LiveTiles Blueprint is a SharePoint add-in graphical user interface that accelerates deployment of information architecture (IA), including pages, list libraries and sub sites. Once installed, its first functionality is to provide “a visual canvas for defining IA,” says Erik Ralston, Technical Architect Team Leader at our Tri-Cities office in Washington State. Blueprint Developer Chet Mitchell points out that users who have just started using SharePoint will have only the basic content that new tenants start with. Using Blueprint, they can “design what they want their hierarchy of sub sites to look like within that site collection, along with what lists and/or pages those sub sites should be built with.”
The second important function of Blueprint is to provide the ability to share that IA with others.
Above, you will see a sample design screenshot using Blueprint. Notice the drag-and-drop format, which is the same feature used in our LiveTiles Design and Build products. The canvas view corresponds to the grid view, thus the barrier to entry for this product is nonexistent. The same concepts apply, with the aim of making Blueprint easy to follow with no training required.
Upon launch, the app will prompt you for a site name and URL. You are free to nest as many sub sites as you like. On the dashboard, you will have the opportunity to create documents, task lists, pages and event calendars. Each of these items has settings where you can enter customized code. Code-based customization usually takes the form of added features or custom columns. You might also have an asset in mind for inclusion in the blueprint, including LiveTiles Design pages you’ve worked on, and those can be saved for later use—along with the entire canvas. Blueprint comes with the nine most common list types: Announcements, Contacts, Discussion, Documents, Event Calendar, Issue Tracking, Links, Photo Library, and Tasks. In addition, a Custom List option is built in.
When a blueprint is imported, it scrambles the original source information, Ralston notes, so that everything arrives with the parent site permissions. When you export your blueprint, the recipient is free to import it from you. This is especially valuable for organizations, businesses or schools that have a centrally planned design to export to remote or franchise locations while requiring consistency across the board.
The workload in Blueprint is frontloaded in the design of the IA. Creating a model design without the need for a SharePoint architect is made simple, though there are a number of considerations and options to settle on. Once the ideal blueprint is ready to go live, integrating it throughout various team collections will be straightforward and user-friendly. This was, actually, the driving force behind the creation of Blueprint.
Without Blueprint software, it is very difficult and time consuming to seamlessly recreate IA from a central model. The greater the scale, the greater the attendant frustration and repetitive work involved. Blueprint simplifies this arduous process, and adds the benefit of having a user-friendly visual IA design canvas that makes Blueprint a sound IT investment for any organization in the design or replication stage.