Long time no… …post?

Dear reader,

Microsoft Office Sharepoint 2007

Microsoft Office Sharepoint 2007

Ok, now it has officially been “a while” since my last post. But as always, there is a relatively good reason for that. Lately I have been very busy with the launch of my very first MOSS project. This has definitely been a big learning process for me and more than ever I think I’ve learnt the hard way. There have been quite a few obstacles on the way and the project has lasted from late 2006, so the way has been quite a long one.

I thought shortly mentioning some of the key points and problems in bullets might be of help to others, so ‘ere goes:

  • Think about the architecture before asking for an ITT. Since the cost of MOSS enterprise license is high, you might end up with multiple times the cost given on the ITT if you have to scale out the architecture. Remember that MOSS is an enterprise solution – b2c companies (and probably even b2b) cannot handle their traffic with a single-server farm.
  • Telerik RadControls are a nice addition to the MOSS GUI and give a good deal of configurability to the editor. I love the combination of being able to limit fonts and sizes and the excellent format stripper for stripping out horrible Word tags that evidently will sooner or later find their way on your website. However there are some problems in RadControls that can make content production a bit hard:
    • Reusable Content does not work correctly if Telerik RadControls is installed. This can be a showstopper to some. Anyway, at least it’s good to know beforehand. We didn’t. The real unfortunate part is that it seems like Telerik might not be able to fix this at all. This reusable content problem is discussed in Telerik forums: thread 1, thread 2 and in my blog.
    • There are also a couple of smaller bugs that can still be a bit challenging for content editors who are not very experienced. See my blog: post 1 and post 2.
  • MOSS is hot right now. This means that at least in a country as small as Finland, the good consultants, developers and architects are scarce and overbooked. Be alert for multiple interest groups and partners in the project, managing them is a nightmare.
  • Make sure anything of importance gets documented. This belongs to project management fundamentals, but cannot be stressed enough. It tends to be forgotten as soon as deadlines close in. Also, to be able to accurately document needs, requirements, who has requested them and if the request was accepted, will greatly help in the project.
  • Specify your form needs beforehand and specify them well. InfoPath 2007 might sound tempting but using it requires licenses and deploying the forms might be really difficult depending on the form functionalities, MOSS customization and probably the star constellations. If your target is to have many many people edit and create forms, InfoPath might not be a good choice if the editors are not well-versed in web mysteries. Good suggestions for using forms with MOSS are appreciated…

Back from Frankfurt

Dear reader,

FrankfurtI spent the last week on a work trip in Frankfurt, Germany in which I, along with two other people, trained MOSS 2007 and general web content principles to our Area Office web staff.
The training was far from being free of problems, so I thought I’d post a couple of the issues here for food of thought if your company is going through similar trainings:

  • First of all, make sure your MOSS server has the best CPU on the market and as much memory as possible. Ours clearly didn’t, which resulted in that when 20 people tried to log in and create or edit pages, the server just crashed and had to be rebooted. Note to self: the Microsoft recommendations are not enough.
  • With Japanese keyboard the Telerik RAD editor did not accept any keys in some circumstances.
  • On some occasions the link and image wizard tools in Telerik editor did not work. Initially I thought this was only on an XP + IE 6 combinations, but later on we found that IE 7 had similar problems as well.

Apart from these, the training was succesful and I was particularly glad that I for once had a slot in which to train the very basic web principles. I mean really basic, but absolutely fundamental stuff, such as image size and resolution in web use, search engine optimization with text content, how to use tables, etc. Gladly, after the training, we also had a few hours to spend in Frankfurt city as well.

Silverlight blueprint for SharePoint

Dear reader,

Just a short note this time: Microsoft has announced the Silverlight blueprint for SharePoint today. It contains source code and guidance for developers working with Silverlight on websites and webparts.

MOSS buzz

There’s quite a buzz going on about Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 (MOSS 2007) in the world right now.

Microsoft must be quite pleased — judging from the amount of communications and marketing — about the fact that their 2008 MOSS conference at Seattle was sold out with over 3,200 registered people.

The last time I went to a .NET course at FC Sovelto in December 2007, there were 4 or 5 MOSS courses going on at the same and I bet that’s 10 – 20% of all the simultaneously ongoing courses in the company!

There’s also recently been quite a lot of demand for MOSS 2007 specialists in the Finnish as well as international job advertisements and I believe the platform has spread worldwide like plague (but in a good way :-).

All this is good to know, because even if the system is a great enterprise platform (at least when combined with Dynamics CRM for customer relationship management and BizTalk for defining and deploying the business logic), it is still not a perfect product. And in this case I believe there to be strenght in numbers: the more people there are complaining about MOSS’s certain bugs or missing features, the more likely they will come in a future SP or main release.

Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 user survey

Dear Reader,

Microsoft has released a MOSS 2007 user survey yesterday in order to further develop future MOSS versions. I’m being positive here and think answering might make a difference, so please go on and fill the survey (and remember to nag about the bugs and other still missing or badly thought-out features)!

Direct link: To the survey.

Problem with Telerik RadEditor for MOSS 2007

Dear reader,

One of the great aspects of internet is that whenever you have a problem, you can always Google it down and search for other people having the same problem, and perhaps even a solution for it (at least, if you were intelligent enough to invest on things other people use as well).

The Problem

Telerik RadEditor for MOSS 2007Last week I found out that an important MOSS feature called reusable content did not work at all in Telerik’s RadEditor for MOSS 2007. This editor is an add-on to MOSS, replacing the native content editor.

Otherwise the Telerik editor is a gem, because unlike the standard MOSS editor, it allows a lot more configuring and for instance, provides an easy way of attaching flash content to a page, for a not-yet-guru-level web content feeder.

As unfortunate as it is that the RadEditor is for now not able to support reusable content, it is nice to know I’m not alone with this problem, though. I hope it does not take long for the next release, which hopefully also will carry a fix to this bug!

There have, however, been other smaller bugs as well with the editor. For example, paragraphing is not very logical in the ‘WYSIWYG mode’. Pressing enter in it creates a <br /> line break, as does pressing shift + enter. But pressing ctrl + enter creates two <p></p> <p></p> paragraphs. Hmm…

Reusable Content

Reusable content is a MOSS 2007 feature used to insert a sort of a dynamic section in the midst of other content, and whenever you edit the item in question in the reusable content list, it is updated everywhere it is used in. A lot better solution compared to using e.g. a single html file shown in an iFrame on many pages, as used to be the case in a certain company.

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