Join Us In New Orleans!!!

By , February 26, 2010 7:59 am

I am literally heading out the door to the airport to catch a flight to New Orleans for SharePoint Saturday! I will be presenting, “What I Wish I Knew BEFORE I Implemented SharePoint”. I really enjoy this presentation and I hope that anyone attending will enjoy it as much as I do. wrote a great article about it.

If you can come and join us – do! I’d love to meet you!

OK – Off to the airport!

XSL:split-string function

By , February 24, 2010 2:59 pm

One of the reasons I like developing for SharePoint is that I get to work with many different technologies and platforms.  When I am designing a custom list for (display, edit or new), There are times where I may have a delimited string in a field that I want to display differently on the screen.  Since the forms are all XSL style sheets, it is helpful to have a few XSL templates to process the data.

I wrote this XSL template so I could wrap some HTML around any element in a delimited list.  This is specifically geared towards XSL 1.0.  In XSL 2.0, I would most likely use tokenize.  I’m not an expert at XSL so if anyone has any suggestions that would improve this template, please leave comments.

<xsl:template name="split-string">
<xsl:param name="list" />
<xsl:param name="delimiter" />
<xsl:param name="id" />
<xsl:if test="normalize-space($list)">
<xsl:variable name="newlist">
<xsl:when test="contains($list, $delimiter)">
<xsl:value-of select="normalize-space($list)" />
<xsl:value-of select="concat(normalize-space($list), $delimiter)"/>

<xsl:variable name="first" select="substring-before($newlist, $delimiter)" />
<xsl:variable name="remaining" select="substring-after($newlist, $delimiter)" />
<!-- This is where you need to put the display code -->
<xsl:attribute name="href">./Attachments/<xsl:value-of select="$id" />/<xsl:value-of select="$first" /></xsl:attribute>
<xsl:attribute name="target">_blank</xsl:attribute>
<img src="~/_layouts/images/doclink.gif" width="16" height="16" alt="" border="0" />
<xsl:value-of select="$first" />
<!--  end display code -->
<xsl:if test="$remaining">
<!-- I put a little display code here also -->
<br />
<!-- end display code -->
<xsl:call-template name="split-string">
<xsl:with-param name="list" select="$remaining" />
<xsl:with-param name="delimiter">
<xsl:value-of select="$delimiter"/>
<xsl:with-param name="id"><xsl:value-of select="$id" /></xsl:with-param>

You can add or remove variables depending on what you need. In the above example code, I had a semi-colon list of email attachment file names that were attached to the list. I wanted to create a ‘clickable’ link to each file, which is why I needed the ID field. Normally, you wouldn’t need the ID field.

This is how I called the template in my XSL:

<xsl:call-template name="split-string">
<xsl:with-param name="list"><xsl:value-of select="@EmailAttachmentNames" /></xsl:with-param>
<xsl:with-param name="delimiter">;</xsl:with-param>
<xsl:with-param name="id"><xsl:value-of select="@ID" /></xsl:with-param>

Undercover Boss: How SharePoint Can Help Management

By , February 11, 2010 4:14 pm

After the Superbowl, where the “Who Dat Nation” conquered the Indianapolis Colts, CBS previewed a new program called Undercover Boss.  It is an intriguing concept.  Take the CEO/President of a company and have them work undercover for their own company.   I DVR’d it and had the opportunity to watch the first episode last night.  In this episode, the President/COO of Waste Management worked at five different locations doing different jobs, from recycling, to port-a-potty cleaning, to riding a trash truck, to picking up trash in a land fill.  Along the way, he got to experience how his decisions and policies as an Executive affected the front-line employees in his company.  He was even “fired” by one person for not picking up trash fast enough.  The one thing that he kept saying was, “I didn’t know”.  He didn’t realize that the cost cutting measures they instituted created a situation where one lady was actually doing the work of three to four individuals, but getting paid as admin staff.  He found out that lady truck drivers had to pee in a coffee can because of the production quotas they had implemented.  He found out that some employees were being docked two minutes of pay for each minute they were late.  He also found out that he had some real good and loyal employees.  Employees who needed recognition.  Employees who had good attitudes and ideas.  Employees who were the face of his company to their customers.

So – how does this relate to SharePoint?  One thing I love about SharePoint is that it is a social computing platform.  It enables team building.  It encourages collaboration.  It enables the flow of information to flow efficiently in many directions.  Used effectively, C-Level Executives don’t have to say – “I didn’t know.”

Here are some ideas on how Management can leverage SharePoint in their company.

  1. Executive blogs.  I don’t care what company you work for, all employees are interested in what the Executive Team is doing to make sure that they have jobs in the future.  It doesn’t take much time for a CEO or President to  jot down a few notes about the direction of the company.  It is commonly known that successful companies have leaders who are visionary, and communicate that vision to the company.  When employees feel that they play an active part in that vision, they are more productive and loyal.  When employees see the CEO communicating his personal thoughts in a blog, managment becomes more real instead of some faceless entity handing down edicts.
  2. Surveys.  Want to know what people think about a certain subject?  Ask them.  SharePoint has surveys right out of the box! And, they are easy to create.
  3. BI.  SharePoint has some pretty good BI tools.  With Dashboards, LOB data integration, Excel services, and workflow, among others, SharePoint is positioned to be an efficient platform for surfacing BI data.
  4. Search.  How many times have you known a piece of information exists in the company but you can’t find it, so you recreate it.  How many hours do you spend searching for the right piece of information? Sam Goodner has blogged about what CEO’s don’t want to hear.  He also talks about what they do want to hear.   In one of his examples, he documents how it costs $28,125 per year per employee because of poor findability in their company.  Now I don’t know if these are actual numbers but think about it,  can you quantify your informational findability?
  5. Workflow.  Whether you use the OOB workflows or create your own with Designer or Visual Studio, processes can be automated making your business more efficient.
  6. My Sites.  While this is most likely one of the most controversial parts of SharePoint in an organization, if an organization embraces My Sites, you will have realized the 360 degree aspect of social computing.  What happens when I need to know who in my company is an expert on a certain subject?  I can do a People Search to find someone who is an expert on that subject?  I can then visit their site and find papers and such that they have published on the subject.  I can establish a relationship with them and invite them to collaborate something I am working on.  Just think of the possibilities for organizations that have offices throughout the world.

These are just some ideas.  Look around you.  Social computing has taken hold in our everyday lives. With Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and FourSquare becoming household words, employees are expecting that same type of interactivity and socialization in their company.  Executives that embrace these technologies and actively participate in these technologies, will never again have to say, “I didn’t know…”.

A SharePoint Design Question

By , February 4, 2010 1:10 pm

Normally, I write solutions to problems.  This time around, I need some suggestions to get ideas on how to design a solution to a problem.

The credit department where I work accumulates/produces documents to support the credit limit they grant our customers.  We have categorized them as :

  • Financial Statements
  • Agency Reports
  • Parent Guarantees
  • Other

We have defined a content type for each of these types of documents.  With each of these documents, one common field is the Company Name field that describes the company that the document refers to.

The Company is unique in it’s structure.  Each Company can be a Parent company or it can be the Parent to other companies.  I created a Company list that had the fields Name and Parent where Parent was a lookup field type to the Company list.  We currently have the list populated by about 4500 company names with the parent relationships defined.

List: Company

  • Company Name, Text Field (required)
  • Parent, Lookup of Company List (Company Name field) (not required)

In the document list that contains the four content types, each content type has a Company field that is a lookup to the Company List.

When we were discussing how to design this “application”, the user talked about how he would like to have a view where he could see all documents that related to a company, whether these documents applied directly to the company or one of it’s subsidiaries.  Another requirement would be that the documents for one particular company would be easy to find/view.

As for volume, each company (so far at 4500) will have at minimum 1 of each document types but more than likely will contain 10 – 20 documents with a small growth rate.  There is no document disposition being considered.  From their standpoint, once a document goes into the system, it becomes a historical record for that company.  So – we’re looking at about 45,000-90,000 documents initially and it will grow.

My original thought was that to stay within the 2000 item soft limit per view, I would create a folder in the Document Library for each Company created in the Company list.  I would then have the users save their documents in the folder that corresponded to the company name.  To achieve the view of the data where they could see all documents that applied to the parent and child companies, I would use the relationships defined in the Company list to create a custom view using the DataView Web Part.

So – here are my questions:

  1. Do I need a separate folder for each company?  Am I limiting myself?
  2. If we just use a Company Name field using the lookup list, would we run into performance problems?
  3. If we do use the folder, is there a way to automate the creation of the folder when I create a new Company in the Company List.
  4. If we do use folders, is there a way to prevent documents from being created outside of the folders?
  5. Can a document inherit a property from it’s parent?  (i.e. could a document get it’s company name by being saved into a specific folder with the right company name?
  6. (If folder) How do I prevent users from saving documents into the document library outside of a folder?

I’m sure there are more questions that I need to be asking.  It has been so long since I worked in Designer or the Web interface.  I’ve been living in Visual Studio for the last year.  Leave comments / remarks / insults.  Anything is appreciated.

SharePoint Saturday – Indianapolis Wrap-Up

By , February 2, 2010 3:30 pm

SharePoint Saturday was a huge success.  I had a lot of fun.  To all of the organizers – this was truly one of the best organized conferences I have attended.  The speaker dinner was a blast and the venue was perfect for the creativity that SharePoint encourages! Thank you! If you ever do another one, I hope I am fortunate to present again.

For all who attended my presentation – I Wish I Knew That (What I Wish I Knew Before I Implemented SharePoint), you can download my slide deck by going to my Presentation Notes page.  If you were one of the lucky few to capture a Happy Mood Dude, take a picture of yourself with it and send it to me.  I’d love to post it on the site.

iPhone Saves the Day!

By , February 1, 2010 2:38 pm

Every once in a while, you come across a cool story that you wish everyone could learn about.  This is one such story.  It is so cool, I’m going to cross-post this on both of my blogs.

What would you do if you were caught in an earthquake, injured and sure you were going to die?  View this video below to hear what one man did.  If you can’t see the video, or want to read the story, you can read it here.

Here’s a thought.  What would you write to your wife/kids/loved-ones if you found yourself in a similar situation?  Leave a comment – let’s see how interesting this becomes!

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