SharePoint Saturday New Orleans 2011

Over the past year or so, I’ve attended several SharePoint Saturday technology events to include Birmingham in 2009, New Orleans, Atlanta, and Huntsville in 2010. These technology events are a great way to expand your knowledge on a particular aspect of SharePoint, network with other technology professionals who work with SharePoint on a daily basis, and as a nerd, a way to have a good time in general. Registration opened up this week for the 2011 SharePoint Saturday in New Orleans which will be held on February 26, 2011. I recommend it for anyone who uses or works with SharePoint and can attend.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with SharePoint Saturday technology events, they are a free, open to the public technology event for people who work with SharePoint. For more information see the SharePoint Saturday website.

Listed below is a summary of my notes from last years (2010) SharePoint Saturday in New Orleans. These notes will give you an idea of the type of knowledge you can gain at these events.

******************************Begin Notes***************************************

I attended a SharePoint Saturday technical conference in New Orleans, LA this past Saturday. It was awesome! Out of the 200 or so people there, I won the only Netbook computer that was given away! Unbelievable!

Here are the sessions I attended:

Building InfoPath Applications in SharePoint 2010 by Michael Doyle (URL no longer active – 8/22/13)

  • SharePoint 2010 has a native InfoPath web part so you can place an InfoPath form anywhere on the page. 2010 also includes Excel and Visio web parts as well as Access Services and Visio Services.
  • SharePoint 2010 is scheduled to be released in June.
  • InfoPath forms created with the beta version of 2010 can be saved and used in the RTM version when it is released.
  • Not everyone needs InfoPath, only the form designer. You can publish the forms with web services so they are simply a web page.
  • Most people don’t like using the InfoPath fat client filler – they prefer the web page based web services filler.
  • With 2010, you can publish straight to an InfoPath library on SharePoint.
  • Don’t program when you don’t have to. Use built in features when possible. Less design time and less code to maintain.
  • No coding required to create InfoPath forms.
  • 2010 includes a “People Picker” which is a drop down that includes all employees in the company. Can be filtered to a subset.
  • The new version of “Microsoft Project Server” requires SharePoint because it actually runs on top of SharePoint.
  • Making SharePoint look not like SharePoint takes a lot of effort. You can use PowerPoint 2010 to create a color scheme for SharePoint 2010. It is a simple import once created.

SharePoint 2010 Workflow Visio and SharePoint Designer Overview by Michael Lotter

  • SharePoint was originally based off of a modified Exchange Web Server
  • SharePoint Designer 2010 is not backwards compatible and it is no longer a generic website designing tool, it is for SharePoint only.
  • Workflows created in SharePoint Designer 2007 are static and cannot be moved to another site. 2010 resolves this problem.
  • Visio 2010 is a great tool for prototyping SharePoint 2010 workflows. You can now create a workflow (only with the SharePoint objects) within Visio 2010, export it, and import it into SharePoint Designer 2010 and publish it directly to SharePoint 2010. You can also import a workflow into Visio 2010 that was created with SharePoint Designer 2010.
  • SharePoint Designer 2010 allows you to save workflows as a WSP package which is a reusable workflow.
  • SharePoint 2010, SharePoint Designer 2010, and Visio 2010 are tightly integrated with one another.

SharePoint Designer 2010 Workflow: A Case Study by Laura Rogers

  • Don’t hard code things like email addresses in workflows. Use a distribution group for the email address even if it is only for one person. If an email address is hardcoded into a workflow, you have to manually modify the workflow and republish to SharePoint each time the address changes. Using a distribution list allows you to just change the member or members.
  • The approval process for workflows in SharePoint 2010 is much more automated than 2007.
  • You can keep track of things such as “the number of trips” on an expense report workflow and hide it by using content types.
  • In 2010, when you look at the status of a workflow, you can visualize the workflow process. (This was cool)
  • You no longer have to manually create the email steps in the approval process of a workflow with 2010.
  • With 2010, you can overlay calendars. Example: overlay your outlook calendar over a SharePoint team calendar to see conflicts and compare the two. (Very cool)

Making the Most of out of the box Web Parts by Laura Rogers (Same as above)

  • Twitter is a tool that many IT professionals are now using. SharePoint Administrators follow SharePoint experts in the industry and tweet issues or problems they are experiencing, the experts tweet back with suggested solutions to the problems. Twitter is an extremely helpful tool for knowledge transfer of IT professionals.
  • A new buzzword with SharePoint 2010 is “Composites”. Composites are web parts that are connected to each other to allow filtering and passing of parameters.
  • Some of the new most beneficial web parts in 2010:
    • Excel Web Access
    • InfoPath Form Web Part
    • Visio Web Access
    • Filter Web Parts
      • Query String (URL) Filter
      • SharePoint List Filter
      • SQL Server Analysis Services Filter
      • Text Filter
    • Content Rollup Web Part
      • Content Query
      • Picture Slideshow
      • Web Analytics
    • People
      • Note board – similar to Facebook wall
      • Organizer Browser
    • Media & Content
      • Media Web Part
      • Silverlight Web Part
    • Outlook Web Access
      • OWA web part
    • Misc.
      • Chart Web Part (Very Cool)
      • Data View (Form) Web Part – The Swiss army knife of SharePoint
  • Best Practice is to design web parts on a development server, export them, and import onto the production SharePoint server.
  • The webpart that actually gets put on the page for a user to see is called the “consumer”.
  • You can download a fully functional beta version of SharePoint 2010 from Microsoft as a vhd.

Using InfoPath and SharePoint Web Services to Create No-Code Solutions by Lori Gowin (URL no longer active – 8/22/13)

  • Don’t store a copy of your data in the forms definition in InfoPath because it degrades the performance of SharePoint.
  • SharePoint is like Kudzu if you don’t control it.
  • You can automatically create SharePoint sites in a workflow upon approval. (Very Interesting)

******************************End Notes****************************************

I hope to see you at the 2011 SharePoint Saturday in New Orleans, and I would highly recommend any sessions that the speakers listed above are presenting this year, although I plan to attend sessions by different speakers to gain insight from different perspectives.

One last thing, I recommend at least seeing what the vendors who are sponsors have to offer since they are the ones who make these events possible by paying the bill for the location, breakfast, lunch, and they give away some cool swag. If there is something you need assistance with that relates to SharePoint, whether it is training, consulting services, custom development, or third-party tools to make your life easier and make you a more productive technology professional, you can find a vendor at these events that offers it. This is not a requirement though and these events are provided with no strings attached so you don’t have to worry about them being some sort of marketing gimmick. I am not employed by a company who is a sponsor or who offers any of these types of  services.



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