Thursday, November 16, 2006

WSS Version 3 is Out!

Thanks to Jan Tielens for pointing out to me that WSS version 3 is out the door and a free download from the Microsoft site.

You can also get a trial version of Office Server 2007 - I'm getting light-headed from all this new technology.

This Office Server download includes both the Standard and Enterprise version. Here is the breakdown of functionality as listed on the download site:

Standard edition functionality includes:
* Collaboration
* Enterprise Content Management
* Workflow
* MySites
* Profiles and Personalization
* Enterprise Search

Enterprise edition functionality includes:
* Business Data Catalog
* Excel Services
* Report Center
* Infopath Forms Services
* KPI and Filter Web Parts

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Meet the family

Check out this link for a list of what products are part of the new Microsoft Office suite:

I love the fact that there is now a suite called Office Ultimate. It reminds me of washing powder adverts - "now with added stain removers!". I wonder what the marketing team are going to come up with for the next release? Office Infinite?

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Central Admin - just another site

I just noticed something - the SharePoint Central Administration site in Office 2007 is just another site collection. This means that you can create lists, subsites and even update the security settings. Heck - you can even modify the web parts on the OOB admin pages! Have a look at the Site Actions menu next time you drop by your Central Administration site.

This is a bit different to version 2 where Central Admin was a very customized site and there wasn't much you could do in the way of modifying it.

But with great power comes great responsibility. Now it means that you are going to have to consider what ways you will customize the Central Administration site for your web farm (of course you could just leave it as it is, but where is the fun in that?)

Friday, November 03, 2006

An early Christmas

According to ITWire SharePoint 2007 is going to be launched on November 30th, along with Vista.

Update: Nov 6, 2006, Microsoft announces that Office 2007 has been released to manufacture (RTM). This is milestone that marks the completion of the development and testing phase. According to their press release it will be available "worldwide" from November 30th.

However, it may be available earlier for companies that have access to the Microsoft software download sites. Certainly the MSDN Subscribers site has an announcement saying that it will be available 7 days from the RTM.

Pricing for SharePoint 2007

I just found this very useful website for working out the cost of Microsoft licenses. The great thing is that it has the SharePoint 2007 prices:

After you select your products, you also need to answer some questions about the size of your organisation and the type of licensing you require. Unless you are practiced in the black art of licensing, I'd suggest just accepting the defaults and treating the estimate as a rough guide. Contact your reseller for more accurate numbers.

Here are the figures that I got based on a 1,000 seat corporate deployment with Software Assurance (access to upgrades):

  • SharePoint 2007 Server - $11,572

  • SharePoint 2007 Server for Internet Access - $107,115 (AUD) - for hosting public websites. This license does not require Client Access Licenses (CALS)

  • Standard Client Access License - $243 (AUD)

  • Enterprise Client Access License - an additional $195 (AUD) - this provides access to the BDC, Excel Services and InfoPath web forms

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Goodbye useful functionality

I'm in shock. Microsoft have decided to remove one of the most useful features in Excel 12 - the ability to synchronize list data. You can still export data from a WSS list into Excel, and you can still publish information from Excel into SharePoint. But what is missing is the ability to synchronize changes between your Excel list and SharePoint.

Microsoft have decided that this feature should now live in MS Access. The only problem is that organisations rarely deploy Access to all their users, where-as Excel is everywhere.

Excel also provides some really nice features for playing around with your data in an ad-hoc way compared to Access.

Read more about this at Bart Bultinck's blog and at the MSDN Excel blog

Monday, October 16, 2006

Sydney SharePoint User Group for October

As usual, the SharePoint User Group in Sydney will be meeting at Unique
World's offices at Level 14, 24 Campbell Street, Haymarket.

This month Carlos Mora will be demonstrating the new Forms Management
features in SharePoint 2007. All are welcome.

For more information, and to subscribe to e-mail alerts on up-coming
events, visit

SharePoint and Documentum getting chummy

Microsoft and EMC - the makers of Documentum - announced that they will be working to ensure their products compliment each other in the future. Good news if your organisation has both of these technologies.

It also seems that they will be using Vorsite's technology to make this happen.

Here is an extract from the press release:

EMC will bring to market new solutions that seamlessly integrate the EMC Documentum platform with multiple Microsoft solutions and platform technologies including Microsoft Office SharePoint® Server 2007, the 2007 Microsoft Office system, SQL Server™ 2005 and enterprise search solutions. Microsoft provides content management capabilities in SharePoint Server 2007 today. With this new alliance SharePoint users can take advantage of the advanced ECM capabilities of the Documentum platform. Information workers will be able to access the Documentum platform natively from within Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 and the Microsoft Office system, enabling users to leverage the power of the Documentum platform in areas such as advanced records management, business process management, imaging and rich media from their preferred Microsoft applications.

Read more here
And more: a nice article on about this

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Saving to MOSS using Office 2003

SharePoint 2007 now supports different "templates" for a document library. These are called "content types". Each content type can have it's own set of meta-data that you can apply to documents.

So how does this work when you try to save a document from MS Word 2003 up to SharePoint? Quite well actually. When you get to the screen that asks you for your meta-data, you will see a drop down menu of the different content types available in that library.

As you choose different content types, you will see the set of meta-data fields changing. Here is a screenshot of what it looks like:

Friday, October 06, 2006

Fix: Workflow in MOSS 2007 stops working

Here's one that you might come up against if you are using the Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 Technical Refresh. I was trying to create a new workflow for a document library through the browser. However, when I tried to access the second page in the wizard, I got the following error:

Critical Error

There has been a critical error while processing the form.

Click Start Over to load a new copy of the form. If this error persists, contact the support team for the Web site.

Click Close to exit this message.

Details: Too many bytes in what should have been a 7 bit encoded Int32.

The fix for me was quite straightforward
1. Run stsadm -o reconvertallformtemplates
2. Delete your internet explorer browsing history

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

MVP for Me!

What a great start to the week. I've just returned from 8 weeks in Europe to find out that I have been awarded an MVP (Most Valued Professional) in SharePoint by Microsoft. What an honour! Knowing some of the other SharePoint MVPs out there, I am thrilled to be counted in their numbers.

Yeah, I realize that from your perspective this may not be the most interesting news, but permit me to wallow in the moment, won't you?

Wallow, wallow, wallow, wallow, wallow, wallow, wallow, wallow, wallow.

What was I doing in Europe? Well, I went back to Ireland to catch up with the family, then onto Italy for a holiday before dropping into the International Criminal Court in The Hague (Holland - not Belgium) to help them integrate their SharePoint Portal with their Records Management system. What a nice bunch of people, even if you do have to go through barbed wire, electric fences and metal detectors to get to them.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Get to know your users

That clever lad of the Sagi's (disclaimer: I work with him) has made a free web part available on his blog.

This one helps you encourage users to fill out user profile properties that you have marked a mandatory. Check it out at Sharepoint Tips And Tricks

Monday, August 14, 2006

Sydney SharePoint User Group - Tuesday 15 August 2006

The SharePoint User Group is meeting up again on Tuesday 15 August at Level 14, 24 Campbell Street, Haymarket, Sydney. That's beside Capitol Theatre. This month's topic is all about the Business Data Catalogue in SharePoint 2007. Angus Logan from Microsoft and Sergio Otoya from Winapp will step you through the features.

All are welcome, just drop an e-mail to to let us know if you can make it. More details available at

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Microsoft dropping the Office Web Components

Microsoft are not going to be including the Office Web Components (OWC) in the next release of SharePoint. These are the web parts that allow you to easily display pivot tables, graphs and spreadsheets within SharePoint.

Why are they doing this? Read all about it on the Excel blog here

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Degrees of My Sites

There are different levels of SharePoint Portal's My Site functionality that you can provide to your end users. Sometimes you may not want your end users to have the full set of features straight away, so it's good to know to what level you can restrict it.

Here is how I break down the degrees of My Sites:

  1. Public Profile - only provide the public profile page. Users can perform a search to find an individual and view their public profile. Links throughout the portal also allow users to access public profiles. At this level, the end user user does not have a "My Site" link in the top right of their screen, and they don't have the ability to update their profile.

    To enable the public profiles you should schedule the profile import from Active Directory, and ensure your People content source is being indexed regularly.

  2. Basic My Site - at this level, users get the "My Site" link in the top right of their portal pages. The user's My Site will have two sections - public and private. The public section is similar to the public profile page mentioned in the section above, but it will now include an "Edit Profile" option.

    The "Private" section will display information that has been targeted to the user's audiences. This includes the "News for You" and "Links For You" web parts. The user will now also have the ability to subscribe to portal alerts and use the "add to my links" feature. The private section of their My Site will also include web parts to summarize their alerts and "my links".

    The user will still not be able to store any documents on their "My Site".

    To enable this level, you should grant the "User Personal Features" permission to your users.

  3. Full My Site - at this level, the user gets a fully functional My Site. The first time that the user clicks on their "My Site" link, SharePoint will create a personal site with document libraries and lists. The user now has a shared and private document library and can store content within their My Site.

    Note that once the personal site has been created, your SharePoint administrator has no ability to easily modify the web parts and lists on the site. That's why it is a good idea to delay users ability to create them until you have planned them out. Alternatively you can look at a tool called Echo to perform updates to your users personal sites.

    To grant your user the ability to create their site, you should enable the "Create Personal Site" permission to your users.

It's good to know what your options are with Personal Sites. And it's a good idea to plan in advance how you want to use them. Maybe you want your users to get familiar with other aspects of the portal before they use My Sites. Some companies don't like the idea of users putting personal content onto the portal farm. Either way, you can set up SharePoint accordingly

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Search me

This is another one of those "lessons I've learnt" posts, that hopefully save someone else the time that I lost. Based on the rules of Karma, eventually I should be able to reclaim my lost time - if not in this life, maybe in the next.

SharePoint Portal Server has a set of noise word files that it uses to exclude certain terms from it's index. This is to ensure that the indexes don't get cluttered up with terms that no-one searches for like "the", "and", "it".

Now you can edit these noise word files to either include or exclude words. They are just text files with each noise word on it's own line.

Imagine my surprise when I edited my noise word files to remove a word ("re"), but my portal search did not return my documents. Here's what I learnt in the process of fixing this problem up:

1. There are a set of noise word files per portal - not one set for the whole server farm. If you edit the wrong set, it doesn't matter how often you search your portal, you won't get the results you expect.

2. You need to edit all appropriate noise word files. These are language specific. There are three files that are relevant to english content - noiseeng.txt, noiseenu.txt and noiseneu.txt. Make sure you make the appropriate changes to ALL the files.

3. If you want to retrieve old content using newly-excluded noise words, reset and rebuild the content indexes. Otherwise SharePoint will only return items added.

The noise word files are located in a portal-specific sub directory under \Program Files\SharePoint Portal Server\data\applications\ on your SharePoint indexing server. To find out the specific sub directory for your portal, follow these steps:
  1. From the home page of the portal, click Site Settings in the top right corner
  2. Click Configure Search and Indexing
  3. In the Content Indexes section, click on any of the entries
  4. Note the directory path specified in Local Address. Ignore the part after the long code.
  5. Look in the config folder under the folder you identified in the previous step.
For more information on noise words, see:;en-us;837847#E0ZF0ACAAA

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Web based SharePoint Forms today

Disclaimer: I work for Unique World, which is the parent company of Unique World Software - the makers of SharePoint Forms and InfoView.

If you have been involved with InfoPath projects, at some stage you are sure to have wished for a web-based version of the product. Well, that's why our sister-company built InfoView ( This is a great tool for quickly converting your InfoPath form to a web based form.

Well, the crew at Unique World Software are just about to launch a new product built on top of InfoView. This product is called "SharePoint Forms". The nice thing about this product is that you hardly know it's there. Once you have installed it on your SharePoint server, everyone can use your forms libraries - whether they have InfoPath on their desktop or not.

This is very handy for example when users access your SharePoint site from a VPN. They don't have InfoPath on the desktop, but when they click on the "New Form" button in the forms library, the form is opened up within Internet Explorer. They can fill out their form, and save it back to the forms library, just like they would if they had the InfoPath installed. For those users that have InfoPath, they can continue to work with it.

If you update your InfoPath form template (XSN), SharePoint Forms will automatically convert it the next time a user wants to open or create a new document. As I said - it just works behind the scene - letting you just get on with filling out your leave request.

This product has just been launched. For more information, see

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Sydney SharePoint User Group - May 2006

Just a reminder that the Sydney SharePoint User Group is meeting this Tuesday - May 16th.

We also have a change of venue this month. Our new location is:

Level 14
24 Campbell Street
Sydney, NSW 2000

This is near Capitol Theatre, 200 metres from Central Station.

For more information, visit

Thursday, May 11, 2006

SPS 2003 and SQL 2005 - backups

Here's an interesting one. We recently moved our SQL databases for SPS from SQL 200o to a SQL 2005 server. All went well, apart from the SPSBackup.exe scripts. We were getting the following error in the SharePoint logs:

[Microsoft][ODBC SQL Server Driver][SQL Server]To connect to this server you must use SQL Server Management Studio or SQL Server Management Objects (SMO).

To solve the problem we uninstalled SQL 2000 client tools from the SPS server and installed the SQL 2005 client tools. That sorted it out for us. The important thing here is that you have to uninstall the SQL 2000 client utilities, otherwise, you'll continue to get the error.

I guess this also means that if you have a portal farm that is using several SQL databases - for different portals, they should all use the same version of SQL.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Offline SharePoint from Colligo

One common request with SharePoint is for a user to be able to access information when they are not connected to the network. This is not something that SharePoint really provides out of the box - apart from the ability to publish a read-only version of Contacts and Events lists to Outlook 2003.

Colligo are about to launch their Contributor product that allows you to take lists and document libraries offline, make changes to them a synchronize back to the server the next time you are connected.

Not only that, but you can download Colligo Reader for free. As the name suggests, this gives you are a read-only view of your documents and lists. Still very handy.

Colligo currently does not support threaded discussion, picture libraries, attendees, objectives or survey lists.

Check them out at

Friday, March 24, 2006

SharePoint accessibility information

Looking for information on SharePoint accessibility compliance to Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act? Check out these links:

It's a mixed bag - the document doesn't mention any serious conflicts with the act, but for quite a lot of features, the common answer is - "yes, this can be implemented", which implies doing a lot of site definition modification work.

Here is some details on improvements to accessibility in SharePoint 2007:

Live Communication Server - I love it!

We have just implemented our internal Live Communication Server, and it has changed my World. Up to now, most people in the company have been using MSN Messenger, and that has worked well. But LCS just makes the whole thing so much nicer.

Our company is small enough to have everyone in everyone else's contact list. This is becoming my new phone directory. The user presence information (online, busy, in meeting) details link up to your Outlook calendar, so it's now easier to determine if someone is available.

I've been using the application sharing feature a lot - even with a colleague that sits opposite me. Maybe we are just lazy, but it's handy to just share Microsoft Word from my desktop and talk him through the document as I scroll through it. The voice chat quality is also great, because it's using our internal network rather than going out to the cloud.

As for SharePoint - now EVERYONES user presence details appears through-out the web pages. Previously, that only worked if your MSN Messenger e-mail log-in matched your corporate account.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

March Sydney User Group session

It's that time of month again, where the Sydney User Group get together. This month we have Brett Chase from CommVault talking about data management solutions for SharePoint. Come along if you are in town. Details available at

Monday, February 20, 2006

Sydney SPS User Group - Feb 2006

Don't forget, if you are living in Sydney, come along to the February user group meeting in the city this Tuesday (21 Feb).

You can find out more details at

Beer and pizza provided.

Friday, February 17, 2006

SharePoint Content Databases

I normally don't spend a lot of time thinking about WSS content databases, but a recent engagement changed all of that.

The client has a configuration that - while probably not common - is not absolutely crazy either.

Basically, they have a Virtual Server, and have multiple site collections underneath it, one for each project. To simplify backups, they have decided to have a separate Content Database for each site collection.

No problem - STSADM includes the CreateSiteInNewDB command. This will add a new content database to our virtual server, and set up our new site collection within it. Done and dusted.

But then the client peeked inside their WSS configuration database and noticed that some site collections were using the wrong database. So Project D was in Database E, and Project E was in Database F. This is not good, because they use SQL Server for their backup and restores. So when then think they are restoring Project E, they are actually rolling back Project D.

How did this happen? After some investigation, it turns out that the STSADM Restore command doesn't really care which of the virtual server's content databases it restores to. You can't force it to use a particular database. So although Project D may be in Database D prior to your restore, SharePoint, in it's infinite wisdom may decide to put it into Database E after the restore.

Microsoft reckon that this is "by design", but it definitely sounds like a flaw in logic to me. We are planning to get around this issue by manipulating the Databases table before and after the restore. Basically we will update the SiteCount values to contain the SiteCountLimit value prior to the restore, and then set them back again afterwards. This should ensure that SharePoint can only use the existing content database for a restore.

Microsoft announce Office 2007 packages

Microsoft have just published information to their web site on what applications will be included in each of the Office 2007 bundles. They will now have an Enterprise and Professsional Plus bundle, along with their Professional, Small Business Edition, Standard, Home and Basic.

They have also released estimated retail prices for each of these editions. While the page lists the server products, no pricing is provided for them. However, it is interesting to note that there isn't a separate SPS + CMS edition. There is a separate server product for online forms - Microsoft Office Forms Server.

Interesting stuff

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Updates to Microsoft Software Assurance licenses

Licensing: It's a black art really. If those sisters from Charmed ever came up against an enterprise licensing agreement, I know who my money would be on.

However, I was reading recently that Microsoft are updating their Software Assurance licensing agreement. A number of changes are coming into affect from March 2006.

A few things in particular caught my eye. One is the Home Use policy. This allows employees to install copies of MS Office desktop products at home. Imagine - access to the latest and greatest Office 11 and 12 features from your home PC. It will be like Christmas all over again!

The other interesting amendment is the cold backup licensing. This means that you no longer have to pay for a separate license for a disaster recovery server. The gotcha is that the server must be turned off - i.e. "cold" - until the disaster occurs. You can power it up occasionally to confirm that it is all working, and to perform updates to the environment, but it can't be "warm" - i.e. ready to go in a matter of seconds after the disaster. It also can't be used for load balancing - that would be "hot".

I believe SQL Server supports the cold backup licensing today without requiring Software Assurance. Here's an extract from the Microsoft SQL licensing FAQ:

"Failover support, where servers are clustered together and set to pick up processing duties if one computer should fail, is now available in Workgroup, Standard, and Enterprise editions of SQL Server 2005. Under each of these editions, keeping a passive server for failover purposes does not require a license as long as the passive server has the same or fewer processors than the active server (under the per processor scenario)."

So there you have it - rush out and purchase Software Assurance. As always, consult a trained licensing professional before signing any enterprise agreement. If problems persist, head off to bed and watch Charmed.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Some of my favourite date WSS List Formulae

You know that you can create a calculated column within a list. This is a very useful feature. Here are some formulae that I've used a few times.

I use these calculated fields for grouping and filtering list items.

First day of the week for a given date:
=[Start Date]-WEEKDAY([Start Date])+1

Last day of the week for a given date:
=[End Date]+7-WEEKDAY([End Date])

First day of the month for a given date:
=DATEVALUE("1/"&MONTH([Start Date])&"/"&YEAR([Start Date]))

Last day of the month for a given year (does not handle Feb 29). Result is in date format:
(CHOOSE(MONTH([End Date]),31,28,31,30,31,30,31,31,30,31,30,31)
&"/" & MONTH([End Date])&"/"&YEAR([End Date]))

The name of the month for a given date - numbered for sorting - e.g. 01. January:
=CHOOSE(MONTH([Date Created]),"01. January", "02. February", "03. March", "04. April", "05. May" , "06. June" , "07. July" , "08. August" , "09. September" , "10. October" , "11. November" , "12. December")

Monday, January 23, 2006

Adding an expiry date to a portal listing

If you create portal listings regularly within your SharePoint portal, you may have noticed that sometimes you see the Start Date and Expiration Date fields, and other times you don't.

Well, it turns out that SharePoint uses a different template for the Add Listing page depending on whether the area uses the News Area Template or not.

The good news is that you can change the template used by altering the URL for the Add Listing page. Just append "&Mode=News" to the end of the URL to see the date fields.

For example, if your "Add Listing" URL looks like this:

Simply change it to this to see the date fields: