HowTo: Create your own SharePoint list in SharePoint 2010

Audience

This post is for SharePoint beginners. If you need to store data in Sharepoint and the default list templates don’t offer the options you need, then you’ll probably want to create a custom list. This post shows you step by step, how to create a your own list, I’ll also show you some of the different column types and the options they offer.

The SharePoint list

As I said in one of my other posts, the list is one of the core components of SharePoint. SharePoint has a number of list templates ready to use:

  • Announcements
  • Calendar
  • Contacts
  • Discussion Board
  • Issue Tracking
  • Links
  • Project Tasks
  • Status List
  • Survey
  • Tasks

But what to do if there is nothing there that fits your needs?  Then you create a custom list.

How to create a custom list:

  1. Navigate to the site on which you want to create the custom list.
  2. In the upper left corner click “Site Actions” and then “More Options”.
  3. Under “Filter By” choose list, for category choose “Blank & Custom”.
    Creating a custom list

    Creating a custom list

  4. On the right hand side of the popup “Create”, click “more options”. By default you can only choose a name, now you can also give your custom webpart a description and choose whether or not to have it displayed in the “Quick Launch” menu (by default on the left on your site). Fill in an appropriate name, a description and click “Create”.
    Creating a custom list: More Options

    Creating a custom list: More Options 

  5. Once the list has been created SharePoint will take you to the list view. The new list has one default column named “Title”. So now we want to add some columns. Choose “Create Column” from the ribbon. 
  6. In the “Create Column” screen, we can set a “Name and Type”, set “Additional Column Settings” and, if we want to provide column validation, to guide a user to input valid data.
  7. In the first column I chose “Applicant” as the column name. For the type I chose “Single line of text”. For “Description” I entered “The budget applicant”. With “Require that this column contains information” I chose yes, it enforces that the end-user enters a value for this field. I left maximum number of characters at 255. We can supply a “Default Value” this is the initial value of the field. We can choose to add the field to the “default view”. a list can have different views, a view is the way that the list is displayed. If you do not add a field to the default view then by default it is not displayed. This is only in the list mode, so you do see the value when adding or editing an item. I did not add any column validation. Now we can click “Ok” to add the column to the list.
    Creating a column: Single line of text

    Creating a column: Single line of text

  8. After the first column, I created a second columns with the “Currency” type. This column type has a built-in validation for min. and max. value.
    Creating a column: Currency

    Creating a column: Currency

  9. For the third column I chose a “Person or Group” type. it lets you choose whether to pick only “People” or “People and Groups” and it also enables you to pick a certain group or “All Users”.
    Creating a column: People or Group

    Creating a column: People or Group

    Creating a column: Options for Group

    Creating a column: Options for Group

  10. Another type I used in this example is the “Choice” type. It creates a  “Drop-down menu”, “Radiobuttons” or a “Checkboxlist” in your SharePoint list from which the user can choose a value. You have the option to set a default choice and whether or not to enforce the given choices or allow typed values.
    Creating a column: Choice

    Creating a column: Choice

    Creating a column: Choice options

    Creating a column: Choice options

  11. A few other options I do want to show (I did not actually add them) are the “Lookup” field, it lets you use another list to pick an Item from. For that item you can decide which fields of the referenced list to display in your own list.
    Creating a column: Lookup field

    Creating a column: Lookup field

    When adding a “Lookup” field the Relationship part is very important, it defines how to work with deletion. What happens when the item referenced by this list is deleted in the referenced list. When choosing to “Enforce relationship behavior” you have 2 choices, either go for “Restrict delete” which as it says restricts the delete on the referenced list, or go for “Cascade delete” which deletes the item from the referencing list (the list you just created).

    Creating a column: Lookup field relationship

    Creating a column: Lookup field relationship

  12. To connect to external data you can use the “External Datatype”, this only works if you have Business Data Connectivity enabled and created an External Content Type for the data you want to use. I plan to write more on this in future articles.
    Creating a column: External Data

    Creating a column: External Data

  13. When we’re done creating the list, the “New item” form, will look something like this:
    Form: New Item

    Form: New Item

SharePoint versions 

  • SharePoint 2010 Foundation
  • SharePoint 2010 Standard Edition
  • SharePoint 2010 Enterprise Edition
  • SharePoint 2010 Online (Office 365 Edition)

Permission level

  • Design
  • Full Control

Ok so that’s it for now, Happy SharePointing.

Error: Feature ‘GUID’ for list template ‘XXX’ is not installed in this farm. The operation could not be completed.

While playing around in an existing SharePoint environment I came across the following error: Feature ‘GUID’ for list template ‘XXX’ is not installed in this farm. The operation could not be completed. It occured while clicking on a list, I wanted to delete it. The cause of the problem is probably that someone deleted the feature that came with this list. A colleague of mine told me that I perhaps could delete it by manually changing the url: http://SharepointUri/_layouts/listedit.aspx?List=SomeGuid. It displays the list settings. To do that you first need to get the list Guid, that was the second challenge, there was no way for me to get the guid because I need the settings page to see the Guid. So I decided to write a small program to get the Guid of a certain list. After obtaining it I used it with the url but to no avail, I got the same error.

After searching the internet I came across 2 possible solutions, use stsadmin with a forcedelete command or use PowerShell. And I found out PowerShell is the way to go. It is a commandline tool with a syntax much like C#:

$w = Get-SPWeb “http://MySharePointURI”

$w.Lists.Delete([System.Guid]$w.Lists[“List Name To Delete”].ID)

What we do here is set “w” to be instantiated with the web that holds the list. Next call the delete method on the list collection of the instantiated obeject. The Delete method takes a Guid. We get the Guid with $w.Lists[“List Name To Delete”].ID it gets the Guid based on the name of the list.
 
 

Setting up a Virtualized SharePoint 2010 learning environment

Why?

As I was setting up this blog I might have been a bit too enthusiastic. I started posting without thinking. That doesn’t mean that I’m not behind that which I posted, it’s more that I should have put some more thought into it, especially the structure. If I want to take people along on a learning and/or discovering tour of SharePoint 2010 I should have thought of the fact that most people don’t necessarily have a SharePoint 2010 environment ready to test and/or try out with. That’s what this post is all about. Setting up an environment in which we can test an try out. As I realize that people also might not have funds for setting up a state of the art environment I’ll try to keep the tools we use “as free as possible”. Of course you can also download the 2010 Information Worker Demonstration and Evaluation Virtual Machine, this setup will not run on a desktop or notebook. Another reason to follow this blog post is that although it is far from a complete multitier installatio, it will still give you some insight into the installation of SharePoint. 

Purpose of this setup:

This will not the ideal best practices setup with different server roles, an active directory and a database setup in raid etc etc. This setup will be as easy as possible, with least amount of effort while still giving you an environment to test with. I do plan to go more in depth with articles about best setup, different server roles, scalability and also development examples. This setup is not suited for that.

Hardware:

As far as the hardware goes, I am running this setup on an Asus N53J

Processor:                             Intel Core i5-460M

Processor clock speed:      2.53GHz

Memory:                                  8.00GB (upgraded from 4.00 GB)

Further specs here: http://www.expertreviews.co.uk/laptops/1281541/asus-n53j/specifications

The upgrade to 8 GB was what did it for me, the system is as fast as any fast live environment I’ve seen.

Software:

So lets get installing already!

So being the organized person everyone knows me to be (cough, cough), I advise you to first download everything you need and neatly place it all together in a single, easy to find folder. Well ok, here we go then:

Step 1 Install VirtualBox:

I already installed VirtualBox and don’t have a system ready to do it again and make screenshots, it’s no biggy, basically just a plain old  next, next finish. But details can be found here: https://www.virtualbox.org/manual/ch02.html#installation_windows

Step 2 Setting up VirtualBox for Windows

  1. Start up VirtualBox and click “New”, the wizard will start.
  2. Skip the intro screen by pressing next.
  3. VM Name and OS Type, in this window, type an appropriate name, for OS type, with OS choose “Microsoft Windows” for version choose “Windows 2008 64 bit” and press next.
    VirtualBox New Image installing windows 2008 R2 SP1

    Choose an OS for the new image

  4. Memory, choose the base memory size, if you have 6Gb or more on your host, choose 4Gb for the virtual environment, if you only have 4Gb on your host go for 2Gb for you virtual environment. Press next.
    VirtualBox Setting Memory

    VirtualBox Setting Memory

     

  5.  Virtual Hard Disk, I recommend 40Gb, 20Gb is the default, but better save than sorry. I haven’t found a way to increase the size, of course you can always add a second virtual hard disk, but once the first one is full you’ll be sorry, because updates and patches will need to be installed on the primary hard disk and when it’s full it is really full, so no more room for patches and/or updates. Choose a new harddisk. Click next.
    Startup Harddisk New Harddisk

    Choose a new Startup Harddisk

    Choose the type/format of the new disk, I chose VDI, you could e.g. consider VMDK if you also use VMWare. Click next.

    Choose the type of Virtual hard disk

    Choose the type of Virtual hard disk

    Fixed or Dynamical, I chose fixed, this will perform a bit better as the system will not need to increase size when you need it because it is already available. It will on the other hand take a bit longer to create. Click next.

    Virtual Hard disk Fixed or Dynamical

    Virtual Hard disk Fixed or Dynamical

    Location and size, I chose the default location and a size of 40Gb (like I said above). Click next.

    Virtual Hard Disk Location and Size

    Virtual Hard Disk Location and Size

    Finally check the summary. Click Create.

    Virtual hard disk settings summary

    Virtual hard disk settings summary

    And now we wait.

    Creating the virtual hard disk

    Creating the virtual hard disk

Step 3 Installing Windows

  1. Mount the Windows ISO that you’ve downloaded with the mounting software, with Virtual Clone drive you can right click the ISO and assign a driveletter to it (in my case drive letter F:).
  2. In VirtualBox double click your newly created image. The first run wizard will start. The wizard will ask you which drive letter holds the installation media, pick the drive letter used in step 1. Click next.
    Installation media drive letter

    Choose the installation media drive letter

  3.  The wizard will restart VirtualBox and if all has gone well the Windows Installer will take over, from here on some screenshots showing you the choices I’ve made.
    Installing Windows Step 1

    Installing Windows Step 1

    Installing Windows Step 2

    Installing Windows Step 2

    Installing Windows Step 3

    Installing Windows Step 3

    Installing Windows Step 4

    Installing Windows Step 4

    Installing Windows Step 5

    Installing Windows Step 5

Ok, now after the system restarted, we’re asked to create a new password, check and install critical updates after that  we’re done with Windows for now.

Step 4 Installing the Guest Additions to share the install files

Now we need the other software and it’s not in ISO format, no worries, if we install the VirtualBox guest additions we can add folders from our host operating system and share them as network shares.

To install the guest additions, click the devices menu in the top grey bar of your running virtual image.

VirtualBox guest additions

VirtualBox guest additions

Now the autoplay feature will start:

Guest Additions autoplay

Guest Additions autoplay

Choose “Install or run program from your media”, then choose next, next, install and then reboot.

When done, in the same “Devices” menu, choose “Shared Folders”.

Add Shared Folders

Add Shared Folders

Click the little folder with the plus, on the right side of the screen, it will open the “share folder” dialog.

Add Share

Add Share

If you want to make sure that shares are permanent and don’t disappear after a system shutdown, check “Make Permanent”.

For “folder path” choose the folder into which you put all the downloaded files (SharePoint, SQL /Server 2008 etc.) and click ok.

The install files can now be found by choosing Network in the Start menu. Click on the yellow bar in the top of the window to turn Network Sharing and Discovery on. When that’s done, have some patience, the share VBoxSvr will appear, it contains the downloaded software.

Step 5 Renaming the Server

Before we install anything it might be a good idea to rename our server. Go to start, right click computer, choose properties, somewhere in the center of the screen, choose “change settings”. In the popup choose “change”, in the popup that now appears you can change the computer name, I changed it to “SPTest”. To make these changes final, reboot the virtual image.

Step 6 Activating the domain controller role

  1. From Start -> Administrative Tools, open “Server Manager”, in the treeview on the left, right click Roles. In the center screen click “Add Roles”. Click next.
    Add A Role

    Add A Role

  2. Now we select the Active Directory Domain Services role. Check the box and click “Next”. Click “Next” again and click “Install”.
    Select Server Roles

    Select Server Roles

  3. Click “Close”, we’re almost done, now we run DCPromo. In Start, in the search box type “DCPromo and press return.
  4. Click next until you reach a screen that lets you choose a deployment configuration, we choose “a new domain in a new forest”. Click “Next”.
    AD Deployment Configuration

    AD Deployment Configuration

  5. In the next step we need to choose a fully qualified name, I chose “domain.local”. Click “Next”.
    Choosing a fully qualified name

    Choosing a fully qualified name

  6. Now we have to choose a functional level, I chose “Windows Server 2008 R2”, it has the most features but does not integrate with lower versioned domain controllers, I chose this because I don’t know what I want to do in the future while testing and trying out. As I am not planning to integrate with other domain controllers there are no downsides to this choice. Click “Next”.
    Domain Controller Functional Level

    Domain Controller Functional Level

  7. Now we have to choose additional domain controller options, DNS is default for a new forest and a new domain controller. So click “Next” ignore the warning by clicking “Yes” for the popup.
    Additional Domain Controller Options

    Additional Domain Controller Options

  8. In the next screen, keep the default settings. Click “Next”.
    Domain Controller Files Locations

    Domain Controller Files Locations

  9. Now we have to choose an Restore Mode Administrator account password, the instructions say it has to be different than the standard administrator account, as this is a test setup I’m going for the same as I used for the server, just to keep it simple and not having to keep track of all kinds of different passwords. Fill in the password and click “Next”.
    Restore Mode Administrator Account

    Restore Mode Administrator Account

  10. Now we get a summary screen, check you settings and if satisfied, click “Next”.
  11. Now the Installation will start and when finished we have to restart.

Step 7 Installing SQL Server 2008 R2

  1. From the VBoxSvr share, rightclick “SQLEXPRWT_x64_ENU.exe” and choose “run as administrator” it will extract some installation file. The .Net Core role needs to be enabled so click ok.
    DotNet Core Role

    .Net Core Role

    Be patient, the installation screen of SQL 2008 will pop up in a short while.

  2.  Choose “New installation or add features to an existing installation.”
    Installation Screen SQL 2008

    Installation Screen SQL 2008

    Accept the terms and click next.

  3. From here on some screens of the choices I made
    Installing SQL 2008 Step 1

    Installing SQL 2008 Step 1

    SQL2008 Step 2

    Installing SQL 2008 Step 2

    Installing SQL 2008 Step 3

    Installing SQL 2008 Step 3

    SQL 2008 Step 4

    Installing SQL 2008 Step 4

    SQL 2008 Installation finished

    SQL 2008 Installation finished

  4. When finished it might be a good idea to check for updates. Install any updates found.

Step 8 Installing SharePoint Foundation

  1. From the share we created earlier, start SharePointFoundation.exe, the Install screen will appear, choose “Install software prerequisites”It will install and configure these:
    • Application Server Role, Web Server (IIS) Role.
    • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Native Client.
    • Windows Identity Foundation.
    • Microsoft Sync Framework Runtime v1.0 (x64).
    • Microsoft Chart Controls for Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5.
    • Microsoft Filter Pack 2.0.
    • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Analysis Services ADOMD.NET.
    • Microsoft Server Speech Platform Runtime (x64).
    • Microsoft Server Speech Recognition Language – TELE(en-US).
    • SQL 2008 R2 Reporting Services SharePoint 2010 Add-in.
  2. Check for updates again. Little note on the updates, some may take a while and by a while I mean you might be wondering if things are still running. Again be patient, feel free to do something else while waiting, e.g. watch an episode of the Big Bang Theory while updating. Another note, be aware of any pop up windows that don’t pop up, they might need some attention for the updates to continue.
  3. After updating the final steps, start the SharePointFoundation.exe from the share again. Now we choose “Install SharePoint Foundation” Accept the license agreement.
  4. In the next screen we are going for a farm installation and not a stand alone installation, I am doing this for educationla purposes, the difference I found on the web:
    Standalone Installation :
    ·         SQL Server 2008 Express Edition is the database type automatically installed (instead of Windows Internal Database/SQL Server 2005 Embedded Edition used in Windows SharePoint Services 3.0).
    ·         This is almost a “one-click” installation, no questions are asked during setup or during Post Setup Configuration Wizard (PSConfig)
    ·         A Web application and team site collection are automatically created in the newly created farm. The search service is started automatically.
    ·         Cannot add servers to join a farm.
    ·         When the installation is complete, the browser opens taking you to a newly created site collection.
    ·         Installer is not prompted for farm passphrase, it is automatically generated.
    Server
    ·         SQL Server 2005 SP2/SQL Server 2008 is the database type, not installed by setup.
    ·         Administrator can pick whether or not to create a site and the site template to use.

    ·         Prompted for farm passphrase during PSConfig phase of installation.

    Click “Server Farm”

    Stand Alone Farm installation

    We choose a farm installation

  5. In the next step we choose “Complete” for educational purposes. I chose not to change the location. Click “Install Now”. Here we go!!
    Choosing a Server type

    Choosing a Server type

  6. Once we’re done installing we continue with the configuration, Keep the “Run the SharePoint Products configuration wizard now” box checked and click “Close”.
    Run Configuration Wizard

    Run Configuration Wizard

  7. For the next steps be sure to have the SQL Server name ready, you’ll also need the admin account, but that’s the account you’re currently logged into (if you followed the steps during the SQL installation. Click “Next” and then “Yes”.
    The Configuration Wizard

    The Configuration Wizard

  8. Connect to a server farm: choose “Create a new server farm” click “Next”.
    Connect To A Server Farm

    Connect To A Server Farm

  9. Now we have to specify the database configuration: Server name: SQLExpress, Login and password: same as you log on to the server with. Which is Domain\administrator since we installed the domain controller. (if you have any problems, make sure SQL server is up and running using the Click “Next”.
    Specify Database Configuration

    Specify Database Configuration

  10. Create a passphrase, I used the same as I did for the server, again, this is not best practice but in this situation very practical. Click “Next”.
  11. Configure the Central Admin web application, keep the default settings and click “Next”.
    Configure Central Admin web application

    Configure Central Admin web application

  12. Next step is completing the installation, take notion of this summary, it gives you important information like what the name is of the SharePoint site and the Central admin site. Click “Next”.
    Completing the wizard SharePoint Foundation

    Completing the wizard SharePoint Foundation

  13. And we’re done!! Take note of the information in the window, and click “Finish”.
    Finished SharePoint Foundation Installation

    Finished SharePoint Foundation Installation

Step 8 The final step, configuring the server

  1. Creating a managed account, I chose the same account as with earlier steps, just to keep it simple. Click “Next”.
    Create a managed account

    Create a managed account

  2. Creating a top level site, click “Next”.
    Creating a top level website

    Creating a top level website

  3. The wizard summary, click “Finish”.
    Wizard summary

    Wizard summary

And we’re finally done. Here is what we all did it for:

Error: The Web application at http://localhost/ could not be found

Ok, so I’ve run into the first (small) problem. As I was working on a small tool (which is supposed to solve another small problem I ran into), which retrieves all lists in a certain web, I immediately ran into a problem. Figures, problems with the first line of code. Good excuse to post some code and try this wp-plugin. As I am pretty new to this SharePoint coding, I am open for suggestions and tips and will adjust articles and code accordingly.

 C# |  copy code |? 
01
            using (SPSite site = new SPSite("http://localhost/"))
02
             {
03
                 using (SPWeb web = site.OpenWeb(""))
04
                 {
05
                     foreach (SPList l in web.GetListsOfType(SPBaseType.GenericList))
06
                     {
07
                         Guid myGuid = l.ID;
08
                         string strName = l.Title;
09
                     }
10
                 }
11
             }

I got the following error message:

The Web application at http://localhost/ could not be found. Verify that you have typed the URL correctly. If the URL should be serving existing content, the system administrator may need to add a new request URL mapping to the intended application.

The solution was very simple, the target platform is x64 while a new project by default targets x86. So go to the menu Build -> Configuration Manager and change the active platform to x64.

HowTo: Create and Delete a SharePoint list

Audience

This post is for SharePoint beginners. One of the core elements of SharePoint is the list. A list in SharePoint is like a table in a database or a sheet in Excel. So basically any data you want to store in SharePoint you store in lists. Lists can be created using a template which give you predefined columns and list settings or you can design a list by creating a custom list.

Steps to create a list:

  1. Navigate to the site on which you want to create the new list (you must be in the right role to do this e.g. “site owner”).
  2. Click “Site Actions” in the upper left corner.
  3. Choose “More options”
  4. The “Create” screen appears.
    Create Screen SharePoint 2010

    HowTo Create a List

  5. In the “Filter By” menu select “list”.
  6. Choose the template that fits your needs.
  7. On the right hand side of the screen, type a name that describes the list and click “create”.
Alternative route:
Replace step 2 in the above instructions by clicking “Lists” in the Quickstart menu on the left of your site. You’ll get an overview of all the existing lists. In the upper left corner of this screen there is a “create button” this will also open the Create menu.
 
Congrats, you’ve just created a list. The list can now be found in the Quickstart menu on the left of your site.
 
Ok, so we’ve created a list, the next step is to delete a list. Deleting a list might not be something you will be doing on a daily basis but when you are learning SharePoint it can be a handy little thing to know as you’ll probably be adding several lists for testing purposes.
 

Steps to delete a list:

  1. Navigate to the site on which hosts the list which you want to delete (you must be in the right role to do this e.g. “site owner”).
  2. In the Quickstart menu (on the left of your site) click on the listname of the list you want to delete.
  3. By clicking the list in step two the Ribbon contect menu called “List Tools” wille be displayed (make sure the “List” option is selected, in the dark blue bar in the top of your window)
    Ribbon List Tools context menu

    Ribbon

  4. In the Ribbon choose “List Settings” this opens the list settings menu.
  5. The list settings menu shows a lot of properties and options, choose “delete this list” in the “permissions and management” category (located somewhere in the center of your screen).
    List Settings Deleting a list

    List Settings Deleting a list

  6. Confirm that you want to “move the list to the recycle bin” which, of course, sends the list to the recycle bin.
The recycle bin is very much like the recycle bin in Windows, it holds all your deleted items, it is located in the Quickstart menu, clicking on it gives you the option so recover deleted items or permanently delete them.
 

SharePoint versions 

  • SharePoint 2010 Foundation
  • SharePoint 2010 Standard Edition
  • SharePoint 2010 Enterprise Edition
  • SharePoint 2010 Online (Office 365 Edition)

Permission level

  • Design
  • Full Control
 
This concludes this HowTo. for now Happy SharePointing, live long and prosper. 

Sharepoint 2010 a grasp of the platform

How SharePoint and I met…

My first experience with SharePoint wasn’t very positive, I was working for a company as an IT trainer, and was asked to do a workshop for a large company. This workshop was to give them a first look at Microsoft SharePoint 2003, at that time it was still a beta release. I can’t recall much of it, but the experience was traumatic enough to block everything but a huge “safe control registration mess” and a whole lot of hacking into all sorts of xml config files scattered all over the server. At the end of the day it made me tuck Sharepoint away in the deepest corners of my brain.

The company I work for has evolved into a Sharepoint company, at least, the department I work for has. But until a couple of months ago I was in the position to be able to secretly laugh at the moans and curses coming from the other side of the desk. Reason for their agony… Sharepoint 2010. Little did I know that it was coming for me too…

When a colleague left I had to take over and now I’m learning SharePoint. And much to my relieve, Sharepoint has come a long way in 9 years time. As I am getting to know Sharepoint, I decided to write a blog and introduce my new friend to others. Writing a blog is a good way to share knowledge and for me writing things down is a good way to memorize them. Ok, so where do we go from here on? Let’s see what Sharepoint has to offer us.

SharePoint to me is a nice mix between technique and business process and workflows. It also challenges me to be creative and work towards a solution within the boundaries that SharePoint sets.

A business collaboration platform?

When trying to find information on a subject, I (like the rest of the world) us Google. One of the first results searching for Sharepoint on Google is “Collaboration Software for the Enterprise”. I interpret that as being software to support collaboration in larger organisations. For hardcore developers, geeks, nerds and the odd “Big Bang Theory” fan: insert Star Trek joke here…

So a collaboration platform… would you let your customers use Sharepoint out of the box to see if it is to their liking? Explore what they can do with it and how to apply it withing their businesses, trying to mold it to fit their custom needs and wishes? I wouldn’t recommend that. An end user, or even an IT specialist, especially one with little to no experience would lose themselves in a maze of options and possibilities, but on the other hand wouldn’t recognize the vast possibilities that SharePoint offers.

In my opinion, Sharepoint is a platform with near to endless posibilities when it comes to building collaboration solutions. But it does need to be configured and streamlined to support the needs and wishes that a particular business has.

The SharePoint Pie

If we go back to good old Google and use the images search in combination with the term “SharePoint 2010”, we come across a lot of graphical representations of what SharePoint consists of from a functional point of view (see image below). I think this is a good starting point to get a grasp of what SharePoint 2010 as a platform has to offer.

SharePoint 2010 overview

SharePoint 2010 overview

Above image represents a high level overview of SharePoint functionality. To give you an insight into the different slices of the “SharePoint pie”, I’ll give a short description of what they do and where to find more about them.

Sites

Creating intranet, extranet and internet sites and use them to stimulate collaboration using templates for sites lists and libraries, the sites part of the pie contains the following:

  • Ribbon UIAn intuitive user interface, based on the Microsoft Office Ribbon as found in the Office 2010 Suite. It can be themed and customized using SharePoint designer and Visual Studio 2010.
  • Sharepoint WorkspaceA tool that gives you a lot of advantages, it is included in the Office Professional Plus 2010 suite. Gives you the opportunity to work with SharePoint in an offline mode. You can configure which items you want to take with you when not connected to your SharePoint environment, you can work on the items and they are synchronized when you reconnect with your SharePoint environment. It integrates with Windows Search to find the information you are looking for.To find out more about Workspace 2010, visit this page: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/sharepoint-workspace/
  • Sharepoint MobileOut of the box support for mobile devices, check this for more about this: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms462572.aspx
  • Office client en Office Web App integrationOffice Web Apps gives users a browser-based viewing and editing experience: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ff431685.aspx
  • Standards supportSupport for commonly used standards like (but not limited to) HTML 4.01, XHMTL 1.0/1.1, WCAG 2.0 lvl AA

Communities

The internet is evolving and we’ve come a long way since Altavista , Yahoo and Amazon, which are in my opinion some of the first sites that either interacted with- or offered a service to internet users. We came from searching on sites like AltaVista and Northern Light, and maybe even the “boldly go where no internet users has gone before” Amazon customer (ordering a book online), to sharing things on Twitter, posting pictures and connecting to friends and family on Facebook, building a professional network with colleagues, clients and suppliers on sites like Linkedin, Sharing files with dropbox etc. Why not use these fantastic ways of sharing information in your corporate environment. This is what the communities part does in the pie:

  • Tagging, Tag Cloud, RatingsSocial tagging and ratings help categorize information in a way which is meaningful and understandable for a user. It can improve quality of search results and create synergy by connecting users based on said social tagging.
  • Social Bookmarking”The simplest definition is that social bookmarking is any compilation of useful links provided by users of a site, service, or group. To some degree social bookmarking is natural in your business; when one employee says to another, “I know a great article to read about that” and provides them with a link, that’s a social bookmark.” More about it can be found in this great article.
  • Blogs and WikisBlogs and wikis provide ways to quickly share information on a site, without requiring advanced tools or expertise. They are often easier for people to update than a formal document or traditional Web site. To find out more about them: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/sharepoint-server-help/use-blogs-or-wikis-to-share-info-HA010378210.aspx
  • My SitesMy Site is a personal site that gives you a central location to manage and store your documents, content, links, and contacts. My Site serves as a point of contact for other users in your organization to find information about you and your skills and interests. Content providers can use My Site as a method of customizing the information they present to users.
  • Activity Feedsan Activity Feed will track activities that have been posted by your colleagues that you “added”, very similar to Facebook or MySpace. Unless you have colleagues that are actively doing anything on the site, your Activity Feed will be empty. This is important because you may ask…”hey I’ve created a Team Site and I want to see everything that happens on this site, regardless of who did it!” Well, you can’t, unless you want to add every person in your company as a colleague, and even then your activity feed will only track certain activities that your collegues perform. http://blogs.perficient.com/portals/2011/02/18/sharepoint-2010-activity-feed-explained-part-1/
  • Profiles ans ExpertiseA user profile is a collection of properties that describes a single user, along with the policies and other settings associated with each property. The user that a profile describes is represented by a unique identifier in the profile, and the remaining properties provide information about that user, such as the user’s phone numbers, manager, office number, job title, and so forth. http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee721054.aspx
  • Org BrowserThe SilverLight based Organizational Browser web part is a standard feature of SharePoint 2010 and is particularly useful if you wish to display your organisation chart on an Intranet page for example.

Content

There is a difference between data and information. To be understood, data must first be given a context; they must be given relevance to a larger unit. A single piece of data has no meaning unless there us context in which to understand it. Minus 128.6 degrees Fahrenheit doesn’t have much significance until you learn that this is the coldest recorded temperature in  Antarctica. February 1, 2003, by itself, doesn’t have meaning. Knowing it is the date the Space Shuttle Columbia and its seven crew members were lost during re-entry supplies the date with some context. To do this we use the content pie:

  • Enterprise Content TypesA content type is a collection of settings and metadata that describe how an item created with that type is identified, and how it will behave within your system. A content type could apply to a document, a folder, or a variety other objects. Every document or item in SharePoint will be created from, or assigned to, a content type. When creating a new document from SharePoint, selecting a particular content type can provide a template for the user to complete. http://www.aiim.org/community/wiki/view/Content-Types-and-Metadata
  • Metadata and NavigationMetadata is data that describes information, it says something about the information that is stored, it can be used to classify and categorize data. Metadata can be a date, an author a date etc. It can be used to find and filter data or even “navigate data”. http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ff608067.aspx
  • Document SetsWhen working on projects, people seldom create individual documents. For many kinds of projects, it might be more typical to produce a set of multiple related documents. In some cases, this set of documents might be the end result of a project, or the “deliverable.” For example, a professional services company might produce a pitch book in response to each request for proposal that it receives from a possible client. In other cases, this set of documents might simply represent different types of information that support a larger project and result in the creation or delivery of something else. For example, a manufacturing company might produce a standard set of documents related to design, testing, and fabrication for each product it manufactures. http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/sharepoint-server-help/introduction-to-document-sets-HA101782466.aspx
  • Multi-stage DispositionWhen doing projects you cannot rely on project members when it comes to disposing documents, maybe you don’t even want to dispose them, because you want to keep them for reference or it might be required by law that you keep them for a certain time. With SharePoint 2010 you can build sophisticated policies for managing the entire content life cycle with multistage disposition. http://blogs.technet.com/b/jessmeats/archive/2010/04/13/multi-stage-disposition-in-sharepoint-2010.aspx
  • Audio and Video Content TypesEnterprise organizations increasingly use digital technology and digital media content, such as audio and video files, to communicate better within the enterprise and with customers. Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 provides optimum support for audio and video files that are smaller than 150 MB in size, includes improved support of metadata extraction from image files, and can support audio and video files designed for demonstrations and presentations up to 2 GB in size. http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee556441.aspx
  • Remote Blob StorageIn SharePoint Server 2010, a binary large object (BLOB) is a large block of data stored in a database that is known by its size and location instead of by its structure — for example a Microsoft Office 2010 document or a video file. By default, these BLOBs, also known as unstructured data, are stored directly in the SharePoint content database along with the associated metadata, or structured data. Because these BLOBs can be very large, it might be better to store BLOBs outside the content database. BLOBs are immutable. Accordingly, a new copy of the BLOB must be stored for each version of that BLOB. Because of this, as a database’s usage increases, the total size of its BLOB data can expand quickly and grow larger than the total size of the document metadata and other structured data that is stored in the database. BLOB data can consume lots of space and uses server resources that are optimized for database access patterns. Therefore, it can be helpful to move BLOB data out of the SQL Server database, and onto commodity or content addressable storage. To do this, you can use RBS. http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee748649.aspx
  • List EnhancementsMicrosoft SharePoint Foundation 2010 adds features to the list infrastructure that improve user experience in the case of large lists, and that enhance data integrity. http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee724401.aspx

Search

When we use the word “search”, we often implicitly mean that we hope to find the item we search. “I’m searching for document X, actually means, “Where can I find document X”. Also relevant is the relevance of our search result, if I’m not searching for a certain document, but am looking for information then relevance of that information is very important. When I search for “car” on Google, what results do I get, a toy car, a new car, a person named Car? This is where the Search pie comes into play:

  • Social RelevanceWhen searching for a document SharePoint will keep track on context and number of times that the document is used, the more users click on a document, the higher the relevance.
  • Phonetic SearchMost of us experienced searchers, know how to use search and have become quite experienced in finding what we want by using the right search terms and being creative with the use of wild cards. But what do we do when we look Jeff Johnson. How do you spell Jeff, or is it Geoff, Jeffrey or Geoffrey. This is what Phonetic Search solves for you. More about this: http://www.kowalski.ms/2010/07/09/sharepoint-server-2010-phonetic-and-nickname-search/
  • NavigationSite navigation provides the primary interface for site users to move around on the sites and pages on your site. Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 includes a set of customizable and extensible navigation features that help orient users of your site so they can move around on its sites and pages. This article describes the navigation controls that are available in SharePoint Server 2010. It does not explain how to add navigation controls to Web pages, how to configure navigation controls, or how to create custom navigation controls. http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee695757.aspx
  • FAST IntegrationWith FAST Search for SharePoint you get the same crawling capabilities also available in SharePoint Search in regards to obtaining data from multiple types of content sources (SharePoint sites, Web sites, File Shares, Exchange Public Folders, Databases through BCS, etc.), but with the added bonus of being able to apply custom processing rules to content coming from all of these distinct content sources. http://searchunleashed.wordpress.com/2011/04/13/reasons-to-go-with-fast-search-for-sharepoint-instead-of-regular-sharepoint-2010-search/
  • Enhanced PipelineThe item processing pipeline prepares an item from a content source for indexing and searching. This preparation includes text extraction, language detection, and tokenization. Some applications may require extensions to the item processing. You can generate additional searchable metadata from the content, or forward a piece of information from the item to a third-party application for statistical or monitoring purposes. http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ff795801.aspx

Insights

According to Wikipedia an insight is the understanding of a specific cause and effect in a specific context. The way I see it, is that insights give you an overview or a presentation of data that is stored in SharePoint. There are several ways to get an overview of data stored in SharePoint:

  • PerformancePoint ServicesDashboards are a fundamental component of any performance management solution, and SharePoint 2010 PerformancePoint Services provides a rich set of tools and services for building highly interactive dashboard experiences that can help organizations of all sizes monitor and analyze their performance. This unit will introduce you to the fundamentals of performance management and how to develop rich dashboard experiences with SharePoint 2010 PerformancePoint Services based on SQL Server 2008 R2 Analysis Services data. http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/gg192778
  • Excel ServicesExcel Services in Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 is a shared service that you can use to publish Microsoft Excel 2010 workbooks on SharePoint Server. The published workbooks can be managed and secured according to your organizational needs and shared among SharePoint Server 2010 users, who can render the workbooks in a browser. Excel Services was introduced in Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 and is available only in the Enterprise edition of SharePoint Server 2010. http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee424405.aspx
  • Chart Web PartOne of the new additions to Microsoft’s SharePoint Server 2010 platform is the Chart Web Part (CWP), which allows you to create static and dynamic charts for your site without a line a code. One of the complaints from MOSS 2007 was that users wanted to be able to drop a chart onto their site to create dashboard or display information from Excel documents, or provide metrics to other users in a graphical way. http://thesharepointblog.com/Lists/Posts/Post.aspx?ID=2
  • Visio ServicesVisio Services lets users share and view Visio Web drawings. It also enables data-connected Visio 2010 Web drawings to be refreshed and updated from various data sources. Visio Services runs as a SharePoint Server 2010 service application. http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee663485.aspx
  • Web AnalyticsWeb Analytics service as part of Microsoft® SharePoint® Server 2010, is set of features to help you collect, report, and analyze the usage and effectiveness of your SharePoint Server 2010 deployment. Web Analytics features include reporting, Web Analytics workflow, and Web Analytics Web Part.  There are three categories of the SharePoint Web Analytics reports: Traffic, Search, and Inventory. The reports are aggregated for various SharePoint entities like Site, Site Collection, and Web Application for each farm.  http://sharepointconnoisseur.blogspot.com/2011/02/sharepoint-2010-web-analytics-service.html
  • SQL Server IntegrationIf your organization currently uses or plans to use both SharePoint Server 2010 and SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) 2008 R2 as separate products, you should consider using SSRS in SharePoint integrated mode. You’ll have only one security model to manage and, even better, business users will have only one environment in which to create, find, and share information, whether that information is in the form of reports, lists, documents, or other content types. Furthermore, you can manage reports using the same content management, workflow, and versioning features that you use for other SharePoint content. http://www.sqlmag.com/article/sql-server-2008-r2/reporting-services-2008-r2-and-sharepoint-server-2010-the-next-generation-of-integration
  • PowerPivotPowerPivot(formally known as Project Gemini) is a great analysis tool from Microsoft which can be used in both Microsoft Excel and SharePoint. It adds great computational power to your excel sheet and provides fast manipulation on large data sets(often in millions of rows), and streamlined integration of data. Once you have achieved faster results in your massive excel sheet then you can use SharePoint to share it further. http://www.addictivetips.com/windows-tips/microsoft-excel-2010-powerpivot/

Composites

Composite materials, often shortened to composites or called composition materials, are engineered or naturally occurring materials made from two or more constituent materials with significantly different physical or chemical properties which remain separate and distinct at the macroscopic or  microscopic scale within the finished structure. Translating this to SharePoint is not very hard, it comes down to integrating external data into SharePoint and also exposing SharePoint data to external sources:

  • Business Connectivity ServicesMicrosoft Business Connectivity Services is a set of services and features that connect SharePoint-based solutions to sources of external data. http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sharepoint/ee518675
  • InfoPath Form ServicesInfoPath Forms Services, as part of Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010, provides a Web browser experience for filling out InfoPath forms. When deployed to a server running InfoPath Forms Services, forms based on browser-compatible form templates (.xsn) can be opened in a Web browser from computers that do not have InfoPath 2010 installed, but they will open in InfoPath 2010 when it is installed. Additionally, because the same form can be used in the browser or in the InfoPath editor, the form template design and management process is greatly simplified. The InfoPath Forms Services technology is built as a feature on the Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 platform. http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms540731.aspx
  • External ListsExternal Lists are a great new feature in SharePoint 2010 that allow you to expose your Business Connectivity Services (formerly known as the Business Data Catalog) entities to end users through the familiar SharePoint list UI. This feature supports both reading from and writing to your line-of-business data sources via SharePoint. The major benefit of this is that it allows users to get at and update all of the data they need for a particular business process in one place regardless of whether that data is housed in SharePoint or elsewhere. In many cases, all of this can be done without writing a single line of code. http://blogs.pointbridge.com/Blogs/monnette_jeff/Pages/Post.aspx?_ID=23
  • WorkflowThe workflow feature in Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 helps automate business processes and provides consistency in the way business processes are run. http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sharepoint/ff819861
  • Sharepoint DesignerUsing SharePoint Designer, you can rapidly create SharePoint solutions in response to business needs. Compose no-code solutions that encompass a variety of common scenarios, from collaborative sites and web publishing to Line-Of-Business data integration, business intelligence solutions, and human workflows, all leveraging the building blocks available in SharePoint in an easy to use environment. Developers can use SharePoint Designer 2010 to get a quick start on SharePoint development projects. http://sharepoint.microsoft.com/en-us/product/related-technologies/pages/sharepoint-designer.aspx
  • Visual StudioIntegration with Microsofts well known development platform, for configuration deployment and development. http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/sharepoint/aa905688
  • API EnhancementsUsing the SharePoint Application Programming Interface to consume and manipulate SharePoint data and functionality. http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh313619.aspx
  • REST/ATOM/RSS3 seperate techniques to exchange data with users or applications.

Ok, thats it for now, congratulations for making it to the end of my blog. The information that is used in this blog is gathered from different resources, if there is information or links missing then please let me know. I also appreciate feedback.

Till we meet again, until then, happy Sharepointing.