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Posts Tagged ‘SharePoint’

Social Welfare at the ECM Workplace

January 19th, 2015 Comments off

A few months ago, Linda gave birth to her son Luca. Linda is the wife of Stephan, a colleague of mine. Curious as he is, Luca was premature when he decided that it was time to see the light of day. That by itself wasn’t any problem at all. The world was ready for him.

The birth of Luca triggered me to share a story that I tell my customers in the early days of a document management project. By now you are wondering why the birth of Luca trigger this story.

Here in the Netherlands, we have a social welfare system in place that kicks in at the early days of a pregnancy. Not only is the health of both mother and her child monitored, but the system also ensures a safe home is in place for the new born. It may sound overanxious, but one of the checks they do is to see if you have a cradle for the baby. That same social welfare system functions as a lifeline throughout your entire life until you shall come to your grave in ripe old age.

That lifeline provides the guidance, the procedures, the policies and the actions to fall back upon during your life. It’s the blueprint of the minimal life. You can still live your live to the max the way you want it, as long as you don’t underperform and drop below the minimum that the lifeline provides. It also takes into account the stages that you pass in your life. You may become a parent yourself, which gives you access to child support. You may develop a partial disability to work, which provides access to special compensation benefits. And even a basic pension is provided when you reach the age of 65+.

For us humans, the Social Welfare system provides the lower limit blueprint of our life from Cradle to Grave.

If you’ve read my previous post (Diversity at the ECM Workplace) about Connecting People to the Enterprise, you will understand that bringing and keeping your users on board requires an ECM solution that is easy to use but still honours the enterprise needs. One aspect that you need to facilitate is what I call the Social Welfare for the ECM Workplace.

Cradle to Grave is the concept that implements core information management functions, which become a lifeline throughout the entire life of your documents.

If I create a new document, the system needs to be ready for that. It needs to support the cradle. This can be done if the lifeline supports me with e.g. content types, templates, managed metadata and rule-based storage. In these early days in the life of the document, it needs the lifeline to understand whether it is going to be a contract based on the English language template. We stick more labels on the document to classify it and together that allows a document management solution to decide where the cradle should be located.

That lifeline also provides the guidance, the procedures, the policies and the actions to fall back upon during the life of the document. It will pass stages depending on the life it lives. In the infant stages you’ll see typical states like draft, and for review. In the adolescent stage the document will go up for approval, and get approved. While the document matures, it can use the supporting processes to move between these states and stages. At some point in time it might become a reference document to others which alters the access permissions as well as its information classification. Some documents will move from classified to unclassified, from internal use only to publicly available.

Like all of us, there comes a time when also the document will retire. It will be withdrawn from active service but is still available in some archived format with again changed access permissions and information classification. It may also move into a new storage location.

For managed information, laws, rules and regulations determine the length of the pension. There is no fixed rule for this, just like nobody knows how many years one is given to enjoy the old age. The harsh reality is, that it won’t last for ever. For managed information the grave implies that the information is deleted from the ECM solution or moved from the system to preserve its historical value elsewhere.

Depending on your requirements and circumstances, you determine what that lower limit is and which ‘social benefits’ you provide your users.
For managed information, Social Welfare for the ECM Workplace provides the lower limit blueprint of the life of that information from Cradle to Grave.

So, why did the birth of Luca trigger this? Because of the parallel between the Dutch Social Welfare System and the Cradle to Grave. You don’t want a fixed path for your newly born and nor should it be a one-off approach for your documents if you want to keep your users connected with your enterprise needs. But the opposite is also true. You don’t want uncontrolled chaos in both situations. It should be predictable and acknowledging that new documents get created and deleted and need to be managed in between. From Cradle to Grave.

Like the concepts of Diversity and Cradle to Grave matches perfectly in real life, as do they match perfectly in our ECM world. Take a look at SPA4D.com if you want to learn more about how we can help connect SharePoint collaboration functionality to the enterprise control of Documentum. Or watch our blog for more articles on enterprise information management.

Responsive HTML5 / CSS3.0 / LESS SP2010 Template Informed Consulting

April 22nd, 2013 Comments off

At Informed Consulting we use one template which contains our styling for multiple SharePoint Publishing Sites. The SharePoint 2007 (SP2007) template was updated a lot in the last couple of years, so it was nice to create a complete new, fresh template for SharePoint 2010 (SP2010).

Our new template for publishing websites in SP2010 contains preset styles for better browser compatibility, supports HTML5 and responsive themes, uses CSS3.0 without making it a mess, has a clear and open structure and is easy to adjust in future updates.

By building the template in the dynamic stylesheet language LESS, we can manage the template a lot easier and clearer, using parameters. We used various combinations of multiple free-to-use web frameworks in LESS, controlled in two chapters, the Template styling and the Theme styling that are described below.

The SP2010 template contains the following chapters:

  1. Dynamic Operations
  2. Reset Style sheets
  3. Optional template Functions
  4. Grid system (Semantic.gs)
  5. Frontend Framework collection Bootstrap
  6. Typographic Framework Baseline
  7. Template styling
  8. Theme styling
  9. Updates & Theme Media Queries

1. Dynamic Operations

On the lowest part of our LESS file we operate numbers, colours and variables so we can use the output all over the stylesheet. Like @default_TextColor, @default_Font, @var-default_LinkHoverColor.

2. Reset Stylesheet

We use multiple reset style sheets to make the websites browser compatible. A normal reset style for HTML4.1 en CSS2.1 was not enough. The reset styles were improved by adding some extra reset styles, one especially for the HTML5 elements, html5doctor.com reset styles (for IE9 and all older browsers).  And a reset stylesheet for resetting the font-size and colors of SP2010.

3. Optional Template functions

CSS3.0 does not improve the clear and open structure of the template, the length of the code was making it hard not make a mess. So I created a chapter filled with all the CSS3.0 large styling and created functions from it, so they could easy be used in other parts in the template. Some of these CSS3.0 elements are based on template parameters located in the chapter Template styling.

4. Grid system (Semantic.gs)

Since I don’t want to create multiple columns for every new theme, I use the calculation from the semantic grid system for the template. It calculates the width and behaviour of the high level containers and columns, easy to adjust by number, located in the Template parameters in the chapter Template styling.

5. Frontend Framework collection Bootstrap v2.2.2

The Frontend Framework collection of Bootstrap is used for the multiple components in the content area of SP2010. Sliders, buttons, tabs, dropdown, tooltip, forms, icons and even Webparts are given a new fresh look instantly when using the right classes.

6. Typographic Framework Baseline

Every theme has its own typography and I needed a good base to work with, easy adjustable in LESS, like the rest. I found a good typographic framework called Baseline that calculates the rules of the typography for us. The parameters for this calculation are located in the chapter Template styling.

7. Template styling

This is the most important chapter, and is where the basic website is being created. First the different solutions from the previous chapters are managed in this chapter by defining the template parameters: the Operations, the grid system, and the frontend and typographic frameworks. Second in place are the behaviours of the SharePoint core.css basic styling in combination with our template styling, and third the
basic website itself. Which is the enumeration of styling of all the possible elements of the SP2010 publishing site, and the styling of the basic WebParts used along with the structure.

8. Theme styling

The specific styling for the client theme is placed in this chapter. It starts with an enumeration of the template parameters that are being overruled. Then the high elements styling till detailed content styling are being created, with the help of the optional template CSS.3.0 functions, bootstrap build in styling and sometimes the SharePoint 2010 chart.

9. Updates & Theme Media Queries

The first part of the dynamic stylesheet can contain the very specific styling for the theme, updates and the media queries which allows the website to adapt to different window resolutions of multiple devices. The last part will not be used often, since SP2010 does not use Device Channels, which allows the creation of separate masterpages per device.

Conclusion

By building the template in the dynamic stylesheet language LESS I wanted to bridge the world between Design and Developing.  Although LESS is not yet fully utilized in the template, The LESS parts are the solution what I was looking for: controlling multiple elements and behaviour of different websites by parameters on one spot. Like the colours used on a website: I just have to define one color and the template will automatically calculate two good looking colours beside it (if I want to) and automatically use these for the elements in the website, like the navigation, header and footer and typographic blocks. This is especially for our demo websites, a quick solution.

Sandra Filius

05-Apr-13

Momentum Vienna and The SharePoint Documentum Framework

November 5th, 2012 Comments off

This week is Momentum 2012 in the European capital of the waltz: Vienna. Of course, cultural heritage is large with the music from Strauss as well as the yearly débutante ball in the Hofburg. It illustrates that the Viennese Waltz is live and kicking as part of the Vienna culture. Waltzing is a very applicable way to illustrate the way Microsoft and EMC ‘dance’ together around information management. SharePoint and Documentum have learned to move gracefully through crowds of ECM without stepping on each others tows to hard and to often.

Dancing requires one to lead, usually the male, and one to follow and shine, typically the female. It’s not that simple to say that either SharePoint or Documentum is leading or following. That is largely dependent on your starting point — more on that later — although one could say that if you take the shallow outside approach, SharePoint is the sexy partner and therefore must take the female role: follow and shine. That leaves EMC as a leader.

If you dive a little deeper, the roles are not always according to the look and feel.
On a high level you can have two starting points: collaboration versus enterprise document management.

When you start from a collaboration point of view, SharePoint will be leading, the male role, and will perform the dance for its audience. That audience is looking for flexibility, tools that they know already — that is the MS Office suite —, as well as speed of change. This would leave the EMC suite as the female role. Following and shining. Off course I too had second thoughts about EMC being shiny, being sexy.

From the enterprise point of view, there is now doubt that Documentum steps up. The male and leading role. For years we learned Documentum was not sexy. But with D2 that changed fundamentally. And yes, xCP is also a step forward. Still, for the individual collaborator, its just not always good enough. Hence their love for SharePoint. From this angle it thus is the challenge to meet the needs of the collaborators somehow. That could well be SharePoint.

But let’s face it, dancing a waltz requires 2 partners. Documentum and SharePoint next to each other creates to silo’s of information and it goes beyond telling that such is a bad thing. They must be connected.

With SDF we can can make that happen. As EMC’s Consulting Preferred Partner (C3P) we know how to bridge those two worlds. Not only is such a matter of knowing the technical bits of the SharePoint Documentum Framework (SDF) but also the ability to help the customer bridge the two silo’s of people in their organisation. Those that want freedom to collaborate and those that want to control and meet compliance. Bringing those worlds together is what makes projects a success.

We at Informed Consulting are glad to help out. Just reach out. We may not all shine on the ballroom floor, we do in the Information Management arena.

Access Documentum content through SharePoint

October 7th, 2012 Comments off

Just recently I read an article by TSG about replacing external SharePoint sites with a simple cached approach providing Documentum access to external users. That solution was required to provide a selective view-only access to external users so they would only see the subset of quality documents applicable to them.

In the case provided by TSG, the external users do not need access to all quality documents, but need access to the specific documents that they are expected to follow for the business process. Previously numerous SharePoint sites were set up to allow external users to access the required documents. The client found that the work effort to maintain these separate copies and keep them up to date was very difficult and was looking for an easier way. The client was also concerned about the compliance risk of the SharePoint sites being out of sync with the Approved and Effective documents stored in Documentum.

The question is: is it in general the solution that you would suggest to a client that already owns both SharePoint and Documentum? I believe it’s not.

I believe that there is a better solution available: the SharePoint Documentum Framework.

First, the case given is a common case. In many cases you want to share and collaborate on a subset of documents. Indeed, clinical trials are an example of that. But also claims, customer files or tenders match that case.
Second, the concerns about compliance and separate copies are genuine concerns. Keeping copies in sync, though theoretical simple, is difficult. It needs full control over new, updated and removed documents and on top of that proper security mapping between two – now disconnected – systems.

So why not go the route that leverages existing investments and – more importantly – use the UI powers of SharePoint and the compliance powers of Documentum?

Let me share that route.

Documentum is very capable of managing all the documents, its versions and its meta-data in a secure and controlled way. This will guarantee that any user has only access to the documents that this user is allowed to read or edit. Regardless if that user is an internal colleague or an external client. A must for compliance.

Giving access to the customer through Webtop can indeed be challenging. OK, you won’t do that. D2, the alleged Webtop replacement, is by far better suited but still isn’t perfect.
The reason for that is related to the business requirements that you must expect when sharing documents with your client. Normally, next to sharing the documents as the main requirement, there are requirements like being able to interact (discuss, set tasks) and provide related collateral or instructions.

That’s one of the reasons why SharePoint comes into the picture. SharePoint is very capable of doing just that. But how to get the right documents available in this environment?

This is where the SharePoint Documentum Framework comes into play. This framework provides webparts that can query the Documentum repository for the right documents. And they honour the security set by Documentum. So, if you revoke access in Documentum, access is revoked in SharePoint. And as a bonus, you can set access to read-only even if the user has write access in Documentum. Not that I would recommend this as a replacement to setting the proper settings in Documentum.

The other interesting part of using these webparts is that your query leverages the available information about those documents in Documentum. So, if you’ve marked a document as ready for sharing with the client through its meta-data, it will meet the query parameters and show up in SharePoint. As soon as you change the meta-data so that it no longer is available to the client, it won’t show up anymore.

Oh, and important to some organizations: this is a productised solution supported by EMC and not a custom solution.

But regardless of that, the SharePoint Document Framework provides a flexible way to merge two systems that each lead in their own space. A case where the total is larger than the sum of the individual parts. A framework sold by EMC, implemented by preferred consulting partners like Informed Consulting.

If you want to learn more, don’t hesitate to get in touch!

SharePoint Governance

December 9th, 2011 Comments off

It has been a while now since the SharePoint Connections 2011 in Amsterdam (22/23 November) but I am still excited about the focus on SharePoint Governance. My company has a focus on Enterprise Content Management so I understand importance of Governance. SharePoint has a reputation for being easy and out of the box and it has not always been easy to convince clients of the importance of Governance when using SharePoint. That is why it is exciting to see increasing awareness in the community of the importance of Governance.
During the SharePoint Connections conference Dan Holme spent the keynote and another session talking about SharePoint Governance. A few months back I also attended the SPGov+IA workshop by 21apps and a common theme in both was the fact that often the definition of Governance is not clear and different people have different interpretations.

What is Governance?

SharePoint Governance means having an answer to the following questions:
1. Where
2. When
3. What
4. How
5. Who
6. Why
…knowing where you are now, where you want to go and how you plan to get there.
Below I will detail a few highlights from Dan Holme’s keynote speech. For the whole story you can see his presentation on http://bit.ly/danholme1111spointnl.
I can also recommend the SPGov+IA workshop (http://www.spgovia.com/) to get familiar with tools that can help you plan and implement your SharePoint Governance and Information Architecture.
Where
It is important to make sure the company has a vision and understands how SharePoint fits into the enterprise strategy.
When
Architect SharePoint as a platform that happens to first delivers a solution instead of only producing what is easy, cheap or quick for the current project.
What
Focus on the requirements to make sure you know what you are doing, why you are doing it, what is behind each requirement and how you can make sure it worked in the end.
How
Establish a process to define how you introduce and deploy solutions.
Who
Define roles & responsibilities.
Why
Make clear why you are doing the project. Involve your users in the change management process to help with user adoption.

It is our responsibility as SharePoint consultants to make sure these questions are asked and answered and to explain their importance to the business. I am hoping that with the wider spread awareness that Governance is a key factor for a successful project it will become a standard part of all projects.

Astrid Verhoef
ECM Consultant

Multiple upload SharePoint document library Work-Around

September 27th, 2011 Comments off

At one of our clients, the SharePoint production environment does not have the option available for uploading multiple documents. Since we had to upload 100+ PDF documents, I found a solution to work around this, because the functionality is not disabled but only hidden!

Step 1:

Go to the document library where you want to upload your files.

For example: http://SharePoint.Server.com/sites/Rootsite/Subsite/PublishingImages/Forms/AllItems.aspx

Step 2:

Go to Settings  –  Document Library Settings

Step 3:

Go to  notepad and copy the GUID from this URL including List=

For example: List=%7B4CF11111%2D111B%2D1111%2D11EB%2D1111E12EADB1%1D

Step 4:

Copy the first part of your URL also to notepad, but without the name of the library (“PublishingImages” in this case)

For example: http://SharePoint.Server.com/sites/Rootsite/Subsite/

Step 5:

Paste “_layouts/Upload.aspx?” behind the url, so you get this url (don’t forget the “?”)

For example: http://SharePoint.Server.com/sites/Rootsite/Subsite/_layouts/Upload.aspx?

Step 6:

Paste the GUID that you copied in step 3 behind the url (don’t forget that the GUID also has the “List=%” before it.

For example: http://SharePoint.Server.com/sites/Rootsite/Subsite/_layouts/Upload.aspx? List=%7B4CF11111%2D111B%2D1111%2D11EB%2D1111E12EADB1%1D

Step 7:

Paste “&MultipleUpload=1” behind the url.

For example: http://SharePoint.Server.com/sites/Rootsite/Subsite/_layouts/Upload.aspx? List=%7B4CF11111%2D111B%2D1111%2D11EB%2D1111E12EADB1%1D&MultipleUpload=1

 

This link brings you to the page ware you can upload multiple files at once to the PublishingImages  library!

Enjoy!

Vincent Roos

SharePoint Consultant