Tuesday, October 18, 2005

New Customer Success Story

From time to time, when we're engaged on a project that is a bit out of the ordinary or involves a great deal of customization, I like to do a case study to highlight the challenges, achievements and lessons learned during the course of the engagement. We recently completed such a challenging assignment for a premier architectural services firm based in Ft. Worth, Texas. Their story contains valuable insights for companies of similar size who are considering a new portal implementation using SharePoint Products and Technologies.

If you, your firm, your clients, partners or other SharePointers are interested in reading the case study, it is available for download here.

If you have any questions or would like more details on the technical architecture/development/etc., feel free to post a comment with your email addy and I'll respond accordingly.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Extreme SharePoint Design: Custom MySite Titles

When customizing personal sites (MySite), it is important to remember that you're really working with two site definitions - SPSMSITE (which provides the Public and Private default pages) and SPSPERS (which contains all the lists and libraries). SPSMSITE is nothing more than a launching pad for SPSPERS - the bulk of the functionality is in the personal site definition.

This is important to remember when modifying the menus, links and other navigational elements. In some instances, such as the public and private pages, you will be referring to MySite url's (/mysite/); in others, such as document libraries and lists, you will be referring to Personal url's (/personal/[username]/). This can be quite confusing when, for example, you need to create a site title that is displayed on every page and links back to either the public or private view.

The SharePoint object model has some built-in functions that help you determine your site context but they don't span multiple contexts (in other words, there's no way to know which mysite is associated with the current personal path a page is in) and they don't always expose data the way you need it. In the following example, we'll use various properties of the GetContextWeb method to create a personal site title based on the user's full name from Active Directory that, when viewed by the site owner, links back to the private home page, and when viewed by a reader, links back to the public page.

//Retrieve the site title, which should be the user's full name from AD
string strFullName = SPControl.GetContextWeb(Context).Title;
string strTitle;
int intLocation, intLength;

// Determine length of string, find comma separator if one exists
intLength = strFullName.Length;
intLocation = strFullName.IndexOf(", ");

// If a comma is not found (the user name is not separated into Last Name, First Name), set the Title value to the full Title from AD; otherwise, parse out the first name and last name, remove the comma and space, and reverse the strings to read First Name Last Name

if (intLocation == -1)
strTitle = strFullName;
strTitle = strFullName.Substring(intLocation + 1) + " " + strFullName.Substring(0,intLocation );

// Determine if the current user is the site author; if so, set the link href value to mysite and write out the Title. If the current user is only a reader, set the link href to the public url and write out the same Title value.

if (SPControl.GetContextWeb(Context).CurrentUser.LoginName == SPControl.GetContextWeb(Context).Author.LoginName)
Response.Write("<a href='/mysite/default.aspx'>" + strTitle + "</a>");
Response.Write("<a href='/mysite/public.aspx?accountname=" +
SPControl.GetContextWeb(Context).Author.LoginName + "'>" + strTitle + "</a>");

Note that you will only be able to execute this code from a user control; standard web part pages won't allow code execution. To call a user control from within a web part page, create an .ascx file, insert the required registrations (be sure to utilize Microsoft.SharePoint.WebControls) and code, then register the page location (usually the /bin folder on the virtual server), and call the registration from within the web part page.