Saturday, November 19, 2005

SharePoint Portal Area Listings Rollup and RSS Syndication Web Part

I recently took on the role of maintaining SharePoint Solutions' Resource Portal. Historically, the Resource Portal's content has primarily been in the form of Portal Area Listings. If you haven't visited our Resource Portal recently, please take a look and feel free to send me your comments. It's a work in progress, and I need some help with the artsy stuff.

From a content perspective, I wanted to give the portal a more dynamic "Blog like" look and feel, and roll-up SubArea Listings with RSS syndicated feeds. For performance reasons, I also felt it was important to have controls for caching both the displayed roll-up and the RSS Feed. Although I was able to find freely downloadable solutions that provide RSS syndication of WSS Lists, I couldn't seem to find anything for rolling-up and syndicating Portal Area Listings.

As a result, I went ahead and threw together a little web part to handle the task. An online demonstration of the Area Listings Rollup web part can be found on the home page of our Resource Portal.

The web part has four display styles: Full, Simple, Headlines, and Alphabetical Headlines. The Full style (shown top right) provides the most details, displaying links to the Portal Listing's parent Area, the Portal Listing author's My Site, and of course the listing itself. The most compact style is Headlines, displaying only links to the Portal Listings. In each of the display styles, an image linking to the Area Listing Rollup's RSS Syndicated feed is diplayed in the bottom left corner (not shown).

In addition to setting the display style, web part caching is also configurable from the tool pane, and the RSS image link can optionally be hidden from view.

That's about it. You can get the bits for the Area Listings Rollup Web Part here, or from the Downloads Area over on our Resource Portal.

We also have some public community forums at, and for SharePoint training visit

Monday, November 14, 2005

Developer's Tip: Render System.Diagnostics.Trace ouptut in a SharePoint WebPart Page

Viewing process and object details at runtime through trace output statements is a valuable tool for any software developer. In .NET, Trace statements are great because their publish/subscribe model allows them to be left in released code with very little impact to performance when no listeners are attached. Down the road when a problem pops up in production, an administrator can turn on the appropriate trace listener and receive debug information to help troubleshoot.

Victor Vogelpoel of Macaw has released a free SharePoint WebPart that allows SharePoint developers to use System.Diagnostics.Trace statements in only a few simple steps.

Just add the System.Diagnotics namespace to your Web Part class,

and display trace output with the Trace.WriteLine statement.

The resulting trace output will be "captured" by Macaw's TraceInfo WebPart.

That's it!

The TraceInfo WebPart also has the ability to filter based on trace category:

The TraceInfo WebPart can be downloaded from Victor's blog.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

WSS Alert Manager v1 Released

One of the most frequently asked questions in our classes over the past three years has been related to SharePoint Alerts. Users like the Alert functionality in SharePoint but many also feel that it is too limited. They need the ability to "push" Alerts to other users and more robust Alert management tools for Sites where there are hundreds or even thousands of users.

There have been a few add-ons developed by third-parties (some as freeware, some as software) that attempt to provide more functionality but their reception has been lukewarm. In most cases this is because they are not supported or they still fall short of what is really needed.

We have just completed the development and beta testing of a SharePoint Add-on that is designed to provide robust Alert management capabilities including the ability to "push" alerts to multiple users. Our add-on has been professionally designed and developed and is professionally supported. It is not a freeware “web part” with limited functionality and no support. It is a robust, full-featured piece of software that is well-integrated with SharePoint Administration and allows WSS Site Administrators to do the following:
  • Subscribe other Site Users to SharePoint Alerts on any List, Document Library or Document in a Site
  • Add/Change/Delete Alerts for one or more users on any List, Document Library or Document in a Site
  • Manage all Alerts for a User
  • Manage all Alerts for all Users for a List
  • For Sites with large numbers of Users, quickly find a User and manage her Alerts using search technology that supports searching by Login, Preferred Name or e-mail address. The User search also supports partial words, wildcard and pattern matching
  • Quickly and efficiently Add/Change/Delete Alerts for Sites that contain hundreds of Lists and thousands of Users

The add-on sells for $500 (USD) per Web Front-End Server. Currently it is only available for the U.S. English locale, but we are working on versions for other languages and plan to release those over the next month.

We had over 100 downloads of the add-on during beta testing over the past four weeks. Many beta testers reported that they are very pleased with the high quality of the product and very few bugs were reported.

The page on our site that provides product information and a link to purchase is: