Tag Archives: SharePoint Conference

Topology Changes for SharePoint 2010 Logical Architecture

The SharePoint 2010 topology has been massively updated, allowing for greater flexibility and scalability than ever before.

 

The "Shared Service Provider" is dead, it doesn’t exist in SharePoint 2010 and instead is replaced with new "Shared Service Applications". This allows core services to have their own security settings, run in their own applications and on their own databases.

 

There is even support for "cross farm" Service Applications (such as Search, User Profiles and the Managed Metadata Service) to allow distributed farm architecture like never before. Now in SharePoint 2010 you can scale up into multiple farm environments, allowing you to take advantage of more geo-distribution flexibility, and greater performance and availability from having dedicated farm hardware for important applications.

 

For the larger enterprise environments you have the benefit that different farms provide the opportunity to service different SLA requirements, and the Many – Many relationship for Web Applications to Shared Service Applications means that core enterprise level services can be shared globally, but smaller core specific services can be hosted multiple times, closer to the client environments, to service  those farms that need them.

 

If you need greater security boundaries and better utilisation of resources you can spin up department specific farms for business critical organisational boundaries (such as HR and Finance) each with their own independent services or shared services (such as an HR specific BCS, or Finance and HR sharing their own  set of Managed Metadata for payroll and accounting data, a service that is not provided to the more generalised collaboration and publishing environments).

 

All of this comes together with other administrative changes (such as the SQL failover awareness and Managed Accounts) to make SharePoint 2010 a truly industry leading platform for web applications and technology. I cannot think of any other product on the market that offers this level of flexibility across so many different technology streams.

Cross Site Scripting (XSS) protection for SharePoint 2010 Web Parts

 

Some of the new features in SharePoint 2010 offer some great new opportunities for malicious scripts to be manipulated in your system. The new SharePoint 2010 Client Object Model is a great case in point.

 

Let’s take the example where a contributor adds some Client Object Model scripts through exposed web Part properties to change list data that they don’t have access to. As soon as someone with admin privileges visits the page that Client OM kicks off and you’ve got yourself malicious script executing!

 

Well, step in the new XSS protection. The WebPartPages class now includes a new attribute that you can add to your Web Part Properties called "RequiresDesignerPermissionAttribute". There is also a new SafeControl attribute called "SafeAgainstScript".

 

These allow you to protect your assemblies and properties against contributors. The main problem is that none of your MOSS 2007 web part properties will be accessible to contributors without these added!

 

This obviously creates quite an overhead in terms of code use, but it really is required to make sure that your web parts are running in an appropriately secure state.

Web Parts on SharePoint 2010 Wiki Pages.. marriage made in heaven

 

This is something that really confused me the first time I did it (by accident actually), but you can indeed drop web parts directly into Wiki Content.

 

Let me just repeat that in case you missed it:

You can drop web parts directly into the HTML of Wiki content

 

There is no concept here of web part zones, or ordering .. You can literally seamlessly have them embedded in the HTML!

 

This of course means great things for allowing dynamic page content to truly flow, with dynamic web part content sitting seamlessly side-by-side with your Wiki content (hopefully this also means the death of over-complicated Page Layouts to accommodate hundreds of Web Part zones .. And also hopefully the death of the Content Editor web Part!)

 

To add the web parts is really easy, it uses the new SharePoint 2001 "Ribbon" interface, and you just literally just insert web parts the same way you would with tables, images, or any other type of content.

 

It actually achieves this by using a hidden web part zone (called the "WP Zone") which the Wiki uses to store the web parts (and retrieve the web part properties.)

 

Now, let me just hit you with another big one: Web Parts now support content versioning.

 

Again: Web Parts will now roll-back along with page versioning! So when you restore a version of a page, the Web Part properties in that version will also work!

You don’t need extra code for that, it "just works" (very very cool!)

 

How can I do this programmatically?

There are 2 different methods you can tackle for this:

 

The "WikiEditPage" class includes a method called "InsertWebPartIntoWikiPage". This is a ron-seal method (it does what is says on the tin!).

 

Alternatively you can also "roll your own".  Web Parts are identified in the Wiki HTML through a DIV placeholder with some specific GUID references. So you can hand-crank this HTML content and drop it into your wiki page.

Improving SharePoint 2010 Administration

 

This is a big area for SharePoint 2010. Far too often in the MOSS 2007 interface was administration settings a little bit neglected (and lets face it, the public facing sections of our systems always get more attention) but in SharePoint 2010 there are a number of massive improvements.

 

Logging & Alerts

One of the key areas for reporting is centralising the reporting and alerting interface. In this the main logging and event data sources (ULS logs, Windows Events, Performance counters for SQL , .Net Framework and  hardware resources) are going to get pulled together into a single SQL Database. The best bit is that this database will have a published open schema!

 

This allows the database to be queried and reported upon, and is expected to include full SCOM integration!

 

Managed Accounts

This is a HUGE feature for managing service accounts in SharePoint 2010. You can create specified accounts that can be used by farm administrators when setting up SharePoint services (such as Search and Timers) as well as creating new applications (such as Web Applications and the new Managed Service Applications which replace the SSP).

 

The upshot of this is that you don’t have to hand out domain accounts just so that someone can provision a new web application.

 

But that’s not it. Managed accounts can reset the password (presumably into some rediculously long strong password) and manage that password through SharePoint 2010. If you have an AD security policy for password expiry, then Managed Accounts can automatically reset the password for you, so you never have to worry about password expiry hosing some key services in your SharePoint 2010 farm!

 

Health and Monitoring

Central Admin is set to gain a whole raft of performance monitoring reports.

 

On such example is the "slowest pages" report, literally showing you the average times for the slowest pages to render.

 

You can then use the new features of the "Developer Dashboard" to show you key performance information about that page

  • Which webserver was used
  • What SQL queries were run
  • What web parts loaded (and how long they took)
  • The call-stack of code method calls
  • SPRequest allocations

 

This allows detailed analysis and rapid debugging of problems that otherwise were seen by many as a black art!

 

Failover

There is now an option for a Failover Database Server when creating Web Applications and Managed Service Applications. This effectively allows SharePoint 2010 will automatically be aware of database mirroring. If the primary SQL server dies, SharePoint will automatically re-connect to the failover database.

 

Of course, you still have to setup mirroring manually, but this is a huge boon to creating high availability systems on SharePoint 2010.

 

Restoring Data

You can now recover a list from an unattached content database. From SharePoint 2010 Central Administration you can connect directly to any content database (regardless of whether it is attached or not), and you can browse the content structure from Central Admin.

 

You can navigate the structure and export any Site or List and it will download the package straight to your computer. This can also pull in versioning and security settings!

 

There is tonnes more content to cover, and loads more sessions .. But hopefully this gives you an indication of some of the improvements that are being made in SharePoint 2010!

Standards Compliant SharePoint 2010 – Too good to be true??

 

Well it seems not. Microsoft have really pulled out all of the stops this time around, with standards compliant, cross browser compatibility and even accessibility hitting the conference headlines.

 

The first item of note is that SharePoint 2010 aims to be W3C XHTML compliant. This is a massive leap towards making SharePoint 2010 a truly robust platform, worthy of both internet facing sites and global internal systems.

 

I saw a demo of an embedded video in the Monday afternoon Web Content Management  session where a video was streamed from a Document Library (another new SharePoint 2010 feature) and it was loaded in FireFox with no plugins or downloads, full screen streaming and buffering.

 

But the biggest impact is bound to be around the statement that one of the major release goals for the SharePoint 2010 release is that the entire interface of SharePoint 2010 meets WCAG 2.0 AA compliance! This includes editing and authoring of content! This is absolutely massive, and represents a huge push from Microsoft to really respond to the community feedback that accessibility is a subject to be taken seriously.

 

Of course, there is bound to be community discussions around the ideology that "compliant" is not the same as "accessible" (which we at Content and Code know all too well, having developed several systems for the RNIB) but this is still a massive step forward and certainly shows a continuing respect of standards from Microsoft and good news for the future of compliant software.

Why I love the performance in SharePoint 2010

 

There really is no doubt about it, SharePoint 2010 is QUICK… We are talking several factors faster than SharePoint 2007. Now this is mainly from looking in the product demos and session examples, but if they are a true reflection of a typical SharePoint implementation then we’re really in for a treat.

 

I watched a demonstration in the opening "Overview of SharePoint 2010 for IT Professionals" an example of a  document library with 1,000,000+ documents which was filtering, sorting and refreshing in under 3 seconds.

 

Having filtered the view down to just 4 records it was then demonstrated that images could be opened from that library in under 1 second! And this is native, out of the box … and with over 1 million documents in a single library … running on pre-beta code!

 

This is nothing short of astonishing, and with some of the other features such as automatic column indexing, filtering setup and hierarchical navigation we are looking at an amazing set of features to make even the largest of SharePoint 2010 deployments absolutely fly!

 

Every time I look at SharePoint 2010 I get more excited about the feature sets, and it seems that Microsoft have followed the same vein with SharePoint 2010 that they did with Windows 7, in that performance and usability are two of the biggest "killer apps".

Key notes from the Keynotes – SharePoint Conference 2009

 

The keynote speeches contained a helluva lot of content, but there were some key points that were worth condensing into a post … so errr.. thats what I did 🙂

 

One of the main aesthetic changes is that  Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) is now called SharePoint Foundation 2010. Hopefully more details about capabilities will surface during the conference.

 

There was much talk about SharePoint Online. They apparently have over 100,000,000 users and the platform is updated quarterly with new functionality, so we can hope to see new SharePoint 2010 functionality in that creeping through once the RTM version of SharePoint  is released.

 

The list item storage limits has gone WAY up … 1,000,000 items per folder/list and over 10,000,000 documents per library (more about this in my next post).

 

Another favourite was how Excel Services in SharePoint 2010 allows you to expose excel data as REST feeds (such as charts, tables, images, pivot tables). This allows you to subscribe to an image URL which is actually being dynamically generated from the Excel 2010 spread sheet. The main focus here was that you can embed this image anywhere that a normal HTML or Office Client image can be placed, but if the Excel 2010 spread sheet data is modified then the image is automatically updated to reflect those changes!

 

Other highlights included forcing spelling checkers and broken link checkers on check-in of a page.  In fact there was a lot of mention around web sites full stop, particularly 2 new products for websites:

  • SharePoint Server 2010 for Internet Sites
  • FAST Search Server for Internet Business

 

The new Wiki Editing features were also demonstrated with auto-complete URLs for lists, views and folders in libraries.

 

For those power users there are also over 500 new PowerShell commands for SharePoint 2010 which will be shipped with the Beta version in November! These can even be run on a Windows 7 machine and executed remotely!

 

But by far the most impressive part for me was the presentation on SQL Server PowerPivot for SharePoint 2010 and SQL Server PowerPivot for Excel 2010. This is the product formerly known as "Gemini" and allows you to pull data in from SQL databases to allow up to 100,000,000 rows of data in Excel 2010! You can then filter, sort and produce charts which refresh near instantaneously! There was a demo of this in the session causing a round of applause from pretty much everyone.

 

A very interesting session in the end, with glimpses of promise from all over the platform.. I just can’t wait to get my hands on it all!

Tasty facts and figures about SharePoint Conference 2009

Wow … thats the word that pretty much summed up the team’s reaction to the Keynote speeches to open the conference. I’ll post about that in a bit, but to warm you up some tasty facts and figures:
 
538 onsite labour days to setup the conference
7.5 miles of CAT5e cable used (for the Wireless Network?? ;))
7400+ attendees (up over 90% on the last SharePoint conference)
160+ partners
300+ hours of brand new content
297 speakers
240 break-out sessions
(and 2 marriages!!)
 
so .. you could say they are taking this conference VERY seriously.
 
We also had some very interesting news. The Public Beta of SharePoint 2010 and Office 2010 will be launched in November!
They are expecting an RTM release in the first half of 2010.
 
Visual Studio 2010 Beta 2 was also released today! 🙂

The trip to Vegas

Well, it’s been a REALLY long day… Around 26 hours straight without sleep. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I love being cramped into a metal tube with no leg-room and only 1 movie I want to watch for 14 hours of flying … but what really hit hard was when they run out of beer!

 

So .. What have we been up to so far? Well, unfortunately not a lot. I met up with the group at Heathrow around 10am Saturday morning. Everyone in good spirits (apart from one of my colleagues insistence that a cavity search was imminent going through customs!)

 

All went well, and we were in the air on-time. The flight passed surprisingly quickly. My colleagues decided to use the power of Heineken to help the flight pass quicker … unfortunately … the plane ran out!!! (Jason did try London Pride but that did not last long). After that there was nothing for it .. Time to start on the Vodka (you can tell when you’re having an impact when you ask for a drink and the stewardess says "not you lot again!").

 

11 hours later we landed in Dallas. A bit to eat. Another 3 hours (me stuck next to two guys trying to tell me about their ATM conference and the virtues of American "Football" (shudder)) and we landed in Vegas… dark, hot, and full of bright lights!

 

So the first day is over and the conference starts tomorrow!! (can’t wait!)

 

Some interesting Vegas facts:

 

  • If you spent 1 night in every hotel room in Vegas you would end up staying for 288 years
  • The Luxor atrium (the hotel we are staying in) is the largest in the world
  • Over 60,000 people take up residence in Vegas every year, making it the fastest growing city in the USA.

 

 

Another post tomorrow… right now it’s 9am and I’m heading for breakfast! (all you can eat! HELL yeh!)

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