Friday, June 10, 2016

Customizing the SharePoint Sign-in Page For ExCM R2 in SharePoint 2013

There are products you buy and they are perfect just the way they come. Then, a SharePoint Admin gets their hands on it and makes it more perfect (yes, I said more perfect) by adding their personal touches to it. For an example of this, let me introduce you to the default SharePoint Sign In page:

For the minimalist/functionalist out there, how could there be anything better than this provided sign in? It does the job that is needed without all the frills, thrills and extras. It reminds me of growing up when we never had an ice maker in the refrigerator. My father always claimed it was, "Just one more thing to break!" But he was not the one that had to refill the ice trays and try to avoid spilling them everywhere. My point is, sometimes we want a bit more functionality and personalization. That is why Extranet Collaboration Manager (ExCM) ships with an optional sign in page located here:

After changing this setting you should see this new log in page if you browse to your extranet site:

Please note that the above image reflects the anonymous feature activated. (See the article on allowing anonymous users access to your extranet for further information.)

In my opinion, this is a nicer page than the one that ships with SharePoint, but you may still have some improvements in mind that need to be made. If you have plans to add this to your company's website, you may wish to make it have the same color scheme. Perhaps you want to add your companies logo or embed a video in the log in screen; well, we want you to be able to do this as well. By following these steps, and those listed in the follow-up blog posts, you should be able to customize your sign in page to create a look and feel that is unique and closely reflects your organizations brand.

The first thing you need to do is make a copy of the existing page and palce it in a new folder. We typically call this the "Organization Layout Directory" because it's simply creating a new folder under the "15\TEMPLATE\LAYOUTS" directory that we can use for customized pages. You will need to navigate to the following:

C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\Web Server Extensions\15\TEMPLATE\LAYOUTS

Once there, click on "New Folder" and name it, perhaps using your company's name or acronym. For this example, I will be working with ACME Co.

Next, you will need to make a copy of the existing page and place it in your new folder. To do so, navigate to:

C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\Web Server Extensions\15\TEMPLATE\LAYOUTS\SPSolutions\ExCM

Now, find the "SignIn.aspx" page and copy it:

After copying the page, paste it in the new Organization Layouts Directory (ACME in our example):

Now you can edit your page using Notepad, or another editor. The first thing we are going to change is the wording for Windows Authentication sign in:

If we wanted this to read, "ACME Employees Click Her To Sign In" we will need to add this text to the "Text" Section of the signin.aspx page.
Do a search for "// Authentication providers" It should pull up a section like the one highlighted below. Do not mess with the <a href> line. In the second line <SharePoint:Encode... there is a Text= "..." Inside of those quotes is where you can change the name of the text that you want displayed. The next part just adds the text of whatever your ClaimProvider is. Typically "windows Authentication" or "AD"

To change the text to read "ACME Employees Click Here To Sign In" I make this section look like;
Once the file is saved, change the location of the custom sign-in page within Central Administration. To do this, click on "Manage Web Applications," choose your Web Application and then select "Authentication Providers" from the top ribbon area. Now, click on your zone (I only have the single "Default" one):

Now scroll down to the area where you will define the path for your sign-in page. For this example, we created our Organizational Layouts directory under the Layouts folder, so we will only need to add "ACME" between "\_layouts" and "\signin.aspx", replacing the "\spsolutions\ExCM" currently in there:

Now, save your settings and bring up the sign-in page:


Thursday, April 21, 2016

PremierPoint Solutions’ President Discusses ExCM 2013 R2 and Its Major New Features

 Don Beehler, PremierPoint Solutions’ marketing director, recently interviewed President Jeff Cate about the company’s ExCM 2013 R2:

Jeff Cate, President
PremierPoint Solutions
Question: An R2 is a major new release of a software product. Why did you conclude it was necessary to release a new version of your award-winning Extranet Collaboration Manager for SharePoint (ExCM)?

Answer: ExCM is deployed by hundreds of organizations around the world and is the most popular way to enable SharePoint to be used as an extranet. Even with the availability of the Cloud, people still like the security and control that an on-premises extranet provides. So, because we have a lot of active, committed customers, we wanted to make sure the software is kept up-to-date and provides the best user experience possible. That’s why we built R2.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Is SharePoint On-Premises Really a Cloud?

Let me relate a quick story to you. We had two separate IT security incidents last week. One individual had ransomware that encrypted a good number of documents. Another individual had a crash related to windows updates with continual, unfixable reboots. These machines eventually were reloaded to fix the problems.

How does this relate to SharePoint though?

Monday, April 11, 2016

New Release of Extranet Collaboration Manager (ExCM) Raises the Bar on Extranet Features

PremierPoint Solutions is pleased to announce a major new release of our Extranet Collaboration  Manager for SharePoint 2013 (ExCM 2013). ExCM 2013 R2 has major improvements that will delight current customers and prospective customers alike.

External Access for Your Business Partners

There’s never been a better time to deploy a SharePoint 2013 extranet! ExCM 2013 R2 makes it
simple and secure:

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Why an On-Premises SharePoint Extranet Makes So Much Sense (and Can Be Easy to Set Up)

You’ve already invested in your on-premises SharePoint 2013 farm. You have already paid Microsoft for the server licenses and CALs for all of your employees to use SharePoint.

Did you know that there is a secure and easy way to also use your farm to provide an extranet for collaboration with customers, vendors, and other business partners – without paying Microsoft another penny?

Let’s take a quick look at how you would accomplish this – in as little as 30 minutes.

In Central Administration, your list of web applications might currently look something like this:

SharePoint Web Applications List

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

FLEXclass -- A Whole New Way to Learn

This week we launch our first week of FLEXclass training.

What is FLEXclass training, you ask?

FLEXclass is a whole new way to learn SharePoint

The FLEXclass model retains the high quality and effectiveness of PremierPoint Solutions training, while introducing a new level of convenience, flexibility, and depth. And, best of all, our new 3- and 4-day FLEXclasses are just $995!

Monday, February 22, 2016

ChangeBot Challenge at SPTechCon in Austin!

PremierPoint Solutions is at SPTechCon in Austin this week!

Come see us at Booth 601 if you're there too. Come take the ChangeBot Challenge to enter for a chance to win a BB8. We'll show you the droid you ARE looking for.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Cloud Warning! The risk of online services

I ran across a dark underbelly of cloud services
picture taken by cjohnson7
this week. It was fairly unexpected but I think that it emphasizes one of the key problems when looking at cloud services.

Who really owns the data?

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Can You Migrate SharePoint FBA SQL External User Accounts and Passwords to Office 365?

SharePoint FBA SQL Accounts and Office 365
The short answer is: there is no way to do this and likely never will be.  Read on if you are interested in more details.

Background on SharePoint FBA and SQL External User Accounts

Using SharePoint’s forms-based authentication feature along with the SQL Membership Provider feature has been a very popular way to use SharePoint as an extranet platform for many years.  In many cases, after a company got their Intranet up and running on SharePoint, the next logical step was to provision a new Web Application for use as an extranet for collaborating with customers, vendors, etc.