Category Archives: Event Review

Course Summary of TrainSignal’s Course “SharePoint Server 2013 Administration” - Part 4


Editor’s note: Contributor Stephan Onisick is a Senior Software Developer for HP specializing in SharePoint Portal Applications. Follow him @StephanOnisick

Lesson 11: Configuring Email for SharePoint

This lesson goes much deeper than this author wishes to pursue and probably deeper than most “Newbies” will wade into. This section is more suited for the “Super” or Advanced Admin Types.

Looks Innocent Enough?

Bill configures Incoming and Outgoing Email for the Servers. Also he sets up an SMTP Server as well as configuring the Exchange Settings in Exchange.

He starts the lesson by Adding the SPContacts Organizational Unit in Active Directory and goes through the Delegation Control Wizard to add the Central Administration App Pool account. His objective is to be able to create and delete child objects. This gives the Administrator delete subtree permissions for the account.

Next, Bill goes into Active Directory “Advanced Features” to for SPContacts. His purpose is to give the SPFarm account permission to delete subtrees.

He then goes back to the Domain Controller and configures the SMTP App:

Adding the SMTP Server Role

After Installing Bill restarts IIS and begins to configure the various properties:

Setting Properties on SMTP Server

The rest of the lesson gets blurry for an Exchange-Challenged Author. Bill Opens the Exchange Management Shell to run a PowerShell Script to get the Exchange Virtual Directory Path:

Next he uses the URL to access the Outlook Web App (Exchange 2013 Admin Center). After signing in, in Exchange he configures Send Connectors for Incoming Email and Receive Connectors for Outgoing Emails.

Mail Flow Receiver

After this Exchange Excursion, configuring the Input and Output and attaching it to Lists is a piece of cake.

(This is Lesson not for the faint of heart!)

Lesson 12: Working With Sites

Much of this and the next lesson are user interface. It’s good knowledge to have and the review doesn’t hurt—but I won’t classify it as strictly “Administrator”.

Here’s an example of “Adding an App”:

Adding An App

(Hopefully, by now you’ve drunk the SharePoint 2013 Kool-Aid and realize everything’s an App. It’s what God created on the eighth day!)

Lesson 13: Create Libraries, Lists, and Tasks

Much of this lesson is also User Interface Stuff: a good review but not necessarily Admin Stuff.

That being said I really learned some stuff about the relationship of Task Lists to Time Lines, Predecessor Tasks, Pert Charts and Calendars:

Task Lists and Timelines

Tasks on Calendar

(I was obviously surprised and delighted about the strong Microsoft Project-like analysis that can be performed in Out-of-the-Box SharePoint. My advice—if you’ve been around SharePoint 2013 somewhat, just to skip to the “Create Tasks” segment of this lesson. )

Lesson 14: Working with My Sites

This lesson has more relevancy to me for administration. My Sites has complex ties to the User Profile Services, Active Directory and can be connected to the user’s tasks on any site collection.

Bill graciously creates most of his user’s My Sites webs. Then he walks us through the creation of Heather Ackerman’s My Sites web. Bills show the Active Directory connections in data that gets populated:

Heather’s My Sites with Active Directory Data for People followed

Next, Bill signs in as himself and goes to his My Sites. He shows how to follow other people through the interface. He shows how to add a blog and other Apps to his My Sites. He, then, elaborates on the ability to see your tasks from the My Sites:

Bill assigned Tasks as seen on his My Sites

Bill further demonstrates the capability of SharePoint 2013 My Sites to follow other sites. He does this by going to a site and commenting on a newsfeed. Then, he selects to follow that site. This means he will now receive information from the newsfeed on his My Sites.

Then, Bill proceeds to follow a document on SharePoint site. Next he shows the list that he is following and shows how the My Sites software picked-up all his activities and listed them on his activities page:

Notorious Bill’s Activities

He also shows the documents that he is following. Next he notes that if someone changes one of the documents he is following, his newsfeed will be updated with that activity.

(I don’t know about you but I’m sold –Sign me Up for My Sites!)

Lesson 15: Configure the Office Web Apps Server

Bill first explains that the Office Web App Server allows for the viewing of Word, PowerPoint, One-Note and Excel in a Browser. Also this is a server product that runs on its own server. This can be installed on one or many servers on your farm—but your farm must use Claims Authentication. Office Web Apps supports viewing on multiple platforms such as Macs, Tablets, Slates, Smart Phone and other browser-enabled phones.

He further notes the Office Web App Server is very limited as to what other software can be installed such as SQL, LINQ or Microsoft Office Desktop Applications or Web Services using ports 80 or 443.

First he downloads the app from He next configures the Server with specific roles. He points out additional downloads for Server 2008 as opposed to Server 2012:

Server Roles and Features

After configuring the Server, Bill installs the downloaded Application. Next he creates the Office Web App through PowerShell Command:

New-OfficeWebAppsFarm –InternalURL –AllowHttp

(All one line—for Bill’s Server)

Next he checks if the Office Web App Server has been created by typing the URL into a browser to check the discovery:

As luck would have it, we have a Web App Server.

At this point, Bill switches to the SharePoint Server and proceeds to use the SharePoint Management Shell (PowerShell). Next he creates the binding from SharePoint to the Office Web App Server. After a series of PowerShell commands it’s soup. He creates the bindings and switches the service from https to http. Finally he has to change the Oath to check over http as well.

Now all is well in Bill Land:

Note the Option to Edit in Excel Web App

(Note the user no longer has to have Excel on his desktop to edit the App. Not all features are—but most are available.)

What Could be Enhanced for the Future

This course is stellar and really pushes the envelope for SharePoint 2013. Seriously, if you skip any one section of this article, you can safely miss this section without loss—I love this course.

But being a critic and writer, I’m listing a few things for TrainSignal to consider as they spiral upward under the PluralSight banner:

  • A Pre-Test and Post-Test Assessment would be welcome.
  • Downloads were by lesson and include a voice recording as well as a PDF.
    • A single download would be preferable.
    • It would be nice if the voice downloads were optional. They are really time-consuming and not everyone will use them.
    • The PDFs were not labeled and did not contain all the screens.
      (Hint: Hire someone who can document courses better—gee I think I know someone! :-) )
    • The Progress on the Overall Course is visible but a way to see the uncompleted sections would be of added value to user.

Conclusion: Summary and Forward SharePointing Direction

Great Course! How can you help but learn. Real Practical Applications with real problems that are encountered. Kudos to Bill Kulterman. 5 Star!

Also remember when this course came out, there weren’t many SharePoint 2013 Administration courses on the Net.

My aim was to provide a thorough feel for the content Bill taught. Also having taught college for four years, I try to add to the pool of knowledge. I would hope that this could also add to your TrainSignal Course Experience.

(So Many Screens to Document-So Little Time!)

Happy SharePoint 2013ing

Review of the SharePoint Designer and XSLT Coverage in Pluralsight’s Course “Advanced SharePoint 2010 Branding for Web Designers” - Part IV: Yet More Extensive XML and XSLT in SharePoint Designer


Editor’s note: Contributor Stephan Onisick is a Senior Software Developer for HP specializing in SharePoint Portal Applications. Follow him @StephanOnisick

The final part of this outstanding section shows SharePoint as an even more capable XSLT generator (well, sometimes). Ted uses a SharePoint Picture Library of his Wingtip Toys for a List View XSLT Web Part. He notes that out-of-the-box SharePoint (OOTB) does not have a view that will natively render images in a Web Part. . (That’s why there are expensive SharePoint Developers. Don’t ya just hate this!)

This would be daunting for mere mortals, but Super Ted pulls off his gloves and goes wading into raw code to display a view that works in the SharePoint Designer Split View (but unfortunately not in the browser).

Bear with me one last time, as I attempt to reconstruct the missing library from screen captures of Wingtip Toys. My picture library was created by using the Snipping Tool from my desktop on the Toy Slides I could glean from this Pluralsight Course:

Figure 1 Windows Snipping Tool

(This is also left for viewers to create a SharePoint Picture Library called “Wing Tip Toys” should they desire to follow the code in detail.)

The procedure is similar to the last one I outlined:

  1. First create a Web Part Page.
  2. Then add the “Wing Tip Toys” SharePoint Picture Library from the “Lists and Libraries” Group of Web Parts

The point after the user has selected “Edit Web Part” in the browser is where my narrative and illustrations continues. This is where Ted sets two properties:

Figure 2 Edit Web Part Properties in the Browser

The properties that he sets are “Toolbar Type” to “None” and under the Appearance Section, “Chrome” to “None”:

Figure 3 No Toolbar and No Chrome Set in Web Part Properties

(Note: Because of the different properties available and the relative ease of setting one in the browser versus SharePoint Designer, there is a need for both. Not all properties can be set from both modes. It takes some experimentation to figure out the best place to change a given property.)

Next the “Edit Mode” of the Web Page is exited to preserve changes. Then SharePoint Designer is opened as in the previous example and the Web Part Page is edited in Advanced Mode.

The following display Continues with the Web Page open with SharePoint Designer in “Split” Mode:

Figure 4 SharePoint Designer in "Split" Mode showing Wing Tip Toys Web Part

Just as Ted noted, the fields currently showing are not the correct ones for displaying the images. Also note that no images are currently showing in the “Design” View above.

So the next step is to ‘click’ inside the first displayed row so that the context of SharePoint Designer changes and the “Add Remove Column Fields” Tool is displayed in the top toolbar:

Figure 5 Add/Remove Columns showing with open dialogue

All “Displayed Fields” need to be removed and consequently are removed by selecting them individually and clicking the “<<Remove” button.

Next, the following fields are added: “Title” and “URL Path”:

Figure 6 Title and URL Path Added

The newly displayed “Design View” looks as follows:

Figure 7 Title and Url Path in Design Web Part

Next the “Page Size” Option is set by using the “Paging” Tool in the Top toolbar:

Figure 8 Paging Option set from Toolbar

The goal here is to set the Display Set of Items large enough that pagination never kicks in to spoil our pristine display. Since my library only has about 6 images, a lower value could have been selected.

Next we allow SharePoint Designer to do the formatting by clicking on the “Design” Tab and then choosing to format with the “Boxed, no Labels” tool:

Figure 9 "Boxed, no labels" tool outlined in red

Alas, finally we need to look at the XSLT. At this point SharePoint Designer needs to show us the internals of the XSLT so that we can customize. We ask the SharePoint Designer to do this by the “Customize XSLT” dropdown to select “Customize Entire View”:

Figure 10 Customize XSLT/Customize Entire View outlined

The cursor is now placed on the first URL Path with the code selected in “Code View”:

Figure 11 First URL Path Selected after Converting Entire View

Next the off-roading begins. The code section that is selected needs to be encased with an Image Tag, “<img></img>”, and an XSLT Attribute Tag, “<xsl:attribute

Figure 12 Adding XSLT Attribute

The following shows the completed code alteration with the image and the attribute:

Figure 13 Toy Trains in SharePoint Designer

It is apparent from the display that SharePoint Designer is able to render the images.

Alas, Poor Yorick! Ye old browser is not totally convinced of the image worthiness:

Figure 14 Browser Fails to render images - Ever have one of those days?

At this point, after a couple “Rinse and Repeat” sessions and consulting the oracles at Google. I chanced on the following snippet from an article from SharePoint Stack Exchange (

Sharepoint Designer - Inserting an xsltListView Webpart generates xslt transform failed error (


Anytime you see Marc D Anderson and XSLT in the same blog—you have hit the “Holy Grail of XSLT” and been granted safe passage through the gnarls.

My next thought was maybe there’s an unwrapped “ddwrt:UrlDirName” on the page.

(Don’t you love it when a plan comes together!)

As it turns out, the offending line is:

Figure 16 Not Wrapped by string: <xsl:value-of select

The following is a view of the line that allows the browser to output images correctly :

Figure 17 string() surrounds <xsl:value-of select

(If this does not appear obvious to you—you’re not alone!)

The following is a display of the Web Part in the browser:

Figure 18 Solution in Browser –Even works in SharePoint!!

In Conclusion

While Ted did not have a solution to every issue in this section of XML, XSLT and SharePoint Designer, he provided me with inspiration. That is what a good educator does and my hat is off to his mastery.

The technology is not easy but it’s approachable as long you look for guides, blogs, mentors, gurus, and keep conversant with Google.

If you found this series useful—connect with me on linkedin or twitter @StephanOnisick. Your comments could help mold future articles. (Power is scary isn’t it?)

Until my next inspiration—Happy SharePointing!

Review of the SharePoint Designer and XSLT Coverage in Pluralsight’s Course “Advanced SharePoint 2010 Branding for Web Designers” - Part III: More Extensive XML and XSLT in SharePoint Designer


Editor’s note: Contributor Stephan Onisick is a Senior Software Developer for HP specializing in SharePoint Portal Applications. Follow him @StephanOnisick

The next two demos show the adeptness of SharePoint Designer at generating gnarly XSLT code for you.

[It’s worth noting that neither of these demos display correctly in Ted’s browser after he finishes coding. For a developer, this is funny but not totally unexpected: The environment is complex and SharePoint Designer can be snarky—even the new improved SharePoint 2010 Designer.]

Before going into these demos, I want to emphasize Ted’s “Rinse and Repeat” Strategy. The condensed version goes like this:

  1. Create your basic Web Part Page in a location you can later find.
  2. Add your Web Part (List View, Content Web Editor, or whatever).
  3. Exit the “Edit Page”—so the Page is actually saved.
  4. Customize that Page and the specific Web Part in SharePoint Designer in “Edit File in Advanced Mode”.
  5. If and when you get toasted by the Designer (as even Ted did in the demos)—start back at Step 1.

For this demo, Ted creates a Web Part on the page from a SharePoint List on his site.

Since I don’t have Ted’s SharePoint Site and his Customer List, I’m using a simple Author List that I modified from another Pluralsight Course. The relevant fields are: Name (Single Line of Text), Employee (Yes/No), and Salary/Rate (Numeric with 2 decimal places). My code views are predicated on this table structure. (If the viewer desires to follow along, they should recreate this list with the above structure on their system.)

The next four illustrations show this List added to a SharePoint Web Part Page—which then becomes a XSLT List View Web Part. (See the sneaky way SharePoint inserts the XSLT!)

First create the Web Part Page as follows:

Figure 1 Basic Web Part Page Create - Step 1

Figure 2 Basic Create of Web Part Page - Part 2

Figure 3 After Adding Authors List from the “Lists and Libraries” Web Parts Group

Next “Stop Editing”:

Figure 4 Web Part after Exiting Edit Mode

Then open the file in SharePoint Designer:

Figure 5 SharePoint Designer Accessed from Site Actions.

(Sometimes it is physically necessary to open SharePoint Designer from the Start Button and navigate to the page if the option does not appear on the Site Actions Menu.)

Next choose “Edit File in Advanced Mode” by selecting the option from the context-click (right-click):

Figure 6 Edit File in Advanced Mode

To illustrate conditional formatting in SharePoint Designer, I arbitrarily chose to highlight each row in green where the Salary/Rate is greater than 500.

First, the web page is viewed in “Split” Mode and my cursor is show in the first row.

Figure 7 Beginning Conditional Formatting

The tool bar changes to the “List View Tools” after clicking into a column in a data row of the “Design” portion of the “Split” View.

Note the toolbar with the “Conditional Formatting Tool :

Figure 8 Conditional Formatting Tool on Web Part Toolbar

Next “Format Row” is chosen from the “Conditional Formatting” dropdown:

Figure 9 Format Row

The idea is to select a field that contains values that need to be highlighted. Then apply highlighting to the entire row whenever this condition is encountered in a row.

The Plurasight/CriticalPath Course Slide displays a good overall representation of the “Format Row” dropdown combined with “Set Style” button:

Figure 10 Pluralsight Course Slide Overview for Format Row

My example uses a different field for comparison from the one Ted used in his example. Because of SharePoint naming quirks, the actual field name is “Salary_x002f_Rate” The slash character in “Salary/Rate” gets converted to “_x002f_” automagically by SharePoint. (Hint: For sanity, avoid spaces and special characters like slashes in columns.)

This field does not show up in the original list and must be selected from the “More Fields” Option of the “Field Name” dropdown.

Figure 11 Field Selected from “More Fields”

The following shows the display of the complete comparison:

Figure 12 Complete Compare

Next the “Set Style” button is clicked to open the “Modify Style” dialogue:

Figure 13 Modify Style Dialogue to Change Background to Green

The following shows a partial listing of the generated XSLT:

Figure 14 Partial XSLT List with Ugliest Code Marked

(Scary isn’t it? -No Human Beings were harmed in its creation –although overexposure to XSLT can result in blurred vision, headaches, and atrocious language.)

This concludes the examination of XSLT and Conditional Formatting. Part IV will cover more extensive Pattison off-roading in the SharePoint Designer with a SharePoint Picture Library.

Happy SharePointing,

Review of the SharePoint Designer and XSLT Coverage in Pluralsight’s Course “Advanced SharePoint 2010 Branding for Web Designers” - Part II: XML and XSLT in SharePoint XML Viewer Web Part


Editor’s note: Contributor Stephan Onisick is a Senior Software Developer for HP specializing in SharePoint Portal Applications. Follow him @StephanOnisick

Next, Ted hones in on using XSLT within SharePoint.

You gotta love this: Ted’s emphasis is to not get mired in the XSLT Code. His motto is let SharePoint Designer do most of the work. Then, just modify what has to be changed.

How often as developers have we gotten knee-deep in XSLT, and then lost our precious thread of logic while waiting for SharePoint Designer to returns from its extraterrestrial excursions.

Remember how SharePoint 2007 Designer reformatted your code-sometimes to something unworkable? Forget about aligning code—in a blink of an eye it was history in SharePoint Designer.

Or worse yet, remember how the SharePoint 2007 Designer would occasionally introduce extra tags, like form tags, and then complain about them and stop rendering HTML?

Figure 1 Pluralsight Course Slide using XSLT with SharePoint

The next set of presentations cover the first two bullet points in depth. The last two are only mentioned to note their use and importance in SharePoint.

Note: One disconcerting thing to be aware of is there are NO Exercise Files for this segment available in download. The files used Are NOT the same files Ted used for the simple demos on XML and XSLT.

This causes a little inconvenience in requiring the user to first create the files, lists and libraries needed to be able to follow along with the modifications Ted presents.
(On the bright side, we learn by doing. :-)

XML Viewer Web Part in SharePoint

The next two demos utilize the XML Viewer Web Part. What the XML Viewer Web Part does is to essentially separate the XML file and the XSLT file (Data from Presentation). This allows the user to experiment with different XSLT files for displaying a given XML file. Thus, they can completely change the look of an XML file by simply changing the name of the XSLT Transform file. This Web Part, then, renders or displays the transformed html on the SharePoint Web Page.

Ted takes a different set of files (as previously noted) and drags them into SharePoint Designer. Then he hooks them up to the XML View Web Part. He uses these files in almost the same way he used the stand-alone XML and XSLT files. This works on the same concepts already explored but propels the learning squarely into the SharePoint Arena.

As Ted begins to work with the demo code, he shows the user how to modify the XSLT in SharePoint Designer to add additional markup. SharePoint Designer leverages Intellisense in conjunction with a superb XPATH Expression Editor to ease the pain of coding god-awful XSLT syntax. His emphasis is to let SharePoint do the “grunt” work. You, the designer, just modify the bare minimum to achieve the effect needed.

The first example for SharePoint Designer is fairly straight forward and needs no expounding.

The second example, however, gets interesting.

Because both code files are salient to the second example, and were not included in the download, I have included the code below as text so that it can be copied:


    <Title>CSS Property Reference</Title>
    <Comments>Document which specifies CSS properties for version 2.1.</Comments>
    <Title>CSS3 Maker</Title>
    <Comments>Get CSS 3.0 Layouts</Comments>
    <Comments>Site to help you pick a color scheme.</Comments>
    <Comments>A site where you can get chunks of Latin content for Greeking.</Comments>
    <Title>Add This</Title>
    <Comments>Copy-and-paste elements for pages.</Comments>


<?XML version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<xsl:stylesheet version="1.0" mlns:xsl="">
    <xsl:output method="html"/>
  <xsl:template match="/">
   <h2>Hot Links for SharePoint Web Designers</h2>
    <ul style="font-size: 10pt">
        <xsl:for-each select="HotLinks/Link">
                  <xsl:value-of select="Title"/>

(Note: Make sure the quotation marks look correct and are not angled as in Word when you “Copy and Paste”. I usually paste into Notepad first. Then copy again from Notepad and paste into SharePoint Designer. This circumvents some of the problems.)

The first display of this example shows just text strings after the bullet points. As such, it is worthless to the user for navigation to the named sites:

Figure 2 XSLT Rendered in the XML Viewer Web Part
Note: Outlined Area is Text

Fearless Ted rectifies this by changing SharePoint Designer to render anchor tags and dynamic hyperlinks. Instead of displaying text, the “new and improved” Web Part displays a navigation link (hyperlink). Thus, the user has something useful for navigation to any of the sites listed.

To do this he changes the text display to an anchor tag and then adds a dynamic XSLT:attribute to render each URL:

Figure 3 Dynamic <xsl:attribute Added within the anchor tag

This results in a more useful Web Part with links/anchors instead of text. The amount of XSLT Changing was minimal—all of which was aided by handy-dandy SharePoint Designer Intellisense. (Don’t leave home without it!)

Figure 4 XSLT Rendered with Anchor Tags
(The first bullet shows a previously visited hyperlink)

This concludes the examination of the SharePoint XML Viewer Web Part. Part III will cover more XSLT in SharePoint Designer including Conditional Formatting Logic.

Happy SharePointing,

Review of the SharePoint Designer and XSLT Coverage in Pluralsight’s Course “Advanced SharePoint 2010 Branding for Web Designers” - Part 1


Editor’s note: Contributor Stephan Onisick is a Senior Software Developer for HP specializing in SharePoint Portal Applications. Follow him @StephanOnisick

I almost overlooked this gem of a course in the pack of 57 SharePoint Courses on The title sounded similar to at least four other courses in the SharePoint Curriculum on I’m glad I didn’t and chose instead to review it in depth.

It is hard in the midst of so many good courses to keep them all differentiated. At this time, Pluralsight lacks a personal history navigation interface: one where you can tell at a glance the courses taken and the current state of your progress in a given course. (Hint! Hint! Pluralsight!)

(Yes, there is a “Your history and bookmarks” displayed under your login name - but it only bookmarks the last 10 courses you’ve visited - barely a month’s worth for some of us more avid users!)

When I finally reviewed “Advanced SharePoint 2010 Branding for Web Designers”, I realized this course was huge in SharePoint learning experience and breadth of technology. To do this offering justice, I needed to do more than just casually watch the technology stream by on my monitor. This called for something more proactive which included building the demos on my home SharePoint 2010 virtual machine along with the videos presented by Mr. Guru, Ted Pattison.

As a SharePoint Developer of almost five years, I have found good coverage from the ground up of XML, XSLT and SharePoint Designer sorely lacking in SharePointdom. There are, of course, expert blogs on these topics but the complexity of the presentations frequently obscures any insights for us mere mortals.

Ted Pattison has long been a giant in SharePoint (heck, before that he was huge in COM+ programming. I’m pretty sure this dates both of us! Groovy! huh?).

It took Ted Pattison’s consummate skill to expound on XML, XSLT, and SharePoint Designer. He provides a workable pathway through this dense forest of learning.

On any of these topics, it would have been easy to leave the student stranded in the weeds. This didn’t happen. Ted provided a workable approach that lays claim to the basic principles of each discipline.

(You can quote me! I already have!)

Beyond XSLT and SharePoint 2010 Designer, the course covers the additional topics of Clientside Coding JavaScript/jQuery, Upgrading from SharePoint 2007 to SharePoint 2010, and Sandbox Solution Deployment. (All have good coverage, depth and insight.)

Because of the uniqueness and novelty of Ted’s approach on the coverage of the XSLT and SharePoint Designer Integration, I have chosen to focus this article exclusively on these topics.

To allow depth for this topic I have segmented this piece into 4 parts for easier consumption by readers (The Mind can’t absorb more than the Seat.):

  • The first covers basic XSLT Transforms of XML outside of SharePoint.
  • The second covers XSLT within the SharePoint XML Viewer Web Part.
  • The third covers SharePoint 2010 Designer more extensively with Conditional Logic and more complex XSLT Transforms.
  • The final segment covers the XSLT involved in displaying a SharePoint Picture Library with extensive off-roading in SharePoint Designer.

My hope is that these four parts will serve as an addendum and adjunct to an innovative course.

Part I: Almost Bare Naked XML and XSLT

What makes this coverage interesting is the utility of the examples being used. Ted starts with basic XML and XSLT rendered just in the browser from an html wrapper. Then he progresses to one of the most complex tools in this author’s estimation, SharePoint 2010 Designer.

He entitles a section “World’s Fastest Introduction to XSLT”. I haven’t previously had occasion to use “fastest” and “XSLT” in the same sentence—or even the same paragraph for that matter. His video and examples provide the student with material to work through this maze and emerge knowledgeable.

To render each XML File with a custom XSLT Transform, the examples use an Html Page called “Default.htm”:

Figure 1 The Html Wrapper used to display XML/XSLT (Default.htm) via the “href” attribute in the anchor tag.

Note: The individual files (demo01.xml, demo02.xml, and demo03.xml) may be rendered/displayed directly in Internet Explorer by right-clicking on the XML File. The browser will render the transformed HTML.

The HTML simply references the XML files from three anchor tags. The XML Files, in turn, call the specific XSLT File on the second line. (There is some eye-candy in the form of a cute airplane banner, Site Title and a menu formatted by some CSS and images. These can be safely ignored.)

The following shows the first example,”Demo 1”, in its entirety:

Figure 2 Basic "Hello World" XML

Figure 3 First Simple XSLT Code

Figure 4 Output of a Simple XSLT Transform
(Note: the Banner originates from the Html Wrapper which includes the top menu.)

The first two examples, “Demo 1” and “Demo 2”, do not use XML Namespaces in the XSLT Code and the XML pages can be edited from Notepad or Notepad++ editor.

(Notepad++ has a nice feature to render the XML in several different browsers—if they are installed on your machine. Ted actually uses Visual Studio 2010 to edit the files for the added benefit of using its Intellisense. The XSLT code, in these first two examples, is not complex and Notepad will do fine for these.)

The next example, “Demo 2”, displays a simple phone list formatted by an XSLT Transform.

Figure 5 Second Simple XSLT Transform
(Code Not Shown in Article)

The third example, “Demo 3”, is a much more complex form and uses an XML Namespace in the XSLT Code:

Figure 6 Third example with a markedly more complex XSLT Transform
(Note: Header from HTML Wrapper is Not Displayed and the Code is Not Shown in Article)

Ted’s purpose in the last example is not to completely explain the complex XSLT. His aim is more to give the student a working example of XSLT capability they can take apart, examine, experiment with, copy and use.

An interesting exercise for the reader is to make the third example work without the XML Namespace. This gives insight to the use of XML Namespaces.

This concludes the basic XML and XSLT Transforms. Part II will continue with XML Web Viewer.

Happy SharePointing!

Biggest SharePointers gathering European SharePoint Conference (UAE to Denmark) only 4 SharePoint ;)


Editor’s note: Contributor Mai Omar Desouki is a Software Consultant at Infusion. Follow her @MaiOmarDesouki

I have been thinking of what to write about my experience at the European SharePoint Conference… but I thought if I kept thinking I will forget and get busier and won’t write anything which is the way things happen a lot. So I thought I’d just write what I experienced and that will be more from my heart than being arranged in bullets. This is not a technical article anyway.

I was speaker at the European SharePoint Conference and my session was about “What’s new in the SharePoint Designer 2013” enjoy the slides

The European SharePoint Conference @ Copenhagen … was my first trip to Europe. It was a great experience, great adventure.. but no matter what, the best part was meeting SharePointers

The Conference was in a great venue, the organizers did really hard work to make it happen. THANK YOU AGAIN & AGAIN.

Please correct me if I am wrong but really this is the biggest SharePointers gathering I have ever seen. It was always Tech.Ed that had the big number of attendees and sessions but it was more than just SharePoint sessions. Now, this conference was for SharePoint lovers only ;)

Great sessions, Impressive keynotes.

Around 1500 attended, 78 sponsors and 90 sessions. They were SharePointers who really love this product and I found them all very helpful. They would volunteer to help you find what you need, solve your problem; try to find a solution with you and more.. and on top of that they are collaborative people. This has been my experience with most of the other conferences & events as well.

The ESPC dinner was a really amazing gathering, I was really happy to be there. I met people I’ve only followed on Twitter or Facebook or their blogs and some who follow me too. Meeting them in person was very nice and I hope to see them again soon.

One Impressive person I have been blogging with for a year but never met was Dave Coleman [MS MVP]. At the conference, I finally had the chance to say hi

As always, the best speaker ever was Raffel Lukawiecki and this time he had a keynote which was really valuable.

SharePointer Ladies: Agnes Molnar, Erica Toelle & Sonja Madsen were also there.

I actually met more and more people I never knew before but who are amazing and talented, like Mike Fitzmaurice; his experience was really apparent.

I call them my friends: Joel Oleson, Michael Noel, Paul J. Swider, and I hope Bjørn Furuknap doesn’t mind if I call him a friend too. He gave me lots of advice at the conference and I really enjoyed listening to him “I will do it, I didn’t forget“.

I will keep it brief so let me share some pics of some of the people I had the honor of meeting.

If you missed it try to go next year; to the European SharePoint Conference!

Reflecting back on SPC12


With an official announced 10,000 attendees at the SharePoint Conference 2012 in Las Vegas this year from 85 countries and over 7000 watching live on the webcast and #SPC12 hash tag trending even with extremely poor Wi-Fi access during the week…this year’s SPC12 was a major hit!

The conference was sponsored by over 200 companies and if the 250+ sessions over four days wasn’t enough the expo hall was packed the brim full of vendors ready to pitch their latest add-ons to SharePoint.

The keynote focused heavily on the cloud throughout, I do understand that Microsoft marketing team need to push the future…but a quick straw poll as we drew the winning ticket for the Ducati we gave away on the AvePoint booth on Thursday afternoon proved that a good 95% weren’t even considering it out of the 1000+ waiting to see whether they were going to win.


The biggest push in the whole keynote in my opinion came from the announcement of 3 month "service updates" for SharePoint Online Office 365 tenants. There was no announcements of any changes to the on-premises 3 year release cycles with 2 service packs. This will obviously be the way to tempt organizations to Office 365 from on-premises which won’t be getting the new features for a LONG time after.

Microsoft wanted to make a big point by having all demonstrations on Office 365 from the Amsterdam datacenter to try and prove that geographically dispersed organizations can use one central tenancies.

The other key themes or "disruptive technologies" that Microsoft wanted you to "embrace" were "mobile", "social" and "the experience".


SharePoint’s mobile story to date has been very poor with a micro-browser rendering system best left to the deceased Blackberry platform. Comparing SharePoint collaboration workload competitors who have a strong mobile story such as Google Docs, Alfresco and, Microsoft were really having to make a splash in this round. The announcement of a Windows Phone 8 client which I am already using with our own internal Intranet from a social perspective is great! The information around a iOS and Android equivalent is also great news, although expect not all functionality to be on those devices as per Microsoft’s mandate to encourage Windows Phone adoption. The existing Office app for Windows Phone has proved extremely handy and the SkyDrive Pro integration will be a big hit for offline collaboration scenarios and finally nails what Groove and SharePoint Workspace tried to achieve in the last 6 years.

There was a light demo of a Windows 8 RT app for SharePoint expected early next year. It will be interesting to see how the SharePoint iOS vendor apps survive which stronger plays in this space in 2013.

SharePoint Social

The third thing for the audience to embrace was SharePoint social, not to be confused with Yammer, which I’ll get to in a moment. SharePoint social was meant to make a big splash 3 years ago and had plenty of excuses around it being two early 6 years when it launched to be compared to Facebook. Even 3 years later in 2010, the social platform was weak and barely used from sharing activity social effort. Microsoft tended to lean on "Discussion Boards", "Wikis" and "blogs" as social, which sadly didn’t get touched in 2010 and haven’t again in 2013. The new social in 2013 was demonstrated around the "Communities" site template with very light badge functionality and the new "follow" capability for documents, people, tags and sites. I believe the platform has the ability to be adopted now in 2013 by organizations, but still think comparing it to true enterprise social platforms it really isn’t there yet, but it’s a start.


It was great to hear that this wave had 4 times as many people focusing on user experience, and it does really show. They talked about how Office 365 is the "largest scale enterprise cloud service in the world", I guess all vendors claim this, it would be interesting to see how this stacks up against Google’s numbers.

It is always interesting to see what Microsoft think are the biggest experience changes and no surprises to see SkyDrive Pro, Site Hub, Team site updates, Apps, Search and oddly Outlook web access being showcased…which is not SharePoint whatsoever. This highlighted to me that the lines between Exchange, SharePoint and Office are blurring and questioned the reality of a SharePoint conference next year and maybe more of an "Office 365 conference".


There was a distinct divide in the keynote, with the Yammer team shoved awkwardly in the middle between two very strong "blue badge" Microsoft sections of the major themes and the new development model. I like the fact that their approach was different from the usual Microsoft "voice" but suspect next time we see them present they will be "neutralized".

The Microsoft team introduced the reasons for the acquisition was that Yammer are "the leaders in enterprise social" with the largest user base of 200,000 organizations in 150 countries in 24 languages and 85% fortune 500. They focused on Yammer’s "rapid innovation" pioneering new features based on user feedback and voluntary adoption watching analytical usage data to prioritize features.

The big question a lot of my enterprise customers have been asking is around the story of SharePoint social and Yammer and I was expecting it to be presented clearly. But sadly all they really announced was that Office 365 SharePoint Online customers could get Yammer Premium as part of their package and that there was already "integration" between the two. What disappointed me was that the integration has already been known as this was already in place before the acquisition.

The Yammer guys focused on distinct features to integrate were the "enterprise graph", "post to yammer" in the SharePoint ribbon, "yammer search" within SharePoint search and embedding a document reference from SharePoint in a yammer post. Near futures touted were integration with SkyDrive Pro and Office Web Apps.

Their basic roadmap discussed an "open graph", more web parts, and integration with Dynamics (which was shown at YamJam the week earlier). Deeper integration will tackle the concerns around a unified feed, tighter integration with documents and seamless identity integration. They also went on to discuss how they would hook into all of Office 365 from Skype, Lync through to Outlook and Exchange…."faster than you might expect from us". From this I would read that "SharePoint social" at best will be a little brother not focused on anymore and that Yammer will be the true enterprise social focus at Microsoft. The biggest facepalm moment of this was from discussions with various people at ask the experts is that Yammer will be "cloud-only" so for a lot of organizations out of reach.

We have been evaluating Yammer internally and to be honest have found that even it isn’t fully baked and the Windows Phone app is barely usable which is a key to the social enterprise.

There are way too many overlaps between SharePoint social and Yammer right now and although Microsoft promise a more unified story, from my experience, don’t expect it in 2013 if they can’t even talk marketing slides yet. You can follow, like, post statuses, view activity completely in isolation of each other and there is no mechanism to see both in one stream. In my opinion, this is going to confuse the hell out of end users and so the best approach I can recommend for now is to pick one and shut the other off the best you can. The easiest one to switch off is obviously going to be Yammer as it’s completely separate. Switching off SharePoint social is not a big tick box, it’s going to take a lot of custom CSS hacks and master page tweaks for sure.


The innovation focus through the keynote and the sessions during the week were that SharePoint 2013 was “built from the cloud up” and you can see this when looking at the feature comparison between Office 365 SharePoint Online and SharePoint on-premise. And as discussed with the 3 month cadence of SharePoint Online they were “recommending you move to cloud for new experience”.

The upgrade story has got better this time round which obviously was for the benefit of them with Office 365 existing tenants and also on-premises customers. But don’t be fooled by how easy they say it is, expect the same experience as last time if you have customizations and not just a vanilla content database that can be moved to any old farm.

The main improvement from innovation aspects is the announcement of the performance improvements with “40% efficient use of bandwidth” due to “4x image compression” with one example used of the ribbon going from 400kb to 100Kb. They also quoted SQL being 50% faster due to enhanced stored procedures.

The shredded storage focus in the keynote around growth of content databases in average collaboration load being less compared to 2010 due to it storing deltas is a true fact, but if you attended mine and Dan’s session you would have also seen that with it comes a big performance hit from user experience. More details on this to come from me in the future on this and the differences between it and RBS + de-duplication technology.

I have to hand it to them from an innovation aspect on the new app-model with the ability to essentially build your app in php, perl, html5, or whatever and host it wherever and it be able to hook into SharePoint 2013 via the oAuth model if using SharePoint Online. They’re betting on the fact that existing developer ecosystems will start building integration into SharePoint, the market place is looking pretty quiet at the moment but I expect that to grow faster once SharePoint Online is in production with 2013 with all its tenants and demand starts to be driven.


I had two sessions at SPC12, one with Dan Holme focused on IT Pro story on-premises and what’s new which received very good scores from attendees and a vendor session with Dana Simberkoff around Governance and Compliance mapped to hybrid scenarios which also received above average scores. So I was personally very happy with my week! If you were unable to attend these sessions whilst you were at the conference because you were too busy, please log into MySPC and check them out!

Chris Givens has written a great little PowerShell script to pull down all the SPC PowerPoint and MP4 files which helped me grab it all and dump it on my Surface RT to watch on my many flights during my travels! Learning heaps already and encourage you to do the same as pretty sure you didn’t get to 250 odd sessions at the event itself with 8 running at once most times of the day! Note you need a MySPC login with access to sessions to get this content.

What wasn’t answered all week

For me, other than what I’ve already discussed around Yammer, some things I came away with that weren’t answered in a public forum were the release cadence for SharePoint on-premise…if our bleeding edge cloud friends get shiny new things every 3 months…when can us on-premise guys get them? In general there seemed to be a lack of theme around on-premise, and my discussions with a lot of people though out the week was that it was disappointing due to that fact.


Keynotes are always a tricky thing, especially with a room loaded with press, MVPs, office 365 customers and on-premise customers. I think overall it was a great keynote and tip my hat to those involved for a job well done. As for the conference, it astounds me how smoothly the week ran, the unfortunate Wi-Fi issues were out of their control and I spoke to a few that were seriously doing EVERYTHING they could to rectify it.


I had a great week, although extremely busy representing AvePoint and my community commitments and didn’t get to spend as much time as I would have liked with good friends in the community. I did however get to have a few minutes one on one with Jon Bon Jovi before the SPC12 attendee party started, Jon is a huge hero of mine and I’ve seen him over 10 times and been backstage once before but unfortunately didn’t get to talk to him. So getting a chance to chat to him made my week to be honest!

SPC12: Day 4 - Summary of Reducing Organizational Risk Through Effective Information Management


Editor’s note: Contributor Frederik Leksell is a Consultant for Accigo AB. Follow him @LetsTalkGov

Paul Olenick, presenting.

Okay, so this is the last day of SPC12. Some of us were at the Axceller party the day before, which was a very good party!

But now we will focus on the session at hand. Paul is talking some about how risk management can lead to wellness and success.


  • Define it
  • Apply it
  • Wrap it up

Information Management

It comes in, it comes out, it grows, and it rests. We want to do something with it: React, Proact (iv), Find, Safe Keep, Rely. We are not just talking about documents, but also people and other context.

The IT View is: Policy, Metadata, and Search.

Paul is now describing what all of these are. It seems a little naive as most people in this room already know what it is. Information management is not a list of features Paul says, yes that is correct. It’s more about reaction to data or how to get data reacted on.

  • React, Tools: Metadata
  • Proact (iv) Tools: Policy, Metadata, and Search
  • Find Tools: Search, Metadata
  • Safe Keep Tools: Policy, Metadata
  • Rely Tools: Metadata

Obvious stuff

  • Audits: Legal, Financial
  • Compliance: HIPPA, Affordable care act
  • Data security, Permissions, e-mail, print

Not so obvious stuff

  • Ineffectiveness.
  • Fundability.
  • Incorrect processes.
  • Inability to react.
  • Frustrated information workers.
  • Lack of transparency.
  • Loss of IP.
  • Productivity leak.
  • Loss of revenue.

Some of this probably applies to most organizations; it’s a good point as to what happens without IM.

Hidden Risks

Can’t: React, Proact (iv), Find, Safe Keep, Rely tec… Paul didn’t speak much more about this. Instead we went to a demo.

eDiscovery can make snapshots of lots of data from a search query. It can be used when you have a legal audit. SharePoint has this out of the box. It’s a very good feature in fact, I like this and it really gives business value if you have structured data.

With the auditing policy on you can create reports on document changes etc. Paul didn’t talk much more about this, just explained how much he helped companies save money with this.

Now it starts to get a bit more technical, let’s see if Paul can keep it a business track.

Example 2: Inability to visualize data

Data outside SharePoint in silos that are related but they could not be connected…By using search crawling they made a unique record that could help FAST search to crawl different file servers and relate data.

Hmmm, don’t know if this is correct since I don’t have the technical skills in this area.

Points that you need, a Foundation

  • Focus and define high-level business value
  • Everything should have a specific outcome
  • Know your audience
  • Find consensus and build form there. (Org buy-in)
  • Identify and quantify risk
  • Identify and quantify opportunities
  • Determine project scope
  • Build your buy-in

His point here is don’t talk to the CIO, talk to the business. It’s very good that he tells everyone that, it’s a big plus!

Conceptual, not technical

  • Fear of impending business.
  • Fear of automation. This is something I have felt as well, also when talking about integrations.
  • Resistance from end-users.
  • Getting into the weeds.
  • Failure to gain consensus.
  • Understand how to quantify risks.

Wrap it up

  • Stay business focused.
  • Focus on opportunity and revenue.
  • Metadata is the fuel that drives automation and search, surfacing info.
  • Challenges will be organizational, not technical.

Some very good point here!

Now I need to get to the next session, so no more about this right now. I will create an article, later on, filling in all the gaps.

SPC12: Day 3 - Summary of Planning for the Lifecycle of Your SharePoint 2013 Website


Editor’s note: Contributor Frederik Leksell is a Consultant for Accigo AB. Follow him @LetsTalkGov

Geoffery Edge, presenting.

The session begins with an image on a disgusting toilet in the woods, saying you just want to go here if you need to. It’s the same with websites, bad content and navigation gives the same effect.

Get people to engage, make UX work and information architecture to work.


  • Project planning
  • Design roadmap.
  • Build roadmap

Project planning

We are looking at a new website here. We want to get people to stay at the site, and have a good number of visitors and have many page views.

The need for social media is important. Very good points, now let’s hope that he delivers some smart things.;-)

Waterfall project vs. Continuous project with governance. Very good! User feedback seems to be the big thing to get your website in good shape and build on.

The Team has to have lots of different people with different expertise. Mainly what I believe an intranet needs as well. Developer/web and SharePoint, Infrastructure, Business analyst, PM, UI designer, UX expert, Content strategist, Graphic designer. Last but not least a business sponsor.

3 things:

  • Site UX/Branding
  • Infrastructure
  • Content and workflows

All this is a web site…

But IA is most important, and you need to do this first, exactly what I believe in! When you have IA then you can start wireframes followed by design and functional prototype. Create meta data based on Mapped IA, pretty smart!


You need to choose what is most important, content or branding? Create wireframes to see your design and UX. MS has an expression tool for wireframes. I didn’t know this…

Make your modifications in the wireframe until you are satisfied with IA and UX. Then start your design comp. Create a functional prototype with design manager. Use your tools of choose to do the HTML site.

Social media Strategy

Social integration and social design. Social integration is Facebook, but I think twitter, LinkedIn and others also are important. Facebook is more private then business. To get FB into a site you can use an app model in SharePoint.  In the content editor MS added a FB app from the SharePoint store. The Facebook integration can take the meta data from the site/page and post that to Facebook. This is standard on WordPress which is what I know…

Social design

Designing your site to be social… Trip advisor uses FB integration to see where your friends have traveled. You can see what others think and what others have written about it.

Mobile strategy

A strategy to deliver a good experience to any device and browsers. Responsive design is what’s hot today. Personally I love responsive design ;-)

You need to think about what applications you use. You can’t add old flash stuff as then they won’t work on all devices. And you can’t use all HTML5 and CSS3 as then it won’t work in IE7 and 8.


Regarding SP2013 New WCM concepts, you need to think about how you use them. You can use search driven publishing model and that will also integrate with Dynamics eCommerce. Then it gets cool! ;-) We use search to create navigation, pages, recommendations on topics etc. You can even use this indexed content outside SharePoint.

Translation services are available but you still have to use a human to make it good language ;-)

Recommend things to look at depending on which user it is that sees the page. If they have connected with FB then you can see that the user is 44 years old and comes from Sweden etc… And based on this you can choose what you want to show.

Web Analytics

Webtrends, Google analytics. Apparently there is an app for webtrends. I guess there will be one for Google analytics as well.

This is, in short, what the session was about. I am sorry I didn’t have time to add my own reflections, but the session was very fast paced. There is also not a lot of time in-between sessions. So this will have to do.

SPC12: Day 3 - Summary of Achieving Organizational Buy-in to Transform Your Enterprise


Editor’s note: Contributor Frederik Leksell is a Consultant for Accigo AB. Follow him @LetsTalkGov

So, this is my third session of the day and it’s all about organizational buy-in. Let’s hope that I can get some good stuff out of this.

Adam Levithan is presenting this session. His belief: why code when you can click.

The first question of this session is: Why are you here? People are saying that they have problems with buy-in due to culture etc.

The next question; what will you get out of this session? Shortcuts; strategies, new job; his spin on this.


  • Understand Context
  • Identify Value
  • Create Buy-in


Context is priceless as it is for me (If it is for me). It’s true without good content you don’t bother looking at it or even trying to find it.

Adam says that context is in the branding of a site, just because it’s aimed at me. I would say if it were my site and my personal brand, then I would think so, but if it’s another brand that I don’t care about then it’s totally useless. (this can be discussed ;-)

Adam talks about what the different roles are in the organization. The managers just work to get their own things done, not knowing what other managers really do, and maybe not knowing what their staff is doing either. The staff does the work and reports up. They want to solve problems that they see in the organization; with or without technology I would say.

So we see things differently and we do things in different ways to accomplish our tasks.

Identify Value

Let’s try collaboration, YEEE (Failure) No clear business needs, luck of engaged stakeholders, bad experience, and large growth of site. He calls it mad mess :-)

Business development has to be measurable, the examples are kind of strange and not very easy to follow, so sorry for lame text here… According to Adam, business value is having all tasks gathered in one place, having a shared calendar, and shared documents. This is a bit naive; I would say this does not solve a business need. According to Adam, the business value is that they collaborate. Well, that could add some value but not very measurable. And it’s a small value in general.

HR uses an InfoPath form to allow employees to request salary increases. It’s an application, but does it really work that way in an organization? Not from what I’ve heard!

So what he’s saying is that features can give business value. But you need to know what business goals you want to support. You can’t just add features to hope they give ROI. But this is my view…

Next thing that gives value according to Adam is sharing. Yes it can speed up the job, but the end users need to change the way the work before this can start working. It’s all about change, the intranet or collaboration site needs to be their daily living place. Don’t you agree?

The following is a summary of this part of the presentation. It’s not exactly what he talked about, but close to it:

  • Organize; centralize communication and documentation, “questionable.”
  • Discover; Connect with people, easy ways to find information and people
  • Build; Customize look and feel, business processes

So this was supposed to identify value, but he has not said anything about identifying value. Instead he has spoken more about how to use features to try and get some sort of value. I may be optimistic, but that’s how I am.

Create Buy-in

  • Align the value
  • Prioritize the features
  • Publicize a roadmap

Different needs:

I get to see the list of things that was created with the different features in SharePoint. Mapping needs to parts of the organization like CR, IT etc.. Then you Map the needs to the features SharePoint has. Then you prioritize them all.

I’m sorry to say, but this sounds all wrong, we don’t look for features we look for real business value, we don’t invest in SharePoint to map our needs to the features!

But to continue, we then should communicate what we do, and show a roadmap that says that we should increase functionality based on feedback… Adding more features. The biggest problem is that when you do this you get the single persons feedback, and that doesn’t necessarily give value for more than one person.

My conclusion is that he is aiming in the wrong direction.