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Apr 14
I find it very useful that Chrome stores my Favorites in the cloud and gives me the same links in the same places when I load Chrome in different devices.

But I've just discovered that Microsoft are doing the same thing with at least some of the settings for Windows 8.1. (which I - as recommended - log in with my Microsoft password irrespective of which device I am using).

Now it so happens that on the desktop with two screens that I share with my wife, I had tried to give her a startup screen background of a black and white photograph of her father in a boat in the 1930's which I had found in her set of images in that machine. I'd failed in that whenever I had been the person using that PC before shutdown, that image appeared before an Enter gave the Password screen but if she had been the last user there was a more normal image on the screen.

I hadn't got round to fiddling with it so that was still the setting on that PC when I set around updating the new mini PC to Windows 8.1. which is probably a good thing otherwise I wouldn't have noticed that the mini PC was also showing that background image - a PC that you will remember didn't even have the file of that image in its hard disk!

This led to to wonder what else was copied across and then I noticed that the background I was using (orange) on the mini PC was the same as the one I had on the larger PC.

So next time I used the desktop I changed it (to a blue background) and at first I thought I'd cut the connection because when I opened the mini PC I had an orange background but after a few minutes my orange background had changed to the blue one. I wonder now how many other things are being used from that large PC and it's a pretty scary prospect because these are two completely different levels of PCs.

Even pushing the same desktop background used on a dual 24.inch screen setup used in perfect lighting conditions and driven by a good graphics card onto a ten inch screen of much less than 1920x1200 used in variable light seems overly optimistic to me. What is suitable for one is not necessarily suitable for the other.

Yet what other surprises are in store?

Microsoft, think again. What's good for browser favorites is not necessarily good for desktop settings.

P.S. This post was typed on a the Mini PC. The keyboard is actually quite good.


Mar 07
Published: March 07, 2014 22:03 PM by  Dave Pileggi

Though my body is a bit sore, achy, and run down from SharePoint Conference affectionately known as #SPC14, I am writing this blog post absolutely rejuvenated. I have to tell you, I am very excited about this blog series that this post is starting, thus the Forward in front of the title.  The keynote speakers at the conference had similar messages from very different perspectives.  However there was one underlying truth which was centered on people.  I am writing this from my perspective that has shaped over the years.  I am going to write this and the following blog posts within this series with a positive spin.  Of course I will write the negatives as well or we will be “doomed to have history repeat itself”.   In time I would like the momentum of this blog series begin to propel itself forward as you, the reader, begin to perhaps see the value in Bringing Humanity Back into Business.

BusinessLineup

Observations over the years

It is only fair to bring to you observations I have made over the years.  I have lived only in a handful of places in this great country I call home, United States of America.  I have had the opportunity to “people watch” cultures from all over the globe as I have worked at both Walt Disney World Florida and Universal Studios Florida.  A lot of different events have happened over my life time that were significant changes to the world.  The end of the cold war, the tearing down of the Berlin wall, two wars in the Middle East, war on terrorism are just a few I am rattling off from my head.

During my teens, I can remember listening to Ronald Regan about this thing he called the “Trickle Down Theory”.  As you know, this theory was just that, a theory.  It didn’t work out as intended.  Over the years I have continued to watch good financial policy and not so good financial policy come from Washington D.C.  I really believe Regan’s theory could have worked, but there was a new breed of worker that roared onto the scene in the late 80’s early 90’s.  I have to say before I continue, I know no one thing can completely change a theory, or the financial well-being of a country could be tripped up by just one source. BUT I do believe the observation that will follow was greatly influenced by this new breed of worker.  At this time, the new breed of worker was known as Yuppies and DINKS (Double Income No Kids).  They were strong, they were dedicated, and they were driven in making their mark on business.  They were heads down, no distractions get to the goal type of people.  They were successful.  Wildly successful in some cases and at the time no one ever thought what long term impact the changes they had brought would make on the working world.

Here are several things they did then of which we are now feeling the effects of today.  They worked long, long hours. (After all they could, considering both could work and kids were rarely in the plan.)  They sterilized business. No, sterilized is not a good enough word.  Mechanized.  Business became very mechanical.  It was all logical, bottom line driven, no room for error as the market became even bigger (if that’s even possible) than it had been in the past.  It worked, perhaps too well.  Remember how I started the last paragraph about one of the most used theories for comedians worldwide? (I am referring to the Trickle Down Theory)  Ronald Regan came up with this theory because he felt that every American would think/believe like he did.  That Americans would watch the back of fellow Americans and for the most part he is right.  (Case in Point: This country pulled together after 9/11 like we had not seen for some time.)  When it comes to a mechanized, completely logical business world, which cannot work.  Logic would see this theory as a way to increase the profit margins, thus driving up the bottom line. I would wager (this is not factually based, but due to the complete failure of the Trickle Down Theory I feel it’s safe to say) a vast majority of the companies that were in business at this time did not trickle even a little, if any, of that money to the front line workers.  Again, why would they when it would improve the bottom line, it would not be logical.  Even I can understand that this would not make sense when you talk pure business logic.

Fast forward to today, 2014.  There has been more than enough time for the effects to make themselves much more apparent.  Just like in drug commercials where they are fixing one problem, but the side effects are usually worse than the problem they are fixing? (Again, content used by many comedians.)  Here are the side effects from the observations I have shared with you above.  You are going to see them fall like dominos as I explain.

Loss of identity as a worker.  This is the first domino.  Many businesses became bigger, and as they became bigger the idea of a business owner knowing the name of every person in his company disappeared.  People were nothing more than a number.  Being part of Generation X (yeah the first unnamed generation) I can remember even in high school us fighting to be known for who we were as individuals.  In fact as one of the graduates of the Class of ‘89, our class motto was “Not just another brick in the wall.” (From Pink Floyd: The Wall)  Again, when working with pure logic from a business perspective, there is no need for being recognized as an individual.  We should know that we are contributing to the greater good… right?

Crash. The second domino begins to fall.  Loyalty to the employee is lost.  This took some time, but it certainly happened.  Due to the fact employees became a number, not a friend or one of the “family”, there were no emotional ties to those employees anymore.  When there is no emotional attachment, there is no sense of investment in those individuals either.  Over time, though I am sure many will argue this next statement with me, employees became nothing more than a tradable commodity.  Every employee had a “price tag” (pink slip) attached to their shirt/blouse collars.  If the bottom line was in danger, lose some of the pink slips to make amends and fix the “disastrous” situation. Now I know what you are about to say, so let me head you off at the pass. (Wow that was so cliché.)  There is absolute need for layoffs and such to happen, I completely understand that.  The way layoffs are just thrown around and used now a days, indicates it has become the easier path than finding an alternative solution.

One more domino just to ensure I have made my point.  Boom. Loyalty to the employer is no longer there from the employee.  There may be some, but comparatively to the 1940’s not even close to what it was.  Back then when you got a job, you would most likely hold that job to the end of your working career.  Even my father, worked for Massachusetts Electric until the day he retired.  Yes, it was bought near the end of his career by National Grid, but he stayed on until his retirement.  Back then they could hold their resume on one piece of paper.  Today if you can’t fill out two pages for a resume you are looked at as “someone who must have been living under a rock”.  Job hoping is the norm.  The phrase “why should I stick around until they lay me off,” most likely the driving factor to this scenario.

In conclusion to my observations, as you can see, I feel business has become mechanized.  Business has no “soul”, just the stalwart pillar of logic.  If you work for or own a company that these statements are not true, GREAT!  I hope you participate in this blog series.  I am not sure how many of you watched the movie “Tommy Boy”.  The part of the movie (no it’s not a spoiler alert) I really loved was when both employer and employee backed each other up.  The sense of loyalty was palpable.  People are business, never the other way around.  If you take care of the people, the bottom line will be the side effect in a much more positive light.  Your employees will feel valued, loyalty will slowly be built up with the lost trust (so many dominos I have not even spoken on), and the quality of work will go up, and so on.  Am I oversimplifying this?  Yes, but there is so much other things in our life that are complicated, I think going back to the basics may be a breath of fresh air.

What to Expect from this Blog Series

If you have not felt through the words I have been typing how I feel, let me tell you. I feel extremely passionate about this.  Those of you who have met me at conferences, events, school, church, etc. you know about the passion I have.  For those of you I have not yet met, I would love to meet you and hear your story and be able to share the same passion.  Work for most is inevitable, but if it is something you enjoy to do and you feel that it’s a safe haven, your life could be so much richer and happier.  With this blog series I am going to start with the world that I am very comfortable in, but hopefully spiral outward beyond its walls.  I have not hidden the fact I love the SharePoint community, nor will I.  We are a very unique community where we have CEO’s rubbing shoulders with 3rd party developers who are mingling with Microsoft MVP’s who are… You get the picture.  The SharePoint community has and continues to pull together and share ideas and stories and knowledge much more freely than other communities I have been a part of in the past.  I feel this is what is right, or at least on the right track.  People matter. Relationships matter.  I know it goes beyond the “walls” of this community, I just needed a place to start where I feel I have the ability to “spread my wings.”

Once I have gathered data (and confidence), I will go beyond the walls of the community.  I know I am not the only one that wants to see humanity come back to business.  I plan to then go to clients and other businesses who are willing to share how they are trying to reach this common goal.  Again, once I get some more data, I would like to reach out to the individuals.  By this time it would have most likely outgrown a blog format and become a community site or page.

Next Friday I will be starting with the company I work for. Jornata LLC has been kind enough to back me up on this endeavor and will be the cornerstone to this series.  I will be asking each week about five questions that are geared toward how they are bringing humanity back to business.  The trigger that was a catalyst for this series started a year ago by Microsoft.  They started a program called Business Critical SharePoint (BCSP).  When I heard of it, my mind went in this direction even though it was geared more to drive business.  When talking with the participants to this program over the course of the SharePoint Conference about this series all of the companies were happy to assist.

I look forward to you visiting this series as time continues to fly by.



Jul 12
Published: July 12, 2013 10:07 AM by  Bill English

In order to get SharePoint 2013 to accept the configuration of a content deployment path, there are a number of things that you need to do. If you don't do these things, when you click OK on the DeploymentPath.aspx page, you'll get this silly error "Sorry, this site hasn't been shared with you". It's an Access Denied error message. And it was written by the developer who didn't attend the "How to Write Good Error Messages" class – he or she must have been sick that day. So, I spend considerable time working around this problem in order to get it to work. Here are the steps I took and the things I did to make it work, with links to other blog posts for you to reference.

First, I took the advice of a post I can no longer find and added into the user policy permissions in Central Administration the account I had specified in the path configuration and gave it Full Control on both the source and destination web application. While this post didn't tell me specifically to do this, I went the extra mile anyways.

Secondly and thirdly, I enabled (or attempted to, anyways) the Content Deployment Source Feature. At first, I wasn't able to activate it, and since this is a test environment, I decided to kill the web application and just start over – using the OOB Team site template. After doing this, the feature activated without a problem. Now, this post tipped me off to the fact that if this feature isn't enabled, then you can *never* choose a source site collection on the deploymentpath.aspx page. Never. Never ever. So it needs to be activated. But it also tells you all of the hidden (!!!) features that you need to disable using powershell. The basic command is:

Disable-SPFeature –Identity <Name-of_Feature> -URL <http://server/site/subsite>

Happily, after activating the Content Deployment Source Feature, you're given a link in the Site Collection Administration (Content Deployment Source Status) that will list the features you need to disable before you can setup the site for content deployment. Be sure to have a Coke nearby, you'll run this command roughly 20 or more times to disable all of the features you never knew were running under the hood. You'll run this on the source site collection from which you wish to deploy content. You do not run this on the target or destination site collection.

Fourthly, after disabling all of the features, you then will need to ensure that Kerberos is running. NTLM, AIUI, will not work in this scenario. If I'm wrong on this point, please post back and let me know. I found an excellent post to follow to ensure and check myself on whether or not I had it all setup properly. You will need access to DNS, AD, IIS and SharePoint.

Last, I selected the Disable Source Status Check radio button in Central Administration àGeneral Settings àContent Deployment Settings.

After doing all of these things, I was able to create a new content deployment path. Now, to be fair to me, I don't have time to run a matrix of these five steps to see what is the minimum required to create a path. For example, I'm not entirely sure that Kerberos is needed, but based on some general reading about the error message, it seemed to me that it was wise to enable Kerberos. Nor am I sure that I needed to add in the account referenced above to the User Policy configuration in Central Administration. But I'm not going to remove it to find out. I have more important things to get done.

Let me know if you have any questions. Doing these five steps resolved the Sorry, this site hasn't been shared with you error message. I hope this helps you in your endeavors.

Bill English, CEO
Mindsharp



Dec 29

On May 15-17, Mindsharp will be hosting the 2013 SharePoint Best Practices Conference for business stakeholders and business leaders who are responsible for the ongoing success of SharePoint in their environment. We will be holding this at the Rush Creek golf course in Maple Grove, Minnesota.

Why Come to the 2013 SharePoint Best Practices Conference?

This conference will be unlike any other SharePoint conference. What will make it different?

First, the conference speakers will be composed mainly of SharePoint customers from the Fortune 500 space, Non-profit verticles, State and Local plus other businesses. Instead of hearing from the same speaker crew you might hear at SPTechCon, Share, Connections, SharePointFest, SharePoint Saturdays and other events, you'll hear fresh perspectives on what worked and what didn't work from the business leaders who work in the trenches each day to ensure SharePoint is a success for their organization. All of the other conferences will give you technical details, but no conference like the 2013 SharePoint Best Practices Conference will give you insight into the business/SharePoint integration issues.

Secondly, we believe that you can discover and improve your own best practices by listening to what worked from others who have done it in the real world. And because most of our speakers are not consultants, you won't feel like you're being sold something during the presentation. When you listen to what has worked for others, you'll "connect the dots" between what they are talking about and what you can do in your deployment to implement your own best practices.

Thirdly, this is NOT a SharePoint technical conference. There are no "how to" sessions. There will be no developer, ITPro, designer or end-user SharePoint presentations. Instead, every presentation will focus on the who, what and why. We'll focus on business process, enterprise content management, governance/risk/compliance, security, business-drivers for SharePoint adoption and user adoption methodologies. We'll have sessions that are highly focused on solving business problems using SharePoint or on solving business culture issues that were hindering SharePoint's adoption. There will be no SharePoint technical presentations. Instead, this SharePoint conference is designed for the business leaders and stakeholders in your organization.

Who will be at this conference?

Ben Curry from Summit 7 Systems will keynote this event on Wednesday evening, May 15th. He is one of the brightest and most talented people I know in the SharePoint space and I'm sure you'll enjoy hearing the latest thinking he has on how business leverages SharePoint to solve business problems.

We will have invited and selected sponsors attending this conference. But there will be no exhibit hall. Instead, we'll have a sponsor reception on the evening of Thursday, May 16, at which time you can speak with any of the sponsors who might interest you.

Our speakers will be comprised most of SharePoint customers. The companies represented in our speaker lineup include:

  • Sprint
  • PCL
  • Mindsharp
  • Walt Disney
  • National Gypsum
  • Microsoft
  • Summit 7 Systems
  • Fagre Benson Daniels
  • Early & Associates
  • Corridor Consulting
  • HB Fuller
  • Minnesota Department of Transportation
  • Think-UK
  • Magee Rehab
  • Goodwill
  • Fresenius Medical Care
  • HighPoint Solutions
  • Best Buy
  • Parsons Construction
  • Intel
  • St. Jude Children's Hospital
  • Medtronic
  • Coca Cola
  • MobileIron
  • Ford Foundation
  • General Mills
  • Alabama Department of Mental Health
  • Applied Materials

Uncommitted speakers include:

  • 3M
  • Kellogg Foundation
  • Target
  • Ecolab
  • Emerson Electronics

Where can I learn more?

You can learn more at the Best Practices Conference web site. Registration is now open, so be sure to get your registration in early.

Bill English, CEO
Mindsharp



Oct 12

PROBLEMS:

  1. When doing a people search some of the people returned in the results show up twice.
  2. When pulling up the Org Chart on a user’s profile in SharePoint sometimes they have all the people they should above and below them in the organization and sometimes they don’t.

CAUSES:

There is two potential causes to the double results in people search but only one that I know of for the other.

1. Content Sources needs to be correct.

2. You must enable NetBIOS domain names on the corresponding User Profile service application.

Option number two is the only fix I know of for the org chart issue.

SOLUTIONS:

What is wrong with my content source?

Here is what needs to be fixed in the Content Sources:

Check your content sources under for multiple entries of sps3. If you have multiple entries remove one. To get there go to: Central Administration >>Search Service Application>>Search Administration>>Manage Content Sources>>Edit Content Source (This should be on your current content source.)

Your Start Addresses should look like this:

clip_image001

not this:

clip_image002 or this clip_image003

Having the Start Addresses for your content sources on the sps3:// setup like the two above screenshots will cause the content to be crawled twice and cause people to show up twice in the people search results. It should simply be set like the first screen shot to sps3://NAMEOFYOURWEBAPPLICATION. SharePoint is smart enough to crawl everything under that including your user profiles. Sps3 is used by SharePoint to call a specific web service hosted at whatever address is followed by it. If this was the issue in your case it will fix the double results in people search but not org chart incomplete info issue. Move on to the next solution if you have the org chart issue.

Why would I need to enable NetBIOS in SharePoint?

In your SharePoint farm the user profiles could appear to be corrupt because they may have imported in on what appears to SharePoint to be multiple domains. This will cause each users profile to be imported twice causing the double results for each user in people search results and some of the manager fields in the profiles will not match causing the Org Chart to not have correct information. This is caused when your Active Directory has different fully qualified domain name (FQDN) and NetBIOS names (User Logon name (pre-Windows 2000) for the domain.

For example: your domain FQDN may be buchatechnical.com but the NETBIOS name might be buchatech. If that is the case your users will import in as buchatechnical\USERNAME and buchatech\USERNAME showing up twice. See the following screenshot:

clip_image004

To fix this or avoid the issue all together SharePoint needs to be made aware that your domain is configured this way and then SharePoint will know how to handle the user profiles when importing them.

This text is from a TechNet article on setting up the User Profile Service Application:

If the NetBIOS name of any domain that you are synchronizing with differs from its fully qualified domain name, you must enable NetBIOS domain names on the User Profile service application. If all NetBIOS names are the same as the domain names, you may skip this procedure.

Here are the overall steps to fix the issue and enable NetBIOS for SharePoint:

NOTE: These steps are for going back and enabling NetBIOS on SharePoint after the User Profile Service Application has already been setup.

1. Remove the current User Profile Service Application.

NOTE: Removing the User Profile Service Application will remove the user profiles.

2. Restart the SharePoint web front end (or at least run iisreset).

3. Configure the User Profile Service Application again.

4. Enable NetBIOS for the User Profile Service Application.

5. Set Replicate Directory Changes permission on the domain for the service account that will be used for the User Profile Synchronization.

6. Set Replicate Directory Changes permission on a Configuration Container for the service account that will be used for the User Profile Synchronization.

7. Run a full User Profile Synchronization.

8. Check the results.

NOTE: Now in this post I am not going to walk through all of the above steps. I assume you know how to work with the User Profile Service Application and how to create the User Profile Synchronization connection. Here I am going to cover the steps that SharePoint admins might not be used to.

Steps to Enable NetBIOS for the User Profile Service Application:

  1. On the SharePoint Web Front End open Note Pad.
  2. Create the PowerShell script by copying the following Syntax into it:

$ServiceApps = Get-SPServiceApplication

$UserProfileServiceApp = ""

foreach ($sa in $ServiceApps)

{if ($sa.DisplayName -eq "<UPSAName>")

{$UserProfileServiceApp = $sa}

}

$UserProfileServiceApp.NetBIOSDomainNamesEnabled = 1

$UserProfileServiceApp.Update()

  1. Replace <UPSAName> with the name of your User Profile service application.
  2. Save this file as enablenetbios.ps1 somewhere in the 14 hive directory.

(.ps1 is the PowerShell script.) (14 Hive directory: %installdrive%:\Program Files\Microsoft Office Servers\14.0\Tools)

  1. Open SharePoint 2010 Management Shell with elevated permissions.
  2. Navigate to the directory with the PowerShell script in it

(Syntax: cd “%installdrive%:\Program Files\Microsoft Office Servers\14.0\Tools”).

  1. Run .\enablenetbios.ps1

Now permissions need to be granted to the account being used in the user profile synchronization connection.

The first one is Replicate Directory Changes permission on the domain and the second one is Replicate Directory Changes permission on the cn=configuration container through ADSI edit. Here are the steps to configure each of these:

How to set Replicate Directory Changes permission on the domain for the service account that will be used for the User Profile Synchronization:

  1. On the domain controller, click Start, click Administrative Tools, and then click Active Directory Users and Computers.
  2. In Active Directory Users and Computers, right-click the domain, and then click Delegate Control.
  3. On the first page of the Delegation of Control Wizard, click Next.
  4. On the Users or Groups page, click Add.
  5. Type the name of the synchronization account, and then click OK.
  6. Click Next.
  7. On the Tasks to Delegate page, select Create a custom task to delegate, and then click Next.
  8. On the Active Directory Object Type page, select This folder, existing objects in this folder, and creation of new objects in this folder, and then click Next.
  9. On the Permissions page, in the Permissions box, select Replicating Directory Changes (select Replicate Directory Changes on Windows Server 2003), and then click Next.
  10. Click Finish.

How to set Replicate Directory Changes permission on a Configuration Container for the service account that will be used for the User Profile Synchronization:

  1. On the domain controller, click Start, click Run, type adsiedit.msc, and then click OK.
  2. If the Configuration node is not already present, do the following:
    1. In the navigation pane, click ADSI Edit.
    2. On the Action menu, click Connect to.
    3. In the Connection Point area of the Connection Settings dialog box, click Select a well know Naming Context, select Configuration from the drop-down list, and then click OK.
  3. Expand the Configuration node, right-click the CN=Configuration... node, and then click Properties.
  4. In the Properties dialog box, click the Security tab.
  5. In the Group or user names section, click Add.
  6. Type the name of the synchronization account, and then click OK.
  7. In the Group or user names section, select the synchronization account.
  8. In the Permissions section, select the Allow check box next to the Replicating Directory Changes (Replicate Directory Changes on Windows Server 2003) permission, and then click OK.

After all that is done and you run a full synchronization to import the users back in you should be all set. Winking smile



Sep 04
Published: September 04, 2012 13:09 PM by  Tamara Bredemus

Someone dared me to create a simple explanation of SharePoint Permissions. I laughed and laughed and laughed.

Then I grabbed a dry erase board and here is what happened.

Three stick figures, circle, five horizontal lines, and a rectangle

 

Now it’s time to label my artistic drawings.

labeled stick men as users, circle as SharePoint Groups, horizontal lines as permission levels and rectangle as where

 

Samples of what Permission Levels and Where represent.

Permission Levels listed as Full Control, Contribute and Read. Where listed as Site, Lists and Libraries, Folders and Document Sets, Items and Files

 

Put your Users in a SharePoint Group.
Grant your SharePoint Group a Permission Level.
Give your SharePoint Group access somewhere.

Arrow from Users to SharePoint Group circle. Arrow from Permission Level to outline of SharePoint Group. Arrow from Sharepoint Group points to Where.

 

You can also add Secure Active Directory (AD) Groups to SharePoint Groups.
Make sure if you have nested AD Groups, that all nested groups are also secure.

Added Active Directory Group to drawing

 

You can also grant Permissions directly to an AD Group.

Arrow from Permission Level to Active Directory Group

 

It’s a very brief overview of SharePoint Permissions, but it seems to work.



Aug 31

When you login to SharePoint 2013 you’ll notice the “Sign in as Different User” is missing from the Personal Menu.

 WelcomeMenu

Here are two workaround options:

  1. Manually append the following URL to your site:

    /_layouts/closeConnection.aspx?loginasanotheruser=true

  2. Add a Custom Action to the SharePoint Personal Menu:
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<Elements xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/sharepoint/">
  <CustomAction
    Id="MyLoginDifferentUser"
    GroupId="PersonalActions" 
    Location="Microsoft.SharePoint.StandardMenu"
    Sequence="1000"
    Title="Sign in as Different User">
    <UrlAction Url="/_layouts/closeConnection.aspx?loginasanotheruser=true"/>
  </CustomAction>
</Elements>

Click here to download Custom Action Solution



Aug 29

CMSWire Magazine hosted my four-part series on a 35,000 Foot View of What's New in SharePoint 2013. This four part series which was rolled out over a four week period in August introduced what is expected to be new or changed in the RTM release of SharePoint 2013, which is expected in Q1 of 2013 according to the reputable rumor mill. I have included the links to the four articles below and I apologize in advance for the not-so-friendly URL's but I do promise you they will get you where you want to go.

The first of the four articles, released on August 8th, focused on changes and new functionality for IT Pro's and it can be viewed at:

http://www.cmswire.com/cms/information-management/35000-foot-view-of-sharepoint-2013-for-administrators-016847.php

The second of the four articles, released on August 15th, focused on changes and new functionality for the fine developers in the SharePoint world and it can be viewed at:

http://www.cmswire.com/cms/information-management/35000-foot-view-of-sharepoint-2013-for-developers-016848.php

The third of the four articles, released on August 22nd, focused on changes and new functionality for our creative designers and it can be viewed at:

http://www.cmswire.com/cms/customer-experience/35000foot-view-of-sharepoint-2013-for-designers-016849.php

The final article, released on August 29th, focused on changes and new functionality for the serious SharePoint end users and it can be viewed at:

http://www.cmswire.com/cms/social-business/35000-foot-view-of-sharepoint-2013-for-end-users-016850.php

So if you haven't had time to take a peek at what you can expect for changes in SharePoint 2013, these articles will introduce you to what is expected to be available in the next release of SharePoint. As always with BETA software, there could be some disappointments, and some very exciting changes between now and the RTM, so keep that in mind as you are reviewing these articles.

Happy Reading!



Jul 27
Published: July 27, 2012 09:07 AM by  Nancy Brown
What is REST exactly? Representational State Transfer, aka REST, is an architectural style for web-based data access, an alternative to other techniques like SOAP Web Services and Remote Procedure Calls. Or as Todd Bleeker so aptly put it, it's "Query by URL." It's simpler than SOAP or RPC, and is catching on everywhere. OData is a protocol - a standardized way to implement REST to surface, query, and manipulate data. REST isn't necessarily focused on data, but OData is, so think "Oh DATA!". This post is a thumbnail sketch of REST/OData in general, and SharePoint REST/OData 2010 and 2013. Note that all SharePoint 2013 comments are based on the SharePoint Server 2013 Technical Preview, a preliminary version subject to change.
 
OData: Query by URL, Answer by RSS
 
OData is an open web-data protocol developed by Microsoft. OData is all about web-based data access; it's a natural evolution of Web Services and Object-Relational Mappings. It's like having LINQ to SQL classes (or some other Object-Relational Mapping) available by URL.

OData can make almost any kind of structured data collection available to any kind of platform, because all data access is via plain old HTTP, and the data is served up as XML (or JSON) in an Atom-style RSS feed. Imagine - a database (or other structured data) can be available for virtually any ad hoc query from almost any internet-connected device. And not just queries- all CRUD operations are available.

SharePoint REST/OData is client-side data access. For code targeting SharePoint 2010 or SharePoint 2013 data, if any of the Client-Side Object Models (CSOM) are available, those are likely the best choices. But if the code is in a non-Windows context, maybe a LAMP application or an Android/iOS phone App, then SharePoint REST/OData is likely the way to go. On the other hand, REST/OData could be a means of bringing external data into SharePoint; Netflix, ebay, twitpics, StackOverflow, and NuGet all have OData feeds. A general understanding of REST could also be useful for consuming Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook's REST APIs.
 
Exploring OData
 
OData.org lists a number of OData services available for playing around with REST queries right in the browser. If LINQ is comfortable, then another way to wrap your head around REST-speak (or at least get help translating) is LINQPad. It's a free tool for exploring LINQ, OData, and code in general. Point LINQPad at an OData service (select "WCF Data Services" as the Data Context to build automatically, enter URL, set Database), write and run a LINQ query, then click the SQL button to see the REST URL that was generated. (Or the RequestLog button if it's LINQPad targeting .NET Framework 4.) Here's LINQPad 4 querying an Announcements List in a SharePoint 2010-style ListData.svc service - the URL is in the bottom right pane:
 
LINQPad showing REST URL
 
(Sadly, pointing LINQPad at the new SharePoint 2013 OData service _vti_bin/Client.svc results in an error.) Another gotta-have free tool for OData is Fiddler2. This Web Debugging Proxy lets you inspect each HTTP request and response.
 
Entity Data Model
 
OData is built on the Entity Data Model - yes, think .NET Entity Framework and WCF Data Services, which can be used to create OData services in a flash. It's like any Object-Relational Mapping (ORM); one just needs to learn the lingo. In a RDBMS like SQL Server, tables contain rows; in OData, Collections contain Entries. In a database, tables can be related; in OData, Collections can be associated. A row has columns. An Entry has properties. Tables may have keys; Collections always have keys. Browsing to the service root of an OData service usually displays an Atom+XML list of all available Collections. Here's the Microsoft Northwind database as OData:

Browser showing OData service root
 
To see the metadata for this service, append $metadata to the service URL and OData responds with EntityTypes and Properties and NavigationProperties.
 
Browser showing service metadata
 
Wait a minute- Collections have Entries, so why does the metadata contain EntityTypes? As is often the case, there are multiple sets of terminology at work. Entity Data Model (EDM) and OData have parallel terms:
 
OData and EDM parallel terms
 
Query an Entity Set (Collection) by appending its name to the service URL - here's the Customers Collection URL: http://services.odata.org/Northwind/Northwind.svc/Customers
 
Browser showing OData Collection
 
This returns a feed full of Entries - just like rows in a data table. There's a bunch of metadata for each Entry, like id, title, author, date-time updated, and there are links to related items, which contain relative URLs like "Customers('ALFKI')/Orders". Note in the screenshot above, in the metadata for the first entry, the id is a URL: http://services.odata.org/Northwind/Northwind.svc/Customers('ALFKI') - that's how to retrieve just that one Entry. The actual data for this Entry is contained inside the entry/content/properties element at the bottom of the screenshot: CustomerID, CompanyName, ContactName,…
 
URL Structure
 
An OData Url has three parts: a Service root, a resource path, and (optionally) query string options. We've seen the service root, which typically returns a list of all available Collections. The resource path is kind of like a relative URL, and identifies a Collection or a single Entry or a property of an Entry. Basically the resource path drills down through the entity model to get to a particular object. OData URLs are usually case-sensitive, so take care with spelling. For example, http://services.odata.org/Northwind/Northwind.svc/Customers('ALFKI') returns just the ALFKI Customer, which is a single Entry identified by its key:
 
Browser showing single Entry
 
To get just one Property of an Entry, tack on the Property name (note the forward slash delimiter): http://services.odata.org/Northwind/Northwind.svc/Customers('ALFKI')/Address
 
Browser showing single Property
 
To return just the value of the Property, with no XML wrapper, add /$value to the URL: http://services.odata.org/Northwind/Northwind.svc/Customers('ALFKI')/Address/$value
 
Browser showing value of single Property
 
Related Entries can be retrieved by following the associations in the URL: http://services.odata.org/Northwind/Northwind.svc/Customers('ALFKI')/Orders(10643)/Order_Details
 
Browser showing related Entries
 
Or to return just the collection of related Links, without the actual entries, use the $links option between the Entry and its related Collection, like this: http://services.odata.org/Northwind/Northwind.svc/Customers('ALFKI')/$links/Orders
 
Browser showing related Links
 
Query string options, like $value and $links used above, begin with "$" and are part of the query language.
 
Query Language
 
The query language provides
  • options ($filter, $sort, $orderby, $top, $expand, $skip, $take, $metadata, …)
  • operators (eq, ne, gt, ge, lt, le, and, or, not, mod, add, sub, …)
  • functions (startswith, substring, replace, tolower, trim, round, ceiling, day, month, year, typeof, …)
Since these will be part of a URL query string, symbols like "+", "-", and "=" already have assigned meanings, hence the need to represent them by text like "add", "sub", and "eq". Most of these options, operators, and functions have familiar names, and do just what their names suggest.

To query Northwind for the top three UK Customers, as sorted by Postal Code, add options as needed: http://services.odata.org/Northwind/Northwind.svc/Customers?$filter=Country eq 'UK'&$orderby=PostalCode&$top=3
 
Browser showing Query Language
 
$expand is used to return related Entries inline (inside the Entry), like this: http://services.odata.org/Northwind/Northwind.svc/Customers('ALFKI')?$expand=Orders
 
Browser showing $expand Option
 
In the screenshot above, note there is an entire feed inside the inline element - all the related orders are returned. Instead of XML, this could be returned as JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) by appending $format=JSON to the query string: http://services.odata.org/Northwind/Northwind.svc/Customers('ALFKI')?$expand=Orders&$format=JSON
 
When the browser receives the JSON, it will probably offer to save it rather than show it. Opening that saved JSON file in Visual Studio looks like this:
 
Wisual Studio showing returned JSON
 
Note: appending $format=JSON does not work with SharePoint REST/OData, but there are other ways to get SharePoint REST/OData to return JSON.
 
CRUD via HTTP Verbs
 
OData uses the Atom Publishing Protocol, (AtomPub), as the means of Creating, Reading, Updating, and Deleting (CRUD-ing) content. Typically the payload of the HTTP Request is Atom+XML or JSON formatted Entries, like the Entries returned from a query. The HTTP verb is what determines the CRUD action.
  • Create = HTTP POST
  • Read = HTTP GET
  • Update = HTTP PUT or HTTP MERGE
  • Delete = HTTP DELETE
Update is an HTTP PUT or MERGE; a PUT replaces an existing entry, by updating all values with the new ones in the request, and setting to default all others. MERGE replaces old values, but leaves anything not specified untouched. Concurrency is maintained by ETags, but we're getting beyond the scope of this post.
 
SharePoint and REST/OData
 
In SharePoint 2010, only Lists were available as OData services. The service URL was based on the site and looked like this: http://server/site/_vti_bin/ListData.svc. Probably the most common way for a SharePoint developer to interact with SharePoint 2010 REST/OData was via a service proxy (a DataContext). Working with a service proxy is easy-peasy; just add a Service Reference to a Visual Studio project, and a tool will generate the proxy for you. Instantiate the proxy class, passing the constructor the URL of the site, set credentials, and issue LINQ queries. Under the covers, that LINQ query will be translated into a REST URL and sent to the server, where it gets translated into a LINQ to SharePoint query, which in turn gets translated into CAML. The proxy will translate the returned XML back into .NET objects.
 
Diagram of SharePoint 2010 OData flow
 
Here's a short C# code example that uses a proxy to retrieve a SharePoint 2010 List as a Generic .NET List:
 

        public List<OperationsProxy.ProjectRoleItem> RoleList

        {

          get

          {

            OperationsProxy.OperationsDataContext ctx =

              new OperationsProxy.OperationsDataContext(

                new Uri("http://intranet/operations/_vti_bin/ListData.svc"));

 

            ctx.Credentials = CredentialCache.DefaultCredentials;

 

            return ctx.ProjectRole.ToList();

          }

        }

 
In SharePoint 2013, REST/OData access is no longer limited to Lists - it covers virtually everything the CSOM does, including Site Collections and Webs. This expanded REST/OData service is Client.svc, which can be accessed in two ways:
  • http://server/site/_vti_bin/Client.svc
  • http://server/site/_api
The "_api" friendly name is preferred, since it's easier to read. The old SharePoint 2010 /_vti_bin/ListData.svc is still there in SharePoint 2013, and is handy if only List data is needed.

In a Visual Studio project, adding a Service Reference for an _api service will fail. The way to talk to _api is typically JavaScript, probably using jQuery, which makes AJAX requests and parsing JSON much simpler. However, this means manually constructing the correct URL, rather than using LINQ and a proxy class to do a translation. Since SharePoint Site Collections and Webs are complex objects, not simple tables, OData functions (methods) are much more prevalent.

There are 5 access points for the _api service:
  • Site Collections - http://server/site/_api/site
  • Webs - http://server/site/_api/web
  • User Profiles - http://server/site/_api/userProfiles
  • Search - http://server/site/_api/search
  • Publishing - http://server/site/_api/publishing
Happily, many OData URLs can be constructed by starting with the corresponding CSOM method, then replacing "." with "/". For example:

 
URL construction for SharePoint 2013 OData Query
 
Digging just a little deeper, retrieve just the Title and Author fields from List Item with ID=2 of the Announcements List, as HTML:
 
Browser showing SharePoint 2013 OData Query
 
Note that the Author field is formatted with presence information, including a link, which navigates to the My Site for that user:
 
SharePoint 2013 My Site
 
This is just the proverbial tip of the iceberg - see Get started with the SharePoint 2013 REST service in MSDN to really whet your whistle.


Jul 27
Published: July 27, 2012 00:07 AM by  Catherine Sheridan

We are excited to release the SharePoint 2010 Workflows Course.

The SharePoint 2010 Workflows Course is one of UserVersity’s Additional Releases. Over 25 demos are included to show how to create, run, and manage workflows using the in-browser tools.

CHECK OUT SOME OF OUR DEMOS ON YOU TUBE

The out-of-the-box workflows included in SharePoint that are focused on include:  Approval Workflow, Collect Feedback Workflow, Three-State Workflow, Collect Signatures Workflow and Disposition Approval Workflow.

SharePoint 2010 Workflow Course Lessons 

·         Overview of SharePoint 2010 Workflows

·         Add a Workflow

·         Using Workflows: Item Workflow Page and Workflow Administration

·         Approval Workflows

·         Collect Feedback Workflows

·         Collect Signatures Workflows

·         Create a Disposition Approval Workflow

·         Three-State Workflow

The UserVersity Additional Releases serve to provide more in-depth and focused training on topics of interest in SharePoint 2010 that go beyond the scope of the Collaboration Course. These include:

·         My Sites and Social Media

·         Workflows

·         Office 2010 and SharePoint 2010 Integration

·         Organizing Information in SharePoint 2010

·         Business Intelligence

The UserVersity Team is currently working on the Office 2010 Integration Course. This course is designed to help the SharePoint 2010 user understand how SharePoint 2010 and Office 2010 integrate and work better together. Because so many users of SharePoint also work in Office products, it becomes necessary for those users to understand how to utilize an Office product as it integrates with SharePoint.

Visit our Office 2010 and SharePoint Integration Playlist on our UserVersity1 You Tube Channel to see some of these demos.

We anticipate that when all of the courses have been created, we will have over 300 lessons on SharePoint 2010.

Contact your sales representative for more information on our current and future offerings in SharePoint 2010.

You can also feel free to contact me directly, Catherine.sheridan@mindsharp.com



Jun 18
Published: June 18, 2012 16:06 PM by  Kay F. McClure
Probably the single most important thing you can do with respect to a new SharePoint site is planning.  In particular, planning the specific lists and libraries that will be needed to accomplish the purpose for the site.
 
When I teach SharePoint to business users, I typically take them through a "mini planning session" and I thought that might make for a good blog post, so here we go ...
 
Plan your document libraries:
 
There are a handful of considerations when planning for the document libraries for your site.  The things you need to think about are those settings that are mutually exclusive.  For example, if you have some content that requires content approval, that content needs to reside in a library with content approval enabled.
 
Following are the types of settings you need to think about (this list is certainly NOT all inclusive):
  1. Automated Workflows
  2. Unique Permissions
  3. Required Check-Out
  4. Information Management Policies (tied to content types)
  5. Custom Content Types
  6. Content Approval
  7. Versioning (none - Major only - Major and Minor)

Watch for future blog posts about additional planning tips for your SharePoint sites ...

 

 



May 31
Published: May 31, 2012 06:05 AM by  Timothy Calunod

We have come a long way during this journey to craft a functional and useful targeted search solution that began with the deconstruction of a previous 2007 version of the solution to the reconstruction of that same solution in 2010. Surprisingly, there was much more involved in the recreation of this solution as many of the out of the box configurations were already set with the Collaboration Portal in 2007. However, after working through the configuration changes and details, we have finally arrived at the experience for the user, where we can now complete our solution here in SharePoint 2010.

Implementing a Search Site

There are many moving parts involved with SharePoint, often a configuration or service set up in the back-end while an interface displays and allows users to interact with that service in the front-end, and Enterprise Search is no different. While the setup of the Search Service Application and Content Sources provided us the back-end we need to surface our targeted search results, we required the additional Site Collection configurations to ensure that search queries and search results would be input and returned through an application used by SharePoint. Furthermore, to focus the search query, we needed a Search Scope created and configured to act as the conduit for the queries, as well as establish a landing place for our search results from that targeted query. And although we had already constructed the logical architecture to support an Enterprise Search Center, the site is yet too generic to provide us a funneled, specific view. Thus we need one final element in the Search Center Site itself to both submit and display the search properly, which resides in the Web Parts, Lists and Libraries in the Search Center itself.

The Enterprise Search Center, regardless of customizability, requires that the Publishing Infrastructure be activated as the Enterprise Search Center itself is a Publishing Site by construction. The Enterprise Search Center uses two main web pages, a search page and a results page, to accept and return search queries for the Web Front-End to handle, which are both stored in a Pages Library in the Site. However, the benefit of the Enterprise Search Center is a tabular control that displays multiple pages through an identical interface and thus allows Web Pages to be connected to each Tab that is displayed in the Enterprise Search Center. These tabs are controlled by two lists, one for Search Pages, one for Search Results. This blends the query and results experiences into an identical form yet allowing for queries and result sets to be configured and even customized differently, yet still seem as if the very page accepting the query is the one that is rendered with the search results. Furthermore, changes can also go through review and approval processes, just like any other Publishing Site.

TargetedSearch-EntSearchContent

The Enterprise Search Center also includes additional Web Pages, including an Advanced Search page as well as a query and results page for People Search. Essentially, multiple Web Pages aligned with a List Tab can be presented on the landing page of the Enterprise Search Center for any sort of Enterprise Search customization as needed. This is further customized by various Search Web Parts that are included in the Enterprise Search Center’s Site Definition, that controls how search queries are accepted and results sets returned. And, with the Minimal.master page it uses, it keeps the search experience as simple and clean as possible, but also allowing for customization through Web Parts and other means to make the search more useful. Only an analysis of the URL would betray the difference in pages, although even the URL with additional parameters also helps in focusing the result sets in the page, such as when describing the Search Scope. To make a truly interesting application,  implementing a Search Center also requires some degree of customization to enhance the user experience for Enterprise Search.

TargetedSearch-EntSearchHomePage

Configuration

The process is deceptively simple: a standard search page presents a Web Part that displays a Search Box, which accepts the query and sends it through to the Query Processor for processing. The Site Collection is configured to return results in either an out of box default system page, or in a page customized by the Search Administrator for additional functionality or simply better formatting for the view of the results. When the Query Processor completes its task and returns the results to be rendered, it uses the Site Collection Search Results configuration to populate Search Results Web Parts, and the Web Front-End renders the results in the browser. However, this simple process also prevents our targeted search solution from working for two reasons. First, it prevents the user from submitting a search to only be queried against specific content, and second it prevents a targeted results set from rendering in an identical page and thus creating a possibly confusion experience.

To solve this issue and bring the entire configuration full circle, we need to perform a few additional configurations in the Enterprise Search Center:

1) Create additional Web Pages for both a targeted query and the associated search results

These web pages are created to allow a search query to be run against our targeted content and return results in a dedicated page that seems to be identical to the page where the query was submitted.

TargetedSearch-EntSearch-NewPages

Note that the page names must be different since they are stored in the same Pages Library.

2) Create Tabs to represent the Search and Results pages used in the targeted query

To coincide with the previously created Web Pages, for the Enterprise Search Center to display either page correctly and without confusion, a Tab connecting the Web Pages for both the search and results phase of the search also needs to be created.

TargetedSearch-EntSearch-TabsSearch TargetedSearch-EntSearch-TabsResults 

Since the Page names need to be different, yet the pages need to show with the same Tab, a Tab for each page will also connect the correct Page with the correct Tab view when rendered in the browser. Additionally, a Tooltip can be input to provide some hover text when the mouse pointer is positioned over it.

3) Configure the Search Box Web Part to use the correct Search Scope

The main function needed to leverage the Search Scope we created that focuses the query only on the Document Center site containing the targeted content is to configure the Search Box Web Part to use the specific Display Group. The default Search Scope, which will be the only Search Scope in the Document Center Display Group, will be used by default.

TargetedSearch-EntSearch-PagesSearchBoxScopesDropDown

 TargetedSearch-EntSearch-PagesSearchBoxWebPart

The search Web Page is used for this configuration, to focus Display Group on our custom Search Scope. By using the Dropdown Mode of “Show, do not include contextual scopes” allows our custom Search Scope to be leveraged instead, and prevents the contextual Search Scopes from being used. This configuration will allow a user to click the Store Only tab if they only wish to search within the Document Center Site and thus limit their search results to only content from that site. Note that this configuration is for the Enterprise Search Center specifically.

4) Configure the Search Box Web Part to use the custom Display Group

TargetedSearch-EntSearch-PagesSearchBoxMisc

In the Miscellaneous section of the Search Box Web Part, we can configure the Document Center Display Group created when creating our custom Search Scope. This was necessary to configure which Display Group would be used in the Scopes Dropdown box. However, because we eliminated other contextual Search Scopes from being used, by setting our custom Display Group, this limits what the user can change or configure. This was configured to focus the search using the Tab separation to make the searches more readily intuitive.

Additionally, we want to be sure that the search results return and are rendered in our custom Web Page, and thus the Target search results page URL is also configured to use the local Web Page created earlier. This could also have been created in a different URL, but as this Enterprise Search Center has been configured for the Site Collection as a whole, using the local Pages Library was adequate for this scenario.

5) Test the targeted Search Scope and Web Page

By running a specified query against known content, we can now determine if the application is working. A simple keyword search for content should reveal search results in only the Document Center Site.

TargetedSearch-EntSearch-TargetedResults

Note that the results sets are very limited, and only show content from the Document Center Site as desired. In contrast, a standard All Sites search query through the Enterprise Search Center yielded not only different results by also more and with different relevance.

TargetedSearch-EntSearch-GeneralResults

Additionally, although the majority of the results from the general All Sites Search Scope search yielded results from our File Share Content Source, a quick refiner in the Refinement Panel by Sites shows that our News Site also yielded results.

TargetedSearch-EntSearch-WebSitesResults

A successful test bears out that despite a possible skewing of results and relevance due to various additional sources, the targeted solution remained focused and much more relevant.

Furthermore, this configuration for the Enterprise Search Center became necessary as the default Search Scope options, which would include our custom Search Scope, would still be needed to target content on the Enterprise Search Center Site. However, because we included the Search Scope in the All Sites Scopes as well, this targeted search can be performed from anywhere in the Site Collection, again because the Search Settings configured the use of the custom Search Scopes and their result sets.

Observation

Through some front-end content configuration involving Web Pages, Tabs Lists, and Web Parts, a successful targeted solution could be applied through the Portal Site Collection and thus properly emulates the 2007 solution despite all the changes between versions. And here, even the proper configuration of Web Parts and Site Collections Settings were necessary to work through to reach our solution goal.

Overall, the solution was re-creatable despite all the changes and shifts in configurations and options, but works just as well as the original, while taking advantage of even some newer features to make the Enterprise Search Experience that much more useful. At this point, although one last phase of this series was to examine the improvements that SharePoint 2010 could have on this 2007 solution, the length of this process brings us to a conclusion that our comparison and improvement analysis will need to be held in a different post.

This brings our targeted search solution series to a close. For now, our next post will return us to our never-ending quest to Solve for Y.

Stay tuned!



Mar 06
Published: March 06, 2012 08:03 AM by  Penny Coventry

​SharePoint 2010 is coming up to its 2 year birthday, so it worth talking about Ribbons. Too often solutions concentrate
on pages, Web Parts, lists, libraries and workflows. A SharePoint solution should be more than this - each of these
components should be combined to provide users with a holistic solution, where the components work together and
not as discrete entities.

Using Web Part connections and customizing the Data Form Web Part (DFWP) Form Action button to initiate workflows,
are examples of how you can achieve this. However, SharePoint 2010 provides other components that can be used to
improve the users experience (UX).

Microsoft did much refactoring of the user interface (UI) introducing the Office 2007 client application Ribbon to
SharePoint Foundation, targeting standard tasks that users need to compete and reduced the use of tables. In your
solutions you can extend the out-of-the-box UI, specifically by displaying links, relevant text and commands on the:

  • Server Ribbon

SharePoint 2010 Server Ribbon and Status Bar

  • Status bar
  • Notification area

SharePoint 2010 Notification area

  • List Item Menu (LIM), also known by developers as the Edit Control Block (ECB).

SharePoint 2010 List Item Menu - LIM - also known as the Edit Control Block - ECB

In my sessions at the Australia SharePoint Conference (20-21st March) and the SharePoint Summit in Toronto
(14-16th May 2012), I'll concentrate on how to extend the server Ribbon interface and create LIMs, using
SharePoint Designer 2010, with no-code. I'll also briefly introduce how to use Visual Studio to extend the four UI
components listed above, and then in conclusion I'll highlight the pros and cons of using SharePoint Designer as
compared to Visual Studio. Along the way I'll also mention what is possible if you are using SharePoint Online, which is
part of Office 365.

The session is based on working at client sites and my investigations whilst writing Chapter 3, "Working with Lists
and Libraries", in SharePoint Designer 2010 Step by Step and Chapter 15, "Customizing the User Interface", in
SharePoint Foundation 2010 Inside Out. Developers can find more information on customizing the Ribbon, on my blog
post, SharePoint Conference: Session SPC402 Ribbon Development and Extensibility.



Jun 01
Published: June 01, 2011 09:06 AM by  Todd Bleeker

Wednesday, June 1

8:30-5:00: SharePoint 101 The Developer (W-2 in Back Bay A)

This session is a day-long overview of development on the SharePoint 2010 platform. Increasingly, organizations are developing SharePoint based solutions. This workshop is designed to give developers basic and intermediate information about how to leverage the SharePoint platform to create enterprise SharePoint applications. Ideally, attendees will already have some SharePoint end user experience, be familiar with Visual Studio, and possess some knowledge of .NET programming language.

Thursday, June 2

1:15-2:30: Developer's Intro to Imperative Workflow in SharePoint 2010 (301 in Commonwealth Ballroom)

Visual Studio 2010 SharePoint Project Items for Workflow, Workflow State (Declarative properties, Imperative properties, Bind to existing property, and Bind to new property), Fault Handling, Start to Stop > Remove to Allow, Creating a SharePoint Task, Stop for Green Activities: OnTaskChanged, Correlation Tokens, Guid.NewGuid() not new Guid(), Property Bags, CodeDOM and Code Conditions, If/Then/Else Activity, While Activity, Send Email Activity, and Association/Initiation Forms. Hold on to your hats for this supercharged introduction to Workflow.
TECHNICAL LEVEL: Intermediate

Friday, June 3

10:00-11:15: Creating Custom Service Applications (601 in Back Bay D)

SharePoint 2010 includes a new facility for moving intensive processing from the Web Front End servers and onto load-balanced application servers. A Service Application Farm can even be configured to allow other Farms to offload their processes to a centralized and/or dedicated set of application servers.

However, with over a dozen moving parts, Service Applications can be quite overwhelming to create. In this session, Todd will simplify the process so that everyone can be successful implementing a Service Application.
TECHNICAL LEVEL: Expert

11:30-12:45: PowerShell - The Power of the Pipe (708 in Back Bay D)

Windows, Active Directory, SQL Server, Exchange and now SharePoint use a common administrative environment called PowerShell. This session will cover the constructs of the new language, explore some of its nuances, and demonstrate how to use it to query and manipulate a SharePoint environment. Come see what PowerShell has over a traditional Console Application or VBScript. If there's time, we'll end with details on creating a simple custom PowerShell cmdlet.
TECHNICAL LEVEL: Intermediate

<Todd />



Mar 25
Published: March 25, 2011 08:03 AM by  Jim Bob Howard

Look! It's a weekend! It's a Saturday! It's a SharePoint Saturday. This time, it's just down the road in San Antonio, home of the Alamo. I am honored to have been asked to give two presentations at #SPSSA on April 2.

SharePoint Saturday is a FREE event for those who want to learn more about SharePoint and how they can use it in their organization. They happen all across the country, and all around the globe. If it hasn't come to your neighborhood yet, it will!

Reserve your seat now!

Come stay all day and hear some terrific speakers from all over. I'm on at 9:20 and 2:20:

Alphabet Soup: Intro to HTML, CSS, XML, XSL, SPD, and jQuery
So you DON'T know HTML. That's OK. In this session, we'll start with the basics to help you find what you're looking for on a SharePoint page. Using SharePoint Designer, we'll take a look under the hood of our pages. Using IE Developer Tools, FireFox's Firebug, and a simple View Source, attendees will come away with a clearer picture of what goes on behind the scenes on a SharePoint page.

SHAREPOINT VERSION: 2007 (much will port to 2010)
Level:  100
Audience:  End User, Business User, Soon-to-be Power User
Time: 9:20 AM

Don't forget to sign up!

Extending the Data View Web Part (DVWP)
Based on my popular EndUserSharePoint series and eBook of the same name, I will walk through a real-world solution that combines several take-away concepts that you can incorporate into your own SharePoint customization to extend this powerful webpart to meet your company's or client's needs.

PREREQUISITE: HTML (SharePoint Designer 2007 or 2010 required)
AUDIENCE: Power User, End User, Site Collection Manager
SHAREPOINT VERSION: 2007 (much will port to 2010)
Level:  100-200
Time: 2:20 PM

Many other great speakers are coming in from all over the country. So, be sure to R-S-V-FREE now!

If you come, please introduce yourself. I can't wait to meet you!



Mar 03
Published: March 03, 2011 19:03 PM by  Daniel Galant

There have been many changes and improvements with the release of SharePoint Server 2010 and how it implements a number of features and services. One of those features is the manner in which Themes are created, applied and customized in your SharePoint deployment. While playing with the new theming engine, I came across a number of articles and posts dealing with how to create themes using Office applications, such as PowerPoint and Word. However, there were not many that dealt with the customization of your CSS through the use of the new Theme Comments that SharePoint will leverage in order to apply your theme scheme to your customized Cascading Style Sheets (CSS).

This article deals with that very topic as I’ll endeavor to guide you through how to create and apply theme comments to your custom CSS so you can indeed leverage Themes in SharePoint 2010. To start off, let’s simply take a look at attaching some custom CSS to a Master Page in order to apply our own styles to the SharePoint site.

While there are several methods for attaching a custom style sheet to your Master Page, best practice dictates using the <SharePoint:CssRegistration> link in the <Head> of your Master Page. With SharePoint 2010 now supporting the After property, you can ensure that your custom CSS is applied after SharePoint’s core styles.

Master with attached CSS

Now we’ll also add a custom header image to the page so that we’ll be able to leverage the RecolorImage token as well later in the article.

Added Header Image

Let’s take a look at the CSS itself.

Original custom CSS

Notice the body #s4-ribbonrow setting the background-color as well as the TopHeader class pointing to our custom image. There are no theme comments added to the CSS yet, so the ribbon row color won’t be affected when you apply a theme to this site and no changes will be made to the header. Setting the new master page as our default master for the site will now render the site as in the image below.

Site Settings page with new master applied

If you then apply a theme to the site what happens? Let’s use the Vantage theme and see what the effect is.

Vantage applied no comments

Notice the changes to the TopLink, QuickLaunch and settings page, but the ribbon row and custom header remained the same. In order for these elements to also be affected by applying a theme, you must add the appropriate theme comments to your custom CSS.

In order to leverage theme comments when they are added to your custom CSS, you must first be sure to place your CSS files into the proper location within your site so that SharePoint will actually read them and apply the settings to your pages. For theme comments to be read by SharePoint when you apply a theme, you need to place your custom CSS files in a folder called Themable that you create in the Style Library of your site. This folder does not exist out of the box, nor will it be created magically for you when using custom CSS and theming.

The Style Library before:

Style Library before

The Style Library after creating the Themable folder:

Style Library after

Once you have created the Themable folder, import your custom CSS files into this location and be sure that your registration links are pointing to these files and not somewhere else in your site. Now to make your styles leverage themes when applied, you need to add the theme comments to your CSS.

There are three different tokens that can be leveraged by your CSS, ReplaceFont, ReplaceColor and RecolorImage. I’m not going to go into depth on the effects or properties of these elements here but ReplaceFont will let you change certain font elements to use one of the two available theme fonts, ReplaceColor allows you to substitute any of the 12 theme colors into your styles and RecolorImage will allow you to use any of the 12 theme colors in your images. We’ll see more on this later.

Right now we are going to add a comment so that the ribbon row will be effected when you apply a theme to the site. Since we are trying to leverage the theme’s colors to apply to the ribbon row, we’ll use the ReplaceColor token. The syntax for the comment is as follows:

/* [ReplaceColor(themeColor:”color”, property:”value”)] */

In the above comment, color represents one of the 12 theme color choices that you want to use to replace the color property of your style such as Dark1 or Accent5. For property you can use either themeShade or themeTint to darken or lighten (respectively) your color choice with a value between 0.0 and 1.0. Be aware that if you are not going to use the property:”value” option, do not include the comma in your comment. Doing so will cause SharePoint to skip your comment and you’ll be trying to figure out why your choices are not being applied.

The image below shows the theme comment added to the custom CSS file.

ReplaceColor comment added

This line simply tells SharePoint to replace the background-color #abc830 with the themes Dark2 color. You’ll now save your modified CSS and try applying a theme. Once again I used the Vantage theme. The image below shows you the 12 colors defined by this theme.

Vantage Color scheme

The result of applying this theme at this time is the following.

Vantage applied CSS not saved

Alright. So what happened to the ribbon row and the custom header we applied? Here you see the first of several issues you can run into when trying to use theme comments with your custom CSS. The site that I am working with in this example happens to be a publishing site and so the Style Library is under content approval. This means that any changes made to its files need to be published as a major version and approved before they can be properly used. Now while SharePoint seems to read and apply changes made to the CSS styles without having to go through all this, it does not process your theme comments until you have an approved major version of the file. As a matter of fact, as can be seen here, it seems to completely disregard the style altogether.

After publishing the file as a major version and approving it let’s apply the theme again. Theme comments are only processed at the time the theme is actually applied to the site. Therefore, any time you make a change to your file you will need to re-apply your theme to see the effect.

Theme applied and published

Here you can see that the ribbon row has now picked up the Dark 2 color of your theme, but the header is still the original green color. To change this you need to use the RecolorImage token in the header’s style declaration. The syntax for the RecolorImage token is as follows:

/* [RecolorImage(themeColor:”color”, method:”value”)] */

Once again color is the theme color you want to use with your image. Value can have one of three values, Tinting, Blending, or Filing. Tinting uses your theme color for the image colors, Blending mixes your theme color with the original color of the image and Filing completely fills the image shape with your selected color. In the image below you’ll note that I am going to recolor the image using the Accent 2 color and tint the image.

RecolorImage comment

Again you need to publish and approve the CSS file after making the change and then reapply the Vantage theme. The result is as follows:

Vantage applied tinting

If you choose to use the Blending option it would look like this:

Vantage applied Blending

One point I would like to make here, in my experience the value is case sensitive, Blending will work but blending will not.

So you can see that you have several options when it comes to themes and your custom CSS. Take some time and play around with the choices provided by using theme comments and see what effects you can come up with for your sites.

I hope this article helps you avoid some of the issues I ran into and gets you smoothly on the theme scheme highway. Till next time….



Nov 06
Published: November 06, 2010 15:11 PM by  Paul Schaeflein

I’m sure I am dating myself with this post (for the three of you who haven’t seen the beard), but I just read a fascinating blog post from Steve Gillmor.

Steve was an early podcaster and blogger. I know this, because I was there when podcasting began. Dave Winer talked about the infrastructure and Adam Curry provided entertainment and Dan Klass provided the comedy and Doug Kaye brought it to the mainstream IT department with his IT Conversations. Once of these first IT Conversations included Steve, who had a gang that discussed “vendor sports.” I always enjoyed these podcasts, especially trying to decipher what the heck Steve was talking about.

Anyway, while discussing Ray’s work and recent departure from Microsoft, Steve references SharePoint. My take on the paragraph – there is nothing more unique and important to Microsoft than SharePoint. I wholeheartedly agree, as do many customers. I can tell by the size of the project backlog that I have, along with many of the other SharePoint consultants I talk with. This is certainly an exciting time in the SharePoint community.

(In all fairness, I have to point out that the term “SharePad” was first used in a blog post by SharePoint luminary Mike Fitzmaurice a long time ago!



Jul 02
[Long post!]
 

Two weeks ago, the conference I’d been helping organize came to fruition and was held here in Sydney over two days – 16th and 17th June. The conference has since been referred to by many as one of the best and most successful SharePoint conferences ever held! The conference, in its first year here in Australia, had in excess of 600 attendees, it attracted speakers like Arpan Shah from Microsoft in Redmond, Todd Bleeker from Mindsharp (USA), Michael Noel (USA and author of the upcoming SharePoint Server 2010 Unleashed book by SAMS) and numerous other well known and respected international and national SharePoint experts and speakers. Delegates who attended the event travelled from all around Australia, including Perth, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Canberra.

Debbie Ireland – SharePoint MVP from New Zealand (SPEvents) – was at the helm of organizing the Australian (and New Zealand) event/s – this year also saw the second New Zealand conference, held over in Wellington the week prior to the Australian conference, and which saw a 25% increase in attendance on last year’s conference! Debbie, and her team from New Zealand, did an absolutely outstanding job in organizing the conference, conference logistics and behind the scenes project management – it was a pleasure to meet and work with them – and I look forward to working with them and supporting them in future like endeavours. It was also a pleasure to work alongside the other conference organizers (both Australian and New Zealand), including James Milne (Brisbane), Mark Orange (NZ) and Brendan Law (Melbourne).

We had a fantastic line-up of sponsors – we also received favourable feedback from delegates on our conference sponsors, including the fact that exhibitor stands were easily accessed throughout the conference and session breaks. See the conference sponsors page here: - http://www.sharepointconference.com.au/sponsors.htm. Plus, a huge thank you to those sponsors who provided the prize draw prizes for both Day 1 and Day 2.

So, what made the conference a success? I believe the fact that (1) we (the key organizing team) all worked as a team – with a shared vision - from the outset and throughout the 6-7 month period leading up to the event; (2) we are all SharePoint experts (or SharePoint subject matter experts and actively working with (and in) SharePoint 2007 and SharePoint 2010 and related technologies), so we had a good feeling for the market and what people would be interested in, and we carried out market research from the outset; (3) we had a good assortment of topics and allocation of speakers; (4) we included a number of tracks to suit all audiences, including business, technical, Voice of the customer (real-life implementation scenarios) and vendor-specific sessions – this attracted a diverse group of people – many from the same company/ies who saw having the multiple tracks of real benefit - including System admins, developers, designers, business analysts, project managers, CTO’s and CIO’s and other business stakeholders – having such a diversity of tracks and people allowed for cross-pollination and sharing of information all at once!; (5) it was a ‘community focussed’ event and we had the SharePoint community behind us who greatly promoted the event and provided support throughout the two days, with the likes of a User Group Community Booth (the go-to spot for SharePoint questions and post-session follow-up) which was manned by the Australian and New Zealand SharePoint community throughout the entire conference; (6) We had Microsoft’s full support, both as a sponsor and as a community-focussed supporter, from the outset; (7) the venue – the Hilton Hotel – was the perfect venue, in terms of location, rooms and comfort – I constantly heard very positive feedback about the food – FOOD is an important part of any IT event! (8) The sponsor/exhibition area was well laid out and easily accessible to delegates throughout the conference; (9) the Ask the Experts panel – this was a great way of winding up the conference on the final day and we encouraged several international and local speakers to get involved and to include a good cross-section of SharePoint skills – including admin, developer and infrastructure.

This post is by no means the first, or only, post-conference write up. We’ve (the organizers) received numerous congratulatory e-mails and feedback; I’ve included a couple of links below:

Craig Bailey (@craigbailey) – convenor of the popular ‘Sydney Business and Technology user group’ and who attended the conference - provided a great post conference review - http://www.craigbailey.net/australian-sharepoint-conference-review/ (thanks, Craig)

IDM – our media sponsor and partner throughout the conference – also wrote a good post-conference review - http://idm.net.au/article/007910-australia-sharepoint-conference-schedule-return-2011 - interestingly, this article cites the percentage of female conference attendees at 25% - a vast (and welcomed) contrast to that number usually seen at IT events.

Also, a big thank you to Rose Stamell, Microsoft, for organizing the wrap-up networking drinks for MVPs and Speakers at The Hilton – it was a nice way for the conference speakers to reflect on the conference and discuss SharePoint goodness. Plus, a big thank you to Emantra Hosting Solutions (Australia) – and Mark Rhodes – for providing and hosting the main MYSPC SharePoint 2010 site used throughout the conference and provisioning and hosting the individual delegates trial SharePoint (server) 2010 sites.

Well, what about next year’s event? We hear you and planning is already underway for next year’s (2011) Australian SharePoint Conference. Thank you to all those conference attendees who completed the preferred conference location survey during (and post) the conference – even those who cheekily completed the survey multiple times! J At this stage, Sydney is the favoured location. In terms of next year’s conference dates, based on feedback received from this year’s event from Microsoft, sponsors and delegates, next year’s conference looks to be 8th and 9th March, 2011, at The Hilton Hotel. Keep an eye on the conference site – http://www.sharepointconference.com.au for further updates. Now is the time to start planning to attend!  Also, if you are interested in attending next year’s New Zealand event, then keep an eye on the New Zealand conference site – http://www.sharepointconference.co.nz – for updates, including dates and location.

If you are interested in speaking at next year’s conference, then initial speaker interested is being captured via http://spevents.co.nz/AUSPC2011/default.aspx - simply visit the site and complete the Speaker Registrations survey by clicking on the link in the left-hand column. Similarly, if you are interested in speaking at next year’s New Zealand SharePoint conference, then visit http://spevents.co.nz/NZSPC2011/default.aspx and complete the Speaker Registrations survey.

Hungry for more SharePoint information now? In terms of other SharePoint events happening between now and next year’s SharePoint conference, here’s a list of some of the events happening here in Australia:

SharePoint Saturdays Australia: Sydney (7th August - http://www.sharepointsaturday.org/sydney); Canberra (18th September - http://www.sharepointsaturday.org/canberra); Melbourne (16th October - http://www.sharepointsaturday.org/melbourne) – they are FREE but you need to visit the registration sites shown in order to register for each event.

SharePoint Saturdays globally (some of these happen as online events!) – see http://www.sharepointsaturday.org for a full listing of SharePoint Saturday locations.

TechEd Australia – will include a number of Office and SharePoint tracks - http://australia.msteched.com/ - up on the Gold Coast again this year (2nd year running at the same location!). Don’t forget about user group registration discounts for TechEd AU - if you are involved in a UG then you should ask your UG leader for further details. Unfortunately, I will not be attending this year’s TechEd due to a number of existing Sydney-based commitments.

Office DevCon, Sydney (will include both Office and SharePoint tracks) – http://www.officedevcon.com.au  – FREE plus a two-day weekend event – but you must visit the registration site in order to register for the event so we can properly cater for all for both food and space.

Australian SharePoint user groups – see http://www.sharepointusers.org.au/default.aspx - for a user group location near you. SharePoint user groups are a great place for meeting other SharePoint enthusiasts and experts!

SharePoint MVP online chats hosted by Microsoft – these chat sessions happen on a monthly basis (as of writing this blog post) – see details of the latest chat session -  http://blogs.msdn.com/b/sharepoint/archive/2010/06/17/live-chats-to-learn-more-about-sharepoint-with-the-mvp-experts.aspx – and are a great place to ask your SharePoint questions, ranging from administration, development, infrastructure and design.

SharePoint 2010 MSDN forums – a great place for asking (and answering) SharePoint 2010 questions - http://social.msdn.microsoft.com/Forums/en/category/sharepoint2010.

SharePoint 2007 MSDN forums – questions and answers specific to the SharePoint 2007 versions - http://social.msdn.microsoft.com/Forums/en-AU/category/sharepoint

PLUS, Microsoft has announced their SharePoint 2011 conference, happening over in Anaheim, California, in October, 2011 -  http://blogs.msdn.com/b/sharepoint/archive/2010/06/08/save-the-date-sharepoint-conference-2011.aspx.  

2010 – it’s a wrap!

 



Dec 20

 

Corro'll Driskell

December 20, 2009

Happy holidays to all, I am Corro’ll (Corel) Driskell, a SharePoint Architect on the SharePoint platforms. As many of you know I do many things around the SharePoint platforms and found it difficult to pick a starting place since my involvement on the TAP program.

So, I wanted to kick off my blogs, referencing the SharePoint 2010 platform and its tools, with SharePoint Designer 2010 (Beta). I will post a number of blogs, as a part of this blog series, referencing the many features of SharePoint Designer 2010, such as, the new User Interface (UI), the ribbon, and a number of other features. Bottom line, this blog provides an overview focusing on the UI of SharePoint Designer 2010. This is not a deep dive into the capabilities of SharePoint Designer 2010 (BETA).

Microsoft SharePoint Designer 2010 (Beta) allows Designers – non-programmers - and, encourages, Developers, and I mean encourage, to build web based applications on SharePoint’s latest platforms (SharePoint Foundation 2010 and SharePoint Server 2010).

To start, you must locate SharePoint Designer 2010 in the Microsoft Office application group – its default location.

image

SharePoint Designer 2010 (Beta) UI 1

One of the great things about the, new, SharePoint Designer 2010 experience is the initial start. Immediately, the user (Designers and Developers) is provided visual feedback upon the start of the application. It is my experience that the loading is rather quick versus the experience with the previous version, SharePoint Designer 2007.

image

SharePoint Designer 2010 (Beta) UI 2

After SharePoint Designer 2010 (Beta) initially starts, you will notice that there are two primary focuses. The user has the option to Open a SharePoint Site or Create a New SharePoint Site. The new initial UI is a far step from the traditional experience of SharePoint Designer 2007. In fact, the user does not need to browse around the interface attempting to introduce them to the application. It is all there front and center.

In contrast, the fact that there is an option to use SharePoint Designer 2010 (Beta) on the My Site is discouraging. In another blog posting we will discuss the new features available on the, new, SharePoint 2010 platforms that afford the SharePoint administrators and Site Collection Administrator better control now is not the time to dive into those features, also, we will focus on the various options in more detail in a future blog as a part of this series.

image

SharePoint Designer 2010 (Beta) UI 3

After, either, Opening the Site or Creating a New Site, the user is presented with the Site Setting information page. Of course, the most notable change, in the SharePoint Designer 2010 UI, is the presentation of the, new, Ribbon. Again, I will dive deeper in the various features afforded by the Ribbon in a later blog as a part of this series.

The Settings Page provides a significant amount of information , such as, the Site Information, Permissions, SubSites, also known as Webs, Settings and Customization. The fact that this Designer Dashboard, yes, I called it a dashboard, and no it isn’t Microsoft’s official terminology, is forthcoming with quite a bit of information. This information was, either, lacking or wasn’t as easy to obtain in SharePoint Designer 2007. Again, we will dive deeper into many of the features during this series in a future blog. Although the tab interface is not new to SharePoint Designer 2007, I find the tab interface in SharePoint Designer 2010 (Beta) a bit more inviting and user friendly.

image

SharePoint Designer 2010 (Beta) UI 4

Lists and Libraries are nested in a simple view in SharePoint Designer 2010 (Beta). It is more similar to a report versus a hierarchical structure, as leveraged in SharePoint Designer 2007. Also, I want to encourage you to focus on the changes in the context of the Ribbon’s interface as we navigate from the Site Settings page. Of course, we can witness a heavy use of the bread crumbs in the SharePoint Designer 2010’s interface. The bread crumb was presented as a simple navigation control in the SharePoint Designer 2007 interface. Again, there was an emphasis on the hierarchical structure.

image

SharePoint Designer 2010 (Beta) UI 5

Workflows are also presented in a report form. The Workflows’ report provides summary information referencing workflows leveraged by the site or web. In the SharePoint Designer 2007 interface, Workflows were presented nested in a Workflow library or folder, depends on whom you ask. Again, there is an emphasis on the actual artifacts’ hosted on the SharePoint 2010 platform. Of course, there is a significant amount of new features for SharePoint Designer 2010 (Beta) and its capabilities to build flexible workflows. Again, we will dive deeper into those capabilities through-out this blog series.

image

SharePoint Designer 2010 (Beta) UI 6

The Site Pages provides summary information about located in the Sites Pages Library. The Site Pages Library is used to create and store pages for a specific Site or Web.

image

SharePoint Designer 2010 (Beta) UI 7

The Site Assets provides a reports view of files that are included on the pages of a Site or Web. In the SharePoint Designer 2007 UI, the storage locations for files included on the pages were stored in a number of locations, such as, the images folder.

image

SharePoint Designer 2010 (Beta) UI 8

The Content Types page provided a summary report about the various collection of content types, leveraged by the Site or Web, to establish consistent management of content. Immediately, you will find information, such as, Group, Parent, Source and Description. Most importantly, the UI provides quick access to manage the various content types. SharePoint Designer 2007 did not afford users this type of reporting feature. We will explore this new feature further as a part of this blog series.

image

SharePoint Designer 2010 (Beta) UI 9

The Site Columns UI provides a summary report referencing a collection of columns available to Lists, which includes, Column Name, Type, Group and Source. In the SharePoint Designer 2007 UI we did not have a central presentation of the linked columns for a Site or Web.

image

SharePoint Designer 2010 (Beta) UI 10

The External Content Types summary reports provides information, such as, Display Name, Name, External System, Type and Namespace, about External Lists, also known as SharePoint Lists, that exposes data from various back-end repositories – databases, web services and other Line-of-Business applications. The beauty of it all is that this feature is provided in the SharePoint Designer 2010 UI.

image

SharePoint Designer 2010 (Beta) UI 11

The Data Sources summary report provides information, Name, Type and Description, about the various data sources available to the Site or Web. The report is categorized based on type, for instance, Lists and Libraries. Again, this is a great presentation in the UI so that users are not required to leverage the hierarchical structure to obtain the information similar to the SharePoint Designer 2007 UI.

image

SharePoint Designer 2010 (Beta) UI 12

The Master Pages summary report provides information, Name, Title, Content Type, Size, Modified Date, Modified By and Comments, about all of the artifacts, Master Pages, Page Layouts, images and xml files, found in the Master Page Gallery.

image

SharePoint Designer 2010 (Beta) UI 13

The Site Groups summary report provides some information, Group Name and Description, about the various Groups with, some level, of access to the Site or Web. You have to ask yourself, where are the contributor settings. Again, we will dive deeper into the many changes in a later blog.

image

SharePoint Designer 2010 (Beta) UI 14

The SubSites summary reports provide a list of the Sites or Webs within the hierarchical structure. The report provides information, such as, Site Name, URL and Modified Date.

image

SharePoint Designer 2010 (Beta) UI 15

Finally, the All Files provides a summary report of all content for a Site or Web, which includes the SubSites. The information provided includes, Name, Title, Size, Type, Modified Date, Modified By and Comments. The significance here is users have a more efficient way to ascertain the information about the artifacts that make up SharePoint 2010 sites.

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SharePoint Designer 2010 (Beta) UI 16

The overarching selling point is that SharePoint Designer 2010 encourages rapid building and deployment of, web-based, solutions that meet business needs, leveraging the various features – lists, content types, workflows and a number of other features – of an organization. Here is the catcher, there is no-coding. Included in this blog series, I will work to cover the various use cases and features.



Dec 08
Published: December 08, 2009 13:12 PM by  Kim Lund

Depending on who you are in your organization, you may either LOVE SharePoint or HATE it. There are many promises on what SharePoint will deliver; however, have those promises become a reality in your organization? The answer may be the key to why your colleagues, employees, and end users use SharePoint or create work-arounds to avoid taking the time to understand it.

If you find that user adoption of SharePoint is avoided or slower than anticipated in your working environment, you are not alone. Many students that I have trained, consulted and listened to have expressed their pain points for SharePoint adoption. As I am blessed to work with and interact with many SharePoint users I have discovered and witnessed what works and what doesn't for successfully increasing people's use, acceptance, knowledge and confidence of SharePoint.

Pain Points

Some of the Pain Points I've heard expressed as it relates to slow user adoption are:

  • Employees Unaware of Powerful SharePoint Features
  • SharePoint Deployed Without Governance
  • User Community Not Involved in Planning SharePoint Site Use
  • End Users Expected to Create or Manage SharePoint Sites
  • Inefficient Use of Document Management Features
  • Uncertainty that Confidential Information is Secure
  • Added Training Needs Burden Staff
  • SharePoint Training Not Based on End User Needs
  • Help Desk Unable to Answer SharePoint Questions
  • Change in Organizational Culture Required for SharePoint to Be Accepted

How to

The key to overcoming these pain points and increasing end user adoption of SharePoint and achieving better buy-in from users at large is to develop a plan that includes:

  • Governance planning that includes:
    • Key members from various business units - not just IT
    • Focus on the vision and long-range goals
    • Ability to adapt to changes in requirements
    • Relevancy to needs of the organization
  • Taxonomy planning that includes:
    • Governance team that will own and manage the taxonomy
    • Classification of information according to categories
    • Focus on the business, not on SharePoint
  • Communication plan that includes:
    • What SharePoint is
    • Governance and taxonomies for use in SharePoint
    • Building excitement for what SharePoint will be able to do in their environment
    • How it fits into the existing ecosystem of technologies
    • What it might be replacing
    • Discovering and building SharePoint advocates
  • A training plan that provides succinct training that:
    • Focuses on the needs of individual users
    • Available when needed
    • Holds users accountable
    • Teaches the technical "how-to" about SharePoint
    • Shares the reasons and best practices for using SharePoint
    • Incentivizes employees
    • Provides key competency certifications that encourage and build confidence when key concepts are mastered

If any of these important steps are missing in a SharePoint adoption plan, you will find that the effectiveness of the other steps will be less. For example, if you have not provided governance and have a poor taxonomy plan, use of SharePoint will be inconsistent. When this occurs, even if users receive useful training, there will be confusion about the proper use of SharePoint features. Even if governance and taxonomy planning has been completed but this information is not communicated to employees, there will still be confusion and inconsistency with the use of SharePoint. Lastly, if you have planned for proper governance and taxonomy, communicated to your employees that SharePoint is coming, but then fail to train employees, end users will not know how to utilize the new features provided by SharePoint.

For this reason, in order to receive the anticipated return on investment (ROI) of a SharePoint deployment, the key for success in usability and user adoption is tied closely to implementing a plan that includes governance and taxonomy, communication to employees, and relevant training.

First Get Help!

If you think the suggestions included in the previous section are a tall order, you are right. You are probably not staffed to handle all of the steps that are recommended and you likely do not have the SharePoint expertise in-house to accomplish this plan. Mindsharp has the expertise, services, and products to help you implement all four key areas mentioned above. The biggest struggle for any company is a well thought out, effective training plan that meets the needs of the end user population.

That is why we developed UserVersity to deliver an end-to-end turnkey SharePoint communication and training program. We work with your staff to compliment the talent you have in-house, and then provide expertise in areas you may not have. UserVersity provides communication tools and a variety of training tools including:

  • Adoption Manager
  • E-learning
  • Online or in person instructor-led training
  • Quizzes
  • Certifications
  • Incentives and motivation for employees you would like to target

We are excited to be the first to offer such a flexible solution that encompasses all of your needs and provides a customized approach to training.

If you would like to learn more about this you can also attend a free 30 minute webinar about Increasing End User Adoption and about our UserVersity program. Please check out our website at http://www.mindsharp.com/Default.aspx?top=TRAINING&left=END_USER_ADOPTION

 

The following chart summarizes how Mindsharp and UserVersity can assist organizations when dealing with one or many of the pain points highlighted in this paper.

Pain Point 

How Mindsharp Can Help 

Pain Point 1: Employees Unaware of Powerful SharePoint Features 

Mindsharp's UserVersity provides a communication plan that informs users about the key SharePoint features. Our communication plan includes e-mail templates, posters, and additional resources as requested.

Pain Point 2: SharePoint Deployed Without Governance 

Mindsharp has SharePoint experts that can guide your governance and taxonomy planning or provide you with resources to assist your team in planning these important components.

Pain Point 3: User Community Not Involved in Planning SharePoint Site Use 

Mindsharp can help obtain feedback about who should be part of the team that develops your SharePoint governance and taxonomy plans.

Pain Point 4: End Users Expected to Create or Manage SharePoint Sites 

Mindsharp's UserVersity includes training in various formats that provides end users with the information they need to create and manage sites. 

Pain Point 5: Inefficient Use of Document Management Features

Mindsharp's UserVersity provides training on correct document management including topics such as:

  • Creating and saving documents
  • Adding metadata
  • Searching
  • Collaborating
  • Using check in and check out
  • Version history

Users can choose training that meets their needs and fits into their busy schedule. 

Pain Point 6: Uncertainty that Confidential Information is Secure 

Mindsharp's UserVersity provides training for end users on the topic of security. We provide thorough coverage on how SharePoint security works, as well as how to add or remove users from the SharePoint groups and permission levels. Users will gain confidence that they are securing their content appropriately.

Pain Point 7: Added Training Needs Burden Staff

Mindsharp's UserVersity provides an adoption manager that guides you through the program so you can make training decisions confidently. The advantage is that you are working with a SharePoint expert with years of training experience. 

Pain Point 8: SharePoint Training Not Based on End User Needs

Mindsharp's UserVersity is structured to provide specific training for every role and function in your organization to ensure competency in appropriate SharePoint functionality. UserVersity provides over 90 different lessons that simplify SharePoint by breaking training into six key functional competencies. This allows end users to focus on the aspects of SharePoint that relate to them currently, and then grow into other areas as their use and knowledge of SharePoint expands. Training can be repeated when knowledge of a skill needs to be refreshed or reinforced.

Pain Point 9: Help Desk Unable to Answer SharePoint Questions 

Mindsharp's UserVersity provides multiple ways to assist your Help Desk including:

  • Mindsharp has the leading SharePoint experts on staff who can answer questions from your Help Desk employees.
  • UserVersity has help desk crash courses to provide your IT and Help Desk staff with a thorough understanding of SharePoint.
  • The Help Desk can refer employees to specific computer-based training modules that address the user's problem. This is another way to provide the needed help without the Help Desk employee guiding users through each step.

Pain Point 10: Change in Organizational Culture Required for SharePoint to Be Accepted

Training with Mindsharp's UserVersity helps users understand the value of using SharePoint functionality. It goes beyond showing the "how" to teach the best practices and answer the "whys" in SharePoint. This approach helps increase end-user adoption and satisfaction.

 

Summary

SharePoint is one of the fastest growing corporate technologies on the market today. In fact, SharePoint has surpassed anticipated sales within Microsoft but has the frequency of its use in your organization surpassed expectations? Just because your organization has deployed SharePoint does not mean it is being used successfully.

I have identified some of the reasons end user adoption of SharePoint is slow in companies and offered ways to change that slow adoption. If companies create a SharePoint adoption plan that meets end user needs, SharePoint will be a tool they depend on to work smarter and faster.

 

If you would like to learn more about this you can also attend a free 30 minute webinar about Increasing End User Adoption and about our UserVersity program. Please check out our website at http://www.mindsharp.com/Default.aspx?top=TRAINING&left=END_USER_ADOPTION

UserVersity

 

 

 



Nov 15
Published: November 15, 2009 12:11 PM by  Ben Curry
I'll be speaking at the ATL users group tomorrow night at 6:30 EST. For directions and more info, see http://www.atlspug.com/default.aspx.
 
The topics are:
 
Session 1 Installing SharePoint Server 2010
Topic Description

Much has changed from the 2007 version of SharePoint. I'll be discussing a server farm installation of SharePoint Server 2010 to include the new Shared Services model (service applications), how those will upgrade, and limitations of 2007 and 2010 integration. Just for fun, I'll also give you a quick demonstration of building service applications and configuration using Central Administration and PowerShell!

Session 2 Enterprise Content Management Upgrades in SharePoint Server 2010
Topic Description

Wow! We have some really cool features that are new to SharePoint Server 2010 - DocumentIDs, robust Information Management Policies, and Document Sets. BUT, one of the most anticipated features is the centralized taxonomy and content type hub. Come see a live demonstration and early best practices for creating a content type hub and managed metadata service.

 
My apologies for posting this late. I hope to see you there!
 
Ben Curry


Oct 19
Published: October 19, 2009 17:10 PM by  James Curry
But for DBAs, you will have to set configure it. So no worries about SharePoint doing SP evilness.


May 22
Something has just come to light, here is an extract of the posting found on the SharePoint Team Blog ...

"During the installation of SP2, a product expiration date is improperly activated. This means SharePoint will expire as though it was a trial installation 180 days after SP2 is deployed. The activation of the expiration date will not affect the normal function of SharePoint up until the expiration date passes. Furthermore, product expiration 180 days after SP2 installation will not affect customer’s data, configuration or application code but will render SharePoint inaccessible for end-users." Jeff Teper/Microsoft Corporate VP/SharePoint.



Here is the link to the full text on plans to resolve and manual resolution of the issue.

http://blogs.msdn.com/sharepoint/archive/2009/05/21/attention-important-information-on-service-pack-2.aspx



Mar 04
Published: March 04, 2009 22:03 PM by  Tami Bolton

Folders can be used for large list support.

 

But...

 
 

01. Folders organize content when a item is saved, rather than when it is displayed

02. Folders/subfolders make finding an item difficult

03. A folder obscures the number of items it contains until the Folder is opened

04. Sort, filter, group, and paginate can only be applied to items within one folder at a time or to the entire list

05. It is more difficult to move an item between two folders than to change the value of a property

06. A single list item can have multiple properties but cannot be presented in two folders

07. A list item can have a required property but a folder can never be required

08. The browser URL is limited to 255 characters; nested folders make the URL unnecessarily long

09. Properties on a folder cannot be used to sort, filter, group, or paginate list items within that folder

10. New columns are added to the list items within the folder but not the folder itself



Jan 23

There are many manual methods for making a central search center available across your SharePoint implementation:

·         Adding to either Global (Top Nav Bar) or Local (Quick Launch) navigation in each site collection and/or site.

·         Adding Links to pages

·         Teaching Users to add to My Links list

In this post, I would like to suggest three methods of automating the publication of centralized search center access without having to touch individual SharePoint sites. The first two preferably use Active Directory group policies but are achievable for users on machines that are not members of your domain.

Add as Search Provider for Internet Explorer

Internet Explorer now supports multiple Search Providers for its built-in search box as shown in the figure below.

Your users can use the built-in tools to create a search provider for your central search center or you can provide a file which they can use to place the correct settings in their local registry.

To create this file, place the following test in Notepad:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\SearchScopes\{1EF4B245-681F-493C-9EF7-7AAE8262CC81}]

"DisplayName"="Portal"

"URL"="http://moss01/search/Pages/Results.aspx?k={searchTerms}&s=All%20Sites"

"Codepage"=dword:0000fde9

Replace “Portal” with the name you want displayed. Quotes are required.

In the URL, replace http://moss01/search/Pages/results.aspx with the location of your search results page. You could also change or remove the default scope (&s=All%20Sites).

The save the file with a .REG extension.

To share the file via email or in a document library, you may need to save the file with a .TXT extension and instruct your users how to download the file, change the extension back to .REG and import into their registry.

Add to Internet Explorer Links Toolbar

Although some users do not like to give up the space occupied by Internet Explorer’s Links toolbar, I am addicted to it for the sites that I use frequently. Also, it can quickly be activated / deactivated from the Tools menu as needed as well as collapsed / expanded.

Like most configurations of Internet Explorer, the contents of the Links toolbar can be pushed out to members of the domain using group policies. I find the easiest method of creating this policy is to configure IE in the desired format on a machine from which I can open the domain (or OU) group policy. Then I can simply import the local settings into the group policy and tweak them within the policy.

However, for those users whose machines are not members of your domain, the links shortcuts are contained in a folder in their favorites (C:\Documents and Settings\username\Favorites\Links). So your options are to train them how to go to the site and create the shortcut on the links toolbar or save as a Favorite in the Links folder. I suppose that zipping a links folder and sending out to users to place in the Favorites folder but that would probably be harder to teach them than saving as a favorite.

Add Link to Site Actions

Making the link to the site available to all users globally across your SharePoint farm is relatively easy even for administrators who do not normally write code.

Additions to the Site Actions menu are deployed as features. For the non-programmers, do not stop reading at this point. We are just going to do some simple cut and paste.

As long as we understand the basic components of a feature and have the basic code for two XML files, we can easily modify the menu.

A feature requires a folder containing two files, Elements.xml and Feature.xml. The folder should have a name that identifies the feature to administrators and must be unique within the C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\web server extensions\12\TEMPLATE\FEATURES folder. In my example, the folder (and feature) is named EntSearch for Enterprise Search.

The contents of the Elements.xml file are:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8" ?>

<Elements xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/sharepoint/">

  <CustomAction Id="CustomWebManagementPage"

      Location="Microsoft.SharePoint.StandardMenu"

      GroupId="SiteActions"

      ImageUrl="/_layouts/images/search.gif"

      Sequence="1000"

      Title="Enterprise Search Site"

      Description="Use this site for Enterprise and Internet Searches.">

    <UrlAction Url="HTTP://moss01/search"/>

  </CustomAction>

</Elements>

The Sequence entry controls the placement of the link on the menu list.

The Title controls the menu item name and the Description text appears below the menu item name as shown in the figure below.

The UrlAction Url is the link that is opened when the menu item is selected.

The contents of the Feature.xml are:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>

<Feature xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/sharepoint/" Id="BEA70765-63BB-4bd1-927C-E72C3559D07D" Title="Enterprise Search Site" Description="This site is customized for Enterprise and Internet Searches." Scope="Farm">

  <ElementManifests>

    <ElementManifest Location="Elements.xml" />

  </ElementManifests>

</Feature>

The crucial line in this file is the Feature xmlns= line. In this line the Id must be a unique guid. Since we are not developers and probably do not have Visual Studio installed, we can use http://createguid.com/ to generate a new guid. The Title and Description need to be identical to those in the Elements.xml. for this feature, we want the scope to be Farm so that it does not need to be activated at lower levels. Farm level features are automatically activated.

Place the folder containing your two modified files in the  C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\web server extensions\12\TEMPLATE\FEATURES   folder.  The feature is then deployed with the following command line:

"c:\program files\common files\microsoft shared\web server extensions\12\bin\stsadm.exe" -o installfeature -name "EntSearch" –force

Now across all sites and pages in your farm, your Site Actions menu contains an item as shown below:

Remember that a Site Actions menu does not appear unless a user has access to a link in the menu due to security trimming. So, for many of your users this may be the first time they have seen this item.

Hopefully, this post will at least cause you to think about some options for making your central search center more accessible for all your users.