Cloud and Microsoft technologies enthusiast architect in Switzerland RSS 2.0
# Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Title : Microsoft Visio 2010 - Business Process Diagramming and Validation

Author : David J. Parker

Summary :
Microsoft Visio 2010, Business Process Diagramming and Validation, written by the Visio MVP David Parker focuses on Visio 2010 and its use for validating diagrams. Moreover, the edition that is the subject of the book is the Premium one. The reason for that is because only the Premium Edition has the diagram validation feature.
It starts by a description of the new features of Visio 2010. It continues with the description of the Microsoft Visio Object Model and the Connectivity API used to run through the diagram, its shapes and their connections. After this, the necessary ShapeSheet is explained, before going through the validation API.
After all that theory, some practice with the development of a Visio Add-In in WPF to explore the ShapeSheets and the validation rules. This Add-in is then used in all the next chapters to create validation rules.
A complete chapter is dedicated to the publishing and packaging of Visio templates, including validation rules.

Book Review :
The book leads the reader from the beginning, exploring the Visio Object model to a completely packaged Visio template containing validation rules, which is very interesting and easy to follow. The explanations and examples are clear and illustrated with comprehensive piece of code. Especially, the packaging part that I found particularly well explained.
On the other side, some part of the book have big pieces of code, which is good because you don't have to be online to get the source code on a web site (even if the complete solution described in the book is available on a dedicated site). But, this makes sometimes these part more difficult to follow and a bit heavy.
Finally, a good book for developers and power users that want to start implementing diagram validation.

For the people that want a free sample chapter of the book (Understanding the Microsoft Visio Object Model), they can follow this link.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010 9:09:01 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] -
Book Review
# Sunday, July 25, 2010

Title : SharePoint 2010 for dummies

Author : Vanessa L. Williams

Summary :
This book places the readers at the place of a user or a power user of the SharePoint 2010 platform. It describes the functionnalities or feature of the lists, document libraries and goes through the different aspects of SharePoint 2010. But it does not stop at the end-user level and goes beyond, by explaining some tricks or some administrator functions.
Several advanced features are demonstrated, like the Excel Services, the Business Connectivity Services, just to name a few.

Book Review :
Ok, colleagues were wondering why I was reading such kind of book. That is true, if you want a developer or a complete guide to SharePoint 2010, pass your way, this book is definitely not for you. Anyway, when all the day-long you work either as a developer or working at the implementation of a SharePoint 2010 solution, there is a tendancy to forget the basics, or just how users are approaching the product. Not only that. It is the kind of book that your users or your clients will read most likely. It is always good to put yourself in their shoes and see SharePoint from their viewpoint, just to see how they understand the product.
For someone that has already some notions of SharePoint, this book is easy to go through. It has a good level for end-users and power users (not administrators !). Finally, it is interesting to see it as a starting point for other books going more deeper in SharePoint 2010 and definitely, a book that SharePoint users should have.

Sunday, July 25, 2010 3:30:41 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] -
Book Review
# Wednesday, July 21, 2010

You may not have notice, but this blog has been upgraded.

As it was running on an old version of the DasBlog engine, it was the time to upgrade to the version 2.3. It is now done and running...

Wednesday, July 21, 2010 9:46:29 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] -
Blog Life
# Friday, July 16, 2010

In SharePoint 2007 we had a problem when we wanted to create calculated columns using either the [Today] or [Me], respectively giving the current date and the current user. If you search on the web, a lot of pages are describing and talking about the workaround. The workaround is to create a "Today" or a "Me" column with the standard and default settings, writing the formula and then, finally, to delete the created columns.

I hoped that in SharePoint 2010, this was fixed. But when I created my first calculated column based on dates, here is what I got :

Exactly the same error we have in SharePoint 2007.

And.....exactly the same workaround. So, is it not considered as a bug or a problem for Microsoft ? Sure, there is a workaround, but it is quite annoying to create columns just to delete them right after. And, last but not least, when the formula has to be udpated, ensure that these columns are present otherwise, it will be impossible to save the new formula.

UPDATE

I got a correction from Ryan (see comment below) and indeed, the what-was-called-so-far-a-workaround in many pages on the web (and here also :-) ) is in fact not a viable solution. In fact, the column using this "trick" will only be updated and calculated when the item is updated. To see the confirmation of this, create a column with a formula like this : =IF([StartDate]>[Today],"Future","Started") with StartDate being a manually-set date and wait for that StartDate to be reached. If the item is not updated, the column will keep the "Future" label.

Anyway, the fact that it is not possible to have such functionality in SP2010 is a bit pity.

Thanks to Ryan for the correction

Friday, July 16, 2010 11:36:15 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [2] -
SharePoint | Technical
# Friday, June 25, 2010

When you implement a solution, you test it in different situation and depending on the results, of course, you correct the little mistakes that may be present. What I found very interesting so far in software development is the way to reproduce a behaviour following a given set of steps. For the same steps, you get the same result. That is also a way to qualify a bug or a defect, most of the times.
So, what is more frustrating when the problem or the bug happens randomly ?
However, that is what happened recently on a SharePoint 2007 web site during a roll-out.

The symptoms ?
Having activated the anonymous access, pages prompted the users for credentials and when no credentials were entered, a simple message "401 Unauthorized" was displayed. Now, on that same page, simply pressing F5 to refresh was loading and displaying the page correctly.

Checks ?
Checked that all the resources were accessible by anonymous users, being CSS, images, documents, etc. Some images were referenced using absolute URLs, but apart from that, nothing special.
Checked in the Windows Event Log, absolutely nothing related to this problem.
Checked the ULS, crawled megs of text files, several "excessive number of SPRequest" messages were present, but they were here before the roll-out as well. The only clue was some "Access denied" messages, but, no reference to a resource or no stack trace.
Checked also the web.config, everything was ok. And anyway, this is normally handled by SharePoint.
Checked the IIS Directory Security permissions, verifying the identity of the user used by the application pool, but here again, everything was normal.
Custom code doing a forbidden action ? After a complete removal of the three custom controls, the problem persisted, so, it was not that.
After hours and hours of investigation, I found one thing. The Master Page and Page Layouts gallery was not accessible anonymously, so I fixed this first, but still, the 401 issue was still here. Being in the library I decided to check the content of the master pages and the page layouts and found couple of "__designer" tags referencing resources. We indeed used the SharePoint Designer to apply some changes, but never had this problem before. But, to be sure and to definitely clean these files, every "__designer" tags have been removed and pages provisionned again.

The result ?
Everything was fine. So, for some reasons, the tags added by SharePoint Designer seem to cause access issues, but not all the times.
In this particular case, what was really annoying is that nothing can lead you to the solution or where the problem is located. A lot of people wrote about 401 random issues, caused by either a hotfix applied here or load-balancer problems there, but mine was still another one.
So, before spending hours or days looking for useless (in that specific situation) logs, check your master page or your page layouts and remove "__designer" tags. Check also that they are accessible anonymously.

Friday, June 25, 2010 11:29:06 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] -
SharePoint | Technical
# Sunday, June 13, 2010

Title : Mastering Your Organization's Processes

Authors : John O'Connell, Jon Pyke, Roger Whitehead

Summary :
In another post I mentioned why BPM is important today for the companies. Mastering the processes and the change is primordial for the managers in an enterprise. This book explains what is a business processes and their management, then describes the different systems of an organization. It also defines the actors involved in business processes, such as the ones outside the organization, the people and other systems. Finally, it gives some strategies for BPM and also some guidance to choose a BPM product.

Review :
I found this book difficult to read, most likely because I am not in the targeted audience for this kind of book. For me, it was too high-level and too conceptual. It seems, for me, that to apply the concept, there will be a missing pieces between the book and the reality of the field. One great positive point : every chapter ends with a case study that is very well explained.

Sunday, June 13, 2010 11:33:47 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] -
Book Review
# Thursday, June 10, 2010

Title : Business Process Change - A Manager's Guide to Improving, Redesigning, and Automating

Authors : Paul Harmon

Summary :
In the software industry, BPM or Business Process Management is present since the mid-90's. Even earlier according to different sources. But nothing is really new and nothing has really changed since Henry Ford in 1903 when he started Ford Motor to design and build a high-quality but easy to assemble car. What is done since ages in the manufactory industries tried to be applied to many other sectors.

Nowadays, having the best product on the market is not enough and companies have to constantly adapt themselves to changing parameters such as new competitors, suppliers, new technologies and so on. Today, it seems that the only way for a company to survive is its business processes and its ability to change them quickly (others would put the word "agile" here, but I keep myself making this shortcut).

The book starts by explaining the value chain and what is process management. A whole part is dedicated to the modelisation of the processes before going into BPM, including Six Sigma. In the middle of the book, some technologies are explored, such as XML and some ERP systems without forgetting UML.

Review :
Really good book, with excellent explanation. What I liked was also the level of details and the numerous examples and case studies. Nevertheless, if requires a little knowledge of what is BPM and is definitely not a technical book (I knew this before reading it, but it is more for clarification as most of the posts I do on this blog are technical). In addition, there are a lot of diagrams that help to understand the concepts explained throughout the book.

Thursday, June 10, 2010 11:31:36 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] -
Book Review
# Saturday, June 05, 2010
The first part of this article focused on how to create a taxonomy with SharePoint 2010. This one goes a bit beyond and describes how to use the defined taxonomy
Saturday, June 05, 2010 7:14:11 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] -
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