Archive for September 2008

SharePoint Designer Workflows (Declarative Workflows) and User Context

September 30, 2008

A wonderful post has been made a short time ago on the SharePoint Designer blog. This is something I highly recommend anyone who uses SharePoint Designer for workflows to read as it contains very important information. http://blogs.msdn.com/sharepointdesigner/archive/2008/09/28/declarative-workflows-and-user-context.aspx

“The basic thing to remember is that declarative workflows (the one’s created by SharePoint Designer) always run impersonating the user who started the workflow.”

This can help explain why many people run into permission ‘issues’ and trouble with these workflows and can help give you a better understanding of how the workflows work and how the system was designed (and updated).

Hope this helps someone and again I highly recommend reading this one over,
Richard Harbridge

Cumulitive Updates for SharePoint 2007

September 30, 2008

The Office Team has made an announcement on the SharePoint msdn blog explaining the new methodology that will be used for cumulative updating (or hotfix resolution) here: http://blogs.msdn.com/sharepoint/archive/2008/09/29/announcing-august-cumulative-update-for-office-sharepoint-server-2007-and-windows-sharepoint-services-3-0.aspx

Keep in mind that this is only for if you are experiencing issues that are resolved by these hotfixes and that SP2 for MOSS will include this cumulative update (and any up until the SP2 date).

There should be a new update every two months (cumulative) so keep your eyes posted and make sure to read over the hotfixes to see if any apply to some issues you may be experiencing.

Best of luck,
Richard

Microsoft Education Test Drive

September 29, 2008

One of those items I meant to look at awhile ago was sitting on my reminders list and I finally go to it today. “Take a look at Microsoft’s Education Test Drive” located here: http://www.microsoft.com/education/testdrive/default.mspx

I have been thoroughly impressed. The demonstrations run smoothly (using Citrix) and really give you a feel for what SharePoint and Microsoft Office solutions can do for schools, and educational institutions. Just incredible and a MUST see for anyone who is a teacher, administrator, or somehow involved in education or for someone who just wants to see some really well put together demonstrations.

Awesome.
Richard Harbridge

Missing Advanced Search Properties “Contains” Option

September 29, 2008

This is a quick post of something I noticed for the first time today. The infrastructure update has adjusted the “Contains” property that automatically shows in advanced search. In my case it was missing.

This wonderful article from the end user guys over at SharePoint explains why and how to bring it back. http://sharepoint.microsoft.com/blogs/GetThePoint/Lists/Posts/Post.aspx?ID=127

Hope this helps someone,
Richard

Editing the Application.Master

September 25, 2008

Finally a totally nice way to edit the application.master: http://stephenkaye.blogspot.com/2008/03/how-to-customise-applicationmaster-file.html

Edit: Link provided in all it’s glory from Corey Dutson 😛

Well nicest one I have seen in a good while. I always forget this link so I am blogging to share it with the world, and make sure I don’t forget it again 😉

Hope it helps you as much as it did me,
Richard Harbridge

Use Outlook for SharePoint Tasks

September 18, 2008

One of the more powerful components of SharePoint is it’s built in task list. This comes in especially useful if you have project spaces, or project management sites. The problem I often ran into was the fact that most of the time you have users who use a variety of systems for task management, whether that be excel, outlook, or another non SharePoint system. I love the fact you can export SharePoint to excel, or show tasks in a datasheet providing users with a ‘similar to excel approach’ but the thing I love even more is how smoothly SharePoint task lists integrate with Outlook 2007.

Let me explain, basically you can manage, add, remove, and update any SharePoint tasks from Outlook, this includes workflow tasks, or specific project task lists. A wonderful benefit, and I know I personally use Outlook to manage all my tasks and events because it has so many wonderful reminder, and integration features with things like one note, or live meeting.

This also includes the ability to drag and drop tasks (just like Calendar events when SharePoint is synchronized with outlook) and copy existing task lists to SharePoint. This is something I really enjoy because I find it much easier to manage tasks in outlook as a manager, than I do in SharePoint (purely because of the time it takes to refresh pages etc and due to bandwidth). Using Outlook I can copy tasks from various list and use templated tasks which I just ‘assign’ to different team members.

Want to know how to do it? Here you go: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/outlook/HA100820301033.aspx

Hope this helps someone,
Richard Harbridge

Three Powerful Columns (Not many people know about.)

September 12, 2008

SharePoint has lots of terrific functionality. Some of it can be fairly difficult to find. The three columns this post is about are definitely difficult to find and many SharePoint developers and people I have talked to do not know they even exist. I have decided to write a quick post on these columns so that everyone can know  a little bit more about these powerful field controls SharePoint has built.

In a typical SharePoint list (with features turned on) we see the following column field types to create our column based on:

What’s interesting is that within the site columns list we get the option of a few extra field types for our columns. In particular the following three are available and are otherwise unavailable in a list’s create column view.

So what do these columns do?

Select This

To Display This

Full HTML content with formatting and constraints for publishing

Columns that display the contents of the HTML Editor Web Part. Content and formatting constraints may be applied to the column.

Image with formatting and constraints for publishing

Columns that store links to images defined in the item properties. Each column displays an image, and optional formatting and constraints may be applied to it.

Hyperlink with formatting and constraints for publishing

Columns that store hyperlinks and display the names of hyperlinks defined in the item properties. Link formatting and constraints may apply.

Here are some common examples of when these columns can come in handy. Let’s say you have a publishing site and are creating content via list technology. So to create a new article and show this article in the news section of your site you populate Rich Text and HTML. The problem in a publishing environment is sometimes you need to limit the options of the people creating content. This way it ensures that everything shows up according to your colour schemas and the such. Well the “Full HTML content..” column can be used to do just that. Since you can modify the buttons available on this one it is possible to limit what functionality is available to users.

The image and link columns talked about here are also terrific. Provinding users with a more user friendly way of adding images, or links (with browse dialogs and the such) rather than having to manually input the URL of the image or web reference.

Here are the columns in action:

Again with some content, note that I can change the size of the image (among other things) which is more than the hyperlink (formatted as an image) can provide.

And here you can see them in Datasheet view where we can see the actual content that would be rendered via XSLT in a content query web part or data form web part.

I highly recommend taking a look at these columns if you haven’t already as they can really help in deployments of publishing site solutions and like I said, they are kind of hidden away since they are only visible typically in the create site column page.

Note: If you are having trouble finding these site column types (from the list, or wish to add them to a list) keep in mind that the columns I mention in this post are all only available under the “Site Columns” and require you to create a new site wide available column before you can add it to a list.

Update: To clarify/respond to questions I have recieved tossing some related links here.

Wishing you all of the best,
Richard Harbridge

Content Management Interoperability Services (CMIS) Specification

September 11, 2008

That sure is a mouthful eh?

This is great news. One of the greatest challenges I have faced is trying to find a way to make many Content Management systems interact with one another. Many of the businesses I have worked with have been running many different Content Management systems, and for their own valid reasons.

My first instinct, as an advocate and lover of the Microsoft way, is to try and get these other systems out of the door, and get all of the content management on SharePoint. I will admit this, because I know SharePoint well, and because I enjoy working with it so much, it’s natural that I would want everyone else to use it for all the wonderful things I have used it for in the past. The truth is though that I recognize that many business senarios and solutions require these other systems, and so there are many times where SharePoint needs to work side by side with Documentum, IBM Content Manager, or many of the other systems that exist out there.

This results in a training, communication, and user experience nightmare. Since each system has it’s own look, feel, language (terminology) and much more it makes it very confusing for customers and makes it very difficult to introduce new options. Often this also results in many custom solutions to synchronize and get these systems to look or work together in a more user friendly way.

However with the new CMIS specification it means that these ECM (enterprise content management) systems should use similar models for relationships, properties, folders, documents, versions, and object types. What this translates to is the fact that finally we have a standard for all of the ECM systems to use as a guideline as well as provide (excuse my glee) code samples. This means the issues (if this standard and specification is adopted in the future) that I mentioned earlier should be significantly reduced and maybe some of them can be removed entirely.

The full ECM announcement can be found here: http://blogs.msdn.com/ecm/archive/2008/09/09/announcing-the-content-management-interoperability-services-cmis-specification.aspx

Keep your eyes open people and I can’t wait to see how CMS (content mangement systems) grow next,
Richard Harbridge

Asset Picker Browse Field Control

September 10, 2008

One of those things that everyone should know is how to build a field control. SharePoint has all sorts of terrific components that you can use within a field control. I know I have mentioned how the asset picker can save time and effort but I figured it would be worth while to again reference a video that Alex Holcombe whipped up that shows exactly how to build one of these controls (in this case one for document relationships): http://wm.microsoft.com/ms/msdn/Office/2007OfficeVisualHowTos/MOSS2007ReferenceAndLinkUsingAssetPicker.wmv

This is a terrific starting point if you want to begin thinking of how you can use the Asset Picker or SharePoint’s browser dialog window to create references to items in SharePoint. A simple example of how this could be of benefit is by creating an image selection field control. We all know the out of the box hyperlink/image field control is pretty basic, wouldn’t it be nice to have a browse dialog to find the images you want to reference in SharePoint? Voila, just follow the steps outlined in the video and add some logic so it only shows images in the picker control and you are all set.

Hope this helps someone,
Richard Harbridge

Real World Examples (MS Case Studies)

September 10, 2008

The other day my friend wanted some real world examples of SharePoint being used to help support an initiative he has going, where he wants to push Microsoft and specifically SharePoint in his organization.

Microsoft has been releasing Case Studies for ages on SharePoint which provide real world application examples for how SharePoint provided business value and solved real business problems. You can find them here: http://www.microsoft.com/casestudies/search.aspx?ProTaxID=1902

These are terrific examples of real world scenarios where SharePoint has been used. If you are a University and looking at SharePoint or new technologies to support your students look at the latest Case Study from the Washington State University: http://www.microsoft.com/casestudies/casestudy.aspx?casestudyid=4000002509, if you are a different business just take a look, and I bet out of the 200 case studies one of them can help shed some light on how SharePoint can help.

Hope this helps someone in their review/push for SharePoint work in the future,
Richard Harbridge