SharePoint Sharpener

Obsessively Sharpening SharePoint

SPC11 Keynote: Online Focus, Delivering Productivity and Next Year: Las Vegas!

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The SharePoint Conference 2011 has just kicked off in Anaheim. Succeeding Steve Ballmer as the main keynote speaker is not an easy task but Jared Spataro gave a good performance in his own more relaxed style (hardly any shouting and sweating in sight).

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The theme of the conference is Productivity Delivered which relates directly to the fact that this conference is not held in a launch year, rather focus is on getting the most out of the existing product and maximising what can be done within the boundaries of SharePoint 2010.

Jared showed a short video about how the SharePoint team had been looking (in vain) for a Hollywood spokesperson for SharePoint. The video did put smiles on peoples faces and featured, among others, Luke Perry and Carmen Electra:

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Stats

You gotta have stats at a keynote. And Jared showed the following:

  • SharePoint is now one of the biggest products at Microsoft. The product continues to grow with double digits.
  • Microsoft has sold 125 million licenses of SharePoint to 65,000 customers.
  • 67% of enterprise customers have rolled out SharePoint to everyone in their organisations.
  • Office 365 now serves millions of customers (no exact numbers).
  • The conference is attended by more than 7,500 people. 240 breakout sessions are planned and 200 partners are present in the exhibit hall.

 

Jeff Teper

Jared handed over to Jeff Teper, the senior vice president of MS Office (and the father of SharePoint), and a huge SharePoint nerd; he really loves his product and the development community.

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Some of Jeff’s key points:

  • The biggest growth area of SharePoint is within public facing sites (www and extranet) – it has seen a hockey stick-like growth of 25-30% during the past year.
  • This has been the busiest year ever for the SharePoint team at Microsoft.
  • No other collaboration software can be setup and running as fast as Office 365.
  • Microsoft are working on the next major release of SharePoint but nothing will be shown this week.
  • Worldwide more than 700,000 developers work with SharePoint.
  • 1,162 books are available about SharePoint at Amazon.
  • Office 365 will get a major update towards the end of the year. Among other things, BCS will be enabled and so will read/write access to web services.
  • Microsoft is releasing a new, advanced certification, i.e. the Certified Architects Program. This will be the most advanced SharePoint certification to date.

Jeff surrendered the stage to Richard Riley for a rather impressive on-stage demo of how well SharePoint 2010 scales and fails over event with several terabytes of data. By the way, Microsoft has released an update to the SharePoint Capacity Planning Guide.

 

Kurt Delbene

Kurt, the president of MS Office division, gave a speak centered around Office 365 and cloud services.

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  • Office 365 is all about scalability. Even small companies are adopting the software on a large scale.
  • 80% of the smaller companies that use Office 365 have never rolled out SharePoint themselves.
  • Office 365 is backed by Microsoft which means it’s secure, reliable and fully supported by MS.
  • A few interesting industry facts:
    • 84% of organisations have a remote workforce.
    • 65% of all companies are deploying at least one social software tool.
    • 70% of IT budgets are spent maintaining inflexible and siloed data centre solutions.
    • 80% of larger enterprise IT managers are at least in trial stage for cloud computing initiatives.

Microsoft are donating $50,000 to a good cause through Net Hope. Attendees at SPC11 will decide which organisation should receive the sum and of course MS has created a web app to handle the voting (available through MySPC at the conference web site). We were given a quick tour behind the stage of the application which is based on Windows Azure, SQL Azure, SharePoint Online, HTML5, REST and JSON. Neat.

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And another thing: Vegas 2012 baby!

Jared concluded with a Steve Jobs-style “And another thing”-announcement: The next SharePoint Conference will be held at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas on 12-15 November 2012!

Let’s go!

As expected, there were no major announcements during the keynote but what the conference may lack in sexy new product launches it certainly will make up for in usefulness. Tons of great sessions and hands-on labs are there to attend and peruse.

Written by Thomas Sondergaard

October 3, 2011 at 5:34 pm

SPC11 Survival Guide for International Attendees

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Going to your first SharePoint Conference next week in Anaheim? Or maybe you just can’t remember much of the last two SPCs in Las Vegas and Seattle?

Anaheim will be my fourth SPC – the one before Seattle was in Berlin – and every time I seem to forget a few vital things in preparation for the trip. Trust me, there’ll be plenty of things to keep you busy once you touch down in LAX so the more you can take care of in advance the better.

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Social networking

Twitter is essential for staying on top of what’s happening at the conference. In most Twitter clients, like TweetDeck, you can create a column that continually displays tweets with the hashtag #SPC11. Alternatively, you can use the web version.

Also, find out if attendees from your country or user group are using a specific hashtag (like #SUGUK for SharePoint User Group UK or #SPC11DK for Danish attendees) – or you may even want to keep an eye on #SharePint.

Consider putting your twitter handle and avatar on your SPC badge. It’ll make it easier for your online friends to recognise you in person.

Of course, Facebook (or even Google+) is also a relevant source of up-to-the-minute information but Twitter tends to be more widely used during SPCs.

If you’re travelling with colleagues you can stay connected using Office Communicator, stating which session you’re in or where you’ll be during the next break.

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Adding your sessions to Outlook is a no-brainer and it makes it easy for your colleagues to catch up with you.

 

Doing business remotely

Access to your workplace via VPN may be limited from whichever network connection you’re getting in the US. Some providers and hotels block access to the ports used by VPN. If you’re using Office 365 or BPOS this isn’t going to be an issue for you – if not, you may want to check that you’ve got access to web-based email. If there’s a chance you need specific documents during the conference, put them on your hard drive or in the cloud with SkyDrive or Dropbox.

Also consider using GoToMyPC or unattended sessions in GoToAssist as these programs tend to find ways through the thickest firewalls.

 

Electronics

Most laptop power supplies these days are universal, i.e. they accept 100-240 volts, so you only need to bring a power plug adaptor.

Use your laptop as a charging station for your phone/tablet etc. and do bring a spare battery for your iPhone phone.

Speaking of phones: Make sure you don’t incur horrendous roaming charges on your normal contract. Instead, you should purchase a prepaid SIM card from a US carrier on arrival.

 

Air conditioning

If you’re from the northern hemisphere it is probably warmer in California than in your country. Don’t be fooled, though, you’ll be spending most of your time indoors at the convention centre. And let’s get one thing straight: Americans like love air condition and they don’t mind cranking it up to 11. So don’t expect tropical temperatures in the breakout sessions.

 

Papers, passport

By now, you’ve probably applied for your ESTA. If not, you really need to hurry up. When you’ve completed the form make sure you check the details on the print view – I found that more details are shown here than on the form itself, especially if you’re only updating flight or hotel information.

Don’t forget your passport. Silly, I know, but I’ve been on group trips before where one or two people showed up in the airport without the most obvious item needed for the trip.

 

Insurance

We’ve all heard stories about unlucky individuals ending up with astronomical medical bills when going abroad. Medical treatment in the US can be very expensive, so make sure that you (or your company on your behalf) have adequate travel and medical insurance for the trip.

 

Money

Don’t bring much cash – but do bring your Visa, Master or Amex card. If you have two different cards it’s even better as some places may accept Visa but not Master, or vice-versa. And do bring the phone number of your bank/issuer’s card cancellation service, in case your card gets stolen.

 

International drivers’ license

If you’re planning a road trip to an NFL game in San Diego while at SPC you should check if you need an international license, apart from your country’s standard license. In most cases you don’t but it’s worth checking out. More info here, and be aware of the scammers who want to sell you fake international licenses.

 

And finally: Drinking

Yes, drinking and partying is part of the SPC experience! SharePoint Conference is a very social event where many different types of SharePoint people attend. This mixed bag of individuals is a great basis for some serious partying but instead of listing all the tips here, I’ll refer you to this and this post from some of the seasoned SharePint drinkers in the community.

Peter Anker and Anders Dissing @ SharePint

In the above picture: Experienced SharePint drinkers Peter Anker and Anders Dissing partying in Copenhagen.

Make sure you check out my post about the social activities at SPC11 and bookmark the SPC11 Event Map.

 

Don’t forget to read some of the traditional travel advice from e.g. Lonely Planet or Rough Guides.

That’s it. Safe travels – hope to see you in Anaheim. If you see me, come and say hello.

Written by Thomas Sondergaard

September 29, 2011 at 5:09 pm

Quick Fix: Remove Libraries, Lists From ToC

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I usually strive to first and foremost use SharePoint’s out of the box functionality to fulfil clients’ needs. Custom solutions with managed code, controlled deployment etc. are all well and good but sometimes you can get by with some simple frontend-configuration. This approach, if done right, enables clients to easier maintain and further enhance their SharePoint site once it’s up and running and the expensive SharePoint consultants have left the building.

Small adjustments can often be done with CSS or JavaScript/jQuery without remote desktop access to the server park. I know some hard core devs out there will oppose to making more or less unmanaged changes using something that hasn’t been pushed through a compiler. But like it or not, we need to get used to working within the constraints of Office 365 and SharePoint in the cloud. More about that in a later article.

Anyway, let’s skip the politics and get to the point of this post.

 

The problem

When you insert a standard Table of Contents web part it looks something like this:

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And if you’re like most of my clients, you want it to look like this:

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I.e. more “site mappy” without links to lists, document libraries and discussions.

 

The solution

This is the quick fix and therefore we’ll use client-side JavaScript to hide the unwanted nodes in the ToC.

First, create a library in the site to hold custom scripts. Why not call it “scripts”?

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For easy editing, open the the new library in explorer view and create a text file, like so:

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Open the text file in your favourite editor and paste the following JavaScript:

   1: <script language="JavaScript" type="text/javascript">

   2: // This script removes lists, libraries and discussions from Table of Contents

   3: // PeopleNet, tso@peoplenet.dk

   4: var links = document.body.getElementsByTagName("a");

   5: for(ii=0; ii<links.length; ii++)

   6: {

   7:     if(links[ii].outerHTML.indexOf("BaseType") != -1 && 

   8:       links[ii].parentNode.parentNode.parentNode.parentNode.className == "level-section")

   9:     {

  10:         links[ii].parentNode.parentNode.parentNode.parentNode.style.display = "none";

  11:     }

  12: }

  13: </script>

 

Save the file and go back to the SharePoint page where you placed the ToC web part. Below the ToC insert a Content Editor Web Part.

Back in the old days (i.e. SharePoint 2007) you’d edit JavaScript directly in the web part. This is still possible but it’s really quirky to work with. Instead, in the web part’s properties, point to the text file you created earlier:

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This approach makes it so much easier to edit the JavaScript in a proper editor instead of in a SharePoint pop-up.

Click OK and save the page. The unwanted nodes are now hidden.

 

Note

I’m fully aware of the implications of the above approach with regards to solution management, client-side performance and so on, but every solution needs to be seen in the context of the need it fulfils. And sometimes the above approach hits the mark.

And remember, the Table of Contents web part is just one of site navigation options in SharePoint.

Written by Thomas Sondergaard

September 27, 2011 at 10:44 pm

Work Hard, Play Hard: SPC11 Event Map

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If you’re attending the SharePoint Conference you’re expecting to return home with valuable knowledge from the world’s leading SP experts. Knowledge that will inspire you to become more productive with SharePoint no matter which tier of SharePoint you’re working with.

However, you will certainly suffer from information overload during the week – but knowing this you can take proper precautions. You’ll need two things:

  1. OneNote
  2. SharePints

Using OneNote is worth a handful of blog posts of its own (I’ll write something soon) but for now you can take a look at this and this.

More importantly, you need to make sure that you focus on something which isn’t SharePoint-related at the end of each conference day. Cue the SPC11 Event Map which pinpoints the different parties, receptions and other social gatherings during SPC11. So, leave your hotel room behind and join your fellow SP enthusiasts for a few SharePints.

Click the screenshot to go to the map:

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I’ve made the map public so please add your own events (use green pins). If you have suggestions for restaurants, sights and so on, please add them with appropriate pins – or drop a comment below and I’ll update the map. This is work in progress and I’ll update the map during the conference.

Thanks to Jeremy Thake and Robert Piddocke for contributing. Jeremy’s comprehensive SharePoint community calendar can be found here.

Written by Thomas Sondergaard

September 24, 2011 at 11:14 pm

Welcome Back! And See You in Anaheim For SPC11

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So, I’m taking the first baby steps towards breathing life back into my severely neglected blog. It would simply be too embarrassing to go to Anaheim in a week’s time without a least a few fresh posts under my belt.

It’s not like I don’t have plenty of useful SharePoint stuff to write about; my beloved OneNote is crammed with years of scribbling about bug-fixing, coding, server trouble-shooting and mostly – let’s face it – more or less elegant solutions to overcome SharePoint’s little quirks.

 

Let’s meet in Anaheim

Once again, PeopleNet will probably be the largest Danish contingent at the SharePoint Conference. Almost 40 of us are going this year, including some of our valued clients.

I’m looking forward to spending some time with like-minded SharePoint enthusiasts during the course of the week, either between sessions or at some of the many social events. SharePints anyone?

 

Live blogging?

Yes, I’m planning to do a few posts before SPC11 but whatever I write during the conference will surely be more interesting for you to read, especially if you can’t attend yourself.

If wifi coverage is acceptable I’ll attempt to live blog during the keynote. At SPC09, literally the second Steve Ballmer walked off the stage after the keynote, I posted an article and it was probably the first semi-comprehensive rundown of SharePoint 2010’s new features to hit the internet. It got a lot of traffic.

This time a new version of SharePoint will not be released but I’m confident a few juicy announcements will be made during the keynote, so tune into my blog for coverage.

I’m probably getting over-ambitious here but I’m toying with the idea of posting some video clips from the conference as well. Not promising anything, though.

 

Meanwhile, follow me on Twitter (@sondergaard) – and have a safe flight to Anaheim, if you’re going…

Written by Thomas Sondergaard

September 24, 2011 at 12:16 am

Inserting a SharePoint Web Part Generates an Internal Server Error (500)

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One of my clients recently reported some strange behaviour by their SharePoint 2007 publishing site.

Inserting a web part would sometimes generate an internal server error (status code 500). You’ll notice the word “sometimes” which really isn’t something you want to hear when trying to diagnose SharePoint problems :)

Anyway, it turned out that the described behaviour is entirely reproducible as it is only in certain web part zones that the problem occurs – but it will always happen in those particular zones if a web part is attempted to be inserted.

So, what is the pattern? Have a look at the highlighted part of this screenshot:

Screenshot: 500 Internal server error

The screenshot is in fact the Insert Web Part pop-up window. The key to solving the problem is in the ZoneDisplayName part of the querystring. It contains an escaped extended character, in this case the Danish letter “ø”, because the name of the zone is “Højre kolonne” (Right column).

The error does not occur when a web part is inserted into a zone with a name that doesn’t contain extended characters, such as “Venstre kolonne” (Left column).

The solution

Realising the SharePoint server lives behind an ISA Server I knew where to look first. The easiest way to bypass the ISA is to log into the SharePoint server with Remote Desktop, fire up a browser and try to insert a web part in the same zone. So that’s what I did.

Boom. No problems, the web part could be inserted.

The good news is that the problem can be alleviated by making a few changes to the ISA configuration. See this KB for more info: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/940248.

Written by Thomas Sondergaard

March 30, 2011 at 2:12 pm

Solution: Accessing SharePoint Site or WebApp via Code Returns Null

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A colleague of mine recently developed a timer job for SharePoint. The job worked fine on his developer and test machines but when he tried to activate it in the pre-production environment things went downhill.

An exception was thrown as soon as the timer job attempted to access the web application to add the timer job, ie. in this line of code:

SPContext.Current.Site.WebApplication.JobDefinitions.Add(timerJob)

The exception thrown was the good old “Object reference not set to an instance of an object” and further investigation showed that SPContext returned Null. Accessing the web application by referencing it directly (eg. SPWebApplication wA = SPWebApplication.Lookup(new Uri(http://site)); ) did not make a difference.

Coincidentally, the following error showed up in the event log: “Error in the site data web service”. This error mostly surfaces when SharePoint search chokes in a 32 bit environment due to large lists or inefficient use of memory capacity (heap fragmentation).

The solution

Restarting the below-mentioned services (net start/stop) fixed the problems for us:

net stop "Office SharePoint Server Search"
net start "Office SharePoint Server Search"
net stop "Windows SharePoint Services Search"
net start "Windows SharePoint Services Search"
net stop "Windows SharePoint Services Administration"
net start "Windows SharePoint Services Administration"
net stop "Windows SharePoint Services Timer"
net start "Windows SharePoint Services Timer"
iisreset /noforce

Source: Technet.

Written by Thomas Sondergaard

April 15, 2010 at 3:16 pm

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