SharePoint Project Series.

This is a series of blogs I am writing on SharePoint projects:

Part 1 - Design and Planning Part 2 - Implementation (Stage 1) Part 3 - Implementation (Stage 2)
Part 4 - Training Part 5 - Continued Support Part 6 - Suggested Continued Improvement

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Newness in my Life

Hello All,

I have been a bit absent as of late on my blog due to two things in my life.

My wife recently gave birth to our first child two weeks ago! It has been quite the experience.

I have sat my PRINCE2 foundation and PRINCE2 practitioner exams which was also quite the intense experience.

The more knowledge the better I say!

I look forward to applying the methodology to current and future projects I am working on.

Will be back soon to update my SP Projects blog series.

Until next time.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

New look for MSDN

I am happy to announce that MSDN has finally changed their user experience of the web site by completey re-branding the site. I believe Microsoft have made an excellent move by doing this and think that it was long overdue!

Nice work.

Check it out at:

Saturday, September 5, 2009

My first solo WCM

Well I have been meaning to post this for a while however have been tied down with moving house etc.

I recently (last month) completed my first solo MOSS 2007 web content management system. I have been involved in some other MOSS web based sites previously however this is the first one where I soloed the whole thing.

Due to some client budget restrictions I have not been able to complete some of the extra xslt for the news items which is unfortunate.

The system is running on Windows 2003 SP2 64bit in a hosted environment in Seattle. The speed is good and the client is happy with the results.

I created an InfoPath form system (yeah I know) for them to capture applications for positions on the site and have created multiple custom layout pages and content types for the client to easily add new advertisements and content.

There were some gotchas with anonymous InfoPath forms however I have managed to get around it, I will post up a blog on how I did it because from what I have seen on the web there was not much and would hopefully help someone else like me who is not ultra dev savvy.

The site is still yet to grow, however I am fairly happy with it's current stage, I quiet like my sexy little flash nav bar and the site is a massive improvement from their original website.

Monday, August 31, 2009

You pop the trunk? I pop the hood... Ferrari

Here's something I stumbled upon the other day. Good ol' Italian super car giant Ferrari have used Office SharePoint Server 2007 to create their new Web Site.

Looks very nice and was relatively fast to load.

Nice one!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Windows 7 RTM

Running up on Windows 7 RTM.

Excellent! :)

Not a lot different from RC from my point of view, however it seems a bit snappier and stable.

Still trying to get a copy of SP 2010.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

SharePoint 2010 Sneak Peak

Well It is getting close and we all will know more in October during the SharePoint conference. Microsoft have released a sneak peak page here:

For those who would like to see a tiny bit of info (and I do mean tiny).

I am still hopefuly going to get my hands on a sneak preview copy!

For the rest of use I guess we will just have to wait for the 09 SharePoint Conference.

Friday, July 10, 2009

InfoPath error yet again

Well I have come across yet another InfoPath error when using web based templates in a web part.

When using the XML Form View web part, attaching a file to an InfoPath form template you receive an error "The selected file was not found".

After doing some searching on the web I came across this:

<script type="text/javascript">
aspnetForm.encoding = "multipart/form-data";

By adding this Javascript into a content editor web part on the page the issue is fixed. Dont forget to turn the chrome off on the content editor web part so that it is hidden.

Thanks to SaurabhKV for that one!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

SharePoint Projects Part 2 – Implementation (Stage 1)

It has been a short while since the first part of the SharePoint Projects series, I have recently moved house and also found out that I am going to be a dad, so things have been fairly hectic to say the least. Now onto the good stuff: SharePoint project implementation. So far you have spent considerable time conducting a design/architecture phase with your client you both should have a 90% understanding of how the final solution is going to look. Due to the nature of business there will quiet often be ‘changes’ to the project, these will need to be gauged in relation to effort and charged accordingly. I will split this post into multiple headings to make referencing and reading easier:

Scope Variations

If you ever encounter a client that does not vary from the scope at all, continue doing projects for this client as these are the best kind of clients you can find. Indecisiveness is unfortunately part of human behaviour and there is not a lot that can be done about it. Business decisions may be varied by internal change and occasional bureaucratic power struggles and therefore can have negative impacts on your project. A vital project management skill is gauging when to and not to charge for these scope variations. Examples:

  • “We would like to add another Web Front End to the server farm as we can now afford the licence for it” – This would be a chargeable variation to the scope as it involves implementation of another server farm and potential re-architecture of the original solution depending on service assignment.
  • “We would like to change the banner on the home page to this new [supplied image] instead of this old [supplied image]” – This is obviously a non chargeable variation of scope as the work effort involved is negligible.

At the end of the day the decision is up to you. Just remember to be ethical with all your decisions you make.


A strategy to cope with fussy clients and also an important risk reduction strategy is to incorporate a ‘buffer’ or contingency into quoted hours. The old rule I learnt with information technology from one of my old university professors was that you would estimate the time it would take to complete a particular task and you triple it. For instance if you believe it would take you 30 minutes to configure search indexing and crawls it is probably a good idea to quote 1.5 hours instead. Now this is obviously a fairly generalized rule and by now you should have a fair understanding of how long a task may take, it is always a good idea to add some kind of buffer into your quotes. In a later part to this series I will go through some of my usual estimates for both WSS 3.0 and MOSS deployments.

Automated Scripts vs Manual Deployment

Scripting is something I have recently embraced and find it to be a fairly powerful ally. There is a fairly rational relationship between viability and deployment size I find. For instance if you have a single or twin server farm with WSS 3.0 or MOSS 2007 it may not always be the best option to deploy using scripts. On the other hand if you have a larger multi user farm with multiple environments for development, testing and production it may be viable to use scripts to deploy your environments. Bear in mind that scripts and associated documentation would count as a deliverable.


SharePoint farm methodology would denote that it is often a requirement to deploy corresponding farm environments for development, test and production. This methodology is relevant when there is going to be significant modification or development conducted to the solution. As mentioned before this development would be best suited in a separate project, however it must be planned for during your solution architecture.

Development Environment

The configuration of this farm is debatable. Some people will argue that this environment should mirror production as much as possible, however I believe that you would only need to replicate ‘hops’ in your production. By that I mean if you have a production which consists of 2 app servers, 3 web front ends and a database server, the development environment corresponding to this production environment would ideally be 1 app server, 1 web front end and a database server. It is not uncommon to use a single server development environment and any environmental issues that may result from this will be exposed within the test environment.

Test Environment

The test environment should be an exact mirror of the production environment. Data should also be replicated from production to test on a regular basis.

Production Environment

This is your live environment. No development is to be conducted at this level.

Implementation Stages

  1. Prerequisites Domain Controller
    1. DNS Entries created for all web applications and servers
    2. Active directory accounts created for SharePoint services (Accounts I commonly use)
  2. Prerequisites SharePoint Servers
    1. Application Server Role
    2. .NET Framework 3.0 minimum (3.5 SP1 recommended)
    3. Enabled ASP.NET 2.0 within IIS
    4. Configured SMTP service
  3. SQL Installation on SQL Server
  4. Permissions configured on SharePoint and SQL servers
  5. MOSS 2007 installation or WSS 3.0 installation
  6. If multiple server farm start with Farm Creation on Application (Central Admin) server.
  7. Initial configuration:
    • Incoming and Outgoing email settings
    • Establish Web Application for Central Admin Identity Account (usually same as farm service account)
    • Configure DCOM permissions (will be covered in future post)
  8. Diagnostic Logging
  9. Web Application General Settings

MOSS Only Configuration

  1. Create separate SSP and Mysites web applications
  2. Create SSP
  3. Configure Search, User Profile, InfoPath and Excel services
  4. Advanced Usage analysis processing
  5. Single Sign On (optional)

There are occasionally other configuration stages required depending on architecture of solution.

To be continued…

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Security Service Accounts

For both WSS and MOSS I like to use the least privileged account methodology for all my deployments. This is considered Microsoft best Practice.



SP_AdminSharePoint set up account, used to install SharePoint. Local administrator on web front end. DB Creator on SQL.
SP_FarmSharePoint Farm service account. DB Creator and Security Admin on SQL. Also used as the Central Admin application pool identity.
SP_WssSearchWSS search Account.
SP_MossSearchMOSS Search service Account.
SP_ContentSharePoint Content Crawl Account.
SP_ProfileUser profile import account.
SP_SSPAppPoolApplication pool identity for Shared Services Provider
SP_PortalAppPoolApplication pool identity for Portal web application.
SP_MyAppPoolApplication pool identity for Mysites web application.
SP_ExcelExcel Services service account.
SP_SSOSingle Sign On service account.

Above is a general guide of what I use when deploying WSS and MOSS environments. Some of the above accounts are not needed for WSS.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Well I'm Convinced

I have been using it now for just over two weeks and I love it. It's something fresh and although the relevance on certain keywords are not the same, I have adapted my keyword choices to suit. Bing is definitely worth giving a shot.

Since my ninemsn page is my homepage i just use it from there. I used to type a lot of 'questions' in google, however I find in Bing instead of typing 'what is the capital of France' I would just type 'France Capital' and get better relevance. Obviously in this extremely generalised example it wouldn't make too much of a difference, but hopefully you get the idea.

Go ahead and bing away! Fantastic integration with your live account also.

Im predicting we will see some hot integretion with version next of SharePoint! exciting stuff.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Bing... lets hope its a bang.

Well tomorrow is the big day apparently. So Lets hope for the best for Microsoft's latest search attempt. Bing and the Bing decision engine (based on the 'Fast' search technology Microsoft acquired a few years back) seems to indeed have the potential to be a 'google-killer'. As much I dislike some of the google search engine's features and occasional questionable relevence matching, I always find myslef coming back to it.

There just isnt anything else out there as fast and relevant as it unfortunately. I believe in healthy competition so I wouldnt like to see bing be a 'google-killer' but lets just hope it can survive next to the marketting god. From what I have seen I am pretty impressed.

For more info:

Friday, May 22, 2009

SP2, epic fail

Well its not as epic a failure as the title suggests, but it is a bit of unnecessary bad publicity for sure. It seems there is an issue when upgrading MOSS 2007 with Service Pack 2.

The license of your farm is automatically transformed into a SharePoint 2007 evaluation license.

This can be fixed by re-entering your key in the 'Convert License Type' under Operations in Central Administration:

This is a fairly quick fix and Microsoft are working on a hot fix now. To me this isn't really a huge problem however it could have been had they not found this.

You can read more about this here:

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Service Pack 2 and .NET Framework 3.5 SP1

It seems that a previous post I did ( on Loopback Checks regarding search service accounts are being encountered by SharePoint Service Pack 2 when using .NET framework SP1. I have experienced this across a number of different environments where this combination has been used.

It's an easy enough fix (regedit) however this should be something that Microsoft perhaps fixed with SP2 as from what I have read this is a 'by design' 'feature' to the .NET framework as part of Service Pack 1.

Anyway, if you are experiencing HTTP 401.1 Unauthorized access directly on your server, or you are experiencing service account failure audits in your event log.

Try this on:

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Explorer View on Server 2003

I have come across some older servers running WSS 3.0 and MOSS 2007 in my time. More than once I have come across the inability to use 'Explorer View' on the server. After ensuring that there were correct security zone settings for the intranet site I started scouring the web when it still would not function correctly. After some snooping around I stumbled upon this:

Installing this fixed the problem on Windows Server 2003 and also Small Business Server 2003. Hopefully it will help those experiencing the same frustrating issue.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Service Pack 2 is here!

Well they waited till after lunch but it is finally here!

Here are the new updated links to the individual service packs:

Service Pack 2:

Service Pack 2 for Windows SharePoint Services 3.0, x86 & x64

Service Pack 2 for Office SharePoint Server 2007, x86 & x64

Slipstream WSS:

Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 with SP2, x64
Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 with SP2, x86

I'm off to slipstream and install!

Here is the SharePoint team blog:

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

My SharePoint senses are tingling...

SharePoint Service Pack 2 is just around the corner, in fact it should be released any minute now...

As has been promised in this point:

I can feel it, its just around the corner.

I'm patiently waiting, my VMs are hungry.

SharePoint URL TinyURL and IIS Virtual Directories

Using SharePoint you would probably have come across the URL character cap. For instance if the URL you are trying to link to on a particular site gets very deep it has the potential to expand past the 256 character limit and therefore become truncated. This URL truncation results in broken hyperlinks, this is often experienced when trying to link directly to InfoPath URL forms.

I found this helpful post:

This information has enabled me to create some really nice Virtual directory re-directions to essentially create a really functional form launch center for long un-linkable InfoPath hyperlinks.

This is how it is done:

  1. On the SharePoint server (this needs to be repeated on other Web Front End servers if needed) open IIS.
  2. Navigate to the Portal IIS Website (SP_Portal_Site_80 for example), right click it and click on new > New Virtual Directory > Click Next
  3. Type in an alias to use for the URL, if you want to create a list of virtual directory hyperlinks for your InfoPath forms use something like 'FormURL'.
  4. Browse to the default IIS directory such as c:\Inetpub\wss\virtualdirectories\80 and create a new sub folder inside your sharepoint directory, feel free to use the same as your alias. Click next > next > finish.
  5. This will be your new SharePoint url to house the links to the InfoPath form links. For example http://intranet/FormURL.
  6. Now for each form you would like to link to you need to create a new virtual directory under the one created before.
  7. Follow the same steps as above to do this. Name the alias relational to the particular form you will be linking. (for example Timesheet)
  8. Right click the newly created virtual directory and click on properties.
  9. Select 'A redirection to a URL' and copy and paste the URL from the SharePoint URL InfoPath form (do this by clicking on 'New' in InfoPath form library and copying the address bar URL) into the 'Redirect to:' field.
  10. Check the 'Permanent Redirection' box and click on apply.
  11. Repeat the process for as many SharePoint InfoPath forms as you like.
Now you may link the URLs using the SharePoint tiny URLs created above. So for your Timesheet InfoPath URL you have created you can now use http://intranet/FormURL/Timesheet. You can use these URLs all over your site including the Top link bar, Side Link Navigation, Summary Link Web Parts etc.


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

SharePoint Projects Part 1

This is the first part of a multiple part series regarding SharePoint projects and the processes involved.

SharePoint Projects Part 1 - Solution Design

Many SharePoint projects have fair issues when it comes to time estimation. Due to the nature of 'Fixed Price' projects becoming ever so popular with clients (and with the sales team) it becomes extremely easy to over promise and under deliver. It is far easier to tell a client something will cost $100k and then finish under and let them know they have an addition x number of hours for further development and/or support then to tell a client $85k and then have to ask for another $10k due to unforeseen circumstances.

The problem is that SharePoint projects need to be treated almost as custom application development projects, although SharePoint is a fixed product essentially, the variables involved in each deployment is difficult to gather and can therefore skew your initial comprehension of the proposed solution. Therefore, whenever possible (and reputation allowing) it is a good idea to work on all SharePoint projects on a Time and Materials basis, this means that the project 'is finished when it is done' so to speak. Obviously for your own sanity you would have a project plan with assigned tasks and time estimates for your own reference.

However, if the client will only accept a fixed price (Which is often the case) and you don't have an option to decline the project, take these factors into account:

Scoping, Planning and Design

From what I have seen this is one of the most ignored steps in SharePoint projects. Microsoft have developed the SharePoint Deployment Planning Services (SDPS) to tackle this very issue. I would strongly recommend reviewing some of the available material to understand the SharePoint planning process.

The more planning and requirement gathering you do, the greater success you will have when it comes to quoting. One important aspect to note is that this is actually part of the project, you need to make the client aware that this type of 'discovery' phase is a vital part of the project. If the client chooses to not continue with the project after this discovery time frame, I believe that the client is accountable for the time spent during the design consulting phase.

For example: if you take your car to the mechanic and the mechanic tells you 'It sounds like you have a problem with your clutch, but I need to inspect it to be sure' you will pay the mechanic for his time to inspect the vehicle. Not allowing this 'inspection' and just 'going ahead' with the 'project' can result in the 'mechanic' replacing your clutch but in the process discovering that your gearbox and drive shaft are also damaged and therefore costing you a lot more than a 'clutch replacement'. This is essentially the same thing as a SharePoint project.

Things to remember (CAMSUD):
  • Capacity: How many users, how much data will be stored, what kind of data
  • Availability: SharePoint disaster recover and server availability, performance monitoring
  • Modification: Any SharePoint modifications, site creations, site collection creation, search scopes etc. Also would include look and feel modifications through Master/Layout pages.
  • Scalability: Future growth, future capacity, Future Development
  • Usability: Performance consideration, server architecture, network infrastructure, virtualisation, server farm configuration
  • Development: Customising SharePoint from a development perspective. Solution deployment.

I will be back next week to post the next part to this series: Implementation.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

New Themes!!

Microsoft have released 10 new themes for SharePoint in the form of Visual Studio Extensions for SharePoint Projects.

They can be downloaded here:

Microsoft Download Site

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Feb 'Uber' Cumulative Updates... Finally

Well I have been waiting to post this update for a while, however as you all know it was delayed (for us December cumulative updaters). As I am a big fan of infrastructure and cumulative updates I have been patiently waiting and I thought I would post this information for anyone who doesn't follow the SharePoint team blog.

I have downloaded and installed the 'Uber' update on my Hyper-V test machine and have run some quick tests and all is functioning well, which is good as opposed to the December cumulative update which had various issues upon release.

Again the infrastructure update is not required (as was the case with the December update) if you have not already installed it. WSS or MOSS needs to be Service Pack 1.

Information on the WSS 3.0 February Cumulative Update

Information on the MOSS 2007 February Cumulative Update

And also go here for the original Microsoft Team Blog Post:

Microsoft Team Blog February Cumulative Update

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Performance Point Dead... Kind of.

Well as you probably have all heard, Microsoft have announced the termination of Performance Point Server. This is not entirely a bad thing (well for us SharePoint guys anyway). As of now anyone who has an Enterprise License of MOSS 2007 can download and use the Performance Point. This is probably a strategy to set up the release of Performance Point Services which will be the Monitoring and Analytics component of Performance Point rolled up into MOSS.

"As part of this vision, and feedback from a wide variety of customers, PerformancePoint scorecarding and dashboarding capabilities will now become part of SharePoint Enterprise CAL and available to customers who are on SharePoint SA. This means that customers who want to deploy PerformancePoint can do so today at no additional cost."

-Microsoft Team Blog PPS Announcement

It is highly recommended for anyone who has an enterprise edition of MOSS to download and deploy Performance Point and use its dashboard functionality (which greatly outweigh the MOSS in-built BI bundle). No doubt the dashboards that you build will be fully compatible with the PerformancePoint Services add on.

I think this is a great move by Microsoft to bring Business Intelligence benefits to more clients.

For more information visit: