What a week it was! We finally got access to SharePoint 2010 RTM and all the Office client applications. If you have TechNet or MSDN, you can download everything now. If not, you can get Windows SharePoint Foundation and SharePoint Designer now off the Microsoft download site. And that leads me into this week’s article.

Over the past couple of articles, I have been discussing some of the enhanced capabilities found in SharePoint Designer 2010. No longer is SharePoint Designer just a design tool; it is now a SharePoint admin’s friend, giving him or her an overview of the environment from a single client application.

The first thing you will see when opening a site in SharePoint Designer (SPD) is a great new dashboard, giving you information that in 2007 could be hard to find. This includes the version of SharePoint, storage being used, storage available (if you are using quotas), permissions (users and groups) and sub-sites. What a great improvement, and you haven’t even clicked anything yet!

Managing users and groups in SharePoint 2007 was a real challenge. The team at Microsoft has done some great work to make this easier and, more importantly, more transparent. From within SPD we can add users and groups to sites quickly—no more diving into site settings to add a single user. We can also rename groups, and change the name, group owner and description. These tasks required many clicks in the past.

Other areas that were difficult to manage were content types and site columns. SPD gives you a simple interface to see all content types in your site collection and site columns. It is easy to create a new content type, add columns and change document templates, and then with a single click, publish the changes to the site. When looking at content types, we can also see any workflows attached to the content type.

We can still get access to the old file system style view of all files and libraries within our site, so we can get to CSS and Masterpages and do “designer” tasks. While we are on the topic, admins can lock down what can be done to a site using SPD over four levels: enable/disable across the site, detach pages from site definition, customize pages and Masterpages, and manage URL structure. Now we can prevent customizing pages and the performance hit that can happen in large sites. Site collection admins will still have access, unless it has been disabled at the Web application. Again, you have the same set of permissions here.

I do believe that with the release of SPD 2010, more sites will allow power users access to the tool due to the enhanced features and extra control.

If you haven’t already, download Windows SharePoint Foundation 2010 and SharePoint Designer and have a look at some of the great new features.

Joshua Haebets is the Principal SharePoint Consultant at Evolve Information Services in Australia. He can be contacted at Joshua.haebets@evolve-is.com.au.