SharePoint Content Categorization: Layer2 Auto Tagger - Installation & Setup

The Layer2 Auto Tagger for Microsoft SharePoint automatically categorizes SharePoint 2010 and 2013 content like items and documents in background. It assigns managed metadata right from the SharePoint Term Store based on content classification rules. See below for more detailed installation and setup instructions.

​The Layer2 Auto Tagger for SharePoint is delivered with a robust installer that installs, updates and uninstalls the various components with your SharePoint configuration. Please select the appropriate folder of the distribution zip-file, 2010 or 2013 - regarding your SharePoint version. Enter the folder of the components to run the installer. The installer first checks system preconsiderations for installation.



Fig.: Der Installer checks pre-considerations for installation of the Layer2 Auto Tagger for SharePoint.


As a next step please select the web applications for the application to deploy to.




Fig.: Please select the web applications to deploy the Layer2 Auto Tagger for SharePoint.


After installation please check solution dependencies and service requirements using the Installation Checker provided.



Fig.: The Installation Checker should be used to verify the installation.


In case of issues please ask your administrator or contact [email protected] if unsure. As a next step please activate the newly installed feature as a Site Collection Feature (not Site Feature) as a Site Collection Administrator.



Fig.: Feature activation in SharePoint Site Collection Features.


After activation you can make use of the Layer2 Auto Tagger. Generally two operation modes are offered:


  • List-based auto-tagging: Metadata is automatically assigned on document creation, upload or modification for a specific library. This mode also offers the option to manually bulk-tag a specific document library or list, e.g. after migration or changes in the taxonomy or categorization rules. This operation mode is especially efficient and highly advised.
  • Timer-job based auto-tagging: Specifc content (e.g. webs, lists, content types, columns) can be crawled from time to time to apply metadata. This operation mode needs more time and resources, but can be helpful to newly apply metadata in case of changes in the taxonomy or categorization rules.

Both operation modes can be combined, if required. Please find a description below.

How To Automatically Assigning Metadata On Document Upload to SharePoint

 Let's start with a document library like this.






Fig.: Document library in SharePoint ready for automatically assigning metadata.


Please note the "Categories" column to host the metadata. If you don't have such kind of column, please create and add to current view.





Fig.: Add a managed metadata column to your SharePoint library.


Please note that you have to assign a term set from the term store to the column that contains the metadata that can potentially be assigned - depending on content and classification rules.







Fig.: A Term Set must be assigned to the managed metadata column on creation.


As a next step you can go to the library settings and find the "Automatically Apply Metadata" option.






Fig.: The option "Automatically Assign Metadata" comes with the Layer2 Auto Tagger product.


If you can't find the option there, the feature is not installed or activated for the current site collection. Following the link you can configure the library for auto tagging as follows.






 Fig.: SharePoint document library configuration for automatic metadata assignment


Please note that you have to:


  • Include or exclude columns for automatic metadata assignment
  • activate the configuration to allow automatic metadata assignment


You can make use of overwrite-mode to overwrite existing assignments, e.g. already manually assigned metadata. If set to no, additional meta data is assigned, but no metadata removed. You can use system update to keep existing modified date & time as well as editor information. System updates do not create new document versions (in case of versioning enabled) or start change workflows.


As a next step the already existing items in the library can be processed manually using the bulk-tagging option as follows.






Fig.: Bulk tagging option to apply the list settings regarding metadata assignment to all items and documents of the list.


If your taxonomy of terms fits to your content, you now have metadata assigned to your library (see categories column).






Fig.: Metadata was assigned automatically to your SharePoint library.


If no metadata is assigned, you have to improve your terms or content classification rules as follows. For example to apply the security tag to a specific document, go the following steps.






Fig.: Document relevant to apply the terms security and business.


Let's take a look at the term store for appropriate terms, labels and optionally rules to classify these document.








Fig.: Terms in SharePoint Term Store, prepared for automatic assignment.


Please note that in this case the term itself named security and will easily work with the document. You you can also define synonymes as other lables. In this case the term security is also assigned if "1600" is in the document. Great to assign e.g. customer names by customer numbers. You can optionally define more complex rules using the Layer2 Taxonomy Manager as follows.






Fig.: Content classification rules can be added to the term to assign metadata automatically.


You can define logical expressions of patterns in the rule. The term is applied if the expresssion returns true. You can use OR or AND operations, also brackets (). RegEx expressions are supported for maximum flexibility.

Note that rules allow to assign terms that are not found in the document text.


Finally your items and documents are classified automatically during upload.





Fig.: Managed metadata from the connected term store is assigned automatically while uploading documents to SharePoint.


You can use the advanced term edit dialog together with the Layer2 Tag Suggester to improve the quality of metadata assignment step-by-step. Once assigned, you can work with the assigned managed metadata to improve navigation and findability in your portal:


  • Make use of list filters by terms - the only way to filter large libraries (>5.000 documents).
  • Refine search results by assigned terms.
  • Create term-based tree-style navigations using the Layer2 Tag Navigation Web Part.
  • Create an A-Z index directory of your portal using the Layer2 Tag Directory Web Part.

SharePoint Content Classification using Timer Jobs

​To automatically assign metadata to SharePoint items and documents you can also use a SharePoint timer job. After successful installation of the feature please activate the timer job that runs the Auto Tagger in Central Administration > Manage Farm Features as a Farm Administrator. Please re-schedule if required:





Fig.: The Auto Tagger Timer Job runs as a Farm Feature.


The "Auto Tagger" feature generally activates background content categorization for the current site collection and creates the following lists (if not exists):


  • "Auto Tagger Configuration List" to define configuration items (jobs) to run at a specific time
  • "Auto Tagger Scope List" to define scopes for certain configuration items (jobs), e.g. to include or exclude specific web sites, lists / libraries, columns or content types with tagging.

Please use these lists to setup more advanced options manually. By default no items or documents are in any scope of the Auto Tagger to avoid unwanted data modification.






Fig.: Sample Auto Tagger Configuration List item to re-tag the scope every 24 hours. Please note, that the TargetUid column is no longer available starting with version 1.7.


  • Title
    You can use any title you want to describe your configuration item.
  • TargetUid
    No longer used. The target is defined in the scopes list since version 1.7
  • Interval
    Set the run interval in hours here. By default this is set to 24h. Please make sure that the Auto Tagger Timer Job setting is shorter compared to your interval settings. The timer job takes a look at this list to execute certain entries, if required.
  • Overwrite
    Setting the overwrite flag to true (enabled) causes a complete new tagging for each item or document of the target area, which overwrite all previously given tags. By default the overwrite flag is set to false (disabled). In this way manually given tags are kept by default. The auto tagger by default only adds new and additional tags to the item or document.
  • Last Run
    This entry is automatically written by the timer service to report the last run date and time.
  • Next Run
    This entry is automatically written by the timer service to set the next run date and time. You can overwrite this, to enforce executing.
  • Duration
    This entry is automatically written by the timer service to report the duration of the last execution of this entry (in seconds). Please make sure, that the duration is significantly shorter than your given interval.
  • Tag Count
    This entry is automatically written by the timer service to report the number of tags given to items and documents with the last execution.
  • Item Count
    This entry is automatically written by the timer service to report the number of Items and documents tagged with the last execution.
  • Warning Count
    This entry is automatically written by the timer service to report the number of warnings in the last execution. See SharePoint Log for more detailed information.
  • Error Count
    This entry is automatically written by the timer service to report the number of errors in the last execution. See SharePoint Log for more detailed information.
  • Last Error Message
    This entry is automatically written by the timer service to report the last error message. This entry should be blank, if no errors occurred. See SharePoint Log for more detailed information in case of errors.
  • Use System Update
    By default "System Update" is used to modify the item or document entry with tags by the auto tagger. That means, the "Last Modified" date/time and user is not changed by auto tagger. No workflows, offline replications etc. are started on item or document change by auto tagger. If disabling this entry, normal update is used. The "Last Modified" information is changed and e.g. workflows and offline replications are started on item / document change (if defined).
  • Notes
    Please describe your configuration item here.
  • Version
    The program version installed is listed here for debug and support.
  • Attachments
    log.txt contains all log information of the last run. It is replaced with the next run.


The scopes are defined in the "Knowledge Managament Suite AutoTagger Scopes List":





Fig.: Sample scope antry that excludes a specific column from auto tagging.


  • Title
    Use the item title to describe your scope.
  • Scope
    Reference a configuration item here with lookup.
  • Website, List, Column, Content Type
    You can include or exclude any Web Site, List, Column or Content Type here.
    For example you can create one entity that includes all (using *) and another entry that excludes some elements. Alternatively you can include some specific elements only. In case of using Content Types you can include / exclude inherited content types of e.g. myContentType using myContentType*.
  • Include
    If enabled, the elements are included in tagging, otherwise excluded.
  • Notes
    Please describe the scope for others to understand your entry.




Layer2 Auto Tagger for SharePoint - Background Information

The simplicity and popularity of collaborative tagging as an information organization approach comes at the expense of several limitations.

Manual content categorization / tagging

Traditionally, content has been categorized by subject experts, who manually reviewed documents and matched them to categories within a taxonomy. Despite the costs involved in manual categorization, it is perceived to have one key advantage: 100% accuracy. This is not necessarily true:


  • Firstly, people choose tags based on their personal opinions, their knowledge background and their preferences. Subject experts may not have the bigger picture. An expert categorizing documents in his field does not necessarily possess expertise in other subjects - other parts of the taxonomy. An article about a businessman purchasing a baseball team may be reviewed by a sports expert, and categorized in the "Basketball" category, but not in one of the more specific subcategories of the "Mergers and Acquisitions" category.
  • Furthermore, users may be describing the same object based on different granularity. This creates a noisy tag space and thus makes it harder to find material tagged by other users.
  • Secondly, people may use polysemous words (a word that has many related senses) in order to tag the web resources. The lack of semantic distinction in tags can lead to inappropriate connections between items.
  • Another problem is that different tags, which are either synonymous or have closely related meaning increase data redundancy, leading to reduced recall of information.
  • Last, but not least, people tend to assign a very small number of tags to an object.


In addition, manual categorization it completely impractical for very large repositories of data that grow at a fast pace - exactly the case for most modern organizations.

All these limitations have led researchers to develop methods that assist users in the tagging process, by automatically suggesting an appropriate rich set of tags, in order to avoid the aforementioned obstacles.

Automatic rule-based content categorizing / tagging

Using this approach, information experts attempt to define the discriminating properties of categories using a set of rules. These rules may be simple (e.g. "does the word 'snow' appear in the document"), or use more complex operators (e.g. "does the word 'snow' appear together with the word 'skate'"). In order to find precise rules that distinguish similar categories (for example, "Financial Planning" and "Investment Banking") one needs substantial expertise in the subject being covered. This approach's reliance on human-comprehensible rules is an advantage, because it allows an organization to leverage existing knowledge and expertise. It needs time, effort and expertise to create the rules - but the results are absolutely predictable and can be improved step by step.

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