(Rating 3 out of 5)
Lightning Conductor effectively wraps the built-in Content Query Web Part (CQWP) from Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 in a user-friendly interface. Whereas the CQWP requires that the user modify either the Web Part Definition XML file or the ItemStyle XSL file to accomplish common tasks (such as adding fields or converting data types), Lightning Conductor wraps this functionality in user-friendly controls exposed via the tool pane.
One interesting feature that stands out for Lightning Conductor is its ability to display the "Default view for each list". In this model, a standard SharePoint List View Web Part is displayed for each list found by its search criteria. This is similar to manually adding each list to a single page, with full access to built-in SharePoint sorting, filtering and context menu options as defined by the default view. While menu options such as exporting, batch updating and shared views are still not available, this does provide a much more familiar and flexible interface than its standard aggregated view.
- Can query against multiple site collections, a feature unique amongst competitors.
- Default display provides built-in sorting, paging and grouping.
- Provides access to all list types on the server (unlike CQWP, which doesn't display "Issue Tracking" list, for example).
- Allows fields to be selected via the GUI without knowledge of the underlying field names or modification of the style sheet.
- Allows source list to be exposed either by displaying the fully qualified URL or by displaying each list separately as its original List View web part.
- Style is completely customizable via multiple built-in or user defined style sheets.
- Well designed user interface makes it easy to use - especially compared to the CQWP).
- Default display does not expose filtering for end-users.
- Default display does not expose user-controlled shared views.
- Does not support the ability to export data to Excel, Access or other formats.
- Can only display data from one specific list type (same limitation as CQWP).
- While source list can be displayed, it is fully qualified (e.g., "http://domain/site/list/view.aspx") which can clutter up the interface; the ability to simply display the parent site name as a link would be preferred.
- Like the CQWP does not support any inbound connectors thus preventing dynamic filtering.
- While the style sheets can be modified, they do not sorting, paging or grouping. If you want to modify the presentation, you either must sacrifice or recreate this functionality.
Lightning Tools' offering provides minimal functionality on top of the out-of-the-box CQWP, but it makes that functionality much more accessible to site owners who don't have development experience (and a lot easier for those who do). While other products provide more functionality for a similar price, Lightening Conductor is still a rock solid and logical extension of the built-in CQWP functionality.