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SPC2009

Takes on SPC 2009 and Top 10 on SharePoint 2010

Its been just about week since the end of SPC 2009, and it doesn’t feel like enough time has gone by to digest all of the information that was given to us in the conference. So before my memory starts failing me, and the information becomes outdated; here are my takes on the conference and the top 10 things I look the most forward to on SharePoint 2010.

Highlights from the conference

For me, it was primarily about the sessions and learning more about how the new features in SharePoint come together. I’ve had access to SharePoint 2010 for some time, but the platform is just too broad to effectively explore on your own; you can learn a lot about certain features, but until you hear other peoples takes and Microsoft’s general direction, it can be hard to see the big picture; and it truly is a great picture!

Overall, the conference met and exceeded all of my expectations. Not only did I find the information and direction I sought after, but I shared with good friends, met some fantastic people, and it was all served in a silver platter…. Well, minus the last lunch, which was actually served in a cardboard box (a little bit of a let down.)

Things to look forward to in SharePoint 2010 

Plenty of people have been blogging about this for several days now, so I wont go in to deep. The following are my favorite new features and improvements (in no particular order, I tried but was having to much of a tough time deciding how to sort them):

  • Windows 7 support: SharePoint 2010 can run on the 64 bit editions of Windows 7 (and Vista). We no longer need Virtual Machines to develop for SharePoint. This should significantly increase developer adoption, giving us a larger pool of SharePoint resources. There isn’t much information from Microsoft online yet, but it is listed as one of the supported OS’s in the MSDN article Setting Up the Development Environment for SharePoint Server and demoed in one of the vides at http://SharePoint2010.microsoft.com 
  • Business Connectivity Services, External Content Types, and External Lists: The evolution of the Business Data Catalog; much easier to develop on, includes native Visual Studio 2010 support, CRUD capabilities (Create, Read, Update, Delete), display and interact with data as if in standard SharePoint lists. Check out the SharePoint 2010 SDK section on Business Connectivity Services for more information.
  • Client OM (.NET Managed, Silverlight, ECMA Script): Exposes a very large subset of the SharePoint object model for remote access and execution. We can easily write applications that interact with SharePoint data (both read and write) from remote clients using any number of technologies such as: JavaScript (AJAX), Silverlight, WPF, etc. Check out the SharePoint 2010 SDK section on the Managed Client Object Model for more information.
  • Sandboxed Solutions: Many SharePoint developers wont agree, but I feel is another great step in the right direction. This feature allows Farm Admins (IT Pros) to designate “sandboxes” in the SharePoint farm where developers can deploy web parts without administrative intervention, while giving the Admins the ability to monitor and restrict certain levels of resource consumption such as:
  • Much Improved Large List Support: During the sessions multiple people demoed lists with hundreds of thousands, even millions of items. All of which displayed, filtered, and sorted information at very impressive speeds, or as my daughter would say: in lickity split.
  • Relational Lists with Cascading Deletes: Pretty self explanatory, and the cascading the deletes are configurable (they don’t have to be enforced.)
  • Developer Dashboard: This feature gives us performance metrics about the components running on a page. Helping developers identify and troubleshoot poorly running web parts. More information at: http://www.spfoxhole.com/Blog/Lists/Posts/Post.aspx?ID=131
  • Visual Upgrade: This feature facilitates the upgrade process by allowing us to maintain the 2007 look and feel (including the site admin pages), giving us more time to prepare our users for the transition.
  • Service Applications: These replace Shared Service Providers (SSPs), except that they are more flexible, more scalable, and we can build our own. Consider a scenario where you have a single web application from where you want to serve information from a BDC (Business Data Catalog) configured in one Shared Service Provider, but your search results need to come from another. SharePoint 2007 only allows us to associate one SSP per web application. Service Applications, help us overcome that barrier. Harbar has written a great introduction at: SharePoint 2010: Service Applications Part One: Model Overview
  • Developer Tools: Dramatically improved Visual Studio Support, out of the box SharePoint Projects Templates/Solutions (no more STSDEV or keeping up with the latest Visual Studio Extensions.) Integrated support for Team Foundation Server with team build capabilities. F5 debugging, and a slew of other features. Steve Fox writes a good intro at http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/magazine/ee309510.aspx or take a look at the video at http://sharepoint2010.microsoft.com/product/Benefits/IT-Developers/Pages/Top-Features.aspx
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SharePoint Upgrade Fundamentals Part 1 – SPC 2009 Session Highlights

There are some very welcome improvements with the upgrade process that don’t just apply to 2010 but SharePoint 2007 patch management as well. Unfortunately there is a bit of bad news (at least for some), so we’ll get started there to get it out of the way:

Requirements and Unsupported Scenarios

  • SharePoint 2010 will only support upgrading from WSS v3 and MOSS SP2. There will be no direct upgrade path for WSS 2.0 or SharePoint Portal Server.
  • SharePoint 2010 will only run on 64 bit environments (nothing new here, this has been known for quite some time)
  • No side by side installations. In other words you will not be able to run SharePoint 2007 or WSS 3.0 and SharePoint 2010 on the same hardware at the same time.
  • No gradual upgrade. This comes as a result of not being able to run both products side by side.

Supported Scenarios

  • In place upgrade
  • DB Attach

A couple of tools worth mentioning (discovery and diagnostics)

  • Pre Upgrade Checker: SharePoint 2010 equivalent of prescan, but unlike prescan.exe in 2007, you are not required to run it before performing the upgrade. I cant really see why you wouldn’t though as it provides tons of useful information, and does not modify the databases on the farm.
    • Worth noting that this already comes with SharePoint 2007 SP2 and a newer version is being released with the October Cummulative Update.

2009-10-20 14.55.55 

  • SP Diagnostics Utility:  Already in SharePoint 2007 (at least in SP2), give some very useful information regarding the farm’s overall health
  • Test-SPContentDatabase: PowerShell commandlet which reports data from server and database pairing; this is where the database may include references to certain features which may not be on the server ( You can run this against both 2007 and 2010 databases). report data includes:
    • Custom Site Definitions
      • Language
      • Template ID
      • Count (how often its being used)
      • Installed or missing
    • Used and missing assemblies
    • Missing ghosted(ghostable) files
    • Custom Receiver Assemblies
      • In use
      • Installed or missing
      • Where are they being used
    • Features
      • In use
      • where
      • installed or missing
  • Feature Upgrade Capabilities: This allows you to create new versions of your features and indicate whether you want to upgraded these features, where they are being used, to their newer respective versions. I suspect this can be a bit tricky… but if it works well, its a fantastic improvement.
  • Visual Upgrade: I mentioned this in one of my earlier posts.. fantastic idea. The product ships with 2007 versions of most of the site definitions (that’s right… most) that run on 2010. This means that you can upgrade now, and worry about the impact changing the look and feel will have later. Of course its important to note that this may not work with custom site definitions (although I hope its supported if we create their 2010 equivalents.)
    • By default, sites are upgraded with the 2007 look and feel
    • Can force to the new look and feel when performing the upgrade with the addcontentdb command or PowerShell mount command
    • Web owners can upgrade to the 2010 look and feel on their own when they are ready.
    • The following site definitions do not support Visual Upgrades:
      • My Site Core Site
      • PWA Core Site

Additional things worth noting

  • Central Administration provides great interfaces to help track the status of the upgrade. Giving us a look into the log information including current upgrade step and any errors.
  • Can run multiple upgrade sessions simultaneously and track via central admin.
  • One log per upgrade session
    • Upgrade errors only log
  • Fixed upgrade log schema (easier to report against)
  • Current DB Schema displayed in Central Admin
  • Easily re-run an upgrade that failed in the past.. this is useful if you know what caused the error and were able to fix it.
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Building Solutions with Business Connectivity Services and VS 2010 – SPC 2009 Session Highlights

The demos on this presentation where moving a little too fast for my taste, would have preferred 1 demo covering the topic deeper instead off multiple demos that just felt like they were flying by. That’s not to say that there wasn’t useful information, some of the highlights below:

Solution Types

  • No Code Solutions
    • Everything is managed by the runtime
    • Can connect to:
      • Existing WCF
      • SQL Server Databases
      • .NET Objects
    • SharePoint Designer
    • SharePoint SDK (XML i.e no code)
    • Surface Data in External Lists
      • Connect External Lists to Outlook, SPW
    • Customize InfoPath forms
    • Outlook Taskpane and Ribbon
    • Word Quickparts
    • Web Part Pages
  • Code
    • Visual Studio
    • Reusable
    • Can be incorporated into solutions that require no code
    • Custom Connectivity for data aggregation and transformation
    • Require business logic in code

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Developing with SharePoint 2010 Sandboxed Solutions – SPC 2009 Presentation Highlights

This is a really cool concept that’s new in SharePoint 2010. I was going to take a stab at describing it… but the presentation is already starting and I think the abstract is more than adequate:

Partial Abstract

”SharePoint 2010 adds a new deployment model for SharePoint called Sandboxed Solutions. It is a controlled solution packaging format that offers SharePoint Server Farm owners a way to easily mitigate risk that custom code will cause issues for them. It does this by restricting the API’s that can be called and governing resources that can be used…”

Presenter
Scott Hillier

Highlights

  • Creates a balance of stability (for IT admins) and agility (for developers) when developing, implementing, and testing solutions.
  • IT admins can control which servers in the farm will be allowed to run Sandbox Solutions
  • Only access to a Certain Subset through the proxy
    • No access to enterprise class objects
  • Code Access Security Limits
    • SharePointPermission.ObjectModel
    • SecurityPermission.Execution
    • AspNetHostingPermission.Level = Minimal
  • Can create a “fully-trusted proxy” that will allow us to reach outside the boundaries
  • Sandbox solutions deployed at the Site Collection Level
    • Site Collection Admins determine which Sandbox solutions run in their site
  • From Central Admin Can
    • Block Solutions
    • Quota Templates
    • Resource Monitoring
  • When deploying from Visual Studio 2010 will have to options to deploy solutions
    • Deploy as Sandbox Solution (selected by default… hint hint.. this is the way they want us to go)
    • Deploy as Farm Solution
  • VS adds and removes the Partially Trusted Callers based on Boolean value of the project properties which specifies if this is a Sandbox solution or not.

 image_thumb

  • Full Trust Proxy
    • Create a class that inherits from SPProxyOperationArgs
      • Class only passes arguments (Get and Set)
    • Create another class that inherits from SPProxyOperations
      • Override Execute Method
        • Your logic goes here
      • Takes in the SPProxyOperationsArgs class
    • The Full Trust Proxys must be registered on the farm via code (at least that is what he demoed… not sure if there is another way.)
    • Can execute the the full trust proxy code by calling SPUtility.ExecuteRegisteredProxyOperation from the Sand Box solution class.
  • Supports Load Balancing across specific servers on the farm
  • Can monitor and set limits on:
    • CPU, Memory, SQL, Exceptions, Critical Errors, Handles, Threads, etc..
    • Can allocate “Resource Points” to solutions that if consumed by a specific resource will not allow that solution to run for the rest of the day. (I’m sure there will be plenty of arguments over this)
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Overview of SharePoint 2010 Developer Platform – SPC 2009 Presentation Highlights

This is the second presentation I decided to attend. Presented by speaker; Paul Andrew from Microsoft. I’m posting the highlights from the presentation in the form of notes. As time allows over the coming months, I look forward to providing more in depth information on many of these:

  • Steve Creates a custom Web Part using Visual Studio 2010
  • Inserts the web part outside of a web part zone, in the content/wiki area of a page (very cool!)
  • Business Connectivity Services (Replaces Business Data Catalog)
    • Ability to Connect to .NET Data / .NET Types
  • SharePoint List Improvements
    • Cascading and Restricted Deletion (shown in demo)
    • Formula Based Validation (Excel like)
    • Lookup to multiple columns
    • List Index Auto Creation
    • List Query Throttling (allows IT Admins to set limits/restrictions on number of items in views)
    • Allows you to specify validation messages on fields for list… In other words, you don’t just specify that a field is required, or the format; but you can also specify the message that gets displayed to the user if it doesn’t meet the requirements. (Fantastic)
    • XSLT based View creation rather than CAML
  • Client Object Model which runs on remote machines. Helps overcome issues with network load. Sample: Create reference to SharePoint Context > Load > Execute Query (call gets made which gets context info) > Execute Logic (such as UpdateTitle or AddItem) > Item.Update > Execute Query (call gets made again and change is applied)
  • Events Improvement
    • After-Synchronous Events
    • Site Scoped Events
    • Web Creation Events
    • List Creation Events
  • Workflow Improvements
    • VS 2010 Initiation and Association Forms (shown in demo, much much easier than it was before)
    • Import SPD Workflows in Visual Studio
    • Visio 2010 Workflow Design
    • Many more, at least another 15… (could not get them all, changed slide to quickly)
  • Sandboxed Solutions
    • Easy Deployment
    • Iterative Deployment
    • Solution Gallery
      • Way of Uploading the WSP into SharePoint
        • Does not sit on the file system of the machine until someone uses that piece of code until someone approves
    • Monitors Process and Restricts API Calls using code access security
    • If the code uses more resources than its permitted it gets shut down
    • There are several rules that can be created and applied to the solutions to make it easier to test these without bringing down the farm.
    • Processes run against proxy instead of directly against SharePoint API (will need more info about this, but sounds impressive)
      • Able to log the commands that are being routed through the proxy to among other stuff.
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SharePoint Conference 2009 Opening Keynote Highlights

The following are some of the highlights from the Opening Keynote by Tom Rizzo and Steve Ballmer.

Tom Rizzo

  • Welcome Message, Funnies, Fun Facts about the Conference.

Steve Ballmer

  • SharePoint Public Beta Available in November
  • SharePoint Workspace Application in Office 2010 (Replacing Groove)
    • Take SharePoint Information Offline
    • Slow Links Support
  • End users can create their own custom SharePoint Applications (No Comments)
    • Access Services
    • InfoPath Form Services
    • SharePoint Designer

Tom Rizzo – Demo 1

  • SharePoint Development on Windows 7 and Vista
  • SharePoint Designer
    • Continues to be free
    • SharePoint Designer supports creating External Content Types mapped to external databases with CRUD Support (Create Read Update and Delete)
      • These appear as Lists on the SharePoint site
        • Same (or similar) support for sorting, filtering, views, etc.
      • Can Map to types such as “Outlook Contacts” that are fully integrated with Office 2010
    • XHTML Support
  • Visual Studio
    • Very tight integration with SharePoint 2010
    • Web Part Development very much like User Control (ASCX) development
    • Easily step through code and insert breakpoints
    • Developer Dashboard
      • Integrated Diagnostics
        • Performance Counters
        • Call Stack Data
    • Sand Box Solutions
      • Gives greater control to IT Administrators (Farm Admins)
        • Can Allocate Quotas based on performance data
        • Can easily manage and terminate faulty solutions

Steve Ballmer

  • SharePoint Online and Cloud allow you to build solutions that run:
    • On Premise
    • On the Cloud
    • In Mixed Mode

Tom Rizzo – Demo 2

  • End User Empowerment
    • New Product Page
    • Ribbon for Web Content Management
      • One-Click Page layout
      • Full Fidelity Copy Paste from MS Word 2010
    • Siverlight based Media Player Web Part
    • Fast Navigator Search Web Part (Queryless, Faceted, Drill Down)
      • Product Catalog
      • Slider Capabilities like those on the Bing Travel Site

Jeff Teper – VP Office Business Platform

  • Support for much larger lists and libraries
    • Million + Items on Lists
    • 10’s of Millions in Libraries
  • Taxonomy Management
    • Tagging
    • Content Types can be managed across site collections, web applications, and across all of the farms in your organization.
  • Digital Media / Records
    • Define Records in place rather than going to a record center
  • Partition Search Indexes 2
  • Visio Services
    • Integrate diagrams with Live Data
  • Take Business Intelligent Dashboards offline
  • Power Pivot (Previously called Gemini)
    • 100 Million Rows in Excel
    • Publish to Server with SharePoint
    • SQL Server Power Pivot for Excel
    • SQL Server Power Pivot for SharePoint

Jared Spataro – Demo

  • Page Editing
    • Preview changes on the glass as you are changing fonts (while hovering over the different fonts without having to select one). Like MS Word.
    • Add images to pages directly from your PC (don’t need to be in picture/image library)
    • Resize Images on the screen like in a WYSIWYG
  • Check-out multiple documents
  • Create Document Sets
    • Manage Workflows (among other things) for groups of documents simultaneously
  • Integrated Taxonomy Picker in Office 2010
  • Facebook Wall like functionality to track what you and other colleagues are up to (document ratings, recommendations, documents worked on, etc.)
  • View Peoples “Recent Content” directly from People Search Results
  • Note Board – on MySites
  • Excel Services Co-Editing
  • Manipulate Large Datasets (100s of millions) very quickly
    • Filtering, Sorting, etc.
  • Decomposition Tree in Performance Point allows us to very quickly break down where data is coming from.
  • SharePoint 2010 Mobile Workspace 2010 for Windows Mobile 6.5

Jeff Teper

  • 500+ Power Shell SharePoint Commands
  • Extensive usage tracking reports
    • Published Usage logging schema allows us to easily write our own reports.
  • Visual Upgrade Approach
    • Upgrade keeping the same 2007 UI
    • Dynamically switch to the 2010 UI when ready
      • Ability to preview site in SharePoint 2010 UI without committing changes

Arpan Shah

  • Central Admin
    • SharePoint Help Analyzer
      • Tells you if there is something wrong with your farm
        • Rules that check security, performance, configuration (based on best practices)
    • WSS is now SharePoint Foundation
  • Demo of SharePoint from a users standpoint using Firefox

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