Get the Productivity Hub for SharePoint

Posted September 16, 2009 by rharbridge
Categories: Administration, Free Stuff, News and Opportunities, Reference, SharePoint 2007

Tags: , ,

So over the past while I have been raving about how happy Microsoft has made me with their announcement for continued support/updates to the productivity hub. Well I realized I hadn’t even mentioned it on my blog here.

So now I am.

This is a bit of old news, but in case you haven’t heard about it…

The Productivity Hub is a Microsoft SharePoint Server 2007 site collection that offers training materials for end-users. It has blogs, discussion groups, a coach ‘program’ (listing of coaches you can define and extend), change management (to reduce load on IT staff) and tons of great starting content for a powerful SharePoint and Office help center.

Download it here: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=277fefca-d62f-41bc-943d-79002254cfee&displaylang=en

Why is this so good?

  1. The obvious one is that this reduces cost and overhead related to training. It acts as a tool for training departments and IT.
  2. Not just one way to learn. Since the content can be video, documents, coached training, forums, blogs and more it means you have many learning paths available for individuals.
  3. Drives adoption. The coach concept and if you properly highlight the productivity hub with featured material, or roll up a tip/trick each week on your intranet homepage with a reference to the productivity hub you can begin to imagine how it can help improve shared understanding and overall user adoption of SharePoint.
  4. The content updates for the hub (more released on a schedule like this: Aug 2009, November 2009, February 2010, May 2010 etc) will add more and more great documents, videos and help for end users without you having to do any discovery on your own. You simple download and run the content updates. You can review the content each time to ensure it falls in line with your solution, customizations, and objectives but it can save you tons of time.
  5. It provides a framework/starting point for a great knowledge sharing/community solution. If you have never played with/experimented with PKS, or built knowledge sharing areas this is a good example of some important features/techniques. There is a built in feature listing/functionality where certain material can be featured. It has a rating system to help ensure the community moderates and promotes the best content, it runs in SharePoint so you can control and customize the permissions to your hearts content, and so on and so forth.

Ian over at at wssdemo.com has done a wonderful thing and installed/made this available here: http://templates.wssdemo.com/sites/productivity/Pages/Default.aspx

Brief note here for Administrators: It is intensive on the SQL side on install so make sure to do this in off hours or plan accordingly.

I was a bit excited in writing this, but I really am excited and hope you are as well,
Richard Harbridge

P.S – As a social media aside: http://www.slideshare.net/sachac/smarter-work-why-social-networks-matter is a slide show on “Smarter Work and Why Social Networks Matter” from Sacha that is a fantastic, short, and simple explanation of why things like this matter. In our case this is a community building toolset (productivity hub) and will help boost adoption. 🙂

SharePoint Keyboard Shortcuts

Posted September 11, 2009 by rharbridge
Categories: Accessibility, Reference, SharePoint 2007, Tips and Tricks

Tags: ,

One of those things I often see people surprised by, or forgetting about is the usefulness of keyboard shortcuts when working with applications. It can save you time by removing the need to navigate menu’s, and scroll the mouse all around the page. Often the only way you can cause certain behavior is by using key combination’s on your keyboard. So it’s always good to know what keyboard shortcuts exist and how they can be used with the application you are using.

SharePoint has lots of GREAT key combination’s you can use to save you time and energy and Microsoft has done a great job of listing them all.

Keyboard Shortcuts for WSS: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/sharepointtechnology/HA101756491033.aspx

Keyboard Shortcuts for MOSS: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/sharepointserver/HA101733621033.aspx

Be sure to review the Rich Text Editor and Rich Text Editor of the Content Editor Web Part as many people don’t realize the difference between hitting Enter and Shift + Enter.

It’s also a good idea to remember your browser has it’s own shortcuts that you can use for navigating pages, content, magnification, printing, and more.

Here are some simple examples:

  1. You can enlarge the text on any Web page by pressing Ctrl and the plus or minus keys (for bigger or smaller fonts).
  2. You can also enlarge the entire Web page by pressing the Ctrl key as you turn the wheel on top of your mouse.
  3. You can tap the Space bar to scroll down on a Web page one screenful. Add the Shift key to scroll back up.
  4. If you hit the Ctrl and Home key on your keyboard you will immediately be taken to the top of the web page, document, or email.
  5. Hitting the Ctrl and End key on your keyboard at the same time will take you immediately to the bottom or end of a web page, document, or email.

Hope this helps someone save time,
Richard Harbridge

jQuery Hover for Multiple Buttons/Images

Posted August 13, 2009 by rharbridge
Categories: Code, jQuery, SharePoint 2007

Tags: ,

It’s been awhile since I have posted something with code up here. I figured a small post on a simple jQuery exercise that might help someone out.

The goal of this exercise is simple:
We want to have a hover effect to make ‘grey’ images become ‘colored’ when the mouse hovers over them.

The tools we will need:
jQuery library (http://jquery.com/), a webpage and some -grey and -clr (color) images.
Here are a few we will use in this exercise.

Here are some fun additional challenges I am going to toss in:
We will be doing this on a SharePoint welcome page which has the content (images etc) in a rich text field control. That means you can’t add any JavaScript where the images are being shown.

Solution Steps:
Here’s where I will go through how you can do this (pretty darned easily) and some simple recommendations.

  1. First you need to have a welcome page in SharePoint (or a generic html page). Then you are going to add image references. Each image should be named CONSISTENTLY. That way our code can be really simple and generic (which all developers love). As an example the ‘greyed out’ images will be named “Whatever -grey.gif” where the “-grey” is consistent. I added the hyphen in the off chance that when we replace the -grey later on, there might be a -grey somewhere else in the URL (unlikely, but should make it unique; if you really want to go the extra mile you could even use a GUID).As for the ‘coloured’ images we will name these “Whatever -clr.gif” where again -clr is consistent.What we get then is basically a bunch of <img> tags pointing to -grey to start us off. In this case we will add the following code to our normal rich text field control on the welcome page.
    <DIV>TIPS AND TRICKS</DIV>
    <DIV>
    <IMG class=“ColourChange” alt=“Word 2007” src=https://webaddress/IconImages/MS-Word-grey.gif&#8221;>
    <IMG class=“ColourChange” alt=“Outlook 2007” src=https://webaddress/IconImages/MS-Outlk-grey.gif&#8221;>
    <IMG class=“ColourChange” alt=“Excel 2007” src=https://webaddress/IconImages/MS-Excel-grey.gif&#8221;>
    <IMG class=“ColourChange” alt=“OneNote 2007” src=https://webaddress/IconImages/MS-Note-grey.gif&#8221;>
    </DIV>
  2. You need to add the jQuery library reference to the page. You can do this via inserting it into the masterpage, page layout, or into something like a content editor webpart. For this example I will just toss it, as well as the script I will be using into a Content Editor WebPart (CEWP).
    <script type=‘text/javascript’ src=https://webaddress/_layouts/ThirdParty/JavaScript/jquery.js&#8217;></script>
    (Can be anywhere, just giving example).
  3. Add this code to either a CEWP, Master Page, or Page Layout (as defined earlier). So that when the objects with a class assignment of ColourChange are hovered over they change their source image.
    <script>
    $(document).ready(function(){
    $(“.ColourChange”).hover(function()
    {

    $(this).attr(“src”,$(this).attr(“src”).replace(‘-grey’,‘-clr’));
    }, function()
    {

    $(this).attr(“src”,$(this).attr(“src”).replace(‘-clr’,‘-grey’));
    });
    });

    </script>
  4. All done. Even if new images are added as long as we assign the appropriate class and ensure the script is running our hover effects should all be consistent.

This was a pretty specific example but the important things to note here were that we wanted consistent naming conventions so that we could write a fairly generic script to change the src attribute of any object with the ColourChange class. In our example we used a replace to accomplish this. You could have just as easily changed the position, size, or other things as well.

We also have HTML code that is flat and simple without any need for onmouseover events, or (IMO) bad things like that. So the code was clean and simple (as well as accepted by picky controls like the Rich Text Field control in SharePoint) and the script was pretty simple and clean.

Hope this helps someone,
Richard Harbridge

Site Managers (Expectations, Roles and Responsibilities)

Posted August 12, 2009 by rharbridge
Categories: News and Opportunities, Reference, SharePoint 2007

Tags: , ,

Just linking to a guest post I did for End User SharePoint: http://www.endusersharepoint.com/?p=1881

Here is the opening from the article:

A challenge with SharePoint for site managers, site administrators, or site owners is understanding their own role, it’s responsibilities, and what expectations come with being a ‘site owner, manager, or administrator’.

Before I go into what you can do from a Governance perspective, and related challenges I would like to use a quote from Mark Miller (from this article on user adoption and the success of this site ) that I think perfectly summarizes the ‘job’ of a site manager.

“Your job as a site manager isn’t to provide all the content for your site. Your job is to take care of and nurture those that will.” – Mark Miller

I would love to hear any feedback anyone has. So don’t hesitate to talk to me on twitter, comment here or on EUSP, or via carrier pigeon.

Hope this helps,
Richard Harbridge

Closing (or X’ing) is not Deleting Webparts

Posted August 4, 2009 by rharbridge
Categories: Reference, SharePoint 2007, Tips and Tricks, WebPart

Tags: , ,

SharePoint WebPart pages often have ‘Closed’ WebParts being loaded everytime the page loads because the page editor may have incorrectly ‘closed’ a WebPart rather than ‘deleting’ the WebPart. (Or never removes it after closing it.)
close

Everyone who works with SharePoint sees and most likely runs into this (often :().
This is by no means ‘new’. In fact it’s been around since back in the 2003 days and here are a couple good posts that already exist on it:

The point being you can easily fix this for all your pages by adding the ?contents=1 to each page and managing it that way (see linked articles above for description of how this works, or my previous post: https://sharepointkb.wordpress.com/2008/07/25/sharepoint-webpart-error/) or you can add each closed webpart individually (using the advanced webpart pane). The why this is a good thing is pretty straight forward, it provides you with a way to restore webparts just in case you didn’t mean to ‘remove’ them from the page.

The why you should go through ALL of your landing pages, home pages, or often updated pages and do this ‘clean up’ work *regularly* (until it’s no longer an issue) is because it still retrieves these webparts (and all their lovely properties) when it loads the page, it just doesn’t render them to the end user. This makes for much slower response rates and can be easily improved.

So seriously, if you read this and haven’t checked how many closed webparts are on your pages (in the past month) go do that right now and clean them up. Set up a scheduled task each week to do this, write a script, or train people to manage page content so that it doesn’t happen anymore. Do anything but leave it alone. Then tell other people, and make this one of those checks you do when working with pages. You will be surprised by how much it can often help page load times.

Let’s also hope that Microsoft makes these ‘closed’ parts expire in the future… since recycling bin already does this. *nudge nudge* *wink wink* to MS.

Hope this helps,
Richard Harbridge

SharePoint 2010

Posted July 13, 2009 by rharbridge
Categories: SharePoint 2010

Tags: ,

I cannot express enough how happy I am that I am now able to talk about SharePoint 2010. Trying to bite my tongue, and keep it all in for the past months has been really difficult because there are so many things that have been greatly improved and are just so darned exciting. http://sharepoint.microsoft.com/2010/Sneak_Peek

Be sure to also look at their “Get Ready” for 2010 guidance: http://sharepoint.microsoft.com/2010/Sneak_Peek/Pages/Get_Ready.aspx. Personally I think they should also have a ‘get ready for end users’… but anyways.

SharePoint Ribbon:

My all time favorite is something that seems relatively simple/non technical but has a huge impact which is the inclusion of the Ribbon interface into SharePoint. If you think of the typical SharePoint page it has a ton of different navigation and option bars. My number 1 ‘surprise’ remark from clients and users is: I didn’t know it could do that! With the ribbon it brings the options to the user in an easy/obvious manner instead of hidden in menu’s. This will greatly improve/reduce the number of people that say “I didn’t know it could do that” empowering users even more than it has done previously.

It also makes training/user adoption significantly easier since things are logically grouped. I still remember when I first saw this how I jumped up and down (literally) with excitement.

SharePoint Dialog Interface:

Now you know where you need to look/take action without thinking. This is a great improvement in my mind and was also my second favorite change. It will greatly improve usability, user adoption and make using SharePoint a much more pleasant experience.

“Web Edit” and Rich Text Editing:

No more clunky menu’s and Rich Text Editor. Now it makes it much easier to modify a page’s content. The image browser/uploader is also a much needed enhancement that will greatly help end users with improving pages. (Ever tried to train a user to upload an image then copy source/urls? Not an easy task).

Silverlight:

Great if you have silverlight controls, but more importantly you can imagine the templates/silverlight controls they might include in the product release. This is also great news for those getting into the new UI/UX experiences Silverlight provides.

Rich Theming:

For anyone who has ever worked with branding this is a wonderful enhancement that can help greatly reduce the amount of effort involved in theming SharePoint (if any effort is necessary). You can also imagine how useful it can be to develop your own Rich Theming options for end users.

Multiple Browser Support:

Not going to say much about this one because I would hope this was expected from most people. Especially with the changes in SP2 that greatly improved alternative browser support.

SharePoint Designer 2010:

To be safe I am just going to say I LOVE the changes they have made with SharePoint Designer and the vast improvements done to make it even more indispensable to those working with SharePoint. (Especially power users/super users, not just designers).

Groove 2010 (Err SharePoint Workspace):

One stop super solution for offline synchronization. Not really more needs to be said here. (IMO)

Rich Media Support:

Really wish they went into more detail on this stuff. The features under Rich Media are very powerful and have been implemented in a very easy to use manner.

Business Connectivity Services:

Really it’s all about the connection in Office 2010 here that’s the most important part. Think about how much more robust/useful you could make Office 2010 solutions if you can easily have users access business data from other systems/places.

Visio Services:

Take what they did with excel and excel services and imagine that with Visio. That’s probably the best way to describe this one. Very powerful when you think about how many users don’t need/have visio. Think about process diagrams and workflows and how they will be impacted by this and Visio 2010 upgrades… *nudge nudge* *wink wink*

Admin Upgrades:

Just understanding that administration has been greatly improved and designed to be more automated (best practices analyzer) and to provide clearer visibility on issues, usage, and logging should give you the right idea of how administration experience has been GREATLY improved.

It’s also important to note the significant cost reduction in recovery with Unattached Content Database Recovery. Then there’s the Large List Resource Throttling which provides more information to end users and makes it easier to control/support large lists.

Lastly the upgrade process has been broken into two steps. First you upgrade the ‘back end’ and then you upgrade the ‘user experience’. This is my absolute favorite change from 2003-2007. As you can imagine this will make the entire process much easier. It also enables you to do it on a situational basis. So converting one area of the site that has little unghosting and little customization can be switched over, but converting the significantly customized areas can be done separately with lots of planning.

Developer Upgrades:

For me personally the Developer Dashboard is my favorite new developer change. No more ridiculous test harnesses/reporting modules that I have had to build in the past. 🙂

LINQ for SharePoint(might be new/a bit of learning for some developers but it’s a great improvement that will help speed up development and reduce potential performance issues, bad code, and reduce errors. (IMO)

The templates/process improvements they have made in VS 2010/Business Connectivity should really make it MUCH easier for new developers coming into SharePoint. Many of the other things aren’t really new so much as slightly improved (more automated) or centralized/included into VS 2010 (IMO).

Hope you are as excited as I am. If you are coming to the Conference in October and want to hang out/talk I will be there.
Richard Harbridge

SharePoint Saturday Success

Posted July 13, 2009 by rharbridge
Categories: Free Stuff, News and Opportunities, Personal, Reference, SharePoint 2007

Tags: , ,

My presentation/session was called SharePoint Success and that is exactly what SharePoint Saturday in Toronto was. From all the incredible people I spoke with at the event it seemed like everyone learned new things and made some great new friends.

I want to make a special thank you to my fellow speakers for making me feel extremely welcomed and for providing some really great discussions throughout the event, feedback after, and for joining me for a delightful SharePint (twice! :P). Here are some pictures: http://picasaweb.google.ca/ruveng/20090712SharePointSaturdayToronto?authkey=Gv1sRgCNGiyoaDhuuVFg&feat=directlink# as well as a short video: http://video.msn.com/video.aspx/?mkt=en-us&vid=bef78262-0bba-4fbe-beba-ce9c2f5ad02c&wa=wsignin1.0.

My Presentation:

For my presentation slide deck I have added it to SlideShare here: http://www.slideshare.net/rharbridge/sharepoint-saturday-sharepoint-success – It should also soon be available on the SharePoint Saturday website.

Clarification “The Importance of Having All the Right People in the Room”:

I received quite a few questions at the end of the presentation and quite a few emails that I have been responding to. So thank you for all the wonderful contributions you have made (SharePoint Audience). I wanted to clarify a response to one of  those here:

The question was on whether it was a good idea to get all the developers in the same meeting as everyone else. At the time I responded that you need to be cognisent of who is in a meeting and who needs to be (as it’s costing money for everyone to be in that meeting when they could be doing other things). However I think I might have given the wrong impression. Sometimes it absolutely makes sense to have the developers in meetings when working out requirements and things like that. Especially if it saves time, money, or ensures everyone has a Shared Understanding (my whole point of the presentation pretty much).

I actually use a RACI (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed) model that I took out of the slides before presenting because I was afraid I would go over time as well as a slide on meetings in general (related to SharePoint which was under Governance), but basically just think about those four words and use them to help determine who should and shouldn’t be in a meeting. Always ensure you have “All of the right people in the room”.

I hope everyone who went enjoyed themselves and learned something and met someone new, I know I did and I am better for it,
Richard Harbridge