Monday

searchsspsettings.aspx HTTP 403 Forbidden

I was getting an HTTP 403 Forbidden error when I clicked on the SSP Search Settings.
Also when I clicked on the Content Sources, I was getting the same error.

After a bit of digging around, Event Logs, IIS logs I finally found a reference to the Windows Task folder.

I then found this from googling this error. I hope it helps
http://blogs.msdn.com/b/smungara/archive/2009/03/03/when-clicked-on-ssp-search-settings-link-get-an-error-http-403-forbidden.aspx


Friday

HOWTO: Creating a Unique ID in a SharePoint List

Today, I needed to create a unique ID for items in a SharePoint list.
I need to have a Unique ID containing Alpha-numeric characters for each item employing the ID of the item.
I wanted the Unique ID to look like CE[ID] where CE is the text string and ID is the item ID.

Solution

  1. Create a column, give it a name (say MembersID)
  2. Select "Calculated" and enter the following formula
=CONCATENATE("CE",[ID])


Monday

HOWTO: Calculate difference between two dates, including the dates themselves

Recently, I got an email from a client who I have created a Database for using SharePoint Lists.
They had a requirement to find the number of days an event took including the actual start dates and end dates.

PROBLEM:
So using the Calculated Column, you can create a column as follows
=DATEDIF([Start Date], [End Date],"d").
But this calculation will give you 1 day less the actual number of days.

SOLUTION
Modify the calculated column as follows
=DATEDIF(([Start Date]-1), [End Date],"d")
That caters for the difference in days, when you use the initial solution.

Hope this helps someone.

Tuesday

FBA and the Microsoft Office System


This is an article that tends to describe the interaction of Forms Based Authentication in MOSS 2007 and how it affects the functionality of Microsoft Office products.

What is FBA?
FBA is the Forms Based Authentication solution that provides an authentication method for users who need to authenticate against your SharePoint site using web forms as input method and data store as credentials store.
There are different FBA solutions available to the .Net Framework. Some of these solutions make use of SQL Server as the source for the user credentials, Windows Live IDs, XML, SharePoint lists and many more.

Implementing FBA in SharePoint
Implementing FBA in SharePoint takes different approaches depending on the solution you adopt. There are many third party tools and open source files that you can obtain from the internet which you can use to implement FBA on your SharePoint site. I will not use this medium to describe how to implement FBA but instead I will add below URL of sites where you can get help.

  1.  http://splistmp.codeplex.com/releases/view/7001
  2.  https://www.nothingbutsharepoint.com/sites/itpro/Pages/Configuring-Forms-Based-Authentication.aspx
  3.  http://donalconlon.wordpress.com/2010/02/23/configuring-forms-base-authentication-for-sharepoint-2010-using-iis7/
  4.  http://cks.codeplex.com/releases/view/17901
  5.  http://www.shetabtech.com/english/SharePointLiveAuth/default.aspx
  6.  http://sp2010claimsfbaexs.codeplex.com/
  7.  http://www.codeproject.com/Articles/19055/Form-Authentication-for-MOSS-2007-Site

From all the above you can configure your SharePoint Farm to use FBA for authentication.

Using FBA in SharePoint
Using FBA in SharePoint has its limitations compared with Windows authentication.  Generally, users who have Active Directory accounts can use their accounts to log on to Windows and the same credentials will also be used to authenticate against any SharePoint site that uses windows authentication. But using FBA means you will be presented with web forms – login page whenever you visit the SharePoint site in which you then input your login credentials in the form of a “username” and a “password”.
This method heavily depends on the ASP.NET 2.0 provider, relevant skills in web development, configuration of .NET, IIS and SharePoint.

Functionality Issues of using FBA with Microsoft Office Products
When you configure a SharePoint Web Application to use FBA, during the configuration the “Enable Client Integration Box” is cleared by default. This means most Microsoft Office integration is disabled.
  1. Support for remote interfaces is turned off such as WebDav, SOAP, RPC (remote procedure calls), Web Folders and Web services.
  2. Functionality items are turned off, Open in Outlook, Explorer View, Create an Access View, Open in Windows Explorer, Export to Spreadsheet and open in Datasheet view also New Document is not available.
  3. Upload multiple pictures, Edit picture, download picture and send to are all disabled.
  4. Edit in Word, Excel, PowerPoint are disabled, Connect to Outlook and Discuss are not available.
  5. Syncing SharePoint data with Microsoft Office Outlook no longer works .

To enable all the above functionality in SharePoint, the “Enable Client Integration” box will need to be checked in the Central Administration for the Authentication Provider of the Web Application.
There’s a degraded user experience and functionality when using FBA partly because of how it was configured and also due to compatibilities issues created by Microsoft.
These issues have been identified in Office 2003 and Office 2007 and Microsoft has provided service packs which as improved the functionality being experienced only in Office 2007.

Compatibilities and Workarounds
Currently, compatibilities issues are present in the Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 and Office System 2003 which I believe has not been resolved. So any organisation implementing MOSS 2007 but has not upgraded Office 2003 should have an assessment done to prevent failures in their implementations.
As I have described previously above, there are service packs available for the Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 and Office System 2007 which has improved the user experience when using Form Based Authentication (FBA) as an authentication method for SharePoint, this is the MOSS 2007 Service Pack 2 and 2007 Office Suite SP2.  The MOSS 2007 Service Pack 2 that was shipped April 28th 2009, now has added and improved functionality which includes Microsoft Save as PDF or XPS, substantial improvements to FBA support in Word, Excel, PowerPoint and SharePoint Designer 2007.
The following are tests I have carried out using the different versions of MOSS 2007 Service Packs, Office 2007 and Office 2003.
MOSS Version
Office Version
Tests Carried Out
Conclusion
Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 with Service Pack 1 and below
Office System 2007 with Service Pack 1 and below
-          Open in Word does not work well
-          Connect to Outlook does not work well
-          Export to Spreadsheet does not work at all.
MOSS 2007 and Office 2007 does not support FBA very well, User experience is not degraded, user credentials will need to entered many times
Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 with Service Pack 2
Office System 2007 with Service Pack 1 and below
-          Open in Word does not work well
-          Connect to Outlook does not work well
-          Export to Spreadsheet does not work at all.
MOSS 2007 and Office 2007 does not support FBA very well, User experience is not degraded, user credentials will need to entered many times
Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 with Service Pack 2
Office 2003
-          Upload Mulitple Works
-          Open in Word not working
-          Export to Spreadsheet not working
-          Connect to Outlook not working
FBA Client integration does not work with Office 2003
Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 with Service Pack 2
Office System 2007 with Service Pack 2
-          Everything works (with the “Remember me” check box ticked.
-          Open in Word works(login page presented, enter in your credentials and it just fine)
-          Connect to Outlook works (if “remember me” check box is ticked)
-          Export to Excel works (if “remember me” check box is ticked)
This is the best experience with FBA as both Office 2007 SP2 and MOSS 2007 SP2 support FBA fully and integrates very well.

When working in Office 2007 SP1 and below, Office 2003 users can still work with documents in SharePoint libraries and lists, but with working in SharePoint libraries they must right-click items and choose to save a copy to disk. They can then edit and update the document, and then upload it and check it back in when they are finished editing.

Conclusion
In this article I have described what the Form Based Authentication is and ways in which is can be implemented and have provided different resources available to use with FBA. Also I have been able to describe the impact of using FBA and the main functionality issues you can encounter when using FBA in Office System. Then, finally I was able to discuss my findings with using the different versions of MOSS 2007 and Office System 2007.

Further Reading
  1. http://www.codeproject.com/Articles/16822/The-Anatomy-of-Forms-Authentication
  2. http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb977430.aspx
  3. http://blogs.technet.com/b/office_sustained_engineering/archive/2009/04/16/service-pack-2-for-the-2007-microsoft-office-system-due-to-ship-april-28th.aspx

Monday

HOWTO: Send SMS Messages from SharePoint (WSS 3.0 & MOSS 2007)

Recently, I had a client who needed to do a simple task using his subscription of bulk sms messages.
He uses SharePoint as a CRM tool, to keep his customers updated with information about his company he needed to implement an SMS solution to push out SMS messages with different content from SharePoint.

A very simple ingenious solution requires the following;

1. A bulk Email to SMS account with any bulk SMS provider.
2. The SharePoint list(s) containing the mobile phone numbers of the recipient(s).
3. The SharePoint list to be used to send the SMS Body
4. SharePoint Designer 2007

Solution:
Set up a bulk Email to SMS Account with any bulk SMS provider.

I had setup an account with a provider who requested that I use an email with which is associated with my bulk SMS account.
Now the email I used with the bulk SMS provider was the email I have configured on the "Web Application Outgoing Email Settings" for the web application that was running the SharePoint list.

By the using this email, the bulk SMS provider system was able to identify any emails coming from my server as an authenticated user.

Create a Workflow to Send emails
Next, I created a workflow using SharePoint Designer 2007 to send email (using a trigger) whenever a new item is created or an item is changed.

In the body of the email generated by the workflow, was the text of the SMS to be sent.
In the email address is a combination of the mobilephone@bulksmsprovider.domain. This means once the workflows runs as designed, it generates an email to be sent to the email (customers_mobilephone_number@bulk_sms_provider_domain) and this gets delivered straight away.


Remember that SharePoint 2010 has a new functionality "Mobile Account Settings", this feature would allow you to configure an SMS Service on your SharePoint Server.

I have observed the cost of using these SMS Service providers is absolutely high and very few of them. But using my solution above will give the opportunity to use any provider of your choice.

SharePoint Calculated Columns: LEN, LEFT, RIGHT


Using LEN in SharePoint Calculated Columns enables you to count total numbers of Characters in a Column. It can be used as follows;


=LEN([ColumnName]) 
=LEN([Column1]&[Column2])


You can have other permutations such as 


Counts the number of characters in Column1 and remove 4 characters from the left 
=LEFT([Column1],LEN([Column1])-4) 


Counts the number of characters in Column1 and remove 3 characters from the right
=RIGHT([Column1], LEN([Column1])-3)




I hope this helps someone

Tuesday

HOWTO: Display the Developer Tab for Microsoft Office System

The Developer tab is an additional feature on Microsoft Office Applications that can enable Forms to be completed in Word and other genius functionality can be achieved using the Office System


Display Developer Tab in Microsoft Office System 2007

1. Open a Microsoft Application (PowerPoint, Word or Excel)
2. Click on the Office Ribbon Button
3. Select and Click on the Options (Word Options, Excel Options or PowerPoint Options)
4. Select the "Popular" category and tick the check box "Show the Developer tab in the Ribbon"

Display Developer Tab in Office 2010 Applications

1. Open a Microsoft Application (PowerPoint, Word or Excel). Also Outlook 2010 can do Developer Tab
2. Click on the File tab and then Options.
3. Choose Customise Ribbon under the categories pane.
4. Then click Developer to add.

Wednesday

HOWTO: Delete User from Site Collection

A quick HOWTO; from my HOWTO series.
User needed to be deleted from Site Collection.

1. Login to the site as the Site Collection Administrator
2. Go to the All People Group by visit the URL http://[your server address]/_layouts/people.aspx?MembershipGroupID=0
3. This will give you access to the All People list.
4. Click on the Name Column and Click "Show Filter Choices"
5. Select the user you want to delete
6. Do Actions > Delete Users from Site Collection