Christophe Fiessinger's Blog
Updates on Microsoft's Enterprise Social Networking (ESN) and Project Portfolio Management (PPM) offerings

  • Christophe Fiessinger's Blog

    New SQL Reporting Services Sample Reports for Project Server

    (August 20, 2009 update, check out this Second Report Pack for Project Server 2007) 

    We have released last week an updated version of our EPM 2007 demo VPC. Please find below the SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) reports used in that VPC.

    All these SSRS reports are using the Project Server 2007 Reporting database as a data source.

    Please note the Earned Value Trend reports will require a custom stored procedure (included in the attachment).

    This pack includes the following reports:

    Earned Value Trend 196 2008-04-10, 09_56_40 Project List 204 2008-04-10, 10_02_00
    Issues   200 2008-04-10, 09_58_42 Risks 199 2008-04-10, 09_58_23
    Portfolio Status 197 2008-04-10, 09_57_34 Organization Status 201 2008-04-10, 10_00_01
    Project Detail 203 2008-04-10, 10_01_12 Timesheet Compliance 205 2008-04-10, 10_02_52

    To deploy the Project List and Project Detail reports check the following post: Fields required to run Project List and Project Detail Reports; for the Timesheet Compliance report check this post:How to deploy the Timesheet Compliance Report

  • Christophe Fiessinger's Blog

    How to display Microsoft Project Task’s Notes field in a report

    In MS Project you have the ability to add notes to each tasks in a project plan. This data is stored as an Image Data Type in the SQL database called TASK_RTF_NOTES (note that the field TASK_NOTES is a nvarchar of size 255, thus you’ll only get the first 255 characters displayed). So how can you render the entire note field using SQL Server Reporting Services? Before giving you the answer a special thank you to Sam Brooks from Microsoft for passing along this solution:


    (SQL Reporting Services code sample attached at the bottom of this post)

    T-SQL Query

    FROM MSP_EpmTask_UserView AS T
    INNER JOIN MSP_EpmProject_UserView AS P
    ON P.ProjectUID=T.ProjectUID
    WHERE TaskIsProjectSummary=0
    AND P.ProjectName='Task RTF' --- For debugging purposes REMOVE!!!!
    ORDER BY P.ProjectName, T.TaskName

    Note that the TASK_RTF_NOTES is not in the Project Server Reporting database, thus we need to get it from the Published database.

    Report Code

    • Add a reference to System.Windows.Forms (Report –> Report Properties –> References)


    • Add the following function in the report’s code (Report –> Report Properties –> Code):
    ‘Instantiate a rich text box control in memory
    Public rtfRTB As new System.Windows.Forms.RichTextBox
    ‘Instantiate a stringbuilder object
    Public s As New System.Text.StringBuilder()
    Public Function byteArrayToString(ByVal b() As Byte) As String
    Dim i As Integer
    dim mystr as string
    on error goto errortrap
    s.length = 0
    For i = 0 To b.Length - 1
    If i <> b.Length - 1 Then
    End If
    mystr = left(s.ToString, len(s.ToString)-1)
    rtfRTB.rtf = mystr
    return rtfRTB.text
    exit function
    return "n/a"
    s.length = 0
    End Function
    • For the TASK_RTF_NOTES field use the following Value:
    And voila! 
    Another way to do the same thing is to use custom assemblies, check this blog post from Bryant Likes for more information:
  • Christophe Fiessinger's Blog

    How to disable logging in Windows Sharepoint Services V3

    WSS V3 out of the box has extensive logging activity, Logs can be usually found in this directory and tend to grow significantly over time:   C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\web server extensions\12\LOGS

    If you are running WSS V3 in a developement environement or in a VPC and want to optimize resources, you can disable logging activity by doing the following:

    • Go to WSS V3 Central Administration -> Operations -> Logging and Reporting
    • Click on Diagnostic Logging
      1. Customer Experience Improvement Program: select No, I don't wish to participate
      2. Error Reports: select Ignore errors and don't collect information.
      3. Trace log: clear the entire Path.
      4. Click OK
    • Click on Usage Analysis Processing
      1. Uncheck Enable logging
      2. Click OK
    • Click on Information Management Policy Usage Reports
      1. Uncheck Enable recurring policy usage reports

    Please remember that once you have disabled logging it will be impossible to troubleshoot any PS nor WSS errors. This is not a recommended setting for any production system!

    • Christophe Fiessinger's Blog

      Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services 2008 – Sample Project Server Reports

      Following the release of this sample SQL Server Reporting Services 2005 report pack: New SQL Reporting Services Sample Reports for Project Server, I have just updated two sample reports (Risks and Portfolio Status, attached below) to illustrate the use of the Gauge which comes with SQL Server Reporting Services 2008. I used SQL Server 2008 Reporting Services Report Builder 2.0 to create the reports in with a few clicks; creating custom reports has never been easier!

      Time to add Gauges to your reports :)

      Gauge Type
      Sample gauge types available with SSRS08
      Notice the two gauge types to the right of the regular IMG (red, yellow or green dot) indicator that came with the SSRS05 report
      On the left is the initial design, the gauge is actually a static image; on the right a dynamic gauge with the true value (pointer on the left is fixed since the image is static :))

      For more information on SQL Server 2008 use the following references: Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Upgrade Technical Reference Guide is Live!

    • Christophe Fiessinger's Blog

      Adding an EPM Web Part to another SharePoint site

      Steps you will need to follow to display PWA Web Parts in another site within the same SharePoint farm:

      1.     Chose the Web Part (e.g. TimesheetPart) from the PWA homepage or the web parts gallery (Project Web Access > Site Settings > Galleries > Web Parts) and Export and Save to your preferred desktop location:

      2.     Edit the Web Part in Notepad. Find the following property PSIURL (or add if it does not exist) and change it accordingly for instance:

      <property name="PsiUrl" type="string"> http://server/PWA</property>

      3.     Save Web Part update

      4.     From http://server/sites/project  - Site Collection EPM > Web Part Gallery > Upload Document, select TimesheetPart modified earlier.

      5.     Add Web Part to the page you like (Site Action -> Edit Page)

      To cross SharePoint server farms, you can use the Page Viewer web part in conjunction with SimpleUI=31


      If you encounter the following while adding the Web Part to the page : “Unable to add selected web part(s). My Timesheet: The request failed with HTTP status 401: Unauthorized” check the ULS logs. It’s typically an access right issue so make sure the user has access to the PWA site.

      Project Server 2007 Web Parts

      ·         MySchedule

      ·         ResourceAssignmentsPart

      ·         OWCViewPart

      ·         ResourceCenterPart

      ·         ProjectCenterPart

      ·         StatusApprovalsPart

      ·         ProjectDrillDownPart

      ·         TaskPart

      ·         ProjectWorkspacesPart

      ·         TeamAssignmentsPart

      ·         QueueStatusPart

      ·         TimesheetPart

      ·         RemindersPart



    • Christophe Fiessinger's Blog

      Project 2010 and Team Foundation Server 2010 Integration

      <Update July 2010> Check out this recently released VM: Microsoft® Team Foundation Server® 2010 and Microsoft Project Server® 2010 Integration CTP Hyper-V Virtual Machine to learn about server to server integration </Update July 2010>

      Following the recent launch of Microsoft Project Professional/Standard and Project Server 2010 this week (along with Office, SharePoint and Visio) I wanted to provide a brief overview of Microsoft Project 2010 integration with Visual Studio Team System 2010 Team Foundation Server (TFS). First I recommend that you all read the 143 pages Microsoft Project Server 2010 Product Guide, it will give a great overview of what’s in 2010 (including this topic) and hence why you should consider it as your solution of choice for Project Portfolio Management.

      Basically two scenarios are supported with TFS 2010 and Microsoft Project 2010.

      First there is a “lightweight” scenario which enables a Project Manager to connect his/her plan to TFS using the desktop ribbon menu entitled “Team” (picture below) - a project manager can simply sync with Project Server 2010 to better connect the worlds of project and portfolio management and application development.

      Project and TFS Integration

      Additional information can be found on MSDN: Scheduling Tasks and Assigning Resources Using Microsoft Project

      Secondly the Project engineering team and the Visual Studio TFS team are working on an out of the box server to server integration (no need for a CodePlex solution to integrate both)- providing direct connectivity between Project Server 2010 and Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2010. Expect more information on this topic in the future.


    • Christophe Fiessinger's Blog

      Analyzing Unified Logging Service (ULS) Logs using SharePoint’s Central Admin

      If you run into issues with your SharePoint farm (including Project Server instances), as a farm administrator you might not have access to the folder where the logs are stored (typically under C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\web server extensions\12\LOGS).

      To work around this access right you can get the person with the proper administrative rights to setup this Log Viewer feature to your farm: SharePoint 2007 Features

      The Log Viewer will render in a webpage the logs stored in the ULS files as shown below:

      ULS Viewer

    • Christophe Fiessinger's Blog

      Timesheeting and Statusing Data Flow Diagram

      Please find attached a Visio 2007 diagram that shows the standard data flow for time tracking and reporting progress in EPM 2007. Might be useful if you are doing customization using the Tied-Mode solution starter released last week on CodePlex.

      Timesheeting & Statusing data flow

    • Christophe Fiessinger's Blog

      Project Server 2010 and SharePoint 2010: one farm or multiple?

      [Update 11/30/2010 – another great reason to deploy it in a single farm is the ability to integrate Project Server web parts in other location within a farm, see this documentation on TechNet for more info. Plan for Project Server 2010 Web Parts]

      Following a number of questions on this topic at Tech.Ed a few weeks ago and this recent post from Joel Oleson: Project Server 2010 and SharePoint 2010 Coexistence please find below my humble opinion on this question: Should Project Server 2010 be deployed in a standalone Farm or should it be deployed in an existing SharePoint Farm?

      First lets start with an overview of the two deployment scenarios:

      1. Together/Coexistence - Single farm with both Project Server and SharePoint Server 2010
      2. Apart/Standalone - Dedicated Project Server Farm running SharePoint Server 2010

      As a reminder please find the version compatibility below (see recent Tech.Ed presentation below); in a nutshell you cannot mix 2007/2010 version of Project Server and SharePoint:


      So while mix scenarios are not supported, it is possible to go from 1 to 2 (Together to Apart) or the reverse from 2 to 1 as shown below


      So back to the initial question, which scenario to choose (again there are plenty more pros and cons I have put together in these slides listed below), well it depends as listed below, but I would recommend a single farm for the following reasons:

      image image

      Why Together (#1) in no particular order:

      • Single Infrastructure: You can leverage the same infrastructure you have put in place for your farm, for instance lets say you have architected the farm for high availability on all tiers (redundancy/multiple servers at the Web Front End and Application tiers, and a SQL cluster for storage), why buy another set of hardware for a Project Web App (PWA) Farm and duplicate resources? Similarly why not apply software update, cumulative updates at the same time, why duplicate efforts across farms?
      • Content Management: If you have two separate farm all the SharePoint content generated during the usage of Project Server (document artifacts etc…) cannot be stored in your main content management farm, hence you will duplicate your Enterprise Content Management efforts (governance, digital asset management, record management, etc…), similarly you cannot integrate PWA web parts across farms (we will publish an article this month on what PWA web parts can be integrate in different sites/pages of a Farm)…
      • Project Server is a SharePoint App: yes it is and yes it’s not free! but since 2007 we have been build on SharePoint so again why a separate farm. As an anecdote since we are built SharePoint if you deploy Project Server in a standalone farm (scenario 2) you are effectively deploying a second SP Farm in your organization… The 2010 version has gone a long way in terms of scalability, stability/quality so why not deploy it in the same intranet farm according to documented best practices and as usual monitor it so you are always pro-active if issue arises or if the PWA is becoming resource constrained. So why start putting every Service App/Web App in separate Farms, isn't the power the consolidation from a IT and functional point of view?

      While with the 2007 version most customer deployment I saw was about a 50/50 split between 1 and 2 (I did talk to a few customers that did not realized what they lost from a functional point of view by separating the farms and were looking for non-supported workaround); in 2010 with the tighter integration with SharePoint 2010 (the Business Intelligence/Reporting capabilities used by PWA or the Demand Management/Workflow capabilities to name a few) and the fact that organization want a consolidated infrastructure for Collaboration (whether its document management, performance management or project management) I would  strongly recommend option 1. To follow up on Joel’s arguments (yes this is a constructive argument and Joel and I know one another!):

      • Licensing – one could argue that it could cost more to have two farms, if for instance you have redundant servers in both farms you will need to purchase more SharePoint Server licenses for instance. Additionally while its important to focus on acquisition cost, a more important vision is to look at Return On Investment, Total Cost of Ownership and measure the true value of a single/multiple farm over their lifespan. Again you will loose value and incur additional maintenance cost by going with two separate farms as mentioned above.
      • Performance – well yes potentially but if you Farm has been architected properly by SP experts and if it’s monitored according to best practices then performance should not be an issue, typically the bottle neck at the end of the day is the database tier (SQL servers: CPU/RAM and disk I/O)
      • Patching – yes but again there are two sides to this, you can argue that since Project Server Cumulative update are part of the SharePoint Server CU why not patch all at once instead of duplicate efforts?

      So again think of the functional, technical, maintenance, licensing implication of deploying Project Server and SharePoint Server together or apart, thanks to Joel for starting the debate Smile, in the end the great news whether you decide to go with 1 or 2 is that you can always reverse the decision as mentioned before. As with all my post feel free to send feedback and share your opinion. Happy Project Server 2010 and SharePoint 2010 deployment!


      Resources on this subject:

    • Christophe Fiessinger's Blog

      Microsoft Project Server 2010 RTM Demo Virtual Machine is Ready for Download

      Update 5/11, content pack is now live: Microsoft Project 2010 Demonstration and Evaluation Installation Pack + full announcement from Jan: ANNOUNCING: Microsoft Project 2010 Demonstration and Evaluation Installation Pack for RTM is HERE!

      Microsoft Project 2010 Content Pack

      Just got published this morning thanks to CJ’s hard work (SharePoint 2010 Demo and Eval VM (RTM edition)). In his words:

      Because we have moved to Windows server 2008 R2 … there are some gotchas with evaluation periods etc… so you MUST read the last section of the setup guide for details on how to deal with those.

      Please note that the Microsoft Project 2010 Demonstration and Evaluation Installation Pack that will contain all the Project Server PWA/data will be released next week. The content pack will work with this image only hence you need to get this image first and wait a few days for your favorite demo script (we will not ship a separate Project 2010 demo VM but instead a content pack that works with the SharePoint demo image).

      Ben Chamberlain and Jan Kalis will do a webcast of this new Project 2010 RTM demo image on Tuesday May 11th from 1 to 2 pm PST so DO NOT MISS it: Upcoming Webcast: Project 2010 Virtual Image, Getting Started Quickly

      Start your downloads now!

      Microsoft Project 2010 Demo VM Microsoft Project 2010 Demo VM

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