Tag: review

(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.

Review of Effective Time Management – Using Microsoft Outlook to Organize Your Work and Personal Life

catIn their book Effective Time Management – Using Microsoft Outlook to Organize Your Work and Personal Life, the authors Lothar Seiwert and Holger Woeltje provide a practical guide to using Outlook (as well as OneNote) to create a time-management system. Simply said, they teach you how to become more structured and organised when using Outlook to manage email, tasks, and appointments.

What I really like about this book is that it covers Office 2003, Office 2007, and Office 2010! While Office 2010 is already around for some time, a lot of companies and people still use Office 2007 and even Office 2003. So, even if you have one of the older versions, don’t worry, this book gives you detailed instructions on how to do things, such as setting up views in all 3 versions of Outlook.

As for the content, I have to say that I didn’t benefit much from it, as I already used most of the advise contained in this book. However, if so far you’re using only ‘standard’ Outlook, meaning you don’t let Outlook filter emails for you, you don’t create different views for your tasks to get a better overview of what is the most important thing to do, or you don’t categorise your appointments to get a better overview of your week, this may be just the right book for you. You will get to learn how to approach each of the facets of Outlook (email, tasks, appointments) and get the most out of them to become more productive, both with techniques (“choose the most important thing that you would do if you could choose only one from your tasks, assign it #1. Then, continue with the others”) and ‘implementation info’ (for example how to customise views so that you get a better overview of your tasks).

Overall, it’s a very solid book with useful advise, but nothing really new for people who already looked at time-management methods and use them.

Review of Microsoft SharePoint 2010: Deploying Cloud-Based Solutions

catPhil Wicklund’s (@philwicklund) book Microsoft SharePoint 2010: Deploying Cloud-Based Solutions came out just last month, and due to my interest in Office 365 I had to purchase it more or less immediately (as usual, ebook so that I can read it on my Kindle; also, I get it immediately and don’t have to wait for it, being in Singapore you sometimes need to order from the US). It has been one of the books I’ve been reading during the past 2 weeks, and it’s now time to share my opinion of it.

The book is divided into three parts: the first part talks about what ‘the cloud’ is and how SharePoint fits into it (basically, SharePoint Online as part of Office 365), and provides some information about its capabilities. Phil also dedicates a chapter to planning for SharePoint Online, including the Information Architecture, security, customisations, and training. In my opinion, extremely important in every SharePoint related activity.

The second part of the book, titled Deploying SharePoint in the Public Cloud, goes a bit more into detail how to start using and managing SharePoint Online. The most interesting chapter here is Chapter 6: Migrating to SharePoint Online, in which Phil lists several approaches of how you can move your content from its existing location (with a major focus on on-premises SharePoint) to SharePoint Online.

Lastly, the third part of the book talks about SharePoint in the Private Cloud. How can you set up SharePoint in your company inside your own Private Cloud, including all the relevant automation. Topics here include virtualisation with Hyper-V, a very good discussion about multitenancy in SharePoint, and how to configure tenant-aware service applications and site applications. While I initially thought that this part of the book is the least interesting to me, it gave me a much better idea of how Microsoft has (possibly) set up and configured Office 365, and why some functionality is not available at the moment (e.g. FAST Search).

What I missed a bit in the book was a better analysis of when and why it makes sense to use cloud technology. While there is a section in the first part of the book that covers this topic, I felt that it was a bit too short, and more information could have been provided. Another thing that confused me occasionally in the first and second part of the book was that there was not always a clear differentiation between SharePoint Online Standard (which you get as part of the ‘regular’ Office 365) and SharePoint Online Dedicated (which you have to contact MS for). While most of the time Phil notes what is available in or applicable to each of these two and what isn’t, I found myself thinking sometimes “this isn’t possible in Office 365”, only to realise that Phil was referring to the Dedicated version.

Overall, however, I would say that it’s a quite good book for anyone interested in learning more about cloud-based SharePoint, providing very useful information for any medium or large sized organisation.

Review of Microsoft Project 2010 Inside Out

catI’ve had the ebook of Microsoft Project 2010 Inside Out by Teresa Stover, Bonnie Biafore, and Andreea Marinescu on my laptop and my Kindle for quite some time now, but only now I can finally write a review about it.

Consisting of more than 1200 pages, this book basically contains everything you need to know about using Project 2010 to manage projects. Not only does it cover the fundamentals, but it also guides you through how to develop a project plan (Part 2), track the progress of your project (Part 3), and get reports about it (Part 4). Additionally, it covers more advanced topics such as how to manage multiple projects (Part 5), how to integrate Project 2010 with other Microsoft products (Part 6, talking about the Office suite and SharePoint), how to manage projects across your company (Part 7), and finally how to customise Project 2010 to suit your needs (Part 8). Each of these parts consists of several chapters, focusing on different topics related to the corresponding part.

In each chapter, you learn more about the relevant details, and you also get to know some helpful tips. On nearly every page you can find helpful screenshots that support the text well, making it easier to read (the topic becomes less dry!) and understand.

The book serves very well as a lookup resource if you quickly want to check how to do something in Project 2010. In my opinion, it can be considered as one of the standard books that everyone who’s using Project 2010 regularly should possess. For beginners to Project 2010, it may contain too much information for a start, Bonnie Biafore’s book Successful Project Management: Applying Best Practices and Real-World Techniques with Microsoft Project may be the better choice here.