Apr 152013
 
Intranet Tower Defense

Intranet Tower DefenseMy whole job is to manage our intranet. I am a desktop Tower Defense Master!

I just realised today that our intranet (WSS 3.0 on a virtual server, used by approx 700 employees) is up and running without any problems since January 2010! I’ll be looking for some wood to touch now ;)

 

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Mar 162011
 

It’s been a while since I posted about the evolution of the corporate intranet I am working on for the last 2 years. Because these posts cover only a few things that happened over time and are spread across these 2 years, I’ll try re-cap the most important steps of the evolution here:

 

0 – Start

We started building our first Sharepoint services server 2 years ago. We are an office that is part of a major IT Services Company and the Global Intranet did not serve it’s purpose in many way’s:

  • Site was too head-office centred, Most of the available information was not applicable to oversees users.
  • Site was too corporate. Staff does not want to log on every morning, open their browser and read the same story from the director. Staff needs information that is applicable to them.
  • Centralised Ownership. This cause a small team of administrators to have too much work to be able to maintain the site. the result was that a lot of information was out of date and updates took too long to be published.

With the above points as the main ones, we took the decision we needed an intranet tool to manage our information. Since the company decided around that time to stop using Lotus Notes and Domino servers for our Email and switch to exchange, we had the opportunity to have a look at Microsoft’s options.(The original Idea was to build the intranet on a Lotus Domino 7 server).

A very convenient side-effect was, that while I was working as a technical Lead and was not really line-managed by anyone, after 2 weeks in this situation,  I started looking into this out of boredom. This to my managers’ credit :)

Since this was not something coming from the main organisation, there was a very limited budget available. After investigation of the different flavours we could go for, we found that we could get most of the required functionality or value for money from the Microsoft Windows Sharepoint Services, that is included for free with a Windows Server licence.

 

1 – First Intranet server launched

Shortly after making the decision, we drafted a layout, checked in with the different teams and departments for their requirements and started building.

We had a virtual Windows 2003 server set-up, completely standard. Then we ran the manage this server wizard and turned it in to a Application server running Windows Services. Bang!, we had an Intranet.

The site grew very fast. Mainly (I Like to believe) due to the empowerment we implemented on site-ownership and the lack of a communication platform for the last years.

 

2 – First Crash

And Bang! 2 months after we lost the intranet. Our Networking team pushed a set of updates causing the server to reboot. This happened right in the middle of a backup I scheduled.

Result: Server Unreachable, Backup Corrupted. “Of course, resilience!” There was a lot to learn and improve here.

 

3 – Second Server

From the previous lesson, we’ve learnt a lot:

  • Confirm Successful Backups frequently and store them away.
  • Save Custom lists as Personal Web Packages.
  • For minimal resilience, you need a failover server.

These are the core lessons we learned from this exercise. When we started re-building we actually had no map or plan whatsoever. This made this lesson even more valuable.

 

It took me about a month to have the site rebuilt. More or less as it was before. We ordered a second server to work as a failover and made sure our backups are copied to a remote location.

 

4 – Site will go Global

We are now almost 2 years away from all the previous. In the meantime we did quite some spectacular things with our Intranet. Especially if you take in account that we did not have anything in place before.

Most of these things are things that help us as employees on a daily basis or workflows that automate manual tasks for us. We started looking into the processes and managed to make most of them quite a bit. Because we used WSS out of the box on a small VM Server, we decided that document storage should not be used yet. Basically because of lacking processes and policies and the 4GB size limitations on the SQL express database.

As a result from this, more and more people from other parts of the company started to take interest in our site. Communication, Cooperation , Automation where things that was quite new to them.

I was approached by different business units from within the company to set-up similar sites to ours for their teams and eventually link them through in a main portal sites.

 

In the meantime, somewhere else in the company a new intranet environment was being developed….

Continue reading »

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Nov 152010
 

A short one this time. It seems though that a lot of people using SharePoint Services are not aware of this though and it is actually quite easy.

 

Even though it is not an option in any of the forms, you can have links from the quick-launch or from the Links list and Web-Part open in a new browser window or Tab.

 

The trick is that in the URL Field, you have to add a little piece of JavaScript. here is an example:

 

If you’d like a link to http://www.Microsoft.com open in a new window or tab, write the following in the URL field:

 

javascript:void window.open("http://www.microsoft.com")

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 Posted by at 10:27  Tagged with:
Oct 222010
 

In SharePoint you cannot use the start date column in a calendar to filter entries. This is quite annoying, because a lot of times, you’d like to show entries between two dates.

 

There is a little work-around that you can use to enable this functionality:

 

  • Open your Calendar list settings

  • Add new column, and call it StartFilter (for example)

  • Select ”Calculated” as a the type of new column

  • In the Formula field insert:
    =[Start Time]

  • Select Date and Time as data type of new column

  • Make sure “Add to default view” checkbox is un-ticked

  • Save the new column

You should now be able to use the StartFilter column to filter your calendar list.

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Oct 192010
 

Many times I find myself struggling with date time values in SQL. I should know this by hart now, but… I don’t.

 

Mostly my problems lie in the fact that an SQL database stores a DateTime value, which I often need. However, most of the times I need to present that value as either just a date, or just a time value (reports, dashboards, etc)

 

Today from our local SQL Wiz, I got a mail with all the important SQL Date-Time conversions. I guess he got tired of me asking. Thanks Chris!

 

There are loads of options, and you could use convert or cast, depending on your requirements. For me most of the time, convert does the job.

 

Syntax for CONVERT:
CONVERT (data_type [ (length ) ] ,expression [ ,style ] )

 

Convert to Date:

 

–MM/DD/YYYY

SELECT CONVERT(char, GETDATE(), 101)

–YYYY.MM.DD

SELECT CONVERT(char, GETDATE(), 102)

–DD/MM/YYYY

SELECT CONVERT(char, GETDATE(), 103)

–DD.MM.YYYY

SELECT CONVERT(char, GETDATE(), 104)

–DD-MM-YYYY

SELECT CONVERT(char, GETDATE(), 105)

–DD MON YYYY

SELECT CONVERT(char, GETDATE(), 106)

– MON DD, YYYY

SELECT CONVERT(char, GETDATE(), 107)

–MM-DD-YYYY

SELECT CONVERT(char, GETDATE(), 110)

–YYYY/MM/DD

SELECT CONVERT(char, GETDATE(), 111)

–YYYYMMDD

SELECT CONVERT(char, GETDATE(), 112)

–YYYY-MM-DD

SELECT CONVERT(varchar(10), GETDATE(), 120)

 

Convert to Time:

 

–00:00

CONVERT(VARCHAR(8) , GETDATE() , 108) AS HourMinute,

–00:00:00

CONVERT(VARCHAR(5) , GETDATE() , 108) AS HourMinuteSecond

 

To give an example of how a query would look:

 

SELECT  convert(varchar, SUM(entryDuration2)/ 60) + ‘:’  + right(convert(char(3), 100 + SUM(entryDuration2)% 60), 2) AS Expr1 FROM TTentries WHERE (entryEndTime IS NOT NULL) AND (UserName = @UserName) AND (entryStartDate = CONVERT (VARCHAR(10), GETDATE(), 111))

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Oct 132010
 

The STSADM command is a very important one for anyone managing a SharePoint 2007 / WSS 3.0 server.

 

The command must be run as an administrator on the server and is (usually) located here : %CommonProgramFiles%\microsoft shared\web server extensions\12\bin or commonly called “the 12 hive”.

 

With this command you can almost completely manage your server, and perform actions or tasks that you are not able to do through the Central Administration site. Examples are: Import /export sites,

 

Tip! You can add this folder to your servers’ environment variables. This way, the command can be run from anywhere on the server.

 

Here are some commands that come in handy:

 

Backup

 

stsadm.exe –o backup –url SITEURL –filename BACKUPFILENAME –overwrite -backupmethod <full or differential>

(where –overwrite and –backupmethod are optional parameters)

 

When the url parameter is used, a backup of the site collection is created. However when the backupmethod parameter is used, a backup of an individual database, Web application, or the entire farm can be created. If you want to overwrite an existing backup file for a site collection only, use the overwriteparameter.

 

* Preferably, only do this when your site is not used. Usage can/could lead to corruption of your database backup.

 

There are a couple of limitations to this command:

  1. A farm backup cannot be used to restore the configuration database or Central Administration content database.
  2. Site collection backups affect performance, and they can cause access errors. They should only be used when the site collection is locked. Site collection backups can be slow when working with collections larger than 15 GB. This problem seems to have been resolved in WSS SP1. the backup command will first lock the site collection.

 

I do suggest that you use SQL Management studio (Express) to backup your content database.

 

Restore

 

stsadm.exe –o restore –url SITEURL –filename BACKUPFILENAME –overwrite –restoremethod <overwrite or new>

 

When the url parameter is used, a restoration of the site collection is performed. However, when the restoremethod parameter is used, a restoration of an individual database, Web application, or the entire farm can be performed. If you want to overwrite an existing site collection, use the overwrite parameter.

 

* Preferably, only do this when your site is not used. Usage can/could lead to corruption of your database backup.

* I do suggest that you use SQL Management studio (Express) to backup your content database.

 

Export

 

stsadm.exe –o export –url SITEURL –filename FILENAME –overwrite -includeusersecurity

(where –overwrite and –includeusersecurity are optional)

 

With this command you exports site and sub site data from your site collection.

 

Import 

 

stsadm.exe –o import –url SITEURL –filename FILENAME -includeusersecurity

(where  –includeusersecurity is optional)

 

Imports site and subsite data into your site collection.

 

Note on backup up:

It is recommended to use import/export and backup/restore in he folowing ways:

Import/export:  Backups of portions of a site

Backup/restore: Full site collection Backups

 

Rename a sub site URL

 

stsadm.exe –o renameweb –url SITEURL –newname NEWSITENAME

 

Careful, this just changes the URL of a subsite

Rename Site

stsadm.exe –o renamesite –oldurl OLDSITEURL –newurl NEWSITEURL

 

This command changes the URL of a host-named site collection to a new URL.

 

Repair Database

stsadm.exe –o databaserepair –url SITEURL –databasename DATBASENAME –deletecorruption

(where –deletecorruption is optional. you should run the command first without, to see if any repairs can be made)

This command detects and removes orphaned items from content databases in Windows SharePoint Services. In some situations, a content database that is used by Windows SharePoint Services may become corrupted. The corrupted database may contain orphaned items.

The databaserepair operation can detect and repair database corruption for only the following types of orphaned items in a content database:

 

  • A Windows SharePoint Services Web site that does not have a parent Windows SharePoint Services Web site

  • A subweb that does not have a parent Windows SharePoint Services Web site

  • A list that does not have a parent Windows SharePoint Services Web site

  • A document that does not have a parent document library

  • A list item that does not have a parent list

  • A Web page that does not have a parent Windows SharePoint Services Web site

Other types of corruption will not be repaired.

 

Add a solution

 

stsadm.ex -o addsolution –filename

 

This command is used to import a WSP solution package. Most of the time these are webparts that you can get from 3rd parties. An example is the RSS ticker web-part from Amrein Engineering.

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 Posted by at 12:55  Tagged with:
Oct 082010
 

For a few reasons you will need to be able to connect to your SharePoint content database. You cannot do this in a proper way using the tools you get standard with the WSS server.

 

The best (or most logical) way of doing this is using Microsoft’s SQL Management Studio, but you can also use the free Express version.

 

Most people that run a single WSS server do this because of budget limitations and can therefore not afford the licensing cost of a fill SQL server licence. The Express version is free and allows you to do most of the maintenance on your database.

 

There are, however, a couple of problems, or things to know before you can use SQL Management Studio Express SQL MSE on your WSS content database.

 

First, you need to install SQL MSE on the server itself. It does not allow you to connect to the database on your server remotely.

 

Second, once installed, you cannot connect to localhost. This will give you below error:

image

 

You will have to use the following connection string:

\\.\pipe\MSSQL$MICROSOFT##SSEE\sql\query

 

This will directly open up your local databases.

 

Software downloads:

 

Microsoft SQL Management Studio (Part of full SQL Install, Trial download here)

Microsoft SQL Management Studio Express

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 Posted by at 09:35  Tagged with:
Oct 052010
 

I am working with SharePoint Service 3.0 for some time now.

It all started two years ago, when out of a mix of bad management and lack of communication in the office I work, I requested a virtual WSS Server to “play” with.

This has grown out to a business critical 400 user intranet site with about 180 sub-sites. Now I am planning a global roll-out, to at least 4 more offices and an overall portal site.

I guess they liked it.

The company I work for made the move from a Lotus Notes/Domino environment to a whole new Microsoft exchange one. The migration went pretty smooth, but some things where not accounted for.

One very important misstep was the amount of legacy applications, still critical to the business that remained on the domino server all over the place. There was definitively a need for a platform.

Since most of the people working on Domino either changed sides and got trained in the Microsoft way of life and others just left, there was nobody who could fill this gap, until I (stupid) showed the small site I had built on the SharePoint server.

On this page, I will list the articles I write about my SharePoint experiences. These include some How-To Documents, explanation about some strategical decisions and how we are planning the future.

Sharepoint Services:

Sharepoint

Sharepoint Services, WSS, Workflows, Forms, Views and all that!

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 Posted by at 11:32  Tagged with: