – one for Picture Tools and the other for Table Tools.

The ribbon also respects SharePoint security and it will disable the options which the logged in user does not have permission to use.


Summary Page

The summary page shows the metadata and settings of the object (ex: Workflow, List, Library, Page etc) that’s selected in the navigation pane. You already saw an example of this earlier in the post (summary page for the site). The summary page consists of several sections of information about the object. These sections cannot be removed or customized. The screenshot below shows the summary page of a SharePoint group. You can get there by going to Site Groups in the navigation pane and then clicking on one of the SharePoint groups.

In the screenshot above, you can see the various sections showing settings for the SharePoint group Designers. For example, you can see that there are three members in this group and that only the group members can see the membership of this group and not everyone. By providing these types of settings in the summary page, we are given the opportunity to quickly and easily make changes as needed without having to go to the browser and deal with the server postbacks after each click.

This post showed the interfaces of SharePoint Designer 2010 that users will be interacting with. In future posts, I’ll be exploring each area of this product deeper to give you a better understanding of how you can utilize its capabilities to create robust solutions in your environment.

VN:F [1.9.21_1169]
Rating: 4.6/5 (8 votes cast)
User Interfaces of SharePoint Designer 2010, 4.6 out of 5 based on 8 ratings