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IE 8.0 – First Impressions and Rendering

Unfortunately, I’m at home nursing the flu rather than living it up in Vegas at MIX08 so I’ve had to experience the fun vicariously through the thousands of blog posts, twitters, and videos of nearly every second of the event.

A big kick off revolved around the first Beta release of Internet Explorer 8.  Being adventuerous and well, not having anything else to do, I downloaded the x64 Vista version and have been hitting various web sites that I frequent to see how things look.

The IE Interface

Overall, IE 8 currently looks a LOT like IE7.  In fact, it takes a bit of hunting to find any differences what-so-ever.

The new “Favorites Bar” (or was that old) seems to be built to hold the new WebSlices, which I haven’t quite grasped yet (I don’t use eBay, sorry).

The Phishing Filter has been renamed the “Safety Filter”, which was immediately turned off.  I’m assuming Phishing was too difficult to explain (which is OK).  The concept is cool, I’m just not sure I want Microsoft being the “safe site” police.

Beyond that, I haven’t seen any other “changes”.  Let’s hope the real excitement is in the rendering.

Rendering

The tout of IE8 is it’s successful passing of Acid2, a standards-based rendering assessment.  Sadly, this is just in time for Acid3, which it not only doesn’t pass (nothing passes right now), but it does worse than most other “current” browsers only scoring a 17/100.

So, what about real sites?

Here are a few of the more common sites I visit and the results:

iGoogle – Renders OK, albeit VERY slowly.  Accuweather.com and del.icio.us web parts require mousing over the empty boxes to display their contents.  There is also a bunch of odd spacing at the top of the Gmail web part.

GmailRenders OK, very fast.  I couldn’t find any issue with Gmail at all.

Microsoft Exchange 2003 OWAWorks great, very fast. 

Microsoft SharePoint 2003 (SPS)Works very well.  Renders extremely fast from page to page.  Mouse overs, context menus, etc. seem to work even better than in IE7.  Hah.

Microsoft SharePoint 2007 (MOSS) Works.  Still requires “accepting” the “Name ActiveX Control”, which is REALLY annoying, but the site renders just fine.  Also renders a bit slow, but that’s just MOSS2007. :(

Weather.comWorks. A few positioning snafus, but everything is functional.  See image below.

Linkshell Fourms (built on VBulletin 3.6.8) – Works great.  The PHP-based forums work like a champ for my FFXI linkshell.  Thankfully!

Virtual Server 2005 R2’s Control PanelDoes not work.  Unfortunately, none of the menus work.  You cannot create/update/add anything or view the status of a running VM.  I can bounce back to IE7 emulation mode and it works OK.

MSDN Subscriber DownloadsSorta works.  I’m assuming the new version of this site will resolve these issues.  So far, the site “works”, but renders a bit funny when you move the frame bars around.

IE8 - FFXIAH

FFXI Auction HouseDoes not work.  The side navigation bar is covered up and inaccessible.  Without that, it’s almost impossible to browse through the site (searching for EVERYTHING gets a bit tedious). See image to the right.

Twitter.com – Sorta sometimes works.  The functionality of the site is there, but the background and themes to the site are a bit haywire.  And updates aren’t being processed without a logout/login.  Ehh, odd.

WordPress – Does not work.  For some reason, the wp-admin console simply blanks the page out.  There’s a brief flash of it rendering, and then poof, just white.  I can View Source and see the code, refresh and see the flash, but haven’t been able to fix this one without dropping back to IE7 mode.

My Blog (Freshy Theme)Sorta works. Well, this blog doesn’t render right either.  The Search bar at the top right of the screen is covered up and missing the [Search] button.  The right-hand bar no longer trails to the end of the page, but stops at the end of the content (assuming the height:100% failure), The main body footer is now the footer to the right-hand bar.  There are a few other z-index issues here and there, but those can be fixed (I’m assuming).

My Photo Site Does not work.  Hmm, sucks.  Unfortunately, the menus doesn’t work.  Well, let me reword that, they work, but if you try to move from the Parent Menu to a Child Menu item, the menu disappears.  I’m assuming it’s a spacing issue for the mouse overs, but I’m not sure.  Ugh.

Random sites – I noticed most sites that I authenticated to, the hash out for the password turned up as an invalid character.  See below.

Things I Wish It Had

NoScript.  I really like FireFox’s NoScript plug in—especially with all the shakeup and paranoia regarding compromised accounts in FFXI.  I wish IE had something similar built directly into the browser.

Built-in support for social bookmarking.  Does anyone use Favorites or Bookmarks anymore?  I totally rely on del.icio.us and would LOVE to see better support for that in IE8.  I don’t want an annoying button that was put out by Yahoo, I want to open an Explorer Panel (like my Favorites) and see the heirarchy of my tags.

Conclusions

Well, for Beta 1, it’s not half bad.  It starts up instantly, looks clean, and appears to integrate into Windows Vista just fine.  If a few of the odd rendering snafus can be addressed (either by releasing WHY it doesn’t work or tweaks to the rendering engine in IE), I look forward to the next release.

Guide – MOSS 2007 DVD to Collaboration Portal

February 5, 2008 Comments off

I’ve published a new guide under the Articles section entitled “Microsoft Office SharePoint 2007 – DVD to Collaboration Portal”.  This guide walks through a “typical” installation of MOSS in a small farm environment. 

It includes setting up DNS round robining, installation of WSS and MOSS (and service packs), and configuring key services to get things up and running.

 

MOSS 2007 and Wishing I Was “In the Know”

January 17, 2008 Comments off

A rant in the joys of communication and Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 configuration.

It was determined that SSP (Shared Services Providers) would run internally on 8081.  We were told nothing ran on that port in our enterprise.  After FAR too much time (not going to say for sake of my ego) fiddling with why I couldn’t get the SSP services to work in MOSS 2007.

We were lied to like the step-children we are…

After finally just hitting the root of the URL (/ssp/admin/ is the default shortcut), I discovered one of our enterprise “monitoring” softwares had a web service running on that port… which means it’s running on that port on every server and desktop in our enterprise.  wtf.  Oh, and the people who were “in the know”… knew, but didn’t feel it was important or whatever to tell us.

So, now the joys of ripping the SSP out of MOSS and reconfigure it on a different port (and praying THAT one isn’t taken).

*grumbles*

On a side note, I’ll have a new article posted up pretty soon.  The article goes into a bit of detail on setting on a small server farm with MOSS—everything from initial installation to setting up Active Directory profiles, search services, indexing, and updating to the latest Service Pack 1.  After the past week of dinking with this, I now see why Bill English’s MOSS 2007 Administrator’s Guide is 1155 pages and heavy enough to beat someone with.  Good book, by the way—just a bit difficult to follow as there’s no “order” to it.

[UPDATE: While out scraping ice off my car, I had an idea to help myself be more “in the know”.  I use TCPView quite often to see what processes are going where—well, TCPView shows the ports! Just do a bit of monitoring, see where different services are, and go for it.  The fancy alternative, of course, could be to setup Ethereal, set a filter for “tcp.port == {your port here}” and let it run for a day or so.]

MOSS 2007 Installation Fails: Cannot find ASP.NET 2.0

January 14, 2008 2 comments

After installing Windows Server 2003, ASP.NET 2.0 and it’s updates, I’ve found that the MOSS 2007 installation often cannot start because it cannot find ASP.NET 2.0.  After browsing into the Internet Information Server MMC and into Web Service Extensions, “ASP.NET v2.0.50727” is not visible.

To fix this, you must re-register ASP.NET 2.0.

For most servers, the ASP.NET 2.0 folder is located at:

%systemroot%\Microsoft.NET\Framework\v2.0.50727

The command you need to run is (with full path):

%systemroot%\Microsoft.NET\Framework\v2.0.50727\aspnet_regiis -ir

The “-ir” options install ASP.NET 2.0 as well as update existing (if there are any) scriptmaps (regardless of version) to ASP.NET 2.0.  After this, it’s not necessary to reboot, but if this isn’t a production server it can’t hurt. It is Windows, of course, and Windows loves its reboots.  :)

A change of pace at work…

December 5, 2007 2 comments

Rather than focus on creating custom solutions, we’re in the middle of a shift to SharePoint 2007–centric and external service providers as a means of application integration.  There are a few opportunities for custom development using MOSS as a platform; however, they’re few and far between right now.

These various transitions have dragged me away from my usual job of “creator of things that do stuff” and focused more on product evaluations, implementation strategies, project management, and systems architecture.  I enjoy these activities, but I miss geeky programming and find myself “sneaking” opportunites to code something up at work and spending a lot more time at home working on projects and such.  Lame, yes, I know.

Some of this is self-inflicted through my recent graduation and past work history (and success history)—as my superiors are trying to find more “high level” projects and goals for me to work towards.  I really appreciate those opportunities. 

It has, however, left me wondering.  Outside of giants like Microsoft where you can manager and a developer {or insert passion here}, is it possible to climb the corporate latter and retain some of your developer bits? 

I’m trying not work myself out of a job (I like my work environment and, most days, the people I work with), but I’m not sure I want to just push paper around all day if that’s what it means to “progress”—I love coding, designing, and creating “things that do stuff” too much to give it up cold turkey. :D

 

Fixing a Broken MOSS 2007 Installation

November 16, 2007 4 comments

I left a virtual machine in our development environment installing MOSS 2007 while I was in a meeting this morning (annual video about bloodborn pathogen safety, good times) and returned to see that the my machine (and the VM) had reboot while I was gone (I suspect foul play by someone’s heater popping the breaker).

I attempted to restart the installation and recieved:

“Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 encountered an error during setup.”

[Close]

Ehh, that’s not real helpful.  Nothing in the Event Viewer, nothing in the Logs directories…

After uninstalling EVERYTHING, even .NET 2.0 and 3.0, it still wouldn’t install.  While this is a virtual machine and I could just roll back to the base OS install, I wanted to know how to fix it (if this was a real box, I’d be looking at a reboot).

Searching the Internet didn’t turn very much up, so I tried the old faithful for failed installations, the Windows Installer CleanUp Utility.  This free application from the TechNet guys at Microsoft reads the registry KVPs out and allows you to selectively remove applications that no longer show up in Add/Remove Programs.

I removed the ghosts of the MOSS Search installation and reboot.  After the reboot, the installation proceeded as normal.

:D

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Great SharePoint Adventure – Day 4 & 5

August 6, 2007 Comments off

It took me a bit to recover from the weekend of house construction, but I wanted to finish summarizing the GSA class from last week.  The class ended on a few good highnotes—Workflow, Templates, Business Data Catalogs, and Security.  We didn’t go into a lot of detail regarding Office connectivity, but it’s all there.

The biggest challenge I’ll have ahead of me is trying to recreate our current SPS 2003 site with MOSS.  The basic “functionality” of a portal is still there, but hidden away being the Collaboration portal.  With the Collaboration portal, you gain the Site Directory, front page, and other features back.  The Publishing portal will be our next stop when we look at renovating CMS, but the architecture is extremely different (for the better, I hope).

Tip – List of valid TemplateId for WSS 3.0

When provisioning new templates, they each have Ids that are mysterious numbers like “101” that mean absolutely nothing if you’re not familiar with them.  After no answers in the GSA book, I found a list online.  It’s about half-way through this CodeProject post.

Further Reading – Managing using PowerShell

Everything we did managed through batch scripts, but being a PowerShell freak, I was interested in what I could do with PS to further enhance it.  We didn’t cover it in class, but I found the following:

  • SPSolutions Commands Addin
  • Presentation regarding SharePoint and using PowerShell for automation.
  • Final Note

    The class, overall, was good.  A bit difficult to grasp with so much information in so little time, but good none-the-less.  What I’d really be interested in is a hardcore, coder version of the class.  I recognize that the UI and wizards are great—and I can get a book to figure that out—but what all does the underlying architecture provide me without simply opening up the Object Browser and LOOKING.  What are the cool techniques to get the most customization out of the product.  Maybe eventually, once MOSS is highly available, these classes will become available.

    Great SharePoint Adventure – Day 3

    August 2, 2007 Comments off

    For the third day, we covered web parts and lists.  I wanted to share some links regarding questions/topics that came up.

    Visual Studio 2005 Extentions for WSS/MOSS

    If you’re developing against WSS 3.0 (MOSS 2007), be sure to have the Visual Studio 2005 Extensions loaded.  You can download them here.  The extentions add the following templates into Visual Studio:

    Visual Studio 2005 Project Templates

    • Web Part
    • Team Site Definition
    • Blank Site Definition
    • List Definition

    Visual Studio 2005 Item Templates (items that can be added into an existing project)

    • Web Part
    • Custom Field
    • List Definition (with optional Event Receiver)
    • Content Type (with optional Event Receiver)
    • Module

    SharePoint Solution Generator

    • This stand-alone program generates a Site Definition project from an existing SharePoint site. The program enables developers to use the browser and Microsoft Office SharePoint Designer to customize the content of their sites before creating code by using Visual Studio.

    Reporting in WSS/MOSS

    The issue of reporting came up.  The biggest angst we have against WSS v2.0/SPS 2003 right now (in our organization) is that you can get data in, but it’s a pain to get it out in a managable, reportable format.  One of our class members found that a solution exists for MOSS 2007 in the form of SQL Reporting Services.  More information can be found on the SharePoint Team’s blog.  The update is part of SQL Server 2005 SP2 that offers “deep integration” with MOSS 2007.

    Tip – “Primary Key” or Auto-incrementing keys in WSS/MOSS Lists

    One of the most annoying “features” to a list in WSS is that you cannot add an auto-incrementing field—like an identity field, to your list.  What I found out is that it’s already there—just not visible by default.  To show it, go into your list and add the (obvious) field called “ID”.  You can’t edit it, and it won’t show up on the New Item/Edit Item pages, but if you import into Excel or want to see it in a view, it’s there.

     

    Great SharePoint Adventure – Day 1 & 2

    August 1, 2007 Comments off

    I’m going through a licensed version of Ted Pattison’s Great SharePoint Adventure course at the local ExecuTrain.  Why?  Because there is nothing out there locally (meaning work will pay for it) and I personally can’t afford to run out to California or up North to Mindsharp.  Plus, the local instructor is good, knows the materials and the product, and has made it pretty fun.  The real difference?  We do labs in class and we’re NOT running 8am to 6:30pm.  From what I’ve heard, the real class expects you to do labs outside class (ala at your hotel at night).  Ick.  If I was in Boston or Silicon Valley, I’d NOT be in the hotel at night.

    Here are the odd highlights that stuck out beyond the course materials.  We focused both on WSS and MOSS; so there’s a bit of overlap.  A lot of it is just changes that I need to familarize myself with…

    • Everything is renamed, but NOT in the code.  Sites are now Site Collections, Webs are now Sites, Webs are child sites.  In code, however, SPWeb, SPSite, etc. remain in the same context as v2.  UGH.
    • WSS 3.0 is “smarter” than 2.0 and hides things that users cannot modify—unlike 2.0 that will simply prompt for authentication AFTER you attempt to do something you cannot.
    • WSS 3.0 supports ITEM LEVEL security—cool beans.
    • Make all modifications that you can using core.css and then edit the master pages as a last resort.
    • If you try to Save a document to a document library with Office 2007, it fails with a ‘cannot connect to server’ error.  SP MVPs recommends disabling the System Event Notification service for COM+.  After disabling this service, it works fine.  No word on whether this is this a “bug” or a “feature”?

    Tip – Creating Custom Master Pages

    When creating a custom master page, it’s recommended to create the page with ALL the Microsoft placeholders.  Those placeholders you do not intend to use—place them in a hidden DIV.  If you are on a page that MOSS/WSS expects a placeholder, it won’t crash out—the content will simply be hidden.

    Tip – Allowing “Edit using SharePoint Designer…” in IE 7.0

    1. Open up IE 7.0.
    2. Go to Tools > Internet Options > Programs Tab.
    3. Set the default HTML editor to the SharePoint Designer.  Click OK.
    4. Restart IE.

    Now, under the File Menu, you have “Edit using SharePoint Designer”.

    Things to Research

    As with all classes, things came up that were either annoyances or had no real answer.

    1. If you have meta data associated to a document library, if you “add multiple documents”, it cannot preslug that information in and keeps those documents checked out to you until you add the information.  A real pain.
    2. There are class differences between 2.0 and 3.0–-I’m working to find a list of all breaking changes to post up here.

    I’ll work to keep posting each day.  It’s a good class—I’d recommend it to most anyone looking for a Developer class (not administrator) that is interested in getting off the ground with 2007.  Also, there is ZERO content regarding upgrading from WSS 2.0 to 3.0 or SPS 2003 to MOSS 2007, so don’t take this if you’re expecting upgrade materials.

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    GSA & SharePoint 2007 Shortcut Keys

    July 31, 2007 Comments off

    I’m attending the “Great SharePoint Adventure” today… a core developer course focusing on SharePoint 2007–-everything from building features to rolling out custom AJAX to security.  Looks to be an interesting week.  I’ll try, starting tomorrow (kinda running late today), posting up the high points and nuggets.  If you like what you see, talk to your local training providers and get the course.

    The one thing I did want to post up was shortcut keys.  The instructor showed off CTRL-K to resolve names on the fly, so I did a bit of hunting and came up with the “official” list of all hot keys in SharePoint.  VERY helpful ‘cause SharePoint is very mouse-oriented without it.

    http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/sharepointserver/HA101733621033.aspx

     

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