Visio is a product that all of us in the business solutions world should eventually master. Graphics make very complex information easier to convey and grasp quickly. At this year’s SharePoint Conference, the Visio product team outlined some of the updates they’ve made during the Office 2013 release cycle. The updates for the Office 2013 release center on three major themes: More Professional, Easier Collaboration and Powerful Platform.

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This week, many AIS team members attended the Microsoft SharePoint Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. We’ll be posting blog posts from each of them as they learn what’s new and what’s exciting during sessions, demonstrations and other conference highlights.

The changes made to SharePoint Search in SharePoint 2013 are too numerous to describe in a single blog post, but I’ll try to provide an overview of some of the major improvements ,with the intent of emphasizing the central role played by search in the new platform. Our future solution architectures for applications will likely have search as a key design consideration. The search-related sessions that I attended at SPC 2012 were well filled to capacity, so there does seem to be a great interest in the future to SharePoint Search.

In his session on building search-driven applications, Scot Hillier made the point that we should no longer think of search in the limited scope of what occurs when a user types in a search term in a search box and the corresponding results that appear. Rather, we should think of search as a data access technology, in the same vein as CAML, REST and CSOM. In fact, he went as far as to say that search is the data access technology because, as he put it, “Search knows where all the skeletons are buried.”

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This week, many AIS team members are attending the Microsoft SharePoint Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. We’ll be posting blog posts from each of them as they learn what’s new and what’s exciting during sessions, demonstrations and other conference highlights.

We’re out at the SharePoint Conference 2012 this week and learning a ton about the new features of SharePoint 2013. One of particular interest to the IT pros should be the introduction of PowerShell 3.0. There are a number of new features available in PowerShell 3.0 not to mention the cmdlets!

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This week, many AIS team members are attending the Microsoft SharePoint Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. We’ll be posting blog posts from each of them as they learn what’s new and what’s exciting during sessions, demonstrations and other conference highlights.

I just attended the “Delivering Winning Projects in SharePoint with Microsoft Project” breakout session, and Project 2013 (along with SharePoint 2013) brings some compelling new and improved functionality to those managing and working on projects.

Some of the goals of the latest version of Project were to make it easy to quickly set up a project, improve collaboration and provide flexibility in managing and consuming project data.  The session was largely demo-driven with each of these goals highlighted throughout.

Project and SharePoint 2013 are much more tightly integrated now than they were in the past.  Project schedules can be built in either the Project 2013 client or in a SharePoint 2013 task list, and changes are synchronized in both directions.  When creating a new project schedule, a project manager can create a SharePoint 2013 project site from the Project 2013 client by using the “Sync with SharePoint” option on the “Save As” menu. This will create a new SharePoint project site, create a task list (populated with the tasks from your project schedule), and also upload the project file to the new project site.

Very cool.

Project 2013 Save Dialog
The Project 2013 Save Dialog

SharePoint enables collaboration with your project team and the new task list in SharePoint 2013 will significantly enhance this capability.  The new task list is much less cumbersome to work with, especially the new datasheet view which is rendered completely in the browser and no longer is dependent on having Office or Access installed.  Sub-tasks can be created, keyboard shortcuts are supported, and tasks can be completed simply by checking them off in the datasheet sheet view.

The entire experience is very similar to managing tasks in the Project client.  As many project managers know, collecting status updates on development tasks is not always easy, but with the new streamlined SharePoint 2013 task list and the ability to seamlessly sync with Project, this becomes much easier. Custom fields can be created in your project schedule using the Project 2013 client, which will in turn create those fields in your SharePoint 2013 task list.  These fields can also be mapped and synchronized selectively, so the project manager can prevent overloading the project team working on tasks with data.

Other new Project 2013 features include:

  • Full-featured reporting capabilities, with around a dozen charts available out-of-the-box and the ability to create ad-hoc reports and graphs to report on the status of your projects.
  • The Team Planner view which provides a visualization of the tasks that are assigned to each resource in your project schedule, making it simple to identify and correct resource utilization problems.
  • The Task Path feature makes it easy to visualize and assess the impact that a single task has on a project schedule.

I am definitely looking forward to using these new features of Project 2013 (and using the new SharePoint 2013 task list) to manage my project.

This week, many AIS team members are attending the Microsoft SharePoint Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. We’ll be posting blog posts from each of them as they learn what’s new and what’s exciting during sessions, demonstrations and other conference highlights.

During yesterday’s breakout sessions, I attended Sean Livingston’s session on SharePoint 2013 Upgrade.  A few minutes into the presentation, Sean offered up a quip that is certainly true across any platform level migration: “Upgrades lead to unpleasant feelings between the users and the IT staff.”

To be fair, upgrades bring “new stuff,” which often the users are clamoring for.  However the process of designing, engineering, implementing and provisioning the upgrade tends to be long running, particularly where large blocks of content must be migrated from one version to another. Upgrade plans must carefully balance the run times required to upgrade the content, training time for users and other background tasks against the need to keep serving up content through the transition. Migrations can be a headache from start to finish. However, several features in SharePoint 2013 aim to ease the upgrade process, if not completely avoid all headaches.

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We’re super excited over here — AIS’ own Vishwas Lele has published an eBook about the next generation of productivity possibilities with Office and SharePoint 2013, entitled The App Economy: Coming to an Office™ Near You.

In the eBook, Vishwas presents app solutions for different scenarios, with perspectives from a cast of characters which includes a power user, a developer, an administrator and an industry analyst. In these scenarios, the following questions will be answered:

• Why are apps needed?
• What nagging problems are they designed to solve?
• What kinds of apps can we expect to see in the marketplace?
• How will SharePoint apps be secured?
• What are the various revenue models supported?
• Would in-app purchases be allowed? What about ads?
• What is the difference between a public app store and a corporate app catalog?

“I decided to write a story about friends and co-workers and their day-to-day productivity challenges,” said Vishwas, “and how Office and SharePoint 2013 —combined with the cloud —will change the way they all do business.”

The eBook is available at Amazon.com, and is FREE during the SharePoint 2012 conference.

This week, many AIS team members are attending the Microsoft SharePoint Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. We’ll be posting blog posts from each of them as they learn what’s new and what’s exciting during sessions, demonstrations and other conference highlights.

During the Microsoft SharePoint Conference keynote yesterday morning, there weren’t a lot of surprises (if you’ve been paying attention for the last few months, that is).  However, you can always learn something from the emphasis that Microsoft puts on certain topics.  The biggest “announcement” was that the enterprise features of Yammer are now included with Office 365 E Plans and SharePoint Online.  SharePoint 2013 also went up for sale (at least for some customers) yesterday. The rest is all about the cloud and apps.

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Video has become an integral part of our web experience.  This, coupled with the pervasiveness of connected and video capable devices, calls for an easy-to-use, flexible, reliable and scalable platform for hosting, processing and distributing media to anyone, anywhere, on any device.  The availability of Windows Azure Media Services (WAMS) Preview lets us explore a promising new platform which aims to bring us closer to that goal.  

Since WAMS is still in the preview release stage there are a few wrinkles in the platform that early adopters need to be aware of.  These issues should be corrected in upcoming releases but until then, there are a few alternate approaches that will help you get your media solution up and running with as little frustration as possible. In this post I will show you how to get video content hosted, encoded and delivered using the WAMS SDK and how to work around some of the quirks with the June 2012 Preview version.

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You’ve had a sip of the NuGet Kool-Aid, picked your jaw up off the ground after seamlessly installing your favorite Open Source project, and now you’re diving head first into NuGet as your team’s dependency management tool of choice. Private NuGet repository is in place, Package Restore is enabled and new packages are being published automagically from your builds.

DLL-hell is behind you right?  Not so fast.  This never-ending saga has reemerged as NuGet-hell.

Managing your dependencies requires discipline and conscious decision making regardless of the tools you choose.  Don’t leave the building blocks of your applications to chance.

But how do you get the information necessary to make these decisions?

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One of the tasks we are beginning to explore at AIS is developing and distributing mobile applications for our corporate clients. One common scenario will be for these apps to be available only for their employees, or a select group of their clients. So distribution through Apple’s App Store, for example, may not be an acceptable solution.

There are several options for distributing enterprise iOS applications, if we can’t (or don’t want to) go through the App Store:

1. Ad Hoc distribution. This involves building the distribution files, distributing them to the clients (via email or posting them to a server), and having them drag the files to iTunes and then synchronizing their devices. That’s a little messy. And it requires repeating the process every time there is an update to the app.

Again, this is a messy process, and will have to be repeated for each update and new app.

2. iPhone Configuration Utility. Apple’s iPhone Configuration Utility (Mac version; Windows version; documentation) is another option. This leaves the task to the system administrator, and is labor intensive. The SysAdmin will either need to attach to each device, and install the provisioning profiles and the apps, or email the configuration profile to each user. A generic profile can be used across the organization, but if username and password management are a part of the profiles, then it gets very complicated, very quickly. Again, this is a messy process, and will have to be repeated for each update and new app.

3. Mobile Device Management. The SysAdmin can install apps through MDM (Mobile Device Management, requires sign-in). Again, device management is required, but MDM allows for remote management once the device has been initially configured. When a new or updated app is available, the administrator creates a new payload, sends a push notification (through Apple’s Push Notification Service) to the appropriate client devices, and the devices execute the command (in this case pulling down and installing the app in the payload). If MDM is already a feature in the organization’s administration processes, this is a viable option.

4. Distribute apps wirelessly, using the Over the Air (OTA) process. This is the route I’ll discuss in detail, as it seems to be the most straightforward and easiest to implement of the available options, especially if MDM is not applicable. There are some wrinkles, too, which can automate the process of updating/upgrading the apps transparent to the users.

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