SharePoint 2010 Content Organizer Part 2 – The Rules Engine

The Content Organizer rules are really the heart that drives the content organizer system.  The rules list is just a standard SharePoint list that uses the custom Rule content type.  Each rule contains all of the criteria used to determine where new items should be uploaded.  Rules provide a wide array of configuration options to ensure that you develop a routing plan for almost any situation.  When you first view the list, you will see the rules organized by content type, because content types are the primary criteria upon which rules are based.  There is also a built in view to see the rules organized by target document library.
Here are the different options for creating new rules:
Rule Name:  this is the name of the rule.  Nothing fancy here.
Rule Status and Priority:  the status of a rule is either active or inactive.  If it's active, you can choose a priority for the rule, from 1 (highest priority) to 9 (lowest priority); an active status with a priority of 5 is the default.  If you have more than one rule that match the criteria for an upload, the rule with the highest priority is used.
Submission's Content Type:  in this section you select from two drop downs - one is a content type group name and the other is a content type name.  The Group drop down contains the content type group names that are being used in the Site Collection and current site.  When you pick a name from the Group drop down, the the values in the Type drop down are filtered to show only those content types that are part of the selected group.  Routing in the Content Organizer feature only works for content types that are or inherit from the Document content type.  If a group doesn't contain any content types that inherit from Document, that group will not be included in the Group drop down list.  As you might expect then, if a content type is not Document or inherits from Document, it will not show up in the Type drop down list.
If this content type is used, but with a different name, elsewhere in your organization you should check the box titled "This content type has alternate names in other sites:".  This is basically the same notion as content type "aliases" that was used in Records Center sites in SharePoint 2007.  After checking the box you can add one to many alternate names for the content type.  When documents of those content types are received in the drop off library they will be routed according to the rule parameters you are currently defining.  You can, of course, also remove alternate content type names that were either entered in error, are no longer in use, or should be included with the current routing rule.
Conditions: the Conditions option is a powerful feature that lets you use apply additional property-based filters for the rule to process.  After you have selected a content type, you can add one or more property-based rules, up to a total of six.  The Property drop down list contains all of the properties that are associated with the content type you selected above.  To create a new property-based filter, you select the property upon which you want to filter.  The Operator drop down lets you define how you want to interpret the property value when evaluating an incoming document.  You can choose from is equal to, is not equal to, is greater than, is less than, is greater than or equal to, is less than or equal to, begins with, does not begin with, ends with, does not end with, contains and does not contain.  The Value edit box lets you type in the value you want to compare against when the rule is processed.  For example, you might adding a routing rule that you want to use to capture all items of content type Document where the Name property begins with "Sales".  So, after selecting Document in the Type drop down in the Submission's Content Type section, you would a) select Name from the Property drop down, select begins with from the Operator drop down, and type Sales in the Value edit field.
Target Location: this property is where you define where the item that has met all the criteria above should be routed.  As explained in part 1 of this post, if you checked the Sending to Another Site option in the Content Organizer settings, you will see a drop down box with a list of other locations outside the current site to which a document can be routed.  As explained in that post, entries only show up in the drop down list here if they have been added for the current web application in the Documents and Records Centers link in the General Application Settings of Central Admin.  If you want to route to a location you've defined in there, then just choose the location from the drop down.  Otherwise, if you want to route the document within the site, choose the radio button titled "A library or folder in this site:" and click the Browse... button.  The Browse button uses one of the built in asset picker type dialogs to allow you to select from a list of document libraries in the current site.  After you've made your selection it is plugged into the edit box in a site collection relative format.  For example, if you are in the Docs subsite and want to have the rule route items to the Documents library in that subsite, the value in the edit field would be /Docs/Documents.
You can also choose to have folders created automatically for items based on one of the properties of the content type.  You do so by checking the "Automatically create a folder for each unique value of a property:" check box.  It also has a drop down of properties associated with the content type.  However, unlike the drop down used in the property based filters above, this drop down *only* contains properties that are required by your content type.  This is done to prevent adding folders that have no values for a property.  You are also allowed to specify a format for the folder name.  By default, it is "%1 - %2", where %1 is replaced with the name of the property and %2 is replaced with the value of the property.  For example, if you used the Name property and received a new item where the Name value was "Steve", it would create a folder named "Name - Steve".  You can obviously modify this string as needed, and use %1 and %2 as appropriate.

Once you've provided all of the information described above, you can save the rule and it is available for use immediately.

Coming Next…

In the final installment on the Content Organizer system, we'll take a look at where it all begins - in the Drop Off Library.

Comments (10)
  1. Anonymous says:

    A very usfeul feture, i have a Q though, is it possible to use column functions in the rule part?

    I tried using the [Today] function in the beta version but it did not work.


  2. alexandrad9x says:

  3. Sushil Maurya says:

    Is it possible to use Property-based conditions for people or Group  field type?

    Thanks in advance!!

  4. Lisa Hammond says:

    The checkbox/option to "Automatically create a folder for each unique value of a property: " is grayed out in the Target Location area.  How do I make it active?



  5. Dre4 says:

    hah – the other limitation is for implementations with complex (many) content types, combined with libraries which differ for reasons of user permissions.  If you have 100 content types and 5 document libraries  which could theoretically house any of the content types, you have a lot of rules to write.  it would have been nice to be able to create a set of rules (per destination library, or at least per content type group, even)…..  

  6. Dre4 says:

    oh-yeah – and to have the rules also apply heirarchially – so children inherit from parent – don't think that works either.  And be careful, if you use the alternate names, as described above, the content types will be changed to the primary content type the rule applies to in the destination library…..    a few shortcomings, I think…..

  7. BJB says:

    What if you are creating folders automatically but tag multiple docs with the same property that creates the folder?  It will not add a second document to the folder, it wants to create one and since it can't the file stays in the drop off library.  I want it to create a folder if none exists but if there already is one then add to it.  Any insight is appreciated!

  8. Venkat says:

    We have implemented Content Organizer in our project , we have some bunch of rules created for different content types. The rules are working fine onall the documents are gettign routed to Destinations perfectly except for One ContentType. The document is staying back in the Drop-Off Library…

    We made few checks…

    1.Whether  the rule is therer and names are correct?

    2.Where the destination Path is correct?

    We created Content Organiser rules programmatically , but i feel it has nothing to do with the issue though….

    We made all the possible checks but didnt see observe anything specifcally which is stopping the routing of the document to the desired destination as such…

    Here we would like to know , what could be the difeerent reasons/causes which is making the Content Organiser to not to ROUTE the document to the Target location…

    Any pointers which will unblock is really appreciated….



  9. Manoj says:


    I receive the "total size of the column in the list excceds" error while adding new rules. I have only less than 18 rules in there and I have not modified the content organizer rules list in any way. I have raised this query in the forum but got no response:…/routing-rules-total-size-of-the-columns-in-this-list-exceeds-the-limit-error

    Have you come across this before? Is this a bug in SPS 2010?

  10. SDAF says:

Comments are closed.

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