Monday, July 20, 2009

Sydney SharePoint User Group July 2009

The next SharePoint User Group in Sydney is on Tuesday 21 July 2009. John Liu will talk about his experiences developing SharePoint Websites. Learn about how John deploys solutions from development to production, living with CAML, what 3rd party tools he uses and what you will need when SharePoint 2010 comes along.

The user group meets at the Sydney Mechanics School of Arts at 280 Pitt Street. Doors open at 5:30pm and all are welcome. For more details see

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A SQL Server at every port

I'm no firewall expert, or a SQL expert, but I'm not going to let those things stop me handing out advice on how you should configure your firewall or SQL configuration! I recently ran into a problem with getting a SharePoint Server to communicate with the SQL Server on a brand new installation. I turned off the Windows Firewall on the SQL Server and everything worked fine. Now, while I did mention that I'm no expert on firewalls, I know enough to realize that keeping the firewall turned off is not the best approach.

Usually SQL Server communicates through port 1433. Looking at the server's firewall configuration I could tell that port was opened. So how come I still couldn't access the database from a remote machine? The Windows Firewall with Advanced Security management console allows you to turn on logging of dropped packets. By using this I figured out that my SharePoint server was trying to access port 61683. Well, OK, I opened up that port by creating a new Inbound Port rule for TCP traffic.

That did it, my SharePoint Server was able to chat away to my SQL Server and off I went on my merry way. But I couldn't rest easy at night. Why port 61683? My searches on the internet brought back no real references to that port number. So I searched the registry on the SQL Server for "61683" and lo-and-behold, there it was – TCPDynamicPorts buried deep under the HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Microsoft SQL Server hive. This led me to the MS Support article How to configure an instance of SQL Server to listen on a specific TCP port or a dynamic port.

Yes indeed, the SQL Server was using a Named Instance. It seems that the default configuration for this means that SQL searches for a free port number to make the named instance available on. This dynamic allocation of a port number is not great from a firewall configuration perspective. Luckily you can change the configuration to use a static IP address. Look up the topic How to: Configure a Server to Listen on a Specific TCP Port (SQL Server Configuration Manager) in SQL Books Online (here's the SQL 2008 link). You can then set the firewall on the SQL Server without fear that the port will change randomly the next time your SQL instance restarts.

One final note – from what I have read, your SQL firewall should also have a rule to allow access to the SQL Browser application. This is how remote computers can find out what port your named instance is on. Checking the SQL Server in my environment, there is a rule called SQL Browser that allows the application C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft SQL Server\90\Shared\sqlbrowser.exe.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

SharePoint 2010 Now Showing

Want to get a peek at what the new version of SharePoint 2010 looks like? Well then pop over to and view the videos.

There are three different videos - an overview, IT Pro (i.e. administrator) and Developer. All up, it is about an hour of footage.

As they stress several times in the video, this is beta so there is a good possibility that some of the details will change between now and the release. Also, Microsoft aren't saying what features will be available in the different versions of the product (WSS, SharePoint Standard, SharePoint Enterprise). They generally don't make this information available until just before the release.

Here are some of the highlights I picked up from watching the footage:

  • Ability to perform an action on multiple documents at the one time (like check-out or delete)

  • Many UI operations are now asynchronous, so you can get on with the next task without waiting for your last command to complete

  • SharePoint gets the Ribbon - if you haven't been using Office 2007 then you are missing out on how beneficial this really is. It makes it much easier to see what you can do with whatever you are working on, such as a list item, document, text or picture. You can also turn off the Ribbon if you want to maintain the same UI as the current product

  • The text formatting toolbar no longer floats AND it stays visible at the top of the page. In the current version this toolbar disappears as you scroll down through your text

  • Unattached Content Database Recovery. I can't wait to try this. It should make disaster recovery a lot less of a disaster

  • SharePoint Workspace - could this make Groove relevant again? It gives you the ability to take part of your site offline and sync back up when you are next connected

  • Central Admin - logging to SQL AND can be extended to include your own log entries. I must admit I never did like those text files that 07 writes to. Give me SQL tables over that any day.

There's lots more of interesting content in the videos, I think the next year will be a fascinating time in the SharePoint world