SharePoint Development from a Documentation Perspective

Andrew May

November, 2006

  • Andrew May's WebLog

    Information Rights Management in Windows SharePoint Services Poster Available for Download


    Now that we’ve managed to get the Windows SharePoint Services and Office SharePoint Server SDKs out the door, I’ve had a chance to catch my breath and do a couple of one-off side projects. One of which is (big surprise) another poster highlighting the developer functionality in WSS 3.0.

    This time around I’ve focused on the Information Rights Management framework in WSS. In WSS 3.0, administrators can now apply IRM to document libraries and item attachments. IRM lets you create a persistent set of access controls that live with the content, helping you control access to files even after a user downloads them. And if you’ve got custom file types, you can create IRM protectors: custom assemblies that plug into the IRM framework and control the conversion of those file types to and from their encrypted, rights-managed formats.

    WSS gives you the choice of creating two types of custom protectors:

    ·         Integrated protectors, which use Windows SharePoint Services to access the Windows Rights Management Services (RMS) platform in order to generate protected versions of files, and to remove protection from rights-managed files.

    ·         Autonomous protectors, on the other hand, configure and execute the entire rights-management process by themselves.

    The poster illustrates how the two types of protectors fit into the IRM framework in WSS 3.0, and how WSS uses each to rights manage documents during file upload and download process.

    To download the poster, just click on the attachment at the end of this post.

    You can read all about the IRM framework in WSS starting here.

  • Andrew May's WebLog

    New Tools for SharePoint Development: Visual Studio Extensions for WSS 3.0


    So now that you've downloaded Windows SharePoint Services 3.0, you're ready to get serious about creating SharePoint solutions, right? If so, let me direct you to another developer tool you'll want to download:

    Visual Studio 2005 extensions for Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 

    The extensions (as they're known to their friends) were designed specifically to jumpstart developers creating SharePoint solutions in Visual Studio. They include project and item templates for essential SharePoint building blocks like Web parts; team sites, blank sites, and list definitions; custom fields, content types, and modules. Each template includes functionality that makes coding, testing, and deploying these items easier than ever before. If you intent to develop in the SharePoint environment using Visual Studio, this download is for you.

    And, if you're planning on using the Web part project template, check out the accompanying article, which provides a quick rundown on how it's done:

    Creating a Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 Web Part Using Visual Studio 2005 Extensions 

    And, as always, if you read the article, please take a minute and rate it. Thanks.

  • Andrew May's WebLog

    How To Rate Articles on MSDN


    Something you might have noticed as you perused the updated Windows SharePoint Services or Office SharePoint Server SDKs--or any MSDN technical article in the last week or so--was that the familiar ratings system has been replaced. Since the new ratings system may not be immediately discoverable or intuitive, I figured it was worth taking a few minutes to show you how to rate an article or provide feedback using the new system.

    The first thing you'll notice is that MSDN's standard 9 point ratings scale has been replaced by a five star scale. The rating scale now appears on the article menu bar, right underneath the MSDN menu bar:


    If an article hasn't yet been rated, all the stars are white, as in the screenshot above. (And I, for one, will not miss the 'Be the first to rate this page!' message on unrated articles. As a technical writer, nothing was more lonely than checking on your article weeks after it had been published and seeing this auto-generated plea for someone, anyone, to rate your article. But I digress.)

    Once an article's been rated, colored stars represent the article or topic's current rating. The article pictured below, for example, has a current rating of four out of five:


    So, how do you actually rate the article and enter feedback using the new system? Simply mouse hover over the stars themselves. You can then click on the star that represents the rating you'd like to give the article. The stars then turn red to reflect the rating you're chosen (and they stay that way until you submit your rating). However, you can change your rating up until you submit it.

    In addition, the Optional Feedback form opens, enabling you to send us detailed comments on the article.


    When you're done, just click the Send button to submit your rating and comments.

    As under the old system, you only get to rate an article once. If you hover over the rating on an article you've already rated, you'll get a tooltip to that effect.

    One thing I do wish MSDN had retained from the old system was the graph at the end of each article that told you how many people had rated the article, and showed their raw rating scores. As an MSDN user, I found this information very helpful in deciding whether or not to invest my time in reading longer articles.

    After all, this:

    Tells a much different story than this:

    Even though they both result in an article rating of 4.5 (under the old scale). The first tells me that only two people rated the article, one of whom was very pleased with it (and one who might just be a troll rating everything a 1.) The second tells me that a statistically significant number of people found the article of limited utility. This could be good information for a reader to have before reading a 20 page article.

    In any case, another cool new feature is the improved 'breadcrumb' functionality. (The term 'breadcrumb' refers to the hierarchical list of pages/nodes you've had to traverse to get to your current location in the MSDN library.) Now, if you hover over an entry in the breadcrumb, you'll get a hot-linked list of the topics/nodes at that same level in the MSDN library table of contents. I think this is going to make our SDK content a lot more discoverable/navigable in the future.


     I'd be interested in what you all think of the new system.

  • Andrew May's WebLog

    Windows SharePoint Services and Office SharePoint Server SDKs Updated


    So by now you no doubt know that Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 is available for download. But something you might have missed is the fact that we have updated the Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 and Office SharePoint Server 2007 SDKs on MSDN.

    You can find the WSS SDK here.

    And the MOSS SDK here.

    These latest updates represent the "official" (that is, non-Beta) release of both SDKs. We've tried to provide the highest-priority developer information, as completely and accurately as we can. While there are definitely areas of the SDKs we plan on expanding in future updates, if we've done our job then you should have plenty of detailed technical information to get you started developing solutions in the SharePoint environment.

    As you go through each SDK, don't be shy about letting us know what works (or doesn't) for you, and what types of information you'd like to see in future updates. I can tell you first hand that the comments you type in on MSDN don't just go into a black hole somewhere; they do indeed make it back to the correct documentation team. And you can always contact me through this blog as well, and I'll try and route your comments to the appropriate person (requests for money or free Zune players will be ignored.)

    Just for the sake of completeness, here are the various downloads for WSS:

    Windows SharePoint Services 3.0

    Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 Language Pack 

    Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 (x64) 

    Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 Language Pack (x64) 

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