U2U Blog

for developers and other creative minds

Talk for the Norwegian .NET User Group

Next week I am delivering a SharePoint dev course in Stavanger (Norway) and am invited to give a session on Thursday for the Norwegian .NET user group. It is basically going to be a repeat of the session I gave on the past Developer and IT-Pro days here in Belgium:

Building Web Parts for SharePoint

Topics covered

- Building essentials
- Deploying and advertising Web Parts
- Return of SmartPart (hosting user controls as Web Parts)
- AJAX-enabled Web Parts
- Connectable Web Parts
- Packaging Web Parts in SharePoint Solutions
- Deploying and Maintaining SharePoint Solutions


So, if you are a .NET developer and interested in learning how to use your ASP.NET skills to build stuff for SharePoint, register yourself on their site. It is going to be fun. And we'll have a couple of beers afterwards J.

As already said, don't hesitate to send me requests for this type of events. Next trips are Zurich, Stockholm, Sydney and Iceland.

Evaluating Add-In Express

Always interested in products that target developers building applications that either integrate with or are built on top of the Office 2007 client, we decided to evaluate a product called Add-In Express 2007 for VSTO.

What is the product all about?

See Add-In Express as a way to increase your productivity when building extensions for the Office clients (both the Office 2003 and Office 2007 clients). Of course, the Visual Studio Tools for Office 2005 and the second edition help you a lot already but very often, as a developer, you want to get more support. Add-In-Express is a Visual Studio 2005 extension that is quick to install and supports you a bit more than VSTO when building the add-ins you need to get those extensions developed.

What can you do with Add-In Express?

As the name implies, the type of application you build with Add-In Express are add-ins. During the evaluation of the product, we developed several add-ins (Word and Outlook) and I must say, we had a lot of fun doing it. (Yes! Building add-ins can be something one can enjoy J)

When starting a new project with Visual Studio 2005, Add-In-Express offers you several project templates. The add-in project comes with a designer module and a setup project, just like when working with the Visual Studio Tools for Office. But there is more support in the designer of Visual Studio 2005. On the designer you can add ribbons, command bars, buttons, etc by a simple right-click of the mouse, as illustrated in the picture below.

When adding components or controls on the designer, there is the option to configure numerous properties using the traditional VS.NET way. With this approach, you can build Office 2007 ribbon extensions and custom task panes with a breeze.

Conclusion of the eval team here at U2U: nice product that although very focused on one type of development, can give the productivity you seek when building extensions for the Office 2007 clients. From the eval sessions, I certainly remember the designer experience for building custom ribbon extensions.

Croatia WinDays

I had a great time here in Opatija (Croatia). WinDays is really a great and unique conference; unique in the sense that there are many parallel sessions scattered across 5 or 6 hotels here in this city. So, as a participant you are forced to go outside, enjoy the sun, the sea, the many bars and then must enter another hotel for another session. Life is though for a conference attendee J

One session on Web Content Management in MOSS 2007 and one closing keynote on Leveraging MOSS 2007 as a platform, that was my participation here. Oh boy, I was so lucky to do this last session in the most beautiful room I have ever done a session. All the buildings here in Opatija are very nice btw, many built by the Austrians for who this was a nice place to relax (oh yes it is J).

Next one is Cyprus.

Deploy a SharePoint Solution Programmatically

A lot of you are familiar with the new solutions story within Windows SharePoint Services 3.0. In short, you package your solution components (assemblies, features, …) together with a manifest file into a SharePoint solution file (represented by a wsp file). Next, you can add the SharePoint solution to the solution store (typically using stsadm) and the using the SharePoint 3.0 Central Administration, you can deploy it to one of the available site collections either locally or on front-end Web Servers or application servers.

All of this is also exposed in the object model. I am currently finishing an MSDN article titled 'SharePoint Development Tools and Techniques for Creating, Packaging, Deploying, and Maintaining Code' and I have included some discussions on all of this. As a small teaser, here are the steps how you can add a solution to a solution store and deploy it to a site collection using C# code assuming you deploy everything on a local machine.

// -- adding the solution to the solution store
SPSolution solution = SPFarm.Local.Solutions.Add(@"C:\Packages\HelloWebPart.wsp");

// -- deploying the solution to a site collection
Collection<SPWebApplication> webapps = new Collection<SPWebApplication>();
SPWebApplication webapp = SPWebApplication.Lookup(new Uri("http://wss.litwareinc.com"));
solution.DeployLocal(true, webapps, true);

The assembly you need to reference is the Microsoft.SharePoint.dll and the namespaces used here are Microsoft.SharePoint.Administration and System.Collections.ObjectModel.

Have fun!

What is OBA all about?

The next months I'll be involved in a number of OBA-related projects initiated by Microsoft Corp with the goal of making OBA better know to the Microsoft partners (especially the Independent Software Vendors – a.k.a. ISVs). There is a lot of excitement around OBA and I'm happy to ride this wave J also because I know a lot of the guys and girls in the OBA team and it is going to be fun again to work with them more closely. As a result, I intend to start creating a bunch of OBA-focused postings here on the blog. I'll kick off with an explanation what OBA exactly is.

OBA is the abbreviation for Office Business Applications. No, it is not really about the Microsoft Dynamics products. It is actually very developer focused. The goal is to position Office (both the clients and the servers) as the platform for companies to build and integrate their business applications. This is a message that I really like since I have advocated Windows SharePoint Services and also Office for a long time as a solution platform. Leverage it to build your own solutions, integrate with it, and connect it to the external line-of-business applications so that the information workers get more productive in their work. With OBA, Microsoft wants to help you being more successful in all of this with resources, sample applications, training material, guidance, best practices and patterns. Now, since Office is used by information workers and business users, the type of solutions are business applications. Duet, the joint-project with SAP, is a good example of an OBA-project. Connecting information workers to business data is one of the challenges a lot of partners are facing and the OBA team wants to help them with bridging what is known as the results gap.

Here are a couple of essential resources to get you up-to-speed with OBA:

Arrived in Beautiful Budapest

I do like Budapest (Hungary). Was here before and as some of you know, I like Eastern-Europe a lot. The trip from the airport to the hotel is in the beginning stages rather dull, but after 20 minutes you end up near the Danube and that section is really really beautiful, even late at night. I really intend to see a bit more this week of this city. The book is 99% completed, just some nitty gritty details. Some whitepapers and how-to's are on the to-do list but for the first time in 6 months I can start my training a bit in a relaxed mode. It is going to be my final EMEA MOSS 2007 sales training for FQ 2007. And Budapest is a nice one to end up with.