Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Some lessons learned from a WSS 3.0 Cloud

Recently I worked on a migration on a WSS cloud provider. A lot of firms are offering hosted SharePoint clouds services. For many organisations this makes a lot more sense than having to build a SharePoint extranet on their own estate. You rent the service and can use a WSS site to share files securely with clients or customers.

The service we used was pretty good. We got a single WSS team site which we could edit as we pleased. But there were a number of hard lessons learned:

Don't assume anything

Ask you Cloud provider ever question you can imagine. Many of these services provide you a control panel that gives you very limited or bespoke functions. Be sure you have a SharePoint expert go over every step of creating a site to be sure you understand how the hosting company may have altered SharePoint.

Ask about mail notification

Our business requirements had mail notifications as a nice to have. Turned out the hosting company we had didn't even provide this as a possibility. Be sure that you ask if a SMTP server will be provided for mail notification and transactions.

Review the process for adding users to the AD

We had used the service for years as a WSS 2.0 implementation and requested a new WSS 3.0 site to replace the WSS 2.0 site. We had not thought to ask how a new site would authenticate, and it turned out the only way we could add users to the new site was via a control panel, which only allowed one entry at a time. With about 1,000 users this was a time consuming process involving filling out a series of forms for each user.

Understand what space limitations mean

Our provider promised a certain number of Gbs of storage. Lucky when we asked they assured us that it mean total documents not total database storage. If you buy 100 GB of total Database storage you may end up getting only 25 GB of database storage.

Check every site setting function

Likely there will be limits to the templates you can install, or the themes you can add. You should check with your hosting firm on everything you can add and edit, including master pages, layouts, templates, and even sub sites.

Confirm patch application procedures

It is worth knowing how patches are applied to the Cloud site. Patches should be pre-tested by the hosting firm before applied, but don't assume this will be the case.

WCAG 2.0 AA Out of the Box is NOT Enough

SharePoint 2010 Master pages and layouts are now WCAG 2.0 AA compliant, using div tags and producing XHTML.

But, don't assume that this means any site you create will also be compliant to AA standards. A site is only a collection of pages, and compliance is on the page level. Sadly, with SharePoint WCM and page editing it is possible to insert non-complaint and down right ugly code in to your SharePoint sites. I was just on a 2010 site and looking at the HTML I was happy to see that the tap and quick navigation were all managed by div tags. I also so a div tag for the main body, but inside this main div tag the developers had dropped a mass of HTML which included tables inside of tables inside of tables. The page as a whole was not proper XHTML and not WCAG 2.0 AA or even A compliant.

When implementing a SharePoint site, especially a WCM section it is critical to put some review processes in place to insure that the content being created is as complaint as the OTB master pages. Don't assume that just having SharePoint 2010 will get you to AA compliance, you need to have complaint content creation as well.

Make sure PC and Macs don't fuel conflicts for minerals

Monday, 28 June 2010

Value of AJAX to SharePoint 2010

SharePoint 2010 developer need to insure that they have solid values for AJAX features, and not just use them for the sake of using them.

Facebook "like" in SharePoint

Recently the term "facebook-like" is being used businesses. For any SharePoint administrator confronted with a requirement to create a "facebook-like" solution for thier users, the keys are SharePoint 2010, Office Communication Server and Exchange Server.

Together they offer Collaboration, WCM, Bloggings, Wikis, microblogging, IM, emai, socail computing and VoIP. You can give your organisation a single location from their unified communications, collaboration, and community with the Microsoft stack.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

SharePoint 2010 User Experience, a brave new world!

SharePoint 2010 introduces a number of enhancements to the end user experience.

The new SharePoint UI will produce XHTML, presenting content in div tags rather then the nested tables of SharePoint 2007.

This will enhance accessibility to WCAG 2.0 AA standards. Use of Div also enhance the ability of search engines to index data.

The new SharePoint UI brings in AJAX, allowing continual flow back and forth of data from the browser to the back system.

This replaces SharePoint 2007 need to constantly be post back to the server.

The new UI is also more fluid to edit for the user, introducing a Ribbon like Office 2007 for editing and removing the need to work with a set of web parts.

The Ribbon will me that users, and even administrators, will have to spend less time fishing around for the functions they need.

Replacing a page of web parts with a single Office document like design interface will make it easier for users to edit the pages.

Now one of the things we always heard about SharePoint 2003 and 2007 is that users found them very easy to use. So you might wonder why bother make such changes to the UI.

The key element to consider is that a UI should not only be easy to use but powerful as well.

Most traditional EMC systems were powerful but not easy to use. This meant that they were generally only take up by a small set of skilled experts who could do a lot with them.

SharePoint 2007 UI went to the other end and introduced a UI that was easy to use but not powerful. This meant that a lot of staff took up SharePoint, but it limited what could be done with it.

SharePoint systems were often limited to documents shares, WCM intranets, and exposing links and lists of data.

The technology behind the SharePoint 2007 UI made it very difficult to modify the UI. Anything beyond basic branding could be very time consuming.

So though the SharePoint 2007 has proven very easy to use for certain key tasks like document sharing, it has proven hard to enhance to other tasks and hard to integrate to a larger set of system.

SharePoint 2007 has also proven very hard to build rich real time experiences that we see in sites like Flickr, Facebook, any of the other Web 2.0 sites.

Microsoft has clearly taken notice of the rich interface of Facebook and has provided a number of new features to making creating new SharePoint bases interfaces that are more powerful much easier.

These include AJAX, which allows real time flow of information between the browser and the back end data. This will reduce the need for so many post backs. It will also create a smoother experience for the user. And AJAX will greatly increase the power you can build in to SharePoint sites. AJAX means you will be able to interact with several different data sources and systems using Web Services in the browser.

SharePoint now has an extended JavaScript API which allows you to interact with most of the Objects in a SharePoint. Now you can access and manipulate data and objects in SharePoint with JavaScript in the same way you have been able to do in the DOM for years.

Designers will also be happy to learn that Microsoft has introduced new Master Pages including a simple master page which will make it much easier to write custom SharePoint pages. Many developers found it very hard to work with the master page that came with SharePoint 2010.

Also with XHTL using div tags replaicng HTML using tables for layout it is going to be much easier to build sites for mobile devices. Lack of mobile presence has been a read problem with previous SharePoint. With the new SharePoint UI it will be much easier to build simpler XHTML pages that will show up in more mobile devices.

Now nothing comes for free and the main prices many organisations will have to say for SharePoint 2010 UI will be the need to go off IE 6. But given IE 6 security issues this is something that they should do anyways.

Now what about organisations which have invested large amounts in creating rich SharePoint 2007 interfaces: does this mean that they need to simply throw away their work?

Well the answer is no, SharePoint 2010 will continue with a version of the same default master page as in 2007 available. Now this has been altered slightly so you will have to do some test and redesign, but in most cases it will be a migration task rather than an extensive transformation task.

So with the new UI in SharePoint 2010 your developers will be able to create very rich interactive environments that will more closely meet your business requirements. With 2010 SharePoint fully enters the world of Web 2.0 interface design.

Friday, 25 June 2010

Thomas Hawk's petition for Flickr

This is a simple petition where people can add their name to request that Flickr stop the practice of deleting accounts without warning. Our online lives are valuable and deserve due process.

We have outlined a due process procedure in this group whereby Flickr marks a perceived offender's account as private for a one week period, during which time an individual would be given an opportunity to take self corrective action to avoid the permanent deletion of their Flickr account.

This simple change in policy would be a win win. A win for Flickr who wishes to immediately address potential photostream content issues and a win for the user who is given an opportunity at a minimum to preserve and download their content off of Flickr's servers and to bring their account into compliance with Flickr for an opportunity to continue on as part of this great community that we all share.

Please add your name and a link to your flickrstream to this thread as a comment.

Flickr should adopt Due Process for user community

Many of you who use Flickr may know that people are deleted without any warning or justification given, and can not appeal. I support the following principles:

1. Flickr should implement a policy of warning before deletion for all accounts not in violation of civil or criminal law.

2. Flickr should implement a policy of review after deletion providing the opportunity for a site to confirm to ToS in order to restore site and content as was.

3. Flickr should provide the means for users not in violation of civil or criminal law to download the metadata, tags, discussions and other content that was produced by them on Flickr before deletion.

4. Flickr should make an effort to have a more consistent and open Due Process of enforcement of ToS.

5 Flickr should provide specific ToS violations for deletions upon each deletion.

It is not only the case that these principles will satisfy the demands of many Flickr users, but would also build a greater degree of trust between Flickr's content producing community and the company.

These concepts are in fact in the best interest of all involved. The existence of Due Process regarding enforcement and deletion of accounts not in violation of criminal or civil law will build a greater degree of trust by users.

Content producers will have more trust that Flickr is a service that can be trust. This could help slow the flow of users to other services that has so harmed Flickr in past years.

Also opening Due Process would improve overall enforcement of standards. Presently Flickr is dependent upon a small hand full of administrators with limited time and resources. Administrator decisions are entirely secret. By opening process of review of the community Flickr can establish a greater form of Open and more democratic governance without having to expand total cost of operations.

Open Due Process will also improve the security and safety of all users.

Join the debate

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Podcasting Kit for Sharepoint

Podcasting Kit for Sharepoint: "Download the PKS August 2009 Beta Release:"

This is the CodePlex page for people who want to podcast with SharePoint. There are issues with it on 2010 so you might want to hold off on this.

Podcasting has some great potential for companies. But keep in mind a podCast is a great deal more effort than a blog, and for most intranets a blog will do in place of a podCast.

Installing KB938444 - Microsoft SharePoint Team Blog - Site Home - MSDN Blogs

Installing KB938444 - Microsoft SharePoint Team Blog - Site Home - MSDN Blogs: "We’ve been tracking a small number of customers that have experienced issues after installing KB938444 through Windows Update.�
After the reboot at the end of installation we’ve had reports of Windows SharePoint Services sites and Central Administration being inaccessible with the error, “HTTP 404”, “Server Error: …” or “Cannot connect to the configuration database”.
This issue only affects Windows SharePoint Service v3 standalone installations that use the Windows Internal Database (wYukon) and does not affect SharePoint or user data.�
If after applying KB938444 you hit one of the errors described above you will need to run psconfig from an administrator command prompt as detailed below to complete the update.
psconfig -cmd upgrade -inplace b2b -wait –force
The Windows Small Business Server team have a blog post detailing this, and some other SBS specific steps, that relate to this issue here (By default SBS ships with WSS configured to use wYukon).
KB938444 is an important security update and we recommend installing it as soon as possible."

Major IU and UX changes coming to Microsoft Stack

Before I started working with SharePoint I was a Web Developer. Back in 2003 the web development community was very excited about CSS, Ajax, Div tags over tables, and JavaScript enabled rich UIs. I used to developed N tier systems that ran on ASP or Java that used Flash as the UI, connecting via XML to data classes and giving real time interfaces.

Then I started working on SharePoint 2003 and ASP.NET Web Forms.

In a way this was a great liberation enabling me to make solutions for clients in days when it used to take weeks. But the cost was I was presenting HTML with nested tables and terrible CSS classes to my users. Changing the CSS classes in MOSS 2007 was harder than it should be, and the master page was very difficult to bring up to Web 2.o standards of divs, Ajax and JavaScript. Efforts to make MOSS 2007 UI WCAG 2 AA compliant were rare and expensive.

With 2010 Microsoft has opened the potential to better Web 2.0 interface design. Key new UI and UX features from Microsoft include:

1. SharePoint 2010 new UI which embraces WCAG 2 AA standards, XHTML, and Ajax. This requires that firms upgrade from IE 6 but they should anyways. Ajax gives the new SharePoint web pages modal dialogs, inline editing, and less post backs. For developers it opens the possibility to develop richer Web Parts and Master pages that meet users requirements better than the old SharePoint OTB. With MOSS 2007 design was generally restricted to new colors and graphics, but with 2010's master pages and XHTML you can produce much richer UI.

Div tags were easier for search engines to find and I often wonder how much of MOSS 2007's bad search is the engine and how much is the HTML it had to read.

It was my experience that making MOSS 2007 look and feel better was very difficult. Sometimes you would take a design and implement it in SharePoint, a very painful process. Then as you used the new design you would find that it worked okay for document libraries but not blogs or wikis. Since they shared Masterpages and CSS this could be a real problem. I hope this all improves with more master pages including simple master pages which are almost blank for developers to work with.

2. Silverlight, let me be clear here, Silverlight 4 is not up to Adobe Flash standards. If you are just looking for animations and interactions you should probably stay with Flash. But Silverlight's does allow you to create much more interactive, animated and gradated designs with ASP.NET. It also allows for rapid rich UI prototype development. Personally I don't think Silverlight will have a very long life with HTML 5 coming out, but it is there.

3. ASP.NET MVC. Now this one rocks, but it will take a long time to learn. ASP.NET Web Forms gave you great acceleration tools for creating web designs. In ASP if you want to display data you had to pass the data to a loop and have the loop write out a table or set of div tags to display the data. With ASP.NET you got the Data Grid. You could place a Data Grid on your web part of ASPX page and link it to a data source. It made things much easier. Thing is Data Grid rendered as a table. So you made a trade off. Generally time lines are too tight to abandon the Data Grid to make a better display by hand.

MVC is a new framework with ASP.NET 4. The concept is to allow you a more fine grained control over the HTML and XHTML you produce. It means a bit more work up front, but the UI experience is much richer.

Microsoft has clearly learned from Ruby on Rails and MVC is continually being compared to that framework. I have a strong concern that developers will stick with Web Forms, but if you want a AJAX based rich UI with clean XHTML code you should take the time to learn MVC.

Flickr's future is 1990

Trying out Flickr's new "interface" was just a bunch of useless pop up with ads coming at me. I remember we tried this with JavaScript in 1999 and it was taken down then. For years Flash was a dirty word among web users because of this kind of in your face advertising. The site makes me actually want to kill and the panda.
Posted by Picasa

Friday, 18 June 2010

The wonderful anarchy of the web, this image comes up top on Google Image Search for my name


Just when I worked so hard to insure I came up top semantically under "Robert Hooker" after years of being second to a born again preacher now I find that though I own the word phrase "Robert Hooker" I don't own the image.

Well actually this is a very amusing photo to have pop up under your name. Kind of one of those tests of your sense of humor that life throws at you I guess.

Creating a modal dialog with SharePoint 2010

SharePoint 2010 introduces modal dialogs

SharePoint 2007 UI was something out of 1998 (sorry Violet Blue for stealing that joke). The kinds of issues that clients raised with me in 1999: screen blinks, page changes, confusing history, were all their in SharePoint 2007 in spades. SharePoint 2007 with essentially an IE 6 tool, and lacked the "Web 2.0" UI and UX technology that we have all grown to love in Flickr, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, Foursquare, Yelp.....

SharePoint 2010 introduces the ability to creates more AJAX interactions and less JavaScript. In this demo I will show the foundations for putting modal dialogs that don't post back in to SharePoint 2010 sites.

With the new SharePoint master pages you have a great deal of new JavaScript functions that allow you to code UI's for SharePoint. In this example we use the SP.UI namespace. This namespace has a class called Dialog. You will be creating an instance of Dialog and setting its properties. You will then show it and close it.

To demonstrate this you can create a SharePoint page in SP 2010 that will run our JavaScript. We can call it what ever we want.

This is done by using the a typical input button, and adding a Content Place holder at the top of your new page, just under the includes, to store Javascript.

SharePoint new JavaScript classes for UI allow you to write the following commands

var value = SP.UI.Screate_DialogOptionsDialog();
value.url = "" Place in valid URL
value.width = define width and height

Flickr may slowly be learning to understand Web 2.0

BBC News - Getty taps into Flickr snappers: "Flickr's 40 million registered users are being given the chance to make money out of their snaps."

Rober1236 Jua the Cyber Trekker of Second Life

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

BBC News - Microsoft slims down Xbox console

BBC News - Microsoft slims down Xbox console: "The new console - to be launched this week - will have the same price as the old system, but comes with Wi-Fi and a 250 GB HD.

It follows a similar move by Sony, which released its own slimmer edition in August 2009.

The announcement was made ahead of the E3 games convention in Los Angeles, at which the firm showcased its range of forthcoming games.

The event also saw the first public viewing of Call of Duty: Black Ops, the latest edition in the popular Call of Duty series.

The new edition is set during the Vietnam War and takes the players through the tunnels of South Vietnam and into the jungles of Laos.

The game will hit the shops on 9 November this year."

BBC News - Wikipedia unlocks divisive pages for editing

BBC News - Wikipedia unlocks divisive pages for editing: "The online encyclopaedia Wikipedia says it has taken an 'important step' towards making it easier to edit some of its most controversial articles.

Up to 2,000 articles, including a page about former US President George W Bush, will have their strict editing restrictions relaxed.

Users will now be able to submit changes to the selected pages for review by senior editors.

It is part of Wikipedia's ongoing efforts to curb vandalism of the site.

Wikipedia's founder Jimmy Wales told BBC News that the new system, called 'pending changes' will allow the site 'to open up articles for general editing that have been protected or semi-protected for years.

'That's what is exciting about this,' he said."

Rober1236 Jua the Cyber Trekker of Second Life

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Malware now reaches Linux

Every time I write about Windows security software, I get a predictable flood of responses from Linux advocates who claim that they don’t need any such protection. Today comes a shining example of why they’re wrong.
Linux infection proves Windows malware monopoly is over; Gentoo ships backdoor? [updated] | ZDNet

Linux and Apple are not more secure by nature, they are just smaller targets for virus producers. I remember once I read a Apple users on Flickr advice group telling people on Macs they don't have to worry about viruses. I have had viruses on several Mac machines over the years, and I have anti-virus on my Linux boxes. These systems unsecured are still unsecured and the only protection you get with them is that few malware developers would waste their time on a system that might get a few hundred thousand users globally.

Monday, 14 June 2010

One single master page now possible in 2010

In 2007 you could always alter the Master page, but any pages user administration pages would still keep the old standard page. Therefore users often saw 2 master pages. You could change this either by backing of the 12 hive and altering it, which might break given a future upgrade, or changing the mapping of the virtual folder in IIS to another virtual library, which meant you had to keep all you had two copies of the same code for a single master page.

I once had to deploy a solution this way and it was very tricky developing. Even worse was debugging, with 2 versions of the same styling in 2 different spots in was very complex to go from an error in the styling on page back to the virtual library or master page. The virtual library mapped in IIS had to be edited by a text editor!!! Slow painful work.

Now extending your site master pages to your user pages even those under the _layout directory is just a general setting in new Web Application. When you create a new web application SP 2010 asks you if it should extend the Master page to the _Layouts Pages, by clicking yes you ensure a consistent look a feel to all the pages your main users will ever see.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Just 2010

I am going to try to blog only about 2010 from now on. This is mostly because the 2010 UI and UX have finally caught up with the rest of the web. For about 6 years now as I have worked with SharePoint I have had to put my web designer hat away. Now with 2010 things I have been pushing out of my head about proper web for half a decade I can now openly think about. Now with SharePoint 2010 these proper methods are all coming together.

Monday, 7 June 2010

SharePoint Help — Blog — Building a SharePoint Service Application to Provide Auto-completion Services for AJAX-enabled Rich User Controls – Part 1

PSharePoint Help — Blog — Building a SharePoint Service Application to Provide Auto-completion Services for AJAX-enabled Rich User Controls – Part 1: "With each new release of SharePoint, Microsoft has managed to further improve this platform’s programmability, extensibility and manageability. Among many other exciting new features and capabilities, the new 2010 release of SharePoint now provides developers with ASP.NET AJAX as a first-class tool in our proverbial toolbox. AJAX has been around for some time now, and it is great to finally see both native and custom SharePoint applications will be enabled with the same rich, interactive user controls we’ve come to expect from quality browser-based applications. Yet another exciting technology that ships with SharePoint 2010 is the Service Application Framework. The Service Application Framework allows developers to create robust and scalable shared services which can be consumed by multiple SharePoint web applications"

This blog post shows just how rich the new AJAX enabled SharePoint UI is. Its time for SharePoint technologist to call up some of their old web development friends who took one look at 2007 and said "tables inside of tables inside of tables" and start developing SharePoint 2010 as a platform for rich web based technology. Maybe time for me to wear the old Microsoft Consultant suit less and put on some jeans and a designer T-Shirt as a "hip innovative Web Designer", because baby SharePoint 2010 has embraced the Web Studio Mac using cool elites best practices to provide a real web tool.

Master Pages and SharePoint 2010

SharePoint 2010 Themes and Resources for Upgrading a Custom Master Page - SharePoint Joel's SharePoint Land:

"SharePoint 2010 ships with both SharePoint 2007 master pages and page layouts as well as the new SharePoint 2010 master pages. One of the major things to be aware of is the build in minimalist masterpage a concept that grew up from the community in SharePoint 2010 with Heather Solomon. In the box you’ll find v4.master, default.master, and minimal.master. Default.master is the old masterpage if you just upgraded. v4.master is the new SharePoint 2010 master page with the ribbon and other visuals. The new minimal.master is as it self describes. It is has a minimal set of controls and no navigation. Developers especially those working with a complete custom design will be pleased with this design."

Microsoft has carried over the default master page from 2007. You will also be able to bring over any master pages you team has developed in SharePoint 2007 to run in SharePoint 2010. The users will see no change and it makes for a fairly quick migration.

But this would be a very short sighted win. v4.master and minimal.master are the two master pages you want to move your Enterprise to as soon as possible, and if possible you would be much better off rebuilding much of the logic and layout you may have already created in SharePoint 2007 by building new master pages with minimal.master.

Now this is that eternal gray area where business conflicts with technology. A business community might see it rather simply. Migration to 2010 will add better backup support and scalability but as long as SharePoint 2007 master pages can be imported over why waste the time and effort to just rebuild what you want in a new web page? It is a hard one to answer for a technologist. But SharePoint 2010 offers a lot of great advantages in the new master pages that would be well worth the time of converting.

Said simply SharePoint 2001, 2003 and 2007 used web page technology out of the late 1990s. SharePoint before 2010 used the table element as its principle tool of layout. A SharePoint 2007 portal OTB gave you a front page with tables inside of tables inside of tables. SharePoint 2010 moves to the use of DIV tags, which most of the rest of the web started doing around 2003. DIV tags have some significant business advantages you can make to the business, here quoted from a post back in 2003:

Why tables for layout is stupid: problems defined, solutions offered: Everything on one page):
  • make your pages load faster

  • lower your hosting costs

  • make your redesigns more efficient and less expensive

  • help you maintain visual consistency throughout your sites

  • get you better search engine results

  • make your sites more accessible to all viewers and user agents
  • "
Now only were SharePoint sites slow to download and search, but default.master SharePoint 2007 based pages keep you in to world of long post backs. Each time you do anything in a SharePoint 2007 site you need post a request back to the server, which needs to serve up another Table heavy page which is low to render. Modification to TABLE heavy pages can be extremely complex and working with the old default.master page was always a time consuming and deeply frustrating job. So SharePoint 2007 based master pages and layout elements will take up time on the server and time of the user.

The new SharePoint 2010 pages will load and render faster because of div tags. Because of AJAX and JavaScript their use will be more seamless and visually interesting. This also means less demand on your servers. Your development team will have less trouble creating new sites or editing old ones. Your business needs to be aware that sooner or later they will need to make the migration, and the longer they wait the more money will be wasted in resources, time, effort.

Perhaps the killer app is accessibility and search time. Accessible XHTML is not just easier for disabled individuals to use, it is much easier to different machines channels and search technology to use. My rule is that accessible documents are well formed documents with clear meaning. DIV tages not only break off content, but they can be richly tag in ways that make their meaning clear. They also offer much greater control of layout. Using JavaScript DIV tags can be turned on and off so your site becomes far more interactive.

With SharePoint 2010 Microsoft has finally caught up with most of the rest of the Web Development world. For a long time SharePoint could not carry its wait in the area of rich UI or UX. People who created very rich UI found they could not build on top of SharePoint. Now that has all ended.

Also I think not just with SharePoint, but introducing your entire firm to the accessibility of clearly defined content headings and labels will improve overall search of information, reduce content production, and make it far easier to re-skin content. Many firms have establish word templates with a great deal of styling and generally very confusing heading styles. These documents will also have embedded branding which is isolated in the document and multiplied by the billions in the company. Authors start working in the template, inheriting all these issues before they even being working. Formatting usually is only there for style and the logical nature of content is utterly lost. A well formed accessible document should use styles for sections like Header 1, Header 2, Header 3, Body, Quote, Strong, Reference, and Note. If you Word styles are not this clear or logical you are wasting money on storage, reducing search effectiveness, and making content migration harder.

I am personally extremely excited about all of this. For a long time Word and SharePoint were continuing some bad behaviours on document formation. Now with SharePoint embracing of XHTML and DIV tags, and Office 2007 and 2010 embracing XML standard of DOCX, your firm can have smaller documents, more reusable documents, documents easier to search, and easier to re-skin. In the modern world of business this will mean you can convert masses of binary data much faster in to the right answer. This is all inline with WC3 standards and can only benefit your firm.

I understand that all of this will take some time. But with the emerging Semantic Web and the flood of unformatted information coming in on firms, perhaps the time is right to fight this battle which started in the late 1990s.

Now there is going to be some training time as the Web Development community who have been using DIV tags and precise accessible lightweight designs with in page functionality discover that SharePoint 2010 opens all the Content Management, Enterprise Scale and acceleration tools to the higher end of development.

SharePoint 2010, what people are asking me and what I know. Get some answers

Here are some questions I have been asked about SharePoint. Here are some answers:

What is the difference between 2007 and 2010?

SharePoint 2010 is a significant evolution over 2007, but not a revolution. SharePoint 2007 was a radical change from 2003. This upgrade is much more of a natural evolution, building on the benefits of 2007, adding some new user interface features, and improving some back-end problems.

But there are some significant differences between the two. First SharePoint 2010 has greatly enhanced the web pages it creates. Microsoft has embraced many of the Web 2.0 features popular with sites like Facebook, Flickr, and Google docs. This gives a much more intuitive and seamless user interface. It also means that firms will finally have to upgrade from IE 6 to a 21st Century browser like Firefox 3.5 or IE 7 or later.

Also SharePoint 2010 now only runs on 64 bit servers. Many SharePoint 2007 builds used some or all 32 bit servers. This is no longer possible with SharePoint 2010 and the entire server farm will need to run 64 bit OS.

What impact will moving from 2007 to 2010 have on an organization?

That depends on how big and how customized your existing SharePoint 2007 solution is. If you are using a Out of the Box SharePoint 2007 with maybe a few hundred GB of data storage in SQL Server upgrade will be a matter of building the new server and moving the data over.

If you team has spend significant time creating your own Web Controls you should be able to migrate all to SharePoint 2010, but you will need to test each Web Control. Generally first maybe roll-out a few dozen such features at the most so this may not be a problem, but if you are company which has produced a large number of custom features in MOSS 2007 you could have a real headache.

Perhaps most serious is a SharePoint implementation that is highly customised. If you have written a lot of SharePoint 2007 master pages you can still use them as is in SharePoint 2010. But you then lose the accessibility improvements of 2010. And there is no guarantee that these 2007 master pages will be supported long in to the future. So you will want to get your design team to rebuild your old master pages in to new 2010 master pages using the much improve XHTML.

Microsoft has presented a paper on approach to migration. The key thing is that there is no single path to migration, and you are going to have to decide which strategic approach makes the most sense for your organization.

Also SharePoint 2010 is going to force an upgrade from IE 6. IE 6 is not supported for SharePoint 2010 so if a firm has a lot of IE 6 desktops a desktop refresh and/or upgrade will be in order.

What are new key benefit features of the 2010 output?

SharePoint 2010 has made extensive improvements to the user interface. This will make using and administer SharePoint much easier.

For users SharePoint has added a large number of "Web 2.0" tool and widgets that will make using the tool much easier. In the traditional SharePoint almost everything you did involved needed to send a request back to the server. This is experienced as a blink and reload of the page and has been for years a major complaint of users. SharePoint 2010 users technologies like AJAX to allow you to make changes to your content without having to leave your page.

This will make for a much smoother use of the tool. The user will have a lot more smaller windows popping up on the page rather than having to change pages.

For the administrators and power users SharePoint introduces a top ribbon like the Office 2007 and Office 2010 ribbon. This, and a more logical central administration tool will make it much easier to remember what are key tools and where they are.

SharePoint has also enhanced its soical networking tools and metadata tools. It will now be possible to get everyone in the company using the same hierarchy of key concepts to tag their data.

What will 2007 experts need to learn for 2010?

Experts will find the core of SharePoint 2010 very similiar to SharePoint 2007 and will have very little effort to start creating and editing sites in the new tool. SharePoint 2010 introduces two things that SharePoint experts didn't have to know in 2007. Firstly the user interface uses lots of JavaScript, AJAX and additional Web 2.0 UI tools that Web Developers have been using for years, but which SharePoint developers could be happily unaware of. This all changes, and the SharePoint expert should learn more about XHTML, JavaScript, and AJAX.

SharePoint 2010 also provides a large number of ECM tools that earlier version did not have. From a central hub it is now possible to create and deploy fileplans throughout the Enterprise. This is old stuff of traditional EDRMS and ECM developers but it totally new in SharePonit 2010 and will require some learning.

The largest change will be learning to work with the ribbon, but that is no harder than going from Office 2003 to Office 2007.

Will companies be able to avoid an upgrard and stay with 2007?

Yes, for a while. Probably it is not a good idea to migrate until the first or second service pack are released. But in time the upgrade is inevitable. SharePoint 2007 should not be looked at as a product like Windows XP which will have a decade long life. SharePoint 2007 will almost certainly be out of service by 2015. So sooner or later all firms will have to update.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Review of Out of the Box SharePoint 2010

First and foremost, ftom the UI side this is just SharePoint 2007 trying to look more like Facebook or Flickr. The UI now uses a number of new AJAX and other Web 2.0 interfaces. So if you are a old hand at SharePoint 2007 there is very little to learn. For a new users it might be a bit easier to learn.

Actually the experience that is going to help the most would be going from Office 2003 to Office 2007. SharePoint 2010 will only run in IE versions above 6 and need JavaScript. This gives you the ability to add, out of the box, is a lot more user functions. In line editing adds a lot. But things like calculated fields are just as ugly as ever.

Beyond the interface there is not much new to SharePoint 2010 UI. The have added more records management features up front like holds and locations. But overall working with the logic and limits of SharePoint list is just as frustrating as ever. Most features seem to be the same.

But the new UI will make selling this to your CIO or business much easier. It gives you a lot more good Web 2.0 UI and Web 2.0 like eBay, Google Docs, MySpace, and Flickr. The new ribbon control makes it much easier to find the SharePoint features. I always hated the fact that service features in 2007 seem almost randomly arrayed in the menu items.

BBC News - Is YouTube's three-strike rule fair to users?

BBC News - Is YouTube's three-strike rule fair to users?:

"'Until I lost 900 videos, I never actually considered there was anything unsafe about trusting a company such as Google to protect my data. After all, who keeps photos in a shoebox anymore?'
Blogger Mark Kobayashi-Hillary has had his YouTube account removed after uploading a video from a gig by British comedian Jimmy Carr.
'As we all sat down I thought I'd capture the build up and rising expectations on my mobile phone video camera,' he said.
'I posted the video [on YouTube] of the audience and told friends on my blog how funny it was.'
Despite the comedian or his work being absent from the video, his management company decided to complain to YouTube's owners Google.
A letter was sent to Mr Kobayashi-Hillary explaining he had breached copyright 'multiple' times and his account was being closed.
Google wrote: 'When we're notified that a particular video uploaded to our site infringes another's copyright, we remove the material as the law requires.'
The company operates a three-strike policy so a user is removed from their site after three complaints by copyright holders."

The danger of filters and other social engineering projects on the web

Some time back Flickr introduced a program of "moral management" via filtering system. The idea what that "community standards" were going to be maintained as the technology went global.

The scope and hubris of such a venture would only be possible for a firm like Yahoo. For a while the program seemed to keep a number of people employed at a company facing cut backs, but in time the team seems to have run out of budget and time.

What a heavy handed admin effort like this left a culture of mistrust between users and the service and frankly a lot more raunchy porn than they ever had before. The policy of Flickr seemed to be follow our rules or use the other photo sharing service. This may have worked well enough in 2006 but in 2010 its a suicide pact.

The above picture was accessed via a unlogged Flickr page, I show it here because this is what Flickr will show children logging in from any computer anywhere who go to this web page. So much for a "safe experience" that meets "global standards"

The lesson here is that you can't simply impose rules upon a community because you hire a "community manager" to run your project. Users have minds of their owns and if they see your rules as too much trouble or in their way they will figure out ways to get around them, or even be hostile.

So for example in SharePoint, if you have an existing long established SharePoint project that is using up too much space on your SQL blades I would strongly suggest you not hire a team to impose some new rules on users who have been suing SharePoint for years. This will be seen as just result in a "user revolt" and you are unlikely to find any improvement. Users will find examples of senior staff not following the rules themselves or just distribute tricks for getting around them.

Much better is to find ways to reduce pain to users of reducing retention. For example users generally don't care very much about Word documents for 2 years ago. Rather than suddenly imposing strict limits on how users can use SharePoint today, better to dispose information which has been sitting dead for a long time, or is owned by people who no longer work with the organisation.

Probably the main lesson is think twice before giving a freedom to users, because it will be costly if not impossible to take it away. Once user see they can use SharePoint to solve their problems it stops really being owned by IT.

You need to work with users, establish working groups that discuss recommendations and receive user feedback. Look for ways that meet technology requirements while meeting governance and user desires. Try to make yourselves as end user focused as you can.

Also be honest, maybe users simply should not have SharePoint for their jobs. I personally think the idea that Flickr could off a safe experience for children to be one of the stupidest ideas I have ever heard. Parents should use their own desktop filter systems if they are really worried about what children see and Flickr should be banned. Restrictions on under 18 web access are probably the best way to preserve liberties and work to reduce crime. In the same way maybe giving 80,000 users OTB SharePoint is not such a great idea.
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I click on the SharePoint 2010 Admin New Web Server button and nothing happens

SharePoint 2010 uses a the "ribbon" we first saw in Office 2007. The thing is the ribbon requires JavaScript be enabled so that functions can be done without post-back. This probably is not so bad for users but it can be a major problem for admins.

For example I am remoting in to a jump off server to access the SharePoint 2010 dev box we have. I don't have rights to alter my browsers security setting on that box and so I can't really do anything other than look. I was suppose to demonstrate building new sites in SharePoint 2010 but the ribbon does not work without JavaScript.

The server is locked down and I have to put in a request for get JavaScript enabled on the jump off box I am logging in to. This will take several weeks and is likely to be rejected.

For most users who have admin rights on their box this can be resolved by setting the browser setting. But the key security issue here, and one that is troubling, is that a server browser needs JavaScript. Maybe 5 years ago this would have been a problem, but I would hope almost all security teams have made peace with JavaScript everywhere by now.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

BBC News - Hewlett-Packard to cut 9,000 jobs worldwide

The end result of systems like SharePoint, no one should fool themselves. The current trend towards collaboration, business solution and "Cloud" computing. One of the things that early Internet based developers always imagined was it would bring about a massive boom, which it has for some. But I remember in 1999 outlining that there would be 2 Internet busts. First the people who went in too early would get burned, then the people who didn't get in would be burned. I think we are seeing the people who never aligned their skills facing some hard times, and businesses that don't use this technology will be in very dire straits.

BBC News -
Hewlett-Packard to cut 9,000 jobs worldwide
: "Hewlett-Packard (HP) says it
plans to spend $1bn (£686m) and shed 9,000 jobs over three years as it creates
fully-automated commercial data centres.
HP, the world's largest technology
company by sales, says the job cuts will be the result of productivity gains and

Just got an iPad, apple has won this one.

A few months ago I sketched out how I saw the "slate" space working out. I saw that there was a device between the smartphone and the PC that could be just right. That this space would be a critical battle between Apple, Microsoft and Google and at stake was a large part of the ownership of the web.

Well, having just gotten my iPad I can say Apple has clearly won this round. I know that this is an initial battle, but the failure of years of Microsoft's effort to establish this space followed by the sudden explosion of Apple really makes me think.

I have a 25 year love-hate relationship with Apple. 2009 was a hate year, 2010 is turning out to be a love year. So my opinions on Apple tend more to be a function of if I have gotten something new of if the last new thing broken suddenly after coming out of support.

So I find myself in awe using a device that is just simply perfect in so many ways. And I wonder, has Microsoft really dropped the ball in some way? Their tablet really "sucked balls." Only South Park level language can really describe how failed Microsoft efforts on the tablet were.

And then along comes the iPad, and it just changes every one's idea of what a computer can be over night.

I know that I am selling tons of SharePoint and I have enough work to do for two people putting the system in. Companies are signing up for the Microsoft stake in droves. But is this just feasting on a dead corpse? Has Microsoft fundamentally missed something about the future direction of the Internet?

All I know is I love my iPad. But I have to remember I love my Windows 7 30 inch touch screen as well.