Weekend Time

It has been a LONG week!  My head is complete mush from many late nights and even longer days.  So while I had hoped to end the week off with a very cool and inspiring post…it just ain’t gonna happen.  :-)

Instead Shane and I have the car packed up and we are heading camping for the night.  Tomorrow I hope to go fishing with my dad and big bro (weather permitting) and then I shall get back to being productive tomorrow evening.

Web Content Management (WCM) – The “Image” UI

For those of you creating publishing and internet facing sites, you are almost certain to use the WCM version of the image control.  While this is much better than the web part version where you had to specify the path manually it is a little unintuative.

In the event some of you stumble in the same place I did I figured I’d make a quick post on the image control which comes with the WCM bits of MOSS 2007.

After uploading multiple images to the library and then trying to select one it seems they’re not there.  The key word here is “seems”, they are there, just hiding.  If you look at the top of the window you’ll find a tiny little arrow, clicking this will bring you to the next page.

This was very unintuative for me and it took me a minute or two to figure out what was going on.  Screenshot below:

pubimages.gif

SharePoint Designer 2007 (Tips!)

If you are keen on customizing MOSS 2007/WSS v3 then you’ll likely be getting aquainted with SharePoint Designer 2007.

Some tips for using SharePoint Designer 2007

  1. Turn off unwanted visual aids by going to “View, Visual Aids – and unchecking the ones you don’t need, or just clicking “Show” to remove them all.  This will clean up your design view considerably.
  2. Turn on your master page toolbar by going to “View, Toolbars, Master Page”.  This will give you quick access to some of the master page goodies like content placeholders.
  3. Organize your styles by filtering out the ones not used on the page you are working on.  You can do this by going to “Task Panes, Manage Styles and then Selecting the Options menu from the Manage Styles pane.”  Notice: Manage styles also gives you a style preview window at the bottom – this is a great way to see real-time results of the CSS you are editing.
  4. Take control over auto-generated code. Those using SPD 2007 and also Expression Designer may find themselves frustrated with auto-generated CSS.  When you place a background color on a table cell or div for example, rather than placing bgcolor= in the tag, the editors are getting wise enough to apply a class and create the CSS.  While this is a step in the right direction, it’s not perfected by a long shot and most designers want to control what is added to the page.  To turn this feature off go to Tools, Page Editor Options, CSS TAB and turn on manual CSS application.  Under the GENERAL tab of this same menu you will find other goodies like line numbers and word wrap.
  5. Site Reports.  This is worthy of a “Hidden Gem” post in itself.  When connected to a web/site you can get a number of reports.  From what master pages and css files are used and linked where, to broken links and slow pages.  You can access this by going to “Site, Reports”.  Shared content is of particular interest.
  6. Screenshots of the above mentioned (and others).
  7. When all else fails come visit us on the SharePoint Design and Customization newsgroupsLawrence Liu of the SharePoint Team was kind enough to get this puppy up and running for us.

SharePoint 2007 Product Pricing is Coming Soon

I got an email from Shane earlier today with this link about how the pricing for Office 2007 should be available in November of this year.  This apparently also means that the product release is not too far behind.  Great news to my ears!!  Why you might ask? Well for starters:

  1. I am working on active projects related to the platform which means that things are stabilizing and we are rocking out and ready for launch.  In fact, I am very much impressed at how much we are able to accomplish with working on a mere Beta 2 release of the product. 
  2. The release of official pricing information and an official launch date is something I can share with customers.  I did a webcast today where one of the first questions was related to…when is 2007 coming and what are the licensing implications.  I love my customers and therefore look forward to a time when I am adequately able to answer their questions on such things.  Something feels false about saying…well by the way things are looking now…
  3. I can start transitioning into 100% demos and projects on new platform.  I’m sorry but I love new technology and WSSv3 / MOSS 2007 is a dream to work with.  So you cannot blame me for wanting to move 100% into fulfulling it’s demand.  I loved v2 / 2003 (note: see the first 3 years of posts on this blog if you have any doubt) but I want to move ahead to the next version now.

The other cool thing about this post was the reference to Chris Capossela.  This is a man I have much respect for.  Not because he is the VP of a major business group within Microsoft and grand pubba of all that is information worker.  But what I appreciate the most is that he does his own demos of the applications he represents.  I have always been a believer in the Lead by Example practice and I think this is a perfect showcase. 

It is one thing for someone to say they believe in a set of applications that empower the information worker force.  It is a completely other thing to stand in front of thousands of people (see Tech Ed 2006) and conduct your own demonstrations because you have taken the time to learn the applications yourself and recognize how they benefit the real people they were intended for. 

My 2 biggest beefs come from those that a) consider themselves too technical to learn how to use the tools that enable us all to work together and communicate more efficiently and b) those that consider themselves too important to learn how to share information. 

Capossela obviously brought his ticket for the IW train and I am definitely onboard!  PS… the IW train comes approximately 5 minutes before the cluetrain at most major stations.  In case you were wondering…

Update: Here is an interesting 60 minute video on Capossela and his career path through Microsoft – very cool guy!

SharePoint Technologies, then and now …

Sometimes you have to take a step back and digest everything that’s going on around you.  Over the past few months Amanda and I have both been very actively involved with Office 2007 and in particular of course SharePoint 2007.

Between the Rapid Deployment Program with Microsoft, Community Projects and just Personal Research I feel like I’ve digested more information in the last 3 months than I have in the previous 3 years.

One thing that has come to me as quite obvious during my research is that there is a tremendous amount of great material available now in comparison to previous versions of SharePoint which is great news for anyone tasked with becoming the SharePoint champion within their division or organization.

While travelling and interacting with other SharePointers it is very obvious that people are really on top of their game – it’s great to see.

SharePoint 2007: Site Collections or Sites…That is the Question

There seems to be some confusion on the difference between site collections and sites in MOSS2007.  Almost everyone I speak to that has experience with SPS 2003 stumble with this when they first start working with SharePoint 2007.  So for that reason…I shall write a quick post about it.

In SharePoint Portal Server 2003, whenever you went to the sites directory and clicked the Create Site link under the Actions menu, you were creating a site collection.  Every site collection has a top level site where things such as site templates, list templates, and cross site groups existed.  Within a site collection, additional sites could be created that would share certain things (such as the template galleries and potentially permissions) with the top level site.  In essence the site collection was it’s own unique hierarchy of SharePoint sites and for the most part completely independant of other site collections.  In a stand alone installation of WSS there was typically only one site collection.  In SPS, there could be hundreds which is why organizing them effectively in the Sites Directory and Areas (via listings) was very important and crucial.  In fact, the primary role of SharePoint Portal Server aside from the additional functionality it provided in enterprise features such as search, audiences and personal sites – was the ability to organize the massive amounts of data that exists across multiple site collections better. 

By default in Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 (if you are using the Corporate Intranet Portal template as your default site) when you go to the “Sites” link and click the Create site button…you are instead creating a site that is a member of the site collection your portal is in.  So instead of having a portal layer and then a large number of unique collaborative collections below – everything now exists in a single site collection by default.  This is great if within your organization, you want to “easily” share things such as templates, site columns, content types and navigational elements. Plus security and user management is much easier using this approach.

However some organizations will still require unique site collections since their business units are very unique and very little sharing is anticipated between groups. If that is the case, then you may instead wish to create site collections from the sites directory. To do this, you need to:

  • Enable Self Service Site Creation in the Central Administration (Steps Below)
  • Change the configuration settings under the Sites Directory (Steps Below)

So in essense, the new way is really much better since we no longer have to manage two completely separate levels however if you liked the old way better and want more unique site collections for your collaborative areas, you can have that too.

Enabling Self Service Site Creation

  1. Log into the Central Administration Site (Note this is a unique site collection as well and if you have it located on a funny port number, it is usually a good idea to add it to your My Links)
  2. Click Application Management
  3. Click Self-service site management
  4. Select the correct web application (that step is easy to miss) and select On for Enable Self-Service Site Creation
  5. Click OK

 

Enable the creation of Site Collections in Sites Directory

  1. From the portal, use the Site Actions menu, select Modify All Site Settings. If you are not on top level site you will need to go to Top Level Site Settings.
  2. Under site collection administration, select Site Directory Settings.
  3. Select the checkbox to create new site collections from sites directory.

WSS v3 Localization and Custom Resource Files (RESX) (Tip!)

Disclaimer: This is current as of Beta 2 (non TR).

For those that have been brave enough to venture into WSS v3 localization using custom RESX files, you may be having a little trouble accessing them. 

If so try looking in this directory:  (The port (80) I guess may change in some cases):
localdriveInetpubwwwrootwssVirtualDirectories80App_GlobalResources

Turns out the resource files are copied here during the creation (setup) of your web application.

Hope it helps,

SharePoint 2007: MOSS and WSS Language Packs & Availability

If you are like me and work with clients from various cultures or who have requirements for multi-lingual environments, then you will welcome the information posted on the SharePoint team blog regarding the planned availability for Language Packs for both MOSS 2007 and WSSv3

Unfortunately I misread the chart when I first saw the article and thought the language pack for French was coming with the Beta 2 TR.  Our team has been looking for that one as we do quite a bit of work with clients who require both French and English.  But at least I can see that it will be available upon release which eases my mind a bit.

Now if only we could only get more detailed documentation on the use of resources and variations for creating multilingual environments with SharePoint 2007.

Also mega props to the SharePoint team for keeping their weblog up to date with regular and interesting posts on the new release.  It’s not an easy thing to do when struggling with bug fixes, documentation and major releases and it’s very much appreciated by those of us that eagerly watch for new information to be released as we continue to work our way through pre-release development projects.

EasyForms Web Parts for SharePoint Released

What is Team Tools – EasyForms?

SharePoint lists are a great place for creating quick and easy to use data stores for information. They are easy to create and can store a variety of types of information such as tasks, issues, requests, ideas, contacts etc… Creating lists is easy and a huge part of how SharePoint is used.

In many organizations, lists are created throughout portal areas, site collections and workspaces for teams to collect information and collaborate with each other.

EasyForms is a web part for SharePoint that allows you to connect customizable forms to SharePoint lists and then place those forms on any page. This means we can have a single list hosted on a SharePoint site but it can be fed from a variety of locations through EasyForms.

Example #1: The IS team in your organization collect service requests from all departments in the organization so they have a list on SharePoint for tracking these requests. Rather than having users log into the IS team’s SharePoint site to post issues, you can instead drop an EasyForms web part on each divisional site and connect it to the IS team site. Users can post directly to a single centralized list without leaving their own site.

Example #2: The HR Division has created a feedback list for all employees to fill out whenever they want to voice their opinion on topics. The posted information is considered to be highly confidential and should only be viewed by a select group of users. To accomplish this, they create a list on their private team site and place an EasyForms web part on an area of their portal that is visited by all users. The form submits the information directly to the SharePoint site using impersonation.

Example #3: You want to have a single calendar on your portal that displays every member of your company that is out of the office on a given day. Not every user will feel like navigating to this list every time they need to book time off. Instead they would prefer to submit the information from their MySite since that is the site that is set to be their home page. To facilitate this, you create a custom list with a variety of custom views. You then drop an EasyForms web part on the shared view of each user’s My Site to make it easy for all users to post to a central list without having to visit the area of the portal that the list is hosted on.

Example #4: You want to collect information from a group of users and have the data selected back to a private team site.  You create a basic web part page and drop EasyForms onto the page and use its impersonation capabilities to post to the private site without requiring the individual users to have access directly.  This is something I do on a regular basis for INETA using my user group site to collect registrations for our webcast series.  See a live example here.

In short, the number of ways this web part can be used is unending. We have been using a previous version of this web part in our company for the last 3 years. We are excited to finally have the opportunity to share it with the rest of you.

Key Features:
Tool Pane Form Management featuring:

  • Automatically populated drop-down containing all sub-sites/webs of the current site/web. (Or you can specify your own URL)
  • Automatically populated drop-downs of all lists available for the selected site/web.
  • On-screen display of all columns (fields) in the list allowing you to show/hide them from the form’s view.
  • Style-sheet (CSS) editor
  • Display a custom introduction message
  • Ability to hyperlink to the associated list
  • Redirect to another page after form submission
  • Display a custom message after form submission
  • Place your form on ANY page. Unlike the default behavior you can place your form on any page simply by dragging the web part onto the page.
  • Customizable Per Instance. You can customize each form individually even if they are on the same page.

Screenshots:

The Form Manager (Web Part Properties/Tool-Pane)

easyforms_manager.gif

The Stylesheet Editor
easyforms_stylesheet.gif


The Form/Web Part as it looks in use

You can download a 30 day trial of Team Tools – EasyForms from our website.

Note this post has been edited from it’s original form (which was a request for beta participants) to account for the release of the product.