Perth SharePoint Users Group wrap

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Today I presented a session at the Perth SharePoint Users Group. I was a little unsure whether my non-technically focussed content would be of interest to the geeks but the turnout was terrific and the feedback has been brilliant. (The 3 copies I gave away of Dux’s excellent “SharePoint for Project Management” book may have sweetened the deal – hehe )

My sincere thanks to new user group president Sezai Komur for giving me the opportunity to present this material as it was the first time it has seen the light of day in Perth.

If you want to check out the slide deck from the session, you will find it below. Expanded information that builds on this content can be found at the Seven Sigma site, as well as here at CleverWorkarounds.

Thanks for reading

Paul Culmsee

www.sevensigma.com.au

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Cannot restore from recycle bin – nested folders

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Oh my god – I have written a short, useful post instead of a bloated theory fest! What is the world coming to?

I was all set to go and catch up with SharePoint Sezai today, when the phone rang and the IT guy from one of my clients had a wee problem. Someone had been doing some serious file rearrangement surgery on a large document library with folders (yeah, yeah, I know – “folders are evil”  blah, blah). In one of those typical right mouse click spasms that we sometimes have, a large folder was blown away.

“No problem”, thinks the IT guy. “I’ll use my trusty SharePoint recycle bin to restore it.”

Sure enough, there is the folder listed, so they select it and choose to restore.

Uh-oh – error!

image

The IT guy took the above screenshot and mailed it through to me. From looking at the <sacrasm>incredibly useful, non threatening and clear error message above</sacrasm>, it was the presence of the LoadRecursive() function that gave me a hunch as to what was going on.

Turns out that it wasn’t just this particular folder that was accidentally deleted. The parent folder had been deleted also. But the problem was that during this major file rearrangement surgery that I mentioned at the start of this article, that parent folder had been replaced with a new one with the same name.

The recycler cannot handle this. It seems to make two assumptions

  1. It assumes that you always want to restore something back to the original location that it was deleted from
  2. It expects that if something has been deleted from a list of library, it sure as hell should not exist when you attempt to restore it back to the site.

I asked the IT guy to rename the second, identically named folder to something different and then reattempt the restore.

Bingo! My client is happy, their IT guy lives to fight another day and I now have learned the meaning behind yet another barely decipherable SharePoint stack trace :-).

(Turns out I shouldn’t have cancelled on Sezai after all!)

Thanks for reading

Paul Culmsee

 

 

P.S: Now for the Google crawler, the text version of the error in teensy font 🙂

The item cannot be restored. at Microsoft.SharePoint.SPRecycleBinUtility.ThrowAppropriateRestoreException(SPException ex, SPRecycleBinItem lastItem)

at Microsoft.SharePoint.SPRecycleBinItemCollection.RestoreCore(Guid[] ids)

at Microsoft.SharePoint.SPRecycleBinItemCollection.Restore(Guid[] ids)

at Microsoft.SharePoint.ApplicationPages.RecycleBinPage.ProcessAction(String action, String guidString)

at Microsoft.SharePoint.ApplicationPages.RecycleBinPage.OnLoad(EventArgs e)

at System.Web.UI.Control.LoadRecursive()

at System.Web.UI.Page.ProcessRequestMain(Boolean includeStagesBeforeAsyncPoint, Boolean includeStagesAfterAsyncPoint)

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Meet Agile Boy :-)

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Not so long ago I wrote about the adventures of Governance Man and Dr Wicked. I also mentioned that there was another partner in crime. Agile Boy. Here he is in-between fighting SharePoint chaos and participating in SharePint’s!

 

AgileBoy

  • Name: Agile Boy
  • Secret Identify: Andrew Woodward
  • Special Powers: Extreme agility, TDD guruness, MVP
  • Weakness: Beer and Waterfalls
  • Catch-Phrase: “Beat futility with Agility!” 
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Review – Balsamiq Mockup Tool (for SharePoint)

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image

Hi

It’s review week here at CleverworkArounds, and the next one on my list that I have been meaning to speak about is an application called Balsamiq Mockups. Mr Mindmapper himself, Ruven Gotz first turned me onto this application some time back, and I have found it very useful in taming RBO (rampant branding obsession).

Although I have written various posts on SharePoint branding, most of the time I find it a tiresome task that for many sites, is pushed way too far up the priority list to the point that much more critical success factors are overlooked or given lip service. Now in saying that, I will admit straight up that although I know how branding *should* be done from a sustainable governance point of view, I suck royally at making a site look good myself and I compensate by relentlessly pummelling SharePoint branding governance best-practices onto completely unsuspecting web designers.

Such fun 🙂

Balsamiq Mockups has adopted a visual based site wireframing approach that takes the opposite approach to the “Photoshop” approach to site design. A web designer using a tool like Photoshop will attempt to create an accurate visual representation of a site based on a stakeholder’s tastes (or lack thereof). The risk here with SharePoint is that the branding vision that is created using Photoshop can often be quite tricky to achieve in SharePoint without being “governance naughty”, particularly for collaborative sites that make extensive use of web parts, application pages and document libraries.

Some of the most difficult SharePoint recovery jobs that I have had to do were a direct result of seemingly innocent “customisations” that came from branding requirements.

So, how can Balsamiq help?

For a start, a complete design-challenged person like me can actually produce something useful :-).

More importantly, however, it is designed on a completely different premise than the Photoshop style approach to design. This tool works on a principle of emulating hand-drawn designs, supplying you with a bunch of drag-and-drop widgets and interface elements which allow you to construct the basic structure of a site in minutes. Out of the box, there are around 70 elements that can be used to construct a web site and you can see the results of my 5 minute effort in the image at the start of this article.

Want to see how easy it is? Then check the video below (assuming your IT department has not blocked Youtube).

Although the video shows how easy it is to create a mock up, you may be wondering if there are any SharePoint specific design elements. Out of the box there are not. But fear not, there is a flourishing community around this product that creates additional elements for you to use. SharePoint is well represented here.

Want to drop a SharePoint document library onto the page? Too easy.

image 

Did someone say calendar, tasks or search?

image image image

This application does not take much of an investment in learning. One can pretty much learn the product just by watching the Youtube video and learning how to import other design elements is just a matter of clicking the help menu and choosing the “Download More Controls” option.

image

Would hard-core web designers may find the application cramps their artistic style? Maybe – I can only speculate. But for me, I spend most of my time in a PM, training, architect or advisory role. As a result, Balsamiq Mockups is perfect for me because, it above all else, it is quick to produce results. I can flesh out a SharePoint basic site design without having to fiddle around with master pages, SharePoint designer or CSS files (and for that I am eternally grateful!)

I can then export the mockup to a PNG file and use that in documentation, presentations, and best of all, my issue and dialogue maps which makes great strides in achieving the all-important goal of shared understanding among project participants.

image

Try Balsamiq Mockups out. It’s a great tool to add to your armoury.

Thanks for reading

Paul Culmsee

www.sevensigma.com.au

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See you in New Zealand in July!

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image

It looks like they know how to throw a conference in Australia’s ‘other’ state (just kidding, Kiwis).

I will be speaking at the New Zealand Community SharePoint Conference in July 2009 and I’m really looking forward to it. This will be the New Zealand conference to learn about SharePoint 2007 with a whole bunch of expert local and international speakers. Some big international names are joining in the fun, including Joel “Governance Man” Oleson himself so we can continue our buzzword battles in the flesh! But to whet your appetite, we have Ben Curry, Erica Toelle, Michael Sampson, Paul Stork, Steve Smith and Adam Cogan, to name a few.

There are a wide variety of topics that are on offer, and the session that I am most looking forward to is Erica Toelle’s session entitled “SharePoint User Adoption: Fostering Shared Understanding throughout your Company”. Unfortunately, with the current schedule, it clashes with mine, but I hope that it gets rearranged as I know there are some great synergies there. Here is her synopsis

SharePoint projects usually involve some kind of organizational change related to culture, process, or structure.  The change process is something that must be carefully managed, approached methodically and tailored to your organization’s culture.
In this session you will learn how to ensure your SharePoint project’s success by using frameworks to manage the change process, resulting in higher user adoption of the end solution.  This is done by gaining leadership and stakeholder commitment, creating a strategic communication plan and planning a learning strategy.  You will walk away with templates and checklists to help you with your SharePoint project.

I am also especially looking forward to Pete Sayers’ talk on South Taranaki District Council as an EDRMS solution as I work with local government here in Perth myself and sometimes have to grapple with the conflicting requirements of the state records act, the web team hating the records management team, and the IT team hating them both :-).

Also looking tempting is Lulu Pachuau’s Information Architecture session, and Patrick van Rinsvelt’s session on organisational cultural considerations for SharePoint deployments. I think I’ll also go deep (level 300), and listen to Chandima Kulathilake dive into the depths of SQL Server administration for SharePoint as well as sit in on Joel’s Infrastructure and Administration Fundamentals just to heckle 😉 .

It all happens in Wellington, 2nd and 3rd July, 2009. I’ve never been to New Zealand before, but have heard that it’s picturesque, so I am really looking forward to it.

See you there!

Paul Culmsee

www.sevensigma.com.au

 

p.s I could make some Lord of the Rings inspired comment, but for me the pinnacle of New Zealand film making was Peter Jackson’s Brain Dead!

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Issue Mapping Webinar Series in April 09

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Hi all

There are a few people in my life who have had a big influence on me as a person, consultant and trainer. Jeff Conklin from CogNexus Institute is one of them. If I was to rank Conklin, I’d say he comes in somewhere between Jackie Chan and Freddie Mercury – illustrious company indeed. 🙂

Jeff armed me with the right set of skills and way of thinking that allowed me to defeat the likes of “SharePoint vs Skype guy”, a highly skilled foe that I previously wrote about in the “One Best Practice” series of posts. As it happens, Jeff is running another of his Issue Mapping webinar based training series starting April 8 2009. Anyone who is involved in highly complex projects (whether technically or socially challenging), including managers, project leaders, consultants and facilitators should consider attending.

SharePoint people? You are dealing with technical and social challenges almost by definition. Issue Mapping is the most effective craft I have come across to:

  • be able to lead a group to a robust decision that endures and that inspires consistent actions and outcomes despite the cross-currents of hidden and competing agendas
  • get traction in the "swamp" of a project that is cursed with both technical and social complexity
  • have real dialogue without getting bogged down in politics, personalities or an overload of information
  • help a group get its bearings in the fog of confusion, contradictory objectives and changing constraints
  • be able to focus a group’s energy in a way that boosts collective intelligence: the capacity to work with ambiguity and equivocal knowledge
  • be able to capture and organize a large volume of unstructured information to create a coherent foundation for thinking and learning in an organization

Consider my example below: I have summed up the entire global financial crisis in a single issue map – neat eh!

image

Like my above example, you will learn how to create great issue maps – maps that are clear, coherent, and expose the deep structure of an issue. (okay so I am being just a *tad* tongue in cheek with my example)

In all seriousness, it is a great course and well worth attending. If you enjoyed the “one best practice” series or my “wicked problems” sessions, this is your opportunity to learn from the master.

Thanks for reading

Paul Culmsee

www.sevensigma.com.au

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Review – Understanding SharePoint Journal

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I have been a huge fan of Bjørn Furuknap ever since I first read his amazing series of posts on on customising the user experience at SharePointMagazine.

What struck me about Bjørn is the quality of his content and his fluid, entertaining and accessible style of writing. Although I can code okay enough, I am not a serious developer by any stretch. But Bjørn’s ability to weave his way through some large, fairly prickly programming topics and at the same time keep a part-timer like me, not only following it all, but really interested from start to finish, is a testament to his skill as a writer and trainer.

Learning SharePoint with USP Journal

So when I found out he had started a series of SharePoint journals, I was very keen to provide a review and asked him nicely if I could :-).

In short, I’m glad I did.

This debut edition starts on a relatively simple premise. “How do we see who is logged into my SharePoint site at any time”? We learn pretty quickly that this is not as simple as it sounds, but Bjørn deftly teases apart this question into the true problem statement, via basic user stories and easy to understand examples. The proposed solution is described at a high level, with a description on what you need to solve the problem and then summarises it with a mission statement, covering the goals of the solution and the “rules of engagement”

The “rules of engagement” are clear and have a strong governance/assurance affinity (brings a tear to my eye). The rules are;

  • Use only supportable methods and not harm a single Microsoft-provided file
  • Use the least amount of effort as possible
  • Utilize SharePoint native techniques as much as possible

I’m sure that “Governance man” would approve…

The final component of the introduction is a preview of the completed project (with screenshots – including one that I have pasted here).

image

Chapter 2-5 gets right into the think of things. Bjørn doesn’t assume too much (he skips programming 101 stuff like SharePoint features), but takes the time to explain setting up your project in Visual Studio for each component of this solution. He balances the theory with the practical extremely well, and manages to pack in a whole bunch of really important tools and key concepts such as:

  • WSPBuilder
  • DelegateControl (I love DelegateControl and I‘m not even a developer 🙂 )
  • List creation via feature (and code)
  • FeatureReceivers
  • SharePoint Manager 2007
  • CAML
  • Feature scopes and dependencies (via the object model)
  • Custom application pages
  • CustomAction methods

All chapters come with review questions to ensure key concepts have been learned. Even better still, all code from the journals are posted on codeplex so you can download the complete solutions. Brilliant stuff!

All in all, I have to say that of all of the development oriented authors that I read, Bjørn is one of the best writers out there, If you liked his work on SharePointMagazine and his own blog, then you will love these journals. If you are starting out your career in SharePoint development and want to learn a whole lot of different concepts in a fashion that is underpinned by sustainable development practices, then I strongly suggest that you grab yourself a copy.

Well done mate, great work!

Paul Culmsee

www.sevensigma.com.au

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