Category Archives: Office 2010

Microsoft SharePoint 2010: Creating and Implementing Real-World Projects

The new book is out!  Brought to you by the wonderful folks at Microsoft Press.

Creating and Implementing Real-World Projects with SharePoint 2010  is intended to be a practical guide for evaluating business needs and creating SharePoint solutions using the out of box capabilities. The audience for our book is anyone who wants to build solutions: from someone newly familiar with the core SharePoint concepts (lists, libraries and sites) through .NET developers who want to be more familiar with the platform so they know when code is needed and when it is not. 

Where I believe it is a bit different from other step-by-step how-to books is that we start from the business requirements and walk through steps in the decision making and design phases all the way through creating a fully functioning site. So, rather than just the click-by-click solution building, we are also introducing enough of the analyst methodology to show others why decisions were made. 

Now, we’re obviously not going to be able to capture every single decision made, but hope to walk through enough of the process to help someone who wants to build business solutions on the various SharePoint 2010 platforms how to get started and be successful with their own solutions.

For my chapters (8,9,10), I wanted to demonstrate solutions that could be created on any of the available versions of SharePoint, including the Office 365 Small Business plan and SharePoint Foundation.  So, they are a bit on the simplistic side but I think demonstrate a number of core concepts that can be re-used for other solutions as well.  These solutions can also be augmented with additional functionality, more-so with higher level versions (SharePoint Server, Enterprise and Office 365 E plans).

Note: This book was originally conceived of as a digital only book that could continue to evolve as best practices and platform capabilities changed and feedback was received. But, alas we went ahead with a traditional publication. I do plan to continue commenting on and adding to my chapters by way of blog posts, etc. If it is received well, I’d also hope to see a ‘vNext’ version (post 2010) that revisits scenarios with new functionality and takes off where this one left off.  Smile  So, let us know what you like, and what you’d like to see done differently.

The Authors:

The concept for this book and chief cat-wrangler of the authors was  Jennifer Mason. 

Big thanks also go out to the folks at O’Reilly and Microsoft Press for publishing for us.

Check it out on Amazon – available as paperback or Kindle versions:
Microsoft SharePoint 2010: Creating and Implementing Real-World Projects

Ebook versions are also available through the O’Reilly site.

If you have a chance and can provide feedback – please do.  Blog about it, reply to this post, or write a review on Amazon and then let us know!

Thank you!

Office 365 as a SPD Learning Platform

SPD = SharePoint Designer, currently in the 2010 version.

In my previous post about using Office 365 as a learning platform for SharePoint, I briefly mentioned SharePoint Designer.  But, we could have spent a lot more time talking about it than that – hence this follow-up post. 

In the previous post, I mention using Office 365 because its very inexpensive and easy to spin up for any user, giving you the ability to learn and try things you might not be able to in your production environment.  Well, is even more true with SharePoint Designer. 

Creating new sub site, new lists, tweaking list columns and playing with views are all things you can do in your SharePoint environment and they are *mostly* non-impacting on your production environment – if you play with them the right way and don’t affect your users.  SharePoint Designer has a little higher risk level, can be a little more invasive/impacting on uses, and some environments have it disabled – so you’re not even able to use SPD in your current sites. 

Enter Office 365 and SharePoint Online.  Now you not only have a great way to use and ramp up on out of the box browser-based capabilities, but you have a fully-functioning site that SharePoint Designer can plug into – without risking your production environment and content.  You can now build and demo functionality that you can show your colleagues, bosses and IT/SharePoint team to demonstrate the value that can be had with SPD created solutions. 

Top things to check out with SharePoint Designer using your new Office 365 account (in my humble opinion):

  • Conditional Formatting – If this value is lower than X, then display this field with red text, show this funky icon, etc…
  • Data Views – Format list views in ways you can’t with the browser-based configuration capabilities. 
  • Condition/Action Driven Workflow – Create basic and more complicated workflows that aren’t available in the pre-created workflows.
  • Adding and Editing forms – Very quickly add or edit NewItem and EditItem forms.  For example remove fields or reformat the form to make it more intuitive for users. 
  • ‘Designery’ stuff.  Smile – Yea, not my bag, but can’t talk about SPD without mentioning it’s capabilities of managing and tweaking the site design. 

There is more, but that’s these are the top items that come to mind for me and deliver a lot of value in the business cases I’ve seen. 

Plus – SharePoint Designer 2010 is free. So check it out.

Office 365 as a SharePoint Learning Platform

Want to learn about SharePoint core list and library functionality in your own playground?

I’m doing two SharePoint 101/Intro to SharePoint talks this week. One for a local company’s internal user group and another longer one for the Minnesota SharePoint User Group.  One was 2007-centric while the other was 2010-centric.  As I go through the content, it never ceases to amaze me how a basic understanding of the core concepts of lists is invaluable to working with SharePoint – regardless of the version and how many of the wiz-bang features you are implementing in SharePoint.

So, that brings me back to a topic I’ve been meaning to raise for a while now in regards to Office 365. Unless you’re in the IT department at your company or have connections, you may not have easy access to a ‘sandbox’ where you can try out different SharePoint capabilities without potentially effecting production data.  Yes, there was definitely ways you can do and try some things, but at the end of the day, you want to play around and production generally isn’t the best place to do that.

Enter Office 365.  With the current version of SharePoint Online offered, the comparison to on-premises functionality is pretty good, especially when talking about the core features I’m talking about.  Yes, there are differences, but if your intent is to get a baseline understanding of Lists, Libraries, Views, Columns, SharePoint Designer (SPD) capabilities, out of the box and SPD workflows, and more – SharePoint Online is a great place to do it.

I don’t want to get into the detailed feature comparisons in this article, but P1 is analogous to SharePoint Foundation while the E3 plan is closer to the SharePoint Server/Enterprise features.

It’s REALLY easy to spin up an account and have a SharePoint site ready to play with.  You don’t have to have your own domain name (.com address, etc.) or really anything else to get started.

Office 365 is FREE for a 30 day trial, so you don’t really have any excuses.  If you want to keep your site around, you can pay as little as $6/month (for a single user) or $10 $8/month (also a single user, in the E1 plan, which you can downgrade to when your E3 trial ends).  Thinking about that as training costs – it’s nothing.  Now, you have your own private (and supported) environment where you can try things out without needing to bug IT for a site, list or whatever AND when you put something cool together you can easily show it to your boss or co-workers.

Now, you’ve got an Exchange email account and a Lync account you can play with as well (topics for another day…).  The Exchange account doesn’t need to be configured on any client devices if you don’t want – it can be fully accessed via the O365 web interface which could be useful if you’re experimenting with SharePoint workflows and don’t want to clutter up a real mailbox.

If you do want to add a real domain name to the account, it’s pretty easy as well – the O365 documentation is pretty helpful.  Only note I’ll make here is to not use a domain name that you are currently using as a Windows Live account as there may be some conflicts there – another topic for later.

So go get the trial of either the Small Business (P1) or Mid/Enterprise (E3) plan and get started now.  It’ll make you a better SharePoint user.  Don’t forget to read my previous post about picking your domain name before signing up…  Smile


*Just a day after I wrote this Microsoft went and added/changed some things – namely they LOWERED the price of the Enterprise licenses which makes it even harder to decide between the two.  Find out more HERE

SharePoint Saturday Twin Cities – April 14, 2012

It’s that time of year again. Planning is full speed underway, speakers and sessions have been selected, the schedule is posted, sponsors are lining up and we have registration open for the next SharePoint Saturday here in the Twin Cities, MN. 

For the official event site with Session, Speaker and Sponsor information – go HERE.

For the Registration site – go HERE

  • We’ve got some great returning speakers and some exciting new presenters
  • We’ve got 8 concurrent sessions planned, including a 101 (Intro to SharePoint) track, Development, IT Pro/Admin, Information Worker track and a Hands-on Lab. 
  • Good food, great networking, T-shirts, bags and other fun swag and give-aways

We’ve got 600 tickets open for the event. At a minimum we’re hoping for more than the 500 (sold out) registrations we had at the last event. I’m hoping we sell out again.

Sign up, tell your friends and co-workers and start figuring out your schedule for the day!

Office Professional Plus – via Office 365

Well, either I missed something earlier or they changed the offering.  Either way, this is pretty cool.  I was under the impression that you had to be a Plan E (Enterprise) customer of Office 365 to be able to purchase a subscription to the Office client applications.  That is NOT the case.  You can also purchase a subscription as a Plan P user. 

There is a few dollars per user per month difference, but the key difference is that Plan E users need to purchase an annual subscription while the Plan B (Small Business) users can do a monthly subscription.  Pretty cool. 

  • Plan E will pay $12/user/month – annual subscription
  • Plan P will pay $15/user/month – monthly subscription

These services also enable access to the Office Web Apps as well, so they can access the web versions of the applications without needing to load the client app, or if they are on another machine view and edit documents without the client apps at all. 

For more information, check out this page:

More good news for small business owners if you ask me. 

SharePoint Online (O365) and Windows Phone

I LOVE the ability to view my SharePoint calendars in Outlook right with my Exchange calendars.  This is one of the greatest features ever in my opinion.  The problem now is that I expect to be able to do the same thing on my smartphone devices – but cannot.

Playing with the Windows Phone (pre-Mango) tonight and was hoping to be able to display a SharePoint calendar in my phone’s calendar view.  You’d think if anyone could do it, it should be the MS device but no go. 

Here’s the official post/statement:

Ok.  It’s lame, but Mango isn’t that far out, so we’ll just wait and see. 

Sad smile

To be fair, I haven’t found a way to get this to work on the iPhone/iPad either, though there are a number of 3rd party apps available to assist with access to SharePoint sites.  On the iPad, the screen is big enough to actually navigate to the calendar site itself, which is better than nothing, but I still would like the one-stop-shop available with Outlook. 

Bamboo got close at one point – it looks like a product called MashPoint actually allowed some functionality for ‘real’ SharePoint servers for 2007, but nothing is available for 2010 or the Office 365 solution (sandbox solution).    

If Mango can pull this off – major points to them.  It still won’t solve the problem of my wife wanting to access our family SharePoint calendar on O365 though… Her employer doesn’t allow browser access to O365 – #FAIL. 

Random Links 5/4

SharePoint Basics: I came across a few sites/links that I really like for explaining and demonstrating some of the basic SharePoint and SharePoint Online basics.  For the most part, much of the content will overlap with SharePoint Online as a part of Office365, though some of the site templates may be different:

Site and List Templates – Todd Baginski

Managed Metadata – Myles Jeffery

And then, just some other stuff:

XMind – Mind-mapping software that I’m looking at since I’m using a iPad based tool.  I’d like something to use on the laptop as well to edit, etc…

Proper Sync – I ran into these guys at the St. Louis SharePoint Saturday event last weekend and need to dig into this product to see what it really offers.

CodePlex: Sandboxed Solutions – Came up in conversation as a potential tool for printing list content.  Could be interesting.

MetaVis Migration tool – Everyone and their brother was tweeting about the free offer for migrating content to 365.  Check out the details here:

Mark Rackley’s Wrap up from St. Louis: Presenting on jQuery

Office 365 – The New Business Essentials

I recently attended a conference session about resources and tools available for new business owners.  While a lot of the conversation what about raising seed and venture money, one topic was about the tools and services that are essential to a new business. 

They listed a lot of the things that you would expect: A phone number, a good place to get business cards and a business address (see below). Being in the technology field, I was thinking along different lines. They didn’t mention a domain name, email and a website, though I hope it was just assumed.

I would argue that with the release of Office 365, this is also going to be a small business essential tool.  Office 365 is going to be a simple, inexpensive tool that can meet the core email and website needs while being chock full of so much more potential. 

  1. Sign up for Office 365
  2. Get yourself a domain name and configure your Office 365 account to use it for email and public-facing site. You may need some guidance or assistance with this, but it’s a lot less than setting up your own servers and there are a LOT of resources to help – online and other. 
  3. Build your public-facing site.  This can be as simple or complex as you’d like to make it, but with the template and tools available, you can be up in minutes. 
  4. Now, go about your business.
  5. In the meantime, start to look at all the other capabilities you have:
    1. Lync Online – Conduct your online meetings without needing another services like GoToMeeting, etc…
    2. SharePoint Online – Store and share your documents and other content.  MUCH more later as you learn about SharePoint’s capabilities…
    3. Exchange Online – Primarily your email, but so much more than the basic accounts you had in the past. Manage your calendar and resources and sync them from multiple devices. 
    4. and so, much more…

To be fair, during the session they did also mentioned DropBox, and GoToMeeting. Dropbox may still be a useful tool, depending on the devices you’re using, though Office 365 is going to fill a lot of that capability as well.  GoToMeeting is fully surpassed by the Lync Online capabilities and integration that Office 365 offers. 

So, if you ask me – I wouldn’t start a business without spinning up a Office 365 site as one of the first things. 

Notes and References:

  • The conference I was attending was the MHTA Spring Conference.  They did a fantastic job.  If you’re in the Minneapolis, MN area and can attend I highly recommend it.  MHTA is the Minnesota High Tech Association
    • Grasshopper Virtual Phone System – This could be useful as an alternative to giving out your cell number to anyone.
    • – Yep, you need to have business cards and these are certainly inexpensive.
    • A P.O. box – Don’t want to be using your home address, but I prefer the UPS box option that allows for a real address with no ‘P.O.’ and notification when stuff arrives.

SharePoint ShopTalk

SharePoint ShopTalk is yet another (free) community resource out there that I don’t think is getting as much press or exposure as it should.  It happens every Thursday at 11:30 AM Central Time. 

Sponsored and hosted by Arcovis out of New York, the ShopTalk is a Live meeting and Voice-conference call where a panel of experts are available to respond to questions submitted to the group prior to the meeting, and live as time allows. 

Sometimes there is a presentation or demo, other times we’re just taking questions and having conversation. 

For more information, check out the blog site:

You can also follow and submit questions via the Twitter tag: @spshoptalk

There are a lot of great folks online on a regular basis including, but not limited to:

See you there…

SharePoint Community Events… Busy Days

There are a handful of things happening in the next day or so that might be interesting to folks in the SharePoint space:

  • Wednesday 4/20 8:00 AMMichael Gannotti’s Coffee Talk will be taking place. His talks include:
    • Microsoft Productivity News
    • Productivity Customer Onsite Experience
    • Special Guests
    • Tips and Tricks
    • Gadget of the week
    • Live Audience Q&A
  • Wednesday 4/20 11:00 AM – Q&A with the SharePoint MVP Experts.  Access the event by checking out the MSDN Events and Webcasts page.
  • Wednesday 4/20 6:00 PM – Microsoft Store at the Mall of America.  From 6:00 – 8;00 there is a Special Event for Business solutions.  They’ll be covering Microsoft Signature Pro and Microsoft Office 365 – Cloud versions of Microsoft’s communications and collaboration (yep – SharePoint) products.  Oh, and did I mention a 15% store discount during the event?
  • Thursday 4/21 11:25 AMSharePoint ShopTalk
    Register for this week’s event.

Hope to see you there!