2011, Back to Earth!

Happy New Year 2011!

I have several projects for this year, and I’ll detail them in future posts. For now, I just wanted to announce the main one.

In the past couple years, I have been working mostly online. This has been a fantastic experience, especially as I got to work with amazing people who gave me their trust, even though they had never met me in person.

In 2011, I’ll continue my online activities, but it is also time for me to start working again in real offices, and show up in SharePoint conferences and user group meetings. Yes, I am back to Earth! This is a strange feeling, as I’ll have to get reaccustomed to things I haven’t done in a while – drive a car, wear a wrist watch, get myself a mobile phone…

My first step this month is to start my company, in San Diego. I’ll attend SharePoint Saturday San Diego on February 26th, and hopefully other events in the area in February-March. I also plan to visit other places, in California (San Francisco, LA), Texas and Florida. Then we’ll see… wish me luck!

Special offer: SharePoint 2007 Gantt workshop

I am still working on my new workshop series that I’ll launch in the beginning of next year. The workshop descriptions will be added under the workshops tab on http://sp2010.pathtosharepoint.com.

Some people have already contacted me several weeks ago about the Gantt solutions for SharePoint 2007. I understand that January 2011 is still far away, so if you are interested in this workshop here is my proposal:
– you register for a one hour one-on-one session
– we set up a meeting, based on our time zone
– I’ll provide my current solutions to address your immediate needs (typically the dynamic timescale)
– you’ll also get a free ticket to the January workshop, where you’ll get all the updated scripts (~10 solutions, for Gantt views and calendar views).

If you are interested, please register on my home page, and I’ll get back to you within 24 hours. Note that the solutions offered in this workshop are for SharePoint 2007 only (wss v3 and MOSS), and don’t apply to SharePoint 2010.

For a live demo of the dynamic Gantt timescale, visit this page:
http://www.pathtosharepoint.com/Pages/GanttTimeScale.aspx

Don’t take my solutions at face value!

Last week, I stumbled upon this comment on Twitter:

“I have used and love easy tabs, but I do need pretty on my current engagement”

What? Not pretty, my Easy Tabs? Let me set the record straight.

First, let’s make sure we are on the same page. The current version of the Easy Tabs is v5, compatible with both SharePoint 2007 and SharePoint 2010. You can build your own here:
http://sp2010.pathtosharepoint.com/SharePoint-User-Toolkit/Pages/Easy-Tabs-v5.aspx

By default, the form offers two styles: one taken from SP 2007, and the other taken from SP 2010. Note that both options work on both SharePoint versions (for example, you can pick the SP 2007 style for your SP 2010 site).

You don’t like the colors? Well, talk to Microsoft! I did not invent the styles, I am reusing the default ones you get when you create a team site. The significant advantage here is that you don’t have any external dependency, just add the Web Part to a page and it ‘ll work.

If you want other colors, feel free to pick your own. Click on the “Modify colors” option, and you’ll be presented with a color picker, allowing you to choose your own background and font colors.

Not satisfied yet? Well, you can take it one step further. Look at the Easy Tabs code, and you’ll see that it is made of two independent parts: the stylesheet (style tag) and the tab builder (script tag). Modify the stylesheet as you please to get the final look. As an example, I have built this demo that has it all (rounded corners, hover effects, gradient):
http://sp2010.pathtosharepoint.com/Portfolio/Pages/Styled-Easy-Tabs.aspx

The purpose of the SharePoint User Toolkit is to open the door to advanced designs. Don’t see these tools as final products, but rather as a startpoint to build your own solutions. The beauty of such “User Managed Solutions” is that you have full control on them, and can tweak them to fit your specific needs. I took the Easy Tabs as example, but I could have chosen the image rotator, or other solutions from the toolkit.

If you are interested, I’ll start offering in a couple weeks a new series of online workshops, where I’ll show how to make the most of these tools. Feel free to contact me now if you have specific needs.

If you are a Web designer, or a SharePoint pro, looking for solutions for your customers, I have many other tools in my drawers. Come talk to me about your requirements, and let’s start a collaboration! We can also discuss this on LinkedIn, in the SharePoint User Managed Solutions group. And if you are in San Diego, or the Bay Area, I’ll be there in a couple weeks and we can meet in person.

About Scripts, Web Parts and Urban Myths

Today, I came across conversations, initiated by Marc Anderson (@sympmarc on Twitter), about the Content Editor Web Part.

Reported by Marc on his blog:

One of the things I heard at SPTechCon several times was that in SharePoint 2010, it is no longer possible to put script into Content Editor Web Parts (CEWPs). Instead, I was told, you have to use the new HTML Form Web Part.

And on twitter:

sympmarc Just verified that you *can* put script in a #CEWP in #SP2010, contrary to what several people said at #SPTechCon . Urban myths can kill…

EUSP RT @sympmarc: Just verified that you *can* put script in a #CEWP in #SP2010 <- Problems with <form> tags in CEWP 2010.

sympmarc @eusp: Problems with <form> tags in CEWP 2010. -> Different issue. Some HTML tags may not work, but it looks like script does.

sympmarc @eusp Remember that basically the whole page is a form already. That may be the issue rather than SP2010.

 

Let me try and clarify how this works.

The Content Editor Web Part

It was August 2008, I had just started my blog, and I was already writing about the CEWP. At that time, I did not even mention the ability to link to external content. I only talked about this several months later, when I started promoting an architecture where scripts are stored in a central library.

In SharePoint 2007, the most advertised way to add scripts to a SharePoint page is via the “Source Editor” option of the CEWP. So no wonder people are lost when they start using SP 2010: no “Source Editor” button anymore!

It doesn’t mean that the feature has been removed though. As with many others, the option – renamed “Edit HTML source” – is now located in the ribbon, and becomes visible when you click on the content section of the CEWP (in edit mode), or select the “Edit Web Part” option:

In addition, SharePoint tries to help: it will screen the code you enter, and you’ll receive this notification:
“the HTML source you entered might have been modified”

The cool part is that SharePoint will never tell you whether anything was modified, you’re on your own to figure it out. Feel free to take a look at some examples I collected when I posted the question on SharePoint Overflow two months ago.

Another issue with the CEWP is that you cannot include form elements. This is not new to 2010, it has always been the case even with previous versions. As Marc explains in the above tweet, the reason is that the whole page is already a form. So here comes…

The HTML Form Web Part

Yes, you can use the HTML Form Web Part to include scripts in a page. Yes, it will also accept form tags, it’s its primary purpose. Yes, it has this “Source Editor” button everybody is looking for. And no, it is not a new Web Part, it was already present in SP 2007. It is actually one of the building blocks of my SharePoint User Toolkit, in both SP 2007 and SP 2010.

So why is everybody promoting the CEWP, if the HTML Form Web Part offers more?

For one, it seems that few people actually know about the capabilities of this Web Part (it is better known for its role in Web Part connections). But another reason is that it doesn’t have the “Content Link” option that I recommend as a good practice.

Other Web Parts

Can’t use the CEWP or the Form Web Part on your site? There are still other Web Parts available (not to mention the option to add scripts outside Web Parts). Although they are not as convenient as the CEWP and the HTML Form Web Part, they can help in specific cases.

For example, back in SP 2003, forms (new, display, edit) were not as easy to edit as today. I used to rely on a Page Viewer Web Part, which allowed me to modify scripts without editing the form page itself. Come talk to me if you need more details!

Donate, it’s free!

I just added the SocialVibe widget to my blog. The cause I chose to support is Education, and  the funds will go to charities such as DonorsChoose.org and “One Laptop per Child”.

When I initially tried out the widget a couple weeks ago, it seemed a little bit complicated, so I removed it. But as I just spent a couple days in Cambodia, I realized that a small gesture can go a long way, and I put it back.

Donating won’t cost you any money, but it will require more than a click. To earn your donation, you’ll be asked to complete an activity proposed by a sponsor, like answering a poll.

If you are a blogger using WordPress.com, the SocialVibe widget is available in the widgets list.

Quick tip: the view selector in SharePoint 2010

In SharePoint 2007, default list views offer a selector in the top right corner, allowing you to switch between views of a same list:

The view selector is also present in SharePoint 2010, but not as easy to spot as in the previous version. It is actually available in two locations:

- In browse mode: click on the down arrow next to the list/library name

- in the ribbon, under List Tools (or Library Tools)

Hope this helps!

“SharePoint User Managed Solutions” group – Quick update

A smooth start for the LinkedIn group I launched on Monday: SharePoint User Managed Solutions (SUMS). We are now 60 people in the room, and have started 3 discussions:
– lightweight charting solution
– how to manage SharePoint recurring meetings from Outlook
– best practices / solutions for wiki navigation

I’d like to see more solution providers join the group, So I have added a bait :-) :
The ultimate jQuery call

For more information about the purpose of the SharePoint User Managed Solutions group, see my previous post.