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

  • Brian Smith's Microsoft Project Support Blog

    Please Use the SharePoint Backup Options!

    • 5 Comments

    I guess many of you read all of the different blogs coming out of Microsoft from Treb, Christophe and others so I try not to repeat stuff - but there are some new postings concerning backup and restore and migration of data between servers.  The links are referenced on Christophe's blog.

    So to add value I'll concentrate on some problems I have seen - and hopefully convince you that having a full SharePoint backup of your farm is a good idea! 

    So two recent cases I worked on involved firstly one setting a new IP address for the SQL Server, and the second was actually changing the name of the SQL Server itself.  The first should not have been an issue; once DNS was up to date all would have continued OK.  But initially it gave errors indicating the database could not be contacted and the troubleshooting steps followed involved creating a new configuration database.  This is fairly common practice for WSS issues but in the new world of Office Server you also need to have a full SharePoint backup to make it easy to get your Shared Service Providers and Project Web Access sites (and data) back.  Unfortunately in this case there was no full SharePoint backup - but as there was really nothing wrong with the initial configuration database (it was just inaccessible for a while due to DNS issue) we could just re-run the SharePoint Configuration Wizard, disconnect from the new config db, then run again and connect to the old config db and everything was back working!  Be aware that the search and Project application services (and possibly others) will need re-starting in Central Administration, Operations, Services on Server.

    The renaming of SQL Server is a bigger issue.  In hindsight a good fix would be to just set an alias to the new server with the name of the old server and SharePoint would be happy.  If you have a named instance then the port is variable so a simple hosts file entry is not enough.  The article mentioned above details moving from one server to another and this is really what you are doing - assume your change of name for SQL is really a new server and have that full SharePoint backup ready!

    One thing I thought might work (and it didn't - so worth stopping anyone else wasting time) was to just re-run the configuration wizard pointing to the configuration database by referencing the new SQL Server name.  This seemed to work - but many of the internal references were still looking for the old server name and I could not find a good (supported) way to correct these.  However with the SharePoint full restore you can resolve this.

    I'm sure there will be some readers who take this as a challenge and come up with steps to resolve the SQL renaming issue without having to use the restore method and I would be very interested to hear your results.

     

    Technorati Tags: Project Server 2007

  • Brian Smith's Microsoft Project Support Blog

    Support options for Microsoft Office Project

    • 1 Comments

    I really welcome the great comments and contact I have from readers of my blog and I often take the issues you are hitting as topics for future blogs - but it isn't possible for me to give you a good support service via my blog.  If it is an obvious problem with a one line answer I will try and steer you in the right direction - but for deeper issues this is just not possible.  

    http://support.microsoft.com gives details of the various support offerings from Microsoft - including no cost options such as self support and the community help at http://www.microsoft.com/communities/default.mspx.  A tremendous part of the community are the newsgroups where many of our Project MVP's are involved (fantastic job guys!) along with many of you - all helping each other.  Microsoft.Public.Project, Microsoft.Public.Project.Developer and Microsoft.Public.Project.Server are the ones to look for in your favourite news reader (or Windows Mail in Vista).  You can also browse to the following sites:-

    Please do keep the comments and contact coming as it helps me understand what issues you are running into - but please also understand that I am not able to give detailed support though this channel.

  • Brian Smith's Microsoft Project Support Blog

    To Add or Update - That is the Question. The PSI and custom fields - Updated

    • 46 Comments

    This posting was inspired by a support call concerning custom fields - but does apply to other entities in the Project dataset and others.  The question was around the QueueUpdateProject and QueueAddToProject web services calls that are part of the Project web service in the PSI.  If you use the wrong call then the error message is usually helpful telling you you can't add with the update call and vice versa.  But the thing that does catch people out are the custom fields... 

    By default a project dataset will not contain any rows in the ProjectCustomFields data table unless they have either been set (through PWA, Project Professional or the PSI) or they contain formulae, or are based on a lookup table with a default value defined.  So for a freshly created project (from Project Professional) when looking at Project Information it appears that all custom fields are there - and some may even look to have values (number fields will show 0) whereas in fact once saved there are no rows in the dataset for project custom fields (except as mentioned above - formulae based, and default lookup tables values).  So if you want to set a custom field via the PSI your code should check if there is a row already present for that custom field (identify by the MD_PROP_UID or MD_PROP_ID) and if it is there then you can change the value and use QueueUpdateProject - and if it doesn't exist then you will need to create a new blank project dataset and add a new project custom field row and set the values (including a new GUID for CUSTOM_FIELD_UID, the projects PROJ_UID and the MD_PROP_UID for the field you want to set) then use the QueueAddToProject.

    (Update - Although this logic holds true for adding/updating tasks to a Project dataset you can in fact ADD a new custom field row to an existing project dataset and use the QueueUpdateProject method - and it will work.  You do not need to use the QueueAddToProject method - although this will work too, assuming it only contains the additional custom field row!  Thanks to Martin for pointing this out - through experience.)

    Just to confuse the situation we have a bug currently when using the PSI or creating an Activity Plan/Proposal that can duplicate custom field rows.  If you have any project level custom fields that use graphical indicators but do not have formulae then you can get duplicate custom field rows created for each of them.  I'm not sure yet if the bug is they get created at all (as they do not get created in Project Professional projects) or that they appear twice. I will post an update when I have more information.  For now a quick workaround is to not use graphical indicators for this type of field.  Cleaning up existing ones may be a little more challenging and I would suggest a support call.  Although this causes problems for the PSI when updating these duplicated rows (so this affects changes for Activity Plans , Proposals and use of the Edit Project Properties in PWA) you can still make changes in Project Professional through the Project Information dialog.

    The errors you might see - (these are generic so you could see these errors for other root causes):-

    When updating a custom field for an Activity Plan or Proposal you will get an error dialog box:-

    Windows Internet Explorer
    An error has occurred when saving your project to the server. Please contact your system administrator for assistance.
    [GeneralUnhandledException]

    When updating a custom field through Project Center's Edit Project Properties option the error will display at the top of the page in red:-

    The project could not be saved due to the following reason(s):

    An unknown error has occured (occurred is mis-spelled in the error).

    When updating through the PSI this will result in a GeneralUnhandledException.

    One final point - setting or updating a project custom field for an existing Project Professional created project through the PSI or Edit Project Properties will also introduce this problem.  The extra duplicates will get added as well as the custom field you are setting.

  • Brian Smith's Microsoft Project Support Blog

    Just checking in... updated

    • 46 Comments

    One problem that our customers appear to be running into is checking in projects.  We do have a bug that appears to leave projects checked out when you wouldn't expect them to be.  But I suspect that in many cases it may be that the architectural changes to 2007 have caused some of this confusion - and the default view of the queue may well hide the true cause of the problem.

    So - check out these different scenarios to see if this covers your issues:-

    • Project Professional says my project is checked out - but the server says it isn't.  This is one we are looking at a hotfix for - but there is a simple workaround that seems to resolve in most cases.  Open the project read-only, then close again.  This seems to push through a check-in and then it can be opened read-write.
    • The check-in says "Waiting to be Processed" and even using force check-in does not get it checked in.  The force check-in option should really be called request check-in - as there is nothing forceful about it.  It sinply puts a check-in request into the queue - but if the first one is just sitting there going nowhere then guess what - this second (third, fourth...) will not go any faster.  The best approach for this type of error is to look in the queue for any outstanding jobs for the same project.  If the problem happened yesterday (or before) then it may not show in the queue until you change the job history to include earlier dates.  Many times we will hear "but the queue is empty..." which may just mean no failed jobs still sitting there from today - but the failure could have happenend last week or last month!  Once you find the problem job then what should you do?  Well, that depends on the nature of the job.  If there is a save from Project Professional that is incomplete then getting the user who has the project checked out to open Project Professional and re-connect is the best approach.  Cancelling a job of this type will lose data!  Once you have resolved the initial issue and any other queued jobs for this project are processing (or cancelled if you really must) then the check-in should finally work.
    • If your symptoms don't match these scenarios then you may need to log a support call to get this checked out (if you will excuse the pun).

    UPDATE: Thanks to Ed Hanna and Brian Kennemer for bringing it to my attention - but it appears that closing Project using the X in the top right can lead to check-in issues.  So best practice would be first to save and ensure that any communication with the server has completed (look in the status area after saving) and then using File, Close.

    Technorati Tags: Project Server 2007

  • Brian Smith's Microsoft Project Support Blog

    Update to OLAP Issue: February release of SQL Server Management Objects works with Reporting Services add-in for SharePoint

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    If you are a regular reader you may remember that the loading of the Microsoft SQL Server 2005 SP2 component "Reporting Services Add-in for Microsoft SharePoint Technologies" broke the OLAP cube builds as it removed a required component when used on an aplication server that was not the SQL Server host too.  Well if you load the February update to the SQL Management Objects (rather than the November issue) available as part of the Feature Pack release then this problem is resolved!

    Feature Pack available here

    Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Service Pack 2  available here

    Don't forget (like I did) to load the add-in for SharePoint on your web front ends as well as your app server - or you will see an error as your front end web.config will be referring to a component (RSSharePointSoapProxy) that your web front end knows nothing about.

    Technorati Tags: Project Server 2007

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