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CMIS Integration – Integrating FileNet with SharePoint 2013

October 17th, 2014 by Ben Chevallereau

Recently, our team has been working on a series of CMIS Integrations. This video demonstrates the use of the CMIS components that we developed and used to integrate FileNet with SharePoint 2013. This integration has been packaged into SharePoint. During the video, you’ll see how to connect to FileNet, to browse the repository, to create folder, to create documents and as well to preview documents and to download documents.

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Exciting News for Blind or Visually Impaired People Using SharePoint

July 17th, 2014 by Doug Loo

AFB Consulting (AFBC), the consulting division of the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB), conducted a comprehensive accessibility and usability evaluation of the Discover 508 for SharePoint software from Discover Technologies of Reston VA. The product evaluation compared Out of the Box (OOTB) SharePoint in SP 2010 and SP O-365 with Discover 508 for SharePoint, a software solution designed to make SharePoint easier to use. AFBC tested and compared these products based on how well they interact with various screen reader software products used by people with vision loss to access Windows computers.

Testing results clearly illustrate that Discover 508 has significant usability advantages over the out of the box experience in both environments. The usability and accessibility advantages allow a blind or visually impaired person to complete tasks much more easily and quickly than in the OOTB environment. The superior usability comes largely from a more intuitive, well-designed architecture that is easier to navigate and more suitable for efficiently accomplishing tasks. It also lacks inaccessible pop-ups and other features designed with only sighted users in mind. A clear and easy to use set of instructions provided by Discover 508 is another significant advantage over the OOTB experience, providing step-by-step guidance and allowing a beginner user to learn how to use the system.

Discover 508 provides an environment that is more suitable for use with screen readers, with a markup that includes among other things, properly coded headings, properly labeled links and form elements, and properly formatted and tagged tables. Properly tagged headings allow a person using a screen reader to quickly navigate to the headings that indicate the important sections of the page, and it also allows screen reader users to get a better concept of the overall layout and logical hierarchy of the page. Discover 508’s properly labeled form elements let screen reader users determine things like a particular type of edit field, such as Document Title or Date. They also help make combo boxes, check boxes, and radio buttons easier to use. Discover 508 also avoids the use of poorly formatted and tagged tables experienced in the OOTB environment.

With the Discover 508 for SharePoint solution, AFB testers found it substantially easier to manage calendar events, upload and edit documents and collaborate with team members. Time spent learning the system and completing individual tasks was significantly shorter when using Discover 508.  While SharePoint has made progress with their “More Accessible” mode, Discover 508 clearly stands out as the more accessibility usable solution.   Although testers could eventually complete most tasks  attempted in the out of the box environment, there were some inaccessible tasks that  could not be completed without sighted assistance. The level of frustration and confusion was also significant. For example, simply changing the name of a document took nearly 20 minutes in an initial attempt. Adding a folder to a document library is an example of the difficult and sometimes illogical nature of the OOTB experience. Rather than beginning the process with something intuitive like a “New Folder” or “Add Folder” link, the user first has to activate a “New Document” link. AFBC usability testers spent nearly 40 minutes trying to determine how to create a document library, including time spent with SharePoint’s online help instructions, some of which were helpful and some of which were not. The instructions that did help get the job done said to go to “Settings” and then “Add an App,” which obviously lacks a logical or intuitive path.

Discover 508 for SharePoint avoids all that difficulty and confusion. The experience with the Discover 508 solution was much more intuitive and streamlined, giving a person with vision loss the ability to complete each task as effectively and efficiently as his or her sighted peers. This is extremely important in today’s competitive job market, giving people with vision loss the ability to compete on an even playing field with their sighted peers.

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Section 508 Compliance and SharePoint

June 20th, 2013 by Doug Loo

As most of you know by now, Section 508 is about providing access to information technology for disabled Americans. Since its implementation, the rush to become Section 508 compliant has led to most all of the focus having been placed on the Internet and other external facing applications.  As an advocate for disabled Americans this has been a welcomed and huge first step to providing equal access to IT.  Now it is time to continue moving forward by providing the same level of access to your internal IT so the barriers to employment for disabled Americans are removed and the level of contributions they make can rise.

The rapid pace of Internal IT collaboration has seen huge growth and for many companies provided high ROI.  One such platform being widely adopted is Microsoft’s SharePoint platform.  Like most of Microsoft’s products, SharePoint is shipped as Section 508 compliant.  The problem with accessibility comes after application developers start customizing look and feel or implementing homegrown or third party tools to make the platform more useful.  It has been my experience that most all of the problems can be solved with training the users, providing developers with an accessibility framework, and continuous monitoring.  SharePoint is used in so many different ways that it would be impossible to address each one so my advice is to always remember that one, accessibility is part of your company’s mission goal and two the law was not evoked to eliminate technology or make things harder.  There needs to be a delicate balance on the approach to Section 508 compliance when dealing with any collaboration platform with the ultimate goal on inclusion and increased productivity.

Section 508 Framework for SharePoint

Having a Section 508 framework in place before rollout of the product to the users would be best practice, however reality says that the environment has already been deployed and is currently in use. Will this make things harder?  The answer is yes, just like developing an application with accessibility in mind is easier and less expensive than remediating the application after the fact, so is implementation of a Framework into an existing environment vs. a brand new rollout.  It would also be less costly to hire a Section 508 SME (Subject Matter Expert) that has proper training to develop your custom framework than to put this on your SharePoint Farm Administrator and expect any positive results.

So much for the bad news, the good news is that once you have management buy-in, setting up the framework and managing it will not be a mammoth job.

Some items that need to be considered:

  • Audience (external, external partners, internal)
  • Forms and Workflows to automate framework processes
  • Monitoring tools and other third party tools used for reporting and remediation
  • Priorities and KPIs to measure progress
  • Realistic goals
  • A seat on the  SharePoint Governance Board
  • MaterPage development and design policies
  • Mobile platform development
  • Third party tools connected to Farm
  • Different uses of the Platform (Project Management, Document creation, BI, Workflows, data collection, etc)

Stay tuned for our next blog, Section 508 Monitoring Tools in SharePoint

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SharePoint 2010 – Documentum Integration

August 27th, 2012 by kmcfadden

There are a number of blogs out there that talk about the EMC products that integrate SharePoint 2010 with Documentum along with the pros and cons of each product. However, I found the task of locating authoritative references to be infinitely more challenging. Because finding official documentation was so difficult, I thought it was worth a blog in hopes my work would save others that effort!

EMC currently offers two products and one services option for SharePoint 2010 and Documentum integration. The products are “EMC My Documentum for Microsoft SharePoint” (MyDSP) and “EMC Documentum Repository Services for Microsoft SharePoint” (EDRSMS). The SharePoint Documentum Framework (SDF) is available as part of an EMC Professional Services engagement.

There is an interoperability overview presentation from Q1 2010 covering the two products that you can view or download:

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Unable to open any pages in SharePoint 2010

August 23rd, 2012 by kmcfadden

I have SharePoint 2010 installed locally on my laptop where I do my development. I don’t develop for SharePoint all the time so there are gaps between when I might be looking at my local SharePoint. Getting back to SharePoint development I attempted to deploy my new solution from Visual Studio for testing.

Complete failure! VS could not find the expected instance of SharePoint to deploy the solution.!

Is SharePoint still there? I tried browsing to my local SharePoint instance. Of course,  there was a problem: the dreaded HTTP Error 503, Service Unavailable. Visual Studio wasn’t lying! :-)

I got the same Service Unavailable error when I tried to open the Central Adminstration site.

Ok, what about IIS.

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Printing From a SharePoint Visual Web Part

June 4th, 2012 by kmcfadden

I recently built a SharePoint (SP) Visual Web Part (VWP) with two calendar controls and a literal control. The calendar controls are used to filter the content of a specific list and the results are displayed in the literal control.

The literal control only has the “text” property for its content and no formatting attributes.  You can build your content in the literal control with html tags and, in that way, get the display results you want.

So – how do I get my nicely formatted content printed? More specifically, how do I get the literal control content printed easily without 1) cutting and pasting into a document; 2) selecting the desired text and chooding “Selection” from the print dialog; or 3) printing the page without the calendar controls on the printed page?

If you have looked around the web you probably know that using javascript in some fashion is the answer. Some of the soloutions “out there” implement a “.js” file, modify the master page, or implement some combination with jQuery.

I tried a few less complicated approaches before hitting on the one that works well for me.

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Modifying SharePoint Document Content Types and Libraries Using the Client Model

September 22nd, 2011 by kmcfadden

In a current eRoom to SharePoint migration project I wanted to preserve the “Date Created”, “Date Modified”, “Edited By”, and “Created By” fields in the eRoom documents. To do this I created a custom content type (in SharePoint 2010) based on the standard “Document” content type with four new fields to accept the migrated information. I also created a library template that uses this content type as well as the standard “Document” content type. I’ll explain why later in this article.

Once the documents are migrated I need to update the migrated list/library items. What I don’t want is to keep one set of “preserved” fields and another set of SharePoint fields. The SharePoint fields, as you probably guessed, set the author and editor as the individual doing the migration (or impersonated member) and the created and modified dates being the date of migration.

Updating list items is a pretty easy thing to do in SharePoint’s Client Object Model. The following code accomplishes this task.

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Implementing Multiple Filters in LINQ Query from Visual Studio

September 22nd, 2011 by kmcfadden

A best practice in any application making data calls is to push processing to the server and limit the amount of data that has to come back to the application.

I recently worked on a windows application that uses the Microsoft SharePoint Client Object Model to manipulate lists and their elements. I needed to filter the lists for processing in the application to just the document libraries that were not hidden, contained at least one item, and were not the “Site Assets” or “Style Library.”

Cleary a situation where filtering is desired. I found it easy to find examples for generating a list with one filter. For example:

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Debugging SharePoint 2010 Enterprise Edition Upgrade

June 28th, 2011 by kmcfadden

I’ve been doing my SharePoint development and testing using a locally installed instance of SharePoint. I originally installed my development environment following the instructions found in the MSDN library: “Setting Up the Development Environment for SharePoint 2010 on Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows Server 2008″ which is basically the foundation level version.

This version of SharePoint was fine for quite a while, but the day came that I needed to create and test features that are found at the Standard or Enterprise levels. The good news is that you can install SharePoint Enterprise on top of your current installation and preserve the work you have already done (well, almost as I will explain later).

Unfortunately this installation wasn’t terribly smooth. It might have gone easier if I had stopped the SharePoint services and IIS, but the installation does this so that probably would not make any difference.

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Using SharePoint Designer 2010 to Add Custom Buttons

June 21st, 2011 by kmcfadden

Sharepoint Designer  2010 provides a great quick way to add simple actions to your SharePoint application.

I have a project that I wanted to add a couple buttons that would allow the user to navigate away from a “Drop-Off” library to the libraries where files are directed by my content organizer rules. So, without thought to SP Designer I opened my Visual Studio 2010 and commenced to coding. The great thing about building your buttons in Visual Studio is the flexibility you have – but being so flexible means you have to build a lot even if you only want a little!

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