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Managed Metadata Column Limitations

[ 55 ] June 27, 2011 |

By now we have all heard about the new Managed Metadata features in SharePoint 2010. Most of it is good news, great news actually. However there are some limitations that you should be aware so that you can make the right choice for your organization.

So here is my list of some of the limitations of Managed Metadata Columns. If you have any more let me know so that I can add it and hopefully this can become a pretty good reference for all you good SharePoint people out there!

1) No InfoPath Support

There is no InfoPath support for Managed Metadata columns. Regardless of whether this is a InfoPath form that is hosted through Forms Services or a list form it is not supported.

Yes I know that people are angry (see this thread on the MS Forums), but it simply does not work. If you try to customize a form with InfoPath that has a Managed Metadata column you will get this:


This is really, really important if you intended to use InfoPath to start customizing all of your forms and intended to also leverage Managed Metadata. Put simply you cant Sad smile

2) No SharePoint Workspace Support

There is also no support for Managed Metadata columns in SharePoint workspace, as pointed out by a blog from Paul Culmsee. So if you have requirements around taking content offline with Workspace be careful on deciding whether Managed Metadata is right for you.


3) No Support in Office 2007

This is another one that gets many organizations. You can not edit Managed Metadata columns from the Office 2007 client, or 2003 for that matter. If you want  to be able to edit Managed Metadata columns you need to have Office 2010 installed.

This can be a major pain, especially if you have Managed Metadata columns set to required on a particular Content Type or library. For more information Corey Roth did a great point over at Go check it out and don’t get caught like many organizations have.

4) Cannot Edit Managed Metadata values in Datasheet Mode

You cannot edit Managed Metadata columns in datasheet mode, the selected cells are read only. Therefore for bulk changes you need to either go through each item one by one, or you can also get some of the functionality of bulk metadata changed through Document Sets as I describe in this article.


There also seem to be quite a few third party solutions that are making their way on they market to tackle this issue as well.

5) Limitations in Views

There are also some limitations in the operators that you can use for views with Managed Metadata fields. You cannot use the ‘Begins With’ or ‘Contains’ operators for filters in views. Try that and you will get this:


6) Extra care required in SharePoint Designer Workflows

Many people assume that Managed Metadata columns do not work in SharePoint Designer workflows, when in fact they do.

However you cannot simply plug in the name of the term that you want to use by need to use GUID of the term.

If you are comparing fields you need to compare the value with the following format:


So for setting values you are looking at a format of:


or you might have something simpler like:


You can find out the correct format when you look at the field in Datasheet view and then use it in your workflows. So if I have a label of “Compliance” I need to find out what the format is and then use that in my workflow:


Yes its not fun, and I am sure that there are cases where this might not work or break. However it is possible but requires extra planning.

7) Feature deployment of Managed Metadata requires care

Once again this isn’t a limitation per se but it does require some extra care and knowledge. I am not the guy to get into the details of how this should be done but have a look at the following articles that explain some of what you need to consider:

8 ) Cannot be used in calculated fields

You cannot use a Managed Metadata Column for calculated fields. So if you have a requirement to do a calculated field you will need to use another column type

9) Maximum of 250 terms selected per Managed Metadata Column

This was pointed out to me by Kelly D Jones on his blog post entitled SharePoint Managed Metadata Column Limitation. Turns out that you can only have a maximum of 250 terms selected for a particular column otherwise you get an error.

10) Caution when restoring a Local Term Set to another Content Database

Another suggestion, this time from Bobby Chang from a post entitled Beware Local Term Store. When you create customize a Term Set for a Managed Metadata column you will experience issues if you then try to back up and restore it into another content database.

11) Taxonomy feature is not activated on the Blank Site Template

This one comes from Andy Burns that talks about why the feature needed to create a Managed Metadata column is not enabled on the blank site template ( you can see it here).

Fortunately it is pretty easy to fix, you just have to enable the Taxonomy feature.

12) Know capacity boundaries

This was mentioned by Richard Harbridge that you should be aware of the capacity limits around Managed Metadata. For all of the limits check out the SharePoint 2010 capacity management: Software boundaries and limits TechNet article. Remember if designing for large clients there are limit to how far you can push the Managed Metadata service.

13) Cannot add a Managed Metadata Column through SharePoint Designer

Although you can add a Managed Metadata column via the web interface you cannot add a Managed Metadata column with SharePoint Designer 2010. It’s a little weird but with a simple workaround.




Of course some good SharePoint folk have already read my brain and started documenting this already. Here are some people much smarter than I that have already looked at some of the issues above:

So that’s it for now, let me know if you have anything to add or alter as I intend this to be a ‘living’ blog post! There is grumblings in the community, let me hear these grumblings!!!

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Category: General, How To

About Michal Pisarek: Michal Pisarek is the founder of Dynamic Owl Consulting and a Microsoft SharePoint MVP. View author profile.

Comments (55)

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  1. […] support for Managed Metadata columns which made it really difficult to use Managed Metadata in SharePoint […]

  2. John says:

    Managed Metadata columns can’t be hidden in Document Information Panel (DIP), even not with ShowInFileDlg=”FALSE”

  3. Bastiaan says:

    Managed Metadata fields can be used in CQWP, but when trying to filter, only “Equals” operator is available. Not Equals operator (Neq) is missing.

  4. […] 2010 and Managed Metadata are not yet on cordial terms. Hopefully, Microsoft will address the limitations of MMD when used by SharePoint Designer and otherwise, in the next release of […]

  5. Celbester says:

    Thank you! Very useful.

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