SharePoint 2010 has many new and very useful features, one of them being new functionality with content types via the Managed Metadata service application.  It allows you to specify a content type hub, a central location for managing content types.  You can then publish those content types to subscribing site collections.  This opens up a lot of flexibility to manage content consistently.

Recently I ran into a scenario where I had configured content types in the hub site, and set the column order and published the content types.  After awhile I had made changes to the root content type column order and re-published those changes.  I found that the settings for the columns were updated (hidden, required, etc.) but the changed order did NOT update.  This is fairly significant to users of a document management system as you don’t want your optional “Enterprise Keywords” field showing first with a required important required column at the bottom.  Oh the humanity!

In doing some testing, I noticed that on an environment with the recently released August 2011 cumulative update for SharePoint 2010 applied, the changed column order updated.  Great!  It’s always nice when Microsoft fixes bugs.  The fix for this issue is actually contained in KB2553031.  You can verify this fix is in the August 2011 CU by looking at the list of fixes in the SharePoint 2010 Server package, and sure enough that KB is included.  Looking through the KB in question, you find the actual listed fix in the “Issues that this hotfix package” fixes section:

Consider the following scenario:

  • You create a new content type in a content type publishing hub on SharePoint Foundation 2010.
  • You publish the content type to subscribing sites.
  • You change the column order in the content type publishing hub.
  • You republish the content type to the subscribing sites.

In this scenario, the column order is not updated on the subscribing sites.

That’s definitely our issue.  I guess the biggest takeaway here is that is really pays to dig through all the KB hotfixes included in a cumulative update.  You never know what issues are getting fixed!

Workaround

As a side note, there is a workaround of sorts if you can't install Service Pack 1 then the August 2011 CU.  By default, when content types are published in other site collections, they are marked as read-only in the destination site collection.  You can change the order by performing the following:

Click Advanced Settings on the content type site settings screen:

Content Type Settings

Change the setting “Should this content type be read only?”” from Yes to No.  Click OK to save.

Now you have your options to change the column order.

Editable Content Type