Tuesday, June 30, 2009

SharePointers: When a SharePoint List Just Isn't Enough

By Nicola Young

If you are one of the many Microsoft customers who has purchased MOSS Enterprise, then hopefully you are aware of an included feature called Forms Services. But do you really know the kind of power it can bring to your organization?

Most organizations still have paper forms all over the office, such as expense reports, vacation requests, new employee access request forms, change request forms and the like. Typically, there are multiple versions of these forms, and each form goes through the unnecessary process of the user printing it out and filling it in, sending it to the correct resource within the company, possibly an approval process, and then the form is entered into the appropriate system. This can all be simplified using InfoPath 2007 and Forms Services. Here are some quick tips for utilizing:

You only need to purchase the InfoPath 2007 client for the users in your company who will be creating and editing the form templates. Everyone else will use their browser to fill out the form through Forms Services.


The following browsers are supported: Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 and 7.0; Firefox 1.5; Mozilla 1.7; Netscape 7.2 (only on Unix/Linux) and 8.1; and Safari 2.0 (only on Macintosh).


Why recreate a form if you already have it designed in Microsoft Word 2007 or Microsoft Excel 2007? InfoPath 2007 includes a feature that allows you to import in the template previously created in Microsoft Word 2007 or Microsoft Excel 2007. You can opt to either import in the layout only or the layout and form fields.


To ensure your form will render correctly in the browser, be sure to run the Design checker located on the Tools menu. The Design checker will inform you of any items that will cause the form not to load in the browser, as well as any items that will not render correctly in the browser.


When publishing a form to SharePoint, you have three options: document library, site content type or administrator-approved. The document library option will make the form the template for the document library. The site content type option will create the form template as a content type and allow you to use the form in several document or form libraries, yet manage the form in one single location. The administrator-approved form template option will place the form template in the form library in Central Administration. Once approved, the form can be activated through a feature on any of the sites you wish to use it on. This option will need to be selected anytime you use code in the form.


The property promotion functionality allows you to promote fields from the form to columns on the library. This will allow you to then create views using the fields from the form. You can choose to promote all of the fields from the form or only a select few.

These were just some quick tips to get you started. For more information visit the Microsoft InfoPath Team blog, and read a step-by-step walk-through of publishing your first form.

Nicola Young is a consultant with SharePoint 911.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Tom Rizzo discusses (lightly) SharePoint 2010

Today, a good portion of the community joins us in Boston, where the turnout at SPTechCon has been phenomenal, and the energy is amped up! Tom Rizzo kicked off the morning with a keynote talk, during which he said (only half-kiddingly) that Microsoft’s goal with SharePoint is global domination – they want everyone using it! He didn’t break any new ground vis a vis the SharePoint 2010 release, but did say it would be for 64-bit only, which will require Windows Server 2008 and SQL Server 2005 or 2008 for 64-bit. It also will only support Internet Explorer 7 and above for XHTML support, though he did say SharePoint developers can customize their applications to support IE 6. Rizzo also spoke a bit about Visual Studio 2010, which will have new graphical features for packaging and for creating Web parts. The timeline for SharePoint 2010 remains that there will be a public beta released in the second half of this year, followed by the actual rollout the first half of 2010. Rizzo pointed to a new social computing Web site Microsoft has introduced for SharePoint, and told users to avail themselves of a “Best Practices Resource Center for SharePoint” site. And, BZ Media, producers of SPTechCon, announced that the next conference will be Feb. 10-12 in Burlingame, Calif.
-- David

Monday, June 22, 2009

SPTechCon 'Defining Moments'

A couple of highlights from the morning workshops here at SPTechCon:

Todd Klindt, in his excellent admin session with Shane Young, discussed the confusing terminology Microsoft uses for SharePoint. First is the issue of a site. Is it a URL? Then you have site admins and owners, though Klindt cautioned you can't really have a site owner. He later talked about the message "Database offline." In the relational world, it means it is not accessible. In SharePoint, it means it is stopped. "It would seem Microsoft went out of its way to make things difficult," Klindt commented.
On a similar note, Dux Raymond Sy urged people to define requirements, processes and roles clearly before even getting into the SharePoint technology. "The technology's the easy part," he told those in his session. "People spend the money and say, 'Let's roll out SharePoint.' If you're not going to do the background work, don't do it." He told the story of an engagement he was on where the company wanted to use a traffic light to indicate the status of projects. The group decided that red would mean 'late.' But when Dux asked what they meant by 'late,' the bickering began.
Without clear definitions, getting the most out of SharePoint is next to impossible.
-- David

MetaVis Technologies: Information Architecture

MetaVis Technologies is launching MetaVis Architect, a graphical tool for designing infrastructure in SharePoint, today at SPTechCon here in Boston. The company was founded in June 2008 by Steven Progrebivsky, the CEO, and Mark Klinchin, the CTO, who have strong backgrounds in migrating data from ECM systems. "One of the needs we saw was in migrating well-defined metata, where content was easily findable, into SharePoint. SharePoint is not as flexible in providing a facility for visually designing an information architecture," Progrebivsky said. MetaVis not only deals with migrations but also with organizing an information architecture and creating a taxonomy from the content that already exists in a SharePoint deployment, he said. Metadata, he pointed out, is a way to control not only the growth of data but to find the data you really need. "The key is to create efficient taxonomies with sufficient metadata, not too much metadata that people don't bother with," he said.
MetaVis is coming to market today with two products: MetaVis Architect and MetaVis Classifier. Architect is the visual designer for SharePoint taxonomy, while Classifier is used for organizing the content in SharePoint. Classifier offers intelligent tagging, the ability to tag and move at the szame time, and offer bulk import plug-in functionality. "A lot of people have developed environments that have grown like mushrooms. Administrators need to move these things into SharePoint into a new architecture that makes sense of it all. A bulk tagger is key to enable data to comply quickly with the new architecture," Pogrebivsky said. A Classifier Web part is due out in July.
-- David

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

SharePoint Integrator for Lotus Notes

Mainsoft Corp., which makes software to facilitate .NET-Java interoperability, today released version 2 of its SharePoint Integrator for Lotus Notes, with support for Lotus Notes 8.5 among other new features.
Mainsoft said a survey of LotusUserGroup.org members showed that 63 percent want to integrate SharePoint with Lotus Notes, while 45 percent said they are evaluating SharePoint and another 55 percent are seeking Lotus Notes integration with either MOSS 2007 or WSS. The integration software enables Lotus Notes users to quickly grasp and be able to work with SharePoint taxonomies, according to Mainsoft.
According to the company, the integration brings Lotus Notes e-mail and Sametime IM together with SharePoint calendaring, document sharing and team collaboration features. The software also connects to SharePoint Online and other hosted SharePoint solutions, according to Mainsoft.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Swider on Web services: MS certified courseware

Paul Swider, who will be presenting a half-day workshop at next week's SPTechCon, has alerted me to the fact that he has permissions to use labs from MS50064 and MS500143 certified Microsoft courseware! So, he'll be offering hands-on training by distributing these materials and offering demonstrations from them.

Here's the abstract from his workshop:
WEB SERVICES AND SOA IN SHAREPOINT
An enterprise SharePoint developer must know what services are exposed through the SharePoint Web Services. Learn how to build sophisticated composite applications on top of the SharePoint platform using SharePoint Web Services and custom Web services that demonstrate the Windows SharePoint Services object model in addition to the Portal Server object model. Also, we’ll discuss how SharePoint Server fits into the enterprise SOA model and identify Shared Service components that use SOA tenets. TECHNICAL LEVEL: INTERMEDIATE/ADVANCED

An important course for developers with a bit more knowledge of and experience with SharePoint.

-- Davids

Thursday, June 11, 2009

AnyChart Offers Rich Data Virtualization for SharePoint

Data visualization software provider AnyChart yesterday announced an OEM agreement to provide its functionality in CorasWorks’ Data Integration Toolset at no extra cost to those users.

AnyCharts' charting engine
has been optimized for Microsoft SharePoint. Integrated into the CorasWorks tool set, it enables the display of any data from SharePoint or from external sources, such as databases, applications or Web services. Users can also create data mashups and analyze the data, then feed the data to the chart, according to the company.


In a statement, AnyChart wrote: “CorasWorks Data Integration Toolset for Microsoft SharePoint is designed for developers, architects, database and IT administrators to help them extend their SharePoint applications, or build end-to-end read/write composite applications in SharePoint without the need for extensive custom code and thus meet the exact needs of the organization.”

-- David

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

MemberToMember

Been away for a while.. trying to wrap up the loose ends that crop up right before a big conference such as ours!

But there's been no shortage of news in the SharePoint world, that I'll highlight in the next few posts.

First up is MemberToMember, new software from SusQtech.

Microsoft SharePoint Server has out-of-the-box social networking features, and SusQtech yesterday announced MemberToMember, software that extends those capabilities for the creation of external communities and to increase team collaboration.

MemberToMember, according to the company, provide social networking tools with a recognizable interface that should be familiar to users of such services as Facebook and LinkedIn. Among the social network features are the ability to comment on and rate content, create groups based on common interests, and provide colleague and social distance information.

The software can also be used to connect with disparate customers, constituents, members and partners. The external groups can be open or closed and can allow for customer feedback. Further, MemberToMember includes a private, direct e-mail feature, and can be used to create rollups of blogs and comments. It is available via enterprise license or software-as-a-service. MemberToMember can be previewed at www.TheSUG.org, an open community of SharePoint users which is sponsored by SusQtech. Product information and demo requests are available here.