Links, Links Everywhere...

We’ve spent the last few weeks with our heads in the clouds, examining the release of Microsoft Online see SharePoint Online's Debut, My Migration to Microsoft Online, and A Microsoft Online Report Card. Let’s come back to earth this week, and dig in to a meaty technical tip provided by our friends at, who share how to create a useful navigation tool with a customized “I Need To...” drop-down list!

Links, Links Everywhere...
by Nicola Young

It’s time to decide the best way to display your links on a page. If you're using Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) 2007, you have what I consider five options: Links List, Content Editor web part, Content Query web part, Summary Links web part, and I Need to... web part. While I think the first four options listed all have value, the biggest problem I have with them is screen real estate, which is why I frequently choose the fifth option--the I Need to… Web Part. For this article I am going to assume you know how to use the first four; we're going to walk through how to turn the I Need to… web part into a drop down links list.

The I Need to… web part was originally intended to connect to the Site list in the Sites Directory as an easy way for users to navigate. However, it works well as a links drop-down menu for any type of links, whether they are internal or external. To do this, you need to create a custom links list. This is because the built-in links list does not have a title column, which is what is displayed in the dropdown, nor does it have a choice column, which the web part uses for filtering. The first three steps listed below will walk you through setting up the list.

1. Create a Custom List with the following Columns.

Title Type
Title (should be created by default) Single line of text
URL Hyperlink
Yes/No Choice column; yes, no should be the choices

2. Add a couple of items filling in all three columns. The web part is going to ask you to filter the choice column, so if you would like all of the items to show up, make sure you are selecting Yes for the Yes/No column.

3. Go to the homepage of your site. In the right-hand column, add the I Need to.. web part. When you have the web part in edit mode, configure it as follows: (Note: the list name should be the custom list you created in the first step)

If you would like to change the width of the web part, you can do so with the width option seen above. This would allow you to accommodate links with a lot of characters.

Now your web part should look similar to this

After I demonstrate the above functionality of a links drop down, clients frequently ask how do I customize the fact that the web part says “Choose a task”. The following are the steps you will need to take to accomplish this.

4. Change the text in the web part from “Choose task” to “Choose Link.” To do this on the drop down menu of the web part, select export. Save the web part to your desktop.

5. Click Open and Use SharePoint Designer or Notepad to open the file. To change the word task to link in the default text of the web part, locate this line of code (approximately line 75).

Change “Task” to “Link”. 6. To change the tooltip, locate this line of code (approximately line 74).


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