Posts Tagged 'sharepoint'

Learning Tree Opens 34 NEW AnyWare Learning Centers across North America

We have some exciting news to share! Learning Tree has officially opened 34 New AnyWare Learning Centers across North America. You can eliminate travel costs and commuting time and take our IT and management courses locally at a designated center near you via AnyWare, our web-based attendance platform that allows you to experience the same hands-on, instructor-led classroom training live, online.

To view a complete list of SharePoint courses, click here. If you have any questions, feel free to drop us a note in the comments or follow us on any of our social media outlets:


Happy Training!

How to deploy SharePoint successfully the first time

Let’s take a look at what history has taught us in the IT world. We build or buy an application, we install that application and then we roll the application out to the users. Our job is now done and we move on to the next application. If we are rolling out SharePoint we follow the same pattern and this is why SharePoint deployments fail!

First of all SharePoint is not a common single purpose application, it is an application for developing web site based applications. So here is the kicker: the web applications are not intended to be developed by the IT departments but rather by information workers and this is why the historical deployment model does not work. IT is not deploying an application; they are deploying a platform to create application and that is why you can’t just roll out SharePoint.

So if we follow IT’s traditional deployment model, they just deployed an application that allows users to create other applications (web sites) as easily as creating a new file folder. What issues will this cause?

  • Users will figure this out and create web sites. There will be no management of how many web sites are created and soon we will have the same mess in SharePoint as we had in the LAN drive. I thought SP was going to solve these issues?
  • Most users will see SharePoint as only the team site (the most commonly deployed template) and wonder, “This is SharePoint? What the big deal? My LAN drive and email work better.”

So how do fix this?

  • First of all DON’T let your IT department deploy SharePoint as if it is a traditional application. Have them build the server infrastructure and create a solid platform where users can build web sites.
  • Create a SharePoint deployment team that will come up with usage scenarios, information architecture and governance (guidance and enforcement) for how to use the SharePoint infrastructure IT has deployed.
  • Roll out SharePoint slowly to various departments, showing them how various sites (templates) can be created and customized to solve their business problems. Users who are used to working with email and LAN drives build procedures around the limitations of email and LAN drives, and don’t at first see the solutions that are available in SharePoint that are superior.
  • Identify power users that you can further train on other SharePoint features, so they sites they build can solve more departmental issues.

If you deploy SharePoint this way instead of following the traditional method you will find greater adoption, reduction of information silos and increased efficiently in the organization.

Gord Maric

SharePoint and Business Intelligence Consultant

Why SharePoint? Part II

I am amazed at the popularity and the comments I have received from my original blog post Why SharePoint? I seemed to have hit a nerve with a number of people and I appreciate your feedback. I want to continue my original thoughts and elaborate further.

At the risk of getting lynched, let me say that the majority of people responding and vehemently protesting SharePoint are developers and technical administrators (The IT Crowd). You guys are very smart and talented but I think your focus is wrong and that’s why you don’t like SharePoint.

The IT crowd is used to working with ultimate control. I can’t do this exactly the way I want so the product is no good.

The IT crowd gets bored easily and is not interested in the easy solution. A wizard? Real developers code applications by hand. Besides, a wizard does not give me ultimate control.

The IT crowd are engineers who focus on speed and performance and are obsessed with stats. If it is not perfect, they are not happy. We can run the query 200 milliseconds faster if….

The IT crowd has no business deploying SharePoint to users! Traditionally, deployment is done by the IT crowd, because traditional systems required talented engineers to deploy applications. SharePoint does not.

The IT crowd needs to focus on SharePoint as a platform. Set up the platform so it works fast, scales, is maintainable and searchable. SharePoint is a platform for developing business applications.

The application development can be done without the IT crowd. SharePoint wizards, ready-made templates, and out-of-the-box functionality can satisfy the majority of the most common business requirements. Here lies the reason why SharePoint sucks. The IT crowd still wants to develop applications. “That’s the way it’s always been done, and we can make it faster and better!” But that is not what we need! A new breed of developers evolves with SharePoint. This group–let’s call them site owners, site collection owners–builds applications on the platform using less flexible tools but achieve incredible speed to market due to the limited flexibility. Websites can be created in seconds or days without code. Gasp! No code development? What’s this world coming to?

Development done without code changes everything! Applications that can be built in seconds require development of practices for managing these applications. That is called Governance, and the IT crowd does not care about governance because it has nothing to do with technology. SharePoint ultimately is more about content management and less about technology after the platform is deployed.

Arguing that users don’t need to be trained because it’s just a web site is rubbish. Users are savvy people and will find ways to build their own “applications”. I have seen entire divisions run on email, and Excel spreadsheets. That is wrong, for so many reasons. The users and IT crowd both know this. However, the users don’t have time or knowledge to build the platform, and the IT crowd is complaining about the platform because they don’t like the way it was built and they believe they can do a better job.

Not enough attention is paid to the business application of SharePoint even before the platform is created as well as afterwards to measure whether the platform was created as per the business needs. You can’t give users a platform and wish them luck. You have to give them a solution to a problem they are experiencing. You can’t just tell them to stop using email and the LAN drive without giving them a compelling reason to change.

I have yet to meet a user who complains when I give them an application that solves a problem they are having. They don’t care which version of the browser we are using. All they can see is “Wow! I don’t have do manage this anymore; the application manages it for me.” If the users are using a bicycle to move product and we give them a car to do the same thing, they will be happy. The IT crowd is arguing over the engine efficiency between car 1 or car 2. The user is just happy to get a car!

The problem is that not enough attention is paid to the business application of SharePoint after the platform is created.

There. I said it. Now let the arrows fly.

Gord Maric

SharePoint and Business Intelligence consultant

Note: The IT Crowd is a hilarious comedy about IT and Business.

Simple User Interface Enhancement With the Content Editor

Sometimes we need to develop custom solutions or customize SharePoint sites using SharePoint designer. Examples might be when creating detailed user interface elements such as interfaces to complex business system via web parts or changing the styling or branding of a complete site by modifying master pages. At other times we just need to enhance the user experience by adding a small piece of functionality.

One great example of this is to be found in the document centre.

A large upload button is provided to make it easier for our users to start the upload process.

This is implemented by using the content editor web part and some simple HTML/ JavaScript.

  1. Open up a document center site
  2. Switch the page into edit mode
  3. Investigate the HTML source for the content editor web part
  4. Create your own version to use against other libraries
5. This assumes you have SharePoint server standard or Enterprise installed and that you can create or access a new site that is based on the document centre template

6. The site will look something like this – note the button on the right

7. Use Page | Edit page to switch the page into editing mode

8. Click on the big grey button (Content Editor Web Part) then click on the HTML Source ribbon item

9. The source for the web part is now editable and will be similar to the following which has been slightly reformatted for easier reading

The key part is highlighted in blue. A call to a JavaScript routine provided by SharePoint that opens the upload document dialog.

Using a different address such as DavesDocuments/Forms/Upload.aspx allows me to either modify the existing button or create a set of buttons each opening their own library dialogs.The button itself is an image file (uploaddoc.png) above which can also be replaced.

The result is an enhancement that is simple to do if you know some basic html and JavaScript. Combine this with some css and even more useful effects can be achieved.

In summary, if you haven’t used it yet, the content editor web part is well worth a look as it is easy to use and gives a lot of potential for enhancing pages without needing the heavier duty development or customization tools.

Dave Severn

How Long is a Piece of SharePoint

A frequent type of question asked on SharePoint courses goes something like this –

How big should my content database be or how many web applications or how many site collections per application, how many servers do I need etc, etc?  The answer of course is – It depends!

You have to get the requirements and think through what it is you are trying to achieve. Document your existing network and server topology then sketch out what you think your solution will be. Check this against requirements and technical limitations and see if it fits. If not re-model and start again. Doing this up front on paper is big step forward before implementing test systems and running performance tests.

Consideration needs to be given to what you are trying to store, which users are allowed to access it and where will it be used amongst other things.

Microsoft’s TechNet site contains valuable information for planning your SharePoint infrastructure from server farms through to individual enterprise features.

For technical restrictions, their guide on SharePoint Server capacity management is well worth looking at as well.

Planning for SharePoint isn’t just about SharePoint, it encompasses the network, Windows Server configurations, Active Directory, Security, SQL server requirements, Performance and of course security. Training and governance will fall in there as well.

Treat each enterprise feature implementation as a project with requisite planning and design rather than just as a feature to be switched on and used.

I wish it was as simple as just giving an answer such three servers , two web apps and three site collections but it isn’t! Which is just as well as life wouldn’t be as interesting if SharePoint was this simple J

And just like the proverbial piece of string, one size does not fit all.

Dave Severn

Wanna go cruising in my leather, steel and rubber machine?

I just received an email from a student asking me what stubbing in SharePoint was. She was quite concerned what it meant for her and what needed to be done.

SharePoint stores all content, documents, images, etc. inside a database by default. Some database administrators are afraid of database growth and size so they look for techniques to reduce the size of the database for maintenance. One technique is to store only a small file pointer (stub) in the database and store the actual document(s) outside the database. Since the stub is tiny compared to the document, the database does not grow as rapidly. Stubbing is implemented on the server technically and is transparent to the user.

I continue to see SharePoint users trying to decipher technical jargon, and technical people so wrapped up in what they are saying that they forget the impact on end users and what they are actually trying to accomplish. If you are one of these technical people, take a moment, think about your audience, your users, and reframe your dialogue accordingly.

For more information about SharePoint archiving and storage, check out this blog:  Stubbing Documents in SharePoint.

After that we can go cruising in my new Lexus!

Gord Maric

Why SharePoint?

About 5 years ago I saw SharePoint for the first time and it blew my mind. As a matter of fact it blew my mind so much that I changed the work that my company was doing and started focusing on SharePoint almost exclusively. Yet, as I go in to in to clients’ offices, I am bombarded with complaints about SharePoint.

What’s wrong with SharePoint?

  1. Stop calling it SharePoint. SharePoint is a platform for developing web sites. If you’re having issues, take a look at the development of your platform. Figure out what went wrong and redeploy the “HR” web site, or “Company Intranet.” Tell them you have a new version of the “Company Intranet”–not SharePoint.
  2. Stop using folders. So often I find clients’ libraries filled with layers and layers of folders. Folders don’t work well on the web. Users expect the same experience with folders as on their desktop and SharePoint does not deliver a good folder experience.

How not to use folders:

  1. Were users trained on the usage of the web site? I attended a training session at a client’s site delivered by the IT department that installed SharePoint (yes, they were calling it that). The audience consisted of business professionals who were planning to use SharePoint deployed for them. The presenter went on about the servers installed SharePoint and capabilities:

The audience was lost, and scared to death to see what they were going to get when they got back to their office.

So, SharePoint is not so bad. Focus on improving implementation or try SharePoint training, and then see what you think!

Gord Maric
CiRAM eSolutions Ltd
Specializing in SharePoint and Business Intelligence

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