Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Practical guide to the SharePoint 2010 Content Query Web Part (CQWP)

The Content Query Web Part is one of the most powerful web parts which is provided by the SharePoint Server Publishing Framework (it is not available with SharePoint Foundation). It allows you to roll up information within a SharePoint site collection for display on a web page by letting you build queries through simple configuration of the different available web part properties. The Content Query web part leverages caching and performance optimization techniques and avoids the use of custom code.

While the out of the box CQWP is quite powerful you will see some that in most cases you will need extra configuration and customization. This has however become a lot simpler in SharePoint 2010 by the introduction of slots. So how does this work. Steps to get going:

  • Configure your Content Query web part using the different properties in the web part pane

  • Export the configured Content Query web part to your desktop and modify the .webpart file. Change the ItemXsLink property and point it to the previously uploaded customitemstyle.xsl

<property name="ItemXslLink" type="string">/Style Library/XSL Style Sheets/customitemstyle.xsl</property>

  • Upload the web part definition again and add it to the page. Click “edit web part” and open the web part tool pane. You will notice that within the Presentation> Styles section, you are able to select the newly created itemstyle template that you added in customitemstyle.xsl. After selecting it and clicking apply you will notice that the “CreatedBy” marker that you specified in your custom item style template is now appearing within the tool pane. These markers within the item style are called slots and can be filled with content at runtime.

Once you define slots in the itemstyle.xsl these are picked up by the Content Query Web Part and shown in the web part tool pane so that you can map these to specific fields. Using the “slots” concept you can define reusable XSL templates. This also means that you don’t need to use the “CommonViewfields” property anymore as defined in SharePoint Server 2007 – this is a thing of the past (See Displaying Custom Fields in Content Query Web Parts in Office SharePoint Server 2007)

If you want to delve a little deeper and see some practical examples of the Content Query Web Part check out these links:

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Auditing in SharePoint Server 2010–Part I

The audit feature in SharePoint is used to track what actions users are taking within your SharePoint Server 2010 environment. It is typically activated to comply with compliance guidelines governing your business or the sector in which your organization is operating.

Compliance is the process of adhering to a set of established guidelines or rules established by external bodies such as government agencies or by internal corporate policies.

Auditing can be activated on multiple levels in SharePoint:

  • At site collection level
  • At list or library level (through list content types …)
  • Across your farm using Enterprise content types

After activating auditing in SharePoint Server 2010 (SharePoint Foundation does not expose this functionality through the user interface) you will be able to generate reports on the audit data using reports which are generated in Excel.  These Excel reports typically contains two worksheets, one with a pivot table to provide reporting capability and a second one containing detail information such as the SiteId, ItemId, Item Type,User Id,Document location,Occurred (Datetime),Event (e.g. Security Group Member Add),Event source,Source Name,Event Data. The scope of the audit reports is the current site collection only.

You should be careful when activating auditing and just checking all audit event types since every action which needs to monitored will add a new row of audit data. Auditing data is stored in the AuditData table of the SharePoint content database (Remember that a site collection is stored in one database – so when you have multiple database):

Use the following guidelines to estimate the space you will need to reserve for auditing data:

  • Estimate the number of new auditing entries for a site, and multiply this number by 2 KB (entries generally are limited to 4 KB, with an average size of about 1 KB).
  • Based on the space that you want to allocate, determine the number of days of audit logs you want to keep

Source: TechNet Storage and SQL Server Capacity planning and configuration (SharePoint Server 2010)

Fortunately SharePoint also provides the ability to automatically trim audit logs and only keep audit data for a limited number of days with the option to either delete the audit data or export it to a document library in Excel format.

SharePoint 2010 Online Powershell Commandbuilder

Something interesting for people who want to start using Powershell and SharePoint 2010 - the Online PowerShell Command Builder Tool. The Windows PowerShell Command Builder for SharePoint 2010 (Microsoft Office 365) is a Silverlight 4 application that is designed to help IT professionals and power users learn how to use Windows PowerShell for administrative tasks. You can also install it locally: http://www.microsoft.com/resources/TechNet/en-us/Office/media/WindowsPowerShell/WindowsPowerShellCommandBuilder.html

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Business Insight Event @Vlerick Ghent June 21st

Join RealDolmen's Business Insights event and find out how to make information from your data.On 21 June 2012 RealDolmen organizes its Business Insight event @Vlerick in Ghent.

A huge amount of companies allocate significant amount of resources to manage growing data year after year. We explicitly mention data because most of those companies lack the ability to transform data into information and to create real insight. This makes it difficult to reach strategic goals and it undermines your core business capabilities.

During this Business Insight event RealDolmen will introduce you to a combination of practical business cases and innovation sessions. Each of these zoom into essential business insight elements and give you head start when you want to actually use those business insight elements.
This session will mainly deal with topics such as:

  • BI – Performance Management
  • Master Data Management (MDM)
  • Big Data
  • Discovery

Professor Dries Van Nieuwenhuyse, one of the gurus in the BI domain, will give a keynote address and all attendees will get a free copy of his new book "Systemisch Performance Management". Johnson & Johnson and Antwerp Gas Terminal will be presenting their business case. The event is tailored to issues faced by the modern CxO's and managerial level functions.
Registration is free via the RealDolmen website.