Archive for May 2009

Service Pack 2 Issue and Admitting a Mistake

May 22, 2009

First of all, for anyone out there that doesn’t know Service Pack 2 for SharePoint causes the expiration date to be incorrectly activated so that it will expire in 180 days. Here is the announcement on the SharePoint team blog: http://blogs.msdn.com/sharepoint/archive/2009/05/21/attention-important-information-on-service-pack-2.aspx.You can check if you are effected by looking at the services enabled in your farm. To fix it you just basically reset your key.

While it is sort of funny, and can cause concern (minor, since it’s easily resolved) it is important to note that Microsoft responded to it and accepted responsibility for the issue. This is a good reminder to everyone of us at a personal level to admit when a mistake has been made (and any of us who have used SharePoint in any capacity have almost certainly made some while we were learning) and to take steps as soon as possible to correct it.

If I look back at the first solutions I built, or the first time I installed/configured SharePoint there are things I am sure I did wrong or may have missed. There were better ways I could have built my code (such as missing dispose methods on my webs in my very first SharePoint application), or I didn’t know to change the index, and log save locations from the smaller C: drive to the larger and more spacious D: drive of my server. Sometimes it’s funny and gets caught before it can cause an issue (such as saving SharePoint Disaster Recovery documentation on SharePoint) or it can be found after when it’s already causing trouble.

What is important when a mistake is found though is that we accept it and work to resolve it. Being honest and responsible are good business traits. Trying to cover things up almost always causes more trouble than it avoids. In technology there area so many complications and ways we can try and hide things, or adjust blame when approached with situations like this. I often hear developers blaming environments, administrators blaming users, users blaming management for poor training or support, users blaming technology etc etc. In almost all of these cases the individual or group blaming can resolve the issue, or might have made a mistake.

Anyways I just thought it would be good to look at this as a reminder. We all make mistakes. It’s how we react as people and businesses that really matters,
Richard Harbridge

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Updating Content Editor Content with Word

May 19, 2009

There are a number of reasons why users might be using content editors for page content in a SharePoint site. However this creates a fair amount of overhead when users can’t get the content to ‘look just right’. Often without HTML edit abilities users become frustrated and will give up or push content out that has been akwardly formatted.

One of the ways you might try out to help with these kinds of issues is getting users to modify and update content editor content in word. I am going to go through how this can be done (relatively easily) in a few steps here. The important steps in the process is creating an HTML document (in this case I am using word, but you could use SharePoint Designer, or any product which pushes out HTML) and then getting the content editor webpart to reference the HTML document.

  1. First let’s create our web page content in word. It’s important to keep the size of the webpart in mind when we build the content and users MUST insert images as links (from the SharePoint site or internet) as embedded images won’t display. Here is an article on this: http://blogs.msdn.com/ecm/archive/2006/11/17/converting-office-2007-openxml-documents-with-embedded-images-to-sharepoint-web-pages.aspx *Note we are doing a process similar to smart client authoring/conversion. We are just doing it more manual for greater control/flexability.
  2. Save the word document as the HTML/HTM file type. You can do this simply by choosing SAVE AS and saving it under the HTML file type.
    SaveAsHTML
  3. Next we need to upload our HTML (or HTM) file to a SharePoint library.
  4. Navigate to the page you want the content to be displayed on and add a new content editor webpart.
  5. Now let’s edit the newly added content editor webpart’s properties. Namely the Content Link property and set that to reference the HTML or HTM file we just added. To do this you can right click the link in the document library and click copy shortcut and then paste the shortcut into the content link field.
    SaveShortCut
    ContentEditorContentLink
  6. Click OK and save the edited properties.
  7. Voila we should now see the content (built in word) showing on our webpage through the content editor. If we want to modify the content we just need to open the document in word, make our changes and save it to the server. Immediately updating the content on the webpart.

There are two advantages to using a process like this:

  1. You get content version history and version control. Normal webparts don’t really have version control, so by using a document libraries content like this we can enable versioning and go back to previous versions in case something mucks up.
  2. Any user with access to the content can change it just like a word document (more or less) making it require far less training and effort for people to update than the typical SharePoint methods that can cause alot of confusion.

Hope this helps someone who wants to use document conversion for SharePoint but needs a more flexable model for page content,
Richard Harbridge

Imagine Interactive Visual SharePoint Wikis, and Discussion Boards

May 7, 2009

So earlier this morning I twittered at how terrific I thought http://debategraph.org/ was. This is one of those things where I expect it to become a normal thing in the future.

As information continues to grow in organizations and across the world it becomes harder and harder to search and more importantly consumer that information. A ways back I talked about Corporate Memory (https://sharepointkb.wordpress.com/2008/07/29/corporate-memory-the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly/) and how it’s best as an organic thing. Constantly growing, with constantly changing and evolving expectations. This kind of visual wiki (which uses IBIS like methodology and looks similar to a mind map) is a perfect example of how I expect in 4 years many of us will consume information and make business decisions, and maybe even navigate around our intranets.

Think of how useful this kind of visualized relationships can be in a Site Map, for a SharePoint Wiki, for presenting the arguements and replies of a discussion board. It’s a more evolved way of working with these common things and this is only scratching the surface.

Anyways figured I would share some thoughts on it and hope everyone is doing well,
Richard Harbridge

SharePoint Knights and Award/Recognition Programs

May 6, 2009

I decided to blog about this because I figured I might as well give my two cents on this and clearly illustrate why I completely and wholeheartedly would support almost any program such as the one called SharePoint Knights proposed by community members and Joel (http://www.sharepointjoel.com/Lists/Posts/Post.aspx?ID=218#Comments).

To me the concept represented by the SharePoint Knights order, and any other award/recognition program designed for and based on community contribution is a wonderful idea. The reason I believe it’s a wonderful idea is because these programs DO increase community contribution and provide extra motivation for people to help and contribute to the community.

I understand that we don’t want to mar, muddy, or confuse the power and importance of the MVP status (which personally I think is a well run program considering the challenges this kind of program typically runs into). I think the entire advantage and best part of this idea/concept has been harshly criticized without people taking a step back and seeing it for what (in my honest opinion) the idea represents. (I could be mistaken and I apologize if I am.)

The primary focus of a program like this should be/is to provide more awards and recognition for community contribution.

That’s it. It’s not about what the rules are for this, or how this will be facilitated or handled (BTW great post by Jeremy on this outlining a lot of the challenges a program like this needs to consider: http://wss.made4the.net/archive/2009/05/05/sharepoint-mvps-vs-sharepoint-knights.aspx). As far as I am concerned there is no substantial reason (if we ignore personal/emotional reactions) that seems to indicate more programs like the MVP program (hosted by ANYONE in my opinion) aren’t good for the community.

So in my opinion I really hope that more of these programs and ideas pop up, not less. I want us to get saturated with them. I want everyone to feel like they are awarded for contributing to the community. It will strengthen the community not harm it. It will also cause the best programs to make their way above the others in the same way award systems have a ‘top award’ or ‘most respected award’ in their respective communities. We will have that too, and yes, there is the possibility that maybe the MVP award (in the long run) won’t be the top/most respected one. Personally, I think it will and that this healthy competition will enable it to grow and become an even better program than it is right now.

Keep it coming guys and it’s great to see people trying to make new change and empower the community further,
Richard Harbridge