Quest Software’s Pain-of-the-Week: The Converging Paths of SQL Server and SharePoint – Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late!

I just wrapped up my first opportunity as a webcast presenter. Thanks to the terrific folks at Quest Software. They produce a bi-weekly webcast appropriately titled "Pain-of-the-Week". "These 45-minute online presentations will explore many of those challenges, present real-world use cases and offer solutions and best practices that you can use in your own environment."

The Converging Paths of SQL Server and SharePoint – Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late!

SharePoint and SQL Server architecture and maintenance requirements have a lot in common. Both platforms share identical features for configuration, security and management.

Join our experts in this webcast to examine the similarities in SharePoint and SQL Server administration. Learn why it’s important for you to get familiar with both platforms to streamline your day-to-day tasks.

Presenters: David Walker, Doug Davis, David Gugick

The little that I was able to watch the attendee numbers, showed at one time over 515+ attendees. We had great Q&A session as well.

Be sure to watch the site for other upcoming webcasts that can hopefully help you alleviate your Pain-of-the-Week.

Our presentation will be available shortly under the "Past Webcasts" if you were unable to attend.

Thank you Quest for the opportunity. Everyone at Quest did a great job and they work very hard to make these webcasts useful.

.NET Framework 3.5 SP1 (Service Pack 1) changes to ViewState causes stability issues in Sitecore products

I just received the email below from Sitecore regarding stability issues that .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 (Service Pack 1) is causing with all Sitecore products. I am glad they sent this out. Hopefully the companies using Sitecore products will see it before they install the Service Pack and lose a lot of time with the issues it is causing.

There are a couple questions that come to mind, but the first one is this the only product that will have problems?

If you are using a product that is built on top of ASP.NET you may need to be very careful. The bug described and the issues with it have not been reported specifically yet. It has simply been described as a "bug in the LosFormatter class (System.Web.UI.LosFormatter in System.Web.dll, used to serialize and deserialize an ASP.NET ViewState)."

It would be interesting to know if any other products have problems, if you know of any others let us know, via comments.

My most important question though is, could this have been caught in the Beta cycle? Or is this a bug/change put in place since the last Beta release?

Why change how ViewState is serialized and deserialized anyway? πŸ™‚

ASP.NET MVC is looking more interesting all the time. Just have to wait for the rest of the marketplace to get it integrated into their products. πŸ™‚

Here’s the email:

Dear Sitecore Enthusiast,

You are receiving this message because you are subscribed to the Sitecore Product Issues and Patches mailing list.
On Monday, August 4th, Microsoft released the following service packs: Visual Studio 2008 SP1 and .NET 3.5 SP1.
Sitecore has discovered that these service packs introduce a bug in the LosFormatter class (System.Web.UI.LosFormatter in System.Web.dll, used to serialize and deserialize an ASP.NET ViewState). This bug causes stability issues in Sitecore products. Sitecore has raised this as an urgent priority issue with Microsoft (case number : SRQ080813600454) and is working to help resolve this issue.
In the meantime, PLEASE DO NOT INSTALL .NET 3.5 SP1 and Visual Studio 2008 SP1 on any server running a Sitecore product (including Sitecore WCMS, Intranet Portal, and Foundry) until further notice!
Symptoms associated with installing either of these service packs:

  • Memory consumption increases dramatically and single core CPU usage goes up to 100% when opening the Access Viewer or Media Library applications.
  • OutOfMemoryExceptions thrown in the Desktop and Content Editor.
  • The browser becomes unresponsive when accessing Sitecore.

Please be aware that Microsoft may include this Service Pack as part of the monthly ‘Patch Tuesday’. Please take steps to avoid the automatic installation of these service packs.
Please be aware that the final version of SQL Server 2008 will require .NET 3.5 SP1.
If you have any questions about this issue, please contact Sitecore support.
Best Regards, Sitecore Support Team.

SharePoint resources continue to see exponential grow

Just 2 days ago now the SharePoint Pod Show pushed their very first podcast. It was definitely great to listen to it and am very excited about the upcoming shows! They’ve created a SharePoint Pod Show FaceBook group so you can let them know what you want to hear as well!

A few weeks ago one of the hosts, Rob Foster instant messaged me that he was starting up a SHAREPOINT NATION! FaceBook group and wanted me to start up a SHAREPOINT NATION! LinkedIn group, so I did. It’s a term, a chant, a life style, that Rob coined around the time frame of the MVP Summit. You can find some of the history about it on his blog, We are SharePoint Nation!!! In my opinion it is the difference between a "social networking" thing and a real life group of motivated and enthusiastic individuals working together as a community, a REAL community, a NATION.

SharePointNationSince then, SharePoint MVP, Amanda Murphy found the time to create the awesome logo that’s now on all the groups and sites and simply says it all: Virtually Everything you need for SharePoint.

On July 16th, 2008, just a few short weeks ago, Bob Fox and crew launched the International SharePoint Professionals Association (ISPA). You can find out the details and plans on his blog post Announcing it.

SharePoint Magazine launched it’s first "issue" within the last couple weeks as well. Although, if you follow me on Twitter @DavidWalker you already heard me razz them for running it using WordPress. That is definitely no reason to not read it! They already have some great information. There’s many sites that fall victim to this type of technical treachery – SharePointBestPractices.com is built with PHP.

Finally, the open source project that SharePoint MVP – Stacy Draper and I have been hard at work on became publicly available around July 14th, 2008. We still have just a little more work to wrap it up for Release 1.0, typical scope creep issues with guys who are very excited about the project and the functionality that it can provide. The day before we had to make it public, CodePlex forces projects to be public within 30 days after creation or they will be deleted, we added a bunch of stuff that broke the deployment script at the moment. I hope to get his resolved as quickly as possible, so we can release version 1.0. In the mean time, check out the project and what it can do at CodePlex.com/PowerQueryWebPart. Once, Release 1.0 goes live I’ll post more details about the making of the project and how this swiss army knife can be a must have in your WebPart Gallery in any SharePoint site.

CNBC – America’s Top States for Business 2008

I just happened to see the blog post by Jason Edwards about how his state, Texas, is ranked # 1  on CNBC’s Top States for Business 2008 rankings.

So of course I was curious, how well would Oklahoma rank? Well it appears we’ve moved up 4 spots from # 32 to # 28.

What’s really odd is the really bad drop from # 9 to # 30 on the Workforce category and the huge jump in Economy from # 26 to # 3.

What’s disappointing is Education practically stayed flat from # 47 to # 45 and Technology & Innovation did stay flat at # 35.

Remember folks, this is out of 50!

All this and we border Texas (ranked # 1!). I think Education, Technology and now Workforce are the biggest issues with our state at the moment. Economy, Cost of Doing Business and Cost of Living are practically as good as you can get.

To me, what it sounds like this all means, in Oklahoma you can live cheap and run a business cheap in a strong economy, but don’t expect many educated, technically advanced workers. Sad.

David Yack will be presenting on Exploring the Entity Framework for the Tulsa SQL Server Group!

I had to be in Los Angeles a couple weeks ago now for some cross training and to meet my awesome development team in person for the first time. You have to love the freedom that the internet provides telecommuters. Thank you IM, email, remote desktop, ftp, and on and on.

It just so happened that I found that David Yack, a Microsoft Regional Director and INETA Speaker, was presenting "Exploring the Entity Framework" to the San Gabriel Valley .NET Developers Group my first night in town. It was my first time actually seeing a presentation on the Entity Framework. I was definitely glad that Zain Naboulsi had just presented on LINQ Features in Visual Studio 2008 because he was sure to show the  new LINQ to SQL Classes feature of Visual Studio 2008. You can really see how far the team has come with modeling between the LINQ to SQL Classes and the soon to be released Entity Framework 1.0. Follow them on their new blog: EFDesign.

To put it in away that any developer can understand: DAO, RDO, ADO, ADO.NET and now (ADO.NET) EF (Entity Framework).

Granted there a lot of other options when it comes to separating your data from you business logic, nHibernate, etc. and this is a version 1 product. In my opinion, it looks like it can improve the application architecture in many development departments and across many projects.

There has been some very vocal criticism by way of a "vote of no confidence" mostly from the nHibernate crowd. They do bring a lot of great points and it’s obvious from the quick response of Tim Mallalieu, the Microsoft Program Manager leading the team, they are listening and setting their priorities for version 2. This is definitely something I wouldn’t sign, because as D’Arcy put it "Our role is to learn." You simply can’t move forward if something new is not offered and with my limited exposure to it, I must say it is a very nice step forward.  Kathleen Dollard listed an even greater number of reasons to not sign the petition and I’m sure 99.9% of every developer out there would have to agree with her response to the Entity Framework Petition. Lastly, for those doing their proper research on the Entity Framework, Ward Bell, Product Manager for DevForce .NET by IdeaBlade, made several excellent valid real world business reasons in his response to the petition and why he wouldn’t sign it.

I was very excited to hear, the day before flying to Los Angeles, that INETA is sending our first speaker to the Tulsa SQL Server Group. It is none other than David Yack! Woot! It’s great knowing what the local developers are about to see in just a few weeks. I can’t wait for David to share it with them. Thanks INETA!

I will see everyone on Monday, August 18th, 2008 at 6:00pm for this terrific presentation!

Zain Naboulsi rocked the house with LINQ Features in Visual Studio 2008!

I felt compelled to blog about the presentation that our regional Microsoft MSDN Developer Evangelist – Zain Naboulsi gave tonight for the TulsaDevelopers.NET users group. Watch out Jason Townsend and the newly formed Bartlesville .NET User Group you are in store for an awesome presentation tomorrow at lunch!

Zain did an awesome job of explaining LINQ in the easiest to understand way that I think I’ve ever heard it so far. Plus, squashed all reasons for not using it.

He didn’t just stop at explaining it though. He really showed how we can take advantage of the tools provided by Visual Studio 2008 to more efficiently and effectively utilize LINQ in our projects.

He showed us how easy it is to take advantage of the source project Scott Guthrie’s posted on his blog: LINQ to SQL Debug Visualizer and drove home the point that you can easily create your own visualizers as well.

It was pretty obvious by the end of the meeting that everyone in attendance was sold on using it and is *maybe* as much as Zain is.

Don’t just take my word for. Zain has published 22 webcasts "that can change your life" covering the nuts and bolts of how to effectively use Visual Studio 2008 and his LINQ Features in Visual Studio 2008 is there as well.

I’ll be watching them all shortly. Just to see how well the webcasts catch the "Zain Experience".

Of course, he mentioned his now (in)famous Second Life .NET Developers User Group. He assured me that we can jump straight to the island and not have to worry about the non-family friendly avatars that could be found in Second Life. Maybe I can talk my wife into letting me attend one now, we shall see.

TechEd 2008, 2008 MVP, Hyper-V RTM, Sharepoint-Vista!, Sitecore 6, INETA Community Awards and NEW INETA NORAM Speakers!

Okay. I know. I know. I need to break these up and do blog more often. Being the VP of the INETA NORAM Speakers Bureau, running 4 user groups, planning 2 conferences per year, working a full time job, 4 kids and speaking at various conventions, you get the idea. So, I catch up when I can.

After prepping and then speaking at Microsoft’s Developer TechEd 2008, I had a lot to catch up on at work. It having been my first time at TechEd it was definitely amazing. If you’re a developer and have never been to one, you are definitely missing out. I would compare it to the World Series for Baseball Fans or the Superbowl for (American football) fans. You have must attend. It is so huge. I’m talking massive numbers of computers around for attendees to hop on and use, learning labs, Microsoft Certification Exam Center on site, Vendors and so many awesome speakers and presentations. They even bought out part of Universal Studios for an Attendees only party! Definitely don’t miss it! It was wonderful hearing from so many folks afterwards that my presentation really helped them a lot and how they loved hearing from an industry expert in the field, instead of just Microsoft folks. My presentation "How to use Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 as an Application Development Architecture" focused on two parts: the number of servers and type of architecture required for a high availability SharePoint deployment and how to do things the wrong way and the right with SharePoint development – main walk away point – focus on building powerful and reusable webparts and use as much from the provide application architecture as possible. Don’t always go the cowboy way and use the tools that are provided instead of just code slinging. You can find out more about my presentation on my Microsoft MVP profile.

I just read an awesome article today in CodeMagazine from SharePoint MVP and INETA Speaker Sahil Malik – it’s a must read – 10 Things You Wish they Told You – Part 1!

I just received the email today, that I have received the 2008 Microsoft MVP – Visual Developer ASP/ASP.NET award. All I can say, besides thank you, is I am just SO glad my date doesn’t fall on April 1st (Fool’s Day)! That would just drive me crazy. The most frequent comment that I’ve heard so far, "I figured you would have moved to the SharePoint group this time around". Well, for one, I am not one to "look a gift horse in the mouth". Not to mention, I haven’t personally investigated what it takes to make such a move. I did however prove at the 2008 MVP Summit that I can stowaway in the SharePoint sessions.

I will say this. In just T-minus 8 days, I will be contributing even more to the SharePoint community by way of a pretty rocking project on CodePlex that I’m wrapping up with the help of SharePoint MVP Stacy Draper and Rob Foster. So stay tuned! We have several more planned as well.

I just saw that Hyper-V RTM’d! So, I’m going to give it a whirl. When I tested a few months ago, it obviously performed better, but I was so used to Virtual Server 2005 that I chose to wait for it to RTM to try it again. I have already formatted my notebook and am running Windows Server 2008. No more playing around with VPC’s for SharePoint development for me. It’s given me a huge performance gain!

Also, on my desktop, which is running Vista 64 bit, I followed the step by step guide from Bamboo Solutions Jonas Nilsson, (who presented at my first conference ever – TulsaTechFest 2006!), provided to the community and with just a few minor security tweaks now have WSS running on my Vista Desktop.

Sitecore CMS 6, code named Crestone, was released yesterday (July 1st). I installed it last night and am impressed so far. Performance has been improved and integrated search, cleaner inline and end user publishing and a whole lot more – more details here. I’ll be covering more of my thoughts as I get to use it more.

If you don’t get the INETA NORAM Newsletter, here’s some of the key announcements: Time is running out for you to get your community contributions entered for dates July 1st, 2007 to June 30th 2008 – the deadline is July 14th, 2008. Shortly thereafter, INETA will be recognizing folks with the INETA Community Champion and the INETA Community Excellence Awards! Show us what you got now!

As the VP of the INETA NORAM Speakers Bureau, I included some updates regarding the NORAM Speakers Bureau! First, once Carl Franklin returns from his Speaker Idol world tour he will become active as an INETA Speaker again! And, help me welcome the NEW INETA Speakers: Richard Campbell, and DotNetNuke (DNN) Experts: Joe Brinkman and Chris Hammond, and SharePoint Experts: Andrew Connell and Daniel Larsen!

For speakers only, (at this time), I have created a LinkedIn Group and a Facebook Group to provide better communication and interaction between INETA Speakers worldwide.

I also created a Twitter account: @INETASpeakers, so it’s even easier for everyone to see which INETA Speakers are using Twitter and keep up with them and their activities a whole lot easier! You can get also become a Fan of the INETA Speakers Bureau and follow their Twitter activity from the Facebook page I set up here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/INETA-Speakers-Bureau/48220250083. I am making efforts to improve on the communication internally and between the Speakers and the community.

In closing, as I was typing this up, it’s now time to wish my wife Happy 14th Anniversary! It was July 2nd, 1994 that she made me the luckiest man alive and after 14 years and 4 kids, it’s awesome that we both still feel the same way towards each other, as we did, when we met in High School Driver’s Education class. (Now everyone knows why I failed my first driving test.) πŸ™‚

Plus, I received an email confirming the details that I’ll be speaking at the newly formed Bartlesville .NET Users Group on August 8th, 2008 with my presentation titled "How to Build Powerful Webparts for SharePoint 2007".

SharePoint versus Alfresco

Sahil Malik has a great response to this CNET Post (Forget file formats. The battle is Sharepoint) in his blog post: CNET – please do your research before opening your big mouth!

I also find it very amusing that the post is date May 21, 2008. I KNOW I have seen this exact same article posted roughly six months ago. I’m still looking for it. Could CNET actually went so far as to just change the date to recycle this crap? I know this for a fact, because I had never heard of Alfresco until the article that was either the exact same article or "disclaimer" by another Alfresco employee.

It’s so funny considering Alfresco has some pretty steep licensing fees. I came across this site which had a really good comparison between SharePoint and Alfresco – Microsoft SharePoint VS Alfresco – Part 1 and Part 2.

The main thing to keep in mind when evaluating a CMS solution for your enterprise is to get your information from a reputable source. Better yet, get the products, in trial edition form at least, and do your own comparison.

Obviously, we have to watch for disinformation as it appears from this article that CNET is helping to spread. Alfresco must be getting desperate?

Redmond Developer News – Windows 7 Lockdown cover article

The May 15, 2008 edition of Redmond Developer News magazine arrived at my door today. I had to immediately read the cover article: Windows 7 Lockdown. I must say out of everything in the article that is troubling, with the position that Microsoft is and has been taking with Windows 7, is the fact that Steven Sinofsky, now the senior vice president for the Windows® and Windows Live™ Engineering Group, formerly "oversaw the development of the Microsoft Office system".

Don’t get me wrong. Microsoft Office is a minimum requirement for 99.99% of every person and is used hours upon hours every day. Yes, the Microsoft Office team has done an excellent job of pushing new versions out every two years.

Okay, enough praise, I suppose. Here’s my problem and the problem that I am sure everyone else will agree with once the look at it from this perspective: Microsoft Office has been and continues to be notoriously known for years as the worst example of bloatware! I think too many of us have forgotten that over the years, as CPU’s, RAM, and disk space has continued at such a rapid pace. I think we need to be reminded. Microsoft Office Suite has things that still need to be addressed take the simple issue I came across at on this Jeff Bell’s blog regarding a Microsoft Publisher Viewer. You start to see that not everyone remains happy with Office. Microsoft Publisher has always been treated as an "outsider" to the Office suite. I know a whole lot of people are still upset about the Ribbon interface, even though Microsoft promotes it as the best thing to EVER happen to Office. I personally have grown use to it over time, just as we have grown use to and ignore the bloatware factor.

In Microsoft’s defense, what one person perceives as bloatware is a must have feature to someone else. That is why I do hope Windows 7 ends up taking the same path as Windows Server 2008 and more easily allow me to choose the features I want. Other than that, my only request to Microsoft is PLEASE allow the Ribbon to be toned down at least a little. I love tabs (which in my opinion is really all that the ribbon is), but I do learn what the pictures on a button mean, so please let me insert my Tables, Pictures, Shapes, Charts, Hyperlinks, etc without having to actually start at the Text as well. It used to be common practice to allow someone to configure how they want to use their computer – "Small Toolbar Icons", etc. I prefer the desktop real-estate on my two 21" wide Dell LCD’s. Oh well, it’s only an inch. Give me back the power to make these simple decisions. Why are we moving in the opposite direction? This is my frustration and whole reason of concern. One step forward (every two years) and two steps back (bloatware, no personalization, preferences, or choices, continued incompatibilities and lack of integration with the rest of the enterprise and technology.

To wrap it up, the article does have some other critical things to say about the new process, now under Sinosfy, and that is the tight lipped non-disclosure policies that have been portrayed – translucency versus transparency. For crying out loud, the folks living and working with IT need to be aware of the roadmap if they ever intend to try and continue driving through the fog.

I personally hope Microsoft gets it right with Windows 7. We shall see. I actually prefer Vista over XP. I do occasionally feel the pain of incompatibilities, but I haven’t looked back yet.