Author Archives: MartinHatch

SharePoint 2013 Reference Sheet – Services on Server

This post will provide a description of each of the SharePoint Services in the “Services on Server” section of Central Administration, describing what it is for and anything you need to look out for.

This was borne out of a frustration of checking client environments and consistently finding environments which had services running which they weren’t using (and were never going to use!).

Note that some of these also have a corresponding Service Application that you will need to create in order to use them.

Service Purpose Comments
Access Database Service 2010 Enables SharePoint 2010 Access Services functionality
Access Services Enables SharePoint 2013 Access Services functionality Required for “Access Apps”
App Management Service Manages SharePoint App licenses and permissions Required for Apps to work
Application Discovery and Load Balancer Service Determines which server to send Service Application requests to .. this is how SharePoint automatically balances load. Fundamental SharePoint Service, defaults to “Round Robin”Can be extended with custom load balancing code if you are brave enough!
Business Data Connectivity Service Enables BCS which provides External Content Types and External Lists. Required if you want to sync external LOB systems with User Profiles.
Central Administration Hosts the Central Admin Web Application The default URL is set to the server-name of the first server SharePoint is installed on.If you want to run this on multiple servers you should consider Alternate Access Mappings with a DNS entry
Claims to Windows Token Service (C2WTS) Used to convert SharePoint Claims back into Windows Tokens for Kerberos delegation. Required for Kerberos when used with BI Tools.Requires some manual steps: https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh231678.aspx
Distributed Cache Heavily used in SharePoint.Requires ICMP ports open between SharePoint Servers.

Numerous Gotchas: https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj219613(v=office.15).aspx

 

Document Conversions Launcher Service Enables an extension point to configure conversion from one document format to another.
Document Conversions Load Balancer Service Enables an extension point to configure conversion from one document format to another.
Excel Calculation Services Enables the Excel Services BI functionality Significant RAM overhead (recommended 32GB)If you want to use “PowerView” in Excel then you also need to configure the SQL PowerPivot add-on.

Kerberos will require C2WTS.

Lotus Notes Connector Allows you to connect Search to a Lotus Notes database to enable indexing and crawling of Lotus content.
Machine Translation Service Allows an API for developers to submit content to be translated into another language.
Managed Metadata Web Service Enables “Managed Metadata” taxonomies and term sets Required for default navigation settings in SP2013 (navigation stored in Term Store)Required for User Profiles
Microsoft SharePoint Foundation Incoming E-Mail Enables inbound emails to be stored in Document Libraries. Requires significant configuration including AD and DNS settings:https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc262947(v=office.15).aspx
Microsoft SharePoint Foundation Outgoing E-Mail Enables outbound emails from the server Needs to be configured in Central Admin
Microsoft SharePoint Foundation Sandboxed Code Service Allows Sandbox Solutions to be used and executed. Required for SharePoint Hosted Apps, Design Manager and “Save as Template” functions.(SharePoint Hosted Apps use the Sandbox Code Service to provision features and content in the “App Web”)
Microsoft SharePoint Foundation Subscription Settings Service Manages subscriptions between Sites and Apps. Required for Apps to work
Microsoft SharePoint Foundation Web Application  Hosts the Content Web Applications If this is enabled, all of the Web Applications (except for Central Admin) will be deployed.Also determines which servers are deployed to when deploying a WSP which is Web Application Targeted.
Microsoft SharePoint Foundation Workflow Timer Service Runs any SharePoint 2010 style Workflows
PerformancePoint Service Runs the PerformancePoint BI component. Significant RAM overhead (recommended 32GB)Kerberos will require C2WTS.
PowerPoint Conversion Service Enables an API for developers to convert PowerPoint Presentations to various different formats (e.g. PPTX / PDF / JPG / PNG)
Request Management Allows custom routing rules for requests made to Service Applications. e.g. to route Excel traffic from one Site to a specific server If you turn this on without defining any routing configurations then everything breaks!
Search Administration Web Service Servers that run search components This service is automatically started on all servers that run search topology components.
Search Host Controller Service Servers that run search components This service is automatically started on all servers that run search topology components.
Search Query and Site Settings Service Servers that run the query processing component This service is automatically started on all servers that run search topology components.
Secure Store Service Allows storage of credentials and other secure information. Database is encrypted using a “Master Key” configured when the service is setup.Required for the BI Unattended Service Account configuration
SharePoint Server Search Crawls content for the search index This service is automatically started on all servers that run search topology components.Note – Cannot be stopped or started from the Services on Server page
User Profile Service Manages the user profiles, creation of My Sites and SharePoint Social Features (and associated permissions and properties). Required for “High Trust” Provider Hosted Apps to work
User Profile Synchronization Service Used to synchronise data from AD (and other data sources) into the Profile Database. Not necessarily required for User Profiles!If you are just doing the “Directory Import” option then this service is not required.

The definitive “how-to” guide: https://www.harbar.net/articles/sp2010ups.aspx

Visio Graphics Service Allows Visio diagrams to be deployed to SharePoint so they can be displayed in the browser.
Word Automation Services Enables an API for developers to convert Word Documents to various different formats (e.g. DOCX / PDF)
Work Management Service Allows task aggregation, particular bringing together Tasks from Exchange, Project Server and SharePoint. Requires Search and My SitesTasks are stored in a hidden list in the user’s My Site.

So that gives you a run through of the SharePoint 2013 Services, and hopefully an indication of whether you should have them running or not!

Any additional suggestions, comments or errors you’ve spotted please let me know and I’ll try and keep this updated!

Note – this list only includes the Vanilla SharePoint 2013 services and does not include services added through other installs like SQL Server: {PowerView, Reporting Services, PowerPivot}

For more detail, including some great technical detail you can also check this TechNet article out:

Plan service deployment in SharePoint 2013 (https://technet.microsoft.com/en-US/library/jj219591(v=office.15).aspx)

Windows 8, Hyper-V, BitLocker and “Cannot connect to virtual machine configuration storage”

So I am now working at a new professional services company in South East England (Ballard Chalmers) who use Hyper-V throughout their DEV / TEST environments. I have previously been a VMWare Workstation person myself (and I still think the simplicity and ease of the user interface is unmatched) but for the foreseeable time I will be running Windows 8.1 Pro on my laptop as a Hyper-V host.

Before we get started it is worth describing my setup:

  • Windows 8.1 Pro
  • 3rd Gen Intel i7-3820QM CPU
  • 32GB DDR3 RAM
  • Two physical disk drives
    • C:\ SYSTEM – 512GB SSD (for Operating System, Files and Applications)
    • D:\ DATA – 512GB SSD (for Hyper-V Images and MSDN ISOs) (running in an “Ultra-Bay” where the Optical Drive used to be)

Now like most modern laptops I have a TPM (Trusted Platform Module) on my machine so I also have BitLocker encryption running on both my C: and D: drives (for those who are interested I barely notice any performance drop at all .. and I can still get 550 MB/s sustained read even with BitLocker enabled).

Saved-Critical – Cannot connect to virtual machine configuration storage

Now I noticed from time to time that my Virtual Machines were showing error messages when my computer started up. I noticed it here and there until Thomas Vochten (@ThomasVochten) also mentioned he was getting it every time he started his machine up.

Hyper-V Error

Note – You can get this error for all sorts of reasons, particularly if you have recently changed the Drive Letters, re-partitioned your hard disks or moved a VM. In this case I was getting the error without doing anything other than turning my laptop on!

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64GB of RAM in a Laptop, and why I want it …

Well, the rumour mills have been well and truly circulating recently about the potential for high capacity DRAM chips which could allow laptops to have up to 64GB of memory. I was recently directed to this article (https://www.anandtech.com/show/7742/im-intelligent-memory-to-release-16gb-unregistered-ddr3-modules) from the ArsTechnica forums.

This article basically describes a new method of DRAM stacking (as opposed to the standard method of NAND stacking) which allows the production of 16GB SODIMMs chips. My current laptop has four SODIMM slots (like pretty much every other high-end laptop on the market) so with the current maximum of 8GB SODIMMs my laptop supports 32GB RAM. If I could use 16GB SODIMMs then I could theoretically swap those chips out for a straight 4x 16GB SODIMMs (i.e. 64GB of RAM).

The best news is that these chips could be on the market this year!

“Mass production is set to begin in March and April, with initial pricing per 16GB module in the $320-$350 range for both DIMM and SO-DIMM, ECC being on the higher end of that range.” (source: Anandtech article linked above)

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Embedding Sandbox Web Parts into Page Layouts and Master Pages

Note – this is applicable to both SharePoint 2010 and SharePoint 2013 .. and despite rumours of “The Sandbox is deprecated” many features in SharePoint 2013 rely on the Sandbox so I don’t see it going anywhere for the time being

This is something that I have been told many times, it is not possible to embed a server control developed in the Sandbox onto a Page Layout or Master Page because you can’t add the appropriate Tag Prefix to the header.

If you consider the standard way of doing this for a Farm / Full Trust solution:

<% @Register TagPrefix="MJH" Namespace="MJH.Examples.WebControls" Assembly="MJH.Examples, Version=1.0.0.0, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=16e05f568fffc0d1" %>

<!-- Custom Web Control-->
<MJH:SampleCustomControl runat="server" />

In the sandbox we obviously can’t reference the Assembly in the same way because (a) it isn’t deployed to the GAC / BIN folders and (b) it runs in a completely different process so won’t be JIT compiled by the .Net Framework… but there is a solution!

Microsoft.SharePoint.WebPartPages.SPUserCodeWebPart allows you to embed a Web Part from an assembly running in the Sandbox.

<!-- custom sandbox web part -->
<WebPartPages:SPUserCodeWebPart 
      runat="server" 
      AssemblyFullName="MJH.Examples.Sandbox, Version=1.0.0.0, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=60d6fc7a560ae45c" 
     SolutionId="4faf8ff6-36ea-406f-af25-4d89472a41e1" 
     TypeFullName="MJH.Examples.Sandbox.WebParts.SampleCustomControl" >
</WebPartPages:SPUserCodeWebPart> 

You still need the “AssemblyFullName” attribute. I’ve found the easy way to get this is to add a feature receiver to a Feature in Visual Studio then copy-paste it from the Manifest in Visual Studio (which contains the full text that you need).

So thats it! Happy coding

Provisioning List Views in the onet.xml with custom Web Part properties

I’ve seen this come up numerous times (with a few people telling me “its not possible without writing code”) so I thought I’d chuck up a simple code sample showing you how this is done in SharePoint 2013.

Lets say you want to add some List View Web Parts to a custom Team Site for a Tasks list:

  • My Tasks
  • Tasks In Progress
  • Tasks Overdue

You would initially do this kind of thing in your onet.xml:

<View List="Lists/Tasks" BaseViewID="1" WebPartZoneID="Header" />
<View List="Lists/Tasks" BaseViewID="2" WebPartZoneID="Header" />
<View List="Lists/Tasks" BaseViewID="3" WebPartZoneID="Header" />

Of course the main problem here is that you have zero control over any of the Web Part properties (such as the Title, border, or anything else). The default title will use the same title as the list, which of course (when you have the same list more than once) offers the stunningly un-useful:

  • Tasks (1)
  • Tasks (2)
  • Tasks (3)

The solution is to include some additional Web Part properties in embedded CDATA tags:

<View List="Lists/Tasks" BaseViewID="1" WebPartZoneID="Header"> <![CDATA[

<webParts>
      <webPart xmlns="https://schemas.microsoft.com/WebPart/v3">
          <metaData>
              <type name="Microsoft.SharePoint.WebPartPages.XsltListViewWebPart, Microsoft.SharePoint, Version=15.0.0.0, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=71e9bce111e9429c" />
              <importErrorMessage>Cannot import this Web Part.</importErrorMessage>
          </metaData>
          <data>
              <properties>
                  <property name="Title">My Tasks</property>

              </properties>
          </data>
      </webPart>
</webParts>
]]> </View>

This gives you effectively complete control over any of the Web Part Properties (see XsltListViewWebPart Properties).

Happy coding!

Migrating from Blogger to WordPress

So I’ve got myself a shiny new blog design, and more than that it is running on both a shiny new hosting provider (Azure Web Sites) and a shiny new platform (WordPress). So this post is going to run through the reasoning behind why I moved, why I chose WordPress and (equally importantly) how I actually did it.

I can say that I am very pleased so far with the WordPress experience. It has been a relatively quick and painless experience and migrating all of my old content from Blogger.com to my new hosted WordPress site (including setting up the theme and a bunch of “widgets”) only took me a few hours (easily achievable in one evening). I am quite a fan of the interface although I admit the current style still requires a fair bit of polish here and there.

The main issues I’ve faced have been post formatting as the migration doesn’t appear to have brought over all of my images (although most of them appear to be intact). Also the formatting of code blocks appears to have stripped out what it obviously thought were harmful scripts (a lot of my JavaScript code samples have magically disappeared) so that will need some cleanup

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