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As those of you close to us know, we have been big fans of Microsoft's SharePoint concept since initial release several years ago.  We have, in fact, recommended it to every small/medium business owner that will listen to us!  The entire CellStream back office became converted to this online database system.  Was it perfect - well, not exactly.  There were areas that needed improvement and we had high hopes MS would continue to expand the capabilities and functionality.

Earlier this year, we got wind that MS was not only planning a major revision to SharePoint, but also that a new feature they call PowerPoint Library was going to be supported.  Let's explain a little on this feature.  PowerPoint is a fine Office tool, but honestly has never gone beyond writing presentations in nearly 2 decades.  Office 2007 was a major improvement in our opinions, but PowerPoint continued to miss an important feature: the ability to reuse slides in a managed database method.  As those of us who create presentations know, when you create presentations, each one has a complete slide set, and normally people cut and paste slides.  This causes tremendous repetition in the presentation files, and as a slide is improved, it is very difficult to know where the latest version of any given slide is.  This can lead to bizarre moments where presenters suddenly don't have a new version, or when authors search for a particular slide that they need...which presentation was that in?  It is possible to purchase software that does this, but it does not come cheap, and we had heard horror stories.  So when MS offered up the SharePoint solution we were listening.

So the new feature was earmarked as being able to create slides in a database fashion, and then build presentations from the database!  This means you can create slide histories, know where updates are, and minimize the management of large numbers of slides.  Sounds too good to be true doesn't it?  We were anxious to see this feature and this feature alone prompted us to jump into SharePoint 2007 this September.

Research revealed that the upgrade procedure was complicated.  We think MS better fix this as the average small/medium business owner is not going to try this on their own.  We were told to purchase a SharePoint 2007 book from MS that detailed all the possible issues and stages of the upgrade.  Naturally, with the entire back office system running on this tool, there was no room for errors or loss of data.  So the first very important step was to image our server so in the event of catastrophe, we could return to "Go".  We urge anyone attempting this to do the same.  The 1155 page book is called "Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007: Administrator's Companion".  Second, we ran the entire process on a simple offline server just to verify we had all the necessary software packages (you don't just use the MS SharePoint 2007 DVD, you need .Net 3.0 and many other tidbits thankfully, if not poorly explained in the Admin Guide).

Six hours later, we completed the actual server upgrade without any major hitches, or so it appeared.  Our \\companyweb intranet was operational with a new improved look and feel that we instantly liked.  Alsmost as instantly there were problems.  Microsoft, for whatever reason, no longer uses the \\companyweb as the root for the SharePoint system!  There is a new root and while our 'companyweb' pages were upgraded and still reachable (at least internally) we now had two web sites!  The Admin guide offers little on this which is a total surprise, nor does the Microsoft web.  So we thought - fine, we will move the web pages and merge the two sites.  We still have been unable to do this.  Again - all works, but it is not as pretty as we would like.

The next day we received problem reports that remote access to the SharePoint intranet was inoperable.  We found out that it was partly operable and we saw error logs aplenty.  Research on the MS web revealed that SQL Server 2005 had to be reconfigured for remote access - this had not been any issue prior to the upgrade.  Once that was fixed we seemed back to normal.

With all seemingly settled, it was time to set up the PowerPoint Library.  As we explored, it became obvious that SharePoint 2007 has had many new features added which is great news.  The library function worked great - at least we thought.  Turns out there are little annoying 'gotchas' all around.  Here is a list of these bugs:

    http://www.cellstream.com/_themes/ripple/bull1_ripple.gif"); color: rgb(255, 255, 255); font-family: Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: medium; font-style: normal; font-variant-ligatures: normal; font-variant-caps: normal; font-weight: 400; letter-spacing: normal; orphans: 2; text-align: start; text-indent: 0px; text-transform: none; white-space: normal; widows: 2; word-spacing: 0px; -webkit-text-stroke-width: 0px; background-color: rgb(4, 25, 67); text-decoration-style: initial; text-decoration-color: initial;">
  • Internet Explorer with VISTA is not perfect with SharePoint 2007 Library functions
  • The hover over Calendar function has stopped working from the prior version and we have no idea why
  • The views (which conveniently used to appear on the right border in the prior version) use a drop down box all the way on the left of the screen in 2007.  We find this less convenient and hokey.
  • After making an edit, SharePoint 2007 always returns to the default view, not the last one you were using - again a step backward
  • SharePoint takes over your server functions like email and other items - we have yet to explore this more, but in our testing, we found Exchange failed after the upgrade, so we did not move onto exchange in the production environment.

The good news is as follows:

    http://www.cellstream.com/_themes/ripple/bull1_ripple.gif"); color: rgb(255, 255, 255); font-family: Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: medium; font-style: normal; font-variant-ligatures: normal; font-variant-caps: normal; font-weight: 400; letter-spacing: normal; orphans: 2; text-align: start; text-indent: 0px; text-transform: none; white-space: normal; widows: 2; word-spacing: 0px; -webkit-text-stroke-width: 0px; background-color: rgb(4, 25, 67); text-decoration-style: initial; text-decoration-color: initial;">
  • More features and the wonderful Library Function for PowerPoint
  • No damaged databases or lost info in the upgrade, though it was not for beginners.
  • Love the new look and feel options and the new web seems designed for larger businesses which is a good thing for MS
  • If you are a new user to SharePoint - start with 2007...you will love it

We continue to explore SharePoint 2007 as this is written, and we will do a follow-up in another blog post.

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