Thursday, December 28, 2006

OneNote rocks

I don't know if you have ever used Microsoft OneNote--it's still kind of a secret--but I recommend it to those who like to keep their meeting and other notes in electronic form.

It's a great way to keep your notes organized, instead of having to manage dozens of Word docs. But then it's easy to create Word docs (or PDFs) or email from your notes to send out to colleagues.

It also integrates with other Office applications, especially in Office 2007 where it links nicely to Outlook.

You can get a free trial of the new OneNote 2007 here.

I have been using OneNote for over a year now and upgraded to OneNote 2007 during the beta. It's been very helpful and has kept me more organized! I'm excited to finally get a tablet PC so I can use the writing and drawing features!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

In case you missed it

About two weeks ago, Windows Vista and the 2007 Microsoft Office System were finished and are being prepared for "release to manufacturing" as we speak.

If you have an MSDN software subscription, you can find Vista RTM (x86) and some parts of Office 2007 RTM right now! (Though I haven't seen the Office 2007 RTM servers yet...) Most everyone else will have to wait until January to buy the boxed versions of Vista and Office 2007 or get them on new PCs.

If you happen to buy a new PC between now and then, you'll probably be able to upgrade to Vista for free or low cost via the Windows Vista Express Upgrade program. Most major PC manufacturers are listed, so if you're itching for that new PC or laptop (as we are) you can rest assured that you will get your Vista upgrade for free or almost free. If you want to stick to Windows XP (e.g. if you are afraid of Vista), buy now before the end of January so you can guarantee Windows XP is on your machine!

Happy installing!

Saturday, September 16, 2006


In case you were wondering, and even if you're not, where have I been?


Personally, I've been busy at home with our new son, Benjamin, who was born in March. He's quite the young gentleman. Very funny too.

Professionally, I've been bouncing around a few projects and have currently found myself between things. It's alright. It has given me a chance to reset.

I have been actively watching the evolution of the new "2007 Microsoft Office System." If you run Windows XP SP2 or Windows Vista RC1 and want to try the beta client (Word, Excel, Outlook, etc.), check out the Office preview site.

I must say that it's quite different from any previous version of Office. Also keep in mind that it's an unsupported Beta, so you will find minor bugs. Lastly, make sure to download both the Beta 2 files plus the Beta 2 Technical Refresh updates. You need to install both.

The final release, slated for sometime in the next six months or so (maybe?) will be production quality. The current Beta 2 Technical Refresh is supposed to be the most stable yet, and I tend to believe it, though the faster your system the better it will run. This ain't your father's Word for Windows 95.

If you have the guts and time, check out SharePoint Server, aka MOSS 2007, also available on the preview site. Both client and server are a vast improvement over Office 2003 and SharePoint Portal Server 2003.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Goodbye Norton, Hello Avast

I've finally given up on Norton Antivirus and Internet Security 2006. It's been removed from the laptop, wiped the desktop. We're now using Avast Home Edition, which incidentally is FREE. The Professional version costs money, and might even be worth the upgrade.

Norton was creating too many problems. Recently, Windows would not shut down properly on EITHER system, and the laptop was running SLOW. Suspicious timing, since Windows OneCare just came out. Alas, I cannot blame Microsoft. I've had problems with Symantec products before, so I was not surprised.

I have tried McAfee before, and also have CA eTrust Security Suite. Neither of those are worthy.

Avast just seems to work. It works great on Windows XP, as well as the beta of Windows Vista. It's nice when something just works.

I was about to lose all faith in computers, specifically Windows computers. I've regained it...for the moment. I have my credit card poised to purchase a MacBook if anything else goes awry. I'm about out of patience.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

More on the Microsoft, Adobe spat

So, this is an interesting development:
Adobe Speaks Out on Microsoft PDF Battle

Who really knows what goes on in the negotiations between Microsoft and Adobe. However, this article states a very legitimate fear: Microsoft will extend the PDF format in a way that makes the format a) less useful than it's own XPS format, or b) incompatible with non-Microsoft OSes.

“While much of the press coverage to date has centered on disputes over PDF and XPS [a competitive technology to PDF] in MS Office and Vista, the real issue is the protection of open standards,” Adobe explains

There's no proof that this will happen, and I'm not sure Microsoft would even want that to happen. However, look at what happened with Microsoft and Sun with regards to Java. Maybe that's why Adobe is doing what they're doing, much like Sun did six or seven years ago.

I would love to see Microsoft and Adobe come to an agreement that a) PDF will be a PDF in Office and Vista, not Microsoft-extended PDF, and b) PDF creation can be left in the OEM version of Office and Vista.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Office team splits up

So it looks like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint will now have a different step-daddy than SharePoint and MCMS:
Microsoft names two Office leaders to replace Sinofsky

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

MCMS and SharePoint migration to MOSS 2007

Via Andrew Connell:

MSDN now has a “SharePoint Server Migration Center” site:

and also via Andrew:

MCMS 2002: CMS Assessment Tool

2007 Microsoft Office System Beta 2 has liftoff

In case you haven't heard, beta 2 of the 2007 Microsoft Office System is available on the Microsoft website.

You can try out the new versions of old standby Office applications like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook. You can also try out the new Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) 2007 suite, which includes SharePoint, Enterprise and Web Content Management (ECM/WCM), Forms Server, and Project Server.

Download the beta. Set up a virtual machine or two. Install the client and server applications. See how they work together. Send Microsoft your feedback.

And the best part, it's all free to try during the beta!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Bil puts SharePoint Forums Web Part on CodePlex

Bil released his SharePoint Forums Web Part this week, to much fanfare. He has now put the project documentation, install files, and (soon) code onto Microsoft's CodePlex. He explains why he put the Web Part project on CodePlex.

Visit the SharePoint Forums Web Part CodePlex project site.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Gates explains it all

Bill Gates opened the first ever SharePoint conference this week. He emphasized that Microsoft is moving towards a SharePoint centric view of the world. He also talked about how SQL Server will eventually become "the native underlying platform for SharePoint, Exchange, meta-directory and all Microsoft server applications with data storage needs."

The article also reiterates the fact that Microsoft Content Management Server will be killed off with the advent of Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007. Sad but true.

Microsoft also is killing Content Management Server and folding its capabilities into SharePoint, which will be pitched to corporate users as a multitask, identity-enabled engine to host collaborative sites not just for the intranet but for the extranet and Internet as well.

I've known this day was coming, but it hurts to think about it. *sob*

Read the full article on ARNnet.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Recently Updated documents in SharePoint

UPDATE ON 11/22/2008: This was written way back when I was working with WSS 2.0/SharePoint 2003. Please see Ryan's blog post for some updates with regards to WSS 3.0/MOSS 2007.

I came across this tip a while back, and had to reconfigure one of our document libraries today because I broke it. I figured I'd put the tip here in case I forgot it again, since I can't find it again.

How to make a Recently Updated view in a SharePoint Document Library

  1. In the document library, click Modify settings and columns

  2. Under Columns, click Add a new column

  3. Add a column called "Today" as a Single line of text column.

  4. Click Add a new column again and add a column called "ViewUntil" with the following settings:

    • Type: Calculated (calculation based on other columns)

    • Formula: [Today]+7

    • Data type returned: Date and Time, Format: Date Only
    • Unclick Add to default view

  5. Delete the "Today" column that you created earlier

  6. Back on the Customize document library screen, click Create a new view

  7. Call the view "Recently Updated" or whatever you want. Choose whatever columns you wish, but make sure to include the "ViewUntil" column. Sort however you like.

    • Under Filter, select Show items only when the following is true

    • Show the items when column "ViewUntil" "is greater than or equal to" "[Today]" And "Modified" "is greater than or equal to" "5/4/2006" (replace with the date from seven days ago)

  8. Click Ok and now you have a list view that shows documents updated in the past week. It will be updated whenever a user adds or modifies a document.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Deployment for WCM in MOSS

From Tyler Butler of the Microsoft Office SharePoint Server team at Microsoft:

Content Deployment
There’s been a lot of interest in learning more about the WCM feature set that has been built into MOSS and how Internet-facing sites can be built, maintained, and supported on top of MOSS. In this post, I’ll cover how a particular WCM feature called Content Deployment supports multi-farm topologies and can be used to enable authoring -> staging -> production scenarios. I’ll talk a little about previous solutions to the problem, give you an overview of the Content Deployment feature, and discuss the architecture of the feature in-depth.

This is a welcome upgrade from the Site Deployment Object from MCMS 2002. SDOs are pretty nifty in their own right, but are limited in features and impossible for non-administrators to use.

Of course, this doesn't squelch the debate of dynamic front-facing pages (a la MCMS) vs. static front-facing HTML (a la Interwoven). I'm almost certain that Site Stager will not appear in MOSS 2007/WCM, but that doesn't mean a replacement can't be created by the community.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

PKI and sponsorship with SharePoint

We've been working on some interesting solutions with PKI (public key infrastructure) and SharePoint sites. I can't go into a lot of detail now, but in a nutshell the system:
  • Accepts the users PKI identity certificate

  • Checks the status of the user's account

  • Logs the user into Active Directory without requiring a password

  • Forwards the user to the SharePoint site

  • The user can access and contribute within the site as a regular SharePoint user

We also included some nifty certificate type checking, and certain users are required to fill out a sponsorship form and getting approved before they are allowed to access the site.

I'll try to put some details of how we accomplished this up at some point. Suffice it to say, it was a long road and many people helped along the way.

Has anyone out there integrated PKI with SharePoint? I'm pretty sure we're not the only ones doing it, so I'm curious how others have accomplished this.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Workaround for opening Office documents as read-only in SharePoint

In an earlier post, I ranted how opening Office documents (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) from SharePoint is a pain when you are using SharePoint from a different domain than your computer is logged in to. We finally found a workaround, which now seems obvious. Here's a review of the situation:

If your Windows machine logs into Active Directory domain "Homer," but the SharePoint site you access is on the domain "Lois" in a different location, you have to deal with login prompts instead of a streamlined integrated login. This is expected behavior.

In addition, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents opened from SharePoint need to authenticate the user as well, because the documents are actually opened from the web server, not the local browser cache. This is also intended functionality: the idea is that the user can edit the files and save them back to the server directly from Word, Excel, or PowerPoint. The user must type their username and password when each separate Office application is opened via the link for the document in Internet Explorer. Usually this is not a big deal.

However, opening documents from a SharePoint site in Internet Explorer is sometimes impossible when a third-party single-sign-on system is in place and the user doesn't actually have the Active Directory username and password handy. If the SSO doesn't know how to handle Office applications, it's impossible to open the files at all because they get stuck at the SSO login process. A workaround is to have users right-click the documents in SharePoint and "Save as," but chances are users would not get the message or forget.

So we finally came up with a workaround while we wait for a permanent solution via the SSO: Convert all Office documents to Adobe PDF. For documents that need to be available in the native Office format (.doc, .xls, .ppt, .vsd, etc.), compress them as .zip files. Use the .pdf and .zip files in the document libraries instead of native Office files.

This can work well for sites where SharePoint isn't being used for document collaboration, or where collaboration doesn't rely heavily on document editing. As far as I know, there's no other way around this problem other than converting the documents to non-Office formats or using a browser like Firefox, which doesn't try to open Office documents for editing from the web server.

We will figure out a permanent solution, but for the meantime the workaround will suffice.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Caching in Office SharePoint Server 2007

Recently, the SharePoint team blog talked about various features of the Office SharePoint Server 2007 platform. Among them was caching.

Many of the neat caching features of MCMS 2002 will be incorporated in SharePoint 2007, plus some new stuff. ASP.NET output caching will also be carried over, which is great news. If all goes well, all of this will be available to SharePoint as well a the new CMS bits.

See the Caching section on the post
Performance, Performance, Performance post.

BTW, I wonder which books they were referring to in this sentence ;-)
CMS 2002 had very elaborate caching support (writers spent a whole chapter on it in CMS books!)

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Sign up for the Office beta

If you want to see the "2007 Microsoft Office system" in action before most everyone else, sign up for the beta that will be released in the next few months.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Truthiness in Error Messages

I love error messages, especially when they are brutally honest. This is something I found recently, and I appreciate its candor. The application will remain nameless.

This help file is broken.
This help file is a temporary placeholder for the real <unnamed application> content. It was hastily thrown together, so there are likely to be a few rough edges here and there.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Must be possible

It must be possible to allow SharePoint users to open documents from a WSS site without requiring them to authenticate!