Category Archives: Training

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.

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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:

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Adding the SMTP Server Role

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

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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: http://gmexc-13.globomantics.com/ecp.

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.

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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:

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Task Lists and Timelines

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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 http://ITtra.in/downloadWepApp. He next configures the Server with specific roles. He points out additional downloads for Server 2008 as opposed to Server 2012: http://ITtra.in/ServerRoles

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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 http://gmowa.globomantics.com –AllowHttp
-EditEnabled

(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: http://gmowa.globomantics.com/hosting/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:

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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
Stephan

Course Summary of TrainSignal’s Course “SharePoint Server 2013 Administration” - Part 2

 

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

Lesson 3: Installing SharePoint

Bill starts lesson 3 by explaining SharePoint Server Roles- basically this hasn’t changed in the big picture: there is a Web Server, Application Server and Database Server.

Next he goes into Server or Server Farm Topologies and explains a Single Server or Stand-Alone Deployment.

(I actually have a disagreement with Bill in that there is a difference between a Stand-Alone Install and a Single-Server Farm Install. What he is referring to in this example is a Stand-Alone Install.

The Single-Server Farm Install is scalable where the Stand-Alone Install is not. The Single-Server Farm is actually a Farm install on one actual physical server but is configured as a farm. I have been doing this install for all my development systems. Bill uses the term Stand-Alone later when he shows a Single-Sever. This was vetted with Chirag Mehta, ( a friend on SharePoint-Community.net)

Next he starts the basic install. After the Install completes, Bill chooses the option to run the SharePoint Products Configuration Wizard when it comes up and of course, we want to run it.

Even though Bill hasn’t used the terms “Grey Wizard” and “White Wizard” to refer to the SharePoint Products Configuration Wizard and the Central Admin’s Farm Configuration Wizard, I will be using this terminology as they are useful to point out some specific scenarios in Bill’s installation. Since the background of the next screens are grey, hence “Grey Wizard”:

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Mysterious "Grey Wizard" or SharePoint Product Configuration Wizard

After this configuration wizard finishes, Bill Launches into the “White Wizard” or the Central Admin Farm Configuration Wizard:

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Screen to Initiate the "White Wizard"

(At this point many people including me are yelling “Please Bill don’t do the configuration with the wizard!!” Alas, all to no avail. Bill even notes these sentiments. There are other ways to go through and configure farm services via PowerShell Scripts. But there is method to Bill’s going this route; basically, this course is an intro SharePoint Administration on 2013.

Actually this is not as bad as it seems: Bill’s methodology with the major services, like “Search” and “User Profile Administration”, is to initially delete the configured service; then, to reconfigure them.

His simple actions give the student confidence to do the same. This is exactly how I finally got my Profile Administration Services for SharePoint 2013 launched.)

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Much Maligned "White Wizard"

Bill does a good job in explaining the basic services and deselecting the ones for a more advanced session.

(Note Bill actually restarts the installation from before the “White Wizard” was run in the next lesson. So that he can go through the wizard again. This means that the majority of services and databases just created will go “bye-bye” and be recreated in the next lesson.)

Lesson 4: Farm Configuration

At this point, Bill takes a step back. He actually picks up from before the “White Wizard” ran, just to see if everyone was awake. (I failed twice.) Some of the services and databases that we configured in the last lesson are gone.

He notes that there is only one Web Application present and that is for “SharePoint Central Administration v4” and then examines the IIS Manager and the SharePoint Central Administration Website.

Next after initiating the Farm Wizard, Bill sets up the “SPSvc” Service Account, Services Account, in Configure Managed Accounts to use an account other than the Farm Account. Bill also spends time discussing password synchronization and how to use the Register Managed Account to see what services are being run by which account.

After the end of the Farm Configuration Wizard, he creates the “Globomantics Main” Site Collection as a Team Site.

Then Bill shows the Services being managed by SPSVC after the Farm Configuration Wizard has been run under Configure Managed Accounts

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Register Managed Account after Configuration

(Get any 10 Administrators in a room and there will be 10 ways of doing permissions. This screen under Managed Accounts is helpful to find out who actually has what.)

Finally Bill views the Site Collection in Central Admin and from the URL he opens the site created – you know, the Standard Blue and White SharePoint 2013 “Hello World” Screen. Bill concludes the lesson by showing the new databases created by the “White Wizard”:

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Databases – Surprise! Now you see um again-Note Ugly Database Names!

(Note: When the databases are created by the Farm Configuration Wizard, the wizard tacks an ugly guid at the end of the name.)

Lesson 5: The Logical Architecture of SharePoint

If you’ve been doing SharePoint for any length of time this was a “snooze puppy”

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Logical Structure of SharePoint

If you have knowledge of what the following terms are: a Farm, a Web Application, an App Pool, a Site Collection and a Site/Web — feel free to move to Lesson 6. If you are really new to SharePoint, the lesson is a good overview.

Lesson 6: Creating Web Applications

Bill walks through the creation of two web sites: the Globomantics Intranet Site and the Globomantics My Sites. But first he examines the Health Monitor. He notes that most of the warnings are because the installation is not complete.

Next he registers SPAdmin, the install account, for the security account of the App Pool he is about to create in the new Web Application. Then he creates the new Web Application from Central Admin:

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Creating a Web Application

Bill provides a good explanation of Host Headers, which are needed to give descriptive and unique web directories for applications in IIS.

Next he fills in the information in the Create New Web Application Page so that a new App Pool will be built when the web application is created:

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Basic Creation Screen-Bill will change the Ugly Database Name

(Note: See the ugly name for the Database Name with the long guid. This gets renamed to “Globomantic_Intranet” (Yeah Bill!) to make it more understandable and easier to locate.

Next Bill explains the concepts of Service Application Connections:

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Web Application Services Hookup

He explains the use of a “Custom Connection Group” when not all default services need to be associated with a particular web application. This might be a web app to do some specific set of tasks.

After creating the Application, Bill is not yet ready to create the Site Collections, so he moves on to create the My Sites Web Application. Basically this is a “Rinse and Repeat” of the first Application created.

Next Bill configures the DNS on the Domain Controller:

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Configuring Domain Controller to Configure DNS-Go Bill Go!

(To me this is where Bill really excels doing off-roading. These little side trips can, and do, cost technical people complete days of searching and Googling because not everyone doing these tasks has mastery of all the disciplines involved.)

Next Bill creates a new Host Record in DNS for our Globomantics Intranet Sites (the site will not be accessed from the outside, so only one record is needed to locate the site internally.)

Bill creates another Host Header for the My Sites App. Then briefly reviews the IIS Configuration.

Course Summary of TrainSignal’s Course “SharePoint Server 2013 Administration” - Part 1

 

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

When I noticed the affiliation between my favorite site, SharePoint-Community.net, and TrainSignal.com, I immediately made contact with TrainSignal and proposed some course reviews. Being closer to the “Suma Come Later” crowd than the “Technology Bleeding Edge” crowd, I wanted to offer my perspective and insight as a kind of compendium or adjunct to some of the SharePoint Courses.

The YouTube offerings from TrainSignal were top notch and I couldn’t wait to partake in their course offerings. As part of my review arrangement, I have access to their courses for the next year (Awesome!).

My choice of “SharePoint Server 2013 Administration” was deliberate. My normal role as developer had been altered to configure some SharePoint 2013 virtual machines for our test environment. To say I was challenged was an understatement. I was only peripherally familiar with Active Directory, DNS, Server Manager, Firewalls and Domain Controllers. I was looking for a good introduction without too many assumptions of prerequisites.

Being a member of Pluralsight.com, LearnDevNow.com and Safari Online, I had actively been looking for SharePoint 2013 Administration Courses and couldn’t find one. TrainSignal’s course fit the ticket exactly. (Soon to be part of PluralSight.com for a mere 27 million!)

To be fair, I know SharePoint-Videos.com, has an offering—but I was not a member and did not want to outlay cash. Also, PluralSight.com has sixty-five SharePoint Courses with approximately seventeen SharePoint 2013 courses—but none, at this time, were specifically designed to be an administration guide to SharePoint 2013—much less a “Newbie Admin” .

This course was specifically designed for the first-time admin—but there are also pointers for the seasoned veteran that might just be new to SharePoint 2013.


Train Signal Opening Menu


Course Menu - User Profile Service (Most Awesome Module) Circled

My tale gets even more woeful: I had been trying for three weeks to resolve “User Profile Administration” in Central Admin of a SharePoint 2013 development installation. I just wanted the User Profile Service to pick up my test users from Active Directory. Not surprisingly, when I got access to the course, I immediately opened the Lesson 10 on “User Profile Service Administration”.

What I found in that lesson was a Godsend! After watching the Lesson about twice and following Bill Kulterman’s instructions. My Profile Service was up and running and I successfully imported my Test Active Directory users. (There was life after User Profile Service Administration!)


Reticent Programmer

Bill had impressed me with his friendliness so much so that I’d even buy a used car from him?


Bill Kulterman: My Hero!

(I just found this YouTube Video Bill made if you’d like a sample of his congenial style: SharePoint 2013 - Creating a Web Application & Site Collection - YouTube)

What I specifically liked about the way Bill taught was that he navigates you into the problems that you WILL encounter and is friendlier than Microsoft Documentation at solving them.

My methodology for reviewing this course will be to give my impressions and point out the salient features in the lessons. I also provide a decent running dialogue of what’s being covered.
(Note: By my gestimate, in this course Bill goes through at least 500 screens, I have tried to include a representative sampling.)

Lesson 1: Getting Started with SharePoint

The Intro was the basic “Hi and Howdy” spiel—necessary, but just enough to move you on.

Lesson 2: Preparing for the SharePoint Install

Bill begins to get into “red meat” with this lesson 2. What most SharePoint Administrators know is that doing SharePoint involves a lot of off-roading. There are a number of components that go into a SharePoint Installation such as Configuring Service Accounts in Active Directory, Setup of SQL Server, and Firewall Configuration

I especially like his preparation of the Accounts in Active Directory to setup the accounts for the permission management and his use of the “Least Privilege” philosophy:


Setting up Admin Accounts in Active Directory

Next he proceeds to the SQL Server Install. SQL Server is the “bread and butter” of SharePoint. It is essential that the Admin have a feeling of how SQL integrates with SharePoint.

One thing that I value in his coverage is the seemingly obscure topics like “Max Degrees of Parallelism”. These obscurities come back to bite you if not set correctly.

Next he covers the actual SharePoint Prerequisites Install—which is part of the Setup download. After a couple of screens and a few reboots, “Bob’s your Uncle” and it’s onward to the SharePoint 2013 Install!

Empower the SharePoint Champions


You may also be interested in: SharePoint-based solutions by B&R Business Solutions


 

Editor’s note: Contributor Asif Rehmani is a trainer and consultant primarily focused on SharePoint technologies. Follow him @asifrehmani

Are You the "SharePoint guy/gal"? If you think you are or want to understand what I mean, read on please..

The person responsible for the SharePoint initiatives to be successful in the organization is the one called the SharePoint guy/gal. This is the person who empowers herself and the other power users and SharePoint evangelists in the organization to take better advantage of the SharePoint platform. This SharePoint guru does not necessarily possess the development or IT architecture knowledge. However, this person has been tapped as the person responsible for this thing called ‘SharePoint’ which the executives want everyone in the company using.

Does that sound like you or someone you know? Well, there are thousands of these SharePoint guys around the world and many hundreds of them I have had the pleasure to meet personally throughout my SharePoint tenure. Read on forward to understand why this newsletter is focused on You!

Challenge faced by the SharePoint guy in the company

After having now worked with SharePoint for 11 years exactly, I can tell you very confidently that many companies using the SharePoint platform are not taking advantage of even half of the capabilities that SharePoint has to offer. The SharePoint guy in the company is not able to handle implementing and supporting it all. Many companies end up doing one or more of the following:

  1. Using only the out-the-box functionality
  2. Hire a developer to custom program solutions on top of SharePoint (but many forget that they would have to support it themselves afterwards…)
  3. Buy a 3rd party product that enhances SharePoint

Not that there is anything wrong with any of those things, but there is a 4th way which is extremely powerful when executed properly:

Empowering the SharePoint power users and champions in the company with the on-demand knowledge they need to be successful working with and building rapid no-code solutions and customizations within the SharePoint platform!

Chances are pretty high that you have very talented people in the company who have background in visual design, creating reporting mechanisms, automating processes, administering simple content management systems, managing Access based solutions, creating visually appealing dashboards, and more. These folks are usually not comfortable with SharePoint initially. However, if empowered properly with the SharePoint specific knowledge they need to be successful, they can perform wonders and create amazing solutions for the team or company as a whole without the use of programming!

The art of empowering the SharePoint champions

To truly empower the SharePoint champions means to provide them with the knowledge they need (when they need it) and to also grant them with the proper access they need to implement their solutions. I’ll focus here on the on-demand knowledge part of the equation.

Training the SharePoint champions with a 1 day to 5 day class (internally or through an external vendor) has been the preferred solution. It’s great knowledge that’s learned at the time. However, the reality is that you are not able to use much of the knowledge learned in the class right away. And by the time you are ready to use the knowledge, you don’t quite remember the ‘why and how’ parts of much of the functionality learned in class.

Technical books have been and still are great to impart in-time and as-needed knowledge. A well written technical book you can reference can save you a lot of time and frustration.

Written word can only go so far however. As they say "A picture is worth a thousand words". I’m sure you have heard that, but have you also heard that "A one-minute video is worth 1.8 million words"? (according to Forrester Research). It is very true that we are much more engaged and learn at a much faster pace when we are able to hear and see the information we are interested in.

The solution

Apart from having a SharePoint trainer or consultant right beside you, guiding you with the best practices in mind to accomplish your goals, the next best thing is to have a recorded video tutorials produced by that trainer that you can watch anytime as needed.

Important Note: Please be advised that there are many ‘bad practices’ demonstrated out there on the ‘YouTube land’ as well. Please be cautious and use good judgment. Just because you are able to attain your immediate goal, doesn’t mean that it is the proper way of doing something. You don’t want it to come haunt you later down the line.

If you believe the strategy of on-demand video training can work for your team of SharePoint champions, you have a few options on how to proceed:

  1. Hire the proper talent to record the video tutorials for you specific to your environment (best option, but not very affordable)
  2. Qualify and gather the proper existing resources online to expose from your environment
  3. Find an existing third party resource that provides this solution already pre-built

Whichever way you decide to proceed, it is very important to provide guidance to your team of SharePoint champions before letting them lose on the training. If this is executed properly, chances are that you will see an enhanced understanding of and appreciation for the SharePoint platform thus increasing adoption company wide. The SharePoint champions throughout the company will become your biggest advocates in spreading the ‘good word’ on how the SharePoint platform can be leveraged to simplify and streamline the existing business processes.

This method of empowerment and support is not only for companies with internal SharePoint champions to train and support. This technique can work equally well for consulting companies looking to empower their on-the-road consultants with the on-demand support they need to be successful with the clients they are servicing.

Bottom line: SharePoint was never meant to be a turn-key product. The potential for enhancement in productivity and cost savings is enormous! However, it will be what You make of it. Best wishes!

LearnDevNow.com from a SharePoint Developer’s Perspective

 

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

Recently, I published two articles for . The first entailed free offerings on YouTube and Microsoft entitled “Free YouTube and Microsoft Videos from a SharePoint Developer’s Perspective”. The second was about Pluralsight, entitled “Pluralsight.com From a SharePoint Developer’s Perspective”.

In the first article, I explored free content. Literally, free for the finding which admittedly can be challenging on both the behemoths, YouTube and Microsoft. Never the less, for those who persevere much free learning is available.

In the second article, I began examining a paid subscription to Pluralsight.com with the aim of getting the best possible deal for finite monetary resources. I discussed the reasons I believe Pluralsight to be an excellent bargain for SharePoint learning featuring the “Who’s Who” of SharePointdom’s authors and expanding SharePoint Courseware, 53 by last count.

This article continues with paid subscriptions: specifically, it focuses on LearnDevNow.com-a site which I have had extensive experience as a paying participant in the last year.

LearnDevNow.com

LearnDevNow was the first paid online course vendor I used as a SharePoint Developer. I was ecstatic to find a reasonable priced vendor with quality SharePoint Courses available 24/7 with demo code. (In addition to being my job, SharePoint and learning are also my hobbies: gotta have code to play with!)

The SharePoint offerings on LearnDevNow, aka LearnNowOnline are less extensive than Pluralsight.com. However, they are also less expensive for the basic offering. The price, $99 per year, could easily fit in the budget of most individuals or as a cost-effective company supplemented offering.

If some of the presentation techniques from LearnDevNow seem familiar, they are based on AppDev Training Modules. My past experience with AppDev partaking SQL and .Net courses has been positive. AppDev has supplied numerous well-written courses that have extended my knowledge with competent instructors and credentialed instructors.

The following is the screen from the “http://www.learnnowonline.com/learndevnow” URL:

The last price for an Annual Subscription was $99– but upon occasion I see specials for $49 (a real bargain).

Note: There are several ways to get to this LearnDevNow Screen. Another method involves going straight to url http://www.learnnowonline.com and clicking on the LearnNowExpress link—then clicking on LearnDevNow Microsoft Development Library link.

This is the screen shown after clicking the “Subscribe Now” button

The “Sample Code” option (shown above) is a reasonably priced add-on for $29.99 (This really is a must for a developer!).

Personally, I would bypass and uncheck the “Online Courseware and Hands-on Lab-Exercises” because of the reliance of this option on software called “LockLizard”. The Online Courseware is delivered in a pdf format only decipherable by LockLizard. This limits the viewing of the pdf files to licensed individuals and prevents ANY printing of the material. Also LockLizard will NOT unencrypt the locked pdfs in the presence of open screen capture utilities (Snagit, Snipping Tool, Jing)—normally I write with at least two of the three open.

[Craig Jensen, President & CEO at LearnNowOnline and AppDev, has assured me that there will be a future option for printing course material. Hint: Want to get to a CEO of Learning Site? Just tell Customer Support you’re working on a review of the site.]

On my wish list for future offerings would be the bundling of “Hands-on-Exercises” with the “Sample Code” as printable media—even at a higher price than the “Sample Code” by itself.

The following is a listing of some of the SharePoint Offerings: (Basically just the JavaScript, jQuery, and SharePoint).

Javascript Offerings:

jQuery Offerings:

SharePoint Offerings:

These are the main courses that I found useful as a SharePoint Developer—however; other developers might find useful content in the ASP.net, Visual C#, Visual Basic, MVC, and SQL Server section.

The courses that I took were interesting and relevant with competent certified instructors. (Some of the instructors were Microsoft MVPs like Doug Ware, Dan Wahlin, Ken Getz; others, are known in the Industry as prominent authors, speakers and consultants like Jeff Webb, Don Kiely and Michael “Bear” Bibeault.) The courses were also useful in studying for certifications. I passed some of my MCTS Certifications in SharePoint while using LearnDevNow as a supplement to my study.

One additional item on my wish list is an Android App specifically designed for LearnDevNow Courses, I had trouble with Flash on my android Sony Tablet and was unable to view courses from this platform. (I always have trouble with Flash –I never have the right release for each browser— definitely Flash-Challenged. Did I mention I don’t like Flash? Go HTML5!).

I heartily recommend LearnDevNow as an inexpensive learning option for SharePoint Technologies. There is much that can be gleaned on a smaller budget from this site. It is an adjunct to my learning SharePoint.

Happy SharePointing

Stephan

Pluralsight.com From a SharePoint Developer’s Perspective

 

Editor’s note: Contributor Stephan Onisick is a programmer developing SharePoint applications for Phacil. Follow him @StephanOnisick

For the last four years, I have worked as a SharePoint Developer. During this time, I relentlessly sought sites, articles, blogs, courses, code snippets, projects, and videos for relevant information. The first source of information for SharePoint has always been Google. (With SharePoint you need all the help you can get!! God bless you Google!)

Recently, I published an article outlining sources of free information on both YouTube and surprisingly enough, Microsoft: Free YouTube and Microsoft Videos - SharePoint Pro: By Admins, Devs, Industry Observers Blog.

With all this free information available on the internet, why would anyone want to pay for information?

I’m glad you asked! (My, aren’t we perceptive?)

The answer stems from a human need for a more structured framework for exploring a given technology or discipline: people need mental pegs and hooks to hang bits and pieces of knowledge. These serve as references or compasses.

Good courses, good instructors, and good books provide solid reference points to understand a given topic. They are also something we can come back to—since we never grasp a subject and all its implications in entirety. Exercises and labs help to strengthen fragile concepts into something more robust: something we can play with and build on. This fosters a level of success in a technology or discipline and creates a framework to add more knowledge.

Using books and video courses with exercises, labs and a curriculum help me to organize my own thoughts and actualize some of the information which is presented. I’m not even opposed to paying for an occasional online or classroom course with an instructor to shore up some loose ends and field questions. (A luxury to be sure.)

There are many good educational sights on the web. The one that I have actively investigated in the last two years are: Pluralsight.com, LearnDevNow.com and Safari Online. Being a working stiff with a finite amount of funds and time, these are the ones I have explored that I can evaluate meaningfully. Why not start with the best: Pluralsight.com

(No this is not a paid commercial—I wish it were—have you priced root canals lately—I’m on 14—got to stop at 28 right?—Please God!!.)

PluralSight.com

Last year, I explored a free ASP.net Course that Pluralsight offered on the web and I was hooked. The course had excellent video content, a good lab, and an excellent instructor. I couldn’t wait to apply part of my company’s educational benefit/allowance.

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Fortunately for me, my employer’s plan covered the “Annual Plus” subscription of $499 which adds the labs, demos, and assessments.

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What I have enjoyed are professional courses taught by elite instructors, many of whom are Microsoft MVP’s or prominent authors: Fritz Onion, Sahil Malik, Robert Cain, Dan Wahlin, David Chappell, John Pappa, Kate Gregory, Rob Windsor, Scott Allen. (This is only a partial listing of instructors for the courses I have taken.)

The “Plus” subscription adds exercise files (labs and demos), plus assessments (before and after—not yet available on all courses-but on many), certificates and offline viewing.

The following is a print-out of some of the assessments:

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But wait there’s more: Pluralsight just added Critical Path Training to its contributors making it arguably the best offering of SharePoint Courses on the net. With Critical Path Training, the top contributors to SharePoint Education (best of the best): Ted Pattison and Andrew Connell join an already stellar line-up of instructors.

With Critical Path Training, Pluralsight hit critical mass in SharePoint 2007, 2010 and 2013.

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The following shows the current offering of 48 SharePoint Courses with the addition of Critical Path Training:

Course

Instructor

Level

Date Added

PowerPivot for SharePoint 2010 - System Setup

Robert Cain

Beginner

25 Apr 2011

SharePoint 2007 Developer Ramp-Up - Part 1

David Mann

Beginner

13 Sep 2012

SharePoint 2007 Features and Solutions by Example

Dan Wahlin

Beginner

12 Nov 2009

SharePoint 2007 Fundamentals for Developers

Onion , Malik

Beginner

29 Jun 2010

SharePoint 2007 Tutorial for Site Administrators

Janis Hall

Beginner

24 Mar 2010

SharePoint 2010 Branding for Web Designers Fundamentals

Ted Pattison

Beginner

13 Sep 2012

SharePoint 2010 Developer Ramp-Up - Part 1

Pattison , Connell

Beginner

13 Sep 2012

SharePoint 2010 Document/Meeting Workspaces for End Users

Wendy Henry

Beginner

13 Sep 2012

SharePoint 2010 Fundamentals

Rob Windsor

Beginner

21 Feb 2011

SharePoint 2010 Introduction for End Users

Wendy Henry

Beginner

13 Sep 2012

SharePoint 2010 Lists & Libraries for End Users

Wendy Henry

Beginner

13 Sep 2012

SharePoint 2010 Managing Sites & Site Collections

Wendy Henry

Beginner

13 Sep 2012

SharePoint 2010 No-Code Customizations for Power Users

Andrew Connell

Beginner

13 Sep 2012

SharePoint 2010 Personalizing SharePoint for End Users

Wendy Henry

Beginner

13 Sep 2012

SharePoint 2010 Social Networking for End Users

Wendy Henry

Beginner

13 Sep 2012

SharePoint 2007 Developer Ramp-Up - Part 2

David Mann

Intermediate

13 Sep 2012

SharePoint 2007 Developer Ramp-Up - Part 3

David Mann

Intermediate

13 Sep 2012

SharePoint 2007 Developer Ramp-Up - Part 4

David Mann

Intermediate

13 Sep 2012

SharePoint 2007 Developer Ramp-Up - Part 5

David Mann

Intermediate

13 Sep 2012

SharePoint 2007 Developer Ramp-Up - Part 6

David Mann

Intermediate

13 Sep 2012

SharePoint 2007 Developer Ramp-Up - Part 7

David Mann

Intermediate

13 Sep 2012

SharePoint 2007 Developer Ramp-Up - Part 8

David Mann

Intermediate

13 Sep 2012

SharePoint 2007 Services Client Programming

Sahil Malik

Intermediate

5 Jul 2010

SharePoint 2007: Business Services

Sahil Malik , et al.

Intermediate

20 Jul 2010

SharePoint 2010 Administrator Ramp-Up - Part 1

Ted Pattison

Intermediate

13 Sep 2012

SharePoint 2010 Administrator Ramp-Up - Part 2

Ted Pattison

Intermediate

13 Sep 2012

SharePoint 2010 Administrator Ramp-Up - Part 3

Ted Pattison

Intermediate

13 Sep 2012

SharePoint 2010 Administrator Ramp-Up - Part 4

Ted Pattison

Intermediate

13 Sep 2012

SharePoint 2010 Administrator Ramp-Up - Part 5

Ted Pattison

Intermediate

13 Sep 2012

SharePoint 2010 Administrator Ramp-Up - Part 6

Ted Pattison

Intermediate

13 Sep 2012

SharePoint 2010 Administrator Ramp-Up - Part 7

Ted Pattison

Intermediate

13 Sep 2012

SharePoint 2010 Administrator Ramp-Up - Part 8

Ted Pattison

Intermediate

13 Sep 2012

SharePoint 2010 Advanced Branding for Web Designers

Ted Pattison

Intermediate

13 Sep 2012

SharePoint 2010 Basics

Sahil Malik

Intermediate

27 Aug 2010

SharePoint 2010 Branding a WCM Site for Web Designers

Ted Pattison

Intermediate

13 Sep 2012

SharePoint 2010 Developer Ramp-Up - Part 2

Connell , Pattison

Intermediate

13 Sep 2012

SharePoint 2010 Developer Ramp-Up - Part 3

Connell , Pattison

Intermediate

13 Sep 2012

SharePoint 2010 Developer Ramp-Up - Part 4

Andrew Connell

Intermediate

13 Sep 2012

SharePoint 2010 Developer Ramp-Up - Part 5

Andrew Connell

Intermediate

13 Sep 2012

SharePoint 2010 Developer Ramp-Up - Part 6

Connell , Pattison

Intermediate

13 Sep 2012

SharePoint 2010 Development

Sahil Malik

Intermediate

24 Sep 2010

SharePoint 2010 Lists and Libraries for Developers

Rob Windsor

Intermediate

18 Jul 2011

SharePoint 2010 Master Pages for Web Designers

Ted Pattison

Intermediate

13 Sep 2012

SharePoint 2010 Security

Sahil Malik

Intermediate

5 Oct 2011

SharePoint 2010 Web Part Development

Rob Windsor

Intermediate

6 Aug 2012

SharePoint Development with the Client Side Object Model (CSOM) and REST API

Windsor , Malik

Intermediate

24 Sep 2010

SharePoint 2010 Security Part 2

Sahil Malik

Advanced

8 May 2012

But wait there’s more: For you MSDN Folks: Pluralsight has a deal with MSDN subscribers for a free Pluralsight Starter subscription (Not the full Monty—but definitely not decaf.).

Also Pluralsight has a 10-day trial subscription details of which can be found on their support page: Pluralsight Support and Feedback.

Also check out the free offering at the following link: Free Courses | the pluralsight blog.

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So many courses—so little time—well maybe I can give up work. (Just kidding boss! The check comes in handy feeding the wife and shih tzu!—nums aren’t cheap—priced dental chews lately!)

So what could be better?

(Yes SharePoint Grasshopper, it is not all it could be or even will be.) Just start with the lack-luster site layouts: they are cumbersome and laborious. Although, Pluralsight offers a lot of jQuery courses, they haven’t spiffed (70’s and 80’s die hard) up the interface with awesome (90’s) jQuery UI. Of course, I can endure any interface for great videos and labs.

Before Critical Path Training got added to their arsenal in September, I felt their SharePoint offering needed some beefing up in the areas of SharePoint Administration, SharePoint Designer and SharePoint Branding. This has been rectified in spades with the addition of Critical Path Training.

Only three more things are on my wish list (for now):

  1. The first involves having printable course material—reading from the screen gets old at night. (Forgive me Rain Forests! Please include in my transgressions the number of copies I’ve printed to revise this article.)
  2. The second would be advanced coverage of SharePoint PowerShell for both developers and admins. Critical Path Training added a SharePoint PowerShell Course but the course has training wheels. Not a bad course for a beginner—but not quite at the Don Jones/Gary LaPointe power user or administrator level.
  3. The third would be a SharePoint jQuery Course. This would feature specific exercises in jQuery, CSS, HTML5 and Branding at the level of Heather Solomon and Dustin Miller Courses - The SharePoint Experience.

But overall Three thumbs-up for the site—or two thumbs and a paw (I have an opinionated Shih tzu -eleven pounds of solid will-power).

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Summary

When I die, my lovely wife will have to shut off a computer, tablet, iPod or close a book. I love learning. Just drop me in a random profession and I get interested—this one happens to be SharePoint so be it. Even though the only way to make SharePoint fly is by FedEx or UPS—I’m intrigued by its innards and rely on online materials to supplement what I understand.

From my vantage point, Pluralsight.com is the best deal and long-term bargain for the serious SharePoint Developer. For those with less budget and not otherwise subsidized, the basic offering on LearnDevNow.com should suffice (I hope to cover them in a later article.). Safari Online, not an education bargain in this author’s opinion.

Happy SharePointing

I Didn’t Know You Could Do That With SharePoint


You may also be interested in: O’Reilly - SharePoint 2010 at Work


 

Editor’s note: Contributor Wendy Neal is a SharePoint 2010 Developer/Architect for GreatAmerica Leasing Corp. Follow her @SharePointWendy.  Wendy was also a participant in the most recent #EUSPGames.

2012-06-22-DidntKnow-01.png"I Didn’t Know You Could Do That With SharePoint" is the name of a class I teach to our SharePoint power users at my company. The goal of this class is to demonstrate some advanced solutions that they can implement on their team sites, without having to write any code. We cover eight advanced topics in just an hour, so the "training" is very demo intensive. It covers more of the what than the how. The how will be addressed in future hands-on training sessions for each topic.

The following topics are what I cover in the initial training. As I schedule and put on the advanced deep-dive training sessions, I will write an article about each and link to them.

  • Reusable content using the Content Editor Web Part - I explain how to place the same content on multiple pages using the Content Link property in the web part edit pane
  • Easy Tabs - I demonstrate how users can add a tabbed interface to any web part or wiki page using Easy Tabs (Easy Tabs is part of the SharePoint User Toolkit written by Christophe Humbert).
  • Adding CSS to your Site - I explain the different methods for adding CSS to your site and demonstrate a couple cool effects just by adding CSS.
  • Conditional formatting on lists - I show an example of how one team added row color highlighting based on a status value.
  • Utilizing lookup lists - I explain the differences between lookup columns and choice fields, and in what circumstances you may want to use each.
  • Query string filtering with the Content Query Web Part - I show how you can add a query string filter to dynamically filter data using the CQWP.
  • Content types - I present a very high-level overview of what content types are and how they may be useful. This deep-dive session may end up being multiple sessions.
  • Parent/child list relationships - I show how you can create a child list and how to hook those lists together for a better user experience.

I know what you’re thinking. First of all, you’re not supposed to call your SharePoint sites "SharePoint". And secondly, you’re not supposed to highlight SharePoint’s features to your users; rather you should find out what their pain points are and solve that pain. They’ll be so ecstatic that they’ll tell someone else and pretty soon people will be knocking down your door because they want a solution to alleviate their pain.

About calling it SharePoint… Well for my company that cat has already been let out of the bag. Someone got ahold of the fact that we now have SharePoint and it went viral. We’re actually trying to correct people and tell them to refer to their team sites as "the HR team site" instead of "the HR SharePoint site" for example. I don’t think we want to completely hide the fact that their sites are built in SharePoint though, because we want our users to build their own solutions and if they don’t know what platform it’s on, how can they search the great SharePoint community for help?

As far as highlighting features, the topics I’ve chosen just happen to be solutions that we’ve implemented on either our Extranet, Intranet, or other team/collaboration sites. All the solutions have indeed solved a particular business need and/or made users more productive. Therefore I assert that I’m simply sharing the knowledge gained from implementing those solutions and hopefully it will start a spark that will lead to our power users dreaming up their own solutions. Right now they can’t even imagine what’s possible because our SharePoint implementation is so new to them and they really don’t know what the out-of-the-box capabilities are.

It’s also a way to gauge the interest level for each topic so that I can prepare and prioritize the hands-on training sessions. At the beginning of this class I pass around a half sheet of paper with a checklist of all the topics, and a priority ranking box (1=high; 3=low). They simply check the topics they want to learn more about and assign a ranking. I collect these at the end of class and will use them to prioritize and schedule the upcoming sessions. I could give them a link to a SharePoint survey, however I want to get ALL responses back and this way I guarantee to get them as soon as class is over.

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I’ve also created an internal Showcase site that I use to create the solutions that I will be giving demos and training on. It’s still a work in progress but when complete all the links on the home page will click through to a detailed view of how to implement the solution along with screen shots, supporting files and links, etc. I’m thinking of using document sets to accomplish this, because I haven’t used them that much and would love to learn, and later "showcase" it off on my site!

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I’ll also likely be adding a second "I Didn’t Know…" class that demonstrates even more features of SharePoint, because there were other things I wanted to show but didn’t have time. I can add those topics to my Showcase site as well, so I want to make it really easy to add topics and supporting information going forward.

I’ve made the slide deck available on SlideShare and I would love it if you could check it out and let me know what you think. As mentioned earlier, the training is very demo intensive, but I’ve added screenshots to the slides for the benefit of those who don’t have a chance to attend the session live or for later reference. So don’t let the number of slides scare you! The majority of them are just screenshots. If I get time I may even create this demo in webinar format, and if so I’ll post it here as well.

Are you giving any similar types of SharePoint training to your company or clients? What additional topics are you covering?

This article was originally posted on Wendy’s blog SharePointWendy.

SharePoint Governance - Part 4


You may also be interested in: SharePoint Smart Notifications by KWizCom


 

Editor’s note: Contributor Pramod Attarde is a Senior SharePoint Solutions Architect at the United Nations. Follow him @spproficient

2012-03-29-SPGovernance-Part01-03.jpgHow to deploy the Governance plan

Successful deployment of a Governance plan involves creating an effective plan first and executing it seamlessly. To create an effective governance plan you must identify the needs and goals of your organization’s business divisions and IT teams. You must also consider the best way to implement a governance plan that is tailored to your organizational needs.

It is very important for a governance committee to define the principles and goals of the organization.  The committee should develop a vision, policies, and standards that are measureable and easy to track. It is also important to classify your business information and develop the information architecture to manage your content. You should make sure that the committee comes up with a detailed plan for the training needs for the expected standards and practices. The key to a successful deployment of governance is to keep updating and improving continuously. The committee should reevaluate and adjust the governance principles according to the changing needs of the organization.

The governance committee should meet on a regular basis. They must incorporate new requirements in the governance plan, reevaluate and adjust governance principles. The committee should also resolve any conflicts among business divisions for IT resources. Accountability is essential and it can be achieved by providing regular reports to its executive sponsors. You should enforce compliance across the enterprise. All these efforts will lead to a successful and useful deployment of SharePoint Server in your enterprise.

Here is a quick solution to deploy Governance in your organization:

  • Define roles of the individuals
  • Set the rules of dos and don’ts
  • Provide routes which will lead users to handle their tasks with responsibility

A successful governance plan is a key to successful deployment of SharePoint in your organization. Here are few key steps to successful deployment:

  1. Provide consistency in platform, browsers, collaboration and search strategy.
  2. Manage centrally with proper communication.
  3. Design a workable Backup plan in advance.
  4. Provide ample user training and education.
  5. Have a balanced governance and information management plan.
  6. Maintain consistency in branding across the enterprise.
  7. Maintain version history and master documents with proper version control.
  8. Secure corporate assets.
  9. Enhance best practices and adopt viable corporate strategy.
  10. Ensure platform usage policies and development and test if environment complies with corporate guidelines.

SharePoint Governance - Part 3


You may also be interested in: the only cloud-based Dev/Test solution for SharePoint by CloudShare


 

Editor’s note: Contributor Pramod Attarde is a Senior SharePoint Solutions Architect at the United Nations. Follow him @spproficient

2012-03-29-SPGovernance-Part01-03.jpgTraining:

If not trained properly, many users may find it challenging to use and especially administer sites based on SharePoint Server 2010. The governance policies set by your enterprise may require awareness and detailed explanations. You must train your users so as to increase satisfaction with your implementation of SharePoint Server 2010, increase acceptability, and reduce support costs.

You should consider providing training for each level of service. Users with basic administration rights can have access to many features that affect the functionality of the site. With the help of online training, such as tutorials, these users can make the most of their site.

You may also want to consider or determine limits and policies for the following elements of services:

  • Quota templates: You can associate quotas with the sites that are offered at various service levels to govern the growth of SharePoint Server in an enterprise.
  • Maximum upload size: You can set limits on the maximum file size that can be uploaded.
  • Site lifecycle management: You may want to govern the creation, size, and longevity of the sites by using self-service site management and site-use confirmation and deletion. Set expiration and access policies to control the lifecycle of content in sites.
  • Asset classification: You must identify the service with the impact and value of the information to the organization and develop and implement a classification system for sites and content supported by that service.
  • Data protection: You can vary the level of data protection based on the service levels that you provide.
  • Security, infrastructure, and web-application policies: You may want to maintain and monitor the infrastructure and content to have secure environment. As per your business needs for web policies to allow or deny access to content.

In short, well-trained users can provide the following benefits:

  • Reduced support calls
  • Increased awareness and adoption
  • Ensuring proper and effective use of SharePoint Server
  • Increased understanding of responsibilities amongst users.

Determining the Governance Policy

It is very important that the governance policy is determined by responsible people who understand the exact need of the organization and the precise need for governance. To create a successful governance policy you need ongoing communication and partnership among business managers, IT professionals, information workers and, in fact, all possible stake holders.

Your IT service that supports SharePoint Server should be governed by a group that includes executive stakeholders, business division leaders, influential information architects, IT managers, IT technical specialists, and trainers, among others. The goal of the governing group should be to oversee the service. In this capacity, the governing group defines the initial offerings of the service, defines the service’s ongoing policies, and meets regularly to evaluate success and mitigation strategies.

The following are a few examples of people performing different roles on a governance committee:

  • IT Leaders: should help to develop their service offerings and determine how to achieve their IT responsibilities.
  • Executive Stakeholders: should be able to define the overall goals of the governance committee and evaluate the success of the implemented practices and policies.
  • Financial Stakeholders: should ensure that there is an increase in the return on the enterprise’s investment in SharePoint products and technologies with the help of governance rules and processes help.
  • Business division leaders: should drive the architectural and functional requirements of the SharePoint Server 2010 deployment.

The governing group should focus on achieving the organizational goal while working as a team. Your organization may have different titles for these roles, but the essential key is to focus on the goal and drive the force to achieve it with maximum flexibility.

In Part 4, Pramod discusses how to deploy your governance plan

SharePoint 2010 Training - 5 Ways to Educate End Users

 

2011-09-23-5WaysEducate-01.pngBusinesses and organizations typically do not like change. They are comfortable in the routine and the processes that are in place. Although some people within the organization do resist the change until the bitter end; inevitably, business changes. Installing a new version of SharePoint can be a very big change for any organization. Only a few people understand the power of SharePoint and will begin to use it immediately.

However, others will push back, badmouth, and sometime sabotage the new investment just to keep the old processes as the norm. One way to combat this environment is to train the end users on the benefits and more efficient processes that are in SharePoint. Below are 5 ways to train end users on SharePoint 2010.

1. Computer based training from Microsoft is a great place to start

There are many places where examples and action steps are described in great detail. One place to start is the Microsoft SharePoint 2010 Home page. There is a great place located there called Resources for End Users. This website will give end users of all levels general and specific information about all things SharePoint 2010.

2. A Lunch and Learn

is a good way to get in front of your users and discuss the new SharePoint 2010 technology and how it can help their group work easier and more efficient. Generally a presentation along with a question and answer session will suffice. Expect specific questions regarding how SharePoint can be used.

3. Keep a list of books and articles

or better yet provide access to an online library where users can go and do some research on their own about SharePoint. When users feel like they have some control over how they learn, it makes it easier to get them to adopt the new tools. Articles and White Papers can generally be downloaded to a document library so that users can find them there to read.

4. Demonstrations

allow a specific function of SharePoint to be explained and utilized by the people that will be using it. When setting up a demonstration, ensure that the users provide the necessary input so that the demonstration will be most effective. If possible allow the users to actually use SharePoint 2010 so that they can get a feel for the actions performed during the demonstration.

5. SharePoint 2010 makes it easy to set up a community site

where all the users can get together to share ideas, ask questions, and get answers about how to use the tools in SharePoint 2010. At a minimum, set up a Discussion Board and a Wiki site where the community of end users can collaborate on ideas and share their individual successes. Run a contest within the community to spur use of the tools.

These five ways to train will help a SharePoint 2010 Administrator to educate end users to not only understand the power of the new tools, but encourage them to learn on their own as well. One of the central points of Change is to make sure everyone knows what is changing. Getting the word out with end user training can foster success between SharePoint 2010 and its users.