Sunday, July 20, 2008

ISPA – Doing it for the community

The SharePoint Community around the world is made up of a lot of passionate, hard-working people. I've been lucky enough to meet my fair share of these people over the years. One of the most visible signs of this community are the various User Groups focussed on the SharePoint platform. Here in Australia you can find one in most State capitals at

Well, now there is a world-wide group set up to support and share experiences between these User Groups – the International SharePoint Professionals Association (ISPA). This will help strengthen and grow the existing groups here in Australia, and help any new SharePoint User Groups get up and running.

If you'd like to read more about this organisation, drop by their website at As a User Group leader, I'm looking forward to sharing experiences with others and learning what else we can do for our members. I've also signed up as an ISPA Regional Evangelist. This means that I'm making myself available to anyone out there interested in setting up a new SharePoint focused user group within Australia. Thankfully, I'm not the only one – Ed Richards in Melbourne and Ivan Brebner in Brisbane are also ISPA Regional Evangelists – it is a rather large country after all. I have yet to find out whether we get any badges or hats.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Moving Site Collections between Databases

Microsoft has recently released an update to the Central Administration site that makes it easy to move a Site Collection between different Content Databases. The Batch Site Manager can be very handy if you need to break up your content across multiple Content Databases – possibly sitting on different SQL Servers. The same tool also allows you to lock and delete site collections:

Friday, July 18, 2008

An RSS feed for a View

One of my clients came across this neat trick while we were figuring out the easiest way to extract an XML representation of some list data. The default URL for the RSS feed on a list is in the format:


Where <guid> is a unique identifier for the list or library that you are interested in. How do you find this value? Easy – if you access the site settings page for the list, you will see the appropriate value in the web address in your web browser.

Our issue was that this didn't return the set of records that we wanted. The client noticed some other URLs that I was using (based on using the owssvr.dll url protocol) had a View parameter, so he added it to the ListFeed.aspx link – and it worked!

So you can target a specific view in the list to get your RSS feed from. This makes your URL format:


Now, to get the unique identifier for the View, just go to the Settings page for the list and click on the name of the View. The web address displayed in your browser will include the View property. Copy and paste the whole address line into Notepad to extract the appropriate value – it's messy trying to do this directly on the browser address line.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Breaking Point

I'm just back from the Sydney SharePoint User Group session where I presented on how our company uses WSS to run the business. I showed how we do everything from invoicing, timesheeting, expense tracking and project management from within WSS. Particularly when it came to the financial tracking aspects, a common refrain was "Why Bother"? There are so many off-the-shelf packages that do this for you, why would you try building it yourself within WSS?

The answer is that we wanted to see if WSS could handle this. We wanted to know what the pain points are in trying to do this in a real-world scenario, using ourselves as the lab rats. Most of the time we are advising clients how they should be using SharePoint, but we never have to use those systems day-in-day-out. We felt that the experience we would gain from immersing ourselves in the product would stand to us when working with clients.

So what has it been like using WSS as a financial accounting system? Well, we like it, but we are biased. There are some elements that are clunky, but we hope to automate these in the near future. Granted, right now our requirements are relatively simple. This was another point that came up during the session – what happens when we reach "breaking point"?

I find this question particularly interesting. Quite a few people felt that as our business (hopefully) grows, we will reach a point where our WSS financial system will fall apart. I don't disagree. I'm not sure what that breaking-point is, but I think finding it will be a very valuable lesson. I think the biggest danger is that we won't recognize when we have reached that point and will continue this "experiment" beyond its best-before date.

Right now this lab-rat needs to get back into the maze and find out if anyone has moved my cheese.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Inside the Russian Dolls

The Sydney SharePoint User Group is having its July meeting on Tuesday the 15th. In addition to a Heroes Demo contest (details here), I'm going to be presenting on how our company has used Windows SharePoint Services.

When we set up SharePoint Gurus last year, we decided to try to run the whole business on WSS. This is a bit extreme, but we wanted to see what worked, what didn't – how far could we push the platform. So at the July User Group session I'll be demonstrating how we use SharePoint and discussing the benefits and pains.

If you are in town, come along to the Sydney Mechanics School of Arts at 280 Pitt Street. Doors open at 5:30pm and presentations begin at 17:45. For more information see

Thursday, July 03, 2008

CodePlex Project to create Sub Folders

I've just published a new CodePlex project. This is a utility application to create sub folders each month in a document library. You can schedule this to run each month against a particular document library. It will create a top-level folder with a name like YYYY-MM where YYYY is the current year and MM is the month (e.g. 2008-07). The year and month are based on the current date.

The application then reads an XML file to determine what subfolder structure to create underneath the Year-Month folder. This can include any number of folders and subfolders. You can also specify custom security for a particular folder. Here is an example of the contents within the XML file


<folder name="Music">


account="domain\my user name" access="contribute" />

account="domain\group name" access="read" />


name="Favourites" />

<folder name="Classics"/>


<folder name="Pictures">


account="domain\my user name" access="design" />



name="Videos" />



I'm interested to hear if others find this useful and whether people have suggestions on how the application can be improved. The project is available at Check out the other SharePoint related CodePlex projects – there is some fantastic stuff available here