2010 Refresh

March 11, 2010

2009 got busy with this-and-that, so this blog became stale.  It’s a new year, and though we have not yet finalized our departmental or individual goals, there’s a lot going on this year at work.

In 2010, at work, plans include:

  • Server refresh (hopefully with a lot of virtualization)
    • New Citrix environment / upgrade
    • Re-vamp intranet/website test server configuration
    • Symantec upgrade
  • SharePoint 2007 or 2010 deployment
  • Altiris Management Suite deployment / configuration
  • Disaster recovery project
  • Information security project
  • User training project
  • SOX compliance process review

Those are the main things, composed of many many little things.

I hope to have more to post soon.

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Becoming a SharePoint Developer

July 17, 2009

With our upcoming SharePoint 2007 deployment, I am contemplating whether or not I’d like to learn SharePoint development.  I do not have any real development experience aside from some web development (HTML, CSS), and I don’t think my early years with BASIC or that one Visual Basic course I took in college count.  I wondered whether it was too late in the game to learn programming.

As one should for any major life decisions (or minor), I consulted Google.  I wondered, “Is it too late for me to learn programming?”  This was an interesting query because Google’s query suggestions upon typing “is it too late for me to” thought I was asking “Is it too late for me to go to medical school?” or “Is it too late for me to become a doctor?”  I have been watching House lately, so I did actually consider that as an option momentarily.

The wisdom of Google overwhelmingly answered, NO, it is not too late, and encouraged me to learn programming.  “What should I start with?” I implored further.  And the consensus was Python, favorite of XKCD.  Certainly a worthy endeavor, but I wondered if I should be more SharePoint specific in my plan?   After all, this calls for .NET development.

In general, the internets tell me that to be a SharePoint developer, you should know these things:

  • Get your MCSD (Microsoft Certified Solution Developer) – five exams on .NET (Visual Basic or C#), and XML services.
  • Learn VB or C# .NET
  • Also learn C++
  • Understand the .NET framework
  • Understand Web services, ADO.NET, XML/XSLT, and Windows/IIS security
  • Understand SQL server
  • Learn ASP .NET development and be a good .NET developer
  • Learn the SharePoint object model
  • Learn CAML (Collaborative Application Markup Language)

The start of this process, for a non-developer, is learning VB.NET or C#.NET (I’m going to start with C#).  I can probably start at Microsoft’s Web Development for Beginners site.

Too bad I can’t download all this Matrix-style.  😦


WSS Document Library Read-Only Problem

July 16, 2009

We have not yet deployed SharePoint 2007, and just have Windows SharePoint Services set up as a pilot.  Recently, we added a small document library so that users could collaborate on a file, over the WAN – which is faster that trying to open or copy the file over the network.

However, we ran into an issue.  When anyone opens the document in the document library, it opens as read-only, regardless of permissions.  The only way to update it is to save the file locally and then upload it (after which it only opens as read-only).  As it turns out, this is a Microsoft bug (KB 870853) having to do with Office 2003 (we are on Windows XP with Office 2003 and IE 7).

Found recommendations for fixing this bug include:

For our situation, none of these will work, as they either require changes to the user’s PC’s, or a learning curve (however slight) which we’d like to avoid.  We need SharePoint to be thought of as easy – we don’t want to spoil its image before we’ve even deployed it.

So, for now, we will have to wait until we deploy SharePoint 2007 before we can use document libraries efficiently.


SharePoint at the SuperBowl

July 11, 2009

Check out this case study video of how Microsoft SharePoint and Surface were used at the SuperBowl in Tampa:

via the BI Blog


Microsoft SharePoint Vendor Demo Learnings

July 11, 2009

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On Friday, I attended a Microsoft SharePoint Vendor demo.   The sessions I attended focused on PerformancePoint and Business Intelligence.  Here are a few bits of information I gleaned from this experience…

  • featured a presentation by the CIO of IDOT explaining their use of SharePoint, including screenshots (see also the Microsoft Case Study)
  • demos used included one hosted at Microsoft Public Sector Demo Solutions
  • included database driven map integration in the demo (like a Google mashup, but with MS Virtual Earth / Bing)
  • used PerformancePoint’s Dashboard Designer
  • PerformancePoint is part of MOSS 2007 Enterprise, and also includes Proclarity Analytics
  • demo of Nintex Workflow (thoroughly impressive! – create advanced, graphical workflows inside of MOSS) – ~ $8750 per front end web server
  • demo of EPMLive (project and work management solutions)

Sessions I was unable to attend covered other SharePoint third party products, specifically KnowledgeLake (integrated document imaging and capture), and the CorasWorks Toolset (for data integration and building composite applications using XML SQL Web Services).

Additionally, I ran across some tech I’d never been exposed to, being a small-time server jockey – the concept of OLAP Cubes, multidimensional databases, and the MDX query language.  Neat.  Must learn more.


How MOSS 2007 integrates with other Microsoft products

July 9, 2009

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MOSS and Office 2007

The Microsoft Office 2007 applications are based on open XML standards, enabling SharePoint to integrate with them more easily.

Outlook 2007: SharePoint contact management, task management, email management, and event/meeting management is fully integrated into Outlook, including full two-way synchronization.  Outlook can also be used to take SharePoint lists and document libraries offline.

Excel 2007: With Excel Services (included with MOSS Enterprise), Excel workbooks can be stored in a central location, and data from these workbooks can be access from MOSS webpages.  Custom applications can be built to access Excel 2007 calculation services.  This functionality is the basis for MOSS business intelligence solutions.\

Word 2007: Tighter integration of document metadata, via Word’s Quick Parts.  Integrates with documentation management features, such as check-in/check-out, versioning.  Integrated blogging.

Access 2007: Access databases can be moved to SharePoint sites.  Access creates a front-end application for the database including forms and reports.  Access forms and reports can be accessed then from SharePoint.  Databases can be created from SharePoint lists.  Access also provides offline access to SharePoint lists.

OneNote 2007: OneNote notes can be published directly to SharePoint sites, as OneNote files or as PDF, web pages, or Word documents.

InfoPath 2007: Use InfoPath to create forms to publish to SharePoint sites. MOSS acts as a Forms Server.  (Enterprise MOSS only).  Note:  You can also create forms that are accessible via Blackberry.

MOSS and Office Communicator 2007

With Office Communicator 2007, MOSS allows you to see inside of SharePoint what users are online and allows you to chat with them.

MOSS and Exchange 2007

You can directly email document libraries.  Email can be archived in a records repository.  Email retention.  Instead of attaching a document to an email message, users can link to the document in the message.   Outlook Web Access web parts.

MOSS and Active Directory

Users can be authenticated through Active Directory.  Information from AD can be pulled into SharePoint (job titles, departments, email addresses, contact details, organization structures).

MOSS and SharePoint Designer 2007

Use SharePoint Designer to edit SharePoint sites, page layouts, and appearances.  Add and configure custom controls and web parts.  Incorporate custom workflows and data-driven forms.

MOSS and Project Server 2007

MOSS itself contains Project Server as part of the Enterprise version.  If you already have Project Server 2007, though, MOSS can integrate Project Server with the Windows Workflow Foundation, document libraries, search capability and team work site orientation.  MOSS’s list feature “Project Tasks” is unrelated to Project Server.

MOSS and Groove Server 2007

Integration with MOSS allows Groove users to manage Groove spaces by team and make SharePoint’s document libraries accessible as Groove data with the same security.

Do you have any other integrated features to add to the list?


Top 10 MOSS 2007 Features that WSS doesn’t have

July 9, 2009

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1.  Audience Targeting

Content owners can display content (like libraries, links, web parts or lists) only to people who are members of a particular group or audience.  For example, members of the Accounting department would see content that only the Accounting department would care about, or members of different geographical sites would only get site-specific information, like upcoming events.  Here’s how to set up audience targeting.

2.  Social Networking Web Parts

It’s no Facebook, but MOSS includes Social Networking functionality. The idea of it is cool, but whether or not it would be adopted in your organization would have a lot to do with the business culture.  More about social networking features here.

3.  My Site Personal Sites

A part of the social networking features, My Sites are personal sites that provide a central location to manage and store documents, content, links, and contacts for individual users.  Again, whether or not this feature should be used depends on the business culture.  Do you really want your users to be able to customize a My Site?

4.  Portals (site templates, use of RSS feeds)

In Microsoft’s own words:  “Portal sites connect your people to business-critical information, expertise, and applications. Microsoft Office SharePoint Server is a world-class enterprise portal platform that makes it easy to build and maintain portal sites for every aspect of your business.”   More on portal site features here.

5.  Enterprise Search

Search for SharePoint content, Web content, File share content, Exchange folder content, and Business data content.  Great article on SharePoint search capabilities here.

6. Advanced Workflows

Windows SharePoint Services includes workflow capability, but does not include templates.   MOSS includes templates for approval, collect feedback, collect signatures, disposition approval, translation management, and issue tracking.  Custom workflows can also be built using Visual Studio or SharePoint Designer.

7.  Information Rights Management (IRM)

MOSS document management includes Information Rights Management (IRM), which lets you set up rules around how long a document exists and when it should expire.  Additional features of IRM include labels, auditing, and barcodes.  Auditing is pretty handy for keeping track of who opens, edits, checks in/out, moves/copies, or deletes/restores documents.

8.  Records Repository

The Records Repository template for document management provides archiving support, keeping documents as official records.

9.  Business Intelligence (BI) Tools

Connect to your business application and data repositories and monitor key performance indicators. The Enterprise version includes Excel Services and Excel Web Services API’s.

10.  More Templates

MOSS has additional templates including more meeting workspaces, social networking templates, document management templates,  and collaboration and portal templates.