Cascade Skyline - with Microsoft Logo and Project Support header - author Brian Smith

December, 2006

  • Brian Smith's Microsoft Project Support Blog

    Project Server, Office SharePoint Server and Workflow

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    Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 builds on top of Windows Workflow Foundation to enable workflow to be used on list items and documents.  So you can create your own business logic to work with the content in WSS to create your own applications.  Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) takes this to the next level and has some out of the box workflows built in that you can associate with your lists.  If Project Server is installed with MOSS then a new feature of Project Server 2007 becomes available - an automated workflow approval process for proposals.

    This feature makes use of the new server side light weight projects, and there is a certain type - called a proposal.  The idea is that this proposal is a set of steps you need to follow to get a project accepted, and when you create the proposal it will also create a WSS Task in a list that has a workflow associated with it.  This task will be assigned to a user in the Proposal Reviewers security group within Project Server.  There is a special custom field associated with proposals called the state field.  Initially this is set to proposed - but it gets changed automatically based on the approval status of the WSS task - if the reviewer says it is OK and accepts it, then the state field gets changed to Approved.  This is a very simple example of how workflow can be used on the platform - your imagination can fill in the other extensions to this to make it work for your organizations.

    As I mentioned - MOSS comes with some pre-defined approvals - but this doesn't stop you adding your own approvals to WSS lists even if you don't have MOSS.  The easiest approach (which also works in MOSS) is to go to any list or library, then under Settings, Document Library Settings you will find Workflow Settings.  You can configure simple workflows against the list from there.  Using SharePoint Designer you can create quite complex workflows against WSS lists.  One thing to point out here is that you will not be able to connect to a Project Server 2007 PWA site using SharePoint Designer as it is blocked due to the risk of you breaking some of our functionality.  However you can connect to the Project Workspaces (often referred to as PWS sites) that you create for individual projects.  If SharePoint Designer doesn't do enough for you then you can also create workflows using Visual Studio 2005.  These can obviously be much more complex and if you wanted to integrate deeply with Project Server through events and the PSI then this is the tool for you.  Once you create workflows through Visual Studio you can then consume these either through SharePoint Designer or even have them appear in the workflows available through the workflow settings of the libraries.

    So if this has sparked your interest in workflow the next places to go are:-

    Windows Workflow Foundation - http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms735967.aspx

    Workflow Development for Windows SharePoint Services - http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms414613.aspx

    Visual Studio 2005 extensions for .NET Framework 3.0 (Windows Workflow Foundation) - http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=5D61409E-1FA3-48CF-8023-E8F38E709BA6&displaylang=en 

    and the general SharePoint blog also is a great place for all information on the MOSS platform - http://blogs.msdn.com/sharepoint/

    If you are considering MOSS then there are plenty of other benefits on top of Project Server.  One would be search - to enable all those Project Workspaces to be easily mined for information.  Another would be Excel Services which enables you to load, calculate, and display Excel workbooks on Office SharePoint Server 2007.  I know one of my colleagues is preparing a post on the use of Excel Services with Project Server to visualize data so I will not steal his thunder - but instead suggest you subscribe to Christophe's blog at http://blogs.msdn.com/chrisfie to make sure you do not miss it.

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  • Brian Smith's Microsoft Project Support Blog

    Mixed Server Farm Topologies - All Servers must have all SKUs loaded.

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    One problem that we have seen several times now is the issues of mixed skus in a farm.  So the scenario is that a customer wants to make use of some of the features of Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 (MOSS) as well as Microsoft Office Project Server 2007 (PS).  The misconception is that you can add a "Project Server" to a farm that is an Office Server farm - so you just want one Project machine in your farm - just load Project Server on a machine and join the farm!  WRONG!  The way it works is that ALL servers in the farm need to have all the bits loaded for all the different server products.  So if your farm has 2 application servers and 2 web front end servers then each of these needs to have the applicable installation (complete or web front end) for both MOSS and PS.  You can then choose which services are running on which server - and you could have the MOSS services on one and the PS services on the other - but both applications need to be loaded on all servers.  There is a new document which includes details of this mixed server installation available at http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=79599.  Page 105 onward gives details steps of the why and how you can get these server products working together.

    Remember - it is not that Project needs anything from MOSS for it to work - but in a farm environment you just cannot have different servers with different sets of binaries.  One other option would be to have Project Server in its own farm - but you would then lose some of the capabilities of MOSS to work with PS - particularly regarding search across project workspaces.

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  • Brian Smith's Microsoft Project Support Blog

    Finding your way around the SharePoint (and Project Server) logs

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    In Christophe’s recent blog about logs he explained how to turn them off.  Sometimes though we need to turn the volume up and get a plenty of detail of what is going on.  But be careful – these things can get very big very fast!  The settings can be found in SharePoint Central Administration, Operations, Diagnostic Logging.  I would recommend only setting specific categories to “Verbose” and then only when you are looking for something in particular.  To give you an idea a busy server can easily write 5GB of logs in 30 minutes if ALL categories are set to “Verbose”!  This is equivalent to around 7.5 million lines of output.

    These logs are often called ULS logs (Unified logging system?) in case you are ever asked for them.  My tool of choice to read these log files (which are by default written to c:\program files\common files\Microsoft shared\web server extensions\12\logs) is Excel 2007.  This latest version can now cope with just over a million rows – so anything up to about a 600K log file should be manageable.  If you find that monitoring all the things you want takes your files over this size then you can change the number of minutes to use a log down from 30 to 15 or 10.  Once in Excel I use a macro to set the column widths and text wrapping and then finally apply a filter – so that I can select different event Areas, Categories or Level of trace messages.  For instance filtering on Level = critical, exception and high is a quick way to find bad stuff.

    My macro is stored in personal.xslb so is available whenever I open Excel – and I make Excel the default application for .log files.  My macro is simply:-

    Sub ULS()

    '

    ' ULS Macro

    '

    ' Keyboard Shortcut: Ctrl+Shift+U

    '

        Cells.Select

        Cells.EntireColumn.AutoFit

        Columns("H:H").Select

        Selection.ColumnWidth = 80

        Selection.WrapText = True

        ActiveWindow.LargeScroll ToRight:=-1

        Columns("B:B").ColumnWidth = 26.43

        Columns("A:A").ColumnWidth = 10.29

        Cells.Select

        Selection.AutoFilter

    End Sub

     

    In 2007 Macros are under the “View” part of the ribbon – and the option to unhide personal.xlsb is also on the same ribbon.

     

    Take a look at your logs now – before you need to.  And write that macro (or copy mine).  I lost count of how many times I thought “Next time I must write a macro to do this…”

     

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  • Brian Smith's Microsoft Project Support Blog

    Backup/Restore Guide for Project Server 2007

    • 0 Comments

    Take a look at the http://blogs.msdn.com/project posting on backup/restore.  Good stuff!

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