Category Archives: Sharepoint

TUGA IT Conference 2016

The TUGA Association, the non-profit organization behind SQL Saturdays in Lisbon and Porto, is organizing the first TUGA IT Conference which will take place in Microsoft Portugal’s beautiful headquarters, in Lisbon, on May 19th – 21st. You can read all about it in the conference website, but I’ll summarize it anyway.

It will be a 3-day conference, focused on Azure, Office 365, SharePoint, Data Platform and Integration:

  • The first two days (May 19th and 20th) will be for full-day or half-day technical workshops
  • The third day (May 21st) will be for breakout sessions over several simultaneous tracks

With more than 500 expected attendees, this event will be one of the biggest IT events in Portugal, so be sure not to miss it!

Call for Speakers

If you’re an expert on one of the areas mentioned above and you want to share your knowledge with the community, submit your session by filling in the form.

Office Servers and Services MVP

Happy New Year!

2016 is starting off really interesting for me. Microsoft has presented me with the MVP Award for my contribution in the Office Servers and Services (SharePoint and Office 365) communities during the past year, and I’m incredibly honored to be a part of such a select group of individuals. I’m fortunate to know a few MVPs from all around the world and they’re all extremely dedicated and knowledgeable professionals in their respective areas.

Paraphrasing what my friend João Pedro Martins wrote when he was awarded his first MVP title, I hope my contributions to the community continue to deserve Microsoft’s recognition. Thank you.

 

Portuguese SharePoint User Group and Microsoft Events

I’m proud to be a member of the new Portuguese SharePoint User Group (SPUG PT) and I’ll be cross-posting and translating all my future posts to the User Group’s blog (http://www.sharepointpt.org) which will also feature posts from other community members. Be sure to check it out, if you’re a Portuguese speaker.

The User Group is just starting and already has a very strong presence in the first Microsoft events of the year: Road To SharePoint 2010 and TechDays 2010.

Starting with Road To SharePoint 2010, an event dedicated to SharePoint 2010 composed of 19 sessions over 5 different days and aimed at preparing everyone to the arrival of the new SharePoint, we had sessions presented by Rodrigo Pinto (Rumos Professional Services), Luís Calado (Microsoft), Denis Heliszkowski (Microsoft) and Ricardo Calejo (Devscope), on the first two days of the event.

But we still have 3 days to go, on which you’ll be able to attend the session I’ve prepared with Raúl Ribeiro (Create IT) about the use of Business Connectivity Services to create Business Solutions based on Office 2010 and SharePoint 2010, as well as the session on Business Intelligence in SharePoint presented by Rui Romano and Rui Quintino (Devscope), and many others.

Don’t miss it, it’s a great event for anyone who intends to start working with SharePoint 2010 as fast as possible.

Regarding TechDays 2010, it’s the largest technology event of the year in the Microsoft world. A 3-day event with many sessions about all the novelties on Microsoft products including, of course, SharePoint 2010. We still don’t have all the information regarding sessions and speakers, but we already know we can count on sessions by André Lage (Sybase), Raúl Ribeiro (Create IT), David Rosa (Rumos Professional Services), Denis Heliszkowski (Microsoft), Luís Calado (Microsoft), Rodrigo Pinto (Rumos Professional Services) and me (Create IT) 🙂

I hope I can meet you there.

SPC’09: My Site and Social – Architecture & Planning

Disclaimer: This post is based on notes taken while watching a conference session. For that reason, it may contain incorrect information or data that I might have misunderstood. Also, the product it refers to was not available yet at the time of the writing, thus, not allowing me to validate the present information.

This was the fourth session I attended on the second day of the SharePoint Conference 2009, and it was given by Venky Veeraraghavan from Microsoft.

Venky started by pointing us to the twitter account of the SharePoint Social team (@SPSocial). Follow it to get updated information on this, or mention it to get their attention.

My Site Personal Portal

For SharePoint 2010, Microsoft has made a few changes to the components of the My Site, namely to the page structure of the portal. Now, a newly created My Site has three pages:

  • My Network (the homepage, shows the Activity Feed for all users in your network)
  • My Profile (shows the profile data)
  • My Content (the entry page for the personal site). Additionally, you can create any pages you want on your personal site.

The My Profile page has a new layout and includes areas like:

  • Overview (shows the activity feed in Published mode)
  • Organization (shows the new Silverlight-based Organizational Chart which allows you to navigate in the organizational structure)
  • Content (shows the latest content created by the user)
  • Tags and Notes (shows tags used and notes written by the user)
  • Colleagues (shows and manages the list of colleagues the user follows)
  • Memberships (shows and manages the list of site memberships)

As in the previous version, these pages are located in two different places:

  • My Network and My Profile pages are shared by all users and, for that reason, are located in the My Site Host site collection.
  • My Content and any custom pages you create will be placed on your personal site collection.

Also, as seen in SharePoint 2007, both the My Site Host site collection and the users’ personal site collections belong to the same Web Application. This Web Application is associated with three Service Applications:

  • Enterprise Managed Metadata Service Application
  • User Profile Application
  • Search Service Application

The New Activity Feed

One of the greatest additions to the My Site is the new Activity Feed. The Activity Feed is an extensible component which exposes tracked data through a Web Part and an Atom 2.0 feed. The Activity Feed has two modes:

  • Consolidated – Lists the activities of everything a user tracks. This mode is used on the My Network page.
  • Published – Lists my activities. This mode is used on the My Profile Page.

The architecture that supports the Activity Feed can be briefly described as:

  1. Everything starts with a Gatherer Timer Job which periodically analyzes the Social Database (which stores all the tagging, rating and comment data) and the change log of the User Profile Database.
  2. Using a new API called Injection Object Model, the gatherer injects the relevant information into the Activity Feed structure in the User Profile Database.
  3. This data is then exposed via a Web Part, the Object Model or the Atom feed.

The main extensibility point is the possibility to create Custom Gatherers, which collect information from other data sources and inject them in the feed using the Injection Object Model.

Regarding the consumption of the Atom 2.0 feed, the URLs for:

  • Consolidated Feed:
    http://<mysitehost>/_layouts/activityfeed.aspx?consolidated=true
  • Published Feed:
    http://<mysitehost>/_layouts/activityfeed.aspx?publisher=<accountname>

Since consuming a feed is a very common and easy way to retrieve live information, it’s expected that SharePoint will have to handle a large number of requests. Currently, at it’s beta version, SharePoint 2010 can handle 500-700 requests per second (RPS) with full activity detail, or 2100 RPS without it. However, the RTM is aiming at 2000 RPS.

Profile Pictures

The way profile pictures are stored has also been changed. Instead of storing the profile picture inside each user’s personal site, SharePoint 2010 will store all profile pictures in a central picture library which will be accessed through the URL:

  • http://<mysitehost>/UserPhotos

When a picture is uploaded, SharePoint will automatically create the resized versions of it:

  • 32×32 (for general use in SharePoint)
  • 48×48 (for AD and client applications)
  • 96×96 (for the Profile Page)

The Picture Picker control used by SharePoint can be customized and even replaced to support any policies and picture stores.

The profile pictures will be synchronized with Active Directory, allowing the profiles to be bootstrapped if the pictures are already in Active Directory when the profiles are created, or writing back to Active Directory, if SharePoint is configured to do so. Client applications such as Outlook and OCS can use pictures stored in AD.

Microsoft also thought about the upgrading process from SharePoint 2007 to SharePoint 2010, and there is a PowerShell cmdlet (Upgrade-SPProfilePhotoStore) that migrates all profile pictures from the previous structure to the new store.

Social Feedback

Another of the biggest additions is the Social Feedback mechanism which is everywhere in SharePoint 2010. It’s a new mechanism that allows users to tag, rate and comment on any URL, either inside or outside of SharePoint (through bookmarklets). Feedback is the primary mechanism for promoting documents and web pages to the newsfeed and it also helps categorize, annotate, promote and in the retrieval of relevant links.

The user doesn’t need write permissions on a specific item to be able to give feedback on it(read permissions are obviously required), since this data is stored on a separate database. At a very basic level, each feedback item is has only three fields: Person, URI and Feedback.

Tags

  • Also known as keyword bookmarking
  • There is no web part for tagging
  • Can be applied to web pages, list items and documents
  • Can be used to sort and filter lists and document libraries, but only by document authors and requires the enterprise keywords field
  • Tags are indexed by search
  • Can be applied to external or non-SharePoint pages via bookmarklets
  • Can be used with Enterprise taxonomy management
  • Can be used in Office 2010 Client (but only document authors and requires enterprise keywords field) and Office Web Apps

Notes

  • Short comments (less than 3000 characters)
  • There is a specific web part for comments
  • Can be applied to web pages, list items and documents
  • Cannot be used for sorting and filtering in lists
  • Notes are not indexed by search
  • Can be applied to external or non-SharePoint pages via bookmarklets
  • Can be used in Office 2010 Client and Office Web Apps

Ratings

  • 5-star ratings
  • There is a specific web part for ratings
  • Can be applied to web pages, list items and documents
  • Can be used for sorting and filtering in lists and document libraries
  • Ratings are indexed by search
  • Cannot be applied to external or non-SharePoint pages
  • Cannot be used in Office 2010 Client nor Office Web Apps

The concept of My Links from SharePoint 2007 will be replaced by social tags, and there will be a mechanism to migrate each user’s links to tags.

The social feedback mechanism is supported on three services:

  • Search Service, which indexes tags and ratings and performs all the security trimming
  • User Profiles and Synchronization
  • Enterprise Metadata Management, for tagging and profile properties

The use of social feedback mechanisms will bring a new set of challenges to the organizations. Planning will be a key step to make it work, and it has to occur at various levels:

  • Planning for scale – social feedback generates very large amounts of data.
  • Planning for privacy – organizations have to make decisions about who can give feedback and how security trimming is applied to this feedback.
  • Planning for adoption – organizations have to start with a small number of committed users and gather support from all departments for this to succeed.

Expertise Search

The last of the additions I’ll be pointing out is the Expertise Search mechanism which allows:

  • Users to search for other users by their expertise tags
  • SharePoint 2010 to suggest expertise tags for each user

While the first is pretty straightforward, the second is much more interesting. So, how does SharePoint 2010 know what expertise tags to suggest?

Well, Outlook 2010 can analyze your e-mail (your sent items, in particular) looking for the people to whom you send e-mails the most and also extracting the most common keywords. This information is then sent to SharePoint to be included in the user’s profile, if he agrees to it, where it can be indexed and searched normally.

Don’t worry, the analysis can be configured to be:

  • Turned off. No analysis will be done on your e-mail.
  • Analyze and upload automatically to the profile (user consent at the client).
  • Analyze but only suggest when editing the profile (user consent on the server).

SPC’09: Introduction to Excel and Excel Services 2010: the Top 10 New Features You Must Know

Disclaimer: This post is based on notes taken while watching a conference session. For that reason, it may contain incorrect information or data that I might have misunderstood. Also, the product it refers to was not available yet at the time of the writing, thus, not allowing me to validate the present information.

This was the third session I attended on the second day of the SharePoint Conference 2009, and it was given by Pej Javaheri and Steve Tullis, both from Microsoft.

The first cool thing about this session was that the slide deck was presented using PowerPoint Web App. Talk about eating your own dog food 🙂

Most of the session was one big demo showing off an overview of some of the top new features on Excel 2010 and Excel Services 2010, which I will describe below.

Power Pivot

Power Pivot is the new name of what was previously known as project “Gemini”. It’s a new capability that the SQL Server team has worked on and brought to Excel, which allows deeper analytics on very large data sets. One other nice thing is that it can be made available through SharePoint 2010.

You can find more information about this on: http://www.powerpivot.com.

Business Intelligence Center

SharePoint 2010 includes an new site template called Business Intelligence Center which is an improvement over the previous Reports Center site template. This new template contains extensive guidance to help you start using the new BI components offered by SharePoint 2010.

Excel 2010: Pivot Charts and Pivot Tables

Excel 2010 introduces Pivot Charts. Pivot Charts are like normal charts connected to the same source data as the Pivot Table, however now you can drill down on hierarchies and select which members you want to see, right on the chart object, instead of having to do that on the associated Pivot Table, and your selections will affect both the Pivot Chart and the Pivot Table.

Both on Pivot Charts and Pivot tables, on the field selection popup menu, when drilling down a hierarchy to select a member, you will now find a search box to help you search an item instead of having to browse through all the hierarchy to find it.

Another new thing is the ability to define named field sets and use them in Pivot Tables and Pivot Charts. These named sets are stored inside the workbook and can be reused by other users.

In a Pivot Table, you can perform a series of calculations by using a new feature called Show Value As. This new feature allows you change the way you view a field by selecting from a list of predefined calculations, such as:

  • % of Grand Total
  • % of Row Total
  • % of Column Total
  • % of Parent Row Total

Before you either had to perform the calculations outside the Pivot Table or put these as cube formulas.

Excel 2010: Conditional Formatting

A few improvements were made to the conditional formatting capabilities of Excel, and now Data Bars support positive and negative values. Also, new Icon Sets have been introduced.

Excel 2010: Slicers

Visual Slicers are a new Excel object that allows users to filter the data on Pivot Charts and Pivot Tables with a single click. Slicers show you a set of members of a hierarchy as buttons which you can press to filter data. Additionally, members that have no available data will be grayed out, giving you a quick visual understanding of which members have data and which have not.

Excel 2010: Sparkline

Also an addition to Excel are the Sparklines. A Sparkline is like a mini chart that illustrates a trend in a set of data. Excel comes with three types of Sparklines:

  • Line
  • Columns
  • Win/Loss

The Sparkline object is treated like any other cell content (such as a formula) which means it can be copied, pasted and expanded.

Excel 2010: What-If Analysis

When accessing external data (a SSAS cube) to build a Pivot Table, you can now use What-If Analysis to write back to the data source.

Excel Services 2010: More Workbooks and Client Fidelity

Excel Services (Excel Web App) will now try to open all workbooks in View Mode even if they contain unsupported features. In the previous version, Excel Services wouldn’t even open the workbook showing an error message which wasn’t much help to solve the problem.

In Edit Mode, however, it’s a different story but the list of unsupported features was not shown. I can tell you what I saw from the demos, but this is not an extensive list:

  • Images are supported
  • Charts, Sparklines and Slicers are supported
  • Pivot tables are supported
  • Grouping is supported

Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying you can add sparklines and slicers while editing the workbook. I’m saying you can edit a workbook that contains these objects and even interact with them, but that’s it.

As a final remark, all of this works very well on Safari and FireFox (besides Internet Explorer, of course).

Excel Services 2010: Edit and Collaboration

The big news here is that you can edit a workbook using the Excel Web App. You have a limited set of operations you can perform but I can tell you it’s still quite impressive. The Edit Mode support co-editing, which means more than one user can edit the document simultaneously and Excel Web App will warn you of who is also collaborating with you.

Edit Mode has a reduced version of the Excel Ribbon but has a fairly impressive set of features (for a web app):

  • Supports undo and redo
  • Supports live preview (when selecting colors or formats)
  • Supports auto-complete when entering a formula
  • Supports grouping of rows and columns

It probably supports a lot more cool features, but this is what I saw in the session.

The new Excel Web Access Web Part allows you to turn interactivity on and off, which means the users can now type in the cells. In the previous version, if you wanted the users to interact with your Excel workbook through the Excel Web Access Web Part, you had to define parameters which would be shown on the side of the web part.

Just one note: interactivity is not the same as editing. You can interact, and see changes in charts and calculations, but the original workbook remains unchanged.

Excel Services 2010: JSOM (JavaScript Object Model)

Another addition to Excel Services 2010, is the JavaScript Object Model (JSOM) which allows developers to handle events in Excel Web Access Web Parts (like mouse clicks) and react to them.

Steve demonstrated the JSOM in a SharePoint Dashboard with two different Excel Web Access Web Parts. The first one had an Excel grid and the second one had two charts. Whenever he clicked a row in the first one, the charts showed data that was related to the selected row.

Excel Services 2010: REST API

One of the coolest new features (in my perspective) is the REST API exposed by Excel Services 2010 which can be used to retrieve data on:

  • Ranges
  • Charts
  • Tables
  • PivotTables

The data is retrieved as an Atom feed (which you can syndicate to) or in HTML format allowing it to be embedded wherever you wish. When retrieving a Chart, Excel Services will return a PNG image of the chart.

One of the demos regarding the REST API was creating a quick part in Word, of type field, and setting the source of that field to be the REST URL for a Chart. By doing this, Word inserts the chart image in a document, but allows you to update it like any other field.

SPC’09: Building Solutions with Business Connectivity Services using Visual Studio 2010

Disclaimer: This post is based on notes taken while watching a conference session. For that reason, it may contain incorrect information or data that I might have misunderstood. Also, the product it refers to was not available yet at the time of the writing, thus, not allowing me to validate the present information.

This was the second session I attended on the second day of the SharePoint Conference 2009 and it was given by Rolando Jimenez from Microsoft.

Business Connectivity Services

According to Rolando, Business Connectivity Services (BCS) are “a set of out-of-the-box features, services and tools that enhance SharePoint to streamline solutions of deep integration of external data and services.”

In the SharePoint Pie, Business Connectivity Services belongs to the Composite slice. It’s the new and much improved version of the old Business Data Catalog, introduced in SharePoint 2007.

Regarding BCS, Microsoft has invested in three main areas:

  • Presentation: extend Office and SharePoint’s user experience and capabilities to external data and processes.
  • Connectivity: read-write capable connectivity from client and server to databases, WCF/Web Services and .NET sources.
  • Tooling: integrated tooling experience scales from simple solutions to advanced applications with rich client packaging and deployment.

Core Concepts

The main building block for BCS is the new concept of External Content Type (ECT), which is the new name for what was previously known as BDC Entity. An ECT describes:

  • How to connect to the data
  • Schema of the data
  • Behavior within Office and SharePoint

This definition will then be used by the BCS Runtime, both in SharePoint (thin client) and in Office Client applications (rich client) to access the external data.

The other important concept is the External List. This is a new type of list in SharePoint 2010 that allows you to surface data retrieved by BCS as defined by the External Content Type associated to it.

BCS Tools Overview

There are three types of solutions that use BCS:

  • Simple No Code solutions, which can be built by Power Users using SharePoint Designer
    • Surface data in SharePoint using External Lists
    • Connect those lists to Outlook and SharePoint Workspace and take them offline
  • Intermediate No Code solutions, which can be built by developers using SharePoint SDK (and eventually also SharePoint Designer)
    • Customized InfoPath forms
    • Customized Office Ribbon and TaskPanes
    • Customized QuickParts in Word
    • Customized Workflows
    • Customized Web Part Pages
  • Advanced Solutions, built by Advanced Developers using Visual Studio (and SharePoint SDK and SharePoint Designer).
    • Custom connectivity for data aggregation, transformation, security, …
    • Using custom code to integrate data into any Office application (even the ones that don’t support BCS directly)
    • Business logic in forms
    • Create reusable components (UI parts, ECTs, actions) to be included in simpler solutions

Regarding solution creation, there are mainly two approaches:

  • Client-Server Environment – PowerUsers use a live connection to the server and directly build simple no code solutions on the server or rich client.
  • Single Machine Development Environment – Developers use a combination of SharePoint Designer, SharePoint SDK and Visual Studio to produce advanced solutions, packaged in WSP files that can then be deployed to any SharePoint farm.

Demos

After the overviews, Rolando demonstrated a few Advanced Solution scenarios. Here are the notes I gathered from the demos.

Demo 1: BCS Hello World

  • There is a new project type in Visual Studio 2010 called Business Data Connectivity Model Project which can contain a collection of ECTs
  • The graphical designer makes it very easy to build ECTs
  • An ECT is a class with at least:
    • One property called ID
    • A method called ReadList
    • A method called ReadItem
  • Visual Studio 2010 includes a BCS Explorer tool which graphically shows the structure of the XML-behind generated when designing the ECTs
  • Visual Studio 2010 can package and deploy the ECT directly to SharePoint

Demo 2: Author Custom Connectivity in Visual Studio

  • If you want to retrieve data from multiple tables and aggregate it in a single ECTs you have to develop the code yourself (for each ECT class method).
  • If you want to allow writes on ECTs, you must add an Update method to the ECT class.
  • SharePoint automatically generates and Edit Form for External Lists that support writes.

Demo 3: Discover and Configure ECT for Outlook Offlining in SharePoint Designer

  • Using SharePoint Designer you can define a mapping between ECT properties and Outlook objects, allowing you to connect an external list to Outlook (really neat stuff).
  • When packaging the solution, Visual Studio will generate a WSP for SharePoint deployment and a Click-Once package for Office Client deployment (similar to Office Add-Ins).
  • The same code (ECT assembly) is executed by the BCS Runtime on the Office Client and on SharePoint.

Demo 4: Custom Rich Client Integration (Excel) with VSTO

  • Using the BCS API, a developer can built an Excel Add-In, using VSTO, that loads the data using the ECT and inserts into a spreadsheet.
  • The developer can specify if it allows BCS to cache the data or if the data always has to be live.

SPC’09: Introduction to Service Applications and Topology in SharePoint 2010

Disclaimer: This post is based on notes taken while watching a conference session. For that reason, it may contain incorrect information or data that I might have misunderstood. Also, the product it refers to was not available yet at the time of the writing, thus, not allowing me to validate the present information.

This was the first session I attended on the second day of the SharePoint Conference 2009 and it was lectured by Umesh Unnikrishnan from Microsoft.

Core Concepts

  • Service is a middle tier feature that performs the useful function of providing data or processing resources to SharePoint features. For instance, Search is a Service.
  • Service Applications is a configured logical instance of a Service, which provides data or computer resources and exposes administrative interfaces.
  • Service Instance is a running physical instance of a Service (in the sense of a process).

Web Applications are associated with Service Applications by means of a Service Application Proxy, which connects the two allowing the Web Application to use the Service Application. The associations between a Web Application and a Service Application can be changed at any time by administrators, and can be managed in groups (Service Application Proxy Groups).

Evolution of Shared Services Provider

In SharePoint 2010, the Shared Services Provider is replaced by separate Service Applications:

  • User Profiles Service Application
  • Search Service Application
  • Excel Service Application
  • Business Connectivity Application
  • And all the new Service Applications in SharePoint 2010

This means that:

  • Services are now independent, and don’t exist under the umbrella of the Shared Services Provider
  • There is no more Shared Services Provider administration site, all the administration is integrated in the Central Administration site
  • You can develop Service Applications and integrate them in SharePoint 2010
  • When SharePoint 2007 is upgraded to SharePoint 2010, the services provided by the SSP are directly mapped to their respective Service Applications

Service Framework

SharePoint 2010 ships with around 20 out-of-the-box Services, and other products like Office Web Apps, Project Server and SQL Power Pivot also include Services. All these services are built using the same framework that is provided to extend this model, which is incorporated into SharePoint Foundation:

  • Built-in support for scaling via multi-server support and load balancer
  • Includes mechanism to host and deploy WCF-based Service Applications
  • Includes Administration UI and PowerShell integration
  • Includes Timer Job support
  • Can be multi-tenant aware

Service Administration

Regarding Service Administration in SharePoint 2010:

  • All the administration is performed in Central Administration or through PowerShell scripting. Each service plugs its management UI into the Service Management Page.
  • The new association model is much more flexible than before, and allows each Web Application to use only the Services it really needs.
  • The Service Application model incorporates software-based fault tolerant round-robin load balancing. There is, however, support for hardware-based load balancing and extensibility points for 3rd party components.
  • Service Applications support cross-farm federation adding even more flexibility to its configuration. This allows a farm to provide services to other farms.

Farm Administrators can configure Delegated Administrators, which are users with Central Administration access that manage one or more Service Applications. Central Administration UI is security trimmed allowing Delegated Administrator to interact only with their managed Service Applications.

There are four pages dedicated to Service Application administration:

  • Manage Service Applications page
    • Create/Delete Services Applications
    • Manage Service Application metadata
    • Connect to remote Service Applications
    • Publish and Secure Service Applications
  • Service-specific management UI page
    • Service Application specific settings
    • Dashboard showing Service Application status (search crawl status, profile import status, etc)
  • Manage Service Associations page
    • Add/remove associations between Web Applications and Service Applications
  • Manage Services on Server page
    • Start/stop Service Instances on specific servers

Service Security

The security model was improved:

  • Inside the farm, services use claims-based authorization
  • Between farms, services communicate via WCF-based web services
  • There is support for SSL/Transport Security

The Service Applications can be isolated:

  • Each Service Application uses a separate database and, optionally, a separate application pool
  • Different Service Applications for a single Service can run under different accounts and use different databases

Security is managed per Service Application. There are two types of security:

  • Admin Security
    • Specifies who has admin rights over a Service Application
    • Used for security trimming
    • By default, all Farm Administrators are included
  • Access Security
    • Specifies claims that have access to the service
    • By default, the farm claim has access
    • Some services might require more granular access rights

Service Application Deployment

The configuration of the Service Applications can be performed:

  • Automatically, via Farm Configuration Wizard, which creates all Service Applications with their default settings.
  • Manually, using the Central Administration UI (New Button in the Manage Service Applications page). This allows you to:
    • Specify custom application pool, database location, service account
    • Create Service Applications and their Service Application Proxies

Service Application Associations

By default, all Service Applications in a farm are associated with all Web Applications (through Service Application Proxies). This default association scheme can be changed so that associations are managed separately for each Web Application and Service Application.

Service Application Publishing

Publishing a Service Application makes it available outside the farm, where it can be discovered and consumed by remote farms. However, you still have to perform associations to give Web Applications access to the Services Application and cross-farm trust is required via certificate exchange.

Sample Topologies

Single Farm

  • Simplest one
  • All Web Applications are associated with all Service Applications

Isolated Hosting

  • Single farm
  • Each Web Application is associated with only the needed Service Applications
  • Some Service Applications are shared between different Web Applications
  • There can be multiple Service Applications for a single Service, associated with different Web Applications, to ensure isolation

Shared Resource Farm

  • Multiple farms
  • One farm contains all the Service Applications and publishes them to be consumed by Web Applications in other farms
  • The other farms contain only the Web Applications which consume the published Service Applications of the first farm

SPC’09: Introduction to SharePoint Applications using InfoPath and Forms Services 2010

Disclaimer: This post is based on notes taken while watching a conference session. For that reason, it may contain incorrect information or data that I might have misunderstood. Also, the product it refers to was not available yet at the time of the writing, thus, not allowing me to validate the present information.

This session was an introduction to applications based on InfoPath 2010 and Forms Services 2010, and it was given by Peter Allenspach and Bojana Duke, from Microsoft. It was split in three parts, consisting of a demo each:

  • Demo 1: Customizing SharePoint List Forms
  • Demo 2: Creating Mashups with Forms Web Part
  • Demo 3: Office Business Application

Here are the news about developing applications with InfoPath 2010:

  • With SharePoint 2010 and InfoPath 2010 you have the possibility to customize a list’s forms with a single click. This allows you to create a new list form with InfoPath very easily, and you can even mix data from several lists and show it on the form.
  • When designing a new InfoPath form for a list, you can add or remove fields from the list just by adding or removing them from the InfoPath form.
  • Customized InfoPath List Forms are made available offline when you synchronize your list with SharePoint Workspace 2010.
  • Forms Services in SharePoint 2010 supports FireFox and Safari browsers, besides IE.
  • Forms Services in SharePoint 2010 supports WCAG 2.0 accessibility standard.
  • InfoPath Forms with code-behind no longer requires an administrator to deploy them. They can be deployed with a one-click process and run as a Sandbox Solution without any security concerns.
  • The InfoPath Form Web Part is now available to be placed anywhere, allowing any InfoPath form to be rendered. This Web Part also accepts connections from other Web Parts, allowing it to be used to create mashups easily.

SPC’09: Visual Studio 2010 SharePoint Development Tools Overview

Disclaimer: This post is based on notes taken while watching a conference session. For that reason, it may contain incorrect information or data that I might have misunderstood.

This session was given by Mike Morton, from Microsoft, and it focused on an overview of the new Visual Studio 2010 features for SharePoint Development. It was a demo intensive session, but very effective in showing how much easier SharePoint development will become with these new tools.

Debugging got a lot easier with the new SharePoint project templates of Visual Studio 2010 which all automatically create Packages (WSP files, previously called SharePoint Solutions) and associated Features, and allow one-click deployment to SharePoint.

Mike introduced the concept of SharePoint Project Item (SPI), which represents every possible artifact you might want to develop for SharePoint, from SharePoint Workflows to List Event Receivers, and from Web Parts to List Templates.

Using Visual Studio 2010, you can add an SPI to the SharePoint project when you want to create one of those artifacts. Visual Studio will automatically create the necessary files to package that artifact (which can be Feature Manifests, Resource Files, Element Manifests or Class Files) and updates the Package Manifest.

In addition to automatically creating all the XML files for Features and Packages, Visual Studio includes the Package Designer and the Feature Designer which allow you to graphically edit the contents of a package and the elements included in a feature, respectively. SharePoint deployment will never be the same again…

Other new concepts:

  • Visual Web Part: an SPI that allows you to develop a Web Part using a Visual Designer, like if you were a creating an ASP.Net page. This was a really welcome addition 🙂
  • SharePoint Root: previously called “Hive” or “12 Hive”, it should now be called SharePoint Root. You can use the token {SharePointRoot} to point to this folder which can be either a physical folder in the server’s hard drive (like the previous “Hive”) or some location on the SharePoint database (for Sandbox Solutions).
  • Mapped Folders: SharePoint folders (inside the SharePoint Root Folder) that are mapped in your SharePoint Project as virtual folders. All files that you place inside these folders will then be placed inside the project package when Visual Studio generates it (e.g. Layouts folder, Images folder, …).

Visual Studio 2010 has a new project template which allows you to Import an Existing SharePoint Package (WSP file) and build a new deployment project with the components of that package that you select. This project template will also analyze dependencies between the components so that your new deployment package contains all the required components (and not only the ones you selected). The great thing is that, this WSP file you are importing could have been exported by SharePoint Designer or the result of a Save Site as Template action in the Web UI.

When you press the deploy button on Visual Studio (or press F5 to Debug a SharePoint project), it will perform the following actions, by default:

  • Pre-deployment actions (scriptable actions)
  • Recycle application pool
  • Retract package
  • Add package
  • Activate features
  • Post-deployment actions (scriptable actions)

You can, however, customize the deployment steps to include less steps or even develop you own steps by extending Visual Studio.

SharePoint 2010: Overview and What’s New

Disclaimer: This post is based on notes taken while watching a conference session. For that reason, it may contain incorrect information or data that I might have misunderstood.

SharePoint Conference 2009 is full of really interesting sessions which makes it very hard to choose which ones to attend. The first one I attended, after the keynotes, was Arpan Shah’s SharePoint 2010 Overview, and here are my notes.

The new name of the product is Microsoft SharePoint 2010 (no longer has the Office stamp) and it has a new tag line: “The Business Collaboration Platform for the Enterprise and the Web”.

The new SharePoint Pie (the value proposition chart presented by Microsoft since SharePoint 2007) has a new set of slices:

  • Sites
  • Communities
  • Content
  • Search
  • Insight
  • Composites

Sites

  • New User Experience
    • The new Ribbon UI makes the interaction easier
    • The wiki syntax is used all over the place
    • The new SharePoint Workspace 2010 (previously know as Office Groove) is a complete rich client for SharePoint and allows users to take contents offline
  • Anywhere Access
    • SharePoint can be accessed through mobile devices either using a specific Windows Mobile client or any browser available with the device
    • The Office Web Apps allow users to view and edit office documents using only the browser, and supporting real-time simultaneous multiple user collaboration
    • SharePoint is cross-browser compatible which means you will have the same experience using Internet Explorer, Firefox or Safari.
  • Accessibility has been improved and SharePoint now supports the WCAG 2.0 standard

Communities

  • Focus on capturing informal knowledge
    • Enterprise wiki, a new and improved wiki site template, is at the center of this concept. It supports page templates and approval workflows but contents are edited with simple wiki functionality.
    • SharePoint supports definition of taxonomies, either folksonomies (defined by users) or corporate-defined taxonomies.
    • Everything in SharePoint can be tagged and rated using special columns.
    • Every item has a noteboard where each user can leave notes and comments
  • Social connections
    • The user profile has been enhanced
    • The new activity feed allows you to see everything your colleagues are doing
    • The organization viewer is a Silverlight-based application that shows where each user is in the organization chart
    • The profile also shows all the content you have created in SharePoint and all the tags you have used (using a tag cloud)
  • Blogging has been improved
    • The new template looks a lot better
    • Supports rich clients such as Live Writer and Microsoft Word
    • You can use REST to retrieve live contents (such as Excel Charts) and post them on the blog

Content

  • Content is user-centric.
  • There is a new feature called Content Organizer that allows rule-based routing of documents (something similar to what existed for records management, but now more powerful and available for all document libraries).
  • Copying from Word maintains all formatting.
  • Support for video streaming, including look ahead and bit throttling.

Search

  • Improved relevance and search results interface
  • Support for wildcards in search queries
  • Support for phonetic search in people search queries
  • Use of navigators allow you to search with ever typing a search query (really cool stuff)

Insight

  • Data interaction is now much easier and powerful
    • Excel Services with REST API
    • Business Connectivity Services (BCS) allow read and write operations over external data sources, using a typical list interface
    • SharePoint Designer or Visual Studio 2010 can be used to graphically create the BCS entities in SharePoint (no more XML editing)
    • Access Services allows you to publish an Access Database to SharePoint and interact with it using only the browser
  • Decision making is the central part of Business Intelligence
    • PerformancePoint Services bring powerful dashboards and analytic controls to SharePoint
    • The new Chart Web Part (based on Dundas Charts) is very flexible and a great addition to the out-of-the-box web parts.

Composites

  • Composites are no-code user-driven solutions
    • Automation and data validation with Forms Services
    • Visio Services can be used for diagram interaction
    • Access Services add support for database interaction through the browser
    • Business Connectivity Services allow access to LOB data
  • Sandbox solution deployment allows code to be executed in a controlled environment
    • InfoPath forms with code-behind can be deployed with a single click without requiring administrator deployment

IT Pro Investments

  • More scalability and governance tools
  • Deployment flexibility with more tool support
  • Improved IT productivity

Developer Investments

  • Increased developer productivity with Visual Studio 2010 integration
  • Visual Studio 2010 has great features that really help with deployment
  • SharePoint 2010 can be hosted on Windows Vista and Windows 7 for development purposes

Links

Here are a few links that Arpan Shah gave us at the end of the session: