Slinger's Thoughts

February 27, 2013

Setting “Cancel on first rejection” on an SPD workflow.

Filed under: 2010, SharePoint, SharePoint Designer, Workflow — slingeronline @ 10:57 am

I’ve been working on a workflow for a department at work.  It turns out to be a bit complicated, since it is a multi-step approval workflow and I need to clean up the task assignment e-mails sent.  So here is how the workflow needs to work.  When an item is submitted to a library, the approval workflow starts.  One user has an approval task.  If that one user rejects the submitted item the workflow is over.  If he approves, then 5 additional people need to approve the workflow. There is no particular order, so running the second stage of the approval in parallel is ideal.  If any one of those individuals reject the item then the workflow is over.  There must be 6 approvals in total for the item to be approved.  Doing a two stage approval workflow in SharePoint designer is fairly easy, and for clarity I will add how to do that in this post as well.

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February 1, 2013

Don’t they test that?

Filed under: SharePoint — Tags: , , , — slingeronline @ 9:29 am

Well, today is my last day at Idera.  I was a Quality Assurance engineer testing their SharePoint disaster recovery product.  I have seen behind the curtain at a software vendor and I know a lot more about what goes on in the life cycle of a piece of software.  I can assure you that yes, it is tested. Part of my job was to test the functionality of the software and all of the new features that were included in each new release, and that has enlightened me to some very interesting things.  (more…)

January 31, 2012

The good side of the SharePoint community, a view from underneath.

Filed under: SharePoint — Tags: — slingeronline @ 11:43 am

An article was posted the other day by Bjorn Furuknap about the decline of the SharePoint Community. (Article here.) I don’t disagree with what he said, but I have a different point of view on it. First, Bjorn is a well known and respected member of the SharePoint Community.  I’m not saying he is wrong about everything that was stated in his blog post. He is very likely absolutely correct.  What I find is that sometimes it is a matter of the perspective. And my perspective is different from his, for a myriad of reasons.

  • Why from underneath?

I am not a SharePoint MVP. I’m not a speaker at SharePoint events around the country. I have yet to speak at our local user group because I want it to be done well.  (I’m also not going to take someone else’s topic of expertise and try to make it my own.) I am a SharePoint Administrator, and I currently do quality assurance for a company that creates SharePoint software. I’m one of the people that is listening intently to the community, either on various blogs, or on Twitter. I do have a blog of my own, that has my own findings on SharePoint, (You’re reading it now incidentally,) however I am not one of the prolific bloggers that has a post a week. Either I don’t run into that many issues, or someone else has already blogged about it. The SharePoint Community is not just the bloggers, the MVPs, the speakers and the sponsors though. The community also has the listeners and the learners. SharePoint Saturdays are not for all of the SharePoint experts to gather around and listen to each other speak. It is so that we can hear what they have to say, and ask questions that we may be too afraid to ask in a different format. It is so that we can learn what we don’t know. And learning from a respected member of the community carries weight. It may not carry weight to the person being asked, but it carries weight to us.

  • As the product grows the community will also.

SharePoint has gotten bigger. It almost goes without saying that the community will have to grow also. New SharePoint User Groups, SharePints, and SharePoint Saturdays are popping up all over the place. It is to the point now where there is very likely some kind of SharePoint event going on right now. Our experts and mentors cannot possibly attend every single one of these events. In order to fill that gap, the community grows. We will have more MVPs, more experts, more speakers because of this growth. This isn’t a bad thing. It is just a fact of nature and part of the culture.

  • Different users have different needs, and all of those need to be met.

Not every SharePoint user is the same. Some are administrators, some are developers, some are architects, some are power-users, and so on. Not every SharePoint farm is the same. Some farms can live happily on one or two machines and never have any issues. Some farms are giant lumbering behemoths with 35 servers. Multiply the different possible farm configurations, by the different kinds of users, and almost every SharePoint user has a different need for SharePoint knowledge. Some need information on disaster recovery, some need information on performance. Some might even need some completely non technical information.

  • SharePoint is a monster, having experts in different areas, or “splintering,” helps us find the influencers we should pay attention to.

There is not a “One Size Fits All” SharePoint answer. Some would say that because of this the SharePoint community has “splintered.” I don’t agree. I think that the SharePoint community has specialized. There are certain SharePoint community members that you know will have authoritative answers to that component of SharePoint that you want to know more about. Some are more outspoken than others, but the experts are there. There is also the occasional SharePointer that just wants a recommendation for a good beer.

  • One of the only online communities that is warm and inviting from the outset, you don’t have to “prove” anything.

Once upon a long time ago I was a member of an IRC chat room. In order to be accepted into this community I had to prove something to them. I had to prove that I was worth asking them a question.  The SharePoint community isn’t like that, and I am grateful that it isn’t. If you have a question about something SharePoint, ask. No one will look down on you. No one will tell you to “RTFM.” (Well maybe, but they’ll also give you a link to the exact page in “TFM” that you happen to be looking for.) One of the reasons that I love SharePoint as much as I do, has nothing to do with SharePoint. It is the community. This community could be supporting the “Lets call it beer and drink it anyways” society and it wouldn’t matter. The SharePoint community is built of friendly, helpful people.  That warm and inviting atmosphere inspires more SharePoint users to become SharePoint speakers and experts.

  • Only community I know of where individuals who work for companies that are bitter rivals, can be cooperative and engaging.

Most of the time in the corporate world, if you work for the competition, you are somehow not as nice a person. Magically this is not so in the SharePoint community. SharePoint experts who work at competing companies often follow each other on Twitter. And they are friends in real life. Their companies may hate each other, but they don’t hold a grudge and respect each other. I wish that our politicians were more like our SharePoint community.  I’m sure that it is not all fluffy in the community, but for the most part, at least the part that we can see, all of these people act like lifelong friends. I would even dare to say that some of them are my friends, even though we may have only met twice.

So although I can see Mr. Furuknap’s point I don’t think he is entirely correct. Sometimes it helps to consider the perspective and I thought I would add my two cents to the conversation.

January 4, 2012

It may not be your Content Databases that need upgrading

Filed under: 2010, SharePoint — Tags: , — slingeronline @ 1:03 pm

I recently had to recover from a disaster with one of our SharePoint testing environments. (This happens to be the only testing environment that is not on virtual hardware.) Fortunately, I do quality assurance testing for a disaster recovery product and it wasn’t long before I had new hardware for the failing database server and could rebuild the farm. I did run into some interesting issues however. After I reinstalled the WFEs and had central administration working again, I reattached the content databases that I had recovered. After all of this my farm worked fine and I had access to all of my Site Collections again. Disaster averted. The health analyzer on the farm kept warning me about upgrading databases though. Specifically the error message that I got was the following; "Database is in compatibility range and upgrade is recommended."  Seems simple enough. There are Powershell commands that I can use to upgrade the databases.

$contentdb = Get-SPContentDatabase | Where-Object {$_.Name -eq "WSS_Content"}

Upgrade-SPContentDatabase -Identity $contentdb

I ran those commands from a Powershell prompt (the SharePoint 2010 Management Shell since that one automatically loads the SharePoint snap-in.) I was then immediately irritated when the upgrade failed.

WARNING: Database [SPContentDatabase Name=WSS_Content] does not need to be upgraded.

So, Central Administration tells me that my database needs to be upgraded, and then when I try to update the database, it tells me that it doesn’t need to be upgraded. I was a little confused. I figured I would try a different approach, so I ran PSConfig on the farm with the “build to build” switch.

psconfig -cmd upgrade -inplace b2b -wait -force

This only resulted in more errors.

I then tried to detach and reattach the content databases, since, when attaching a content db, SharePoint should typically upgrade the database if it needs it. That didn’t work either.

I talked with Sean McDonough for a few minutes about the situation and he enlightened me that there is a chance that it is not my content databases that need upgrading. How do you really know though? Time to poke into your content databases to tell for sure.  The first database you need to check is your SharePoint Config database since that is the one that shows you what version your farm is currently using, be it a service pack, or one of the myriad cumulative updates. Run the following in a Sequel Server Management Studio Query.

use SharePoint_Config
SELECT Version
FROM Versions
WHERE VersionId = ‘00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000’
ORDER BY Id DESC

This will show you every version that your farm has evolved through. Mine showed one version; 14.0.4762.1000. (This is incidentally the RTM version of SharePoint 2010) I then ran the same query against one of my databases that supposedly needed to be upgraded and found more than one version. 4762 was there, but so was 5128. It would seem that it wasn’t my content databases that needed to be upgraded, but rather the rest of my farm. Now my problem was figuring out which version I needed to end up with after upgrading. Fortunately, Todd Klindt has an awesome reference page here that will tell you which Service Pack or Cumulative Update each version number means with a link to download what you need. I downloaded the Cumulative Update for October 2010, installed it on my farm, and then ran psconfig again to finish everything up. All of those “database needs upgrade” errors were gone and the health analyzer on my farm settled down again. Just to be sure I went to the Farm’s Central Administration, then to “Upgrade and Migration” and clicked on “Review Database status.”  Every database stated “No Action required” instead of the upgrade message.

So, if you have to recover a farm and reattach your databases, or you are attaching your content databases to a new farm, keep in mind that if SharePoint tells you that databases need to be upgraded, it might not be the databases that are in need of an upgrade.

Many thanks to Sean McDonough for his input, and to Todd Klindt for his blog for reference. 

 

August 8, 2011

Who’s SharePoint installation are you training your users for?

Filed under: SharePoint — slingeronline @ 8:48 am

The proliferation of SharePoint in the business world brings new users to SharePoint everyday.  Because SharePoint is so easily customizable, many businesses have optimized their SharePoint installation for their own business needs. Some use SharePoint as a CRM system, some use it for ECM, and yet others use SharePoint as a full blown intranet. While some users may have used SharePoint at a previous company, many others have not.  So if you ask someone if they have used SharePoint you’ll get an array of answers and experience.  The real question should be, “Have they used your SharePoint?” 

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May 6, 2011

Where do you get started?

Filed under: 2010, SharePoint — slingeronline @ 12:00 am

A comment on one of my other blog posts asked me “Which SharePoint role would be a good starting position?” (I did paraphrase the question a bit. The blog post I am referring to is here.) What an awesome question. Where do you begin? When you are first branching out into the vast SharePoint world and looking for a career, what should your first steps be? What books should you read? What classes should you take? What certifications should you pursue? What’s with all the bacon? Hopefully I can shed a little light on this, and tell people the right place to start to begin on a career involving SharePoint.

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February 18, 2011

Database Mirroring and SharePoint 2010

Filed under: 2010, SharePoint — slingeronline @ 1:25 pm

I was recently tasked with creating a VM environment that had all of the SharePoint Databases Mirrored.  It didn’t need to be anything fancy, so I did not need a witness server.  I found out something interesting when attempting to mirror the Service Application Databases. SharePoint 2010 now makes it fairly easy to register which databases are mirrored and where the mirror is located for some of the databases through Central Administration.  Not quite all of them though.  First we are going to go ahead and set up mirroring for a content DB so that we can get that out of the way. (This took me a while since everything online always seemed to miss one crucial step.)  Once you complete this little guide, you will have a mirrored database that SharePoint is aware of.  After that, I will go through all of the databases that can be set up for mirroring through Central Administration. (I know! Fun! Right?)

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January 17, 2011

How to Solve Problems

Filed under: SharePoint — slingeronline @ 2:02 pm

I was upgrading my computer’s operating system over the weekend and while doing so, I was also checking all of my files for what to keep and what to let go. I came across something I had thrown together several years back about how to solve problems.  In the company where I worked at the time, the solution to any issues that arose was to let someone go, because they were the problem.  It  frustrated me that the management at this company couldn’t see that the problem was usually not a person, but a bad practice. I have worked at an ISO9001 company before, and even then, problems were still abundant, and the solutions didn’t seem to make sense. In my attempt to alleviate the issues, I wrote down the following guidelines for problem resolution. I’m not a Project Manager, and I am not relaying something I learned in a certification class. This is from my own experience, and should work in any situation where a problem has arisen.

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January 10, 2011

Dear Employers, Please explain to me how someone can be “overqualified.”

Filed under: SharePoint — slingeronline @ 8:45 am

Note: I had to rewrite this after I had calmed down a bit.

A friend of mine has been looking for work for over a year now. The last offer that she was turned away from had the same story as many of the others. “We are sorry, but you are overqualified.” I must admit that I’m a little bit baffled by this.  I can understand how someone can be “underqualified” but I’m not sure how “overqualified” can be a negative.  Imagine if we applied this concept of overqualified to a purchase of something like software. The software does everything that you need it to do.  The pricing is less than you were expecting to have to pay initially.  You don’t buy the software however because it has features that you would not use, so instead you go with a competitor’s product that costs more, and does almost everything you need it to do, except for one or two crucial things.  Brand Loyalty notwithstanding, this is an example of poor judgment.

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November 11, 2010

What is your nightmare SharePoint Farm (Not the best of Best Practices…)

Filed under: SharePoint — slingeronline @ 1:14 pm

We all have them. Those things that drive us crazy.  The things that make us wonder “Were they sniffing glue?” You may have inherited one. You may have left one behind for someone else to inherit. They are out there though, like zombie cheerleaders, waiting to pounce on an unsuspecting Admin or Developer. I am of course speaking of SharePoint farms.  These are the more unwieldy ones though. Not the pictures of grace and beauty that are a dream to manage, but probably more like a site for “Steve’s Rack & Stack Mortuary.” I will admit, I am guilty of creating some of these. When you are new to SharePoint some things frustrate you when they don’t do what you expect.  There always seems to be some little detail that you left out. I’ll tell you some of mine, that I have created, left behind, and encountered. I’m sure there are more out there that you have run into also. Let us know what you have seen that left you sleepless, or done that you might be ashamed of.

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