Update

I just wrote a short article on NothingButSharePoint.com about the SharePoint Form Web Part.

Also, I’m in the process of writing a 3 part series for NothingButSharePoint.com about SharePoint for Nonprofits.  My aim is to point out how associations and nonprofits are successfully using the platform and what they are using it for.

Posted in nonprofit, SharePoint, SharePoint Form Web Part | Leave a comment

Sharing The Point: Asia 2011

If you haven’t already heard the buzz around Sharing The Point: Asia 2011, here you go!

It’s a series of free, half-day SharePoint events which will take place in three Asian countries this March (Beijing – China, Manila – Philippines, and Ho Chi Minh City – Vietnam).

Think ½ day Asian edition of SharePoint Saturday.

Speakers include SharePoint evangelists Joel Oleson, Michael Noel, Paul Swider, Mark Miller, Rob LaMear and Dux Raymond Sy.

Each presenter will provide sessions on real-world SharePoint experiences, lessons learned, best practices, and general knowledge to attendees.

Sharing the Point is free to attendees. You should consider checking it out:

Website: http://www.sharingthepoint.org/new/SitePages/Home.aspx

Twitter: #STPAsia

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Attention SharePoint Designers

What if one of the very best SharePoint Design experts offered one hour of walking you through the secrets of making SharePoint look & feel exactly how you wanted it – would you pay attention?

Okay, what if several of the very best SharePoint Design experts all got together for a full day to walk you through all their tricks, best practices, avoidable pitfalls and trade secretes – would you show up?

I would for sure.

Making SharePoint look and feel precisely the way you want is an art form, like taming a wild horse – but if you can do it, you are in HIGH-DEMAND.

These guys are extremely sought-after and hard to gain access to.

The industries top SharePoint Design experts are gathering at the upcoming SharePointConference.ORG conference in Baltimore.

You don’t want to miss this one – this type of gathering just doesn’t happen often.

These SharePoint Design “horse-whispers” have combined decades of experience to share with you.

The Designer Track itself is well worth the price of admission:

  • Designing for SharePoint: Avoid the Pitfalls
  • 10 Ways to Make SharePoint NOT Look Like SharePoint
  • Best Practices: Usability and Accessibility
  • Designing for Mobile
  • Enhance SharePoint 2010 with Amazing JQuery Controls
  • The (Near) Future of the Web: HTML5 and CSS3
  • Silverlight for SharePoint
  • Lightning Sessions: Design (three 20 minute sessions on design topics with five minute breaks)

The conference also has a SharePoint Business User Track, and a SharePoint Developer Track.

I’ve been generously provided a 10% discount code which works for a limited number of seats. I’ll take it down when it’s depleted.

10% discount code: SPCon48561C

No way I’m missing this one – and really hope to see you there.

-sean


Posted in SharePoint, SharePoint Designer | Leave a comment

SharePoint 2010 Talk Radio – Interview

We did the SharePoint 2010 Talk Radio interview this morning with Gary Vaughan.

Here’s the basic transcript:

Describe SP 2010 in a nutshell:  Microsoft platform used for high-octane websites

                …used for intranets, extranets, public websites, communities of practice.

Key features of SP 2010: 

  • Social features (Status, Activity tracking, Note Board, Folksonomy)
  • Improved UI (+Ribbon)
  • BCS HUGE!
  • Co-Authoring
  • Office Web Apps
  • Taxonomy Management (Term Stores, Term Sets, Terms)
  • Content Organizer Feature
  • Claims Based Auth Provider

Differences with MOSS

  • Claims based auth
  • 2010 upgrades MUCH smoother
  • 2010 much more intuitive for end users (b/c ribbon and ajax lightbox – retain your location)
  • Improved performance
  • Way less custom dev – BCS
  • Browser Support (Mac users appreciate this +Mac Office 2011 integration)
  • 508 Compliant (Accessibility standards)
  • Better mobile support

Why might an organization want to migrate to SP 2010….or why not?

Why ?

  • Relatively straight-forward upgrade (still plan)
  • Tons of new features and enhancements
  • Less custom dev
  • better performance
  • better browser compatibility +mobile compatibility
  • 4-5 year run (next ver. 2015)

Why Not?

  • You haven’t planned yet (Governance, phased approach for larger deployments)
  • You JUST deployed MOSS (you will always be in this boat if you don’t start planning your upgrade now)

Tech, user or infrastructure issues with 2010:

  • Consider HW Requirements (64 bit)
  • SQL 2005 or newer
  • Make sure SQL 2008 SP1 actually installed and took properly (can be deciving)…

Experiences of clients with 2010 to date:

  • So much nicer than the MOSS upgrade
  • Improved User Adoption
  • Lots of BI
  • Lots of private communities using social features
  • LOVE the BCS

Web resources:

The SharePoint User Group

http://www.TheSUG.org

TheSUG.org is an online SharePoint User Group, which also runs on the SharePoint platform.

By joining TheSUG.org, you can participate in online discussions about SharePoint, ask SharePoint related questions, and find SharePoint related information.

You can also lookup or add SharePoint terms in our SharePoint wiki, and host your SharePoint blog here.

LinkedIn SharePoint Users Group

http://www.linkedin.com/groups?mostPopular=&gid=58750

LinkedIn’s largest SharePoint community!  Created on February 25, 2008 for Professionals.

The group welcomes anyone interested in SharePoint, whether you are a beginner or an expert.

Tell a friend to join now and start connecting!  We only have two rules: NO RECRUITERS and NO JOB POSTINGS.

Nothing But SharePoint

https://www.nothingbutsharepoint.com

Dozens of authors are committed to providing content on a daily basis to each area of the site: End User, IT Pro, Developer, Business.

Content on the site is created by contributing authors as well as members of the SharePoint Community.

All members of the SharePoint Community are encouraged to submit articles, no matter what their level of expertise.

Posted in BI, CMS, Content Management, ECM, SharePoint, SharePoint Designer, Social Networking, WCM | Leave a comment

SharePoint for Nonprofits – Our book is finally complete and available!

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I would first like to thank Jim LaRocca, my friend and SusQtech Vice President, for mentoring me, putting up with my shenanigans, and teaching me many, many things – perhaps the most important of which is putting myself in other peoples shoes!  Thank you Jim.

SharePoint for Nonprofits addresses the specific needs of trade associations, membership societies, voluntary organizations, and other nonprofit associations, charities and .orgs; and how SharePoint might be used to satisfy some of these needs.

This book is NOT about installing SharePoint or writing code.

SharePoint for Nonprofits is about strategy, best practices and how organizations of all sizes leverage Microsoft’s popular SharePoint platform.

It is my hope that by reading this book, you will understand what can and can’t be accomplished using SharePoint, and how to best approach SharePoint solutions.

Tom Chapin, Director, Knowledge Management at WBB Consulting writes:

“I’m excited by your work – you’re on the mark. –Tom Chapin”

This book aims squarely at providing high-level SharePoint guidance and approach techniques for associations, nonprofits and orgs of all sizes. SharePoint for Nonprofits will help you properly navigate your org through the breadth and depth of SharePoint’s many, many uses.

Craig Shaffer, Director Information Technology at Association of American Railroads writes:

Despite the maturity of the Microsoft SharePoint platform, there is still a lot of misinformation in the marketplace about its capabilities. Talk to a dozen vendors and you will get at least a half a dozen different answers. This book brings clarity to many of the misnomers that have been circling the SharePoint world. It sheds light on a number of areas that many SharePoint consultants have neglected for far too long. No longer does SharePoint need to be relegated to the back of the house for intranet or document management. John and Sean go to great lengths to explain how SharePoint should be viewed as a platform, not just a document repository.

A quick and easy read, this book is concise and provides sound guidance as to the opportunities as well as pitfalls related to implementation and customization of SharePoint. It provides well thought out approaches and discusses the little known and talked about potential of an integrated SharePoint system/platform. This is not a developers guide, it is a book written specifically to IT decision makers, strategists, and executives.

John and Sean bring a much needed discussion to the SharePoint arena. This book is written from the perspective of how an organization can develop a comprehensive SharePoint strategy. This book is a must read for anyone who may be involved in deciding about whether or not SharePoint will be or still is a good fit for their organization. –Craig Shaffer”

SharePoint for Nonprofits is now available for purchase.

I hope you enjoy our best-selling book ever (mainly because it’s also our only book ever 😉 I’m very much looking forward to seeing you guys out in the awesome SharePoint community!

Posted in SharePoint, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

MS Office Web Apps – Do end users still need MS Office installed on their workstations?

(c) Sean Bordner

(c) Sean Bordner

Office Web Applications give you the ability to run Microsoft Office applications such as MS Word, MS Excel and MS PowerPoint from within the web browser. A SharePoint 2010 Server makes this all possible. SP 2010 will need to be configured to run the Office Web Apps first (a post for another day).

To answer the original question of whether or not end users even need MS Office installed on their workstations anymore – it really depends on the end user and what they will actually be doing. To clarify, let me start out by explaining that the features available with Office Web Apps are slightly watered down. I would venture to guess that in most cases end users won’t miss the missing features; however, I do recommend performing a quick MS Office usage analysis to determine who still needs MS Office running on their workstations, and who doesn’t.

Keep in mind that since Office Web Applications are available via a web site (Intranet for example), end users will obviously need internet connectivity to work with MS Word, MS Excel and MS PowerPoint (a potential show stopper for some which require employees to work after hours and away from the office in situations where connectivity is not guaranteed).

Let’s take a look. Here’s a SharePoint 2010 Document Library containing one file.
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By clicking the items drop down, I get the following options:
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Notice the “Edit in Browser” option? This is only available with MS Office Web Apps.

Now I can simply edit the document just like I would using the MS Word desktop application on my workstation, but I’m doing it in my browser! The look/feel is basically the same.
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Here’s a closer look at the ribbon interfaces, look familiar?
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This same ability is available for MS Excel as well as MS PowerPoint. I think this has a lot of potential and suddenly we have some interesting choices to make! It’s worth playing around with to see what you think.

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How to create a reusable workflow using SharePoint Designer 2010 (All Steps)

(c) Sean Bordner
(c) Sean Bordner

Using SharePoint Designer 2010 to create sophisticated reusable workflows is so easy, even a… Let’s just say it’s pretty easy. This post aims to walk you through the steps of creating a reusable workflow in SharePoint Designer 2010 and point out some pretty cool things as we go. First of all, when would you bother using SharePoint Designer 2010 to create a workflow, vs. just using the SharePoint 2010 provided browser interface? Well, that’s an easy one – the answer is: You would use SharePoint Designer 2010 to create a workflow when the workflow you wish to create involves conditions and is NOT as simple as just a basic review/approve process. Here are the steps involved in creating a reusable workflow using SharePoint Designer 2010. 

1. Create your new approvers group and populate it with the desired users.
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Click “Create Group” in the ribbon
clip_image003Fill out the form
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Click the “Create” button
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clip_image008Add the desired users to your new group
 

2. Open the site/sub-site using SharePoint Designer 2010
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3. Once the site is opened in SharePoint Designer 2010, you can create a new workflow by selecting File/Add Item/Reusable Workflow.
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Choose reusable workflow if you wish to use this same process in other areas.
 

4. Provide a meaningful name to your new workflow, and select the appropriate content type. For this example, we will name it “Josh and Jim Approval” and use the “Document” content type.
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Provide meaningful workflow name and specify the appropriate content type, click the “Create” button.
 

5. You may receive the following pop up dialogue in SharePoint Designer 2010, just let it do its thing.
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6. Now we get to define the steps to our new workflow (the fun part). You will see the following in SharePoint Designer 2010:
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Note: One pretty cool feature is the ability to insert an “Impersonation Step.” The contents of an impersonation step will run as the auther, not as the user who started the workflow.
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7. For this example, let’s say we want Josh and Jim to be notified when large files are uploaded to the site. We will start by defining the condition which triggers the workflow, and then we will specify the corresponding action.
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Since we want to fire off this workflow when a large file is uploaded, we will select “The file size in a specific range kilobytes” condition from the dropdown.
 

8. This site is configured to reject files larger than 2GB, so we will specify a file size range between 1-2GB, which will catch all files 1GB and larger in size.
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9. Now we specify the action. For this, we need to insert a new step.
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10. Select “Send an email” for this action.
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Note: the example is a very simple conditionally driven workflow, however for a more sophisticated workflow, use SharePoint Designer 2010 to build in nested steps:
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11. Your screen should look like this:
clip_image022Click “these users” 

12. See this screen:
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Click the Lookup book icon to the right of the “To” field so we can locate the approvers group we created earlier. 

13. Now select the “People/Groups from SharePoint site…” and click “Add>>”
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14. The below dialog pops up, if you know all or part of the group you want to use, type it in the search box and click the search button, select the correct group in the results (in the example, it’s “Approvers – HR Docs”), but it could be any group you wish. Click the “OK” button.
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15. Click the “OK” button for all dialogs until you are back to the orginial one. Specify the Subject, and Body of the email.
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16. Click the “Publish” button in the ribbon and you are done!
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Now you have a workflow which was created using SharePoint Designer 2010 and is also reusable (not possible with previous versions of SharePoint. Again, this was a very, very basic kinda situation, but you should get the point. It’s super easy to create workflows using SharePoint Designer 2010, including pretty sophisticated ones. Have fun playing around with this and don’t forget to share your experiences with the SharePoint community!

Posted in SharePoint, SharePoint Designer, Workflow | 3 Comments

Consider adding Rich Snippets to your SEO war-chest for improved ranking and findability

(c) Sean Bordner

(c) Sean Bordner

Snippets are the little descriptions displayed about the link on search results pages.  For a long time now, snippets have been auto-generated by Google and you had little control over what the snippet would be – other than the fact that it’s mined from the page it’s referring to.  Enter Rich Snippets!

Rich Snippets allow you, the content owner, to specify the snippet language.  It’s a way of adding some structure to unstructured data.  Snippets can currently be applied to people and to product reviews, more types coming later on. 

Here’s some examples of the two types of snippet formats you can use (microformats or RDFa):
Note:  This is from a great little article on CMSWire entitled “New Google Tech Fuses SEO and Semantic Web”.

Say that they originally had:

<a href="http://www.example.com/">Jane Smith</A>

With microformats, you specify that you’re defining a person with contact information with the term “vcard.” You use the div and span tags to logically group the information, with div used for multiple pieces of information and span used for single pieces of information.

Using Google’s “Marking Up Structured Data” documentation, they might change this link to:

<div class="vcard">
   <span class="fn">Jane Smith</span>
   <span class="nickname">J.J.</span>
   <span class="url">http://example.com/</span>
   <span class="role">Author</span>
<a href="http://www.example.com/">Jane Smith</A>
</div>

Now they’ve added the context of Jane’s full name, her nickname, her web site, and that she’s an author. To show this same information in RDFa, they might have:

<div xmlns:v="http://rdf.data-vocabulary.org/#" typeof="v:Person">
   <span property="v:name">Jane Smith</span>
   <span property="v:nickname">J.J.</span>
   <span property="v:url">http://www.example.com/</span>
   <span property="v:roll">Author</span>
<a href="http://www.example.com/">Jane Smith</A>
</div>

The opportunity here would be to automate this in SharePoint so whenever snippet compatible content types are used, they are automatically rendered in either microformats or RDFa.  For example, the “Product Review” content type.  This would be a prime candidate for yet another thing in SharePoint which can be automated to help the SEO cause!

Related resources:

Google Searchology Event Article

Google’s Rich Snippet Help Page

Posted in Search Engine Optimization, SEO, SharePoint | 2 Comments

Problems Indexing an External Web Site with the SharePoint Search Engine

(c) Sean Bordner

(c) Sean Bordner

From time to time I have to troubleshoot SharePoint Search Engine issues dealing with it not properly indexing some external web site.  Just thought I’d share the steps I typically take in case you are trying to figure out what might be causing the problem.  I find it helpful to isolate where the problem is before doing anything else.  Here’s how I approach determining where the problem is.

The first thing I do is make sure the SharePoint Search Engine is working, period.  Is it at lease indexing the SharePoint site properly?  If not, it’s pretty obvious the problem is with the search engine configuration, or at least something on the SharePoint side of the street, including the network it lives on.  However, if it’s not having any problems indexing the SharePoint site, I move on and see if it is (or will) index any other external web sites properly. 

Here is where it starts getting good.  If it’s indexing other external web sites just fine, but not the one in question, then I turn my attention to the web site it won’t index.  Many things might be causing it to fail when trying to crawl.  JavaScript and Flash navigation to name two top suspects.  In fact, I find it helpful to see what the search engine spiders are seeing, and this can be done very easily.  I’ve seen the start page of an external site look perfectly ok from my browser, but contain nothing but bad links from the perspective of a search spider.  This can happen with application based redirects which tend to make it difficult for any search engine attempting to crawl.  There are plenty of free tools available to see what a search engine is seeing, one of them is at:  http://www.seochat.com/seo-tools/spider-simulator/

The ‘spider view’ of the page you have configured your SharePoint Search Engine content source to start from is the best place to start.  Paste the URL into the spider-simulator and let it rip.  If it can’t crawl the page, you have found the problem.  If it can crawl the page, carefully check the results.  Examine the internal links as well as the external links.  This is when you will find out if what your browser sees is the same as what the spider sees.  Copy a link out and paste it your browser address bar and see if it loads.  If you get a 404, the problem is with the links on the start page using some type of black-arts to be handled by the application which is preventing search engines from crawling properly. 
By now I have usually pin-pointed the problem and can begin taking steps to resolve it.  Resolution steps include pointing to a different start page from within my content source, or re-writing the start page with clean HTML, or ensuring the security on the external site is not preventing a crawl, etc… You get the point, but the important thing is we have quickly isolated where the problem is before we started fixing it.

Posted in Search, SharePoint, SharePoint Search Engine | Leave a comment