Seeing the old version of a document when using a previous version of office

August 10, 2006 at 4:13 pm | Posted in SharePoint, SharePoint 2003 | Leave a comment

This is a small issue, but it comes up occasionally… doesn’t happen if you’re working with Office 2003, but a lot of people are not.

If you are working with Word XP, the following may happen. You click on a document name in a document library and view the contents. You decide that you’re going to edit the document. So, you close it down, and then use the “edit in Word” feature of the document libraries. You make your changes and save, and close.

Then, you reconsider your changes, perhaps you just want to re-check the document, so you open it up just by clicking the link to open it in read only view.

Most likely, you’ll see the version of the document from before your edits. I’ve had a few distraught phone calls from users who experience this. The edits have been saved however, whats happened is IE has opened the locally cached version of the document from your first viewing.

If you shut down all your browser windows, open a fresh browser, open the document, you’ll most likely see the correct latest version.

So, whats the fix? Well, as documents are delivered by owssvr.dll, there’s only so much you can do. In IIS, specially on the owssvr.dll file, I disabled the default caching rules and added ‘cache-control:no-cache’ to the http header. Problem fixed.

But, (and it’s a big one) do you really want to disable caching on all your lists, web part pages, and documents? Probably not. Owssvr.dll is responsable for all these pages. (check out your iis logs) I’ve not done detailed performance checking on this, but it can only increase the workload of the server. How significantly is difficult to say.

Perhaps there is a more subtle cache-control command I could add to the http header as ‘no-cache’ is a bit of a sledgehammer, but it’s worth checking how common an issue this is before making such a change.

Either way, I’m glad I found out why it was happening…

LCID for the UK when working in Frontpage 2003

June 14, 2006 at 11:34 am | Posted in SharePoint, SharePoint 2003, SharePoint 2007 | Leave a comment

1033 may be the LCID for english, but it also carries with it the US mm/dd/yy date format. If you're working with frontpage developing a dataview web part and can't get the date to display as the UK dd/mm/yy, put 2057 in the locale parameter. 2057 is UK English.

Virtual Server setup for SharePoint 2007 beta 2

June 13, 2006 at 11:28 am | Posted in SharePoint, SharePoint 2007 | Leave a comment

I ran in to trouble when setting up the virtual servers for MySite and the Shared Services Administration. The configuration page asks you to select an existing virtual server or create a new one.

Alas, despite having a couple of unused virtual servers already created, and trying to create new ones through the SharePoint UI, the selection drop-down remained empty.

After getting rather annoyed over a certain period of time, I found changing the execute permisisons in the Virtual Server to script and executables allowed the virtual servers to be created. I don't know if this is the correct fix as it obv. a potential security risk, but it fixed it for me.

P.S. I've been playing with beta 2 for a couple of days now and I've got a familiar feeling. I think I last felt it after I'd been using SPS2003 for a few days… it kinda goes along the lines of "this thing is huuuge… and it's gonna take months and months to learn it.." and that's with 3 years of SPS2003 experience under my belt.

The potential though is phenominal. WSS 2007 alone is going to change how a lot of companies work. I can't yet imagine the full impact of SPS2007, at the very least it'll become a development platform in it's own right, and thats before you start throwing in all the custom .net web parts.

Retrieving documents from SharePoint 2003

June 13, 2006 at 11:04 am | Posted in SharePoint, SharePoint 2003 | Leave a comment

SSA has created a great tool for pulling word documents from SharePoint. I won't repeat all the details that he has documented on his own site, but this has the potential to develop in to an essential maintenance tool.

http://www.sharepointblogs.com/ssa/archive/2006/05/23/7486.aspx

Knowledge Networking

May 27, 2006 at 4:25 pm | Posted in SharePoint, SharePoint 2007 | Leave a comment

I have been working with intranets and knowledge management and document management systems  for most of my professional career. All three have very distinct purposes and roles  within an organisation, at least from the view of those in the IT department. I’m not so sure however that the end users really see the difference between them. Typically, an employee “just needs to find some information! How complicated can it be?”.

I’m not going to delve in to the science and philosophy of information sharing, knowledge management, collaboration culture as it is a colossal field, well beyond the scope of a blog posting. Some people make good careers just explaining what those words mean, “and what they could mean to your business”.

I will mention though, is that while businesses are starting to understand the value of effective information sharing, the understanding of the amount of investment that their employees need to make to a new system is something I think organisations don’t acknowledge fully.

While Word is a fancier way of writing letters, Outlook saves time on sending them, and PowerPoint supposedly improves your presentations, none of them changes how you do your job. But it enables you to do your job quicker, and more effectivly.

One of the challenges with intranet/document/knowledge management systems is that they actually ask you to do your job differently, and in some cases increases the amount of work you have to do.

  • Back in the day – get your quill pen, parchment, and blotting paper. Write letter, wait for it to dry, seal with wax, give to lackey, hope he doesn’t get held up by highway men on the London road.
  • Most of us – open Word, write document, ask colleague in the vicinity if they think it’s ok, send by email.
  • Knowledge management – open Word, write document, upload in to collaboration work space, invite feedback, tag with contextual and non-contextual metadata, submit to  document management system, and then email.

People are too busy doing their jobs and getting things done today to bother with detailed categorising and metadata tagging  and considering, “if someone were to search for this information a year from now, what terms would they use to search for it?” and “percentage wise, how relevant is this information to these 3 different parts of the organisation?”. This is well beyond the realm of most workers, and today typically only has meaning to knowledge management professionals.

And yet, most knowledge management systems require the users to have the time and training to be able to work and behave in this manner. Companies may expect a knowledge management system to solve all their “how can I find this?” issues, but it’s the training of the employees to  submit information meaningfully that is going to provide the solution, not the technology.

Thus, there are many tools out there that will “auto-tag”, “metadata-enrich”, and “buzzword-enhance” documents. These are all good things, but they do struggle. Time will improve the intelligence of these tools, and I’m sure they will become more meaningful. But they are still limited to tagging the documents and information that the company holds centrally, that has been submitted or collected and has passed the criteria for being held up as an “official company document”.

Myself, as a consultant to organisations looking to improve their ability to share information meaningfully, often try explain the challenges that will have to be faced in changing how people do their jobs. I have been working with SharePoint almost exclusively over the past few years as it proved very popular with companies  and dramatically lowered the cost of implementing knowledge management and intranet solutions. So I’ve been looking forward to the next version hoping to see various improvements and enhancements.

Then, I came across a feature that no-one appears to have been talking about before. Microsoft  recently announced a new feature at a SharePoint conference.

Knowledge Network (KM) for Microsoft Office SharePoint 2007 (MOSS).

From what I have read so far, (links below) this is a massive step forward for knowledge management in SharePoint. The basic principle is to have a security sensitive application running on your PC, searching your emails and documents to determine

  • what you know,
  • who you know,
  • who you work with,
  • and the connections between those three factors.

with, critically, no input required from the user. The information that this client application collects is then sent to a central server that collates the profiles for all individuals in an organisation. The Knowledge Network server is then able to to provide a searchable picture of how knowledge, expertise, and relationships are spread and where they are located across your organisation.

This picture could be updated every day, continuously evolving, with no input required from individuals beyond determining on their own machines what could be indexed and what couldn’t.

The beta is currently only available on betaplace, and I’m sure there’s a fair amount of work to go for Microsoft, but if they get this right it could well become a killer app for large companies spread across multiple offices in multiple countries.

The benefits would be exponential, as improved use of information in the company, new relationships formed, new knowledge understood would all feed directly back in to the Knowledge Network server. The potential of being able to access an internal “company zeitgeist” on a day to day basis, understanding the movement, appearance, disappearance of knowledge, and then filter it by departments, offices, dates has a immeasurable value.

Read on at the links below….

http://www.microsoft.com/office/preview/servers/sharepointserver/kn.mspx – Microsoft Knowledge Network page
http://blogs.msdn.com/kn/ – Knowledge Network team blog

http://weblogs.asp.net/soever/archive/2006/05/24/Microsoft-goes-Social-Networking-on-SharePoint.aspx
http://www.joiningdots.net/blog/2006/05/ms-knowledge-network.html

Office / SharePoint 2007 beta 2

May 24, 2006 at 1:26 pm | Posted in SharePoint, SharePoint 2007 | Leave a comment

This is the kind of thing that is old news within 24 hours, but I thought I'd comment on it anyway. The link (if you haven't already found it) is:-

http://www.microsoft.com/office/preview/beta/getthebeta.mspx – SharePoint 2007 Portal and other office apps
Windows SharePoint Services v3
Windows SharePoint Services v3 en language pack

If you are installing SharePoint 2007 on a stand-alone DC server, you will also require http://download.microsoft.com/download/b/1/a/b1a6dceb-92a3-4808-8dac-b4e40c90ce00/StandaloneDCWorkaround.msi

But make sure you read

Please read this before installing Beta 2 by the SharePoint Team

To justify this posting a little, here are a couple of extra links that you should find useful and could well become frequenty visited places.

Microsoft – Office 2007 Developer Center
Microsoft – MSDN SharePoint Services Developer Center
Microsoft – Microsoft Sharepoint Community
Microsoft – eLearning Center for Office / SharePoint 2007
Microsoft – http://www.codeplex.com/ (Community development web site)

Joris Poelmans – Giant list of SharePoint 2007 resources and information

Microsoft – SharePoint Server 2007 SDK download
Microsoft – Windows SharePoint Services v3 download

Microsoft – SharePoint Server 2007 SDK documentation
Microsoft – Windows SharePoint Services v3 SDK documentation

Additionally, I was at a UK SharePoint User Group meeting on Monday just gone. If you're based in the UK and want to minimise the pain learning curve of taking up SharePoint 2007 this is an excellent group to join. Both talks on MOSS2007 by Nick Swan and Steve Smith were excellent, and future meetings should help us all circumvent the baptism of fire challenges developers and users faced back in the day when 2003 was launched. The support that Microsoft themselves are giving this community is also to be applauded. Get involved at http://suguk.org/.

SPS32-EN.IMG at 52%, 22.1Kb/sec. <sigh>

Running code after creating a site

May 23, 2006 at 12:24 am | Posted in SharePoint, SharePoint 2003 | Leave a comment

This might seem like quite a trival feature, but it's actually very powerful. It is effectivily an event handler for the "create site" action, which up until now I thought didn't exist.

I typically don't link to other blogs as you'll probably find those yourself anyway, but I thought this was so useful I'd make an exception.

http://weblogs.asp.net/soever/archive/2006/05/10/445932.aspx

Macaw Reskinner

December 18, 2005 at 7:50 pm | Posted in SharePoint, SharePoint 2003 | Leave a comment

Wow, a whole year. More even, 13 months. How can so much time pass without a blog posting? Perhaps I got lazy. There are so many great SharePoint bloggers out there now, I didn't feel the need to post information. I also didn't want to become an "echo" blog, repeating the latest news that so many blogs seem to do. I like to think that as my role became one of project management, I didn't really come across many technical insights to share with the world.

But anyway….

You certainly start to become more attuned to the business challenges, and consequences, of implementing SharePoint, but you feel that you can't really post on work that is internal to a company.

However, there is on thing that I have come across recently that I should definitely mention.

The one thing everybody comments on, and Microsoft assures us is fixed in the next version, is options that people don't have permission to use are presented to every user. The other is the administration headache of making changes to layout. The amount of files you end up having to change is huge, and you can't help feeling that you're almost breaking SharePoint as you make those changes to allitems.aspx etc etc.

A long while ago, I posted on how difficult the problem of customisation is. It received a lot of comments. I guess many people had the same problems. However, one comment offered a solution that had been proposed before, but never implemented until then.

Alas, I didn't take the time to research it as it wouldn't have helped me then. But someone else did, and commented back on the same article, very positively. Recently I faced some challenges in an implementation, and my memory brought those comments to mind.

Essentially, Serge van den Oever created a httpModule that uses regexp to edit html on the server, after it has been generated by SharePoint. This means you can edit the html of SharePoint web pages, on the server, without touching a single SharePoint config file or .aspx page, before they are sent down the wire to the user. While it may add overhead to your processing time, it is a beautifully clean solution, compared to the alternatives I have seen ( and implemented) before.

That text and those links generated by locked down Microsoft dll's can now be search and replaced away by a simple regex. If for example you're one of those people needing to strip away that site settings link across all WSS sites on a server, I would recommend trying this out. The package can be downloaded from gotdotnet.

Data View Web Parts

November 14, 2004 at 7:16 pm | Posted in SharePoint, SharePoint 2003 | 4 Comments

Although in my last post I mentioned SharePoint from the project management perpective, here's a tip that's purely development.

One thing that winds me up is how SharePoint deals with ghosted pages. As soon as a page is unghosted it's lost to any future template changes. If you unsure to what unghosted pages are in SharePoint let me assure you they are "a bad thing".

Now should you wish to create a data view web part from an existing list, you have to do it in FrontPage, and you have to then hit the save button, unghosting it and casting the page down in to the 7th circle of SharePoint annoyances.

Unless…

You first create a new web part page, and place your list as a web part on that new page. Then in FrontPage convert it into a Data View web part and do all the customisations you wish. Once done, hit save.

Then visit the page in Internet Explorer. Modify the properties of the data view web part and you'll see the three buttons in the toolpane that displays the properties on the data view web part (Source Editor, DataQuery Editor, Parameters Editor). Open each property window and copy and paste the values to 3 local text files.

You can now delete the web part page and the data view web part it contains. (Although I'd recommend waiting until you know this whole process has worked)

Now go to the page you really want to display the data view web part on.

Drop an empty Data View web part in to a zone. Open the toolpane, and for each property button paste in the values from your local text files.

You'll now have your customised Data View web part, and no unghosting will have taken place!

High-five!

What’s that? You don't have an empty Data View web Part? Ah.

Right-click save target as on http://gilesgregg.com/Data%20View%20Web%20Part.dwp.

Copy it in to your wpcatalog folder under the sites’ root iis folder and you'll then find it under the Virtual Server gallery.

Alternativly you could export the web part to a .dwp file off the temporary web part page and then import it to the destination page. This is certainly an easier method in the short term, but I've found having an empty data view web part in the Virtual Server gallery quite useful.

Any feedback gratefully received…

Back from holiday

November 13, 2004 at 1:13 am | Posted in SharePoint, SharePoint 2003 | Leave a comment

Ok, so I wasn’t actually on holiday for 3 months, but on my return I started a new job project managing a SharePoint implementation rather than acting as a technical consultant.

A very different way of working.

While tech knowledge helps in that role, you obviously spend much less time dealing with code and .aspx templates and the like, which has left me with not so much to publish.

I have had quite a few circumstances where I’ve had knowledge that would be useful to post, but as a project manager, you’re not in the frame of mind where your instinct is to rush to your blog. Your responsibility is to resolving problems and keeping the project on track.

I’m going to try this method of posting to my blog via email, and perhaps posting SharePoint thoughts from the perspective of a project manager.

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