Posted tagged ‘SharePoint 2007’

Google Chrome and SharePoint (Summary)

September 3, 2008

Hello Everyone,

So I have decided to just list my observations good and bad with Google Chrome, let me preface this with the fact I am very happy with how close to Firefox google chrome is, but that IE and even firefox are still better (at this early stage) than google chrome is for SharePoint.

The Nutshell: From an anonymous user and a web browsing perspective Google Chrome does everything you could want it to do. I didn’t even see a single obvious styling issue (from anonymous perspective) with all of the SharePoint internet facing websites I have worked on.

The Cons:

  • Clicking a file results in a “Save to” scenario instead of opening it in client applications.
  • “Edit in” menu option results in a Windows SharePoint Services message asking for IE 6.0 or greater.
  • Supports only single upload, not multiple upload in document libraries.
  • Rich Text Controls (Content Editor and Page Editor) only display an HTML box.
  • No drag and drop support for web parts.
  • Minor styling things like the My Links shifting up and some tiny pixel like differences that I noticed.
  • MySites also show some more styling differences – Personally the image being partly out of the left box made me snicker.
  • No Edit in Datasheet for Lists and Libraries.
  • No Open with Windows Explorer for Libraries.

The Pros:

  • Speedy javascript. (Similar to firefox in terms of speed for JavaScript rendering).
  • Love the “Create Application Shortcut” feature. Allows you to basically create desktop, start menu, or quicklaunch short cuts. These even open up in a sort of ‘full screen view’, which is pretty nice looking (and saves time).
  • It’s in Beta still.

That’s what I have for now, I will try to keep this updated if I notice anything else.

Take Care,
Richard Harbridge

What is a Dashboard?

August 25, 2008

The term Dashboard gets tossed around a fair amount in the world of SharePoint and is used often with workflows, or in business process solutions. The harder part is understanding what a dashboard is. The even harder part is trying to explain what it means in the context of SharePoint to someone.

This is my attempt to help explain the concept of a dashboard in SharePoint, and how they are typically used.

What it contains of course depends on the context of where it is used, and I assure you I am not talking about that thing in your car or if you are filthy rich, in your plane. However these both also indicate the most basic aspect of ANY dashboard.

1. A Dashboard is something which PROVIDES TARGETED INFORMATION to the user.

That’s a good starting point. The key is that it is providing targeted information to the user based on what the expected users needs are, the pages context, and/or who the user is. It is often interactive (but doesn’t have to be) and uses SharePoint web parts to render information from lists, libraries, and sites to the user.

2. Typically (in SharePoint) a Dashboard provides a place to initiate related actions.

Because you have visited a dashboard page for either yourself, a department, a service, a subject, or some other reason the page should be designed to not only provide the important information related to your ‘query’ or reason for visiting the page, but also ways to initiate related actions. This could be quick links, links to related items, links to forms, or in some cases embedded forms so the user can submit information right on the page itself.

That’s all folks! It’s pretty much that simple. Dashboards present information to the user to digest and are normally chalked full of SharePoint web parts and provide a way to execute related actions.

So what does this mean? Almost everything is a Dashboard in SharePoint context, which makes it very hard to explain. Adding a content query web part and quick links to a page turns it into a dashboard for someone and almost every web part can be described as a dashboard component.

Hope this helps someone new to the term Dashboard understand it’s context in SharePoint a bit better,
Richard Harbridge

SharePoint Content Query WebPart (Customizable, Powerful, and Invaluable to ANYONE who uses SharePoint)

July 25, 2008

Out of the box SharePoint provides ANYONE with almost everything you could possibly need to present SharePoint data (list items, documents, you name it..) onto a webpage. Whether you have an intranet, extranet, and/or internet SharePoint deployment one of the single most important webparts will be the SharePoint Content Query WebPart.

Not sure what it is? Basically (very generalized description) it allows you to roll up SharePoint data into a customizable presentation. Read more here:

What this really means is two things:

  1. You can roll up pretty much any kind of “query” you can think of for SharePoint data. I could roll up all the policy documents throughout the entire site collection into one page for everyone to see, or maybe roll up the latest 5 news articles and present them to the viewer.
  2. You can CUSTOMIZE the look and feel VERY easily. This can allow some normal list data that looks like a listing of information to be INTERACTIVE for a user, or to look and feel exactly how you want it to!

The second point there is extremely important for those who are using it for internet sites. Want your news articles to roll up on your homepage and show just a thumbnail, title and description? Easy as pie! What if those news articles are all over the site, and are made by many different kinds of users? As long as you structured the data (used content types or something) you can just “Query” it with the content query webpart and voila it will appear.

Now for the part many people miss: But it doesn’t look the way I want it to, and all the options still don’t make it look the way I want.

No problem! If you have anyone who can do basic HTML you should be able to pull it off. (XSL skills are probably a good thing for anything more advanced than minor changes.)

The Content Query WebPart runs off of XSL!
Microsoft released wonderful documentation on how to modify it here:

But as always I will try and provide my own little example to help anyone who hasn’t caught on yet.

  1. Add a content query webpart to a page.
  2. Here is what mine looked like:
    Take a look at the drop down for item style, what I am going to take you through is how to make your own new item style, completely customizing the LOOK and FEEL for how my data items are displayed.
  3. Navigate to the site collection root and visit the StyleLibrary. Within this library is a folder called XSL Style Sheets. We are going to modify one of the files in here called ItemStyle.
  4. You can modify it in notepad, or in visual studio or some other XML/XSL editor. For this demo I will be using visual studio.
  5. Either write your own new template using the others as a guide OR copy one of them as a starting point. In this case we will just copy the “TitleOnly” template and paste it below.Notice that we change the NAME and MATCH of the template we copied. This is what it will show up in the drop down as, and how it will associate the styles and xsl you adjust in the actual content query webpart.
  6. Add some HTML or adjust the XSL as desired. In this sample I just added an image that will appear to the left of each title.
  7. Save and check the XSL change in.
  8. Open the content query webpart you added in step 1 and cause the item style drop down to display.

    You will notice our new template shows up.
  9. Click OK or Apply and VOILA – Customized Presentation (in my case an image of myself showing to the left of each item. Narcissistic I know.)

I hope you all see the power of this WebPart and use it to save you tons of time and effort,
Richard Harbridge

P.S – I highly recommend downloading and trying this solution on a development environment: which is basically a content query webpart enhanced with more properties pushed up to the user. It also has some other slick features, but basically makes the above steps far simpler to execute and adjust.

— UPDATE: This is a codeplex project, so there are some issues, specifically when dealing with non root site collections. I am advising this as something to start from 🙂 —

SharePoint Webpart Error

July 25, 2008

Often when you are starting out (or if your up late developing :P) you will add a webpart to a page that causes an error and ‘crashes’ the entire page. This can be very annoying, especially if it’s not your webpart and you just wanted to see what it was, or if you need to have that page up and running again but don’t have the time to fix the offending webpart.

If you type “?contents=1” after any SharePoint page name in your browser window it will show you the webparts maintenance view for that page. This allows you to easily remove the offending webpart and continue on with whatever you were doing.

Example: “http://portal/sites/default.aspx?contents=1”

Hope this helps save some time,

Accessibility In SharePoint

July 24, 2008

Accessibility is becoming a more and more important thing in the website world. If you think about the average age of people increasing, the baby boomer generation’s current age, and the overall push towards equality for everyone we know that many new websites and quite a few existing ones are being changed to become more accessible and usable by those with various impairments or disabilities.

A great review of web accessibility for older users can be found here:

Summary: Be as accessible as you can be, and at the very least be AWARE of accessibility. There is always a limit to how accessible determined by the funding, training, and functionality you are providing your web users, but try to identify that limit and document it.

Microsoft released their Delivering Accessible Solutions using MOSS 2007 white paper a short time ago. This paper can be found here:

This white paper covers most of the material you need to know to deliver an accessible SharePoint website.

A wonderful accessibility best practices white paper was also released by Imtech a short while ago and can be found here:

This paper can give a fair amount of insight into some best practices to use when developing accessible web sites.

Don’t forget to look at the Accessibility Kit for SharePoint created by hisoftware which is also mentioned in both of the white papers.

If you read over both of these and keep accessibility standards in mind you will see how easy it can be to match the demand for accessible SharePoint websites. In fact I would recommend creating an accessibility matrix (use the W3C one as a starting point: for what your company, product, or level of ability sits at so that everyone can see exactly what kind of accessibility level you support.

Don’t forget that W3C offers lots of resources and assistance as well.

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SharePoint’s Explosive Job Growth

July 24, 2008

In the past few years SharePoint has gone from a very specialized platform adopted by a small percentage of Microsoft Supporters to a wide spread single platform solution that is the fastest selling server product in Microsoft’s history.

Everyone is interested in SharePoint, all around the world, and the ways in which it is being deployed have gone far beyond the initial designs and estimates from the SharePoint product teams.

What this means is that with any kind of explosive growth (and it’s not going to slow down) the demand for people who are knowledgeable with SharePoint from all the different areas (Sales, Consulting, Development (especially development), Administration etc) has increased just as fast.

The best part? It’s super easy to learn. I mean it. You hear alot about a good SharePoint developer, or a good SharePoint consultant making tons of money, or finding lots of success but the truth is you are either a good developer or not, a good consultant or not. My recommendation is: “If you haven’t looked into SharePoint and what it can do, the growth and reception it is recieving around the world from all areas of business, and how the actual framework (and associated frameworks) work then you should do so immediatly.”

SharePoint has a massive community for sharing and collaborating. There’s the SharePoint solutions on which can save money and time for many organizations. Microsoft recently released a specialized website for SharePoint development:,, and of course you still have MSDN, Newsgroups and Technet.

A good developer can get his/her WSS certification in I would say a week or two of looking at the API and creating some simple sample components. The MOSS certification and technical/configuration certifications are a little more specialized but also very easy. If you are an IT administrator, Systems Analyst or just someone in the IT field and you want another certification I highly recommend getting 1 of the 4 SharePoint ones. Because this growth isn’t going to slow down, the demand will continue to increase, and it’s easier to distinguish yourself now, then it will be when a couple years down the road the entire market is saturated with SharePoint specialists.

This also goes for Sales staff, I remember hearing time and time again SharePoint sales staff saying: “The beauty of SharePoint is it sells itself!”. With all the marketing and sales tools that Microsoft pumps out it makes it very easy to stay up to date and evangelise Microsoft’s suite of products. The Microsoft Gear UP group will give you tons of free resources and tools for sales stuff:

The number of SharePoint specialized companies, SharePoint supporting companies and sheer growth of Microsoft Partners means that if you take a bit of time now learning SharePoint or at least investigating it, you will gain immeasurable rewards and personal growth in the next few years.

Just a thought,

Total Calculated Columns in SharePoint

July 22, 2008

Out of the box SharePoint does not allow you to create totals in a SharePoint view for calculated columns or calculated fields.

Here is a work-around to total a SharePoint Calculated Columns or the Calculated Fields. (Note this will also create subtotals when using Group By options in a standard list view.)

Let’s say we have a field called PROFIT that is a calculated field set to subtrack the expense field from the revenue field in our list. ([Revenue]-[Expense])

  1. Create a regular number field (or currency field) called TOTAL PROFIT (or any other name you want) in that list.
  2. Using SharePoint Designer create a workflow for your list that runs when list items are created and when list items are changed.
  3. The workflow will have only one step name it something like set TOTAL PROFIT.Leave the condition field blank.
  4. In the action section choose “Set field in the current item”.
  5. Click on the word “field” and choose TOTAL PROFIT (the name of our column).
  6. Click on the word “value” and click on the “fx” button to do a lookup.
  7. Choose “Current Item” for the source.
  8. Choose “PROFIT” for the field. (This is the calculated column.)
  9. Click Finish.

Now whenever someone creates or modified a list item in that list the non-calculated field will automatically be updated with the data from the calculated field.

This means that by adding the TOTAL PROFIT field to any view you can total it and get a sum or any other calculation since you are no longer using a calculated field (directly).

Hope this helps someone,