Public folders are as old as Exchange Server itself. But with Microsoft gradually reducing the importance of public folders from Exchange 2007 onwards, its future does not seem bright. Also, requirements of organizations are growing beyond the scope of Exchange Public folders. Collaboration specific products like SharePoint and cloud platforms like Office 365 are becoming more and more attractive to organizations. Here, we will just enquire why Public folders are losing their sheen.

  1. Exchange Public folders are for simple sharing only
    Public folders are not meant for document sharing or data archiving. Public folders lack comprehensive features for document sharing, versioning, and document management. For such tasks, Microsoft recommends using SharePoint. Also, it is not a good practice to use Public folders for archiving data.
  2. Public folders are not growing
    Public folders, with the exception of switching its location from Public folder database to Mailbox database to take advantage of its high availability, have not changed much. It hasn’t added any remarkable features to it. This makes Public folders almost an outdated feature. More innovative and advanced products and services like SharePoint and Office 365 are now available for organizations from Microsoft itself.
  3. Administrative difficulties
    Managing Public folders isn’t as easy as accessing and sharing its data. Administrators will have to use complex commands to execute even simple tasks. Obviously, administrators would like a facility or tool with more user-friendly features.
  4. Public folders consume Exchange resources
    Though Public folders act as repository that can be accessed by many email client users of the network, they consume valuable storage space. So, if you can find some facilities for simple sharing of data, you simply can abandon Public folders.
  5. Piling up of unwanted data in Public folders
    Public folders rarely get cleaned as nobody is sure on which information is useful and which information is not useful. Ultimately, it leads to piling up of unused and unnecessary data in Public folders.
  6. An uncertain future ahead
    Public folders may contain items that are required for many users. Calendar items, Contacts, Outlook forms, Journal entries, and even Messages are stored in them. So Microsoft may not be doing away with Public folders. Still, even experts are not sure of the future of Public Folders. Many believe that Microsoft may not provide Public folders in future versions of Exchange.
  7. Public folder to cloud migration is quite easy now
    Migrating the content of Public folders to Office 365 is quite easy now because of tools like LepideMigrator for Exchange (http://www.lepide.com/exchangemigrator/). This user-friendly tool performs data migration, and facilitates one-way or two-way migration between Exchange and Office 365 during the migration period.

Microsoft has not ended Public folders feature in MS Exchange Server. There are still a lot of reasons that prompt Exchange users to migrate their Public folder data to Office 365.

Automated deployment for SharePoint Online can be one hell of a job. Apps and sandboxed solutions are the designated methods for provisioning, but are very limited. How about PowerShell? Yes! But not the default flimsy SPO cmdlets library. No, we are using SharePoint PowerShell, a third party PowerShell API for SharePoint (Online and On-premise).

SharePoint PowerShell

SharePoint PowerShell in fact a bunch of PowerShell Modules talking to CSOM, created by a guy called Jeffrey Paarhuis 🙂  Very usefull for Office 365 and private clouds where you don’t have access to the physical server.

What can you do with it?

  • Site Collection
    • Test connection
  • Site
    • Manage subsites
    • Manage permissions
  • Lists and Document Libraries
    • Create list and document library
    • Manage fields
    • Manage list and list item permissions
    • Upload files to document library (including folders)
    • Add items to a list with CSV
    • Add and remove list items
    • File check-in and check-out
  • Master pages
    • Set system master page
    • Set custom master page
  • Features
    • Activate features
  • Web Parts
    • Add Web Parts to page
  • Users and Groups
    • Set site permissions
    • Set list permissions
    • Set document permissions
    • Create SharePoint groups
    • Add users and groups to SharePoint groups
  • Solutions
    • Upload sandboxed solutions
    • Activate sandboxed solutions

And yet more to come…

How does it work? Well, like this:

# Include SPPS
Import-Module .\spps.psm1

# Setup SPPS
Initialize-SPPS -siteURL "https://example.sharepoint.com/" -online $true -username "[email protected]" -password "password"

# Activate Publishing Site Feature
Activate-Feature -featureId "f6924d36-2fa8-4f0b-b16d-06b7250180fa" -force $false -featureDefinitionScope "Site"

#Activate Publishing Web Feature
Activate-Feature -featureId "94c94ca6-b32f-4da9-a9e3-1f3d343d7ecb" -force $false -featureDefinitionScope "Web"

# Create a subsite
Add-Subsite -title "Subsite" -webTemplate "STS#0" -description "Description..." -url "subsite" -language 1033 -useSamePermissionsAsParentSite $true

# Create document library
Add-DocumentLibrary -listTitle "Testdoclib"

# Copy testfiles to this document library
Copy-Folder "C:\example\Testdoclib" "Testdoclib" $false

Try it yourself: example application 

And let me know what you think of it and how it can be improved!

Just for my reference, or anyone else interested, a link to the perfect guide on creating a custom filter section in the refinement panel.

http://www.domorewithsearch.com/customizing-the-refinement-panel-for-sharepoint-2010-search/

This is a nasty SharePoint bug which caused some trouble in one of the SharePoint Online environments I was working on.

I created a Site Template using the “Save site as template” feature of SharePoint. Now when I created a new site from the template it resulted in the web parts all mixed up in the Left web part zone. Remarkably it was only the Left zone, the others were keeping their correct web part sequence.

When I took a look in the Onet.xml of the Site Template the web parts were nicely divided into seperate AllUsersWebPart’s and having correct WebPartZoneId’s. And although the web parts were also mixed up in the XML, the WebPartOrder properties were set correctly, 1 for the first, 2 for the second and so on. I still tried to rearrange the XML so the web parts would also have the right sequence in the syntax, but with no success, the web parts were still mixed up.

The final thing to do was to create a Web Part Zone for each Web Part. I did this by opening the page in SharePoint Designer and edit in the Advanced Mode (button on the ribbon).

This way the order is hardcoded on the page. I admit, it’s not very neat, but it does the trick.

It may take some time before we can see the first of SharePoint 15 (or some might say SharePoint 2013).

Till that time, Microsoft has released some technical documentation in the form of an API. It’s far from complete, I hope, but it gives us a bit insight in the new features of the new SharePoint.

There are a few interesting features that we can trace from this API. You can find the API here http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?id=28768. But for the one that’s too lazy to disassemble the API himself, beneath is a summary of expected features.

Game changing features

Apps

In the API there’s one feature that has the upper hand, the Apps. It’s also very certain that a marketplace is coming.  There will not only be a general marketplace, but it will also be possible to have a corporate catalog (apps only available within the corporate).

These new SharePoint Apps are not just web parts, or any other kind of SharePoint solution we know from the current versions of SharePoint. An App is a new solution format that comes with SharePoint 15. A few advantages of Apps, we know so far, are:
– It’s very suitable for a traditional application structure, with multiple pages, theming, configuration, an own database, etc.
– developers can add an own deployment (installation, upgrade, uninstall, etc.)
– a database (MSSQL, and other formats) can be attached
– it has its own user permissions
– it has its own licensing

This is a big step for Microsoft, but also very understandable. Nowadays it seems that the entire society is relying on apps and marketplaces from all kinds of vendors. Microsoft already Marketplaced the Windows Phone, Windows 8 is coming, but they would be stupid if they didn’t also do this for SharePoint. With the Windows Phone Marketplace they were relatively late, but with the SharePoint Marketplace they are just on time.  Using Marketplaces for business purposes is very hot at the moment. I can’t wait to get to work with this.

MDS

Minimal Download Strategy is a term that probably doesn’t ring any bells. That’s right, it’s a new framework Microsoft includes in the next SharePoint. It’s mentioned very briefly in the API but I think it’s a big deal.

So, what is it? MDS allows websites to take much less bandwidth than with traditional technologies. It’s a technology that allows websites to only send the changed part of the page, relative to the previous page, to the client. If you assume that a website has a header, footer, menu, right column and some content, and navigating to another page only changes the content part, then MDS will take care that only the content will be transferred from the server to the client. This way, not only the bandwidth is used more efficiently, but the pages will be more responsive.

For more info on MDS read this: http://blog.furuknap.net/minimal-download-strategy-in-sharepoint-2013

Other features

More versioning

We know we can version documents and list items, but in the next SharePoint we are also able to version entire parts of SharePoint. An entire site for instance. Fascinating! But whats the big advantage? Well, here it comes. Let’s assume that we already have a site and we would like to make big changes to it, how will we do that? In the current SharePoint we would have to copy the site (preferable to another environment), implement changes and deploy it back. While in SharePoint 15 we could freeze the active version, then create a new version, implement changes to that new version and when done, set the active version to the new site we changed. My guess is that Microsoft did add this feature mainly for SharePoint Online, because most clients don’t have a separate acceptance environment. Deploying this way fits perfectly in a DTAP roadmap for Cloud solutions.

Themes

As a developer you can now get a themed version of your CSS that uses the theme colors and styles, with a simple line of code.

Client Object Model

The Client Object Model is extended with Search. The functionality corresponds to that of Microsoft.Office.Server.Search we know from the current SharePoint Object Model.

Features nobody gives a sh*t about

I also found several new features that probably won’t interest a living soul. But because I do want to mention it, I will make a short notice of their presence:

– It will be possible to get more info about crawled contents and status of crawls, programatically.
– Users can now edit a file if it’s exclusively locked by someone else and likely merge it later.
– To get files from BLOB, SharePoint now has streams.
– In the current Client Object Model you would have to add a Form Digest control to be able to talk to SharePoint. In the next version that isn’t necessary anymore, it then can be configured on the ClientContext.

Windows 8 Consumer Preview

February 29th, 2012 | Posted by Jeffrey Paarhuis in Good to know - (0 Comments)

Whoohoo, the Windows 8 Consumer Preview (Some kind of beta) is available

Here is the auto-installer (if you want to upgrade your current OS)
http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-8/download

Here are the ISO’s (if you want a fresh install or install on a VM)
http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-8/iso

Have fun with it!

For .NET

Resharper (free-to-try, €131)

Resharper is an extension for, in general, intellisense. It’s very powerfull in different ways. E.g. it checks your code for compiling issues on-the-fly and giving possible options to resolve it automatically.

download:
http://www.jetbrains.com/resharper/download/index.html

BugAid (free-to-try, $49)

BugAid is an extension for the variable watcher in debug-mode. Convince yourself with this video http://youtu.be/0GuAq76-D-s.

download:
http://www.bugaidsoftware.com/

For SharePoint

CKS: Development Tools Edition (free)

This project extends the Visual Studio 2010 SharePoint project system with advanced templates and tools.  Using these extensions you will be able to find relevant information from your SharePoint environments without leaving Visual Studio.

download:
http://cksdev.codeplex.com/

Visual Studio 2010 SharePoint Power Tools (free)

Also extends Visual Studio 2010 with templates and tools, especially focussed on sandboxed solutions.

download:
http://visualstudiogallery.msdn.microsoft.com/8e602a8c-6714-4549-9e95-f3700344b0d9

People get lazier every day. I guess it’s some kind of evolution. A few thousand years ago we used to make our own tools. We had to go out into the woods to hunt for a meal,  and with a bit of luck we had a piece of meat at night. Nowadays we drive to work, bang on the keyboard for 8 hours, drive back, and at home a not too scanty meal magically appears on the table. Did we hunt for that? Did we make our own car? Did we make our own PC? Did we even make our own OS? We didn’t even sweat! In the history of mankind someone apparently was smart enough to not kill the caught animal, but let it jump on top of a female of the same kind, and then wait for the beef to spawn on his plate. People get smarter, so they can be lazier. Evolution.

Now back to SharePoint. SharePoint is the perfect platform for the current generation of people. We can find all of our documents, tasks and emails in one place. People even expect one overview for content spread across multiple sites. To achieve this kind of content aggregation, SharePoint 2010 has a few tools available.

In the latest SharePoint eMagazine of the DIWUG (Dutch Information Workers User Group) Brett Lonsdale writes about the multiple tools SharePoint has, that can achieve content aggregation over multiple lists, sites, site collections and even farms. I would really recommend reading the article, but for the lazy (or more evolved) readers, here is a summary.

  • Content by Query Web Part – This is part of the Publishing Infrastructure Feature. It allows you to aggregate content from lists of the entire site collection. This can be done by simple clicking and selecting. This also applies to filtering, grouping and sorting. Out of the box there are multiple styles available, but you can also create your own style by copy and modify a XSL in the Style Library.
    The CQWP is a very powerful tool for content in one site collection. It won’t work with multiple site-collections.
  • Relevant Documents Web Part – This is a very simple web part which doesn’t allow much configuring. You can show your last modified documents, or the documents you created, but it doesn’t get more exciting than that. Oh, and you have to keep in mind that it’s only for the current site, not for the site collection.
  • RSS Feed Web Part – The RSS Feed web part can show the RSS feed of a SharePoint List. If you are using Kerberos you can get the RSS feed of a list in the web part. This is useful across site collections.
  • Data View Web Part – This web part can be found in every SharePoint 2010 version, even foundation. The RSS feed can also be used in this web part. Even more, multiple RSS feeds can be merged, talking about content aggregation. In SharePoint designer there is even more available with this web part. Data sources can be web services, databases, xml, etc.
  • Core Search Results Web Part – This web part is useful when you want to aggregate content of multiple site collections. This can be done by configure a search scope with properties and rules in central admin. One big disadvantage is that the content is as up to date as the latest crawl.
  • Calendar Overlays – In a SharePoint calendar you can get an overlay using the Calendar Overlays button on the ribbon. This function is pretty straightforward.
The Content Query Web Part is a very powerful OOTB tool for content aggregation. If you want even more then use the Data View Web Part in combination with SharePoint Designer.

In my previous post on how to design and deploy a custom SharePoint master page I explained how to create an own branded master page and how to deploy that master page to your SharePoint site. Now I first stumbled upon the problem that the master page doesn’t get automatically applied to newly created (sub)sites, and secondly I received a comment from a reader describing the exact same problem. So I decided to write my findings and solution to the open world. Here it is.

The problem is very simple: You create your own master page, you apply your master page to all sites and it does that, nice, but when you create a new site you just get the old v4.master on that site and not your custom master page. Everyone with this problem, if you followed my previous post or not, can follow this solution. It doesn’t even matter what SharePoint version you’re using.

When I Googled for a bit, I found out that there is no out-of-the-box-solution for this and a lot of guys use Visual Studio to solve this. You could program an event receiver that sets your master page to every new site. Or you could program a Feature that holds your master page and apply that feature to a site definition. But I find that a bit heavy and not very flexible solution. So I played around a bit and found a solution myself without the use of Visual Studio or programming at all.

Here we go:

You should have your master page deployed to the main sites master pages gallery. You should see your masterpage when going to http:///_catalogs/masterpage/Forms/AllItems.aspx

(Yes I’m using Chrome)

Now create a new blank Team Site using whatever name you like (you won’t see it in the end).

Now go to Site Settings and click “Save site as template” under Site Actions and go save the site as a template.

On the next screen click on the link to go to the solution gallery. In the solution gallery just click on the name of your just created template to download it. Save it somewhere where you can easily find it.

Did you know that as WSP is in fact just a CAB file? That’s why we need a tool that can extract and recreate our wsp. I used the tool ACDZip, which has a free x-days trial. You can get it here http://acdzip.findmysoft.com/. A reader has also mentioned the tool IZArc, which is free. A great alternative.

Now find your file and rename it from TemplateWithoutMyMasterPage.wsp to TemplateWithoutMyMasterPage.cab, you should see your icon change.

Open the file with ACDZip and extract the ONet.xml file from theWebTemplateONet.xml to a location where you can edit it easily.

 

Now edit the following line of code

masterpage/v4.master" ThemedCssFolderUrl="">

to

<Configuration ID="0" Name="Default" MasterUrl="/_catalogs/masterpage/mymaster.master" ThemedCssFolderUrl="">

Don’t forget the slash before _catalogs. This will ensure that the mymaster.master from the master page gallery on the root of the site gets used.

Save the file and put it back in the archive (drag and drop), it will automatically rebuild the archive. Rename the file back to a wsp file, I also used another file name.

Upload the file into the Solution Gallery by using the Upload Solution button on the ribbon of Solutions.

 

In the next screen you must upgrade the solution.

You can now use the new template to create a site with your masterpage. Go ahead and try. Site Actions, New Site, scroll down and select the template, fill in a title and url and create the site.

You should now have your master page automatically applied.

Handy SharePoint Tools

April 7th, 2011 | Posted by Jeffrey Paarhuis in Good to know - (0 Comments)

Auto SharePoint installer

Contains lots of OOTB scripts. Simple XML input file. Create a near-unattended install.

http://autospinstaller.codeplex.com/

Bulk document import

Copy an old-fashioned file share to a SharePoint document library.

http://spbulkdocumentimport.codeplex.com/

Hide the ribbon

Hide all unnecessary menu items, buttons and links for the normal user. Conditions can be set for specific groups.

http://spribbonvisibility.codeplex.com/

Sharepoint and games?

A fully integrated Chess-game.

http://ribbonutils.codeplex.com/

Sharepoint and Social Networking?

Integrate your favorite Social Network sites within SharePoint

http://socialsharepoint.codeplex.com/