Home > Personal, SharePoint, SP2010 > Feedback from the few sessions I attended at Sharepoint Saturday UK, 12th Nov 2011

Feedback from the few sessions I attended at Sharepoint Saturday UK, 12th Nov 2011

As Giles Hamson mentioned I too went to the “Sharepoint Saturday” meet-up in Nottingham for the first time. Since I was on a course this week and driving 3 hours every day I didn’t get much chance to give my feedback, so with a lot of delay here are my personal notes I jotted down in mymemory.

To my surprise, or just because I didn’t actually read the Sharepoint Saturday website much when I registered, I was amazed by the venue, the quality of the speakers (a lot US citizens Sharepoint faces coming just for the occasion) and the attendance. I thought not many professionals would sacrifice a Saturday to come and “think Sharepoint” since I know I was in that case last year but indeed it was quite a success, not a full room in the opening keynote but still a good number, a few bloggers have already reported about the event and a lot of noise on Twitter too, so this one is extra.

To my experience for having attended 2 Sharepoint Best-Practice conferences in London, once as a guest and once as a vendor, Sharepoint Saturday is very similar except that it’s free !

The quantity of knowledge session after session is very intense and if we had a way of attending 2 rooms at the same time it would be quite useful, like a download of information into our brain. Actually there kind of is a way to attend 2 sessions in 1… if you read the Twitter post of next room while listening to your room, but it is quite tiring.

The other point of such event is purely to take the opportunity of networking with the Sharepoint community in the UK and internationally, it’s rare to have people involved into Sharepoint, the ones who blog and write books under the same roof.
The reality is that meeting this close-knit Sharepoint community in real life in just one day does not give much time but it helps to put a face and personality behind a name or nickname when engaging each other on twitter and reading blogs.

Right, so now for the content and what I gathered from that day:

9:15. Silverlight vs. html5: Becky Isserman

This session was a demo of how to create a very basic project in Silverlight and the same in HTML5, but it was really a discussion with Becky and the attendees about the feeling around chosing either platform for development. The conclusion was a BIG “no idea”, “we don’t know” “Microsoft didn’t tell us anything”. So not very useful except to confirm our feeling of uncertainty.

Note to self :

10:20. Customizing the SharePoint Packaging and Deployment Process in Visual Studio 2010: Eric Schupps

I am not a Visual Studio developer since I usually design an application, write my views on what a webparts, event handler or piece of custom-code should do, then the developer would write the managed code and deliver me the packaged solutions to deploy on a Sharepoint environment. However I occasionally have to organise the solutions, re-factor a bit of code or add comments and re-compile and I recently also had to write a few SSRS reports in VS Business Intelligence therefore I needed to make sure I was in sync with other’s Sharepoint professionals’ way of packaging Sharepoint solutions.

  • CKS.DEV

One main thing I did not know for not having developed in VS recently and will now add it to priority number 1 when opening Visual Studio 2010 on Sharepoint: install CKSDev, this will add additional tools for SharePoint into your Visual Studio. For instance a very useful Project Item is “Branding” which create master page, CSS and layout page, which will all be activated as a feature when deployed:

CKSDev Branding item

  • What changed in deploying Solution to Sharepoint?

A must have as well is Powertool for 2010 to get additional tools for SharePoint.

Production deployment has not changed: give a WSP and deploy it via Powershell (or stsadm)

Development deployment has changed dramatically, to take advantage of sandboxed solution we can deploy directly Visual Studio to Sharepoint.

Pay attention at the option “view deployment configuration” in Visual Studio solution properties which allows us to configure all the steps that to be done at deployment time.

11:45. How we did it (about branding ) : Matt Hughes

  • Download a custom masterpage and CSS from the community, some include comments and disable some feature by default which is useful for starting small and re-enabling features as needed.
    example : http://freespmp.codeplex.com by Matt, or http://startermasterpages.codeplex.comby Randy Drisgill
  • One CSS class to note that I didn’t use : “S2-notdlg” anything within this class will not show in a Sharepoint modal dialog box, to use if we have a control to show everywhere but not duplicate its display in the dialog boxes.

Matt’ session was really interesting as a subject but I didn’t learn much except that it confirmed my experience in doing Sharepoint branding as he and Sam have had the same issues I had.

It was a little bit strange to focus on Matt’s face while he spoke, check the pic below, Movember Sharepoint style.

13:45. Why are we developing?  : Nigel Price

I chose this session to check what others are doing Out-Of-The-Box in Sharepoint as opposed to building custom controls and webparts to reach business expectations. This is a rather vast subject because more often than not, my clients come to me and think that Sharepoint can do everything they want without the help of .net developers. The other side of the balance is that being a Sharepoint consultant I need to make sure that sites I design are not too far from Sharepoint architecture so that they will migrate easily and “anyone” (ie not developer) can maintain them, bringing a lot of out-of-the-box tools.

Again I mainly comforted what I usually do which is “Try OOB before going for managed code”, Nigel’s bullet list for “when do we have to develop” is :

  • Need to action something with elevated privileges
  • Use of an authentication mechanism outside AD
  • LOB integration (BCS..)
  • Write event receivers
  • Custom Search protocol (if custom iFilter)
  • Code repository, i.e. source versioning

15:00.  Why branding intranet ? Gus Fraser  (SharePoint 2010 Intranet Branding for Developers)

As we all know the main reason for branding an intranet site is so that it doesn’t look like SharePoint. This has been the subject of lots of discussion in the past weeks and surely will not end. Although my role is to advise my client in the concept of branding Sharepoint and why they should not remove all “Sharepoint-looking” features very often I just have to follow what the client’s creative agency (who never used Sharepoint) dictates.

Notes:

  • Use prototyping tool like Balsamic more. specially that Balsamic includes “mockups to go” ribbons.

  • Again : use Visual Studio 2010 CKSDev which includes branding item.
  • Use control adapters.
  • Use CSSReset by Kyle Schaeffer, which is a CSS to literally “reset” the existing style in Sharepoint 2010 so that we can start styling them as we want.
  • Use ieTester tool to test your site with various IE versions
  • Options in the Sharepoint Ribbon barre can be removed using Custom Action. Gus’ code to remove the font style option for instance can be downloaded here.
  • Other link about branding in the pic below

Conclusion

As mentioned a the top of this post, this Sharepoint Saturday did not feel like wasting a day of my private week-end time, the amount of knowledge in the sessions AND talking to the other Sharepoint at the breaks is invaluable, it did feel like a long way to go for just one day and I had to be back in London for 8pm which made me leave just at 5 after waiting to see if I win an iPad2 😉 I will definitely go back to this event, and since I missed the Sharepoint Best Practice (now International Sharepoint Conference) in London this year I am very eager not to miss the next one so that I can renew this experience multiplied by 3 days.
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