Tag Archives: Office365

Office 365 (including Power BI) & integration.

Unit Testing SharePoint

Doing automated unit tests in SharePoint isn’t easy.

As with all libraries that haven’t been designed with unit testing in mind, SharePoint object model doesn’t expose its dependencies:  it connects to a Content Database given the context creating it and there are no ways to redirect it to some stub implementations.

That is unless you can override method invocations.  This is what Visual Studio fakes do.

Fakes allow a developer to create a stub out of a real object by rerouting calls to properties or methods.

For SharePoint, Microsoft just released SharePoint Emulators, a system of Fakes based shims implementing the basic behaviours of the SharePoint 2010 server object model.

Developers can now use those shims to write unit tests on code using the SharePoint 2010 server object model.

Creating numbered headings or outline numbering

Far from fancy technological questions today…

How do you configure Microsoft Word to assign numbers to your section headers in a hierarchical way, e.g.:

  • Header 1 (1)
  • Header 1 (2)
  • Header 2 (2.1)
  • Header 2 (2.2)
  • Header 3 (2.2.1)

etc.?

Well, maybe you’re in my position and you always had documents configured properly but today you have to configure one yourself.

It turns out it’s far from trivial.  There are no ‘activate hierarchical header numbering’ in Word!

Instead of explaining here, I’ll refer you to the excellent article Shauna Kelly (who seems to be a black belt in template document):

http://www.shaunakelly.com/word/numbering/outlinenumbering.html

The short story is that you have to create a multilevel list, configure it (by default it doesn’t carry its parent sections number and the indentation increases at each level) and associate each level to a header style.  There are bumps along the road on each steps, so be careful!

Office 365 Beta Service Descriptions

Microsoft has made available the descriptions of Office 365 Beta Services:

http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/en/details.aspx?FamilyID=6c6ecc6c-64f5-490a-bca3-8835c9a4a2ea

I went through the Exchange Online Services & SharePoint Services.  I noted the following features for Office 365 in general:

  • Secure Access (SSL 128-bits)
  • Security Audits:
  • High Availability (%99.9)
  • Remote Administration:  many admin tasks can be performed with PowerShell scripts
  • …  and my favourite:  Federated Identity (through ADFS 2.0) and Single Sign On

The following features for Exchange Online:

  • Mailbox sizes 500MB, 25GB & Unlimited (depending on selected plan)
  • Max 25Mb of file attachment
  • Can support (depending on plan) POP, IMAP, MAPI, ActiveSync & Exchange Web Services
  • Inbox Rules
  • Unified Messaging
    • Voicemail
    • Outlook Voice Access
  • Outlook WebApp
  • IM & Presence via either Lync Server (on premise) or Lync Services Integration
  • Sharing calendars between organizations both running on Exchange Online
  • Anti-Spam & Anti-Virus Filtering
    • Also supports third-party filtering services on-premise
  • Information Right Management (IRM)
    • Supports only integration with on-premise AD-IRM
  • Third party apps:  Exchange Services doesn’t host any custom code, it must be hosted on premise or in Windows Azure
  • Supports only Outlook 2007, Outlook 2010 & Outlook for Max 2011

For me, having tried Exchange Services in summer 2010, it looks like the Exchange Online is maturing from an already good feature set.  The show stopper for me was the lack of real single-sign on solution integrated with on-premise AD.  Now that it is covered, it makes the platform quite attractive.

The only other problem I could see for a few enterprises, with my limited experience with Infrastructure, is the lack of support for third-party application running on Exchange Server.  I know that some companies are relying on a few plug-ins running directly on Exchange Server.  If that’s not your case, you may not be concerned.

As for SharePoint Services:

  • Co-Authoring (multiple people working simultaneously on the same document)
  • Work offline and sync later
  • My Site, expertise sharing
  • 10 Gb of base storage + 0.5Gb per enterprise user ($US 2,5 / GB / month on top of that)
  • Up to 100GB per site collection
  • Up to 5 TB per tenant
  • Support the following Mobile devices
    • Windows Phone 7 (both IE mobile and Office Hub)
    • Windows Mobile 6.1 + (IE mobile and Office Mobile 2010 (for 6.5.x devices))
    • Nokia S60 3.0 +, E series and N series devices
    • Apple iPhone 3.0 +
    • Blackberry 4.2 +
    • Android 1.5 +
  • Backups are performed every 12 hours
  • SharePoint 2010 goodies (e.g. Ribbon, Rich Text edit, etc.)
  • Sandbox solutions
  • Access Database Services
  • Visio Services
  • InfoPath Services

So SharePoint Services are also maturing.

The big problem I see with SharePoint services is for custom portals.  If your company have heavily invested in SharePoint by doing custom development, those assets can’t be ported to SharePoint online in a multi-tenant mode.  You would need to have your own server, which is more expensive.

This touches a core issue of SharePoint Services.  As oppose to the other offering, SharePoint often is customized on the server-side.  SharePoint wasn’t designed with multi-tenant customization in mind.  The Sandbox solutions came with SharePoint 2010, but they are so limited, you can’t do much with it, left alone porting already existing app to that mode.

But, if you’re using SharePoint with just some branding, you’re good to go.

The road to Office 365

Mary-Jo Foley has written a nice series of articles on her blog:

In the series she traces back the origin of Office 365 (BPOS) into what it is today and where it is heading.

If you’re following the Office Online offering, you know it’s continually morphing to include different features but even the strategy the stirring is changing, albeit at a slower pace.

I’ve tried BPOS last summer and was quite impressed by the platform.  This article series from Mary-Jo Foley gives us some perspective on the long term strategy.

Windows 8: Desktop as a Service?

In the wild country of rumours about Windows 8, there’s a new entry:  Desktop as a Service (thanks to Mary-Jo Foley for the heads-up).  Some slides have indeed leaked from the London Microsoft architectural summit in April 2010 showing Microsoft’s vision of the next step for Windows virtualization.

The virtualization of the applications was done with App-V in Windows 7 while the virtualization of the OS is meant to mean native vhd booting.  That is already done in Windows 7 although it requires a bit of tweaking.

So we are left to speculate about Desktop as a Service (DaaS), although one of the slide gives some hints:

The desktop should not be associated with the device. (T)he desktop can be thought of as a portal which surfaces the users apps, data, user state and authorisation and access.

Now that is interesting.  With Office 365 (aka BPOS) for the server side of the apps, maybe Microsoft will eventually provide all the client apps as a service as well.

This would go a long way to resolve enterprise IT’s headaches where the migration from Windows XP is a major issue and the benefits rarely outweigh the costs.  With a more lightweight OS and DaaS, a migration would be a better value proposition.  This wouldn’t remove one of the big cost of migration though:  training.

Office Web App to power Facebook emails

The new Facebook mail service will use Microsoft Office Web App in order to view Microsoft Office documents.

This follows the news of Facebook using Bing to search the social network.

It’s interesting to see Microsoft positioning itself in the social networking space and the search space.  It recently abandoned the idea of powering Livre Blog by outsourcing it to WordPress.  I interpreted it as a sign of Microsoft moving away from the social media scene.  Apparently that was more a repositioning than a moving away.

Making alliances with Facebook might work better for Microsoft in the long run than trying to compete with Windows Live.  It’s a shame though, considering that Live Messenger is the most widespread chatting tool and somehow an ancestor of social media.

BPOS is dead, long live Office 365

image Starting in early 2010, what was previously known as BPOS version 2 or Union will be available as Office 365.  The name should reflect the availability of the platform (which suffered some reputation step back this summer).  Today the beta is released, available to a 1000+ customers worldwide.

Among the features of the new versions will be partial feature sets of the following on-premise products:

  • Exchange Server 2010 SP1
  • SharePoint 2010
  • Lync Server 2010
  • Federated Identity
  • Dynamics CRM

Another interesting aspect of the new offering will be its declinations, ie enterprise, mid-size business, education, etc.  .  With those new features, we can see the offering being more mature.  They get more competitive for small user-base and more enterprise-ready for bigger customer.

As I wrote here before, I have been quite impressed with BPOS.  The major hurdle for me was the absence of an enterprise single sign-on solution.  This is going away with Office 365.  This makes this offering very attractive.  For instance, even for short-lived collaboration project SharePoint Online becomes a very good solution.

You can see a demo on Channel 9.

Thanks to Mary-Jo Foley to spread the news (here and here).