Month: February 2012

Using Multiple Monitors with your CloudShare Machine

If you have multiple monitors, like me, you’re probably very used to having your development area (Visual Studio, SharePoint Designer, NotePad++, whatever) on one screen, and a browser (or PDF reader, or other tool to support you) on another screen.

As I recently subscribed to CloudShare to do some SharePoint and Office 365 development, I found my development efforts a bit limited by the in-browser RDP client, as you can use a single monitor only. Having to switch from Visual Studio to Internet Explorer back and forth during my development definitely took more time than wanted. I was therefore looking for a solution that allows me to use both of my monitors (laptop + external monitor) while working in my CloudShare virtual machine. As CloudShare uses RDP, as mentioned, I checked if I can connect with Windows’ RDP client (I can), and if I can get the multi monitor support to work (actually quite easy). So, the steps to achieve this are:

Log in to your CloudShare environment, and get the External Address of the desired machine:

Note: You’ll also need the Credentials listed at the bottom

 

Next, start the Remote Desktop Connection client in Windows:

 

Enter the External Address, and click on options:

 

Under Display, select “Use all my monitors for the remote session“:

 

Once you click Connect, the connection gets established, and you’ll be asked for the Credentials from above:

 

During your first connection, you’ll see the following security dialog. Select “Don’t ask me again for connections to this computer” to not be prompted again.

 

That’s it! Once the RDP view window opens, you’ll see it on all your monitors, here are my settings from inside the CloudShare machine:

 

[warning_box]Please note that you still need to keep a CloudShare connection open in the browser, and refresh regularly. By default, a CloudShare “Environment will suspend in 59minutes” of inactivity, which can extended to 180 mins per use. Your RDP connection won’t prevent this, so if you work for an hour through RDP only, the connection will get lost.

Also, please note that the External Address may change and is not always the same (not sure right now under which circumstances it changes, probably after each suspension), so you may need to go through this setup regularly.[/warning_box]

Updated Service Descriptions for Office 365 for Enterprise – February 2012

Microsoft has once again released an updated set of the Office 365 for Enterprise Service Descriptions. Just as in January, I did a comparison of the changes. All major updates are listed below. The only document that has received significant updates is the Service Description for Exchange Online, all other documents are still the same (except for a few minor wording changes)

 

Exchange Online

Senders’ Photos in Outlook Web App  As part of the Exchange Online December 2011 Service Update, Outlook Web App incorporates photos of users stored in Active Directory as part of its user interface. For example, when users receive emails from coworkers, they can see the senders’ photos in the reading pane in Outlook Web App. When users search for coworkers in the Global Address List using Outlook Web App, the coworkers’ photos are displayed. Mobile devices that support the latest version of Exchange ActiveSync can also display photos from Active Directory. Outlook 2010 also includes new features that incorporate photos of users stored in Active Directory. There are two ways to get user photos into the Exchange Online environment and enable these features: •	End users upload their photos manually through the User Settings screen in the Microsoft Online Portal. •	Administrators populate the ThumbnailPhoto user attribute in on-premises Active Directory; the Directory Synchronization tool will automatically synchronize the user photo to Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, and Lync Online. Outlook Web App in Internet Explorer 9 As part of the Exchange Online December 2011 Service Update, Outlook Web App can be pinned to the Windows 7 taskbar using Internet Explorer 9 Pinned Sites. This gives users the ability to launch Outlook Web App with one click and run it with fewer distractions, separated from other browser sessions. It also keeps users informed of incoming email and instant messages when minimized or hidden and offers quick access to common Outlook Web App commands from the Windows 7 taskbar. See the Windows topic Pinned Sites for details. Senders’ Photos in Outlook Web App  As part of the Exchange Online December 2011 Service Update, Outlook Web App incorporates photos of users stored in Active Directory as part of its user interface. For example, when users receive emails from coworkers, they can see the senders’ photos in the reading pane in Outlook Web App. When users search for coworkers in the Global Address List using Outlook Web App, the coworkers’ photos are displayed. Mobile devices that support the latest version of Exchange ActiveSync can also display photos from Active Directory. Outlook 2010 also includes new features that incorporate photos of users stored in Active Directory. There are two ways to get user photos into the Exchange Online environment and enable these features: •	End users upload their photos manually through the User Settings screen in the Microsoft Online Portal. •	Administrators populate the ThumbnailPhoto user attribute in on-premises Active Directory; the Directory Synchronization tool will automatically synchronize the user photo to Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, and Lync Online. Outlook Web App in Internet Explorer 9 As part of the Exchange Online December 2011 Service Update, Outlook Web App can be pinned to the Windows 7 taskbar using Internet Explorer 9 Pinned Sites. This gives users the ability to launch Outlook Web App with one click and run it with fewer distractions, separated from other browser sessions. It also keeps users informed of incoming email and instant messages when minimized or hidden and offers quick access to common Outlook Web App commands from the Windows 7 taskbar. See the Windows topic Pinned Sites for details. Senders’ Photos in Outlook Web App  As part of the Exchange Online December 2011 Service Update, Outlook Web App incorporates photos of users stored in Active Directory as part of its user interface. For example, when users receive emails from coworkers, they can see the senders’ photos in the reading pane in Outlook Web App. When users search for coworkers in the Global Address List using Outlook Web App, the coworkers’ photos are displayed. Mobile devices that support the latest version of Exchange ActiveSync can also display photos from Active Directory. Outlook 2010 also includes new features that incorporate photos of users stored in Active Directory. There are two ways to get user photos into the Exchange Online environment and enable these features: •	End users upload their photos manually through the User Settings screen in the Microsoft Online Portal. •	Administrators populate the ThumbnailPhoto user attribute in on-premises Active Directory; the Directory Synchronization tool will automatically synchronize the user photo to Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, and Lync Online. Outlook Web App in Internet Explorer 9 As part of the Exchange Online December 2011 Service Update, Outlook Web App can be pinned to the Windows 7 taskbar using Internet Explorer 9 Pinned Sites. This gives users the ability to launch Outlook Web App with one click and run it with fewer distractions, separated from other browser sessions. It also keeps users informed of incoming email and instant messages when minimized or hidden and offers quick access to common Outlook Web App commands from the Windows 7 taskbar. See the Windows topic Pinned Sites for details.

 

BlackBerry Devices Users of Research in Motion (RIM) BlackBerry devices canBlackBerry Business Cloud Services (BBCS) is hosted by Research In Motion (RIM) and extends Exchange Online services to BlackBerry smartphones. Administrators are able to perform cloud-based provisioning and management of BlackBerry smartphones within this environment. BBCS utilizes familiar underlying RIM technology and functionality experienced with BlackBerry services and provides BlackBerry email, calendar, and personal information management experience for Exchange Online (Plan 1) and Exchange Online (Plan 2) users. See the BlackBerry Business Cloud Services (BBCS) Service Description for details. Users of  BlackBerry devices can also connect their devices to Exchange Online using the BlackBerry Internet Service (BIS). This service allows BlackBerry users to access their e-mail accounts without connecting through a BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES). It does not provide the same capabilities as a BES server or a hosted BES service. Exchange Online (Plan 1) and Exchange Online (Plan 2) users can configure BIS to access their mailboxes via IMAP. Exchange Online Kiosk users can configure BIS to access their mailboxes via POP.  Note  A hosted BES service is not currently available. Research in Motion (RIM) has announced a new hosted BES service for Office 365 customers that they plan to make available later this year. The service will be hosted, licensed, and supported by RIM, who have committed to offer their new BlackBerry cloud-based service for Exchange Online starting at $0 per user per month. See the BlackBerry Business Cloud Services overview for details.

 

Microsoft Exchange PST Capture Microsoft Exchange PST Capture allows administrators to search for PST files on computers in their organizations and then import those files to mailboxes in their organizations. PST Capture works with both on-premises Exchange servers and Exchange Online. PST Capture is comprised of the following components: •	PST Capture Central Service: At the heart of PST Capture is the PST Capture Central Service, which maintains the list of all PST files found in an administrator’s organization and manages the data as it is moved to the Exchange Servers or Exchange Online. •	PST Capture Agent: Discovery of the PST files is performed by PST Capture agents that are installed on computers in the organization. The agents also send the PST files they find to the host computer when an import operation is started on the PST Capture Console. •	PST Capture Console: The PST Capture Console is the interface the administrator uses to configure PST searches, specify the target mailboxes for PST files, and track the status of PST import operations and reports. The PST Capture Agent then sends status updates from previous actions to the Central Service. See the TechNet article Microsoft Exchange PST Capture for details.

 

Email Migration Dashboard As part of the Exchange Online December 2011 Service Update, administrators can use the Email Migration dashboard in the Exchange Control Panel to manage mailbox migration to Exchange Online using a cutover or staged Exchange migration. Administrators can also use the dashboard to migrate the contents of users’ mailboxes from an on-premises IMAP server to existing cloud-based mailboxes. The dashboard gives administrators the following capabilities: •	Create and schedule multiple migration batches: Administrators can create and queue up to 100 migration batches for a staged Exchange migration or an IMAP migration. Only one migration batch runs at a time, but administrators can queue up multiple batches, so when a migration batch is finished running the next batch in the queue starts. •	Restart a migration batch with failures: After the initial synchronization for a migration batch, where items are copied from on-premises mailboxes to the cloud mailboxes for each user in the migration batch, some mailboxes may fail synchronization. Now administrators can restart that migration batch and try to synchronize the failed mailboxes. •	Get details about skipped items: For cutover Exchange migrations and staged Exchange migrations, the migration dashboard now displays information about the specific items that were skipped, including the reason why the items skipped and the location of the item in the user’s mailbox. •	Open migration reports: Administrators can open migration statistics or migration error report for a migration batch right from the dashboard. •	Edit a migration batch: If a migration batch for a staged Exchange migration or an IMAP migration is in the migration queue (but isn’t currently running), administrators can edit the migration batch by submitting a new CSV file, changing the connection settings, or changing the number of mailboxes to migrate simultaneously. See the help topic Manage Migration Batches in Exchange Online for details. Troubleshooting Migration Errors As part of the Exchange Online December 2011 Service Update, improved diagnostic capabilities help administrators troubleshoot migration errors. For example, Remote PowerShell can be used to display diagnostic information for a migration batch named MigrationBatch1 (Get–MigrationBatch –Identity MigrationBatch1 –Diagnostic), as well as display migration statistics and diagnostic information for a user with a primary SMTP address of user@example.com (Get–MigrationUserStatistics –Identity user@example.com –Diagnostic). See the help topic Email Migration Users Status Report for details.

 

Hybrid Configuration Wizard  The Hybrid Configuration Wizard can help to streamline the hybrid deployment process by simplifying configuration of features and services. Introduced as part of Exchange Server 2010 Service Pack 2, the Hybrid Configuration Wizard consists of the following components: •	A new Exchange Management Console (EMC) wizard that guides administrators through the end-to-end process for configuring a hybrid deployment. •	A set of Exchange Management Shell (EMS) commands that orchestrate the configuration process. •	Improvements to the manageability of some of the underlying hybrid features. See the TechNet article Hybrid Deployments with the Hybrid Configuration Wizard for details.

 

Why does this look so weird – blog migration to WordPress

If you visit my blog now, you’ll notice that the design is completely different, and looks more like a standard template than my previous customised design. The reason for this is quite simple: I migrated from the blogging platform Lifetype, which I’ve been using since 2005, to WordPress, which is just much better (templates, plugins, development, …).

I’m still in the process of fixing things, so the design and all the other smaller stuff around the blog will be updated in the next few days. Why not all at once? Three reasons:

  1. I don’t have a test environment to play around in (“I do not always test my migrations, but when I do, I do it in prod”….). Setting one up and testing everything was too much work (lazy), and I thought that the design is less important than the content
  2. I don’t have the time. Busy at work, other things going on over the weekends, so spending some time here and there seemed like the best option
  3. Because I was jealous of all the other WP users, and jsut couldn’t take it anymore and had to act immediately

(P)Review of “Creating and Implementing Microsoft SharePoint 2010 Real-World Projects”

Ever since I first read about the book “Creating and Implementing Microsoft SharePoint 2010 Real-World Projects” by Jennifer Mason, Christian Buckley, Brian T. Jackett, and Wes Preston, I was eagerly expecting its release as I was hoping for it to keep its title’s promise – describing how to implement SharePoint solutions that have a practical use.

After seeing the Table of Contents on Safari Online, I just had to purchase the Rough Cuts version (so basically the current Work in Progress). I created the PDF version of it on Safari Online, transferred it to my Touchpad, and started reading (well, browsing is more accurate, as I skipped most of the sections that describe how to do things such as create a library, or add a column).

I wasn’t disappointed. Here’s why:

The 10 chapters included in this book are:

  1. Building a Project Management Solution Within SharePoint
  2. Building a Training Registration Management System Using SharePoint Enterprise
  3. Building a Basic FAQ Solution Using SharePoint Foundation
  4. Building a Learning Center Using SharePoint Foundation
  5. Building a Help Desk Solution Using SharePoint Server Standard
  6. Building a Remote Teams Activity Site
  7. Building a Team Blog Platform using SharePoint Enterprise
  8. Building a RFP Response Solution
  9. Building a Contact Management Solution
  10. Building a Resource Scheduling Solution

As you can see, they cover an interesting range of business problems, many of them which are common to most companies (I myself worked on at least half of these solutions before, though with different scopes). The “Real-World” from the title definitely applies!

I also like the approach the authors take by standardising each chapter’s structure, which allows you to quickly understand the what, why, and how of each solution:

  1. Identifying the Business Problem
    Explanation of the business problem to be solved
  2. Gathering Information
    What are the requirements from the business side
  3. Designing the Solution
    How is the solution going to be implemented, which SharePoint features are going to be used
  4. Building the Solution
    How is the solution created (with lots of screenshots!)
  5. Managing the Solution
    What else can/should be done, but isn’t part of the book’s building process (mostly things that are driven by the individual company’s requirements, such as managing permissions)
  6. Reviewing the Platform
    Can this solution be implemented in SharePoint Foundation, SharePoint Server Standard, SharePoint Server Enterprise, and Office 365 (SharePoint Online)

The authors do not only explain how to do things (create a library, add columns, add a web part to a page), but if required also explain drawbacks of a particular approach, or also explain best practices (for example, when creating a columns, use a friendly name first). Definitely another big plus from my side.

The way I see it, this book is perfect for anyone working with SharePoint and implementing solutions with Out of the box features only. You’ll get to learn how to leverage simple things such as lists, libraries, and columns, and how to integrate them and create valuable solutions, often also with the “intermediate” tools such as InfoPath or SharePoint Designer Workflows.

While I didn’t read the final version of the book, the majority of changes that can be expected are more of a cosmetic nature (I saw several spacing issues, references to image file names, etc.), and the content should pretty much stay the same (have to mention that there wasn’t an introductory chapter in my Rough Cuts). The final version of the book should be available in March, but can already be preordered now on O’Reilly.

What can we expect in SharePoint 15 – first official documents released

Microsoft has made available the first official documents for the next version of SharePoint (v15) to the public. They are:

SharePoint 15 Technical Preview Managed Object Model Software Development Kit
Which contains a limited overview of some new classes. Interesting in here is the mention of “Apps” (for example in the new SPApp class).

 

Also quite interesting is Office 15 Technical Preview – Open Specification Update, which contains also details about SharePoint 15. I recommend to look at the overview document (Summary of changes) first to see which files have been updated. While these documents are quite specific (protocols), they still give a good insight into what we can expect.

Just by looking at the documents marked as new, I discovered the following:

  • Improvements to Access Services to come
  • PowerPoint Automation Services to come (similar to Word Automation Services, so in this case a conversion from PPT to (e.g.) PDF)
  • The Education sector will get several new features (there’s a new namespace Microsoft.Office.Education), e.g. there’ll be Quizzes that can be used in an academic context
  • eDiscovery will get improved (Microsoft.Office.Server.Discovery)
  • there’s something about video in there (Microsoft.SharePoint.Client.Video)
  • and another new namespace, not sure what it does after looking at it very briefly only: Microsoft.SharePoint.WorkManagement

Of course there is lots more information, as I said I only had a brief look at new documents and not at updated ones.