Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Updated Workflow Essentials Product Release

We've just released an update to our popular Workflow Essentials software product. This release includes improvements to the Create Site by Template, Get User Property, Get User Display Name, Get User Manager, Get User Title and Get User Department activities. A complete change log can be found here.

New SharePoint Workflow Resource Center

We've just launched a new SharePoint Workflow Resource Center on our site. We've been heavy into SharePoint workflows since the release of the 2007 versions of MOSS and WSS. We have done a lot of training on the subject, a lot of blogging, consulting projects and most recently, developed an add-on, Workflow Essentials.

So, we felt it was time to pull all of these resources together in one easy to use, easy to find place on our site. If you are interested in leveraging SharePoint's built-in workflow engine to its fullest, I encourage you to visit the new Workflow Resource Center.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Installing Adobe’s 64-bit PDF iFilter 9 on MOSS

I was recently working on a new installation for a client and convinced them to put their installation on a 64-bit machine. Their installation was only a single server install, but I still set up service accounts for all the bits (more specifically, I set up SPService for the app pool account and SPSearchReader for the content crawling account). After I got SharePoint installed and running, I went after the search to make sure it worked with all the necessary file types, PDF being a very important one.

In December of 2008, Adobe released their 64-bit iFilter 9, so I thought I'd give it a try. Adobe has an installation procedure, but for some reason I overlooked it on the first try.

After installing the iFilter I added the PDF extension to the list of file types to be crawled. I also installed the Acrobat reader on the machine so I could open the documents after I found them. I started a full crawl and ended up with about 3000 items in the search index from my test set of data. "Good," I thought. As I started performing some searches I found that I couldn't find any PDF documents. So, I checked the crawl logs. Here's where I found the message, "The filtering process could not process this item. This might be because you do not have the latest file filter for this type of item. Install the corresponding filter and retry your crawl." Well, I had just installed the iFilter, so what was up? It started smelling like a security problem

One of the first security issues that sounded plausible was the security settings around the DCOM components. This is where your service account needs to be able to launch the IIS WAMREG admin Service. So, I launched dcomcnfg and edited the security to allow local launch and local activation for my two service accounts, SPService and SPSearchReader. I ultimately removed SPSearchReader, as it was not necessary.

After making these changes and retrying crawls multiple times and even rebooting the server, I was still getting the same error message. What were the potential issues? I thought about and researched several potential issues that came to mind.

  • User rights assignment for the SPService or SPSearchReader accounts?
  • DCOM permissions for IIS WAMREG admin Service.
  • DCOM permissions for the Adobe iFilter thunking component (but this is native 64-bit, right? No more thunking.).
  • Other Adobe DCOM object that needs permission updates?
  • Directory permissions for the directory where the iFilter is installed? It already had read/execute for authenticated users.
  • Adding the iFilter directory to the PATH environment variable?

I added the directory path where the iFilter is installed to the PATH environment variable. In this case, I added C:\Program Files\Adobe\AdobePDF9iFilter64\bin. I even rebooted the server. Same result.

I resorted to making SPService a member of the administrators group. Of course it worked after doing that. That's the answer to every security problem, right? I took the SPSearchReader out of the administrator group and it continued to index PDFs. So, I took SPService out of the administrator group and lo and behold, it continued to work!

In one of the steps of the Adobe installation procedure (4.b.i), they mention changing the key \\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Office Server\12.0\Search\Setup\ContentIndexCommon\Filters\Extension\.pdf to the GUID {E8978DA6-047F-4E3D-9C78-CDBE46041603}. The original value was {4C904448-74A9-11D0-AF6E-00C04FD8DC02}. This appears to be a very important step! I tested the crawl using the new value of the GUID provided and the value that was already there. My tests showed that, if you don't update the GUID, the iFilter won't be able to index the PDF content. Perhaps this was my problem all along! I'm not completely sure and the only way I can make it fail now is by changing this registry key back to its original value.

After the PDF iFilter was working, I also installed the Microsoft iFilter pack and registered it with MOSS, according to article 946336. This is where I found there is a problem with the 64-bit Visio iFilter. Supposedly there is/will be a hotfix, but I couldn't find one.

Monday, January 12, 2009

It is about time: CTP of Visual Studio 2008 extensions for SharePoint v1.3

Microsoft has released a Community Technology Preview of Visual Studio 2008 extensions for SharePoint v1.3.  VSeWSS 1.3 is an interim release for SharePoint Developers until Visual Studio 2010 comes out.

 A few new feature that you may agree "it's about time" that got included:
  • 64-bit support.  Yeah!
  • Deployment will now optionally remove conflicting existing features on the development server prior to redeployment. Previously any feature name conflicts would result in an error.
  • Ancillary assemblies such as for business logic can now be added to the SharePoint Solution WSP.
  • For advanced users a fast deploy is included to update only the compiled assembly on the SharePoint development installation.
Several other new features are in the CTP.  Final release slated for Spring 2009.  Download the CTP  bits here.

ExCM, SPA featured in SharePoint Case Study from Microsoft

Microsoft has written a new SharePoint Customer Solution Case Study featuring our Extranet Collaboration Manager and Site Provisioning Assistant products. The customer featured in this case study is global management consultancy A.T. Kearney.

Case Study: Global Management Consultancy Boosts Client Service, Competitiveness, with Extranet. A.T. Kearney, based in Chicago, Illinois, is a leading management consultancy that serves clients in all major industries as well as government agencies. It has more than 2,500 employees worldwide.

We are excited and proud to provide a prestigious organization such as A.T. Kearney with our software and services in order to further their business goals and facilitate their success in the marketplace. We're also very happy to see Microsoft author a Customer Solution Case Study which features our products and recognizes the value our add-ons provide to SharePoint customers.

If you would like to download a PDF of this Customer Solution Case Study, please go here.