Sunday, July 27, 2008

The SharePoint Paradox - Too Many Hammers

It happens with each new custom development I am involved with on the SharePoint platform - that initial temptation to write custom code, to head down the technical and complex route to a solution. Comes from having a background in software development, I guess!

The process of firing up Visual Studio and starting to code against the SharePoint APIs can thus become the "hammer" used to fix every "nail" (for "nail" read "business requirement").

But that is missing the point of SharePoint - there are plenty of built-in features that can greatly reduce the need for custom development. And hence reduce the cost to the client. Take one recent example from my work - a client required a web part that displayed documents created or modified by the current user, with some particular requirements around the way the metadata was displayed. Some of the functionality in this web part had me hovering the mouse over the Visual Studio start program link, but a little further design work revealed that the good ole' Data View (Data Form) web part could satisfy their needs.

The web part took around an hour to complete, with the necessary XSL jiggling. And one of the real benefits of taking this approach is the deployment - no WSP files to install on the server, no interruption to service. A simple text file to export and import.

Perhaps this is a paradox with SharePoint - as a development platform of significant breadth, it offers lots of different hammers for each nail. Me, I try (often have to remind myself!) to pick the lightest-weight hammer possible for each task. Lightweight = quicker development cycle = more agile and more responsive to customer requirements.

There is a proviso, of course (quite a major one) - the size of the client and their deployment/integration process may choose that hammer for you. The fast, lightweight approach that may be appropriate for clients with small, simple sites and a handful of users on a single server is unlikely to fit major organisations with strict control over the staging/QA/production environments. But even in that instance a Data View web part could be enveloped inside a SharePoint Feature and the deployment needs likely satisfied.

One step missing from the process when using this lightweight means of solving IT needs is the testing, or rather the inclusion of automated, repeateable testing. Someday I'll get a chance to look at the web test various frameworks around and to see whether NUnit combined with, say, WebAii or WATIN will help.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Getting that PDF Indexing to work in MOSS

Had a case where the latest Adobe IFilter had been installed, but the crawl log in MOSS was displaying "filtering process could not process this item" messages.

The key to fixing this issue was the information in this post from the Filter Center blog: checking the registry key value, and then adding the path to the Acrobat Reader folder were the solutions. With those in place, a full scan correctly indexed the PDF documents.

To save the search for the Adobe Acrobat PDF file icon logo for referencing in the DocIcons.xml file, here is the location of the GIF file on the Adobe site:

Other useful aticles:

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Hide the "View All Site Content" Quick Launch Link

To hide this link from all but those users with full control over a WSS site, open the site master page in SharePoint Designer and find the SPSecurityTrimmedControl element that contains a div with class ms-quicklaunchheader. The quickest route to this is to view the page in split view, and click on the "View All Site Content" link in the design pane.

The PermissionsString attribute of the SPSecurityTrimmedControl element determines what users can view this content. Change the value of this attribute to ManageWeb and only those users with rights to perform all admin tasks on the site will then be able to see the link on all pages in the site.

See this page for a list of all the possible permission string values.