Friday, December 07, 2012

What Will Be The Impact On Enterprise Cloud Computing (and SharePoint) If Eventually Goes Belly Up?

by Jeff Cate

Are you thinking this headline is just written to be sensational?  I can assure you that couldn’t be further from the truth.

I am generally not a believer that Cloud Computing is always going to be in the best business interest of enterprises, even though many vendors and the media are full-steam ahead with the idea.  If you missed it, you can read why I think this in a recent two-part article I wrote for this blog.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Reflections on the Microsoft SharePoint 2012 Conference

by TL Ferrell
The 2012 Microsoft SharePoint Conference was held in Las Vegas the week of November 12. It was an enlightening, interesting, and at times exciting experience. 

Conferences such as this are usually two parts education, one part networking, one part dog-and-pony show, and one part pep rally; this gathering was no exception. It was a somewhat surreal experience to be one of 10,000 SharePoint evangelists, enthusiasts, and worker bees for four days of seminars and assorted activities. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Does Dumping On-Premises Software Make Good Business Sense? - Part 2

by Jeff Cate

In my previous post, I listed some of the unique benefits of the Cloud that I particularly like. Now, here is my short list of unique benefits that on-premises software offers over Cloud software:

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

What's New in SharePoint 2013

SharePoint 2013 Training With the release of SharePoint 2013, everyone is curious.  And many are wondering, “What’s new?”
Our newest SharePoint 2013 training course will answer that question and give you hands-on experience with the most significant new features.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Your Opinion Matters

by Randy Moody
At some point in the last couple of decades, your opinion about pretty much anything became REALLY IMPORTANT!
  • Television networks decide which shows get to continue based on ratings.
  • Politicians navigate and adjust the focus of their campaigns based on public opinion polls.
  • EBay sellers live or die by customer feedback.
  • And products, services, restaurants, hotels, and businesses of all kinds often sink or swim based on customer reviews.

One shift in the marketplace as a result of all this is:
  • Companies had better be REALLY GOOD at what they do if theyre going to stay in business, because there are LOTS of other choices!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Configuring Alternate Access Mappings and IIS Host Headers in Extranet Collaboration Manager (ExCM) 2010

by Matthew McBride
“Allow myself to introduce…myself.” – Austin Powers

I think of the above quote every time I run across this error supporting Extranet Collaboration Manager 2010:
(click on images to enlarge)
“Object reference not set to an instance of an object.”  What does that even mean?  Could there be a less intuitive error message?  Actually, don’t answer that….

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Enhancing Site Collection Navigation with Color

by TL Ferrell
SharePoint provides many tools for providing navigation throughout a site collection. Typically, the Top Link Bar near the top of each content page provides links to subsites, and this can be set to persist down through the hierarchy. (This bar is referred to as Global Navigation in SharePoint Standard and Enterprise.) The Quick Launch Bar on the left (called Current Navigation in Standard and Enterprise) typically provides links to lists, libraries, and other content within the subsite.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Configuring Global Registration Fields in Extranet Collaboration Manager (ExCM) 2010

by Matthew McBride
Registration is one of the core concepts in Extranet Collaboration Manager 2010.  It represents the main advantage of ExCM over other SharePoint Extranet Management tools.  There are two types of Registration -- Anonymous and Invitation.  The most common, by far, are the Invitation Registrations.  You send an e-mail to a potential new user, the click on the Registration link provided and then are taken to the custom Registration Page on your site.  Here is an example:
(click on images to enlarge)

Friday, October 12, 2012

Prove You're Not a Robot

By Randy Moody
Okay.  So I went to my favorite URL shortener site to trade in a long Internet address for a short one.  And they did it to me again!
Before they would surrender my short URL, they stipulated that I must first enter a string of characters to prove that I am a human being and not a robot.
First of all, is this really a problem?  Have I been missing something in the news?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Case Study: Plante Moran is saving $260,000 By Automating Creation of New Sites

Approving new SharePoint site requests and creating and provisioning these sites, while struggling to maintain the uniformity of your taxonomy, look-and-feel, and governance standards, can quickly eat up your IT department's time and resources.
Site Provisioning and Governance Assistant for SharePoint 2010 (SPGA) is a tool from SharePoint Solutions which can completely automate this process from request right through to provisioning, saving your IT department countless hours of labor. 
A completely automated “set it and forget it” site creation solution!
In our new Case Study, read how Plante Moran, one of the nation’s largest CPA and business advisory firms, has saved more than $260,000 and in excess of 3,500 man hoursso far—using this remarkable product.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Working with Registration Receivers in Extranet Collaboration Manager for SharePoint 2010 (ExCM) – Part 2 – The “MembershipProfile” Receiver

By Matthew McBride

Extranet Collaboration Manager for SharePoint 2010 (ExCM) contains a framework called Registration Receivers that can be used to inject custom programming activities into the ExCM registration pipeline. In Part 1 of this series, we discussed the “SPUser” receiver and its function.
In this part, we will discuss the “MembershipProfile” receiver which is used to update the membership profile fields with the values provided by the user at the time of registration. Similar to the “SPUser” receiver, this feature modifies the behavior of your SharePoint Extranet site so that external users’ experience is more consistent with that of your internal users.

First, let’s take a look at what happens when the receiver is not used. I have simply commented out the RegistrationReceiver section of the web.config file:

Monday, September 10, 2012

SPGA Now Provides Site Lifecycle Management for SharePoint 2010

by Tony Bierman

Today we’ve released a significant update to our Site Provisioning and Governance Assistant for SharePoint 2010 product. Prior to this release, SPGA was already a great tool for managing the process of requesting and creating new SharePoint 2010 sites. With the addition of these new site lifecycle management features, SPGA users can now manage the entire SharePoint 2010 site lifecycle from creation to expiration and decommissioning.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Working with Registration Receivers in Extranet Collaboration Manager ExCM 2010 – Part 1 – The “SPUser” Receiver

By Matthew McBride

Extranet Collaboration Manager (ExCM) 2010 contains a framework called Registration Receivers that can be used to inject custom programming activities into the ExCM registration pipeline. In Part 1 of this series, I will discuss the “SPUser” receiver.

Registration Receivers are configured at the web.config level, so they are global to the Web Application on which they are configured. By default, we provide two different receiver examples:

Monday, August 27, 2012

Activating and Configuring the Extranet Collaboration Manager (ExCM) 2010 Feature Using PowerShell

by Matthew McBride

Extranet Collaboration Manager (ExCM) 2010 is activated at the Site Collection level. This is easily done in the Site Settings area of the User Interface (UI) for a single site:

But what if you were running ExCM on multiple Site Collections? Since it is licensed at the Web Frond End (WFE) level, you can install ExCM on as many Site Collections as you want. It would be very time consuming to go to each site, activate the feature, and then configure it. In a scenario like this, you can save time by using PowerShell to activate ExCM on each site and also setting some options (such as registration fields) at the global level in the web.config file. In addition, by using one of our custom scripts for ExCM we can activate Invitation Registrations and set their expiration length.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Configuring Forms Based Authentication in SharePoint 2013

by Matthew McBride

April 2016 Update:  This article explains all of the manual configuration steps you would work through for setting up Forms Based Authentication for a web application in SharePoint 2013 (primarily for an extranet, but would be similar for an intranet).    

For an extranet web application, a new automated solution is now available as well - the Extranet Setup Wizard of Extranet Collaboration Manager 2013 R2.

In this article, I will give a step-by-step walk through of the process for configuring SharePoint Forms Based Authentication “out of the box” without an add-on such as Extranet Collaboration Manager (ExCM). Doing this will allow us to see both the similarities and differences between SharePoint 2010 and 2013 as well as highlight the limitations of a “basic” SharePoint FBA web application that can be overcome with a professional-grade add-on like ExCM.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Unable to Sign Out of a Site that is not “Shared” to you in SharePoint 2013

by Matthew McBride
In my early testing of SharePoint 2013, I ran across an extremely annoying “bug.” If you attempt to log into a site that has not been “shared” to you by a Site Collection Administrator (SCA), you receive the following error message:
(Click on pictures for expanded view)

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Customizing the Sign-in Page in Extranet Collaboration Manager for SharePoint 2010 (ExCM)

By Matthew McBride

One of the more common questions we receive about Extranet Collaboration Manager is how to change the wording on the Sign In page for using Windows Authentication:

Friday, August 03, 2012

Secret Sauce or Special Sauce?

by Randy Moody

A couple of weeks ago the McDonald’s fast food chain, purportedly in response to a question from a curious customer, revealed the recipe for the “special sauce” in its double-decker Big Mac hamburger in a You Tube video done by its executive chef. The revelation became a media event, which, I’m sure, is a big part of why it was done. The recipe was interesting, to be sure, but the biggest surprise for me was this:

McDonald’s has an executive chef?  Really?

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Top 18 Enhancements Our Students Are Hoping For in SharePoint 2013

by Jeff Cate
We’ve been teaching SharePoint 2010 training classes each month around the U.S. for about two and a half years now. Our instructors have become pretty used to hearing from students the same “ugh, why doesn’t SharePoint do that?” or “If it just did this one thing it would open the door to solve so many more business problems!” We hear this list over and over again, class after class – probably from over a 1,000 people total.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Importing and Exporting Data in Extranet Collaboration Manager (ExCM) 2010 – Part 2 – Importing

by Matthew McBride

In Part 1 of this series, I discussed how you can export data from the ExtranetCollaboration Manager for SharePoint 2010 (ExCM) database for use with other applications, projects, etc.  A far more common question we receive is whether or not companies with data for existing users can IMPORT that information into ExCM.  In the past, we have run across potential customers who have a large number of existing users stored in another application or database and would rather not have to go back and manually add or register them for access to their ExCM SharePoint extranet site.  By utilizing our free PowerShell utility, you can import users directly into an ExCM database.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Importing and Exporting Data in Extranet Collaboration Manager for SharePoint 2010 (ExCM) – Part 1 – Exporting

by Matthew McBride
ExtranetCollaboration Manager for SharePoint 2010 (ExCM) is a SharePoint add-on that provides easy SharePoint extranet collaboration and simplified extranet administration. A common question we often receive about ExCM is if data from the ExCM database can be exported and/or data from another source can be imported into that database.  The answer is “yes.”  In Part 1 of this series, we will take a look at how we can export data from our ExCM database.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Approval Workflows in Extranet Collaboration Manager for SharePoint 2010 (ExCM) – Part 1 – Basic Approval Workflows

by Matthew McBride

Extranet Collaboration Manager for SharePoint 2010 (ExCM) allows you to create users in three ways:
1.      Manually
2.      Invitation Registration (via e-mail)
3.      Anonymous Registration (potential users visit the Extranet site and click “Sign Up”)
The most common of these is via invitation.  When using invitations, there is most likely an existing business relationship with the invitee and the general thinking is that “if you’re invited, you’re approved.”  However, there may be certain scenarios where you want to add an approval step for invited users as well.

Approval Workflows in Extranet Collaboration Manager for SharePoint 2010 (ExCM) – Part 2 – Advanced Approval Workflow

by Matthew McBride

In Part 1 of this series, we discussed how using workflows along with the Approval feature of Extranet Collaboration Manager for SharePoint 2010  (ExCM) can add an additional layer of security to your site when using both Invitation and Anonymous Registrations.  We also discussed that when using invitations, there is most likely an existing business relationship with the invitee, and in general the thinking would be “if you’re invited, you’re approved.”  But what if we only wanted to approve ANONYMOUS Registrations and allow invited users immediate access to the Extranet site?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

SharePoint 2013 Licensing: What is the one thing that would really help customers?

By Jeff Cate, Founder and President, PremierPoint Solutions
This post falls into the “my two cents worth” category.
As most know, starting with the 2007 version of SharePoint, the product is available in three editions. In the 2010 version of SharePoint, those three are SharePoint Foundation, Server Standard, and Server Enterprise.  Microsoft publishes a good comparison of what you get in each edition here for SharePoint 2010.
I think most people know that the Foundation edition of SharePoint does not require any additional license purchase other than Windows Server licenses and Windows Server CALs.  People often talk about the Foundation Edition being “free.”  We could debate whether or not this is really true given that Windows Server licenses are still required, but that debate is not for this post.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Advanced SharePoint Extranet Management: Implementing Extranet Collaboration Manager (ExCM) 2010 Advanced Features – Part 3 - User Automation

by Matthew McBride, SharePoint Solutions

One problem that SharePoint Server Administrators regularly encounter is this:
How can I know when an extranet user from a partner company leaves the company, and how can I avoid accumulating inactive accounts for users that no longer exist that are just “sitting out there?” 

Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to keep up with the “comings and goings” of extranet users who are employees of partner companies.

But Extranet Collaboration Manager 2010 (ExCM) contains within it the capability of helping our clients with specific extranet user security needs like this. The ExCM User Automation (UA) feature can be used to apply recurring policies to accounts residing in the ExCM user database.  These policies are applied by a SharePoint Timer Job, which periodically inspects each account.  UA can be used to expire user accounts based on attributes such as periods of inactivity or failure to update their password within a specified period, solving the problem of user account “housekeeping.”

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Missing Pieces in Most SharePoint Server Administrators’ Skill Sets

Last year a four-year-old boy made national news when he took his mother’s SUV for a joyride. For a boy his age, he had some impressive driving skills. He managed to maneuver onto a busy Southern California street during rush hour, making his way through several turns and intersections.

Eventually, though, his lack of training caught up with him and he crashed into a fence after crossing into oncoming traffic. Fortunately, the daring lad wasn’t badly hurt, but his mom’s vehicle didn’t fare nearly as well. He had enough skill to get the car running down the street and to make a few panicky turns, but he didn’t have the training to control his speed, keep the SUV headed in the right direction or even stay in his lane.

I often hear students tell me, “I just want to learn to configure and administer SharePoint. I’m the Server Administrator and I’m not going to be involved in the day-to-day business use of it.” Or an IT Manager may tell me, “Kelly is going to be our new SharePoint Server Administrator. She just needs to know how to administer and configure the server—she doesn’t need all that end-user stuff.”

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Implementing SharePoint Extranet Collaboration Manager 2010 (ExCM) Advanced Features– Part 2 – Extranet Account Managers

By Matthew McBride
Overview of Extranet Account Managers
In the 2007 version of Extranet Collaboration Manager (ExCM), we received a lot of feedback from customers regarding Site Collection Administrators and their ability to delete external accounts.  Many of them experienced inadvertent user deletion due to the elevated permissions a Site Collection Administrator has by default.

In Extranet Collaboration Manager for SharePoint 2010, users can only be deleted from the following Users tab ribbon in the ExCM Extranet Users menu:

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Implementing SharePoint Extranet Collaboration Manager 2010 (ExCM) Advanced Features – Part 1 – Authentication Provider Mapping

By Matthew McBride

Overview of Authentication Provider Mapping
SharePoint Extranet Collaboration Manager 2010 (ExCM) can streamline the experience for users located inside your corporate network by implementing a feature called Authentication Provider Mapping (APM).  This simply maps an IP address to a specific authentication provider.  When APM is enabled and configured, it will determine whether the request for your ExCM page is coming from inside your network or from an external user.  This is achieved by specifying a range of IP addresses belonging to your internal network and then specifying the authentication provider that is to be used (Windows in this case).

Friday, May 25, 2012

Applying Master Pages with Extranet Collaboration Manager 2010

by Matthew McBride, Software Division

Extranet Collaboration Manager 2010  (ExCM) is a SharePoint add-in developed by SharePoint Solutions that streamlines SharePoint extranet collaboration and simplifies SharePoint extranet administration. In ExCM, a master page can be applied to the anonymous pages (registration, sign-in, and password reset) to achieve a desired look and feel.  There are three options when selecting a master page:
  • ExCM anonymous master page (vanilla)
  • Site default master page
  • Custom master page
You should consider two factors when choosing the master page for your site:  branding and anonymous access.  You also need to take into account the anonymous access configuration of your Web Application and the site that will run the anonymous pages.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

SharePoint Life Cycle Management

Most organizations lack a formal SharePoint life cycle management process. What frequently happens is a company finds itself facing uncontrolled SharePoint growth. SharePoint quickly becomes a disheveled mass of new sites, old sites, stale sites, and even duplicate sites. Left to their own devices, users begin creating business-critical applications in obscure SharePoint sites that IT doesn’t even know about. Without proper guidance and controls for style, navigation or branding, every team, department and business unit has a site that looks and feels different from everybody else’s. Further complicating the matter, SharePoint users (you know, those folks who have to do their jobs in order to keep the doors open and the paychecks flowing) become disillusioned because the uncontrolled SharePoint growth negatively impacts the relevance of search results, making it more difficult for them to find the content they are looking for. Decision-makers come to realize that without the proper tools, it is costly to manage SharePoint.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

SharePoint Governance Plan

Is SharePoint 2010 Governance Planning on your mind?  Not sure where to start? In the Microsoft TechNet topic entitled Plan site creation and maintenance (SharePoint Server 2010), Microsoft is quick to point out that before you deploy and make sites available to users, you will need to answer questions such as:
  • Do you want to tightly control site creation or to allow many users to create sites?
  • At which level in the site hierarchy should additional sites be created?
  • How do you find and remove unused sites in your environment?

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Our New Free SharePoint Training Video Series

SharePoint Solutions is pleased to announce the release of the first two videos of a new free SharePoint training video series: SharePoint 101 – What Makes SharePoint Work. The free video series is the latest addition to our free SharePoint training video library, and introduces the viewer to key foundational SharePoint concepts and strategies, with a view towards helping organizations derive the most value from their SharePoint implementations. The videos may be accessed from the red “Free Training Videos” button at the top of our SharePoint Solutions home page at

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Announcing Our New Introductory SharePoint 2010 Course for Server Administrators

In response to numerous requests over the last several months, SharePoint Solutions is pleased to announce a new addition to our catalogue of SharePoint 2010 courses: Introduction to SharePoint 2010 for Server Administrators, a 3-day hands-on instructor-led course designed to give IT Professionals a jump-start and quickly bring them up to speed on installing and managing their SharePoint 2010 environment.

Introduction to SharePoint 2010 for Server Administrators is aimed at IT Professionals who are responsible for installing, configuring, designing, and administering a SharePoint 2010 environment. It is designed for a technical audience consisting of administrators, developers, web masters, and others who wish to gain basic technical knowledge about SharePoint 2010.

No prior knowledge of any version of SharePoint is assumed. The course is structured in a manner that assumes the student is an IT Professional, and comes to class with basic technical skills. Experience with SharePoint 2010 or SharePoint 2007 is neither required nor expected of the student. Obviously, some students who attend will already have experience with SharePoint. The instructors will make the appropriate connections for these students in the lecture, without confusing the students who are new to SharePoint.

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:
  • Understand what features are available in each of the three SharePoint 2010 editions (SharePoint Foundation 2010, SharePoint Server 2010 Standard Edition, and SharePoint Server 2010 Enterprise Edition), to help them determine which edition is most appropriate for their organization
  • Understand the concepts and terminologies that are unique to SharePoint 2010
  • Understand how end users work in SharePoint on a daily basis
  • Learn to administer sites, site collections, and server farms
  • Install and configure SharePoint 2010
  • Administer site security
  • Configure Kerberos security between SharePoint and external applications
  • Plan and implement backup and restore procedures
  • Configure and administer the Enterprise Search Service
  • Configure and administer the User Profile Service
  • Configure and administer the Managed Metadata Service
The course includes a simulated installation/configuration of the SharePoint 2010 Server software in a virtual Windows Server 2008 environment. Each student will have his or her own unique virtual server on which to work.
The discussion will include what versions of SQL Server can be used with SharePoint, the various topologies that can be used to scale up your environment, and planning considerations from a hardware perspective, all with an emphasis on recommended best practices.
The cost of the three-day course is $1895. Classes are enrolling now for Q1 of 2012.