On the Checkout Option in SharePoint

 Oct 27, 2015

The Checkout option in SharePoint 2010+ serves two purposes.

  1. It controls incrementation of versions
  2. It disallows concurrent editing of an item

Incrementation of versions

Consider a case where you are working on a document located in a SharePoint library. You open it and add a paragraph. You then close it. The next day you add a bit more to it. You do the same thing every day and gradually develop the document, little knowing that every time you save and close the document SharePoint increments the version of the document. So by the time you are finalizing the document you already have kept say 10 versions unnecessarily. These versions are practically never going to be used to retrieve a document because they were interim modifications.

If you check out the document before you start modifying it, however, SharePoint creates a new version and that version stays the same until you check in the document. During this period, no matter how many times you edit and close the document, the version number is unaffected. You check in the document when the document is final. When the document is checked in the version stays the same as it was after you checked out. The added bonus for this procedure is that during the time the document is checked out, users will not see your modifications until it is checked in.

Concurrent editing of an item

In SharePoint 2010+ up to 10 people can concurrently edit a document. This is a nice feature if you are collaborating on the document, however, it may become a nuisance because the document environment will be ever changing while editors are hammering on it and it’s hard to work on a dynamic environment. Moreover, sometimes you are taking the document home and while you are working on it at home you don’t want the original to be modified by others on the SharePoint library.

In such cases, you check out the document. By checking out the document you can open the document exclusively to yourself for editing. Other users can open the document but in read-only mode and as mentioned above they will not see your modifications either. They think the old version is still valid until you check in, in which case they will see the new version.

So next let’s examine some of the options around the Checkout option …

Cancel Checkout

This option appears when you right click the checked out item. It checks the item back in and ignores all modifications since the checkout and so the version created after the checkout is deleted. You do this in situations when you decide to start the editing all over again and cancel your previous modifications.

Retain your check out after checking in?

SharePoint asks you this question when you check in the document. This question might seem a bit contradictory, i.e. keeping the document checked out after checking in !#$%@. What this phrase really means is that by checking the document in, the version is released and so other users will now be able to see the changes (the 1st purpose above) but do you also want to allow them to open it for editing (2nd purpose)? You remember checkout served 2 purposes (See above).

If you set it to Yes, then SharePoint checks in the document and so the version is now released and users can see your modifications, but it still retains the checkout property, for the purpose of concurrent editing, this means that users still cannot open the document for editing and so you still have exclusive right to edit the document. This is for situations when you have added enough information for the document to be useable by users but haven’t finished the whole thing.

For more information, check out New Horizons' SharePoint training.

Hope this has helped.

Cyrus Mohseni.

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About the Author:

Cyrus Mohseni  

Having worked within the education and training industry for over 15 years as well as the IT industry for 10 years, Cyrus brings to New Horizons a wealth of experience and skill. Throughout his career he has been involved in the development and facilitation of numerous training programs aimed at providing individuals with the skills they require to achieve formal qualification status. Cyrus is a uniquely capable trainer who possesses the ability to connect with students at all levels of skill and experience.

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