Category Archives: IT Pro

SharePoint 2013, Office 2013, Lync Server 2013, Visio 2013, Exchange 2013 and Office Web Apps 2013 hit MSDN!

A few weeks early, so this was a very nice surprise. We’ll get some precious time before SharePoint Conference 2012 in Las Vegas to learn what’s changed, and if things are more stable now than with the betas.

After a few hours of running with Office 2013, I have to say that Outlook 2013 and Lync (client) 2013 are much more faster and stable now. Lync 2013 (Preview) crashed against Lync Online constantly, and so far – no issues!

I’m still missing Project Server 2013, although Project Professional 2013 (the client, that is) seems to be available.

You can get all these sweet bits at MSDN and/or Technet.

This morning I had a cup of coffee and MCSM: SharePoint

Not a bad way to start the day.

We’re using the Paulig Cupsolo –coffee maker at our training facilities in Helsinki, and even though I don’t normally like super industrial coffee, I’d say this little machine outputs pretty decent java. While sipping my first (huge) cup of coffee I also learned that all existing Microsoft Certified Masters on SharePoint 2010 can now start using the new Microsoft Certified Solutions Master: SharePoint branding. I knew about the grandfathering policy for MCM, but I’m very happy to be able to use and share the branding of future SharePoint certifications. If you’re interested in my experiences on achieving MCM, or ramping up for MCSM: SharePoint 2013 (for which I’ll need to upgrade), stay tuned – I’ll be posting thoughts and tips on those in the near future.


Also worth noting is the fact that the following exams are now visible on Microsoft Learning, but the actual exams are still dated for early February 2013:

  • MCSA: Windows Server 2012
  • Exam 70-331: Core Solutions for Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013
  • Exam 70-332: Advanced Solutions of Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013

Anyone can do the MCSA: Windows Server 2012 Upgrade exam today. It’s available at Prometric – go take a look. We’re running a Prometric certification day once a week on Thursdays in Helsinki, Finland – see details (in Finnish, sorry) here.

The definitive guide to SharePoint 2013 certifications

[Update: This article was updated on 4th of February, 2013 to reflect the latest changes to the SharePoint 2013 certification program]

SharePoint Server 2013 Preview RTM bits have been out and available for testing and kicking tires for a few months now. While there’s a lot to learn with regards to all the new and great stuff we’re seeing within the product, there’s also going to be a lot of ramping up for developers and IT Pros if they want to achieve any of the certifications Microsoft will offer for SharePoint 2013.

So what’s available for SharePoint 2010?

First, a brief reminder on what’s available for SharePoint 2010 today.

For developers, there are two certification exams:

Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS): Microsoft SharePoint 2010 Application Development (70-573) is the first major developer certification for SharePoint 2010. I always say it’s fairly tough and requires developers to have true hands-on experience with the platform. The preparation material is available for classroom-based trainings, and is typically delivered as a 3 to 5 day course.

The second developer exam is Microsoft PRO: Designing and Developing Microsoft SharePoint 2010 Applications (70-576). This is more of a high-level approach, and concentrates less on hands-on “Let’s just code that in Visual Studio” and more on the design and architecture aspects of the overall solution. It’s definitely one of my favorite exams, and the accompanying course material is also high on my list of “must reads”.

After passing these two exams (the 70-573 and 70-576) you get to call yourself a Microsoft Certified Professional Developer (MCPD): SharePoint Developer 2010.

For IT Pros, there are two certification exams:

Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS): Microsoft SharePoint 2010 Configuring (70-667) is the first major IT Pro certification for SharePoint 2010. It’s a huge collection of IT Pro things one has to understand, ranging from installing and setting up SharePoint to configuring the more complex features within a farm. There’s a classroom-based course material available, of course (the B-version of the 10174-material got a slight facelift, mostly because of Office 365 and SP1).

After completing the MCTS-exam, IT Pros can then continue with Microsoft PRO: Microsoft SharePoint 2010 Administrator (70-668). This is aligned with the MCPD-exam for developer in the sense that it’s less hands-on, and more theory, best practices and do’s and don’ts. Here’s the course material topics. When you pass the two IT Pro exams (70-667 and 70-668) you get to call yourself a Microsoft Certified Information Technology Professional (MCITP): SharePoint Server 2010.

Each preparation training course of these four exams can be completed by self-studying, learning on the job and/or attending a classroom-based training.

What about SharePoint 2013? What’s available and what’s not?

So the story with SharePoint 2013-based certifications follows the same a slightly different rajectory we had with SharePoint 2010.

As of today, we have a total of 4 training courses available. These are:

FIrst Look Clinic: What’s new for IT Professionals in Microsoft SharePoint 2013 – it’s a 3 hour clinic, rather than a traditional training. I’d argue this is almost a full day training, since it took more than 3 hours just to skim through. Since it’s a very early look at SharePoint 2013 there’s not certification alignment for this clinic.

The second one is First Look Clinic: What’s new for Developers in SharePoint 2013 and it’s also a 3 hour clinic. More like a day, although there’s no labs available within the course material.

The third one is SharePoint 2013: IT Pro Ignite training. It’s a 3 to 5 day classroom-based training, including hands-on labs. It’s not widely available but does give you a deeper look and knowledge into what’s possible with SharePoint 2013 for IT Pros. As you might have guessed, the fourth course that is available is SharePoint 2013: Developer Ignite training. Also 3-5 days, lots of labs.

Finally, the Programming in HTML5 with JavaScript and CSS3 course was released for public use. A book is coming out in April from MS Press – see details here.

The first exam for anyone wanting to be fluent with developing solutions for SharePoint 2013 is Programming HTML5 with JavaScript and CSS3 (70-480). This exam was released August 20th, 2012. The accompanying preparation material is available (see here). This is a mandatory certification exam for the upcoming MCSD: SharePoint certification.

The second exam we already have details on, is for IT Pros: Core Solutions for SharePoint Server 2013 (70-331). Availability for this exam was scheduled for February 5th, 2013 and as of February 2nd, the certification exam was available from Prometric.

The third exam is also for IT Pros called Advanced Solutions of Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013. It’s also available since February 2nd, 2013. Together with 70-331 and 70-332 you are two steps closer to being an MCSE: SharePoint.

The last requirement for MCSE: SharePoint (for IT Pros) is MCSA: Windows Server 2012. You can either complete this requirement with a single upgrade exam (70-417) or do all three certification exams: 70-410, 70-411 and 70-412.

The upgrade eligibility is for those who already hold a valid MCSA, or MCITP certification, such as MCITP: SharePoint Administrator 2010.

Anything else?

We are still missing the two SharePoint 2013 developer exams – more info on those when they become available.

You bet! Plenty to read, you should start from here, here and here.

Happy studying! Smile

Office 2013: Side-by-side or upgrade?

In Office 2013 (Preview) there’s an option to either do a side-by-side installation, or an upgrade. The side-by-side allows you to run both Office 2010 and Office 2013 on the same machine, thus allowing you to preview the new version while retaining the (presumably) working Office 2010 version.

The upgrade option allows you to do a full upgrade or simply remove one or more Office 2010 apps (such as Word or Excel) and keep the rest.

To choose between these installation types, first run the Office 2013 installer, and accept the license terms:


If you now select Upgrade, a full upgrade will be performed. We might want to avoid this if Office 2010 still holds some value for you, so select Customize:


You may now remove all previous versions (first option, a full upgrade), keep all previous versions (side-by-side with Office 2010) or remove one or more of the older Office 2010 apps:


There’s one restriction and that’s Outlook 2013. As with Outlook 2010 with Office 2010, in Office 2013 you cannot run Outlook 2013 and Outlook 2010 on the same machine. So even if you decide to go with side-by-side, you have to choose between Outlook 2010 and Outlook 2013. Otherwise you’ll end up with Office 2010 sans Outlook 2013.

To avoid this situation, select to remove Outlook 2010:


The new SkyDrive app–is it better than Dropbox?

I kind of missed the release yesterday of the new SkyDrive app from Microsoft. I’ve been using Dropbox for so long I haven’t really searching for alternatives, that allow me to sync files to and from the cloud between multiple computers.

So today I had a chance to install the new SkyDrive app on my laptop (using Windows 7), while simultaneously running Dropbox. Which one is better?

SkyDrive vs. Dropbox clients

The SkyDrive client is really barebones and has nothing extra built in. It synchronizes files and that’s it. It sits in system tray and thankfully doesn’t bother you unless something goes wrong.

The settings page is somewhat 1.0’ish, with only a setting to disconnect the current computer from your SkyDrive account, and make files available directly from my PC (as opposed to using the web site).


Compared to Dropbox, I’m missing a few crucial features. The ability to pause syncing would be nice, as I use this anytime I’m working remotely through a mobile broadband. 3G is fast but chokes easily.

The ability to restrict bandwidth usage would be nice also. Dropbox leads the way here:


Dropbox is also capable of showing storage usage:


While Skydrive is pretty clueless when it comes to storage:


It’s not that important but always nice to know if I’m almost hitting the quota or not. There’s a nice view up on the site but you’ll have to go there each time to check the status:



I’m paying $9,99/month for Dropbox. For this I get 50 GB of storage, which seems to be more than enough for my needs at the moment. Alternatively I can pay $99/year in advance, which comes to $8,25/month (or about 6,2 euro). The free alternative gives you 2 GB by default.

For SkyDrive I get 25 GB by default, which is more than Dropbox gives me. I can upgrade to 45 GB for $10/year, or 75 GB for $25/year or 125 GB for $50/year. So by paying roughly half of what I’m paying Dropbox, I can get 125 GB storage, which is twice the storage I get from Dropbox.


What about security then? Dropbox states the following on security:

Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and AES-256 bit encryption

Since Dropbox uses Amazon S3 for storage, apparently Amazon’s own security policies apply here as well. It’s pretty comprehensive. In fact, searching with the keyword “security” from *, I get +10,000 hits with topics like security clarification, privacy and security.

For SkyDrive the security story doesn’t look as good. In fact, there’s not much to tell about security since apparently Microsoft believes talking about security might compromise security.

A quick search for “security” on * gives me exactly one hit:


Thanks, but not really what I was looking for.

Other findings

Both apps are unobtrusive once installed and configured, which is a good thing. Synchronization should be in autopilot and not require the user to check up on things. Dropbox.exe takes around 60 MB of memory when sitting idle. SkyDrive.exe takes around 20 MB when idle. It’s impossible to make any meaningful comparison between the processes, since SkyDrive might as well be offloading logic to Windows Explorer, while Dropbox might be doing the same work independently.

In Skydrive, I hate the forced Hotmail toolbar I’m given whenever I access the files through a browser. It reminds me too much of 1999, and hints at the fact that I should be using some email as well – which I don’t feel is of any use to me.


In comparison, Dropbox’s UI is nice and clean and doesn’t have the historical weight of Hotmail:


For some reason whenever I open the Dropbox site, I’m automatically authenticated and logged. SkyDrive requires me to log in manually each and every time. Fix this, please.

So, which one?

I’ve been happy with Dropbox. Now that SkyDrive is around, I’m tempted to switch because of the much lower pricing. I’m not happy with the lack of documentation around security and privacy on SkyDrive, so that’s kind of a big deal to me.

For a 1.0 beta-release, the SkyDrive app is pretty solid. Hopefully in the coming versions Microsoft continues to add more configuration options while keeping the pricing at a lower level. Until then, I’ll stick with Dropbox.

Microsoft certification reboot–what changed and what do I do now?

On April 11th, Microsoft announced that the current stack of certification programs will be rebooted (or reinvented). Say welcome to your new certification overlords – the MCSA, MCSE and MCSM:


MCSA and MCSE sound vaguely familiar. Oh yes, MCSE has been around since Windows NT 3.1, and MCSA became available for Windows Server 2003. Good times.

The key different is that MCSA, MCSE and MCSM are dubbed cloud certifications. The old MCTS, MCITP and similar certifications are still alive and well. That is, until new versions of Microsoft server products are being released and old exams are aligned with MCSA and MCSE in the future. 

MCSA explained

MCSA stands for Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate. It’s an entry level certification program for people who are looking for their first job in IT. So definitely not someone who has already completed plenty of Microsoft certifications.

The old MCSA, or Microsoft Certified System Administrator, is no longer available. Even though the new MCSA shares the same acronym, it’s totally different and should be considered as a different breed. What they do share, however, is the fact that MCSA is required for the new MCSE – just like before.

Currently, MCSA is available for these two products:

MCSA: Windows Server 2008

For Windows Server 2008, you’ll need to pass the following exams:

  • 70-640: Windows Server 2008: Configuring Active Directory
  • 70-642: Windows Server 2008: Configuring Network Infrastructure
  • 70-646: Windows Server 2008: Server Administrator

MCSA: SQL Server 2012

For SQL Server 2012, you’ll need to pass the following exams:

  • 70-461: Querying Microsoft SQL Server 2012
  • 70-462: Administering a Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Database
  • 70-463: Implementing Data Warehouses with Microsoft SQL Server 2012

There’s also a similar certification path for MCSA: SQL Server 2008, but I find little interest in doing that now that SQL Server 2012 is widely available.

What about MTA?

We also (still) have MTA, or Microsoft Technology Associate, which is relatively new and aimed mainly for students. For MTA, the following certifications are currently available – and unchanged with the announcement of other certifications:


MCSE explained

MCSE stands for Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert. It follows MCSA, which is a prerequisite for achieving MCSE. It comes in two flavors:

MCSE: Private Cloud

The Private Cloud track includes both Windows Server 2008 R2 and System Center 2012 products, so it’s not going to be a walk in the park to complete.

You’ll need to pass the following certifications:

  • MCSA: Windows Server 2008
  • 70-247: Configuring and Deploying a Private Cloud with System Center 2012
  • 70-246: Monitoring and Operating a Private Cloud with System Center 2012

A recertification exam (apparently just one) is required every three years.

The second flavor is MCSE: Business Intelligence:

This is a continuum for MCSA: SQL Server 2012 and required the following certifications:

  • MCSA: SQL Server 2012
  • 70-466: Implementing Data Models and Reports with SQL Server 2012
  • 70-467: Designing Business Intelligence Solutions with SQL Server 2012

There’s also a second path for MCSE: SQL Server, and it’s called MCSE: Data Platform. Key different with Business Intelligence-path is that this is more developer oriented and requires the following certifications:

  • MCSA: SQL Server 2012
  • 70-464: Developing SQL Server 2012 Databases
  • 70-465: Designing Database Solutions for SQL Server 2012

You can also upgrade to MCSE: BI or MCSE: Data Platform, if you already have MCITP: Database Developer 2008 or MCITP: Database Administrator 2008 completed.

Most of the exams for MCSE: SQL Server 2012 flavors are available from June 2012.

Retiring exams

A lot of older certifications are being phased out in the coming months. For a complete list, see here.

What about MCSM – what’s that then?

MCSM, or Microsoft Certified Solutions Master, is the successor to MCM, or Microsoft Certified Master-program.

This is the highest (technical) level one can attain for select products, including SharePoint, Active Directory, Lync, Exchange and SQL Server.

MCSM is coming with wave 15 of the new products – thus, MCSM: SharePoint would be available when the next version of SharePoint is released. The prerequisite for any MCSM is the new MCSA. So if you currently have MCITP and MCSD for SharePoint, you’ll have to upgrade or pass the future SharePoint certification exams and then you can continue to MCSM.

The ‘old’ MCM track is still alive, and existing Masters get to keep their certification.

What should I do now?

You don’t really need to do anything at the moment. If you are currently pursuing any of the available MCITP or MCTS certification tracks, keep going. You can upgrade to the newest versions and become an MCSE in the coming months. For certain products, such as Exchange, SharePoint and Active Directory, there’s nothing new to offer yet since the new versions are not released yet.

Further reading

To read up on the MCSA, check out the new MCSA introduction site. There’s a similar one available for MCSE also.

If you dive, do a deep dive: A method to becoming a better SharePoint architect

Most SharePoint consultants, architects and developers I’ve spoken to in recent months always feel the need to learn more. What should I read? Did you see that new white paper on MSDN? How did you achieve that? Should I attend this conference/seminar/web cast/user group meeting/training?

I don’t have all the answers, I merely have suggestions and methods that work for me. In hopes that it benefits someone else, here’s one:

Learn faster: Do a deep dive

DEEPThis one is really simple yet very challenging to do. Instead of haphazardly trying to learn ‘on the job’, choose to do a deep dive. You cannot and shouldn’t do a deep dive session each week. What you must do, however is a deep dive every month. Well, perhaps relax during the summer months but other than that, do it.

A deep dive, in this context, is the act of immersing yourself in specific topic or topics you are not fully familiar with. For SharePoint this does not imply you shouldn’t be familiar on whatever topic you choose to learn more about but instead to select – and stick – to a certain topic.

Step 1: Choose a topic

This is simple but yet again poses a challenge: What’s a good topic?

These are not good topics:

  • Infrastructure: Too open ended, too wide, too much everything
  • Troubleshooting skills: Again, too open ended. Narrow it down to maybe troubleshooting custom .NET implementations or learning the core troubleshooting tools for performance issues.
  • Intranet building: You could literally spend weeks learning this and still gain little relevant knowledge.

Below I’ve listed better topics. They enforce you to learn things in smaller chunks, and really provide an end-to-end learning experience:

  • High-availability options with SQL Server 2012: New and interesting stuff, surely something you can put to a good use in the coming months. Lots of good material available and RTM bits are already out.
  • Using jQuery with SharePoint: You can start easy by reading up on the widely available jQuery articles and then doing hands-on work when you’ve got a solid base.
  • Using LINQ to SharePoint instead of CAML:Truly a way of the future (and present) but so many people stick with CAML since they are familiar with it.

Choose a topic and move on to step 2.

Step 2: Research and information gathering

Can you spell “intervention”?Now that you have your topic you’ll need to do some research before your deep dive session. The reason why research and information gathering is needed is because otherwise you’ll spend your valuable time doing meaningless binging and don’t feel that you’re learning anything.

Ideally you should have enough material for a two full days of learning. For some people this is a few books, for others this is a single white paper. More is .. more, so don’t refrain from ordering good books from Amazon, printing out those Onenotes and white papers and bookmarking good entries on blogs and sites.

When you have a lot of resource material you are exposed to what you don’t already know. I tend to use a simple Onenote-formatted table for keeping track what I need to study, and what I’ve already studied:


The last two columns, 1st read and 2nd read are just visual reminders that I have to study content twice. The first time I’m reading I try to make notes what felt easy and what felt challenging. The second time I read the same content I skip the ones I felt were obvious or something that I already know.

Step 3: Block time from your calendar

Hardcore Study TimeDon’t neglect this, it’s pretty important. Open Outlook, choose two consecutive days and block those out for your deep dive. It can be two days next week, or two days next month. Just make it two full days. They don’t have to be 16 hour death marches each day but preferably two 8 hour sessions.

I choose to do these in a different location and not our main office. Too many distractions, too much background noise. Choose a secluded spot, and make sure you have the option to take lunch breaks.

Step 4: Make sure you are sure

This step is almost optional but spend 5 minutes doing it – just to keep me happy:

Make sure your hardware and software is up to date and functional. I know how people treat their development and test environments so spend a few minutes fixing those. You don’t want to start your deep dive session with a blue screen. 

Finally, step 5: Now, show us what you’re made of and do it

you are awesomeBy now you should have the following:

  • Two days reserved just for deep diving
  • A topic you’ve selected and are genuinely interested in learning
  • A working environment with SharePoint 2010, SQL Server and whatever else you might need
  • Food, snacks and drinks for two days

Now, show what you are made of and just do it.

On the first day, be at your learning spot promptly at 8:30 – or sooner, if you can.

Spend 10 minutes surfing Youtube, Facebook, Linkedin, Reddit or what have you. According to some studies, this is beneficial and eases your mind into doing the hard core stuff later on.

Finally: Close Facebook, mute your phone, close Live Messenger and Lync and close Outlook.

Put on some good tunes and start studying! Getting started is the hardest part, from there on it gets easier. Take regular breaks. I find that I’m most productive when doing a full two hour stint, and then taking a 15 minute break.

Final thoughts

ThinkingYou should be spending about 60% of your time studying. The rest you should spend on hands-on exercises such as deploying and configuring software, coding, troubleshooting and tinkering.

The goal of the deep dive days is not to learn everything on your chosen subject. It’s good if you feel that after two days, you are the de facto authority on the subject but that’s not really why you are doing this.

The real reason for immersing in such an exercise is to give you a broader view and experience on things. You are one step closer to succeeding in your next project.

You now know more stuff, and that’s just neat.

Microsoft Script Explorer for Windows Powershell

Microsoft released a pre-release of a tool called Microsoft Script Explorer for Windows Powershell. In essence, it’s a tool that helps you find scripts, modules and guidance on using Powershell against Microsoft (server) products – such as SharePoint, SQL Server and Windows Server.

You can download the tool here.

There’s a guide available already (see here) but the tool is rather simple, so you’d only need the guide to learn about the advanced search syntax and setting up a network repository.

Branding and designing SharePoint with PowerPoint Storyboarding

Designing a custom SharePoint site involves a fair bit of customization and branding of the user interface. In the old days I’ve been using a mix of different tools: Microsoft Visio, PowerPoint and Mindjet MindManager to name a few. For thoughts on those, read my previous article on Prototyping SharePoint.

With the introduction of Visual Studio 11 Beta, we’ve got another tool to choose from – it’s called PowerPoint StoryBoarding. Even in beta I’m amazed how good and useful it seems to be.

I’ll introduce the tool but first, let’s install the necessary software.

Installing Visual Studio 11 Beta

You’ll need to download Visual Studio 11 Beta here. I’m using the Ultimate-edition, since it’s still in beta and you don’t need to purchase the outrageously expensive license until RTM time later this year.

Just download the small (~1,1 MB) web setup file to initiate download. Alternatively you can also download a full ISO file from MSDN Subscriptions.

Next, start the installer:


Enter target directory and agree to license terms and conditions. Also, admire the new dark theme:


Click Install:


It’s really that simple! Compared to Visual Studio 2010, it’s 5 minutes faster to initiate the installation and requires 20 clicks less. Very neat, but it also requires +8 gigs of free disk space and will – by default – install everything (this includes Visual Basic.NET, C# and F# for example).

Installation takes 5 to 10 minutes for the ISO, and a bit longer if you need to download bits while installing:


A reboot is required after install is complete:


That’s it! You can now start Visual Studio 11 Beta to check that everything is in place:


Introduction to PowerPoint Storyboarding

Now that you have Visual Studio 11 Beta installed, you should also have PowerPoint Storyboarding in Start-menu. I’m using Windows 8 Consumer Preview so it can be launched by typing Story in the Metro-based Start-view:


You are now presented with the all too familiar PowerPoint, that has a new Storyboarding-sidebar:


There’s a new Storyboarding ribbon tab too:


Here’s how Storyboarding works:

You create a new PowerPoint slide for each view the user will see. You’ll use the built-in icons, shapes and annotations the Storyboarding-sidebar provides.

The following categories are provided out of the box:

  • My Shapes – for shapes you want to re-use
  • Annotation – for explaining your storyboards during a presentation
  • Backgrounds – there’s even one for SharePoint
  • Common – typical web UI elements such as breadcrumb navigation and search box
  • Icons – typical icons such as file attachment, copy and paste
  • MediaWeb 2.0-style (not themed) shapes, such as tag cloud and web ad
  • Metro Icons – Metro-themed icons
  • Metro – Metro-themed shapes and icons
  • Windows Phone Icons – A few WP-themed icons
  • Windows Phone – WP-styled shapes and controls
  • Windows – Typical Windows controls such as status bar and file menu

While PowerPoint Storyboarding is not strictly intended for SharePoint UI prototyping, it’s a pretty solid choice for that. Let’s see a few easy samples for creating a SharePoint-based branding.

Creating a SharePoint branding with PowerPoint Storyboarding

We’ll start by adding a SharePoint-themed background on slide 1:


Dropping a background on a slide automatically aligns it correctly. You can edit the placeholder such as top (global) navigation, address bar URL, username and quick launch.

Here’s global navigation with the default values:


And here’s global navigation with some subtle changes:


Next I added some random controls to showcase how easy it is to add relevant content and SharePoint-style items on a page:


Everything else is using the defaults, except the main text, which I copy-pasted from (much less boring than

A few of the shapes also have pre-configured animation. Those are denoted with the PowerPoint animation icon:


There’s not much to choose from in the animated shapes category but a few good ones. There’s one to simulate a click visually:


And then there’s the two animated annotations, which we’ll cover in a bit:


I’m a bit surprised that none of the Metro-style icons or shapes support animation. Even a mock-up live tile is nowhere to be found – just the regular static versions can be used:


For now I’m happy to use these but my quest to finding a good looking animated live tile persists.

Using custom shapes

You’ll probably get bored quite soon with the default shapes and icons if you do storyboarding for SharePoint. With the support for custom shapes, you can easily add your own custom shapes, icons and other graphical items for re-use in your storyboards.

It couldn’t be simpler.

Drop any graphic from another program on a storyboard slide. Here’s a Web Part Zone-graphic I picked from my Page Layout in Edit Mode:


RIght-click on the graphic and select Storyboarding > Add to My Shapes:


This adds the graphic to the sidebar under My Shapes:


You can now select the shape and it gets added on your storyboard slide. Here I’ve added a ribbon from Page Edit-mode, a breadcrumb-control, the social features icons and a few web part icons:


Since graphics you add yourself are not vector-based, they are saved as bitmapped images. Scaling a saved shape distorts the contents:


What I found to be the most working solution was to avoid really small icons, or capture those in a larger resolution and then downsizing them before saving as a shape.

As a bonus, you can also construct multiple graphics as you like, and then save all those graphics as a single shape. Just add whatever graphical elements you need, select them all and right-click > Add to My Shape. While similar to grouping you cannot de-couple the graphic at a later time.

Using annotations

Annotations are slick little post-it notes you’ll need to use when you present your storyboard to others. There’s 4 to choose from:


The banner one looks like this:


It’s hidden by default and becomes visible with a mouse click, so essentially it’s a simple animation. A rectangle callout is more prominent, also with animation:


The sticky note also delivers:


It’s really intended more as a note, while callouts are intended for calling your attention for a specific item.

Sharing your storyboards

Sharing your storyboard is a matter of saving your storyboard as a .pptx –file:


It doesn’t require anything special from others to view the storyboard, PowerPoint suffices. They even work on Office Web Apps with SharePoint Server 2010:


Final thoughts

PowerPoint Storyboarding is a feature long overdue for anyone working with prototyping, proof of concepts or general UI branding – SharePoint or sans SharePoint.

It’s bewildering that Microsoft has not done this before. We’ve had Sketchflow as part of the Expression package but it was limited through licensing and wasn’t really useful for numerous other reasons. And now that Silverlight is practically dead for web-based development on SharePoint, there’s no reason for Sketchflow to exist or evolve. Unless it starts producing HTML5.

While this feature is great it also lacks a lot of things. Granted, it’s still in beta but it seems like a finished product already. The things I’m hoping to get in RTM are simple: more animated icons and shapes, some kind of built-in browser emulation/mockup and export to HTML + CSS for super-quick site building.

Until then, I’m happy to use the beta!

Installing SharePoint Server 2010 and SQL Server 2012 (RC0) on Windows 8 Consumer Preview

I’m normally using SharePoint Server 2010 on my Windows 7-based laptop. After switching to Windows 8 Consumer Preview I wanted to see how SharePoint performs with SQL Server 2012 (RC0) and the new operating system. This post outlines the steps needed for getting SharePoint up and running in a single-user development/test environment.

Step 1: Install and configure IIS 8

I find it better to install IIS manually via Add/Remove Programs. This way I can make sure I have everything I need for SharePoint. Here are the steps to perform:

Go to Control Panel > Add/Remove Programs (shortcut: Win-R, and type appwiz.cpl). Select Turn Windows Features on or off from the left taskpane:


Make sure that .NET Framework 3.5 is selected:


It’s enabled if you’ve installed any programs on Windows that are based on .NET 3.5. Windows 8 CP will prompt for installation of .NET 3.5 at the time.

Select Web Management Tools under Internet Information Services:


Select IIS Metabase and IIS 6 configuration compatibility under IIS 6 Management Compatibility. This is required for SharePoint.

Make sure you’ve selected ASP.NET 3.5 and .NET Extensibility 3.5 under World Wide Web Services:


In Common HTTP Features, select all:


Under Performance Features, select both Dynamic and Static Content Compression:


Under Security you’ll need at least Windows Authentication:


I ended up with the following selections:


Installation will take a minute and shouldn’t require a separate installation media, since the bits are already on the disk.

When installation is complete, verify that IIS is operational by going to IIS Manager (Win-R > inetmgr):


IIS will also prompt you to download the latest Web Platform Installer 3.0 bits. While these are pretty useful you don’t need them at the moment, so just click No.

Verify that the Default Web Site is running and use a web browser to open http://localhost:


If you can see the new IIS 8 logo, you’ve got the essentials up and running for IIS.

Step 2: Install and configure SQL Server 2012 (Release Candidate 0)

There’s no reason to use SQL Express for SharePoint so we’ll deploy the latest Release Candidate of SQL Server 2012. Since the RTM of MSSQL2012 is almost here, I’ll update this post with the full bits when they become available.

You can download RC0 here.

If you downloaded the ISO image it should mount natively with Windows 8 CP. Run Setup and choose Installation and then New SQL Server stand-alone installation or add features to an existing installation.

For RC0, select Free Edition (default option):


Select SQL Server Feature Installation:


In Feature Selection, select Database Engine Services and Management Tools (Basic and Complete).

In Instance Configuration select Default Instance:


In Server Configuration, choose the desired service accounts. For collation, you can use the defaults.

In Database Engine Configuration, choose Windows Authentication. Add the necessary accounts as SQL administrators.

Complete the wizard with defaults and start the install.

Great success:


Make sure to grant proper SQL Server roles for the service accounts you intend on using with SharePoint Server 2010.

Step 3: Patch SharePoint Server 2010 before installation

I downloaded the latest bits for SharePoint Server 2010 from MSDN Subscriptions, which is basically SharePoint Server 2010 with Service Pack 1 from June 2011. It’s a bit old since the latest Cumulative Update is December 2011 CU, and February 2011 CU is just around the corner (delayed to next week – at the time of writing, that means March 12 through March 16, 2012).

Before initiating SharePoint installation we need to patch the SP2010 with SP1-installation media with December 2011 CU.

First, copy the .exe file from MSDN with SP2010 and SP1 to a folder, say c:temp. Then extract the .exe to enable slipstreaming of patches with /extract:c:tempSP:


Extraction takes a few moments:


You should now have a nice and tidy folder with SP2010 bits in c:tempsp:


c:tempspUpdates should include SP1:


Now slipstream December 2011 CU with the same /extract –command you used earlier but use a different folder, i.e. c:tempcu:


Finally, copy the contents of c:tempcu to c:tempspupdates.

You’ll note that the new File Copy-dialog in Windows 8 leaves pending questions last, so make sure you overwrite any files that match the destination folder. Otherwise you’ll end up with a mix of SP1 and December CU files and that’s just mean.

Part 4: Install SharePoint Server 2010 prerequisites

You’ll need to install the prerequisites, which can be downloaded from the following links:

  • Microsoft Sync Framework
  • SQL Server Native Client
  • Windows Identity Framework (not applicable for Windows 8 CP)
  • Chart Controls
  • SQL Server Analysis Services (ADOMD.NET)

Don’t forget to install Filter Pack 2.0, it’s under c:tempspPrerequisiteInstallerFilesFilterPack:


Since Windows Identity Framework won’t install on Windows 8 CP, you need to enable WIF via Add/Remove Programs > Turn Windows Features on or off:


Part 5: Install SharePoint Server 2010 bits

Before commencing with the installation of SharePoint, make sure to modify config.xml to allow installation on a workstation (non-server) Windows version. Just add AllowWindowsClientInstall in filessetupconfig.xml:


Run Setup.exe. First, enter a product key:


Read the license terms. Or just click Next if you are in a hurry.


Choose Server Farm:


Choose Server Type: Complete


And that’s it, installing will take a moment.


When complete, unselect the option to run Configuration Wizard and click Close.

Part 6: Configure SharePoint Server 2010

Run the Products and Configuration Wizard. Choose Create a new server farm.


In Specify Configuration Database Settings, choose a database server, config database name and credentials:


Enter a farm passphrase:


In Configure SharePoint Central Administration Web Application, choose a port and authentication provider:


Complete the wizard and wait a few minutes while it runs. It will most probably error in the end (Step 8) with a provisioning error for web.config:


The “There’s a duplicate ‘system.web.extensions/scripting/scriptResourceHandler’ section defined” error is a known issue. For non-SharePoint applications the fix is a bit different, so for SharePoint the fix fairly simple: Just change the IIS application pools to use .NET Framework 2.0.x instead of the default (.NET 4.0):


You’ll need to change the .NET Framework version from v4.0 to v2.0.x for all the application pools that SharePoint is using:

  • SharePoint Central Administration v4
  • SecurityTokenServiceApplicationPool
  • SharePoint Web Services Root
  • The application pool that has a guid in the name, like 22f818c63b2c466b9f7681cff8a6c366

You can also change the .NET Framework version on DefaultAppPool. This makes certain that future web apps you provision in SharePoint will get the correct .NET version.

Re-run SharePoint Products and Configuration Wizard and it will pick up automatically from the correct provisioning phase. This time provisioning should succeed:


Central Administration should now open in your default browser:


Verify that the version number matches December 2011 Cumulative Update. You can check the version number from System Settings > Manage Servers in this farm:


14.0.6114.5000 equals December 2011 CU.

All done, enjoy SharePoint Server 2010 with SQL Server 2012 (RC0) on Windows 8 Consumer Preview!