Windows 8 Desktop

Microsoft has been a busy company this year with refreshes on most of its biggest solutions. Not only has SharePoint gone through a massive update, but so has Windows. If you’re still unfamiliar with the changes in Windows 8, then be prepared for a shocker. In the new UI, applications have been stripped of chrome and are full-screen solutions. Windows 8 was designed with touch as a first-class input method.

SharePoint 2013 brings several new features, but the two that will empower client application development the most are the greatly expanded Client-Side Object Model (CSOM) and the REST APIs. While the maturity of these features is important for Microsoft’s push to SharePoint Online and client-side development, it also opens up complex functionality for Windows, mobile, and external web applications. Read More…

We recently started working on a new iOS project.  As part of this adventure, I asked the team if we could build a case study around XCode and TFSPreview, if you’re not aware, is Microsoft’s Team Foundation Server 2012 as a service, hosted in Azure.

This isn’t your normal pairing.  Mac developers aren’t exactly flocking to the Microsoft stack and the Microsoft development tools haven’t exactly catered to the predominantly OSS community working on Macs.  In recent years, though, that has changed.  ASP.Net is now OSS, first class Azure tools ship for the Mac, even the Nodejs for Azure tutorials feature Chrome on a Mac.  It’s a brave new world out there!

Starting with this post and continuing over the next few months, I’m going to be sharing some of our experiences building iOS/XCode apps on TFSPreview using the cross-platform (yes, they used Java – who are these guys?!) git-tf plugin.

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Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 has come a long way from its predecessors in many areas.  For companies using both CRM 2011 and SharePoint 2010, the improvements can be appreciated even more since Dynamics CRM 2011 has native SharePoint 2010 document management capabilities right out of the box.

This functionality is apparent in a couple of different places in the CRM 2011 web interface.  First, there is a page under the Settings section for Document Management.  Second, some entities will have a Documents area available on their forms.  Please see the screen shot in Figure 1 below. (Click on any image to see full-size.)

Figure 1 - The Document Management page in Microsoft Dynamics 2011

For this write-up, I’ll be focusing on the Document Management page and the required steps for configuring access to SharePoint 2010 as well as installing the SharePoint List Component.

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Visio is a product that all of us in the business solutions world should eventually master. Graphics make very complex information easier to convey and grasp quickly. At this year’s SharePoint Conference, the Visio product team outlined some of the updates they’ve made during the Office 2013 release cycle. The updates for the Office 2013 release center on three major themes: More Professional, Easier Collaboration and Powerful Platform.

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In a previous blog post I discussed Windows Azure PaaS / IaaS hybrid scenarios. Together with my colleague Jack O’Connell (Infrastructure Specialist extraordinaire), we set up each of the four scenarios outlined in the previous post including:

  • Using Windows Azure Virtual Network to provision a VPN to connect our on-premised infrastructure with a Windows Azure datacenter.
  • Set up front-end and back-end subnets.
  • Provision a set of Azure IaaS Virtual Machines and Azure Web Roles.
  • Install System Center Monitoring Pack for Windows Azure Applications on Azure-based machines.
  • Install System Center Operations on-premises in order to manage Azure-based resources.

Watch the following video for a quick walkthrough of the scenarios in action:

This week, many AIS team members attended the Microsoft SharePoint Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. We’ll be posting blog posts from each of them as they learn what’s new and what’s exciting during sessions, demonstrations and other conference highlights.

The changes made to SharePoint Search in SharePoint 2013 are too numerous to describe in a single blog post, but I’ll try to provide an overview of some of the major improvements ,with the intent of emphasizing the central role played by search in the new platform. Our future solution architectures for applications will likely have search as a key design consideration. The search-related sessions that I attended at SPC 2012 were well filled to capacity, so there does seem to be a great interest in the future to SharePoint Search.

In his session on building search-driven applications, Scot Hillier made the point that we should no longer think of search in the limited scope of what occurs when a user types in a search term in a search box and the corresponding results that appear. Rather, we should think of search as a data access technology, in the same vein as CAML, REST and CSOM. In fact, he went as far as to say that search is the data access technology because, as he put it, “Search knows where all the skeletons are buried.”

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This week, many AIS team members are attending the Microsoft SharePoint Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. We’ll be posting blog posts from each of them as they learn what’s new and what’s exciting during sessions, demonstrations and other conference highlights.

We’re out at the SharePoint Conference 2012 this week and learning a ton about the new features of SharePoint 2013. One of particular interest to the IT pros should be the introduction of PowerShell 3.0. There are a number of new features available in PowerShell 3.0 not to mention the cmdlets!

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This week, many AIS team members are attending the Microsoft SharePoint Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. We’ll be posting blog posts from each of them as they learn what’s new and what’s exciting during sessions, demonstrations and other conference highlights.

I just attended the “Delivering Winning Projects in SharePoint with Microsoft Project” breakout session, and Project 2013 (along with SharePoint 2013) brings some compelling new and improved functionality to those managing and working on projects.

Some of the goals of the latest version of Project were to make it easy to quickly set up a project, improve collaboration and provide flexibility in managing and consuming project data.  The session was largely demo-driven with each of these goals highlighted throughout.

Project and SharePoint 2013 are much more tightly integrated now than they were in the past.  Project schedules can be built in either the Project 2013 client or in a SharePoint 2013 task list, and changes are synchronized in both directions.  When creating a new project schedule, a project manager can create a SharePoint 2013 project site from the Project 2013 client by using the “Sync with SharePoint” option on the “Save As” menu. This will create a new SharePoint project site, create a task list (populated with the tasks from your project schedule), and also upload the project file to the new project site.

Very cool.

Project 2013 Save Dialog
The Project 2013 Save Dialog

SharePoint enables collaboration with your project team and the new task list in SharePoint 2013 will significantly enhance this capability.  The new task list is much less cumbersome to work with, especially the new datasheet view which is rendered completely in the browser and no longer is dependent on having Office or Access installed.  Sub-tasks can be created, keyboard shortcuts are supported, and tasks can be completed simply by checking them off in the datasheet sheet view.

The entire experience is very similar to managing tasks in the Project client.  As many project managers know, collecting status updates on development tasks is not always easy, but with the new streamlined SharePoint 2013 task list and the ability to seamlessly sync with Project, this becomes much easier. Custom fields can be created in your project schedule using the Project 2013 client, which will in turn create those fields in your SharePoint 2013 task list.  These fields can also be mapped and synchronized selectively, so the project manager can prevent overloading the project team working on tasks with data.

Other new Project 2013 features include:

  • Full-featured reporting capabilities, with around a dozen charts available out-of-the-box and the ability to create ad-hoc reports and graphs to report on the status of your projects.
  • The Team Planner view which provides a visualization of the tasks that are assigned to each resource in your project schedule, making it simple to identify and correct resource utilization problems.
  • The Task Path feature makes it easy to visualize and assess the impact that a single task has on a project schedule.

I am definitely looking forward to using these new features of Project 2013 (and using the new SharePoint 2013 task list) to manage my project.

This week, many AIS team members are attending the Microsoft SharePoint Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. We’ll be posting blog posts from each of them as they learn what’s new and what’s exciting during sessions, demonstrations and other conference highlights.

During yesterday’s breakout sessions, I attended Sean Livingston’s session on SharePoint 2013 Upgrade.  A few minutes into the presentation, Sean offered up a quip that is certainly true across any platform level migration: “Upgrades lead to unpleasant feelings between the users and the IT staff.”

To be fair, upgrades bring “new stuff,” which often the users are clamoring for.  However the process of designing, engineering, implementing and provisioning the upgrade tends to be long running, particularly where large blocks of content must be migrated from one version to another. Upgrade plans must carefully balance the run times required to upgrade the content, training time for users and other background tasks against the need to keep serving up content through the transition. Migrations can be a headache from start to finish. However, several features in SharePoint 2013 aim to ease the upgrade process, if not completely avoid all headaches.

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We’re super excited over here — AIS’ own Vishwas Lele has published an eBook about the next generation of productivity possibilities with Office and SharePoint 2013, entitled The App Economy: Coming to an Office™ Near You.

In the eBook, Vishwas presents app solutions for different scenarios, with perspectives from a cast of characters which includes a power user, a developer, an administrator and an industry analyst. In these scenarios, the following questions will be answered:

• Why are apps needed?
• What nagging problems are they designed to solve?
• What kinds of apps can we expect to see in the marketplace?
• How will SharePoint apps be secured?
• What are the various revenue models supported?
• Would in-app purchases be allowed? What about ads?
• What is the difference between a public app store and a corporate app catalog?

“I decided to write a story about friends and co-workers and their day-to-day productivity challenges,” said Vishwas, “and how Office and SharePoint 2013 —combined with the cloud —will change the way they all do business.”

The eBook is available at, and is FREE during the SharePoint 2012 conference.