A Content Editor Web Part for every home!

In this post, I am going to describe a technique that allows end users to control multiple SharePoint pages from a central location. As the title suggests, the cornerstone is the Content Editor Web Part.

I’ll first describe the implementation, then I’ll show it at work on two examples: a cross-site menu and a “Breaking News” scenario. We’ll complete our tour with a live demo.

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Exploring the SharePoint Blogosphere (Cont’d)

I continued populating the list of SharePoint blogs last week, and I now have 330 blogs referenced.
Under Technorati Authority, I have added a “N/A” category for blogs that don’t fit in the main list. This includes:
– Blogs from SharePoint experts that are not registered on Technorati
– Blogs that aggregate the content from other blogs
– Blogs that sometimes talk about SharePoint but have a wider scope

So many blogs! Where do I start?

Of course, you’ll find outstanding content if you visit the top 50 blogs (Authority of 25 or more), or the top 100 (Authority of 10 or more). But you should not dismiss the other blogs with “some authority”.  Believe me, gaining one point of authority is not as easy as it sounds! Also, some blogs have excellent content but a low authority just because they don’t publish often.
My recommendation: use the “Search Delicious bookmarks” button for a sneak peek. This will highlight some of the most interesting content, and give you a better idea of what the blog is about (IT, programming, Web design, end user, etc.).

Also, the blogs list has been online for almost two weeks, and we start seeing some trends. Check out the blogs whose authority has significantly increased (green value vs. reference), these blogs will certainly offer fresh and interesting posts.
Note that the reverse is not true. There’s an aging effect, so if a blog has a stable authority it simply means that it is renewing its content.

Do you feel lucky?

Then try out my Random Blog Explorer! It will randomly pick a blog among a list of 200+ SharePoint blogs that have “some authority”. Refresh the page to move to the next blog.
The page will display:
– Technorati window: authority, recent posts,  reactions from peer bloggers
– Delicious: most bookmarked posts
– the blog’s home page
Btw I used Paul Grenier’s script for manually resizing Web Parts. This will allow you to expand the Technorati and Delicious windows.

One last thing: please help make this list better, remember to report errors and omissions!

Exploring the SharePoint Blogosphere

technoratidelicious

With the new year, I have started working on my new SharePoint site:
http://www.PathToSharePoint.com

My first action has been to compile a list of SharePoint blogs. The current list includes 270 blogs found on Technorati (through search or by following blog reactions). I am aware that it is far from complete – even some top blogs are currently missing – and I expect to add a few dozens more this month. If your blog is not listed, feel free to send me a link to your Technorati page.

So, why one more list in the SharePoint landscape?

Well, I was trying to address the following issues:
– be able to identify blogs offering interesting and fresh content
– extract from these blogs (that are sometimes huge) the top posts

I have explored various ways to sort blogs and posts, and the most adapted supports I have found are Technorati and Delicious. The others I have tried were either not at the right scale (Digg, Alexa, Google for example), or not reliable.

So here is how my list is built:
– Blogs are sorted according to their Technorati authority, an indicator of the blog’s quality and freshness.
– Each blog has a link to Delicious that displays the posts tagged by users. Here too, good and fresh content shows up on top of the list.

My list displays two values for the Technorati authority: a reference one – currently as of January 1st, 2009 – used to sort the list, and a real time one pulled from Technorati. I plan to update the reference at least once a month.

This is a first step, and I hope to include more granularity and “business intelligence” in the future. For example it would be interesting for me to identify posts that are relevant to end users.

I’ll provide more background in a next post. For now you can try out the list… and send me your comments!

For the record, the page was entirely build through the SharePoint UI (no SharePoint Designer), using the “HTML calculated column” method.

Version history for Web Part pages

This is a quite common trap among SharePoint users. You set up a document library for Web Part pages and activate versioning. Later on, you try to restore an older version, and realize that it doesn’t work. Why is that? Well, Web Parts that you dump in the Web Part zones of your page are actually stored in a different table internally, and don’t support versioning.

Surprisingly, it seems that versioning works for Web Parts that are NOT in Web Part zones. This is something I just learnt from Eray Chou on the SharePoint Designer Team blog.

If you are interested in page versioning, I recommend that you check out Eray Chou’s article. As for me, I need to try this Web-Part-outside-a-Web-Part-zone thing…

No assembly required

A recent post on Joel Oleson’s blog caught my attention. Why? Because this is usually the approach I propose here, at Path to SharePoint: client side snippets that you just drop on your pages. No assembly required! Also, a significant advantage over other client side techniques, like using SharePoint Designer, is that it is non-destructive: just remove the snippet, and your page is back to its original state.

So let me take this opportunity to review the assembliless techniques I use to alter SharePoint pages, or to include content from external sources.

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Should you replace Excel with SharePoint lists? (Part I)

People who work with file shares usually rely on Excel to maintain lists (contacts, action items, issues for example). When they switch to SharePoint, they often keep their old habits and simply upload the Excel files to document libraries.

But SharePoint is more than a document management system. In particular it comes with a set of list templates: contacts, tasks, issues, discussions, etc. So, should you get rid of your Excel spreadsheets? Well, let’s start today by reviewing some benefits of SharePoint lists.

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