Monday, 13 July 2009

Inaugral Toronto 'SharePointSaturday'

SharePointSaturday's are free conferences, held on saturdays (well duh..) in various cities across the U.S. and this last saturday we had the inaugral Canadian event at Microsoft Canada's HQ in Meadowvale, Mississauga - which just happens to be a 15 minute walk from my new house :-)

It was an excellent event, and thanks most go out to all of the sponsors and speakers. There were huge piles of MS Press and Wrox books, all of which were given away as prizes. Unfortunately I did not manage to win either of the Acer Netbooks, or the 1TB external hard drive, but I did walk away from the day with U.S.$90 worth of info in the form of not one but two MS Press books !

There was 3 tracks, Administrator & Architect, Developer and Special Interest. I did not go to any developer sessions, but here are my brief notes on the ones I did attend:

SharePoint for the masses - Special Interest track, Mushin Shahid of

A good basic overview of the MOSS and WSS ecosystem. Based around looking at the different slices of the famous MOSS capabilities circle diagram (the SharePoint pizza). Going on the questions being asked this was at the right level for some members of the audience, who obviously are not actually using SharePoint yet. There was some interesting statistics from Mushin on Microsofts use of MOSS; 3 main server farms in Redmond, Dublin and Singapore, with 112,000 (+) site collections with over 325,000 sites and using 14TB of storage. Also a comment about their sales people using MOSS sites as a front end to Siebel CRM data via the BDC.

Social Computing and SharePoint - Special Interest track, Andy Nogueira of Non-Linear Creations:

Andy started with some generic descriptions of 'social computing' type applications, and discussed blogs, wikis, social bookmarking, etc etc in generic terms to get the audience clued in. Interesting stats in this session was FaceBook registered user numbers being bigger than the populations of countries such as Russia, Brazil and Japan !

Andy had '8 pillars of social computing' and a mapping to MOSS features:
  • Identity - User Profiles
  • Relationships - Colleagues feature
  • User experience - easy custom branding of OOB MOSS
  • Sharing - communities built using MOSS tools
  • Discovery - SharePoint search
  • Presence - SharePoint free / busy (full presence with integration with other products)
  • Conversations - Forums and integration with Office Communicator (instant messaging)
  • Reputation - Ratings and activity

The bulk of Andy's session was basically building an internal FaceBook using Profiles, My Sites and the Change Log, adding 'status' update functionality and some elements of people search. All good stuff, and a very nice presentation.

Content Query Web Part in the wild - Administrator track, Hasan Shahid, SharePoint Delivery:

Hasan and his colleague (to whom I apologize as I forgot to jot down his name) did a two level demo of the CQWP: a configuration of the basic CQWP in OOB mode, to list some data. The then did a slightly more complex demo, building a "Staff directory' using Content Types, Lists and the CQWP. Hasan promised to post the demo PowerPoint with lots of details on his blog at:

Arhitecting Records Management Solutions - Architect track, Ken Wong, NetDexterity

Ken is a fan of building RM solutions using SharePoint because it provides the basic building blocks and the flexibility to architect a specific solution. He is not suggesting that OOB 'Records Centre' will be good enough, but that using the exposed web services and other features of MOSS as a development platform, you can build something that meets your requirements. This was an excellent presentation so I hope the slides make it up onto the SharePointSaturdays site.

Leveraging InfoPath forms in SharePoint - Ed Musters. Open Highway Consulting Inc.

InfoPath is certainly not my area of expertise, and Ed claims the form design side of things is not his, but this was an interesting and entertaining session on using the InfoPath forms facilities built into the Enterprise version of MOSS, which can present and processes forms through the browser rather than requiring the InfoPath client. When I was working for Prescient as an intranet consultant, it was always astounding to see how many firms do NOT have online forms, even simple ones for common processes, so it was interesting to hear from Ed that InfoPath can actually import PDF forms (of the download, print out and fill in with a pen variety) and turn them into online forms :-) As always with SharePoint you build a Content Type to support your form, and thus can easily give it a simple workflow.

At the small number of booth's present I BlueThreads 'StoragePoint' solution, and the KWizcom guys gave me a USB drive with presentations and information on their new Taxonomy management web parts.

All in all a very useful and productive day. Now if only I could find some more detials on SharePoint 2010 on the new Office 2010 Technical Preview website.......

Thanks again, to the organizers, sponsors and speakers - your efforts are appreciated.

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