Monday, 25 April 2011

Documenting SharePoint

It is four years today since I gave up my job of an IT Manager to become a full time SharePoint Consultant and the SharePoint light continues to shine brighter.

The reason I made the switch wasn't only due to the frustrations of the fire-fighting role of the hands-on IT Manager (a role that meant frequently working through the night to try to get Exchange Servers back online) it was also because I had such fond memories of my days with SharePoint 2003 Server.

With SharePoint 2010 now firmly established and trusted Office Talk are seeing more and more organisations (both in the Private and Public Sector) wanting to move to SharePoint. With the exciting new Hosted SharePoint 2010 solutions and many companies looking for a common business platform to reduce their overheads the future for SharePoint looks very bright.

This week we revealed the winners of the coveted Andy Dale SharePoint Awards for 2011 after a record number of votes were cast. To find out who the winners and runners up were please Click Here but why not make the excitement last a little longer by reading the rest of this blog first. You don't want to miss out on reading about how my Hall window is now probably visible to the Starship Enterprise as it flies around the Earth.

One of the keenest fought sections of the SharePoint Awards 2011 contest was the brand new 'Best Hosted SharePoint Provider'. I can reveal that NetConnect just pipped to claim the Gold Seal in the first ever Best SharePoint Hosted Awards. The record number of votes this section received highlights the growing interest in Hosted SharePoint. Perhaps companies want a SharePoint system they can use anywhere and at any time. In fact a SharePoint that never goes out which brings us to the light in my hall. A light that for the past four months has been shining anything but bright.

The problem with light in my hallway was that the large circular bulb only dully lit a third of the ring. This meant that doing simple tasks in the hall like applying makeup (the ladies in the house not me), reading the numerous pizza leaflets that are delivered each day or finding lost items in the hall cupboard became very difficult. I tried to replace the circular bulb but still only a third of the ring gave any light so it was time for drastic surgery.  The light-fitting had to be removed and replaced with a new shiny silver fitting. Well, I now know the mistake I made. Something that all IT Managers should do at all times. I failed to fully document my original set-up. A key part of any SharePoint implementation is 'Documentation'. To be able to see exactly how the sites are structured and to be able to use the documentation to recreate the SharePoint environment. The same it seems is true with light fittings. Maybe, looking back, I was a little quick to cut so many wires of differing colours, but without these snips the old light fitting would still be dangling from the ceiling now. I was left with three red wires, one blue, one yellow, two black, a yellow/green and two brown. It felt more like a snooker break than simply removing a light fitting.

Now the new light fitting had only a blue wire and a brown wire and I even read the manual (twice) to try to find out where to connect each of the ten leads. Eventually with only three wires left unconnected I decided that my work was done. On the fusebox I turned on the switch for the lower level lights and to my delight the new triple bulb light lit up. Feeling quite pleased with my DIY skills I left the house to watch the FA Cup Semi Final at my dad's. It was only on my return that a slight problem was revealed. The 'slight' mproblem was that the new light would not turn off. It was also a very bright light that could be seen through the Hall window for several miles. I was worried that Druids might decide to come from miles to worship it.

So my lack of documentation meant that I had no idea where all these extra wires went but it seemed that some of them had been linked to the light-switch. At least I now have a light that never goes out. Like Hosted SharePoint my Hall light is now always on and working. Showing me and any passing air crafts the way.

The moral of this story is to always document your system, especially if you are thinking of making any changes. So if you have n't already recorded the layout of your SharePoint environment. Know all the Web Parts that are used, know which SharePoint Features you have enabled, know which 'Views' you have created.

So congratulations to Netconnect on their SharePoint Award for 2011 and to the other 9 winners. A full list of winners and runners-up can be found at Winners. The winning companies will all be awarded their Gold Seals shortly and we hope they treat them more carefully than Real Madrid treated the cup they won last week.


Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Hosted SharePoint 2011 (Census Edition)

The closing date for voting in my SharePoint 2011 Awards is Friday 15th April so if you haven't voted yet then please visit SharePoint Village now, well after reading this week's blog.

After several reminders I have finally filled in my 'Household Questionnaire' for the 2011 Census. Just my luck that my partner's teenage daughter chose the night of 27th March for a sleepover. If I had known I would have to list all these visitors on the Census I would have made it another night for all these teenagers to sleep on my floor. It will though confuse my future relations if they are researching our family tree and see from the 2011 Census that I had three thirteen year old girls in the house that night. My parents spent hours checking the 1861 and 1871 Census to try and work out who lived with who and who was the father of which child. I suppose in future people will just watch re-runs of Jeremy Kyle to see who the real father was.

The last Census was of course back in 2001 and certainly in my life a lot has changed since then. This house wasn't even built back then, I hadn't got married or separated, my mother was still alive and healthy and the Villa weren't in a relegation fight. The world has also under gone many dramatic events since 2001; Twin Towers bombing, first black president, fall of Tony Blair's 'New Labour', England winning 'The Ashes' down under, the creation of 'X-Factor' and the death of Michael Jackson. Who knows what historical events will happen before the next Census in 2021. Will we see the end to the Census because it costs too much money? How many affairs will Ken Barlow have? Will we have a King of England?

Since 2001 SharePoint has also changed beyond recognition. It was first launched in 2001 about the same time as the last Census.

First SharePoint Server Box

The first major version (and first I worked with) was SharePoint Portal Server 2003 in the year when England majestically won the Rugby World Cup and Concorde made it's last commercial flight. The biggest SharePoint advances though came with the 2007 version and WSS 3. This linked SharePoint firmly into the Office family and was used as a Content Editor for Websites for the very first time. Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) 2007 became Microsoft's fastest selling Server application of all time. This in a year when Rihanna asked us to stand under her umbrella and the last Harry Potter book was released (please don't tell me the ending as I am waiting to see last film in July).

Then last year in 2010 came the latest exciting SharePoint Edition, imaginatively called SharePoint 2010. Dipping it's feet into Social Networking, adding Business Connectivity Services and a fancy ribbon Microsoft have taken SharePoint to a new level. So in the year that we said a last goodbye to Big Brother, Alastair Darling as Chancellor (always reminds me of Blackadder)  and the hope of ever seeing England stage the FIFA World Cup, Microsoft gave us a SharePoint we can edit on-screen.

Microsoft are pushing us all now towards the 'Cloud' and believe that having our software hosted elsewhere and paying only for what we use is the great future. We at Office Talk are heavily committed to offering hosted SharePoint 2010 as a pay as you monthly service and are delighted at the success that our joint venture with NetConnect has had since it's launch early this year.

We have taken our popular Department site templates (first designed to be used with SharePoint 2007) and offered them on our hosted SharePoint 2010 packaged called 'Office Manager'. Named that because it lets you manage all your everyday Office tasks from Visitor Logging, to Accident Book via IT Helpdesk with more of hint of Purchase Ordering. If you haven't yet tried Office Manager or SharePoint 2010 then why not start a free month's trial now simply by clicking the link below. We won't ask for your credit card number, inside leg measurement or who slept at your house on 27th March 2011;

Free Trial -

Hopefully 2011 won't be remembered as the year the great Aston Villa were relegated from the Premier League. A point last Saturday at Everton is hopefully a move in the right direction and on Sunday we can get three points against Newcastle to steer ourselves further clear of danger. You can follow the exciting relegation fight involving all the bottom ten teams at our SharePoint demonstration Site by following the link below;


User Logon :
Password : officetalk

Great to see the Villa fans all getting behind the club this week and especially good to see them recording the 'Bells and Ringing' video.

Come on you Villa boys !!!