SharePoint Saturdays

SharePoint Saturdays has been moving quickly through many US cities with lots of great presenters and discussions.

Here are a list of some upcoming events:

  • SharePoint Saturday Atlanta – April 18th, 2009
  • SharePoint Saturday San Francisco – April 25th, 2009
  • SharePoint Saturday DC – May 2nd, 2009
  • SharePoint Saturday Chicago – June 13th, 2009
  • SharePoint Saturday Charlotte– June 20th, 2009 Just Announced!

I plan on being at both the DC and Charlotte stops, and hope to get to know some more of the local SharePoint communities. These are free events so if you are even remotely in the area, be sure to check them out.

Admin Tool – SharePoint ULS Log Viewer

Recently while browsing CodePlex I came across a very useful tool that I wanted to bring to the attention to SharePoint administrators everywhere. The project is the SharePoint ULS Log Viewer which was built by Stefan Keir Gordon.

Here is an overview taken from the CodePlex info:

This is a WPF application powered by LINQ.

The current release (2.0) has the following features:

  • Parse and open multiple SharePoint ULS logs (will concatenate them if you select multiple)
  • Reorder and resize columns, sort on any column
  • Filter by Severity, Category, and Process or a custom text filter/search
  • Group multi-line stack traces into single log entries for easy viewing and copy/paste
  • View message easily in separate pane (No more scrolling in notepad)

I reluctantly admit that up until now I have relied on NotePad or TextPad to interact with my logs. I kept saying I would take the time to write something, but I just never got around to it. This tool is polished and full featured, so I definitely no longer have a need to develop anything.

Take a look; I’m sure you would agree. A big thank you to Stefan for contributing this to the community!

Using Site Columns to Reuse Data

During my time with SharePoint I have encountered a number of requests where users want to be able to reuse data between sites. Using the DataView or Content Query Web Part (CQWP) is pretty easy since it supports connecting to lists on other sites, but it does not help for situations where the requirement is to include a linked field within a list. Linked fields can only be configured to link to lists within the same site.

You can get around this limitation by using a Site Column to establish the link. The important thing to keep in mind is that the Site Column needs to be established at the same level as the column you want to link to. This means that the approach will only help with sites that are below the site that the Site Column is defined at.

For this example I have defined a contact list called CustomerContacts which is at the root of the site collection.

Then define a Site Column called MainCustomerContact that links to the Full Name field in the CustomerContacts list.

The next step is to add the new Site Column to a list on a sub-site.

After it has been setup you will now have the dropdown list when you go to add or edit a record in the list.

Fields with a value from the other site will display as a link, just like normal linked fields.

Clicking the link will lead you to the list’s item view with all of the details for that item record.

Using this method will help you reuse the data already being maintained in the system without having to duplicate the list or list data.

Impact of SharePoint Designer Free Distribution

This week it was announced that SharePoint Designer 2007 and future versions are now freely distributed.

Announcement

Download

The developer community was quick to applaud the news since this is a useful tool, but I assume also because getting software purchases approved in the current economy is difficult at best even in stable companies.

The news however brought a different set of comments from the system administrators and IT management folks who are worried about what the ramifications will be. They are right to be worried. Many companies are already struggling with governance and end user site ownership issues. With that in mind I think it gives them that much more incentive to get their policies, procedures, and training plans in order.

From a Program Management perspective, I think it is critical to the platform to enable end user groups to design, manage, and interact with their own content. That includes maintaining their own access control lists (ACLs), libraries, lists, and design their own workflows. I see SharePoint Designer as an extension of the platform, not much different than MS Word or Excel. Site Owners and Designers need to be able to manage this in most situations.

In a medium to large organization it would take an army of IT team members to manage this for every group, it is just not feasible and not the purpose of the SharePoint platform.

So how should you proceed?
Governance – Address custom design and development in your Governance plan. Determine who can have it, and what it can be used for.

Training – Address its use in your training plan, and make sure that Design and Developer resources are available. Perhaps you can pick up a copy or two of Professional Microsoft Office SharePoint Designer 2007 (Wrox Programmer to Programmer).

SharePoint Designer Collaboration Site – Provide site owners with a place to collaborate and provide guidance. You can include samples, links, and FAQs to help them.

Through proper governance you can help guide their decisions and enable their success. Their success and approval leads to the success of the platform in your organization.

What can be done to prevent use of Designer?
Installation – For now you can look at local computer policy and prevent installation of unapproved software. For people in companies that already do this, they know that it takes a lot to manage that.

Security – You can also review site security and make sure that the appropriate set of users have access to make changes.

Disable at the Site Level – There is some work in the community right now to come up with a solution to prevent specified sites from being changed or customized with SharePoint Designer.

UPDATED: John Ferringer and Brian Farnhill have posted a Beta for the project, setup as an HTTP Event Handler to block SP Access. It can be found here: No SPD HTTP Event Handler.

What is your response to the news? Excited, terrified? Post a comment!

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