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Archive for the ‘Sharepoint 2010’ Category

Here are some major differences between two products, talking about OOTB Navigation feature limitation about SharePoint Foundation 2010:

There are two limitation areas/concerns:

  1. OOTB Navigation UI:

Since there is no Publishing feature on Foundation, when using UI to customize the Navigation on Site Setting, UI looks different comparing with Server 2010:

for instance, have to add separate links to show on Top Nav bar or Left Nav Bar, while in Server 2010 you can choose show Sub Site or Sub Page (if turn on Publishing feature);  There is a virtual editor for Navigation Editing and Sorting in SP Server 2010, Foundation version does not have one, etc.

2. Navigation Providers:

Using master page you can also change the navigation Providers for sitemap to configure the site map resources for both Global Navigation and Current Navigation bars, in SP2010 Server there are 8 more SiteMapProviders available OOTB, includes:

1)      1 Search related site map provider:

ExtendedSearchXmlContentMapProvider,  which is a Provider for navigation in Extended Search page, it uses the site Map File under IIS web app directory “_app_bin/layouts.sitemap”

2)      6 Publishing features related Providers:

a). GlobalNavSiteMapProvider, CombinedNavSiteMapProvider, CurrentNavSiteMapProvider, CurrentNavSiteMapProviderNoEncode  — there providers also help to configure second level navigation bars on the master page

b). GlobalNavigation and CurrentNavigation, these are Providers for MOSS Global and Current Navigations, which are useful to help Visual Upgrading “look and feels” feature for SP2010.

3)      1 Portal related navigation Provider:

SiteDirectoryCategoryProvider, which is a Site Directory category provider. Site directory feature is not really working well on SP2010 server, I have no knowledge about what the future of the site directory on later version.

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Windows Azure Platform is becoming the hottest topics among many new technologies. Cloud computing has the potential to show people what the future IT world may look like in the near future.  This could be the start of an IT revolution. In the future, imagine that we will have most of the social/public facing RESTful Services/Web applications online – it becomes easier to build, access and consume this reliable and rich information. This is the next move for lots of Web services and applications we are using now.

So what is the next move for SharePoint in the near future, after the release of SharePoint 2010 on May 12th? It’s all about the “blue sky”.  Much like Windows Azure is driving application development to the cloud, SharePoint Online is driving SharePoint adoption to the cloud .

It is here. It is happening. It is the future ….

Many people would ask: how far do we need to go from “Present” to the ”Future”? Cloud computing sounds too real to be true, it is not a real thing in our real life — “It looks like it is a fancy technology that will never happen to me, it is another version of ‘Internet of Things’“.

But it is here already — SharePoint Online has been announced for more than one year. We already started using the Azure technology in the real world. The current SharePoint Online is still limited with WSS3.0 functions on most of the part. After Microsoft started supporting multi-tenant features, some small and medium sized companies started looking into it and a few companies, like GlaxoSmithKline, started using it. These companies outsource IT services to Microsoft. With SharePoint’s multi-tenant version, it targets smaller customers. Since then, Microsoft has been adding tons of customers in the multi-tenant space. In 2010, we’ll see more functionality adding into the multi-tenant space.

In SharePoint 2010, development on-premise and online is the same – this is one of the most exciting improvements for SharePoint Online. You can write what is called sandboxed solutions. These solutions can run either on-premise or in the cloud – which makes it easier for customers to either run in hybrid environments (where they have part of their solution on-premise and part of their solution online) or to make the move to all online. At the same time, Microsoft is investing in the platform in the cloud. Later on, you can use SharePoint not just as the application, but also write to the platform called SharePoint inside the cloud – exactly like the Windows Azure Platform we can use today, and we can call it “SharePoint Azure Platform”

Benefit to use SharePoint online: — enhanced SharePoint server system integration and configuration

  • You can get it up and running quickly, and integrate it with Exchange service, Office Online, emails, etc. You still need to use your own source to do administration, but system integration and  configuration are being taken care of.
  • Latest software upgrade/patches, server upgrades, etc. These server side issues will be automatically handled by Microsoft

What will be improved in SharePoint Online 2010: (which is planed to be released this Summer)

  • Storage – The currently version is limited to 20 Site Collections per account; SharePoint Online 2010 allows unlimited site collections.
  • Feature Functionality – Currently Microsoft Online does not offer all feature functionality (for instance: InfoPath is not available now).  All SharePoint 2010 feature functionality is envisioned as being available on SharePoint Online Services 2010.

     EXCEPT for the following features, which requires an on-premise installation:

  • FAST Search Functionality — which is a very powerful feature for SharePoint server 2010 with FAST service
  • PerformancePoint Services — this is a big lose for SharePoint online 2010
  • Microsoft Information Rights Management — need to install extra services
  • Site Variation — need to install language package on server side
  • Content Staging and Deployment – limited for SharePoint Publishing feature?
  • Business Data Search — cannot include Business data into Search scope for online version

Identity and Access for SharePoint Online Services 2010

In the current version of SharePoint Online, the client must install a package to use Microsoft Online services for access and identity. In SharePoint 2010, Microsoft Online Services will have two choices for identity and access: Managed Identities in Microsoft Online, or use Federated identity against the client’s on-premise Active Directory. This makes the authentication more customizable.

In SharePoint Online 2010, you will see it looks like an on-premise SharePoint Server 2010 with following features:

  • Rich in browser page design, with server side Ribbon, of course.
  • Office Web Apps (view and edit documents on the web page, without having the client application installed on the desktop), and can use an iPhone for reading Microsoft Office files.
  • MySite and Social Computing – this enhances searching and social networking on SharePoint
  • Seamless Office Client application support – you can use Office application to integrate BCS and synchronize Office applications to edit data from Sharepoint content database or external data sources.
  • Excel Services for data driven pages – all should be working on the site page, no need to install an excel tool on local client machine.
  • Fully customize sites using SharePoint Designer (custom page updates and workflow built in) — This is Big! Shaerpoint designer is a much, much more powerful tool than ever, it can do most of the customization work like creating a workflow, creating BCS, creating content types, adding customized views, etc.

So with SharePoint Online 2010, many more small and mid-sized companies can choose SharePoint as a internet facing web page, or as their intranet site, without taking care of SharePoint integration and configuration complexity. SharePoint Online is SharePoint in the cloud – are you ready?.

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 As Jeff Teper mentioned in the Sharepoint conference 2009 Keynote presentation: “Sharepoint 2010 BCS might be the biggest – ‘Wow, how did you do that?’ feature in 2010”. So What exactly are the 2010 BCS new features bring to us? Here is a high level overview on Sharepoint 2010 BCS (Business Connectivity Service).

— More Connectivity Options: The external systems can be Databases, Web/WCF services, .NET assemblies, and Custom data sources. A company can build their RESTful data services around their EDM(enterprise data model) and BCS can be one of many other ways to consume this service. RESTful service can be in the cloud as well, which brings tons of information avaiable to BCS. 

— A standard Sharpoint Foundation 2010 feature — now BCS is a Windows Sharepoint Services 4.0 feature, it is “free”, not bound with Sharepoint server any more.

 — Offline Access to External Data: BCS provides cache and offline work features, it supports cache-based operations. With Outlook 2010 and Workspace 2010, you can manipulate external data offline or if the server connectivity is slow, intermittent, or unavailable, which makes BCS works in a more Stable condition. When the system is back online, you can synch the data back into the external system.

 — Richer Functions: Write-Back to External Systems: This is big! Now you can Create, Read, Update, Delete, and Query (CRUDQ) the external system from an Office application or a SharePoint site if the external system support those functions. Your 2010 BDC list(external list) looks/behaves like a regular sharepoint list on Sharepoint UI.

  — Familiar UIs on External Data: External content types provide SharePoint lists, Web Parts, profile pages, and Office Types like Outlook Contacts, Tasks, Calendars, Word, and SharePoint Workspace 2010 lists, with searching and working offline capabilities to external data and services. Ecerything looks as it was, while the data is not stored inside the Sharepoint or office tools. 

  — Support Batch and Bulk Operation: In SharePoint 2007, BDC supported only single item operations, such as search. BDC now provides batch and bulk operation support reading multiple items in a single call, thus reducing round trips to the backend dramatically. So multiple actions can be integrated into one call back in Business logic programming with external data at UI level. 

  — Symmetrical Server and Client Runtimes: In Microsoft Office 2010 and SharePoint 2010, BDC is included in both client and server to provide symmetrical client/server scenarios, which enables external data integration scenarios on Office client applications, such as Outlook 2010 and Workspace 2010. BDC supports two data paths from client to external system: one is that Client connects directly to external system (online connection mode); another is that BDC client fetches data from the local cache (cached connection mode).  

 — Read Blobs: BDC now supports reading binary large object (BLOB) data. This is useful for streaming BLOBs of data from the external system, you now can work with movie/video files using BCS.

  — Read and Write-Back of Complex Types: BDC now supports dot notation in field names and therefore enables you to read and write complex types. This helps working with relational external DB from internal Sharepoint codes/BDC modles.

  — Life Cycle Management: You can use SPD 2010 to create composite solutions that meet external unit needs,  without writing code. You can use Visual Studio to create or extend solutions with workflows and data that spans structured line-of-external (LOB) systems, unstructured SharePoint applications or Office applications, and Web 2.0 services. And packing and deployment are much easier than ever.

  — Enhanced API Set and Extensibility: Developers can use the BDC Runtime object model to write generic applications by using APIs as building blocks. With the .NET Assembly Connector, Custom Connector, and pluggable Secure Store Provider, it provides a rich extensibility mechanism for software developers. 

In general, with much richer features BCS provides to users, you can combine BCS with Enterprise Content type, user profiles, workflow, infopath forms and search services to enhance Sharpoint capabilities working with your LOB.

 MSDN posted a very nice article to touch base of the BCS new features with some very useful samples. http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/magazine/ee819133.aspx

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