Posted tagged ‘Free Tools’

Get the Productivity Hub for SharePoint

September 16, 2009

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:

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 has done a wonderful thing and installed/made this available here:

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: 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 Designer Free!

April 2, 2009

While this is all over the net I figured I should also post it here. SharePoint Designer which was previously a product that replaced front page is now a completely free downloadable product.

This tool can help ANY user who uses SharePoint to expand their capabilities. From page editing, page layout and master page creation to the implementation of custom workflows this is an excellent tool for business and technical users to use in their SharePoint environment. Keep in mind that extra usage reports are available in designer and a bunch of other ‘tucked away’ features that you can take advantage of.

Even if you don’t have SharePoint this can be helpful for web site design, backups, and other web related content management.

It can be downloaded here:

This is a new direction for this product and vNext of SharePoint Designer is also going to be freely available. For those of us who have seen the vNext stuff and played with it, trust me, this is awesome news.

Want to know more?

Want to know more about the licensing changes? Check out this Q&A on it: – This also better explains the MANY reasons why this is great news and how you as a customer can take advantage of this, and how it can benefit you.

There is also a quick video where Tom explains the change:

If you are an Administrator

This means you MUST consider locking down SharePoint Designer as soon as possible. With it freely available users can now perform many potentially server intensive tasks such as backing up sites. To understand how to control SharePoint Designer I recommend reading this wonderful post on the SharePoint blog:

If you want some extra training or are new to SPD…

I would recommend installing and running through the SharePoint Designer Training that can be found here:

Hope you enjoy, I know I will,
Richard Harbridge

SharePoint Developers: SPDisposeCheck Release

January 30, 2009

This is probably redundant as pretty much everyone has blogged about it but just in case you don’t already know: SPDisposeCheck was released (hot and necessary for all dev’s as far as I am concerned).

But don’t take my word for it just check the blogging communities absolute joy on the totally sweet release:

  1. SharePoint Blog:
  2. Paul Andrew:
  3. Jan Tielens:
  4. Andrew Connell:–This-should-be-in-EVERY-SharePoint-developers-toolbox.aspx
  5. Gary Lapointe:

Hope you all give it a try and it helps save you time or enhance your development,
Richard Harbridge

P.S – When a friend calls you up around 11pm and says: “do you want to go tobogganing at midnight with a bunch of friends”, and you work at 6am the next day it is a wonderful idea to agree to go and have the time of your life. Also making pizza’s at a closed pizzeria at 3am in the morning is a great way to warm yourself up and apparently enjoy the unique experience of a pizza dough fight.