Tuesday, June 30, 2009

SharePoint - It's all about making the right choices and decisions - When to use custom site definitions.

This is the third posting about making the correct design decisions when implementing SharePoint. It's about site definition vs site templates.

I strongly believe that there are a couple of  reasons for using custom site definitions:

  1. Better overall performance of using site definitions instead of site templates for creating sites
  2. More control and flexibility in building a specific solution. One thing to keep in mind though is to keep your custom site definitions as minimal as possible and to use the SharePoint Features framework to add functionality.
  3. Site templates are basically black boxes where you have limited control over the way that they are working - so when you get into trouble you're stuck.
  4. It is easier to add additional functionality to site which are developed using a site definition in contrast with these built using a site template.

The main reason for choosing site templates is that overall it takes less effort to create a site template. You can just click everything together and use the Save site as template option. Another reason would be that you can change a site template without affecting existing sites (allthough this might be a disadvantage as well).

Some extra info: Site definitions versus site templates and deciding on the correct customization approach . On a similar note this same post from  Eric - The great debate: SharePoint Designer vs custom site definitions.

Previous postings:

Visio design templates for SharePoint 2007


List web part for Microsoft CRM 4.0

Another interesting one  to to integrate SharePoint and Microsoft CRM 4.0 is to use the List Web Part for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0. (Released december 2008 - tip: there is a different web part for Dynamics CRM 3.0)

The List Web Part for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 provides a way to view and update Microsoft Dynamics CRM records using a Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 SP1 or Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 SP1 Web site. Microsoft Dynamics CRM users can create shared or personal List Web Parts of Microsoft Dynamics CRM records from a SharePoint Web site, open records in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 from the List Web Part, and create connected List Web Parts.

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Microsoft Dynamics Snap apps

If you want people to use the core applications you invested in (such as CRM and ERP), it is a good idea to integrate them into a familiar interface. Most people tend to use Office applications quite a lot in their daily job so why not integrate your CRM and ERP from within Office. Dynamics Snap applications show how information workers can work with data out of Dynamics CRM and Dynamics from within their Office applications (This is what Microsoft calls a Office Business Applications or OBA)

One that I tried out recently - Microsoft Dynamics Snap for Microsoft Dynamics AX on Codeplex – of which the current release supports Dynamics AX 2009. There are two different snaps available for Dynamics AX 2009:

  • Offline Expense - This snap-in enables expenses to be entered in Excel while disconnected from the corporate network, and then posted to Dynamics AX at a later time. This snap-in uses WCF-based services and LINQ to retrieve data from Dynamics AX, and uses the Application Integration Framework, or AIF to send business documents to Dynamics AX.
  • Business Data Lookup (BDL) - This snap-in enables information workers to access data from Dynamics AX from within Excel, Word and Outlook. This snap-in is an upgrade of the BDL snap-in that was distributed with Microsoft Dynamics AX 4.0.

Unfortunately the Microsoft Dynamics Snap Team Blog doesn't show any activity since january 2007


Sunday, June 28, 2009

Troubleshooting Microsoft CRM

My colleague Koen has been writing some excellent blog posts about troubleshooting certain issues with Microsoft CRM:

Belgian Azure User Group launched …

Kurt Claeys just announced the birth of a new Belgian user group – www.azug.be

AZUG.BE is a Belgian user group with focus on development and architecture of the Microsoft Azure Services Platform. Azure is a cloud hosted development platform for internet oriented applications aimed at high scalability and based on .NET technology.

Our goal is to share knowledge and experiences with the .NET community in development and architecture in the Azure Services Platform and the .NET Services technology. As new programming skills and a new architectural approach are needed I’m inviting you to become member of this user group to prepare you for building this new style of applications.

We’ll have regular public meetings (free of charge) providing demos, training, presentations and discussions on the technology part of Azure. First public meeting is planned in september 09.

Interested in participating as boardmember ? Shoot a mail at board@azug.be.

Interested in the agenda of upcoming events, visit www.azug.be regularly or register for the newsletter at newsletter@azug.be with the word subscribe as subject. Hope to see you.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

What’s in a name – SharePoint Online, BPOS and Microsoft Online Services

SharePoint Online, Microsoft Online Services or BPOS (Business Productivity Online Suite) are terms which you hear flying around when you look for information about Microsoft’s endeavors in the cloud. Here’s some more background information:

  • SharePoint Online : is a collection of web-based collaboration tools built on Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 and provided by Microsoft as a hosted service. For some more information check out Service Description for Microsoft Office SharePoint Online
  • Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) : goes broader then SharePoint – it is a set of messaging and collaboration solutions hosted by Microsoft, and consists of Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Office Live Meeting, and Office Communications Online.
  • Microsoft Online Services: is the overall name of all services Microsoft will offer in a hosted environment – current focus for Belgium is BPOS but the offering will probably extend to also include Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online in the coming months.

Before you rush in it is probably best to first take a look at what the trade offs are when you choose the SharePoint Online option instead of an on-premise deployment.  A good start is the SharePoint Online Infrastructure Planning and Design (IPD) guide. Infrastructure Planning and Design (IPD) guides help you in making design decisions by looking at available options, taking into account cost, complexity and technical contstraints. They help you to align your business and IT more efficiently. There are already a number of IPD’s available (released versions)  - Infrastructure Planning and Design Guides

It is also important to note that the use of SharePoint Online is not mutually exclusive with a SharePoint installation on premise. These two forms can quite easily co-exist, it is however important that you define policies and rules for users when to use what. This is typically an important aspect of a SharePoint governance plan.

If you want to try it out – there is a 30-day free trial which you can use at the Microsoft Online Services – Customer Portal

More background info:

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

PDF Annotations

A common requirement for PDF files is the ability to add comments and annotations. Docutrack has an interesting tool called PDF-XChange viewer (which is free) which allows you to do just that.

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Sunday, June 07, 2009

Free Documentum Developer Edition available

On june 2d EMC announced  a free developer edition of EMC Documentum Content Server 6.5 which you can download from the ECM Developer Community.

To get you started take a look at the Content Server Developer Edition Install instructions. What’s a little bit weird is that Windows Server 2008 seems to be missing from the list of supported OS – I tried installing it anyway but it failed with this error -  DIWAOEMExecuteConfigurationscripts failed - "creating index agent" failed. Runtime execution failed with childprocess

Too bad  … time to setup a new blank Windows Server 2003.

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