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Find Master Page applied to pages using SP Designer 2010

Posted by sharepoinTony on March 29, 2011

Recently, a very experienced developer commented that SharePoint Designer 2010 would not show what master page is applied, nor will it show you all of the available master pages.

That is FALSE!

Granted, SharePoint Designer 2010 has its limitations and hard-core devs will probably never “like” it (and I don’t mean on FB).  However SPD gets a bad rap – often just because people haven’t taken the time to learn the tool.    It CAN do all sorts of things and can make your life easier, if you choose to learn about it and use it.  OK, enough lecturing…on to meat of the matter.  This may not be the most ‘elegant’ method of acquiring this information, but it doesn’t hurt anything and it does work.

How to view the Master Page that is applied to a page

  1. Open SPD, Open your site
  2. Navigate to the Site Pages under Site Objects
  3. Select the aspx page in the main window and Right-Click and select Open With…
  4. Select SharePoint Designer (Open as text)
  5. Near the top of the code you will see “MasterPageFile=” – this lists the Master Page that is applied to this page

 

Obviously you can see the Master Pages by selecting “Master Pages” in the Navigation panel under Site Objects.

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Posted in Designer, SharePoint 2010 | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

USPJ does a great job

Posted by sharepoinTony on September 26, 2010

I finally got to read through the latest Understanding SharePoint Journal and I have to say I was impressed.  

The journal is clear and concise, it is very informative, and it is very easy to read.  The level of detail is great for anyone learning about SharePoint and provides sufficient information to allow you to build something of value by the time you finish reading.  In fact, the examples allow you to follow along and build something while you are reading. 

The format of these journals focus on one topic at a time, allowing you to get more depth in the topic and learning more without feeling like you sat through a lecture.  The coverage of the topic is excellent and fits the audience well.  I highly recommending the Understanding SharePoint Journal to anyone trying to learn SharePoint or learn more about SharePoint.   I certainly learned more about SharePoint 2010 Workflows than I expected after reading this issue.

Kudo’s to Bjorn and the USPJ team.

Posted in Commentary, SharePoint Tools, Workflow | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Epilogue to Calendar Reminder

Posted by sharepoinTony on September 8, 2010

The Calendar Reminder (Part 2) post has been the most viewed post on my blog over the past year.  There have been a few weeks where other posts surfaced as number 1, but when I review the stats for the past 12 months, the calendar post is certainly the most popular.    There is obvious interest in this topic.

Since the time of the original post, I have had several other calendar related requests and from them I have pulled one feature that might be of particular interest to those of you who found the Calendar Reminder post useful.  This is a twist on the reminder, but certainly related.

How would you like your SharePoint Calendar event email reminder to include a link to create an Outlook event for the user?

Here is how to accomplish this using SharePoint 2007

Requirements

  1. A SharePoint calendar
  2. A workflow associated with that calendar

Steps to add a link to add the event to the users Outlook calendar in the email they receive from SharePoint.

  1. Create (or go to) the event in the SharePoint calendar
  2. Open the event (view) and Right-Click on the Export Event link, Copy the link
  3. Jump over to SharePoint Designer, open the workflow for the SharePoint Calendar where the event resides
  4. In your email (or the variable used to create the message text) add in an html anchor tag and paste in the link you copied in step 2
  5. Find the “ID=” portion of the link, remove the id number and insert a lookup – use the <Add Lookup> button
  6. Select the ID of the current item for your lookup (this way the link works for any item created in this calendar)
  7. Don’t forget to add the quotes and end tag syntax to your anchor – see example below:

If you would like to add this event to your Outlook calendar, <a href=”http://webappname/sites/sitename/_vti_bin/owssvr.dll?CS=109&Cmd=Display&List={ec72e475-45aa-4f06-83e0-855ec9ca94d4}&CacheControl=1&ID=[%Calendar:ID%]&Using=event.ics“>CLICK HERE</a>, then click to Open, then click Save & Close in the Outlook calendar item.

This example provides both the Outlook calendar item and instructions on how to use it.  Notice that the portion highlighted above should contain the link you copied with the ID removed.  The link must come from your server and the specific SharePoint Calendar that you are providing to the Outlook item.

Perhaps you would rather not create such a complex workflow as the Calendar Reminder posts provide.  If want to just send an email at the time of the event creation that included the ability to add the event to the Outlook calendar – you can simplify the workflow to notify the recipients and include the above link.   This allows the user to create their own reminder using Outlook!

I want to point out that this idea originated (for me) with Laura Rogers 2009 post entitled “Appointment email Link, via SPD workflow“.  Thanks and kudos to Laura for sharing the idea and steps with the SharePoint community.

Posted in Calendar, SharePoint 2007, Tips and Tricks | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Lean Thinking for SharePoint

Posted by sharepoinTony on August 27, 2010

I have to start this with a tidbit of history.  You see, I actually did something before I began working with SharePoint…surprising as that may sound.  For several years prior to SharePoint I had a really long job title, but the gist of what I did was implement Lean practices in a corporate setting.  My focus was on the “office” which meant any business function that wasn’t on the factory floor.

So what is Lean?

There are books that go into depth on the subject, and Wikipedia provides some definitions, but my personal short description is this: Lean is a way of thinking and working that incorporates continuous improvement, process improvement, and efficient practices.  It is all about eliminating waste in your business.

Lean is what lead me to SharePoint.  When I first saw SharePoint and learned the things it could do, I jumped into it.  SharePoint was the tool I was looking for to help implement new processes, to help business staff embrace Lean concepts, and to help the company benefit from the Lean effort.  I got excited about SharePoint and haven’t looked back.

One of the cool things about SharePoint is the concept of distributing the work and enabling people to create what they need in a site.  Eliminate the bottleneck.  That is a Lean thought, it is a Lean way of doing things.  Lean is about empowering your staff to do the things that they need to do to get their job done.  And you want them to succeed, to excel, and to do it all without WASTE.

How many times have you experienced the waste most companies tolerate?  Wasted time, wasted spending, wasted energy.  Lean is about eliminating those wastes.  By capturing the time, energy, and money previously lost in that waste you can redirect all of that into improvements that benefit the company.  You can take a week-long process and make it into a few hour process.  When your company shortens process times it becomes more competitive, more cost-effective and usually more profitable.

What is Lean Thinking for SharePoint?

Although there are lots of benefits to studying Lean, I think that by simply using a few Lean concepts your SharePoint activities can make significant improvements that benefit your company.  “SharePoint people” can easily pick up these concepts and incorporate them into their work.  A perfect example is the implementation of a new workflow.

We typically attack a workflow request by asking about the process and capturing key steps we know we will need to create a SharePoint workflow.  But what if we take the opportunity to ask questions?  Why are those steps needed?  Who really needs to be involved?  What is that information used for and by whom?  But don’t stop there…you have to follow-up by tracking that information flow.  What does that person actually do with the information?  Is it even used?

That is the tough part.  People always say they know the process or they know the requirements.  Never believe them.  I cannot tell you how many times I followed a process, tracked the information flow across multiple branches and up the chain of command only to find out that the end result was never used.  Everyone in the organization had accepted the process, enforced the perceived “need” and just “knew” that we had that do it that way.  It often turns out that someone in some department said they needed the information and that filtered its way into the process over time.  It sounded valuable, so management made it a requirement.  Everyone got used to the “requirement” and it became part of the culture of the business.  Years ago that probably was needed information.  The business had to change to stay competitive, but  business processes lag behind and are not updated.

Taking the time to truly find out what is needed and why it is needed allows you to create a process, in a SharePoint workflow, that reduces work and eliminates waste.   By taking the time to do this, even if you don’t find any waste you will gain a solid understanding of the process and have documented the process which is of value to the company.  Having to change a workflow to correct the process isn’t fun and is a form of waste.  Just do it right the first time and you will save time and money.

Resources you can use to learn more about Lean:

Lean Thinking: Banish Waste and Create Wealth in Your Corporation, Revised and Updated
by James P. Womack, Daniel T. Jones
Easier, Simpler, Faster: Systems Strategy for Lean IT
by Jean Cunningham, Duane Jones
Office Kaizen: Transforming Office Operations into a Strategic Competitive Advantage
by William Lareau
The Lean Office: Collected Practices and Cases (Insights on Implementation)
by Productivity Press Development Team
Lean Administration: Case Studies in Leadership and Improvement (Enterprise Excellence)
by AME – Association for Manufacturing Excellence

Posted in Best Practice, Lean, Workflow | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Reminder about List Views

Posted by sharepoinTony on August 2, 2010

Maybe it is my perspective and not really true, but it seems like a lot of people seem to forget that they can change the default view that appears when navigating to a SharePoint list.  Additionally, I seem to have to point out the simple steps to create an alternate view Style.

So for anyone out there that hasn’t realized it, take this post as your reminder…look at your list views and think of what the default “should” be; then consider using an alternate style when it improves usability.

Quick refresher points on List Views:

  • When creating a view you can select to “Make this the default view” right under the View Name.  Change the default view when it is more convenient for the majority of people viewing the data to see it this way.
  • Scrolling down and expanding the Style section of the Edit View page will allow you to change the appearance of the view and the data in your list.
  • Group By will allow you to create groupings of the data in your list based upon one of the columns in your list.
  • Totals will allow you to present column totals to your users.
  • Filters let you manage the data presented in the view.

Tips

Browse out to one of your lists and explore the resulting view after changing the style.

  • One thing I like to do is use the Preview Pane style for some lists where the default view needs to display many columns.  This may require the user to scroll down to see all of the data, but it usually is better than scrolling over to the right to see all of the columns.
  • Choosing the Shaded style might make a vast collection of data easier to read.
  • The Boxed style might be handy when you are displaying a small set of data in a web part, rather than displaying all of the data in the list.  Refine your display with filters and sorting.
  • Filter tip: you can use “[Today]” in your filter when filtering against a date column.  I often use it to get “recent” items by filtering with a target date column.
  • Don’t display a column that you are using in Group By.  The grouped column will display in the grouping, save screen space and remove the column from your view, un-check “Display” in the Columns section.  This isn’t a rule, it is only a tip to save space and avoid duplication of data in the display of your data.
  • If you have a list that is capturing numbers of something, people generally want to see the total of one of those columns. Give them a view that includes totals right from the start, expand the Totals section and select the appropriate column.  Don’t remove the column from your display like I suggested for Grouping – people usually want to see the details that make up a total.
  • Another ‘forgotten’ view is the Calendar View.  You can create a calendar view of any list that has a date …and they all have the Created and Modified dates.  Those dates aren’t always relevant however there are many task and other lists that have content and dates which are often compatible with a calendar view.  You can provide list users with both standard and calendar views to improve usability.


Posted in Lists, Views | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

“New Item Added” Alert not working

Posted by sharepoinTony on July 23, 2010

I hope there is a happy ending to this story, I will update it when I find out. [Updated 7/26/2010]

Here is the situation

MOSS 2007, Alerts set on a Survey list.  Users complain that although they have set up Alert Me to tell them when a New Item is Added they are not getting the email alert.

I setup my own Alerts to test behavior, here is the run down:

  • Creating an Alert produces the “successfully create an alert” email message
  • Changing an item produces the item “has been changed” alert email message
  • Deleting an item produces the item “has been deleted” alert email message
  • Creating a new item DOES NOT produce the “New item added” alert email
  • Alerts on other lists in same site behave normally (all Alerts work as expected)

Some of the things I have done to troubleshoot/resolve this behavior:

  • Restarted the Timer service
  • Verified the Timer service was running
  • Checked the Timer Status in Central Administration – everything Successful and 100%
  • Checked the properties:

STSADM -o getproperty -url http://YourSiteURL -pn alerts-enabled
STSADM -o getproperty -url http://YourSiteURL–pn job-immediate-alerts

  • Re-registered the Alert Templates

stsadm -o updatealerttemplates -url http://YourSiteURL -f “c:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\web server extensions\12\TEMPLATE\XML\alerttemplates.xml” -LCID 1033

Behavior after Re-registering the Alert Templates – same as before re-registering, ugh.

Decided to test more alerts on other sites, ah-ha!

  • Other sites in the collection with lists using Alerts behave as expected – “New Item Added” Alert works!

So what do we have?  Behavior is localized to this survey and only impacts New Item Alerts.  Wait, that sentence made me verify…other survey’s behave the same way!  So the problem is not with that “list” it is a problem for all survey’s.

Workaround’s

One workaround that was plausible was to create a workflow to send notifications when new items are created.  This seemed plausible only because in this situation, the users had already requested assistance creating an approval workflow for this survey.   I decided to do a quick test by setting up an approval workflow.  The workflow fails to start.

Following this trail actually helped me get to the bottom of all of this.  I finally came across this Microsoft support article explains how “starting a workflow from a survey response is not supported in Windows SharePoint Services 3.0” – and the article  “Applies To” MOSS 2007 as well.

That lead me to some blogs saying that Microsoft does not support “New item added” Alerts on SharePoint Survey’s in WSS 3.0 or MOSS 2007.   These blog postings were older, so I wanted to find either ‘new’ postings or something that I could consider more reliable.  After searching further I found a hotfix mentioning this behavior – KB983307 Description of the SharePoint Server 2007 hotfix package (sts-x-none.msp): June 29, 2010.

Resolution

What have we learned?

  1. The Alert behavior is a known problem in WSS 3.0 and MOSS 2007; there is a fix, but you will want to review that material and make a decision regarding installing it in your environment or not.
  2. Workflows are not supported for SharePoint Survey’s for WSS 3.0 and MOSS 2007, so keep that in mind to avoid the obvious issues and let your users know that they shouldn’t create Survey’s if they want to eventually attach a workflow.

Epilog (of sorts)

Using Alerts to notify people of Changes to items in Survey’s does work, however you should evaluate what you are trying to accomplish and choose the best tool.  Survey’s are quick and easy to build, so make use of this nice tool built-in to SharePoint when you need it…just be aware of the potential pros and cons associated with using them.

Posted in Alerts, Lists, SharePoint 2007, Survey, Workflow | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Service Requests and Sensitivity

Posted by sharepoinTony on January 25, 2010

I recently implemented a customized version of the Microsoft Help Desk template for SharePoint 2007.  Quickly after launching I adjusted things based on feedback and input that never came prior to the launch.

Background

The service request system, implemented via the help desk template, by default requires that all employees have access to submit requests.  The open-nature of SharePoint (and most IT departments) also dictates that users be able to see the pending service requests.  This visibility is normally thought of as a good thing for IT and helps promote self-service internally.  One of the customizations that I put in place was a notification workflow that sent email to the help desk staff telling them of newly submitted requests.  This workflow also automatically responded to the customer via email providing confirmation that their submission was successful.  The email provides a link back to the service request list so the customer could see all of the pending requests, including their own.

The Request

One significant post-launch request came from Human Resources.  They occassionally make requests that are sensitive in nature, such as terminations.  HR felt that those requests should not be visible to all employees.  This posed a problem for the service request list.  There is no doubt that it is a valid request, and the desire to keep most requests visible to users hadn’t changed, so I now had an exception to deal with.
Options considered were limited for various reasons.  One option would be to simply make a duplicate request list for sensitive HR requests.  But that meant managing two lists for the help desk, tracking two lists worth of requests for IT management, and created a possibility that a request might sit un-noticed.
Another option was to avoid using the service request list for all sensitive requests.  HR could send an email request as they had done historically in this small company.  Everyone was already “comfortable” with that process, however no improvements would easily fit into the old email process.  Reverting back to an old process just didn’t sound good unless there wasn’t a better solution.

The Solution

The solution concept chosen was to install a CodePlex feature that would allow a workflow to change the permissions on specific requests.
The concept was that sensitive requests could easily be identified since HR knew at the time of submission whether or not the request was sensitive, and could simply ‘mark’ the request as sensitive.  The workflow could check the column used for this purpose and based on its value could change permissions on that specific item.  We could limit the visibility to the appropriate staff without significantly changing the existing service request system.

The “Useful SPD Workflow Activities” feature from CodePlex was installed on a test server and the concept was examined closer.  After successful examination and testing it was decided that this would provide a very acceptable solution to the situation, and a quick response to the request from HR.
I created a new workflow to manage these permissions changes for two reasons.  First, I like keeping workflows as simple as possible.  Second, I wanted to be able to provide the flexibility to execute this behavior without sending emails that may be confusing which might come from adding these steps into the existing notification workflow.
The new workflow is very simple.  I check the designated column in the service request list and if it indicates that the item is sensitive then I remove a SharePoint Group’s permissions to the list item. I use several SP Groups to provide access, one contains all users, one contains appropriate HR staff, and one contains help desk staff.  When I remove all permissions from the group containing all users then only the members of the HR and Help Desk groups can see the item in the service request list.  There is no impact to other users or other requests.

Because the workflow can be started manually, we have the flexibility to “hide” any request that comes in by simply modifying the designated field and initiating the workflow.  This means that if HR forgets to “flag” a request, or if any other request is deemed sensitive we can quickly and easily “fix” it without having a workflow running all the time to monitor changes to requests.  Everyone is happy with this solution and it took longer to write this blog post than it did to implement in production.
Footnote: This CodePlex feature was installed and implemented on a 64-bit Windows Server 2008 system running MOSS 2007.

Posted in Lists, Permissions, SharePoint Tools, Workflow | Tagged: , | Comments Off on Service Requests and Sensitivity

SP 2007 Audience Limitations

Posted by sharepoinTony on December 28, 2009

Using Audiences in SharePoint 2007 helps you to provide content in a more customized manner.  Your defined audience will see the content while others that are outside of that audience may not see the content.   As the SharePoint 2007 “Help and How-to” puts it:

By using target audiences, you can display content such as list or library items, navigation links, and entire Web Parts to specific groups of people. This is useful when you want to present information that is relevant only to a particular group of people.  For example, you can add a Web Part to the legal department’s portal site that contains a list of legal contracts that is visible only to that department.

 

Targeting specific list or library items to audiences works in a slightly different manner than when targeting entire lists or libraries.   To target a web part to an audience you simply Edit the page, Modify the Shared Web Part and specify the Target Audience under the Advanced section.  Only members of the specified audience will see the web part on the page.

 

To target a list item for example, you must enable audience targeting on the list, specify the audience on the item and then present the item in a web part, usually a Content Query Web Part.  Displaying the content in this way will allow filtering to occur.  If you complete all of these steps except the last, presenting the item in a web part, then the specified audience will not filter the view of the item in the list.  SharePoint list and library views do not allow filtering by Audience, and the list or library will display all items in the view regardless of the specified audience

 

So be cautious, if your users have access to a list or library you will have to control visibility through permissions and obscurity rather than the use of audience targeting.  That is, hide the list from common users and always display the content via web parts.  Presenting content in this way is not always feasible, especially when you may have people from different audiences updating the list or library.  The best option is to simply segregate the items into different lists or libraries by audience.

 

Posted in Document Library, Lists, SharePoint 2007 | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Free PowerShell e-book

Posted by sharepoinTony on November 30, 2009

At the recent SharePoint Saturday in Phoenix Arizona, I learned about this free resource from Tom Wisnowski…

“Mastering PowerShell” by Dr. Tobias Weltner, PowerShell MVP is available for free download at PowerShell.org/Mastering-PowerShell.pdf.   It is a 567 page PDF book.   There are lots of other resources on the PowerShell.org site, check it out SharePoint admins.

 

Posted in SharePoint Links, SharePoint Tools | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Notes on Creating Themes

Posted by sharepoinTony on October 16, 2009

Recently I had to create a couple of custom themes for an intranet, the requirements were not tough, but since I hadn’t created a theme in several months I felt rusty.  I forgot a few things and had to go back and clean up after deploying.  So, I thought a “cheat sheet” of sorts might be appropriate for my blog.  The purpose of this is to help me remember and possibly help someone else smooth out their own custom theme effort.

Tips/Notes

  • Use Themes to change colors, fonts, background images.
  • Use Master Pages to move elements around on the page.
  • If possible, apply an Out-Of-The-Box (OOTB) theme that is similar to the color scheme you want to your work site.
  • Copy that theme folder and rename it to your custom theme name.
    • C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\web server extensions\12\TEMPLATE\THEMES
  • Don’t forget to modify the .INF file:
    • rename the file to your custom theme name
    • replace the original theme name with your custom theme name everywhere inside the file
    • change “codepage” to a unique number
  • If you “tweak” and view using the theme in a site, don’t forget to copy ALL of your changes into the theme.css that will go into your new theme folder.
  • I like to use SPD to edit the applied theme (“themename”1011-65001.css) so I can view my changes with just a Save.  Once I have it completed, then I copy the css out of that file into my custom theme.css file.
  • Use the developer tools in IE to find the styles that you are missing.  If a style is in the Core.css, copy the style from there and place it in your css prior to modifying it.  Your theme.css will override the core.css in most cases.
  • Don’t just remove or comment out an image file that you don’t want used…use “none” in the image attribute to make sure you are overriding the image usage elsewhere in a SharePoint style.
    • Ie: backgroun-image:none;
  • Edit the SPThemes xml, duplicate a <templates> section for your theme
    • C\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\web server extensions\12\TEMPLATE\LAYOUTS\1033\SPTHEMES.XML

Sample section (copy section and change the bolded items in the copy to your theme name and images):

<Templates>
<TemplateID>Lacquer</TemplateID>
<DisplayName>Lacquer</DisplayName>
<Description>Lacquer has a gray background with gray control areas and orange highlights.</Description>
<Thumbnail>images/thlacquer.gif</Thumbnail>
<Preview>images/thlacquer.gif</Preview>
</Templates>

  • Place your thumbnail and preview images in the 12 hive (can be gif, jpg, or png)
    • C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\web server extensions\12\TEMPLATE\IMAGES
  • When your work is done execute an IISRESET /NOFORCE to make the new theme available to your SharePoint sites

Posted in Custom Themes | Tagged: | Comments Off on Notes on Creating Themes