“Hey, do you see that? We can keep versions.”
“Oh nice, that is useful.”
“Apparently we can do major and minor versions.”
“What does that mean?”
“I don’t know, but let us select them both.”
“I see you can also set a limit.”
“Nah…let us not do that. Let’s keep them all, just in case. Better safe than sorry.”
And that is one of the reasons why you, dear site collection administrator, are faced with a site collection that is bursting at the seams, if you are using an older version of SharePoint. Each version consumes the space of the document.
Office 365 saves versions in a different way. Dan Adams has described that well.
There is a time and place when versions should be used. This is my take on things:
When to use major versions?
For document libraries that are highly collaborative, I recommend to use 2 or 3 major versions to prevent accidents with online editing. I have had to ask for a backup and restore several times, because someone messed up an Excel file and they did not have an earlier version to restore.
For document libraries that need to keep track of version history for audit reasons you will probably need to keep more than 3 versions, but major versions should be sufficient.
For lists, I would suggest to enable versioning if your lists facilitates a process or regular updates and you want to keep track of history.
When to use major and minor versions?
Minor versions or drafts are useful if there is a publishing procedure in place:
- The current official document is online.
- Someone needs to review and update the document on a regular basis, or can propose a change while the existing document is still the official one.
- This reviewed, updated or changed document version is added to the library (via online editing of the official document), and kept invisible to the general audience until it has been reviewed, approved and published as the new official document.
This is a common scenario for policies, procedures and lots of other formal documents.
In publishing sites, the Pages library has unlimited major and minor versioning enabled by default. This is useful for sharing a page edit with other contrubutors before publishing the new version of the page. Although page versions do not add much to the consumed storage space, I always limit the versioning whenever I create such a site.
However, there are some things you need to know before you start working with minor versions.
1. It is not immediately obvious IF versioning has been enabled, and if so, if it is major only or major and minor. You need to go to Library settings > Versioning settings to find out. I wish there was an indication on the tile!
If you have a formal publishing process, I would encourage you use the visibility settings as shown in the screenshot, and please read all texts well.
Content approval is optional. If you enable that, you can further limit visibility to approvers only.
2. It is impossible to limit the number of minor versions for a file. You limit the number of major versions that can have minor versions. The number below should therefore always be smaller than the number on top. But that means that there is no limit on the number of minor versions.
3. Allowing minor versions makes the user interface more complicated. Users have to choose between major or minor version, and I have experienced that not everyone knows the difference. (I once noticed a final project proposal with version 0.59. When I asked the project manager he said he always did it this way because he did not know what it meant.)
4. It takes some effort to get rid of minor versions. That will be the topic of my next post.
Do you have other scenarios where you use major and minor versions? Please let me know!
Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net