Microsoft SharePoint

Notes on "WSS in Business", with Gary Payne

Gary is presenting the second SharePoint User Group meeting in Christchurch. He’s been working with SharePoint for 7 years or so, both here and in the UK. There will be a few content slides, and then into the demo. There’s about 15 people here.

On WSS The free version in 2001 was called “Team Services” and was based on a different infrastructure to the Portal Server 2001 product. With the 2007 release, the integration is much better, and WSS (the free version) is extensively leveraged by SharePoint Server 2007.

On licensing, WSS is free for internal usage. For external usage, there is a licensing cost.

The Installation Process Click a couple of options and you are done. Gary recommends not doing a Basic install, but instead going for the Advanced install option (which permits the use of SQL Server, rather than going for the default MSDE).

There are some terms to get used to: a farm (a collection of servers to host SharePoint), Web Applications (overall management, eg, Central Admin), Site Collections (a collection of sites, eg, one for marketing, one for IT, etc), Sites (eg, team sites, wiki), Lists (that contain data).

Out of the box WSS delivers a few templates for building sites, and Microsoft offers another 40 free templates to download and try out.

Gary gave a demo including: applying a site theme, creating a new list in a site, the role of site columns, content types (a grouping a fields related to a certain object; for more advanced uses, you can associate workflows with different content types), the ability to create different views of the data (Standard, Calendar, GANTT), the huge benefit of the breadcrumb trail (so you don’t get lost), the role of calculated fields for doing filtering in views (if you can use Excel formulas, you’ll be fine), adding Web Parts to other pages, for visual notification of changes, creating Web Part pages, managing documents in Document Lists (metadata, versioning, check-in and check-out), wiki sites, SharePoint Designer for making customizations to the SharePoint setup and look-n-feel, Data View web parts, workflow setup via SharePoint Designer, and more.

He also mentioned a few other ideas; (1) use SharePoint as a tool for prototyping enterprise applications (easy and cost effective for trying things out); (2) there is a lot that power users can do out of the box, and SharePoint developers can do a lot more; (3) there always needs to be a field called “Title” — don’t get rid of it; (4) “You’ll find yourself creating lots of views, but don’t worry about it”; and (5) SharePoint Designer, for “no developer required” (but you can’t do everything).

“It’s quite simple in its structure, but you can do a lot with it.”

The next seminar is on November 27, presented by Mark Orange from Intergen in Wellington.