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Monthly Archives: December 2008

A Web Proxy Server Tried to Stop Me From Installing Windows Workflow Foundation, But I Defeated It

I’m working at a client site and needed to install windows workflow foundation so that I could so some SharePoint Designer work.  (I didn’t know until today that SPD installs fine but really needs at least .NET 2.0 and Windows Workflow Foundation to be really usable; I always assumed these were installed along with SPD, but I was wrong).

The client has a proxy server.  No problem, I have credentials to get outside to the public Internets.  I go to the usual place to download WWF (SPD helpfully provided me with a link).  That download is really a bootstrap of sorts.  It runs and figures out what else it needs to download.  That second download process failed.  It either does not try at all, or is somehow prevented from asking for proxy server credentials.  It was a pretty hard crash, giving me the message:

Microsoft .NET Framework 3.0 has encountered a problem during setup.  Setup did not complete successfully.

I tried to reboot and spent 10 seconds trying to figure out if I could get it to ask me for proxy server credentials.  I gave up and went here instead: .NET Framework 3.5 Service Pack 1 (Full Package).

I downloaded that package, installed and this time, no problems.

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Using Reflector on Microsoft.SharePoint.dll

Michael Blumenthal has put up an article about alerts and views ("Which views can be used when Creating an Alert ?"), which is interesting on its own merits.  However, I was even more interested to see how he methodically walks through the process of using Redgate’s .NET Reflector.  Step by step, he shows how to use that tool track down how SharePoint determines whether a view on a list should be "subscribable" for lack of a better word (he explains this much better than I do 🙂 ).

At this point in the SharePoint era, you’d almost have to be deaf and blind to have not heard or read about using that tool.  It’s advanced stuff and my own sense is that it’s in many ways a tool of last resort.  However, if you think you need it but don’t really know how, Michael’s write-up seems like a great tutorial on this subject.

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SPD Workflow: Display Full Name Instead of Domain\username

In what appears to be his inaugural blog posting, chiqnlips has delved into the madness that is a calculated column and described a solution to a common SharePoint Designer workflow email activity problem: How to display a person’s real name in an email instead of "domain\username."

I haven’t tested it myself, but it looks promising.  Check it out.

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SharePoint Predictions for 2009

I’ve read a few retrospectives on 2008 and this has got me to thinking about 2009.  Here are my guesses at the future of SharePoint in 2009.

Small Disclaimer

I’m a SharePoint MVP and as a result, I sometimes get a little advance information before it’s public.  I am NOT making any such information public.  I really haven’t been around long enough to be entrusted with that kind of stuff anyway.

With that out of the way, on to the predictions …

FAST

I believe that FAST will become a very hot topic in 2009.  It’s already well known in the enterprise search community.  However, everyone that plays around with SharePoint in 2009 will soon be interested in this product and what it can do for them.  New consulting companies will spring up around it and existing partners will work and scramble to add it to its portfolio.  This time next year, almost everyone in the SharePoint community will have heard of and have an opinion about FAST.

FAST is targeted at large companies and that will continue.  I think there’s at least an outside chance that Microsoft will release a more focused version of the product that is accessible to smaller companies.  Failing that, they will open up the SharePoint search engine so that it can be customized along the lines that FAST can be customized.  For example, FAST uses pipeline architecture for consuming content and indexing it.  FAST admins and developers can assemble pipeline components per data source and even create new pipeline components.  We don’t have this flexibility with SharePoint today.  If FAST remains firmly targeted at very large companies, SharePoint search will adopt some of FAST’s features.

SharePoint V.Next

I believe it will come out in 2009.

I believe that it will provide us the ability to secure views on a list or document library.  This may be more of a hope than a belief 🙂

I hope it will provide some better support for end users in SharePoint Designer and particularly workflow.

I don’t know much else,  I have been actively tracking what I do find here: http://delicious.com/pagalvin/SharePoint_O14.

Vendors Will Create Business Applications

Today, most SharePoint vendors seem to be gadget oriented.  Take Bamboo or Corasworks for example.  They have a huge following and great portfolio of products.  However, they seem sort of gadgety to me or developer / tool focused.  Admin tools, workflow tools, etc.  That’s not a criticism at all because SharePoint can definitely use some gadgets.

In 2009, some vendors (and very possibly Bamboo themselves, if I read this correctly) will put together verticalized business applications in the form of templates, features, solutions, etc.  I’m thinking about the fabulous forty templates today but tailored to specific industries.  I’m sort of surprised it’s not already exploited this way.  SharePoint is a platform for delivering these kinds of things.  What’s everyone waiting for?  They won’t wait any longer in 2009.

At the same time, Silverlight and other cool .NET stuff will fuel new, better and more interesting gadgets.

Sharepointreviews.com will become the essential community catalog of these products.

End User Focus

2009 will see the emergence of the End User as a major focus for bloggers, organizations and Microsoft themselves.  Mark Miller’s End User SharePoint.Com played a big role in 2008 and will continue to do so in 2009.  End Users will begin to blog, help to transform user groups into less technical venues and even convince someone or organization to launch a pure End User focused conference.

Conferences, User Groups, Code Camps, etc

Speaking of conferences – they will continue to expand and grow in number and focus.  Aside from end user content, they will continue to cater to developers and administrators.

Virtual conferences will start to pick up and existing conferences will provide live feeds to remote attendees who cannot or choose not to attend in person.

Free venues will expand, such as Mike Lotter’s (et al) SharePoint Saturday.

This is going to be very important because there will continue to be a large influx of new developers, admins and end users who will be craving the kind of information these groups provide.

Social Computing

Demand for social computing features will rise.  All things being equal, companies that implement effective social computing strategies will do better and be stronger than their competitors.

Smaller companies will adopt these features more quickly and effectively than large companies.

Large companies: beware 🙂

Best Practices versus Remediation

In 2008, a lot of SharePoint bloggers and organizations and Microsoft themselves spent a lot of time figuring out the best way to solve certain problems (usually technical problems).

There are still opportunities to define and foster adoption of best practices.  However, while we’ve been figuring out the best way to install, configure and manage SharePoint, hundreds and thousands of companies have been installing, configuring and managing SharePoint without those best practices at hand.

In 2009, a lot of companies are going to realize they have some deeply rooted problems to solve and will be looking to the elite members of the SharePoint community and Microsoft for help to fix them.  I think this will extend well into 2010 and possibly spawn a cottage industry providing remediation services for companies that really need and use SharePoint, but are hurting badly because of poor decisions made early in their implementation.

The Mother Ship Will Return

In 2009, the Mother Ship will return and bring Bob Fox home.

Final Thoughts

I didn’t start working with SharePoint myself in any real way until January 2007. It seems to me that SharePoint has really taken off and proven itself capable of delivering a lot of value in these two years. I think that in many ways, it didn’t really straighten itself out until the infrastructure update. It still has its bugs and problems, but we’ve all come along way since 01/2007. 2009 is going to be a banner year for SharePoint.

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SharePoint Best Practices Conference Feb 2-4, 2009

I’ll be doing two presentations at the SharePoint Best Practices Conference this February in San Diego.

I haven’t been doing this thing long enough to get jaded by it, so every conference I attend is a, frankly, awesome.  However, I do think this conference is special.  There is zero marketing focus and the whole thing is about offering real-world practical advice on how to untangle some of the thorniest issues we face dealing with SharePoint.  It’s not gigantic, so all of the speakers are very accessible (at least when they are not putting out fires back home).  This means that in addition to the great formal presentations, you can have some great conversations and debates with virtually every speaker at almost any time, starting with communal breakfast up to late night imbibing at the hotel bar. 

Beyond the speakers, you’ll have great opportunities to build and cement networks of other SharePoint users in the community.  By the end of the last session and conference wrap-up, you’ll be energized and full of good ideas to bring back to work to help improve your SharePoint environment.

It’s well worth the investment.

The web site is top notch.  Check it out for dates, registration, topics and speakers.

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Reading Through 1,000 Blog Entries in 3 Weeks is like Watching Lost Season Four in a Weekend

This past summer, while I was working on two chapters for the best SharePoint social computing book ever, I began to get very far behind in my blog reading.  I use Google Reader for my RSS stuff and when you have more than 1000 unread items, it just says, "1000+".

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been sitting down and systematically reading them and tagging them as I go for future reference (I use Delicious.com).

This past weekend I watched all of Lost, season four in a couple of sittings and catching up on 1000+ blog entries feels the same way.

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Porting SharePoint Designer Workflow from One List to Another

Mark Miller over at www.endusersharepoint.com posted my latest article on SharePoint Designer workflow here (http://www.endusersharepoint.com/?p=1037).

I describe the basic approach for moving a workflow you create in one list to another list.  The other list can be in the same site, same site collection or an entirely different farm (e.g. from development to production).

This is a complicated subject so I only covered a very basic scenario.  Next week, I’ll write up a more useful real world example. 

Check it out and share any comments there.

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SharePoint Guy Compares SharePoint to DotNetNuke

SharePoint is better.

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Is This the Best SharePoint Question Ever Asked?

Why Can’t I Easily Port SharePoint Designer Workflow Solutions From One List to Another?

Mark Miller has posted my latest End User oriented SharePoint Designer Workflow article up on his site here: http://www.endusersharepoint.com/?p=1008

I attempt to provide a straight-forward answer to the question, "Why can’t I easily port a SharePoint designer workflow from development to test?"  In the process, I also give some insight into what SPD is actually doing behind the scenes when we use it to create a workflow solution.

Next week, I describe an End User friendly way to port SPD workflow from one server to another, or at least as End User friendly a solution as is possible given the state of the tool set.

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