Hey – we’ve all made mistakes.  We all know that “oh sh**” moment right after we realize what we’ve done.  Often times this occurs right after we click a friendly “Are you sure??” dialog.  Of course I’m sure – if I wasn’t sure I wouldn’t have chosen to do it in the first place!  Stupid computer.

Anyway, I recently had a situation where someone (honestly, in this case it wasn’t me) accidentally deleted the Site Collection for the SSP admin site (/ssp/admin).  Since this was for a SharePoint farm in production I really didn’t want to have to re-create the entire SSP but I couldn’t figure out how to just re-create the site collection itself.  I figured there had to be a site template for the site but since it didn’t show up in the Create Site Collection UI I went and looked on disk.  Sure enough, a site template exists for the SSP Admin site.  It’s called OSRV.

So to create a new SSP admin site, run this command line.

stsadm.exe -o createsite -url http://<server&gt;:<ssp_port>/ssp/admin -owneremail <email address> -ownerlogin <account> -sitetemplate OSRV#0 -title "Shared Services Administration: <your ssp name>"

This might take a little while to complete, but it does eventually finish.

Next you need to edit the SSP to point to the recreated site.

stsadm.exe -o editssp -title "<your ssp name>" -sspadminsite http://<server&gt;:<ssp_port>/ssp/admin

That’s it.  You should be back up and running.

SharePoint? Meet Python

August 12, 2007

Ever have a need to quickly script some administrative task relating to SharePoint? Ever wish there was more you could do with STSADM? Ever wish you had an interactive console for exploring the object model and testing various methods or properties? Well Iron Python is your answer. In this short article I’ll show you how to get up and running with Iron Python and SharePoint. I’ll also show you a few scripts that will give you some insight into the potential power of this extremely useful combination. Read the rest of this entry »

Site Templates

June 20, 2007

I hate searching for this stuff every time I need it.  So here is a list of SharePoint site templates and their friendly names.

Friendly Name Template
Team Site STS#0
Blank Site STS#1
Document Workspace STS#2
Wiki Site WIKI#0
Blog BLOG#0
Basic Meeting Workspace MPS#0
Blank Meeting Workspace MPS#1
Decision Meeting Workspace MPS#2
Social Meeting Workspace MPS#3
Multipage Meeting Workspace MPS#4
Document Center BDR#0
Records Center OFFILE#1
Personalization Site SPSMSITE#0
Site Directory SPSITES#0
Report Center SPREPORTCENTER#0
Search Center with Tabs SRCHCEN#0
Search Center SRCHCENTERLITE#0
Publishing Site CMSPUBLISHING#0
Publishing Site with Workflow BLANKINTERNET#2
News Site SPSNHOME#0

I recently did some load testing for a client and needed to populate our environment with sample data to simulate real-world usage.  This was my first occasion to use the tools released on Codeplex for this – WSSDW and MOSSDW.  As I was stumbling through the semi-documentation and samples that didn’t really work I started jotting down some notes.  This is a collection of these lessons learned – hopefully they’ll help someone else avoid some of the “WTF” moments I had 🙂

Download both WSSDW AND MOSSDW.
I ran into a ton of problems when I started because I only downloaded MOSSDW.  The samples don’t work without WSSDW – WSSDWLib.dll to be exact.  So download them both and install them in the same folder. 

You need to “Unblock” the help files (chm) before you can read them.
After downloading the help files, right-click, choose properties, then click Unblock.

Don’t bother trying to delete sample content. 
The tool just doesn’t work very well.  You’ll end up with an error and a bunch of left over content.  The best thing to do is just to create your sample site hierarchy under a single “Test” web and then just delete the Test web manually (or with stsadm) each time.  Note, you may have to use the Manage Site Content and Structure UI in MOSS so that you can delete webs with subwebs.

Creating a publishing page and publishing it is a two step operation.
This just seems weird so maybe I am missing something.  But if you want to create a publishing page, add content to that page, and publish it, you need two XML node actions.  The first node creates the page and adds content.  The second node publishes it.  For example:

<TestPage Name="Page1.aspx" PageLayout="ArticleLeft.aspx" openmode="modifyexisting">
  <TestHtmlFieldValue Name="Page Content" HtmlFile="MOSS_Intro.htm" openmode="modifyexisting"/>
</TestPage>
<TestPage Name="Page1.aspx" openmode="modifyexisting" Status="Published" />

You would assume you could just add the Status=”Published” bit to the first TestPage node.  But what happens is that the status gets set before the TestHtmlFieldValue node is parsed – so this action fails because the page isn’t checked out.  *rolls eyes*

Mixing and matching MOSS tags and WSS tags has some issues.
If you’re going to mix and match MOSS and WSS tags, be sure to use WSS tags to walk your web hierarchy.  The <TestArea> MOSS tag won’t provide context to children such as <Lists>.

Agile is THE ONLY way to build SharePoint applications.  Pure and simple.  If you think otherwise, sorry.  You are wrong.

Oh… you wanted an explanation?  Okay – here you go.

I could bore you with a bunch of background on Agile and what’s good about it, what the process is, what the core concepts are, etc.  But I won’t.  If I did that we would just go back and forth forever on the benefits/shortcomings of Agile development.  Instead I’ll get right to the point.

You do not know enough about SharePoint to fully spec a solution end-to-end.

Let me repeat that.  YOU (yes you), DO NOT know enough about SharePoint.  I know you think you do.  I know you think you know how everything works, how everything fits together, but you don’t.  And you know what?  Nobody does.

There you go.  Any application you want to build that has any level of complexity just cannot be fully designed up front.  There are too many unknowns at every level in the product.  Too many assumptions need to be made about what should work.  And we all know that there are dozens of unanticipated gotchas waiting around every turn.

SharePoint 2007 is a huge product.  It has a ton of little nooks and crannys each providing great functionality, but also hiding pure WTF, “why did they do it that way”, suprises.  SharePoint is just too big and too new for anybody to know it intimately enough to fully define a solution end-to-end without actually doing some trial and error implementation.  So if you’re doing trial and error implementation anyway, why not include the client and make them short iterations?

Okay – a few more quick benefits to this approach:

  1. Don’t have to spend time documenting out of the box functionality that you don’t have control over anyway
  2. Wireframes and UI designs are less critical because you can “design” on the fly using the out of the box UI – then identify the gaps where additional design elements or controls are needed
  3. End up with less code/customization because once users see it out of the box, they quickly reach a “good enough” point.  You can focus your customizations where where adds real value.
  4. The very nature of letting the user touch and feel the solution will change their requirements.  They will realize that certain things are less important than they thought while others are more important.  This is true with any application development but the fact that you can do so much out of the box in SharePoint means you can get to this point very very quickly.

So there you go.  Good luck.  We have a tough fight ahead of us convincing people that SharePoint is different enough to warrant throwing old waterfall methodologies away and trying something new.

Motivation

May 1, 2007

I’ve got good news and bad news. First the good news: as a manager, having motivated employees is completely within your control. It doesn’t matter how big your budget is, how many employees you have, or how high in the corporate food chain you are. It is absolutely within your power to have motivated and enthusiastic employees.

Now the bad news: having motivated employees is your responsibility – yours and yours alone. It’s not the responsibility of the HR department or some disconnected “Chief Culture Officer”. It is your responsibility. And it gets worse – if you want to motivate your employees, you have to mean it.

So, before you read any further you need to ask yourself a question: do you feel motivated? Do you want to motivate your employees? Do you want to motivate your employees because you want them to feel the same commitment and passion you do? Or because you want to squeeze a few more hours out of their already long work day?

Motivation is all about communication and vision. It’s about transferring your own motivation and drive to your employees. If you don’t believe in the vision, then no amount of “employee retreats” or “team building exercises” are going to make a difference.

So again, ask yourself if you really feel it. If you don’t, it might be a good idea to step aside so someone who is truly motivated can take the reins. On the other hand, if you are motivated and are looking for some tools to help you transfer that motivation to your team, please keep reading.

Still here? Okay well either you’re lying to yourself, you’re really bored and are reading anyway, or you really do feel enthusiastic and want to pass some of that along. Hopefully it’s the latter, but I’m not going to be picky.

I’ve broken this article into four parts:

  1. Being Available
  2. Empathize, to a point
  3. Commitments
  4. General conduct

Part 1 (Being Available) is ready to go now. The other 3 parts will be posted as my time allows.

Being Available
Or, how I learned to get up off my ass and walk around a lot

As I said up front, motivation has a lot to do with transferring your enthusiasm to your employees. But in order to do this effectively you have to be genuine about it. If you aren’t feeling it, you’ll end up doing more harm than good. Employees only need a few “fake” ra ra sessions to start seeing everything you do in that light. So the best thing to do if you aren’t feeling the enthusiasm is to do nothing. Doing nothing is much better than doing something in this case because that something is likely to cause damage that is very difficult to undo. Read the rest of this entry »