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

  • Brian Smith's Microsoft Project Support Blog

    Project Server Developer Webcast Samples

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    Thanks to all of you who joined the Webcast today.  I have attached a zip with the PowerPoint and some samples that were presented. For those who couldn't make it a brief summary so the samples make sense.

    First I re-hashed an old sample showing creation of a list item and linking to a task (LoginDemoWithIssues).  I also covered the challenges you might run into in a multi language environment.  So here is an automatically created "Issue" linked to Task 1 in my Project.

    OLPDemo

    As I have created the Object Link Provider entries this is also exposed in the Project Center view of the project (highlighted).

    OLPDemo2

    I then showed an example of getting the SSP context programmatically.  A better example can be found here.  Thanks Martin!  My lame example is in EnumerateItems.cs and requires reference to Microsoft.SharePoint and Microsoft.Office.Server.

    The best bit (in my opinion) was around the Business Data Catalog.  Thanks for Christophe for the work he did on BDC search in his blog and posted at CodePlex- which guided me to get this done,  Here are a couple of screenshots with the addition of a Project "Data Column" to an appointment,

    image

    and the addition of a Business Data Catalog List and Item which are connected Web Parts and the adding of a data column to a WSS list (which shows extra related information - pulled in this case from the Project Server reporting database).  And all without code!

    BDCDEmo

    In the zip file is the XML used for the application definition.  Hopefully you can understand what you need to change to get this working for you. 

    Thanks to Joyce too for the logistics - look out for the recording soon!

  • Brian Smith's Microsoft Project Support Blog

    More Role Guides for Project Server 2007 Now Available!

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    You may have already picked this up from some or all of the other Project blogs - but worth repeating as I know you have all been waiting for these!

    They are now available (similar to EPM 2003) here: Learn about available roles for Project Web Access

    Depending on your role in your organization and what security permissions are assigned to you, you will have access to different features of Microsoft Office Project Web Access. The following role guides present broad overviews of Office Project Web Access functionality from the perspective of the different roles you might have.

    Role Guide/Description

    • Administrator role guide
      Use this guide if you are an administrator of Office Project Web Access. You can also use it as a guide to help evaluate Office Project Web Access for your organization.
    • Project manager role guide
      Use this guide if you are responsible for day-to-day project management tasks such as creating, maintaining, and updating schedules, and coordinating with other project managers, resource managers, and team members.
    • Executive role guide
      Use this guide if you are responsible for a portfolio of projects, such as all the projects for an entire department.
    • Resource manager role guide
      Use this guide if you are responsible for managing resources and their skills and capabilities.
    • Team member role guide
      Use this guide if you are responsible for any of the day-to-day activities in one or more projects.
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  • Brian Smith's Microsoft Project Support Blog

    What were you doing in 1984? Hopefully not updating tasks in your current projects!

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    If this blog had a sub-title it would be "Task updates never get to Project Professional - even when they (eventually) say 100% Success".  And the error message you might find in the ULS logs would be:

    Microsoft.Office.Project.Scheduling.SchedulingException: The engine's event horizon was extended beyond the maximum length of 36500 days. This may be caused by invalid task or assignment data. You can also change the value of the InitialProjectDays scheduling parameter.

    This error led us to review the project timescale, and at first glance the Project Information was showing reasonable start and finish dates - from late 2007 to mid 2008.  But when looking at the plan the project summary task went back, and back, and back...  There was a milestone task 100% complete for 1/4/1984 driving the start date of the project summary.  Not sure at this stage how it got in that state - but this makes the scheduling engine work very hard processing status updates (you may see the queue service using LOTS of RAM) and eventually it gives the above error (in my case after 30-40 minutes) but the job appears to have completed OK.  However no updates appear in the plan.

    The current workaround is just to correct the date, save and publish and then re-submit the time.

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  • Brian Smith's Microsoft Project Support Blog

    Developer Webcast this week!

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    If you remember my blog about the Developer Community from a few weeks ago - and joined up, then you should have seen an invite to a Webcast this week.  I have been invited to talk about extending development from Project Server to Microsoft Office SharePoint Server.  The topics I am going to cover are:

    • The programmatic creation of list items in the WSS lists project uses, and the use of the Object Link Provider to expose these item in PWA
    • Finding your way around the parts of a SharePoint farm - such as identifying the Shared Service Providers in the farm
    • Using the Business Data Catalog as a way to get Project Server data exposed in other parts of SharePoint.

    This final topic has been the most interesting to work on and is related to the work Christophe blogged about on searching Project data - but this time using Project data in SharePoint lists.  I will be showing how you could add a column to your SharePoint lists that shows Project names - and other related information.  Other uses of this might be to show Resource names, or the RBS as a Business Data column.  While I am on the topic of Christophe - he has been very busy lately and has some great postings on TechEd 2008, SQL Server 2008 and general performance improvement tips. And finally a very useful link to the Project Server 2007 hot fixes RSS feed

  • Brian Smith's Microsoft Project Support Blog

    We might be building cube now... But not if you scheduled it for half-past!

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    In support we frequently have those moments that make us smile.  Often they aren't things I would choose to blog about - but I will share this one.  I certainly don't mean to trivialize bugs - and I do appreciate that they can cause a great deal of inconvenience to our customers (One particular customer I am thinking of in this case) but they can have their amusing moments!

    For those that just want the short story - always schedule your cube builds on the hour.  If you choose 12:30, 1:30 etc it will not build when you want it.  If you want the long version then read on...

    For this particular support incident we were troubleshooting a cube building issue where the customer was scheduling a cube build and it wasn't happening on time - but sometime later - that seemed variable but in some cases looked like it was using Universal Coordinated Time (UCT or GMT).  I set my cube build for 4:30pm that afternoon, set my ULS logs to give verbose output for the Analysis Cube Build and started SQL Profiler traces to see what was going on in the database.  My usual steps for "following the data".  I saw that the cube build didn't happen at 4:30pm so thought I might have a repro so left it all running overnight.

    The following morning I could see the cube had built at 2:30am - which fitted the pattern as I am in PST (GMT-8), so I started through the logs and traces to see what was going on.  Only 3 million rows in my SQL traces so shouldn't take long...  I also set another cube build for 8:00 while I worked through the logs - and this worked.  Then set one for 8:30 - which failed, 9:00 worked.  I could see the pattern, and having this information and the logs I managed to find the bug.

    The amusing part was looking in the ULS logs for the previous afternoon and at a few milliseconds past 4:30 seeing this entry.

    Cube building timer job invoked and we might be building cube now

    It was as if the SharePoint timer service (which was the process that gave this message) wasn't going to take any accountability for what happened next!  Or more correctly the developer coding the message!  If you are a regular reader you will know that the cube build can fail for a number of reasons, so perhaps I shouldn't have been surprised that the message was a little evasive.  It did however make me dig deeper to understand this part of the cube build process which I hadn't investigated in depth before.

    It follows a similar path to the provisioning of a PWA site, and for similar reasons.  It is going to use a WSS Timer job, but the SSP account does not have permissions to create one - so this is what happens.  When you click save on the cube build settings page for a periodical update it saves the information to the MSP_WEB_CUBE_ADMIN table in the _Published database and also puts a row into the SharedServices1_DB (your name may vary) in the MIPScheduledJob table.  This is the timer job request. This is read by the SharePoint timer service after a minute or so and it gets put into the Objects table of the SharePoint_Config database - and is seen as a timer job in timer job definitions.  At the appointed time it will run and you will see a job in the TimerRunningJobs table and this is when the message to the ULS logs gets posted.  If all works well this would be followed by another couple of messages saying the cube building job has started.  In my case I didn't see these messages in my log until 2:30am - even though they referred back to the requested time of 4:30pm.

    Cube building job has started for scheduled time: 3/25/2008 4:30 PM

    [CBS] Status message: Cube build request message has been added to the Project Server queue

    In fact you will see the "might be building cube" message at every 30 minutes past - even after it builds the cube - once the timer job is in place.  So the real reason it says "might" is that only once during the day (if you have daily builds) will it actually be building when that message appears!

    A couple of other interesting points about this process is that the times in the SharePoint databases are held in UCT (which is by design and not the reason for the strange build times).  However the requested build time in the MSP_WEB_CUBE_ADMIN table is held as an integer defining at how many half hours past midnight the cube should be built.  12:30 would be 1, 3:00am would be 6 etc.  It is the decoding of this for the odd number that appears to be at the root of this bug.

    For the main issue though - that cubes scheduled for the half hours do not get built on time - we do have a hotfix in the pipeline.  We might release this in April :).

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