Collaboration

A word about SharePoint Server


Microsoft's big push with Office 2007 doesn't seem to be the suite itself but rather, SharePoint, which first showed up with Office 2003. SharePoint is a sever technology that allows organizations to share vital data more easily.

In a nutshell, you publish a document to the SharePoint server and authorized users interact with the document. From a user standpoint, I suppose it's a little like having a virtual secretary. Although, installing the system is a huge undertaking. In truth, it’s an entire application development platform. Most users will never need it.

With 2003, licensing was expensive. I've heard this is no longer the case, but I haven't verified it. If, however, your organization has been thinking about SharePoint, you might want to look at Microsoft's 30-day evaluation offer available as a free download at:

http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=67f93dcb-ada8-4db5-a47b-df17e14b2c74&displaylang=en&tm

Since I don't have the experience to help anyone on this subject, I'm going to invite a colleague and friend of mine, Martin Reid to join the discussion. Martin's in the process of overseeing the installation of SharePoint for the Queens University in Belfast, Ireland. Perhaps he'll have something of value to add to the discussion. If I can coax him into the discussion, I'm sure he'd be glad to answer a few questions on the subject.

About

Susan Sales Harkins is an IT consultant, specializing in desktop solutions. Previously, she was editor in chief for The Cobb Group, the world's largest publisher of technical journals.

12 comments
CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

We have a Sharepoint server up and running, with one existing application. Both of the people involved in setting it up have left. I've taken on the task of building some sort of collaboration site for our support desk team but I have two problems. First, I've never seen or used a collaboration site. Second, I'm having a hard time finding documentation telling me how to get started building such a site. Any suggestions? Yeah, I know that's a very vague question. I'm looking for 'nuts and bolts' details: click here, supply this information, copy this file to this location, etc. Thanks.

martinreid
martinreid

Hi Susan Microsoft Office Server 2007 (SharePoint) is a huge bit of software and for me anyway 30 days was no where near enough to test it out. MOSS touches so many things particulary at the enterprise lever, for example the Active Directory and SQL Server, you would need much more time for a serious look at this serious software. For those people who just want to see what it is and what it does then perhaps this virtual machine would be useful. For serious consideration at the business or enterprose level then it would be much better for Microsoft to do as they do with other products and prove a VM that systems and developer staff can play about with for a few months. In saying that if this is your first introduction to SharePoint then it is better than nothing and worth downloading just for the hands on you will get. On the other subject, I am happy to try and assist any reader with MOSS issues. I think a blogg aimed at the standard user is long over due. There are many excellent technical SharePoint bloggs out there but little aimed at the user. So if any MOSS users (and pros) are out there feel free to fire a few queestions this way and Susan and I will do our best to assist you. Finally I would say get used to working with Office applications on the web, it looks like this could well be the future for Office users and developers.

TQ66
TQ66

Sharepoint is usually easy to customise (once you get past the unintuitive install and setup), and is great for collaboration and ISO implementation - get people to put important detail in a central place and keep it up to date and backed up. It even has templates for various applications which work well for small business. But it can be frustrating when you hit limitations that are apparently very simple. For instance people can add columns and filters to views (personal and public), change the sort order add filters etc. but not the column width ?? The one that's got me banging my head on the desk is the fact that you can cross reference a field from one list to another, but only one field. So for the helpdesk application, when our staff raise a new incident, they select the customer name from the customer contact list. So of course you would then expect to automatically bring across the other fields to the incident ; telephone number, email address, company. But you can't do this. It's not rocket science, Sharepoint is built on an SQL backend. Apparently it's being considered for the next version. I would use Sharepoint for all sorts of configuration data, but without proper field reference it's not ready. But it will house our intranet, documentation and code libraries

mwp.reid
mwp.reid

While I would agree with most of what you are saying re RI in MOSS there are some options. One of which is purchasing third party web parts which do indeed provide this feature. MOSS also provides a look up type which can beused to maintain a "sort" of relationship. The application templates provided by MS including the Help Desk template also demonstrate a programming approach to master detail lists. Not perfect but at least its a start in the right direction.

sandy.breeden
sandy.breeden

struggling with the following issue: I run a WSS 3.0 Wiki site on which I added a AD Domain Security group in the WSS Site Members group. The group is mail enabled. The site uses NT authentication Before the group addition the users not belonging to the site gets the usual Error: Acces Denied page After I add the AD group and retry the Sign in action I get a 403 error with : You are not authorized to view this page Other sites I run on this particular WSS 3.0 server W2K3 SP2 server does not show these problems and there the group addidtions works as expected. It's really driving me nuts, No event logs, no specific logs in the sharepoint logs which seems to point me in the right direction. If I add the users it works as expected, but I don't want to take that route. Any ideas ? Thanks!!

tblessing
tblessing

Martin, Do you have any experience implementing custom Word 2007 templates with Sharepoint? I've read through the Word 2003 templates article in the msft kbase, but I haven't been able to figure out how to get our 10 standard templates installed and a particular one available to the New button in a document library with Word 2003 or Word 2007, preferably with a dynamic link to one source for these 10 templates. For the e.g.-types, here's the scenario: we are planning to have Job 1, Job 2, Job 3, Job 4, with separate libraries for letters, memos, reports, etc under each job, and I want Job 1/letter to create based on our standard letter template. And when we come to Job 137 and we suddenly need to change our letter template, I want to be able change the one on Jobs 1-136, too. Thanks, Tsukina

mwp.reid
mwp.reid

Tsuknia It is possible to add to the new command within a library using site content types. This allows you to associate a single list or library with multiple different documents. You can then associate each content type with a particular Word Template. In fact I have just done this in the project I am working on. The user selects New and instead of a single option they get a list of Word 2003 tempates to choose from. You set the template in the advanced settign for the particular content type. Content types are a powerful feature of MOSS you should look into them. In terms of the dynamic choosing of templates I would guess your looking at some custom programming or perhaps using a work flow based on the content type. Please let me know if you require detailed instructions in how to actually create a content type and associate it with a list and template. You might also what to have a look at the following http://blogs.msdn.com/microsoft_office_word/archive/2007/01/16/mapping-magic.aspx http://channel9.msdn.com/showscreencast.aspx?postid=273005

mwp.reid
mwp.reid

RE Content Types just do a google search on MOSS Content Type and you will return lots of useful information. You could also download the latest SDK form Microsoft. Re your issue with multiple templates I am looking into that at the moment and will get back to you asap. However, I would say the only way to do this is to custom program the feature into MOSS. This is not an out of the box solution. The content types will allow you to associate a template with a partical document type. For example a contract letter could be associated with a contract type. I will be preparing an example for this site on using content types in the near future. I am guessing you want to be able to either permit the user to select the correct template or display a choice of templates for them to select. Either way you wil have to custom code this.

tblessing
tblessing

Martin, I'd be delighted to figure out how to set up these content types with different templates - where is that documented? The things you sent me are great for exposing custom File Properties (metadata) in sharepoint, but they clearly show making changes to exactly one template. How do you do the multiple templates business? We have a separate template with different code, autotext, styles, default text for letters, for memos, for reports. Thanks,t.

ssharkins
ssharkins

Martin, what do you mean by that last bit -- that we'll be working with Office applications on the web?

martinreid
martinreid

Well if we take the focus Office 2007 has re its interaction with Sharepoint, which in this version is deeper than ever before, have a look at the increasing position of Google Apps providing online access to documents etc then it would not be surprising to see Microsoft begin to move into a similar field. Perhaps the use of the new file types based on XML points towards a more interactive sharing experience using MOSS as the web interface. Would not take a big jump from there to full web intregration with say Word and the Web. Even today you can blogg directly from Word 2007! What we want is the ability to access our documents from anywhere at anytime and the Internet and the browser are the perfect tools to provide that seamless interface. Then of course we have Groove another collobration from Microsoft available with I believe the enterprise edition of Office 2007. Groove allows you to work with MOSS libraries ofline and then synch back to the server. You can do the same with Access 2007 which in common with other Office 2007 applications is pointing towards the web and MOSS.

ssharkins
ssharkins

Thanks Martin -- that's a fascinating look at our possible future.

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