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  def Softwaremaker() :
         return "William Tay", "<Challenging Conventions />"

  knownType_Serialize, about = Softwaremaker()

 Tuesday, May 05, 2009
Tuesday, May 05, 2009 2:16:00 AM (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Disclaimer 
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  •  Thursday, February 14, 2008

    Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) has seen tremendous take-up rates, not just here in Singapore, but all over the world. I came across many kinds of architectural topology designs during field work with my customers.

    One of the most common confusions I have come across arises from the topology design when it comes to the deployment of the MOSS Farms. Some people advocate that the Index server be placed in the same box as the Web-Front-End (WFE) servers with the view that idle power is wasted resources.

    There is logic behind this:- Indexing/Crawling not just takes up processing power, it places a certain load on bandwidth as well. The typical organization will set it to crawl at night when online transactions are fairly low. Of course, this is very subjective and differs from environments to environments. A huge load doesnt mean just crawling thousands of websites and fileshares but sets it at a very frequent and short period for incremental crawling. Most of my customers set it to crawl 2-3 times a day (morning, lunch-time, wee-hours at night). That is really not a huge load.

    If those are your requirements, you may think having a dediated Indexing Server may be an overkill. If you can bulk-up one of the WFE servers on roids (using a combination of RAM and CPUs), that particular WFE may be able to double-up as a Index server. This will save some costs as well as processing power on that one machine that is just expected to work 3 times a day. Mind you, that machine is expected to be of some decent build as well.

    An indexing server can neither be load-balanced nor clustered. What most people want is availabilty at the Query servers, not the Index servers. The built indices are propagated to the Query/Search servers.

    There are certain things you need to be aware of, especially when it comes to high-availability in your environment. As said in the referenced link, if an Index server doubles up as a Query service as well, it will not propogate its indices to the other Query servers - that is the gotcha. So, if you have already scoped out 2 WFEs (with the Query service ON) and 1 Index server together with a pair of clustered SQL boxes (one of the most common 5-server MOSS setups), you should try to see if you can run WFE on that Index server and turn the Query service of that particular server OFF. If you can successfully do that, you would have a 3 WFE, 2 Query and 1 Index logical server deployment. You should have the best of both worlds this time around. Hardware resources on that Index server will be more efficiently utilized and you can take one of the WFE servers offline and still enjoy redundancy.

    Do take note that this is my own personal advice only. No two customers have exactly the same functional and non-functional requirements and a few of the cases I have seen actually run the crawlers on hundreds of sites, thousands of documents and fileshares and build up the indices up to 10 times a day. In those cases, you should have a dedicated Index server and not have any resource processing contention issues with it. Follow the principles to make sure you max out the hardware resources and costs.

    Thursday, February 14, 2008 1:48:19 PM (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Disclaimer 
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  •  Monday, June 25, 2007

    Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) has the term "Portal" dropped for a reason. Unfortunately, just like everything else, we have to carry our legacy along and that means that customers today still view MOSS as a portal product play.

    While I would not disagree with that, portal functionality is but one of the collaborative features that comes along with MOSS. I usually encourage people to view SharePoint as a platform. An application development platform to enable and extend collaborative, unified communicative, interative and intuitive solutions. Because SharePoint comes with rather rich features and functionalities out-of-the-box (ootb) and because the underlying platform is on Microsoft .NET 2.0, customizing and extending SharePoint is easy.

    One of the things that people tend to look past in SharePoint, besides its inherent features and functionalities such as Search, Document Management, Personalization, etc are some of the elements of Social Computing that comes with it or that can be extended with it. 

    Of course, there are the blogs, wikis features that are out-of-the-box. I see many compare with the blogs or wikis-specific application engines out there and argue that MOSS is rather short at times. Again, I point to the fact that MOSS is an application platform. It is made to reach its potential throught customization. While this can be done manually, there are many many many 3rd party best-of-breed solutions out there on top of SharePoint today that can really transform SharePoint. I mean, who really would know SharePoint is powering sites like this and this? These solutions can be found commercially via the many Microsoft partners out there as well as via the communities such as Codeplex, SourceForge.NET, and other online communities such as here, here and here, just to name a few.

    To further enhance its social computing features, you can just simply just use a few lines of very simple AJAX scripts on ASP.NET 2.0 to transform SharePoint to enable cross-community collaboration such as with, flickr, digg, snap, soapbox, etc.

    Of course, Microsoft is quick to extend its ootb features with the release of its online business toolkit which further enhances the Web 2.0 capabilities of SharePoint. Read more about it here.

    I recently came across a request to be able to extend the ootb RSS Viewer Web Part to refresh itself (without any entire page reloading) after a configured period of time. This is so that the users would be able to see an updated view of the latest breaking news by subscribing to the RSS feeds of their favourite news service providers without pressing the Refresh F5 button many times.

    It took me exactly 15 minutes to code up a new web part to do just that using ASP.NET 2.0 and Visual Studio 2005. Actually, it just took 5-6 lines of Javascript code and I am able to have my own auto-refresh RSS web part, bearing in mind that web parts in MOSS are rendered as nothing but the <DIV> HTML tag.

      var _q = rndString(3);
      xmlhttp = new XMLHttpRequest();"GET", "" + "?" + _q, true); // so that the browser wont read from its cache

      xmlhttp.onreadystatechange=function() {
        if(xmlhttp.readyState == 4) {
           var outputXHTML = xmlhttp.responseXML.transformNode(_yourXSLTransformHere_);
           document.getElementById('myAutoWebPartDIV').innerHTML= outputXHTML


    var t;

    I will leave out the inheritance of WebParts plumblings for the reader to try out on their own on how to build and customize your own web part. Scott Guthrie provides some very good starting resource on how to do so va his blog post here.

    As you can gather from here, with the right mix of .NET 2.0 code and Javascript, the possibilities of having Web 2.0 capabilities in SharePoint is really only limited by your imagination. All you really need to do is just to get your hands dirty and try.

    Monday, June 25, 2007 12:05:54 PM (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Disclaimer 
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  •  Friday, May 18, 2007

    I have spent the last couple of months getting up-to-speed on Microsoft Sharepoint Portal Server (MOSS) 2007 and I must say - I AM IMPRESSED.

    A recent article in Wall Street Journal by By ROBERT A. GUTH on the April 24, 2007; Page B1 sums it up really nicely and I quote a couple of sentences from there:

    Microsoft Embeds Sleeper in Business Software (I, personally, think the 'Business Software' bit is a bit of a misnomer)

    openquotes.png SharePoint is now Microsoft's contender in an emerging battle over collaboration software with companies from a cross section of the technology industry ...

    To date, largely unheralded, Microsoft has sold 85 million licenses to the enhanced version of SharePoint across 17,000 companies. No marketing campaigns are in the works closequotes.png

    Read the full article here.

    I say it takes a lot, besides features and functionality, to be able to sell without any marketing blitz. Really, what today comes free (pre-installed) that offers Web 2.0 features and functionality (RSS, Blogs, Wikis, Suverys, Sites, Discussion Forums, Document Library), right-out-of-the-box ?

    And - We are not done. MOSS 2007 SP1 will come with additional features and functionality that will anchor it as probably one of the best-kept secrets and sleeper Microsoft products of all time that will really make it hard for anyone (customers, partners, communities, alike) to ignore.

    Watch out in the blogsphere or here for those announcements.

    Friday, May 18, 2007 12:48:43 AM (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Disclaimer 
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