New and Enhanced SharePoint Products

SharePoint product roundup for admins, devs, and end users

Beyond SharePoint Out-of-the-Box Calendaring

Bamboo Solutions offers its Calendaring & Scheduling Toolkit for SharePoint. Its components can be deployed and configured by end users anywhere across the SharePoint environment. The Calendar Plus Web Part is one of the components and replaces the standard SharePoint calendar. It lets users automatically "roll up" multiple calendars into a master view and enables multi-dimensional color coding for easier reading. The SharePoint Task Master turns a SharePoint list into an interactive, drag-and-drop Gantt chart, complete with dependencies and parent-child relationships. The Team Calendar Web Part Team Calendar offers a centralized group calendar capable of displaying SharePoint list data, multiple public-facing Exchange calendars, or a combination of the two. The SharePoint In & Out Schedule Board Accelerator is an all-in-one digital whiteboard designed to centralize scheduling and contact information for teams and groups. To learn more, see  Bamboo's site.

 

Migrating from On-Premises to Hosted SharePoint

Moving data from SharePoint on-premises to SharePoint Online in Office 365 will require tools that Microsoft doesn’t provide. Slipping neatly into the niche of on-premises to hosted migration is a solution provider for migration tools, MetaVis Technologies. MetaVis president and co-founder Peter Senescu spoke with us recently about Office 365 beta, SharePoint migration, and a presentation he gave at a recent SharePoint Saturday event about Office 365. Among other things, he noted that the information at hand is subject to change as Office 365 approaches RTM—which he says will occur in June or July.

Why is IT interested in Office 365?

Peter Senescu: Email is number one. When they synchronize users, then they’ll use SharePoint. You get the reliability of Microsoft, you get disaster recovery, you get a data center most businesses can’t afford. SharePoint is great for governance around information. With the new 2010 version, it’s improved document management and records management. With Office 365 you can choose templates for records management, get a wiki, and you can get FAST Search.

How is Office 365 different from Microsoft Business Online Productivity Services (BPOS)?

Senescu: BPOS was severely deprecated. Like a crippled version of WSS. Plus, you couldn’t access it from outside. Using AD FS (Active Directory Federation Services) with Office 365 you can co-exist your users and security—you don’t have to create users and you don’t have to create passwords. You can make it much easier to access data and you can extend claims to partners.

If you go with Office 365, can you still have SharePoint implementations on-premises?

Senescu: You may decide to keep some SharePoint sites locally or in Office 365. You can have co-existence between premise-based SharePoint and cloud-based SharePoint.  

What are the migration options for moving to Office 365?

Senescu: Traditionally when migrating SharePoint you’d use one of Microsoft’s methods but they’re not available. So far Microsoft has only given guidance for Exchange accounts. This is the status of the options for migrating to Office 365:

•     In-place Upgrade - No

•     Database Attach - No

•     PowerShell- Maybe

•     Cloud Ready Tools that work with Office 365 -Yes

As far as I know MetaVis is the only product that works with SharePoint Online and is available for download now. I am sure there will be more but I haven’t seen any yet.

What do IT people need to know about Office 365?

Senescu: They don’t understand all of the pricing options for Office 365—small business, enterprise, and education, and the various options in each. They want to understand what they can and cannot do, and they have questions about external facing SharePoint Sites (do they need  a special license, how to integrate security, can they brand the sites).

What are some good Office 365 resources?

Senescu: Resources I recommend include the SharePoint Online Administration resource center; SharePoint Online Administration Guide (coming soon); Office.com “Help and How to” center; SharePoint Online Planning Guide. To learn more about MetaVis solutions, visit metavistech.com.

 

SharePoint Permissions Management

Although SharePoint 2010 has improved in the permissions area, it’s still time-consuming to check what permissions a user has beyond the site, list, and list item level. Enter Lightning Tools DeliverPoint 2010, a permission management tool for SharePoint 2010. DeliverPoint provides you with the ability to copy, transfer, or delete permissions at farm, Web Application, site collection, or site level, without having to manually view and edit the permissions on each object individually. It also lets you delete dead accounts. Although Active Directory accounts are usually disabled, then eventually deleted as an employee leaves, SharePoint accounts might still have permissions on them. DeliverPoint flags these accounts for reporting and removal. For more information, visit the Lightning Tools website.

 

A SharePoint End-User Mashup Solution  

Crucial information rests in your non-SharePoint solutions, such as SAP, Oracle, or other enterprise apps. How do you unlock that information so SharePoint users within your organization can take advantage of it? Before you turn to your developers, JackBe would like you to consider the concept of the mashup, combining many mini sources into a single solution. JackBe’s Mashup Sites for SharePoint aims to solve the problem of integrating SharePoint with the rest of your systems. Mashup Sites is a solution that lets end users create, use, and share mashups and apps.

“We can get info on SharePoint lists, we can create apps around data sources, and push them into SharePoint as a Web Part, wiki, or blog, or onto mobile devices,” says Dan Malk, JackBe’s vice president of application platform.  It differs from Business Connectivity Services (BCS), the ability in SharePoint 2010 to bring line of business data into SharePoint, he says, because BCS is about bringing individual information sources or a single database into SharePoint.

With Mashups for SharePoint, the user can push various lists to a “hub” where they are registered. Users can also pull from the hub. Then using Presto Wires, a tool similar to Visio, the lists are combined visually. (They can also be combined programmatically in the underlying API, instead.) The wired-up blocks, or information sources, are wired to output, saved, and given a name. The resulting mashup goes back to the hub for use or can be input into future mashups—or mashups of mashups.

Security and access are integral. “We support authentication in SharePoint—access is based on what you have access to. Users building mashups see none of this—the product passes their credentials down,” Warner says. The typical mashup uses different security profiles for different protocols, Malk says.

Users can share mashups to SharePoint communities as native Web Parts as well as share mashups with non-SharePoint users through Microsoft Excel, Oracle WebCenter, Apple iPhone, and more. It’s also bidirectional between MOSS 2007 and SharePoint 2010 (the company recently announced SharePoint 2010 support), using the push/pull capabilities to bridge the upgrade gap. See JackBe’s website.

 

It’s the Taxonomy, SharePoint

DataFacet for SharePoint 2010 offers pre-built taxonomies to organize and manage data so that it can be easily found. Automatic classification means documents are automatically tagged at check-in, removing the necessity of tagging by end-users. You can preview categorization results against your documents, create and modify multiple taxonomies, and rearrange categories and edit category rules. The flexible tagging engine uses a full-text query language with Boolean, proximity, and fielded search capabilities. You can import and export taxonomies from industry formats such as SKOS, RDF, ARTX, and the SharePoint term store interchange format. Taxonomies are available in 13 languages, including English, Spanish, Japanese, Simplified Chinese, and Traditional Chinese. DataFacet for SharePoint is a joint venture of WAND and Applied Relevance. To learn more, visit www.datafacet.com.

 

I see SharePoint Data

VirtoSoftware has released a new SharePoint Web Part for creating graphs, charts, and plots based on a variety of SharePoint data sources—Virto jQuery Charts. This jQuery-based component can use SharePoint lists, SQL tables, XML files, and display data in interactive diagrams that can also filter data for selective viewing. The company also offers Virto Image Slideshow, a component for quickly viewing images from the SharePoint document library, and Virto Pivot View for visualization and management of large amounts of data in SharePoint 2010 and SharePoint 2007. See the VirtoSoftware website.

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