by November 4, 2006 0 comments

Series MOSS
Part I

Microsoft has had immense success with its intranet and extranet
portal software named SharePoint. Currently, this is available in two flavors-Windows
SharePoint Services 2.0, which is free for install on Windows Server 2003 and
SharePoint Portal Server 2003, and is a commercial product that builds upon the
WSS (Windows SharePoint Services) provided infrastructure and delivers a
enterprise scale portal server that can scale to tens of thousands of websites
on a single server.

With the upcoming release of Microsoft Office 2007, the
SharePoint suite gets a major upgrade and is integrated into the Office Server
stack. This article is the first of a series that looks at SharePoint
technologies and how you can work with them.

Applies To: CIOs
Learn about the various features SharePoint Server 2007
Primary Link:
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sharepoint 2007

WSS 3.0
As before, WSS remains the core platform for SharePoint services. This new
version is built from the ground up to utilize ASP.NET 2.0 features running on
IIS 6.0 or 7.0.

This means that the SharePoint sites now contain all the cool
new features of ASP.NET 2.0 like Master Pages, rich controls and most
importantly, use the same Web Part infrastructure that ASP.NET 2.0 provides out
of the box rather than rolling its own custom implementation.

This means that if you’ve written Web Parts for some other
application you can start using them in WSS3 without any changes directly. WSS
adds a number of very important features other than the ones provided by using
ASP.NET 2.0. This includes support for forms authentication, easier site
management and customization, a Recycle Bin, document and item level security,
force check out for edit operations and support for mobile devices.

WSS also works with SQL Server 2000, 2005, MSDE or SQL Express.
At the client end, Internet Explorer 6.0 or above, Office 2003 or Office 2007
are the ideal clients to use the features provided. Collaboration services are
included within WSS3 to enable multiple users to collaborate on say, documents
stored in a site, simultaneously.

MOSS 2007
MOSS 2007 (Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007) builds upon the WSS3
infrastructure and provides many different enterprise-class solutions. In fact,
the product that was known as SharePoint Portal Server has now been integrated
into this new product as one solution. MOSS actually contains a number of such
solutions for a large number of enterprise requirements. The following list
takes a look at these.

  • Portal and Search: Provides the same infrastructure
    as what SharePoint Portal Server used to do. This allows you to create
    intranet and extranet portals quickly and perform searches within all the
    levels of these portals.

  • WCM (Web Content Mgmt): This solution allows you to
    create Internet sites quickly and customize it to your requirements. A full
    fledged CMS, this solution used to be part of MCMS (Microsoft’s Content
    Management Server) and is now part of the Standard edition of MOSS 2007.
    Content approval processes as well as managing development, staging and
    production servers are also part of this solution.
    Note that MCMS had other stuff as well that too has gotten integrated into
    MOSS. See below for more information.

  • Business Process Management: Allows automating and
    managing business processes in your organization using workflows.

  • Enterprise Content Mgmt: Another part of the content
    management solution, this is available only in the Enterprise edition of
    MOSS. This allows you to manage content of your organization.
    For instance, you organization may have a rule saying that all legal
    documents need to be kept in a record repository once a case is closed for a
    period of 7 years. You can now set up content management rules that perform
    such actions and manage your content for you within the ECM space.

  • Business Intelligence: This solution allows you to
    store and analyze data from various sources within SharePoint itself.
    SharePoint also integrates a number of other services (which we will talk
    about a little later) that allow you to integrate and use Office
    applications for this.

Developer enhancements
As developers you can now leverage SharePoint for your applications with much
better ease. There are a number of new things in SharePoint that allow you to
work at an even better way than before.

As mentioned before, ASP.NET 2.0 is the core on which SharePoint is built.

This means you can take advantage of all the cool ASP.NET 2.0
features in SharePoint as well. For instance, you want to change the logo for
the entire set of sites that you are hosting. This is very simple to do. Just
open the site master file and change the logo there. It will apply to all the
pages within the site in seconds.

SharePoint designer
FrontPage is dead, long live FrontPage. Well, not really. FrontPage has now
morphed into a new application named Office SharePoint Designer. This is the
next version of FrontPage, but enhanced to work with SharePoint in a much more
tighter manner. You can perform almost any kind of customization with this. It
lets you develop SharePoint based applications and workflow solutions. It can
access data from a variety of sources such as XML, SQL Server and Web services.

Win Workflow Foundation
One of the biggest drawbacks of earlier versions of SharePoint was that it did
not have a built in workflow engine that you could tell to do some tasks. The
good news is that WSS3/MOSS have the .NET 3.0 Workflow Foundation built in-
which means you can set up workflows all over the place. SharePoint comes with a
large number of standard content workflows built in (for instance, content
approval, content publishing, content discussion, etc.) which you can apply and
even customize right from the Web itself. You can also create simple workflows
graphically using SharePoint Designer and extremely complex workflows as well
using VS.NET 2005.

InfoPath & Forms Services
This feature works in the BI space and allows you to create InfoPath based forms
that work both from within InfoPath or from within the browser through
SharePoint. This means that you can now have extremely rich forms to gather
business data but do not require InfoPath installed on all
machines. The data is also gathered and stored for analysis by SharePoint
automatically or based on rules you set.

Excel services
This is a completely new service that allows you to store and server Excel files
off the SharePoint server. You can create files in Excel 2007 and set up
publishing rules that can incorporate things like which sheets to show, which
formulas are fixed or hidden, which cells or ranges are editable, etc. Once
published, a user can click the file in SharePoint to open it in Excel with
these rules set.

All formula calculations also occur on the server and not within
Excel itself which makes centralizing Excel formulas a breeze.

As you can see, SharePoint has indeed come a long way in this
new release. The large number of features and development options allow you to
create very rich and dynamic sites for intranet, extranet and Internet usage. We
will continue on this series by taking a look at each feature in detail.

Vinod Unny, Enterprise Infotech

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