Tag Archives: learning

New Microsoft books coming out before the summer

I often realize how much I love reading. It doesn’t matter if I’m reading a PDF on my laptop, an e-book with Kindle on my iPad or a paper book before falling asleep in the evening – they are all good in my books.

Every now and then I scan through Amazon for upcoming books with hopes there’s something worth buying. There’s probably a lot of good books I haven’t read around SharePoint or Microsoft technologies in general, so I’m always in the mood for new purchases.

Here are my latest findings:


Introducing Microsoft SQL Server 2012: Fresh content for the newly released SQL Server 2012. Best of all, this one is free of charge!

Available for Kindle also, get it here.



 Working with Microsoft FAST Search Server 2010 for SharePoint: Having just bought this I haven’t had a chance to read it any further than the introduction. It feels like a good overview for FAST in a condensed form.

Available for Kindle also, get it here.


Delivering Business Intelligence with SQL Server 2012: Very nice to see such detailed topics already available for SQL Server 2012. Only one review (5 stars) so I’m definitely putting this on my to-read list for the summer.

Available April 23, see details here.


SharePoint 2010 Creating and Implementing Real-World Projects: An interesting take to a somewhat familiar topic on SharePoint. The writers seem to have good background on technical and non-technical issues for SharePoint. The index is a bit lackluster with topics like “Design a team blog platform to review content”. I’ll give this a try, the Kindle version is only $20. Get it here.


Practical SharePoint 2010 Information Architecture: There’s a huge resource available for IA from Microsoft, so it’s always refreshing to see someone outside MS try to tackle this non-technical yet highly important aspect of any SharePoint deployment.

Available April 18, see details here. No mention of a Kindle version yet.


Metro Revealed: Building Windows 8 Apps with HTML5 and Javascript: Living on the edge with a topic like this! Definitely going to get this – there’s also a separate book if you prefer using C#.

Available April 29, see details here. No mention of a Kindle version yet.



Programming Microsoft’s Clouds: Azure and Office 365: This book promises to be a very detailed look at both Azure and Office 365 custom solutions. It’s “only” +500 pages, so hopefully it’s not going to be 300 pages explaining what Azure or Office 365, but rather +500 pages of solid content.

Available June 5, see details here. No mention of a Kindle version yet.


SharePoint 2010 Business Connectivity Services: I’m uncertain what’s new in this book compared to the de facto manual on BCS from Scot Hillier. It seems to be more for business analysts and super users rather than developers or IT Pro’s, since the sample table of contents includes a lot of references to SharePoint Designer, Office and “enhancing”. Probably not buying this, but it’s interesting to see BCS gain more ground – it’s actually pretty damn good.

Available June 22, see details here. No mention of a Kindle version yet.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll have to go back to my books!

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.

The illustrated guide to mastering SharePoint

Imagine that this circle contains everything about SharePoint – all tools, methodologies, customization techniques, tips and tricks:


By the time you’ve used SharePoint as an end-user doing things like document management, search, populating content to your My Site and similar, you know a little:


By the time you’ve installed SharePoint Designer, made some modifications and used a few third party tools to modify your SharePoint configuration, you are on your way to mastering SharePoint:



You start studying for 70-667: Microsoft Certified Technical Specialist: Microsoft SharePoint 2010: Configuring certification exam:


You successfully complete MCTS: SharePoint 2010 Configuring, and also pass 70-668: PRO: SharePoint 2010: Administrator certification. You are now MCITP: SharePoint Administrator 2010 and pretty capable surviving all IT-related things on SharePoint:


You feel there’s more to SharePoint than just IT-stuff. You start practicing customization and development for SharePoint with Visual Studio 2010, and eventually pass 70-573: Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist: SharePoint 2010 Application Development certification exam:


Life is pretty good now. You can configure most aspects of SharePoint, you can troubleshoot your way out of almost anything you encounter, and you know how to create new functionality and customize existing functionality. Finally, you take the time to study and pass 70-576: PRO: Designing and Developing SharePoint 2010 Applications and become a Microsoft Certified Professional Developer for SharePoint. You’ve got MCITP and MCPD now:


People start referring to you as “the guy who knows SharePoint” and random people email you about their issues with SharePoint. And you are happy to help, or charge for your time helping others. You take pride in the fact that you’ve conquered SharePoint.

Then you decide to embark upon Microsoft Certified Master: SharePoint 2010 – and months later, you pass the exams:


You now master everything that is SharePoint! During the process of becoming a Master, you’ve found new ways and techniques for doing things, and thus expanded the sphere of knowledge. That’s the little dimple at 9 o’clock.

Maybe you still crave more. Is this it? What can you do to fill those small gaps you feel are things you should know better? You cancel your summer vacation and start ramping up for Microsoft Certified Architect: SharePoint 2010. Finally you become an MCA:


You’ve expanded the whole sphere of knowledge, going beyond the currently existing knowledge. You excel in everything related to SharePoint: the hard technical challenges, the development adventures and the business side of things. Still, there seems to be a boundary that is just beyond your grasp.

You can now spend your days and evenings trying to fill in the gaps in your knowledge.

Or alternatively you can go outside, enjoy the sun, spend time with your family and be confident that whatever SharePoint throws your way, you’ll survive.