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News in Review: Cool Tools and Hot Topics in SharePoint Land

We're coming off of a long three-day weekend here in the United States and all the kids are back in school, but that's not why there's a strange quiet when you listen for any SharePoint news. This eerie silence is artificial. There's a lot happening, but it's all under wraps until the SharePoint Conference in October. So, most of the people who would have lots of news to share are busy wrapping their heads around a product that they can't talk about yet. I'm going to be so glad when the floodgates are opened in late October. It's hard for me to stay quiet about things I'm excited about! Luckily, there are a few pieces of great news to share, with the recent release of some fantastic tools (several of them FREE and INVALUABLE) and a couple of great new articles on underserved topics. BE SURE TO READ ON to get all the good stuff!


Productivity Hub—Educate Your Users

Microsoft released the Productivity Hub, which is a mini version of Office Online, with documents, PowerPoint slides, and videos (more than 300 pieces of content) about Office programs, including SharePoint Server. This is a great opportunity to bring the knowledge in-house and is particularly valuable to organizations (some of which I know) that block Internet access or block access to Office Online. One of the most interesting characteristics about the Productivity Hub is that it is a SharePoint site collection. I'm looking forward to digging into it! Read more about it in the SharePoint for End Users blog "Support end-user productivity with the Productivity Hub".

Microsoft SharePoint Administration Toolkit 4.0

Microsoft released SharePoint Administration Toolkit 4.0, the last update to the SharePoint Administration Toolkit. (A new toolkit will be released, we're told, to support SharePoint 2010.) SharePoint Diagnostics (SPDiag) has been updated with some useful predefined rules to discover and report some common SharePoint issues and with a command-line option that makes it possible to gather information from the entire farm without installing the entire Toolkit on each server.

The Permissions Reporting Tool provides critical insight into effective permissions for users and groups for a site, list, or item. It also gives you a beautiful tree view of sites, lists, and libraries, showing you where inheritance has been blocked and giving you a detailed analysis of an object's permissions compared to its parent. The tool also can run broken inheritance report jobs. These kinds of security analysis tools are long overdue and there's still a long way to go for out-of-box security management with SharePoint, but kudos to the team for this one! I wish that traditional Windows file servers had as decent a presentation for this type of information.

The toolkit adds an updatequota stsadm operation, which lets you update existing quotas on site collections after a quota template has been changed. And the Toolkit provides a manifest for the Security Configuration Wizard (SCW), a Windows server tool that can be used to reduce the attack surface of a server. With the manifests, you can now lock down a SharePoint server appropriately with the SCW. SCW templates can then be exported to a Group Policy Object (GPO) for deployment across the farm. You can read more about the SharePoint Administration Toolkit 4.0 in the Microsoft SharePoint Team Blog "Announcing the Fourth Release of the Microsoft SharePoint Administration Toolkit".

TOZIT SharePoint Discussion Forum Solution

Tobias Zimmergren, Swedish SharePoint MVP and contributor to this newsletter, just released the TOZIT SharePoint Discussion Forum solution. This solution, which works on both Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 (MOSS 2007) and Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 (WSS3.0), adds much-needed features and management capabilities to the out-of-box discussion list. There had been an effort on CodePlex, but it never went anywhere. Then there's the great, high-end product line from Telligent. For the rest of us in the middle, this has great promise. Congrats, Tobias!

Branding Article on MSDN

Another newsletter contributor, Andrew Connell, saw an article of his go up on MSDN recently, and a hot topic it is: "Real World Branding with SharePoint Server 2007 Publishing Sites". This is the real deal, folks. Very heavy-duty, detailed, and fantastic. Superb work, Andrew!

Records Management Solutions Article on MSDN

Also up on MSDN is Spence Harbar's "Building Records Management Solutions with SharePoint Server 2007" There are a couple of things I love about this article. First, it does a great job with a topic that is important and underserved. Second, it's by "Master" Harbar, one of the original SharePoint Jedi Knights known as "Microsoft Certified Master." Like Andrew, Spence is one of the guys that, if you ever read anything he writes, you can be completely confident that it's as close to the word of SharePoint God as possible. He really knows his stuff.

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