Access has blown me away

19 10 2007

For nearly a year and a half I have had Office 2007 installed on my laptop in one form or another. I love the functionality of the big four applications, Outlook, Word, Excel and PowerPoint and use them extensively during my working week. Every now and again I need to use Access to run a custom reporting tool our PMO lives by. Yesterday during some down time I had a poke around Access and what I found blew me away. Access has had a fair dose of SharePoint love in 2007 and I have to say it rocks.

I downloaded and installed the Project template project (well I am a PM after all), it allows you to set up projects and tasks as you would expect. The functionality is impressive, but not really up to the standard that say MS Project Server or Primavera would give you. I doubt seriously you could run and track a project with it. However what really impressed me were two features:

SharePoint List Data Sources

Data can be stored in a SharePoint list. Whilst information can be stored within the Access database, you can also link it into existing SharePoint lists and store data there. In fact you could design an application that has both a web front end (SharePoint) and a rich client (Access) using a single database stored in WSS. Wow.

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SharePoint crashing IE 7

20 08 2007

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Since upgrading to MOSS at work, IE7 has started crashing when trying to open document in the document library. What’s been more infuriating is that it’s only causing problems on some people’s laptops. Whilst I was on leave I had my laptop reimaged and hoped this would stop the problem, but unfortunately not, when I clicked on a document the dreaded Internet Explorer has encountered a problem dialog popped up ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Anyway, on Friday I spent 20 minutes during lunchtime and Googled the issue, there appear to be two issues with IE 7 and SharePoint. Both issues seem to be caused by having Office 2007 and Office 2003 installed on the same machine. My laptop is running Office 2007 Enterprise, Project 2007 and Project 2003. Normally I am a big fan of running the latest / greatest, but we use Project Server at work and need Project 2003 to talk to it until we upgrade our internal server.

So why am I telling you all this? Well because it can be fixed. There is a hot fix issued by Microsoft, http://support.microsoft.com/kb/938888 that fixes half of the problem, but to totally put the issue to bed you need to do the following:

1. Go to your c:\program files\Microsoft Office\Office 12\ directory;

2. Delete the file OWSSUPP.DLL file;

3. Run the Office Diagnostics tool included in Office 2007.

The tool will run for an eternity and then fix something in one of the last steps.

After completing the above, IE7 is behaving itself in MOSS / WSS and my productivity has gone through the roof again ๐Ÿ™‚





Microsoft’s SharedView – I’m impressed

19 06 2007

The company I work for has invested heavily in all types of software and collaboration tools to enable us to work effectively over state and in some cases international boundaries. We make heavy use of VOIP, Live Communication Server and Live Meeting to facilitate in this.

One of my favourite features is sharing a desktop, which allows you to collaborate real time on a document, or allows multiple parties to see an application and how it is performing (or not in the case of testing). This tends to work really well if you are all on the same network, but it gets a bit curly when different networks, firewalls and policies come into play.

Enter SharedView, currently in beta it is an application that allows you to share your desktop with others that seems to transcend firewall and network issues. Unlike LCS and Live Meeting, it’s interface is intuitive and designed to remove the complexity from Sharing. Once running, SharedView sits in the system tray awaiting an opportunity to assist, when activated it opens up and docks at the top of the screen.

Sharing can be requested in a number of ways, via your messenger buddy list, email and for the technically challenged, telephone instructions. Once a session is established, starting a share is as simply as clicking on Share and choosing the application you wish to share.

SharedView -  Share Menu

Each sharing session has the capacity to upload handouts that any participant can upload or download, a pretty nifty feature.

SharedView -  Handouts

Any of the participants can be given control of the sharing, so it’s possible to get that tester in another state to show you how they caused the bug with a minimum of fuss and maximum efficiency.

Two of the killer features for anyone who has suffered Live Meeting are:

1. The ability to see each users mouse pointer with a handy label identifying it on each persons screen;

2. When SharedView is sharing an Office 2007 application, Track Changes can be configured to be enabled automatically so you can collaborate and see who is changing what.

The integration with Office 2007 is pretty smart, with a new context menu appearing on the office menu allowing you to use SharedView easily:

SharedView - Office Addin

There are some bad sides to this software:

1. It’s still a beta;

2. It looks like it will be advertising supported – there are adverts, granted Microsoft only at the moment all over the software, which are going to annoy;

3. It’s a little slow, but hopefully that will improve in future releases.

All in all I am very impressed with the software and have been actively using it with members of my team and clients for the last week or so. I would heartily recommend it to others. You can download the SharedView beta here.