OneNote and SharePoint - Better Together!
Quite a few of my clients are starting to adopt OneNote and SharePoint and they're interested in how they can use SharePoint to share their OneNote notebooks with their entire team. In this article I'm going to talk a bit about how we use SharePoint to host our notebooks.
Tip: This works best with OneNote 2010 or 2013. It works with 2007 but not nearly as well.
A Place for Everything and Everything in it's Place
The first thing we did when we set up SharePoint for OneNote was we created a new document library just for our OneNote notebooks. It's easy to do, in the Navigation Pane on the left we clicked "Libraries" and at the top of that screen we clicked "Create".
SharePoint asked us what kind of library to create and we selected "Document Library"
We named our new document library "OneNote" for simplicity.
Next we assigned permissions in SharePoint so that all of the team members who would need to access our OneNote notebook had full access to this OneNote document library. You'll want to give them full access permissions otherwise the OneNote sync could fail in some interesting ways.
Creating the Notebooks
OneNote makes it pretty easy to create SkyDrive notebooks but not quite as easy to create SharePoint notebooks. We opted for a method that was perhaps more steps that it should have been, but it was easy and reliable.
First Step: Create the notebook you want to share and locate it on your local hard drive (don't worry, we're going to move it). If you already have a notebook you want to share on your local hard drive, obviously you can skip this step. If you have a notebook you wnat to share that's currently located somewhere else (like SkyDrive or a network drive) you'll want to right-click that notebook in OneNote and change it's location to your C: drive.
Second Step: Right-click the notebook in OneNote and close it. Don't worry...we're going to reopen it.
Third Step: Go to your OneNote library in SharePoint and upload the notebook folder(s) to SharePoint. If your notebook is called "Our Notebook" and contains a couple of sections (.ONE files) just upload that entire "Our Notebook" folder from your C: drive to the OneNote library.
Tip: It's often easier to do that if you click the "LIbrary" tab on the Ribbon in SharePoint and then click "Open with Explorer". That makes it easier to drag/drop entire folders.
Fourth Step: Once you've got all of your notebooks uploaded to SharePoint, click on the first folder. It should open in the OneNote Web App. If it doesn't, try going into that folder and opening one of the individual .ONE files. When the notebook does open in the OneNote Web App click "Open in OneNote". OneNote 2010 should open and start synchronizing the notebook.
If it doesn't open...it may be that you're using an incompatible browser. Try, at least for this step, opening the SharePoint site in Internet Explorer 32-bit (64-bit often fails) and then see if you can get the notebook to open in OneNote.
Fifth Step: Now just invite each of your team to go to the SharePoint site and do the 4th step. They'll only have to do it the first time - once each notebook is open in OneNote it'll just be seamlessly sync'd in the background whenever they have a connection to the SharePoint site.
Taking it Back
If for some reason you later decide you want to change a particular notebook to be private again just right-click it in OneNote, go to Properties, and change the location back to your local hard drive.
NOTE: This will NOT remove it from other people's OneNote clients. If they've already opened it they'll still have all of the content as of the last time the notebook sync'd. They won't get any MORE updates and any new changes they make won't sync either. But they'll still have the old local copy.
If you just want to delete the notebook, rather than relocating it, log into the SharePoint library with your browser and delete the appropriate folder. Be forewarned, as above, this WON'T remove the existing content from the local cache of any user who had already opened it in their own OneNote.
Using Your Shared Notebook
Now that it's shared all of your approved users will be able to read and contribute. By default when other authors add content to your notebook their comments will be marked with their initials. As you can see in the image below both "B" and "JH" have added some content to this page.
OneNote not only flags the comments with the initials but also a color-coded bar to make it easier to see who added which comment.
There's no need to manually sync your notebooks - whenever OneNote detects a connection to the SharePoint library that contains the notebook it'll automatically sync'd.