Monday, November 12, 2012

Overview of SharePoint 2013 Development Features

imageLast week, I spoke at the DogFood Conference 2012 in Columbus, OH on the topic of InfoPath, as well as on the new development features in SharePoint 2013. The DogFood Conference was a great event, with over 90 different sessions on all things Microsoft.

As I prepared this talk, I thought back to my last SharePoint Dev Features presentation, where I compared SP2007 with the new features of SP2010. My analysis now is that, while SP2010 was a huge leap forward from SP2007, SP2013 is more of a ‘somersault vault’ off of the vision that SP2010 started, in terms of maturing the development model and empowering the developer.

If you were to ask me to sum up my SharePoint 2013 Development presentation in 30 seconds, here’s what I’d say:

Sunday, October 28, 2012

SharePoint Saturday Cincinnati 2012–Retrospective

Well, I’ve returned home from a day well-spent at the now famous event:

It was a great event filled with great speakers and good information. It was also complemented by attendees dressed in kool & unforgettable costumes, as well as other folks whose costume I’m trying to erase from my memory. Smile

Thursday, August 16, 2012

In Memoriam: SharePoint Workspace

I heard a nasty online rumor that in the upcoming world of Office 2013, SharePoint Workspace (SPW) will be no more. Whether that’s true or not, it reminded me that I have yet to write a post about SPW – what it is [was?], and what some of its neat features are [were?].

I’ve met enough SharePoint users who don’t know anything about SPW to guess that many of you reading this may also be new to the concept. Even less have probably heard of its cousin Groove Workspace. If you’ve never seen SPW, but you have Office 2010 Premium installed on your computer, go to Start > All Programs > Microsoft Office hit the Windows key and type “workspace” to receive your prize. Smile

If you’ve got it, fire it up and follow along as I talk about a few of the kool things it can do:

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Fake It ‘Til You Make It–Alternatives to Custom Application Pages for Non-Developers

SharePoint is a versatile tool meant to empower end-users. So, for me it seems such a shame when end-users feel powerless when it comes to their ability to ‘create’ in SharePoint. Sometimes for a non-developer, it can seem like the only way to make something interesting in SharePoint (besides a fancy list or some Wiki pages) is to get help from a Developer or Web Designer. But I submit that, with a little creativity (and maybe some smoke-n-mirrors), non-developers can make an ‘application’ that looks and feels like a Developer’s custom application page.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Rules of SharePoint [Fight Club]

I was talking recently with a fellow SharePoint developer who specializes in custom SharePoint development. In other words, this means he probably spends more time with the SharePoint Object Model than SharePoint SharePoint [Fight Club]Designer, for instance. I was remarking on the fact that even though I too am a SharePoint developer who is well-versed in the nuances of Visual Studio and the object model, many of my client’s needs tend to be solved by leveraging no-code solutions. I went on to talk about the value of no-code solutions from the perspective of farm stability, risk, and deployment issues.

What surprised me was that, as he agreed with what I was saying, I could sense what appeared to be a ‘light bulb’ moment going on his head. Why would this be a novel idea to a true SharePoint person? I mean, isn’t this exactly what the 2nd rule of SharePoint is all about?:

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

SharePoint at AgileDotNet Conference

AgileDotNet Columbus 2012 - RegistrationToday I’ll be talking about SharePoint with other Agilists at the AgileDotNet Conference, a 1-day event put together by Improving Enterprises and Microsoft that tries to ‘bring together the world of .NET development with the world of Agile methods’.

SharePoint can be a great tool for teams trying to incorporate Agile principles into their team development. I’m looking forward to talking with attendees about their experiences and use of SharePoint, and hearing about how it has contributed to their team’s success.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

SharePoint Saturday Speaker Gear Taken to the Next Level

My talk at Louisville’s first-ever SharePoint Saturday yesterday went well – it was a very interactive group, and we had a pretty lively discussion about the opportunities and implications of Azure for SharePoint and our industry overall. (you can find the slide deck here).IMAG2102 As a speaker in the first track of sessions, I helped kick off a full day of great speakers and topics that I’m sure added some much-appreciated SharePoint learning to the Kentucky community.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Speaking at SPS Louisville

I know how upset you were when you realized you had missed my talk at SPS Atlanta last month on SharePoint & Windows Azure integration. Oh, the tear-soaked pillows and so many boxes of Kleenex. : ) But fear not! You have another chance to hear my talk, as I’ll be speaking this month at SharePoint Saturday Louisville on July 28th.

And it gets even better! As you may have heard, some new & exciting features have been announced for Azure in the past few weeks. I will most certainly be adding some incorporation of these new features into my talk.

But wait – there’s more! In addition to my talk, you also get to check out all the other great speakers that will also be in attendance at #SPSLouisville. We’re talking about a full-day of great SharePoint content – all for free!

I hope to see you in Kentucky on July 28th. Otherwise, who knows when you might ever be able to hear the Cowbell speak on SharePoint again??? (hint – August 1st; stay tuned for more self-promoting info to come) Let the countdown begin!

SPSLouisville-webspeakerbadgeBTW - The SPS Louisville committee made these kool ‘badges’ for the speakers, so we can add to them to our email sigs and what-not – so I’m going to add mine right here. : )

Friday, July 6, 2012

Sunday, July 1, 2012

SharePoint Saturday Dayton Retrospective


I had the pleasure of representing Improving Enterprises (Silver Sponsor) this weekend at SPS Dayton. I was thinking back on the great sessions I attended, and I realized that this time instead of taking copious notes on my tablet, I opted to take quick small notes on my phone using Evernote.

Here’s a list of some of the ideas, web links, and references that I jotted down this weekend, which I’ll be sure to research more over the coming weeks:

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Hanging with the DAYSPUG gang, talking about InfoPath


Had a great time talking with the folks who attended tonite’s Dayton SharePoint User Group meeting – we had a lively discussion about all things InfoPath, and hopefully I made a believer out of those who might have previously been skeptical about using InfoPath. Hope to see everyone again when we all attend the SharePoint Saturday Dayton event on June 30th! Slide deck for tonite’s talk can be found here.

Monday, June 11, 2012

The CowBell Rings in Azure

imageThis has been a big week for Azure. Scott Guthrie’s keynote about the new Azure features being launched was pretty exciting. There have also been Kick Start events nationwide for Azure, including one here in Columbus, OH this past Saturday, which I attended. My main interest involves Azure & SharePoint integration.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

SharePoint Saturday Atlanta–Medley, Marketing, and… Murder???

This weekend I completed one of my two speaking commitments for this month by presenting at SharePoint Saturday Atlanta on the topic of SharePoint & Azure integration (slides below). Overall, I thought the event was great because it had a good combination of all the right ingredients – a medley of sessions to attend, a great marketing campaign, and… a mystery murder!

Friday, May 18, 2012

SharePoint Speaking in June

Next month is starting to fill up with SharePoint activity – here’s some info on two events I’ll be speaking at in June:

SharePoint & Windows Azure Integration - Practical Ways to Make Your Project More Agile
(SharePoint Saturday Atlanta – June 2nd)

Abstract: More organizations today are embracing Agile principles when completing their software projects. SharePoint projects can also benefit from an Agile methodology, and when combined with Windows Azure, they can provide value in areas like rapid prototyping, good architectural design, and speed to market. In this session, we'll see the different ways that Windows Azure and SharePoint can be integrated, and we'll demo some specific scenarios to show how effectively a SharePoint/Azure project can be implemented. (300-Level)


Dayton SharePoint User Group (DAYSPUG)

InfoPath 2010: Your Path to the Smart Side - Leveraging the Powerful Forces of InfoPath
(Dayton SharePoint User Group – June 12th)

Abstract: InfoPath allows powers users and developers to create rich UI smart forms, and includes features that allow form designers to enforce business rules and integrate line-of-business data into their forms. Combined with SharePoint Form Services, users can create powerful no-code composite applications. This presentation examines best practices for creating and enhancing InfoPath forms. We’ll explore the basics of how InfoPath interacts with SharePoint lists and workflow, touch on some advanced features, and discuss the pros and cons of InfoPath compared to other data entry technologies. Demos will be included. (100-Level)

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

SharePoint vs Skyrim

I, like millions of others, have an addiction… and its name is Skyrim.  Also known as The Elder Scrolls V, it’s a video game – the only video game you’ll ever need. : )

The problem is, as much as I’d like to play it for hundreds of hours like so many others, regardless of its effects on our fragile economy, I can’t – because SharePoint won’t let me. I have speaking engagements coming up, and SharePoint says that I should prepare for them. Instead of exploring the world of Tamriel trying to figure out how to stop the evil dragons, I have to explore the world of Azure and figure out the many ways that SharePoint integrates with it. Instead of deciding between my mace or my sword as I go into battle, I have to decide between farm or sandboxed solutions as I go into my next project.

Sigh… perhaps one day, my Skyrim addiction and my SharePoint addiction will find a way to control my life in a more balanced way. I’ll call it ShareRim….  Smile

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Everything I Know About SharePoint Consulting I Learned from The Ghostbusters

I recently wrote an article about the skills that consultants need to be successful, and since it also applies to SharePoint consultants as well, I thought I’d cross-post here. Enjoy!


Sunday, April 15, 2012

3 Reasons Why Los Angeles InfoPath-Lovers are Awesome

This past Saturday Improving Enterprises sent me to the West Coast to meet with a couple of our clients, but primarily to speak at SharePoint Saturday Los Angeles on the topic of InfoPath 2010. I had a full room (sorry to the folks that had to stand), and a very lively and interactive group of folks who were all very interested in learning more about InfoPath. In fact, I enjoyed our time together so much, I thought I’d share with everyone at least 3 reasons why Los Angeles InfoPath-lovers are so awesome!:

Friday, April 6, 2012

SharePoint Saturday Los Angeles

Next Saturday, April 14th, the Cowbell will be in Long Beach, California speaking at SharePoint Saturday Los Angeles on the topic of InfoPath & SharePoint. I’m looking forward to doing some demos to show attendees how easy it is to create powerful smart forms and pseudo-applications using InfoPath (don’t let me down, virtual Cloudshare environment!) : )

Check out the other great speakers that will be sharing their expertise at this event as well. Also, if you attend my session, you’ll have a chance to take home some swag that my company (Improving Enterprises) will be giving away! See ya there!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

SharePoint User Groups on Twitter

“Lists” are a great Twitter feature for grouping all the tweets from a list of people into one convenient feed. You would create a list if you want to follow the tweets of a group of people talk about the same topic. So, wouldn’t it be great if there was a list of all the SharePoint User Groups (SPUGs) that have Twitter accounts? That way, you could keep up on all the SPUG activity around the world!

Well, the Cowbell wants to help! Check out the Cowbell SPUG list here:

Sunday, April 1, 2012

SharePoint Crash Course webinar with BDPA Atlanta


On Tuesday, April 3rd at 7pm EST, I’ll be delivering an online webinar for the Atlanta chapter of the BDPA as part of their Tech Talks series. I’ve got 90-minutes to give a crash course to attendees on everything that is the wonderful world of SharePoint – that’s right, from calendars to content types, from lists to libraries, from RBS to BCS.

My intent is do a 60-minute lap around the “wheel”, then wrap up with some live demo of solutions that attendees can do as soon as they get back to their office or friendly-neighborhood VPN. Q&A will also be included.

To join the webinar on Apr 3rd, 7pmEST:
   Go to URL
   Call conference call toll free number: (218) 339-2409
   Use Attendee Access Code: 471 4295

[Update 4/4/12 – slide deck added below, and on Slideshare:]

So strap yourself in and join the ride – I’m gonna show you all the stuff you didn’t even know you didn’t know, and weren’t sure you ever wanted to know, but now you know – and knowing is half the battle. Smile

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Useful phrases for fighting SharePoint-Sucks-Syndrome

Many organizations face the challenge of good SharePoint adoption due to the battle of fighting the SharePoint-Sucks-Syndrome (not to be confused with Paul Culmsee’s SharePoint Fatigue Syndrome). SharePoint-Sucks-Syndrome is a debilitating illness that includes the lingering misconception that current-day SharePoint is no good, simply because of bad experiences with previous versions (read SharePoint 2003). Most of us know that SharePoint has improved with leaps & bounds over the past few years. But if you have to work among, or consult for, those who are still suffering from the destructive symptoms of this disease, : ) here are some great affirmations and other useful phrases to help people feel better about their SharePoint experience:

Friday, March 23, 2012

Why BAD Consultants are so necessary

I’d like to think that I’m a pretty good SharePoint Developer. I can jump back and forth from SharePoint Designer to Visual Studio.  I can talk to you about the pros and cons of sandboxed solutions.  I can even talk your ear off about the advantages of using Silverlight and the Client Object Model in SharePoint 2010.

But, as I reflect over the last 2 years, and the SharePoint projects on which I’ve worked with several clients, I realize that I’ve spent an overwhelming portion of my time being a Business Analyst in addition to a SharePoint Developer.

I also realized that’s exactly what each of my clients really needed - a Business-Analyst-Developer consultant. They needed a BAD consultant.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

SharePoint Cincy 2012 Retrospective

Last week I attended the 2nd Annual all-day SharePoint Cincy event in [believe it or not] Cincinnati, Ohio. Once again, Ohio delivers more quality SharePoint content for the community. In addition to seeing a lot of familiar faces, here’s the lowdown on some of the things I got out of the sessions & speakers:

  • The keynote was a panel of speakers from companies like Kroger, the Air Force, Fifth Third Bank, and Microsoft. Each were given a few minutes to share some of their insight on SharePoint, and how they’re using it in their organizations. I liked hearing how much Microsoft is eating their own dogfood thru their heavy internal use of SharePoint for their company portals. The other thing I took away from this is that there are many LARGE companies out there having HUGE success with SharePoint. I point this out because many times you only hear about the challenges of scaling SharePoint in the enterprise. For these folks, the internal adoption and demand for SharePoint among their user base is so successful that they’re having trouble keeping up!
  • I checked out my buddy Tony Maddin and Clint Richardson for their talk on giving your SharePoint site a daily/weekly/monthly “checkup”. Got some good tips regarding what things to look at regularly to make sure your environment is still healthy. It got me thinking about the idea that SharePoint admins can actually help stakeholders with their SharePoint adoption efforts by providing timely stats on over- or under-use of SharePoint – over-use can be spotlighted (“Look at the great things this group is doing!”) and under-use can be questioned (“What is it about your SharePoint site that’s keeping you from using it?”)
  • Stopped by fellow LOTR-lover Peter Serzo’s class and learned that the tabular data model is the new hotness, and is used in Denali (aka SQL Server 2012) – are Cubes on their way out??
  • In Larry Riemann’s session, I got some more ideas about good ways to use Azure with SharePoint. I also like his use of Microsoft’s chart (below) to show the difference between Traditional, IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS models:

All this and more! Plus I got a couple of books signed by their authors (thanx Brian and Mike).

Looking forward to next year – maybe then I’ll be able to present and introduce everyone to the Cowbell! : )

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Update: Webcast with Quest Software

Last week’s webcast with Quest Software and Improving Enterprises was very successful – over 100 people attended the online event to hear about SharePoint customization best practices, and get a live demo of some of the features that Quest web parts bring to the SharePoint landscape. The on-demand video recording should be available soon – stay tuned.

Below is a copy of the slides used, or you can find them on Slideshare. Check here to see the whitepaper.

[[UPDATE 3/26/12: Click Here to view the recording.]]

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Webcast on SharePoint Customization Best Practices

On Wednesday March 14th, Improving Enterprises will be teaming up with Quest Software to help deliver a webcast on SharePoint customization best practices. This is a follow-up to the whitepaper I co-authored last year with SharePoint MCM Mario Fulan. Not only will we be able to elaborate on the topics from the whitepaper, but you’ll also get to see a live demo of some of Quest’s web part products.

Click here to register for this free event!


Sunday, February 12, 2012

SharePoint ALM with TFS–it does exist

Last week, I presented an overview of the features and uses of Teamimage Foundation Server (TFS) 2010 in a webcast to clients in the UK, in a partnership with Microsoft and Improving Enterprises. When the “About Me” slide appeared, I felt compelled to explain that although I’m one of those SharePoint guys (you know, one of the kool geeks Smile), it was important for them to know that SharePoint development also makes use of application lifecycle management, and in fact makes good use of TFS.

For those that don’t want to take my word for it (why don’t you trust me???) here are a a couple of links that I think you’ll find useful. I’ll refrain from saying “I told you so”…

Monday, January 23, 2012

Deploying a Visual Web Part to your Remote-Hosted SharePoint Site using Visual Studio 11 (Dev Preview)

(Update: this post also published on Developer Wiki of

The Developer Preview of Visual Studio 11 is now available, and I’ve been exploring its new capabilities, especially as it relates to SharePoint development. Two of the great new features in Visual Studio 11 that I’ll discuss are

  • the ability to deploy visual web parts as sandboxed solutions
  • the ability to automatically deploy sandboxed solutions to remote SharePoint sites

At the end of this article, I’ll explain why I think this is such a big deal. But for now, I’ll walk thru the 3 easy steps necessary to take advantage of these features. In my case, the remote SharePoint site I’ll use is my Hosted SharePoint account.

Friday, January 20, 2012

InfoPath 2010 presentation at Buckeye SPUG: May the FORMS Be With You…

Last nite I gave my InfoPath 2010 talk to the attendees at the Buckeye SharePoint User Group. Despite a nasty snow storm that swept in inconveniently right at the evening rush hour, lots of folks braved the cold and joined me in an engaging and entertaining talk about the untapped power of InfoPath 2010.

The end of the talk included a demo of a form I created call the Dog Lover’s Application. It’s simply a way to demonstrate some standard, and some not-so-standard, features of InfoPath. I used SharePoint 2010’s imagebuilt-in InfoPath Web Part to embed the form on the homepage of my site. I then asked the audience – “how do you know this isn’t a custom-built web part??” The point I was trying to make is that, with enough clever design, InfoPath forms designers can create some pretty fancy composites that might otherwise normally only be associated with the realm of the all-powerful Developer. : )

My goal was to hopefully make people see the value that InfoPath delivers as another tool in their SharePoint arsenal, and to show that it can be used for more than just the basic form.

The slidedeck can be found below, or on Slideshare::

Saturday, January 14, 2012

SharePoint spotted at Codemash


SharePoint made an appearance at Codemash this year!

This great event is normally light on SharePoint love, but this year I was able to present a 20-minute vendor session for Improving Enterprises that focused on the development features that a [non-SharePoint] developer should know about when contemplating SharePoint development. In my opinion, SharePoint as a dev platform can be a developer paradise because of large collection of tools, libraries, services & utilities at your disposal. And as I’m exploring the Visual Studio 11 Developer Preview (more on that to come), I think many will see that it’s about to get even better.

You can find my slide deck here, and for more info on Codemash, check out the website, or view the very active twitter feed.