Microsoft SharePoint Services and Windows Azure

I’m in the process of digesting the wealth of information that is pouring from PDC 2008 that’s in progress right now. I was unable to participate but I’m monitoring the news and blogs of the attendees.

There’s one thing that caught my attention. On day one the new cloud services platform was announced under the name of Windows Azure.

What is Windows Azure?

As I understand, it’s a cloud-services platform that exposes storage and application services that are hosted in Microsoft datacenters. It allows .NET applications to run “in the cloud” (i.e. not on-site or on-premises) and to benefit from the distributed services that it offers.

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What’s in there for SharePoint?

One of the services that you can see in the diagram above is “Microsoft SharePoint Services”. First thing that should be clear is that this is notWindows SharePoint Services” (the free, basic SharePoint platform) norSharePoint Online” (Microsoft-hosted SharePoint farm). I think it’s SharePoint functionality exposed as services API. It can be seen that SharePoint Online uses these “services”.

Microsoft® SharePoint® Services & Dynamics® CRM Services (from Microsoft site)

In the future, developers will have access to SharePoint & CRM functionality for collaboration and building stronger customer relationships. With the flexibility to use familiar developer tools like Visual Studio, developers will be able to rapidly build applications that utilize SharePoint and CRM capabilities as developer services for their own applications. Developers can expect a breadth of SharePoint & CRM capabilities across the spectrum of on-premises, online & the Azure Services Platform.

So, it’s still not available (but it will be). I’ll keep a close watch on it, sure.

SharePoint 2007 Service Pack 2 Details Announced

There are official news about SharePoint 2007 and WSS 3.0 Service Pack 2 (SP2) from Microsoft TechNet. The new service pack will contain:

  • Improved Read-only Content Databases
  • Improved performance and manageability in variations, including STSADM commands for repairing links between source and target pages
  • Improved Index Rebuild Timer Jobs
  • SP2 Upgrade Checker

This SP2 will become available between February and April 2009.

Essential SharePoint Books: Part II (Intermediate)

Intermediate Level Books

Title Author Publisher Description Audience My Rating
Inside Microsoft SharePoint Services 3.0 Ted Pattison
Daniel Larson
Microsoft Press One of the best books to quicky get into SharePoint development. Condensed and with lot of sample code to try. It also has a chapter on writing ASP.NET AJAX web parts. Developers 9/10
Microsoft SharePoint 2007 Unleashed Michael Noel
Colin Spence
Sams Quite a good book for power-users, but the developers won’t much information for them. Administrators
End-users
7/10
Microsoft SharePoint 2007 Development Unleashed Kevin Hoffman
Robert Foster
Sams The developer’s companion to the previous book. It doesn’t go into much detail anywhere but it’s still a fair introduction and mid-level book for SharePoint developers. It has a few typos in the source code, though. Developers 7/10
Essential SharePoint: Delivering High-Impact Collaboration Scott Jamison
Mauro Cardarelli
Addison-Wesley Concise and nicely summarized book about the business applications for SharePoint, with special attention to planning and information architecture. Analysts
Consultants
Managers
End-Users
8/10

Gartner Magic Quadrant for ECM 2008

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Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 has moved from the “Visionary” quadrant into “Leaders” quadrant, in the past year. According to Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Content Management (ECM) for 2008, this move has been fuelled by steady course of SharePoint and the number of the companies that have implemented it. Gartner recognizes that SharePoint OOB offers basic tools for six core ECM features, supported by a strategic vendor that is Microsoft.

Gartner also warns that SharePoint is still lacking improvements in scalability and replication management, as well as quality imaging and BPM tools.

SharePoint v14 / 2009 Feature List

Let’s do a quick recap about what we could expect from the next version of SharePoint from Microsoft:

Feature Summary Probability Source(s)
64-bit only The SharePoint v14 / 2009 will be shipped only as x64 installation CONFIRMED TechNet
Silverlight Silverlight 2.0 webparts or UI will be present. MOST PROBABLY Speculation
Super-Lists SQL tables-like behaviour for SharePoint lists PROBABLY Bill Gates
Groove Integration If the user has Groove client installed, more options will be displayed for data synchronization, in more seamless way. PROBABLY Ray Ozzie
Master Data Management Master data source for keeping only one version of the truth. This data can be surfaced as SQL Server views or SharePoint data. In essence, a rebranded and somewhat expanded version of Stratature product +EDM, now known as Codename “Bulldog”. MOST PROBABLY Wikipedia
Microsoft MDM
XHTML-compliant output SharePoint UI will produce clean XHTML-compliant output. PROBABLY Speculation
FAST search integration FAST-based enterprise search as a Search replacement. Webparts that show FAST search results. MAYBE CMS Watch
ODF and PDF support Custom filters won’t be necessary to index and extract metadata from ODF and PDF files. PROBABLY Microsoft
CMIS support Content Management Interoperability Services will allow SharePoint to communicate with other ECMs via web services. MOST PROBABLY Microsoft
Claims-based Authentication mechanism Decouples the authentication mechanism from its implementation. It will enable SharePoint to use any interoperable authentication mechanism to authenticate the users. MAYBE Network World

Essential SharePoint Books: A Bookshelf That Won’t “Gather Moss”

Ok, I admit that the joke attempt wasn’t even remotely funny 😉

Being in SharePoint business for several years now has exposed me to lot of SharePoint-related books that exist. I remember back in the SPS 2003 times when those books were easily numbered with the fingers on one hand. Now, however, there are more than two dozen of them and the choice of which one to buy isn’t always an easy one.

I’ve divided the SharePoint books in three categories:

  • Introductory (those for absolute beginners or people that hasn’t messed with SharePoint)
  • Intermediate (for those that want to venture beyond the basic steps)
  • Advanced (for the people that breathe SharePoint every day)

In this post I am listing three good books for beginners. In the next posts I will do the same for intermediate and advanced-level SharePoint books, too.

Introductory Level Books

Title Author Publisher Description Audience My Rating
SharePoint 2007: The Definitive Guide Various authors O’Reilly Comprehensive and easily readable, it is an introduction and review of SharePoint usage and administration. Administrators
End-users
7/10
Essential SharePoint 2007 Jeff Webb O’Reilly Nicely illustrated and fairly well written. Not so extensive as “The Definitive Guide” but good enough. Administrators
End-users
Developers
8/10
Essential SharePoint: Delivering High-Impact Collaboration Scott Jamison
Mauro Cardarelli
Addison-Wesley Concise and nicely summarized book about the business applications for SharePoint, with special attention to planning and information architecture. Analysts
Consultants
Managers
End-Users
8/10

“Only Content controls are allowed directly in a content page that contains Content controls”

Yesterday a misleading error happened. A custom layout was deployed using Features and WSP solution packages. Everything went well, but when browsing to a page using this new layout, this message appeared:

Only Content controls are allowed directly in a content page that contains Content controls.

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Furthermore, SharePoint inserted this funny-looking content after our Content element:

I started googling and I found a blog post by Rich Finn that in essence has the same problem.

CAUSE

Apparently, when a unknown or misspelled tag is found in page layout, SharePoint adds the content type information in a XML fragment, between the <asp:Content> tags. However, in ASP.NET no additional tags are allowed as first-level children, beside Content. In our case we had one <asp:content> tag, which was misspelled.

SOLUTION

Ensure that the <asp:Content> tags are properly capitalized. SharePoint seems to freak out when <asp:content> tag is found. 😉