Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Office and SBS Integration Points with Windows SharePoint Services (WSS)

Happy hump day - we are almost nearing the end of Chapter 3 in Windows Small Business Server 2003 Best Practices wherein we are studying Windows SharePoint Services. As you know - I am posting up a few pages per day from my book for your pleasure.


Harry Brelsford | ceo at smb nation |

Microsoft Small Business Specialist (SBSC), MBA, MCSE, MCT and other stuff!


SBS 2003 Integration with WSS

Those “dev dudes” on the SBS 2003 development team slipped in a few points of integration between SBS 2003 and WSS that need to be highlighted.

• Remote E-mail Access (under Links). This allows you to view your Exchange-based e-mail via Outlook Web Access (Chapters 6 and 8 dis­cuss this area more).

• Remote Server Management (under Links). This spawns a Terminal Services session to manage the SBS 2003 server machine (Chapters 4, 8, and 11 discuss this functionality more).

• Add User Wizard/Add Template wizard. Adding users and templates automatically get WSS roles

• Client and Server home page setting

• EICW: publishing intranet takes care of publishing the intranet virtual server in IIS

• Import Files Wizard from Import Files link from the Internal Web Site.

Office 2003 Integration with WSS

Something I plan to emphasis during the SMB Nation Summit worldwide tour in 2004 ( is the integration of Office 2003 with SBS 2003. Nowhere is this integration more apparent than how Office 2003 ties into WSS. In this section, I’ll discuss Shared Workspace, metadata promotion, and Meeting Workspaces and give examples of Access 2003 and FrontPage 2003 integration.

Note that I won’t dwell on another integration feature, Document Workspace sites, because that’s what we’ve basically been working with in this chapter. But for the record, Document Workspaces are clearly an Office 2003/WSS integration point.

Shared Workspace

You have already seen one such tie-in already. Revert back to Figure 7-11 and observe the Shared Workspace element on the right-side of the Word document.

This is one major way Office 2003 and WSS interact. A workspace is an area, hosted on a server (read SBS 2003), where colleagues can share documents, information, and hugs. The features of a shared workspace include document libraries, task lists, links lists, members list, and e-mail alerts. All shared workspace tasks can be performed in Office 2003 applications.

BEST PRACTICE: The Shared Workspace task pane opens automatically when you open an Office 2003 document that is stored in a WSS document library. In addition to displaying Web site data in the Members, Tasks, Documents and Links tabs, the Shared Workspace pane provides information about the active document on the Status and Document Information tabs:

The Status tab is pretty darn cool. It lists important information such as whether the document is up to date, in conflict with another member’s copy, and whether it is checked out. The Document Information tab tells you stuff like modified date, etc.

Metadata promotion

Another Office 2003 integration point with WSS is metadata promotion. To understand the context of this discussion, consider the following. In a traditional document management solution, each document has a profile. The document profile consists of descriptive fields with information about the document (i.e., what the document is about). These fields are called metadata.

BEST PRACTICE: You’ve likely worked with profiles and metadata at the document level for a long time and not necessarily even known it. How? Simply open any existing document from any Microsoft Office product (e.g., Word) and select File, Properties. The document property sheet that appears is a profile and the data in the fields (such as your name in the Author field) are metadata.

In a WSS document library, the columns of the document library (list columns) are the fields for the document profile. If you wish to add a field to the document profile for the library, you simply add a column to the WSS document library. The user-created columns of metadata fields automatically become populated

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fields in the file properties of the document. It’s that easy! Whenever a user uploads a document to the library, she will be prompted to complete the metadata for the document. Note if you upload a document and make some off-line changes to the file properties of the document, said changes will be added as metadata in the document profile on the WSS document library.

BEST PRACTICE: I’m really starting to cross a boundary here and move into a discussion on InfoPath, an Office 2003 family member. InfoPath is an editor that looks kinda like Word and is a backend application that manages forms. These forms are akin to the file properties for a document except these forms use the data via XML to create much more meaningful metadata (a property sheet in Word just sits there).

For example, a company uses InfoPath and has a forms library with expense reports. The employee opens the new expense report form, enters data and saves it. This structured data is extracted by the accounting system.

More on this with specific procedures in my advanced SBS 2003 book.

Meeting Workspaces

A Meeting Workspace is a Web site for centralizing all the information and materials for one or more meetings. Prior to the meeting, attendees use the workspace to publish an agenda, attendee list, and relevant documents. During or after the meeting, the workspace can be used to publish meeting results and track tasks. A user is typically invited to the meeting via an e-mail request and they click a link to join. You will recall from the SBS 2000 Best Practices book in the Exchange Server chapter when I turned you on to Exchange Conferencing Server that this type of invitation with a link capability was present in that conferencing environment.

There are five types of Meeting Workspace templates in WSS:

• Blank Meeting Workspace. Requires customization to meet your requirements

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• Basic Meeting Workspace. Includes all the basics elements to plan, organize, and track your meeting. Predefined lists (and associated Web Parts) include: Objectives, Attendees, and Agenda.

• Decision Meeting Workspace. Similar to the Basics Meeting Workspace but also focuses on the ability to review document and record decisions during the meeting. Additional lists beyond the “basics” in­clude Document Library, Tasks, and Decisions.

• Social Meeting Workspace. Oriented toward planning parties and social events. The lists include Attendees, Directions, Image/Logo, Things to Bring, Discussions, and Picture Library.

• Multipage Meeting Workspace. This is the same as the Basic Meet­ing Workspace but allows multiple pages.

You can create a Meeting Workspace either in WSS or via Outlook 2003. From WSS, simply click Create (from the top link bar) and select Sites and Workgroups beneath Web Pages. Then complete the information for the workspace site you want and click Create (when writing this I created a monthly meeting site for SPRINGERS and I encourage you to do the same). Then select a template on the Template Selection page (I selected the Decision Meeting Workspace). Click OK. And that’s it, Your screen should look similar to Figure 7-22.


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Figure 7-22

Something not widely emphasized in other SBS 2003 learning avenues, like the hands-on labs, is the Meeting Workspace capability of WSS. Use it!

BEST PRACTICE: The online help in WSS has excellent support for

Meeting Workspaces and I encourage you to delve deeper here.

Access 2003 Integration

First off, it’s big assumption time. I’m assuming that you’ve run (not walked) and installed Office 2003 on your client computer to track with me (you heard me mention this in other chapters such as Chapter 6 in the Exchange and Outlook discussion). That said, let me explain how one of the killer applications, Access 2003, integrates with WSS.

There are five integration points between Access 2003 and WSS:

• Export to WSS. Here you simply specify a site during the Access 2003 export keystroke sequence and the fields are mapped automatically.

• Import from WSS. This is a wizard-driven import of Lists and Views of Lists from WSS.

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• Read/Write live link to WSS. Think of this as revisiting Dynamic Data Exchange (DDE) and Object Linking and Embedding (OLE).

• From WSS to Access 2003. WSS exports stuff to Access 2003. Access 2003 then creates a linked table and reports.

• Lookup field support. Full support for the database lookup function in WSS.

Excel 2003 integration

Something that’ll excite many readers is the simplicity with which you can send Excel 2003 data to a WSS list. You’ll do that right here, right now.

1. Log on as NormH at PRESIDENT with the password Purple3300.

2. Start Microsoft Excel 2003 from Start, All Programs, Microsoft Office, Microsoft Office Excel 2003.

3. In Excel 2003, create a simple spreadsheet with financial information.

As you’ll see in a moment, I created a quick-and-dirty DuPont ratio model (if you don’t know what that is, no worries - it’s an MBA thang!).

4. Select Data, List, Create List. The data is converted to a list.

5. Select Data, List, Publish List. As seen in Figure 7-23, on the Pub­lish List to SharePoint Site - Step 1 of 2 pages, complete the Address field to point to the Breeder1 site you created earlier (http:/ /companyweb/breeder1) and then select the Link to the new SharePoint list checkbox. In the Name field, give a descriptive title such as SPRINGERS DuPont Ratio Model and under Description type something like It’s Norm’s MBA in action!


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Figure 7-23

You are creating the list to publish to WSS.

6. Click Next.

7. Confirm the column format on the next page (Step 2 of 2) and click Finish.

8. Click OK when the Windows SharePoint Services dialog box notifies you the list was successfully created.

9. Launch Internet Explorer from Start, Internet. The Springer Span­iels Limited Home page appears.

10. Click Breeding Workspace under Links. Click Lists in the left col­umn. Select SPRINGERS DuPont Ratio model under Create List.

11. Observe the list in Figure 7-24. This is Excel 2003 data being pre­sented in WSS and it’s active. Go ahead and horse around here. Change values, insert a row, add data, and see how it affects the list in WSS and Excel 2003. Yee-haw!

Figure 7-24

This is a great way to integrate Office 2003 and WSS in SBS 2003. This example could be the basis for you to go forth and create an EIS (discussed in this chapter) on the SBS network.

BEST PRACTICE: Another cool SBS 2003 WSS and Office 2003 integration point involves looking at a list in a data sheet and copying and pasting stuff from Excel. Here is what I mean. Create a data sheet in WSS and click the List in Datasheet option. Then open Excel 2003 and create a business spreadsheet populated with business data. Then right-click on your Start toolbar and select Tile Windows Vertically. At this point, the data list in WSS and the business spreadsheet in Exchange will be lined up. Then drag and drop the business data from Excel into the data list in WSS. This integration method, only possible with Office 2003 or higher, is another way to transfer data and is very efficient.

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An individual I know who uses this approach likes it because it allows you to see the Excel-based business data line up correctly in the WSS data list. Seeing is believing.

FrontPage 2003 integration

This integration point is very simple: good looks! FrontPage 2003 can best be integrated with WSS is to make the pages look better. Kinda like the popular American television show Extreme Makeover meets WSS in SBS 2003! More conservative folk would say it allows you to create professional-looking, high-quality pages. Enough said.

BEST PRACTICE: To the extent practicable, PLEASE try to have all of your client machines upgrade to Office 2003. I propose that the integration of WSS with Office 2003 is the “killer application” or a sufficient reason to undergo this upgrade. Am I all wet on this proposition? Then voice your opinion to me at sbs@nethealth­!

Note my advanced SBS 2003 book will have much more discussion on Office 2003 and even SBS-specific integration with WSS! Stay tuned.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You can also use 3rd party tools such as SharedLook to integrate between Outlook and WSS