From Lightning Tools, the folks who brought us the BDC Metaman (awful name, good product) comes their ‘Lightning Conductor’ web part. Again, a slightly strange name (it isn’t copper and it doesn’t poke out from the top of a church roof). So what does it look like:
Okay, so it looks similar to the data view web part (apart from the ‘trial version’ message!), but it has the same sorts of roll up options to the Content Query web part. One of the things that impressed me about this web part was actually the configuration screens in SharePoint:
The main settings form is a well laid out, clear (if somewhat long) form. It just looks right.
The other significant administration screen with it is selection what columns you want to show, and their order, and any sorting or grouping.
Now that is much easier than displaying extra columns in the Content Query Web Part (or the Data View Web Part, come to that. Again, quite a long form, but clear, and trust me, easier than writing XSL 🙂
I did have a couple of little problems with it, though. Firstly, for some reason it didn’t seem to want to show me my Project or Project Status columns in the ‘Filters’ section, so I couldn’t restrict my view by these fields. I may have configured something wrongly that this wasn’t possible.
The other thing that struck me was that while the web part does have column headings that the user can click to sort by, there is no icon to tell them what column they’re sorting by already, or whether it is sorting ascending or descending.
So, it’s advantages:
- Good user interface. I could imagine non-technical people being able to set up their own views.
- Can consolidate across Multiple Site Collections (which isn’t possible through the Out-of-box options)
- Can consolidate a single site collection, a site and it’s subsites or a specific list.
- Can filter by list type
- Can filter by content type or meta data fields (though I had a problem with them)
- Can Group results
- Has user definable sorting (but needs a little arrow to show which column is being sorted, and in what order)
- Has Pagination of results.
- Can define view by XSL if you really want to.
- Costs money (though I think is still a bargain compared to developer time)
- Could be a tough sell to customers (“But SharePoint already has the Content Query Web Part“)
In short: It’s what everyone really wished that the Content Query Web Part actually was.
So, I’m quite impressed by the Lightning Conductor Web Part, but what of the other commercial option I’m reviewing – Bamboo’s List Roll-Up Web Part?