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 »

I read an interesting article today that has both re-affirmed and made me question existing notions I had about user interface design and ease of use. One of the points of the article is that user interfaces which display all avaliable choices at once are easier to use than those that hide the choices behind sub pages, sub menus, etc. The point that the article makes (actually referencing another article “The Truth About Google’s So-called ‘Simplicity’,”) is:

“Why are Yahoo! and MSN such complex-looking places? Because their systems are easier to use. Not because they are complex, but because they simplify the life of their users by letting them see their choices on the home page: news, alternative searches, other items of interest.”

My first thought when reading that was “then why is the damn SharePoint Central Admin so hard to use??”.  I don’t know about you, but every time I go in there I feel like an idiot because I have to stare at the page for 5 minutes and scan each link to remember which item will take me to the options I need.  Not only that, but I frequently have to click on an item to remember “nope – that’s not the one”.

On the other hand, I think about other interfaces like Window’s control panel.  One of the first things I do when I install Windows is revert the control panel to classic mode so that I can easily see all options available to me.

Maybe the reason why Central Admin is so hard to use is that they’ve tried to show you many options at once, but still in a grouped way.  For example, first off you have the Operations and Application Management tabs.  My first challenge when I’m looking for something is to remember what tab it’s on.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve quickly scanned the Operations page not seeing what I need, gone to the Application Management tab only to come back to the Ops tab after reading through EVERY link on that page (and clicking on quite a few).

Then, on each page you have groupings of links: Global Configuration, Topology and Services, Security Configuration, etc.  When you’re just scanning the page you tend to see the group names before the links themselves so if you don’t remember what group something is in, you might miss it on a quick pass.

Maybe a better UI would be a simple alphabetized list of all links.  I usually know the name of the link I want, I just can’t remember what group or what tab it’s on.

Or another idea would be to group related options into “Tools” similar to the control panel in Windows.  You could have

  • Security Manager – all security settings including farm accounts, farm administrators, etc
  • Site Manager – configure web apps and site collections
  • Server Manager – services, backup and restore, farm topology, etc

Anyway, all I know is that central admin is hard to use.  But on the other hand, maybe that’s inevitable when you have a product as large and with as many options as SharePoint has.

In case you missed it, Microsoft recently announced that it will begin charging $1.50 to download beta versions of Office System.  According to them they are doing this to help offset the bandwidth cost for the large number of downloads they have received.

“Since the end of May, Beta 2 has been downloaded more than 3 million times…That’s 500 percent more than what was expected.  The fee helps offset the cost of downloading from the servers.”

Did you catch that?  500% more than expected?  3 million downloads for a beta?  The fact that there is that much interest in the market for the next wave of Office System is a great thing for folks in our field.  I believe this release of Office and all that goes along with it (SharePoint etc) will be a huge one for Microsoft and for its partners.  There seems to be a lot of genuine interest in the market and that can only be good for implementers, consultants, and developers specializing in the technology.

Oh, one more thing.  I believe MS when it says that this charge is there to offset the bandwidth cost.  In my mind, charging $1.50 is the same as charging $3.00 or $5.00.  Someone who is willing to spend $1.50 is just as willing to spend $5.00 to download.  So if MS were out to make money I believe they would have charged a little more than $1.50.

Office schedule slips

July 7, 2006

Some of you may have heard that the office schedule has moved back again.  Both beta 2 technical refresh and RTM dates have been pushed back due to feedback and testing during the beta 2 period.  I actually happen to think this is a good thing and I am glad that Microsoft is making quality a priority.  I would hate to see what will otherwise be a huge release for Microsoft get mired down in complaints of stability and quality.  I am perfectly happy to wait a bit longer.

Hello from Word 2007

June 20, 2006

I created this blog post using Word 2007 Beta 2. It actually works pretty well. Other than the fact that the publish date doesn’t come through correctly (1/1/1970??) it was really easy to set up. I was actually pleasantly surprised to find support for WordPress. I figured Microsoft would support SharePoint Blogs and some other MS-based blog sites/services. I’m glad to see they are thinking about some of the other and more prevelant options out there.