Microsoft Collaboration, CTO viewpoint, and New York

The blog for Office 365, Power Apps, Flow, SharePoint, cloud, ….. plus a little NYC

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Thoughts in AgilePoint

With the death nail on InfoPath, there’s a lot of talk on workflow and forms engines in SharePoint….We choose AgilePoint

Formotus is another option and they have a completely independent white paper that you can download from their web site.  Oh course it’ll be totally independent, given that it’s from their web site.  🙂

The Good:- What’s really cool about the product

  1. 1.      UI:

–        User friendly development.

–        Easy to deploy and use.

–        Neat Mobile friendly forms available

–        Parallel process of two applications possible using sub process using no code.

–        SharePoint workflows in Agilepoint solve most purposes for which event receivers are needed.

–        Wide variety of controls available for various functionalities.

–        Different process models available for different uses. I.e. E-forms, Sharepoint Forms, System  Integration etc.

–        Can add Jquery/ CSS to controls easily through shared/ individual files.

  1. 2.      Runtime:

–        Detailed information about variables/fields used available at runtime.

–        Multiple data sources can be used at various events.

–        Running applications will continue to run when a new change is published, as a result of which the system doesn’t have to be brought down to deploy changes.

–        Can use APIs to access any kind of data from other resources.

  1. 3.      Product features:

–        SharePoint version independent will work with future versions.

–        Easy to be integrated into different systems because SharePoint, Sales force have AgilePoint Dashboards available.

–        Log in using various Authorization method possible. (OAuth2 covers a lot of authorization methods)

–        Very easy to export applications to other tenants and reuse them.

–        Globally reusable tokens can be created and exported to multiple application increasing reusability.

–        Individual forms also can be exported and re-used across multiple applications and tenants.


  1. 4.      On Premise /Private Cloud

–        Multiple tenants possible on a private cloud

–        Can access data stored in xml and create various reports based on the data



The Bad:

  1. UI:

–        Canvas designed in a way that plain text cannot be placed on a form. It has to be in controls.

–        Controls take up a specific size which cannot be changed in height. This does give a neater look but desired look is difficult (I may be biased as this is easily possible in MS word/ Infopath).

–        Nesting controls is difficult except put in subforms which in turn do not support a lot of controls

–        Custom HTML controls rendering is difficult.

–        Autosave doesn’t happen and the UI becomes unresponsive at time causing loss of data

  1. Runtime:

–        Lookups take a while to load.

–        Page submit actions can’t be modified.

–        Poor integration with IE

–        Offline modification of forms not possible

  1. Product Features:

–        Look and feel can’t be modified to look like SharePoint to maintain consistency

–        Difficult to integrate in SP if not using Agilepoint dashboards as a physical location of forms/tasks is not available



The Ugly:- What totally sucks

  1. UI:

–        Very poor support for multiple controls in design time and runtime. Hence not suitable for larger forms.

  1. Runtime:

–        Cant access forms from a physical location as forms are available as tasks. This is usually a major requirement by the client.

–        Cant access data on the forms anywhere hence can’t be put in reports easily.


Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2010 Health Check

A new service that I’m offering:

If you feel that there are some performance issues with your SharePoint environment and you need a review these, I can help by providing comprehensive health checkup. This can be one off or an ongoing activity. This is a list of the items that would be evaluation/audited during a SharePoint 2010 health check. It covers the basics of any SharePoint farm.

1) Hardware Resources Check: Installed Software, Allocated Storage, Hardware Profiles and Resource Usage, IIS Settings and Logs, Event Logs Diagnosis.

2) Environment Topology: Participating servers and roles, Outgoing email settings, Incoming email settings, Diagnostic Logging and Usage Analysis, Timer Job Status and Diagnosis, License Type evaluation, Cumulative Update Level evaluation.

3) Web Applications and Content Databases: Web Applications Evaluation, Content Databases Evaluation, Database properties and sizing, Transaction log properties and allocation, SQL and Web Application Authentication Evaluation.

4) Service Applications and Service Accounts: Service accounts, Managed accounts, General Service Applications, User Profile Service Application, Search Service Application, Service Applications Authentication Evaluation.


Many organizations have asked me to train their user base to become familiar with the SharePoint platform. I offer training courses on the following subjects

End User

– Based on my book. 1 DayWhat gets covered: SharePoint essentials, managing information, creating your day.
Power User Essentials 2 Days

Day 1: SharePoint Essentials , SharePoint Power user experience , Non SharePoint Designer branding and UI redesign

Day 2: Review of user security requirements, Branding with SharePoint Designer. UI, graphics, Content changes with SharePoint Designer, SharePoint Designer Workflow Management

SharePoint Designer 2007/2010

Day 1 : The SharePoint Designer workspace, SharePoint Sites , Web Page Content , Web Pages , Lists and Libraries , Web Parts , Master Pages
Day 2: Cascading Style Sheets, Site Definitions and Templates, SharePoint Site Management, Usability and Accessibility, Data Views, Data Sources, Controls, Web Content Management in a SharePoint Server Environment , Workflows


Day 1: What is Governance, Governance Components, Effective Governance, What Should Be Governed?, Implementing Governance, Governance Plans, Governance Goals, Policies, Guidelines, Procedures, Who Should Determine Gov. Policies?, SharePoint & Governance, What’s you should be aware in in 2010, Compare and contract 2007/2010
Day 2: Taxonomy Architectures, Flat Taxonomy, Faceted Taxonomy, Hierarchical Taxonomy, Network Taxonomy, Taxonomy Examples, Example: Content Types, SharePoint Roles Taxonomy, Governance Roles Taxonomy, Folksonomies Roles, Customization policy, Social Networking Policy

Bamboo web parts.

2 of my favorite 3rd party web parts are Bamboo’s Alert and Mini calendar, they really fill in the gap of what people want and out of the box SharePoint.

I found out today that if you installed these on SP 2007 and are migrating to 2010 you have 12 months from when you installed these on 2007 to do so free.

I assume this is for all of their web parts.

Gartner: Oracle Jumps Into the Collaboration Market

After two unsuccessful forays into the collaboration market, Oracle is back with the next generation of Oracle Collaboration Suite. Gartner believes Beehive is unlikely to be any more successful than past efforts

I congratulate Oracle for actually releasing a product, rather than just the marketing PowerPoint presentations, however this is becoming a crowded market already- Lotus Notes, MS SharePoint as the big giants and with most companies already undertaking or have done a collaboration initiative, why look at this product from a database manufacture?

I do remember in the late 90’s, it was impossible to land at an airport in the US without seeing the Oracle advertisements for a collaboration suite…..I can’t even remember what it was called now…..Obviously made that much impact in the market.

What makes a product successful?

To me there are a number of things:

– A technology road map, so the purchaser is confident that there’s a future- Confidence
– Price
– Have the ‘wow’ factor- Everyone remembers their first Google moment.
-Integration with other applications…Office, business applications –CRM, Great Plains, BI…….XML can only go so far
-Ease of deployment……Sorry IBM Websphere
-A community behind it- The evangelical user base who are bloggerss, developers, businesses, and employees

Oracle misses the mark on several fronts.

View email in SharePoint.

A rather neat little product I’ve been working with is Email Manager for SharePoint. It displays emails that are sent between two parties in SharePoint and these can be searched. What’s nice is that it doesn’t require any installation on the Exchange server, which would normally scare off the IT department.

So a project manager for example could set up a rule that any communication between a developer and a customer can be tracked. So in the situation when the PM gets a call from the customer about an issue, they have the ability to understand the thread of the communication.

Also saves the PM being emailed on everything.

The product is made by a Danish (Denmark is one of those a small counties in Northern Europe about the size of Delaware……But most countries in Europe are the size of Delaware :)) company Opportunity Solutions.

Excel Services limits

As a firm believer of squeezing the juice out of technology until the pips squeak.

These are some limited of Excel Services.

Features that Prevent Excel Files from Loading

In some cases, when Excel Services does not support an Excel 2007 feature, Excel Services will not load the file. For example, Excel Services does not support running Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications (VBA), so it will not load files with VBA in them.

Features that Are Not Displayed

In some cases, Excel Services does not display an object in a workbook that has full fidelity with Excel 2007. For example, charts in have new visual effects, but those effects are not visible when viewed using Excel Web Access.

Features with Limited Interactive Support

Not all features that you can interact with using are fully supported in Excel Services. For example, users cannot add or rearrange fields in PivotTable reports when working with workbooks in a browser.

Authoring Workbooks

You cannot author an Excel workbook using Excel Services. This means, for example, that you cannot insert a chart or change a formula once the workbook is opened in Excel Web Access.

However, it’s still a great technology to use with SharePoint and Office

Software names get fancy

Today I discovered a web content management system called Hot Banana
Software now have working titles:

-Windows Mobile 6? (working title Crossbow)
-Windows server 2008 – Longhorn
-The K2 workflow product is called (White pearl)

So software like movies now has a working title and fancy names.

I suppose, dropping vowels is cool these days too- . Flickr.