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Archive for the ‘Training’ Category

Learn SharePoint Designer Workflow with Bjørn

Posted by workerthread on June 3, 2009

Until the day when we have a direct USB connection to the brain (USB 4.0?  5.0?) we still need to set aside frequent chunks of time to learn new things, especially if we are working in the SharePoint environment.  Since SharePoint Designer 2007 became a free download, there has been an increased interest in its various uses, both for site customisation and solution development.

Now it’s true to say SPD has its critics, and it’s also true that unless handled with care it can be a dangerous tool.  There have been some interesting posts about its role over at End User SharePoint recently, like this one from Lori Gowin and this from Paul Galvin.

SharePoint Designer workflows provide a code-free method for developing process-based solutions on your site.  They can be developed quickly and I’ve used them many times myself both for prototypes and full solutions.  Of course they do have some drawbacks which can prove painful if you don’t take them into consideration – here are a few:

– No easy way to loop through selected items in a list or library

– Workflows are tied to the list or library you develop them against

– An SPD workflow runs in the context of the user who started the workflow (and respects their permissions)

– You can set a workflow to run when a list item changes, but it doesn’t know what the previous value was

There are various ways around these issues, with many workarounds and open source solutions available on line, but it would be difficult to recommend a lot of these in a production environment.  So you need to consider the limitations before you commit too much time to developing that killer solution.

If you want to spend some of your “learning new things time” learning more about SharePoint Designer workflows, you should invest $14.95 in the latest edition of Understanding SharePoint from Bjørn Furuknaps.  As well as getting a PDF issue of the journal, you can also download lots of screencasts demonstrating topics covered (in both .wmv and iPod .m4v format).  Bjørn’s presenting style is very relaxed and humorous, but with lots of attention to detail.  I get the impression he spent a great deal of time putting the screencasts together, and this shows in the quality of the material.

Prior to releasing the full package, Bjørn created some taster screencasts at so you can take a look there if you want more convincing.  By the way, you also get a “bonus issue” covering Nintex Workflow, one of several third party code-free workflow solutions that I’m hearing lots of good things about.

Update – Bjørn has written a review of Nintex Workflow 2007 for SharePoint Magazine.


Posted in Microsoft SharePoint, Training | Comments Off on Learn SharePoint Designer Workflow with Bjørn

Word 2007 – Filling Up Demo Documents

Posted by workerthread on May 27, 2009


Often when I’m demonstrating things like SharePoint document libraries, I find I need to create a new Word document and quickly fill it with some placeholder text, ideally real text rather than the usual “asdadsadasdasda” that you end up typing otherwise.

For a long time I’ve used a little feature in Microsoft Word, whereby you can type =rand() and hit enter to generate some placeholder paragraphs, or =rand(paragraphs,sentences) to specify a number paragraphs and sentences.  Even though this feature has been around in Word for several versions now, most people still don’t know it exists.  One thing that has changed in Word 2007 is that the generated paragraphs are a little bit of Word 2007 help, like this sample –

On the Insert tab, the galleries include items that are designed to coordinate with the overall look of your document …

In previous versions of Word, using =rand() generated multiple paragraphs of The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog which is a pangram containing all letters of the alphabet.  Well, thanks to this post on the Microsoft Word Team blog I’ve discovered you can still use the “quick brown fox” version – you just have to use =rand.old() instead. 

The Word Team’s post also mentions another function (new to me) which can be used in Word to generate Lorem Ipsum text, using = lorem() – again, quite useful for generating placeholder text in documents, web pages and SharePoint web parts.

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Posted in Office, Training, Web Design | 1 Comment »

Family Show – Showing Off WPF with a Genealogy Application

Posted by workerthread on May 4, 2009

US Company Vertigo have a long track record in the development of showcase solutions for a range of clients, and have been involved in several proof of concept projects for Microsoft going back over the years.  Right now they have a very nice Windows Presentation Foundation project available for download called Family Show.  The latest version of this has been put together using Visual Studio 2008 and .Net 3.5, and certainly shows off some nice user interface design features.  If you are interested in UI design, or indeed if you have an interest in genealogy, this is worth a download.

Here’s a quick screenshot of how it looks (click picture for a better view):


(by the way, it’s not one of my relatives 🙂 )

So if you want to take a look for yourself, the download is available here, and source code is available as a CodePlex project here.  Scott Stanfield from Vertigo has also recorded a video demo of Family Show which you can watch here.

Posted in development, Technology, Training | Comments Off on Family Show – Showing Off WPF with a Genealogy Application