Business Intelligence with SharePoint and Excel

Today’s business decision-makers have a distinct advantage over their predecessors when it comes to business intelligence (BI) tools that they can use for analysis, trending, and presentation of data. A good BI strategy, supported by a solid base of BI technologies, can streamline business processes while also boosting productivity and profit. The overall BI strategy of Microsoft comprises a suite of server and client-side data integration tools. Powerful analytical and reporting tools in SQL Server 2005 provide the backbone data management infrastructure, while Microsoft Office applications, specifically Microsoft Office Excel, provide the flexibility for information workers to remotely interact with centralized and secure data sources. This article, which is adapted from the Microsoft Press book Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 Best Practices, focuses on how you can use Excel and Excel Services to analyze business intelligence data within SharePoint sites. http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/magazine/2009.02.bookbi.aspx

Announcing SPCodeSnippets

Didn’t you find yourself writing SPContext.Current.Site, SPSecurity.RunWithElevatedPrivileges and list.Items.Add() more than hundred times in most of your SharePoint projects ? So Why Reinvent the wheel ?

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SPCodeSnippets provides the most commonly used SharePoint code snippets that follow SharePoint development best practices.

Just integrate them into your visual studio , reuse the code and speed up your SharePoint development.

Speaking at Egypt SharePoint User Group on June 16th With Michael Noel

I would like to announce that I’ll be speaking at Egypt SharePoint User Group on June, 16th with Michael Noel.

The event will be held at ITWorx Egypt Roof Cafeteria, Nasr City – Free Zone.

Here is the event agenda :

6:30PM – 6:45 PM start
6:45 PM – 7:45 PM Building the Perfect SharePoint Farm: A Walkthrough of Best Practices from the Field

7:45 PM – 8:00 PM Break
8:00 PM – 9:00 PM Deep Dive Into SharePoint Content Types
9:00 PM – 9:30 PM Open Discussion

Michael Noel

Building the Perfect SharePoint Farm: A Walkthrough of Best Practices from the Field

SharePoint 2007 has proven to be a technology that is remarkably easy to get running out of the box. On the flipside, however, some of the advanced configuration options with SharePoint are notoriously difficult to setup and configure, and a great deal of confusion exists regarding SharePoint best practice design, deployment, disaster recovery, and maintenance. This session covers best practices encompassing the most commonly asked questions regarding SharePoint infrastructure and design, and includes a broad range of critical but often overlooked items to consider when architecting a SharePoint environment. In short, all of the specifics required to build the ‘perfect’ SharePoint farm are presented through discussion of real-world SharePoint designs of all sizes.

Learn from previous real world deployments and avoid common mistakes.
Plan a checklist for architecture of SharePoint environments of any size.
Incorporate High Availability, Disaster Recovery, and Virtualization into an existing SharePoint environment.

Michael Noel is an internationally recognized technology expert, bestselling author, and well known public speaker on a broad range of IT topics. He has authored several major best-selling industry books that have been translated into over a dozen languages. Significant titles include SharePoint 2007 Unleashed, Teach Yourself SharePoint 2007 in 10 Minutes, Windows Server 2008 Unleashed, ISA Server 2006 Unleashed, Exchange Server 2007 Unleashed, and many more. Currently a partner at Convergent Computing (www.cco.com) in the San Francisco Bay Area, Michael’s writings and extensive public speaking experience across six continents leverage his real-world expertise helping organizations realize business value from Information Technology infrastructure.

Ayman El-Hattab

Deep Dive Into SharePoint Content Types 

Content types are incredibly cool and fundamental to how SharePoint works with Data and Information. In this session we’ll explore the power of custom content types development and see how we can use them for customizing the visual appearance, introducing new behaviors and much MORE !

Note: due to limited seats you have to register and present the registeration mail at the event.

Active at MSDN and TECHNET Forums ( Seeking the Third Star )

Hello All,
Just wanted to inform you that I’ll be active ( Hopefully ) in the next period @ MSDN and TECHNET Forums, I’ve been awarded a star a couple of months ago and I’m seeking the third one.
Here is a list of my prvious threads : http://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/user/threads?user=Ayman%20El-Hattab .
And here is a link to my profile there : http://social.technet.microsoft.com/Profile/en-US/?user=Ayman%20El-Hattab.

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Join me there if you need to ask me or any of the experts there any questions , I’ll be waiting for you @ SharePoint : Development And Programming Forum.

Upgrade SQL Express to Standard or Enterprise for MOSS 2007

Microsoft so very graciously provides a free version of SQL 2005, SQL Express, with MOSS. If you install MOSS using the Basic option or Single Server under Advanced you get SQL Express automatically. So what if as a budding newbie SharePoint admin you chose the Basic option, but now as a wise aged SharePoint admin you’ve seen the error of your ways and want to use a more respectable version of SQL for your SharePoint backend? You’re in luck. This blog post will walk you through upgrading SQL Express to SQL Standard or Enterprise.

SharePoint Branding messed up in IE8

Here is another question that I answered @ MSDN Forums :

Q : We just tested our sharepoint branding in IE8, but it’s totally messed up!what’s wrong with IE8 ??Did anybody encounter this before ?

A : Generally, there are two choices for rendering mode, “standards” mode and “quirks” mode. In “standards” mode, a modern browser will do its best to render the document according to the W3C recommendations, even if it leads to unexpected results.
In “quirks” mode, a modern browser will try to handle an (x)HTML document like older browsers from the mid-to late ’90s did. It will do its best to imitate the parsing, rendering, and bugs of earlier browsers when encountering sloppy or invalid code authoring. And, it will display those quirky pages in the same way as those earlier browsers do.
So how does a browser decide whether it should use “standards” mode or “quirks” mode? Why, by examining the doctype, or lack thereof on the web page.
IE8 decides its rendering engine based on DocType in the master page:
If IE8 sees a valid DocType declared it will attempt to render a site in IE8 Standards Mode.
If IE8 does not see a DocType it will attempt to render a site in quirks mode
Master pages like default.master that do not have a doctype declared will render automatically in IE8 in quirks mode.
However if you create a custom master page and add a doctype IE8 will try to render the page in IE8 standards mode which will cause some problems like in showing SharePoint dynamic menus .
So if you want to add a DocType, you should add the followint Meta Tag < meta equiv=”X-UA-Compatible” content=”IE=EmulateIE7″> , this will render your page like IE7 Mode.

Feedback on the Arabic web casts!

Last week, I have been receiving wonderful feedback on the Arabic SharePoint web casts I have recorded lately, I would like to thank everybody who took time to send me an e-mail or contacted me via facebook or twitter to give me his/her feedback.

I would like also to extend a special thank you to Mike Walsh [SharePoint MVP and author of Sams Teach Yourself SharePoint 2007 in 24 Hours: Using Windows SharePoint Services 3.0] for giving my webcasts a plug in his blog.

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ReadOnly, Hidden and Sealed Fields

That’s another question that I Answered in MSDN Social forums and thought of sharing with you here 🙂
Q :
The documentation regarding those attributes is not informative enough.
Hidden :
Optional Boolean . If TRUE , the field is completely hidden from the user interface. Setting ReadOnly to TRUE means the field is not displayed in New or Edit forms but can still be included in views.
ReadOnly :
Optional Boolean . If TRUE , the field is not displayed in New or Edit forms but can be included in views. Setting the Hidden attribute to TRUE completely hides the field from the UI.
Anybody knows the differences ?And what about CanToggleHidden attribute ?

A :

Similarities : Both aren’t displayed anywhere unless you configure a view to show any of them.
Differences : Hidden Fields can be updated through the object model but ReadOnly fields can’t be updated through OM like “Created” And “Created By” fields.

If you are still confused, consider the following example :You have a field that you use only by the object model for setting or getting a flag and you don’t want the field to be visible to anybody and non updatable through the UI, however you want it to be updatable through the object model.
For me, I was creating a list that stores the applications of Scholarships offered by a foundation and we needed the status of each application to be totally hidden but updatable through the OM.
Theoritically, this should be an east task :
SPSite site=SPContext.Current.Site;
SPWeb web=site.OpenWeb();
SPList list =web.Lists[“ScholarshipApplicationsList”];
string id=list.Fields.Add(“Status”,SPFieldType.Boolean,false);
SPField statusField = list.Fields.GetField(id);
statusField.Hidden=true;
statusField.Update();

But if you try this you’ll receive a nice exception
Why? The Hidden property checks if CanToggleHidden property is true and throws an exception if its not.
Fair enough, all we do then is set the CanToggleHidden property to true and do the update but there is no such a property in the object model.
So I’ve decided to use “Reflection” ..
SPField statusField= web.Lists[“ScholarshipApplicationsList”].Fields[“Status”];
Type type = spfield.GetType();
MethodInfo mi = type.GetMethod(”SetFieldBoolValue”,
BindingFlags.NonPublic BindingFlags.Instance);
mi.Invoke(spfield, new object[] { “CanToggleHidden”, true });
statusField.Hidden = true;
statusField.Update();
And if you want to use CAML, this is much more easier :
<field displayname=”Status” type=”Boolean” required=”FALSE” name=”NewField” cantogglehidden=”TRUE” hidden=”TRUE”>

Q :
Thanks Ayman El-Hattab.I’ve created a few hidden fields but now I’m trying to delete them using the following code :
list.Fields[“Status”].Delete();
But I’m gettin the following exception :
“You cannot delete a hidden column ”

A :
Unhide the field , then delete it. CanToggleHidden attribute is now set to true, so you can hide and unhide the field as you wish.