SharePoint 2013 Sandbox Solutions – Deprecated or Not?

Had this clarification today from Microsoft on the status of Sandbox Solutions:

“The only thing that is deprecated is sandboxed code. If you created a sandboxed solution in VisualStudio and set the “Include Assembly In Package” property to false, this is a declarative-only solution and that is not deprecated”

So basically provided there is no code in your sandbox solution you are good to go and that is not being removed from SharePoint 2013.

Hope that helps clear-up the rather confused messaging from MS about this!

Cheers

Dave Mc

 

Coaching is tough … but rewarding!

About a year ago I took my Level 1 Swimming Coaching qualification, in order to help out at Wyre Forest Swimming Club, as they were a bit short, and I fancied having a go, thinking it might also help my swimming. I’d seen a few people coach and it seemed to me like “how hard can it be?”.

Believe you me.  It can be hard.

The age group I’ve chosen to focus on at the moment is the 11-14 year olds. I love chatting and interacting with the children, and at that age, you hope they can begin to understand some of the more complex aspects of the sport.  But given a class of 20 odd kids, with varying levels of motivation, add to that a swimming training programme whereby you’re meant to get through 2500-3500m a session, add to that the swimmers wanting to go to the loo, adjust their goggles, forgot their hats, want to swim with their mates, forgotten their drinks, etc, etc it can turn out to be quite a frantic 90 to 120 mins of your life…

Some sessions just rock.  They just seem to click, the kids get on, they don’t fuss, they just do exactly what you ask and it’s oh so easy, you come away buzzing.

Other sessions, individuals are tired, motivation and effort is lacking and the programme doesn’t seem to flow, you come away disheartened and doubting your own ability.

Been through both types of session recently. Luckily I have several fantastic people I can turn to help for, coaches who have  forgotten more about coaching than I’m ever likely to learn, who I can only dream of emulating.

I love working with the kids, they are such fantastic characters each and everyone of them. They’re all volunteers, they all work extremely hard and it’s so fantastic to see them succeed.  When they hit a target time or win a medal, their faces just light up and it make all the hard graft worthwhile.

Swimming is such a hard, hard sport to compete in. It is one of the most gruelling training regimes out there, and much of it relies on the individuals self-discipline during training. Some children have that self-discipline naturally, others acquire it though training.  But the plain fact is , you cannot make everybody successful, you can only try to help people to be successful.  I think that’s a lesson I still need to learn myself …

Looking forward to the next session.  Hopefully I can say just one little thing to one of the kids which will make a positive difference to just one them and maybe help them get that County Time or that Gold Medal …

Cheers

Dave Mc

SharePoint 2013 “Sorry, this site hasn’t been shared with you”

This rather annoying message kept coming up on our on-premise (well on-Azure) SharePoint 2013 farm when we tried to create a new subsite of any kind.  After a fair amount of beating around and finding nothing around to indicate the cause, I eventually tried adding the current user to the Web Application User Policy in Central Administration and gave it Full Control.  That didn’t seem to work, still got the message.  I then tried the same again but also ticked the “Account operates as System” which did seem to work!  I then tried to add in a Security Group  with Full Control to the User Policy but this would not let me use the “Account operates as System” option.

So this workaround would appear to be OK for a test/dev/demo environment so we’ve opted for this at the moment, but seeing as you cannot have a Group operating as System it’s not really practical for production. I’ve seen other people say re-create the Web Application – well not really an option in this case.  So if anybody has the solution fit for production, please let me know!

Cheers

Dave Mc

SharePoint 2013 : Configuring an on-premise farm for Apps

At Ridgian we’ve stood-up an on-premise SharePoint 2013 Farm.  Well actually it’s running in Windows Azure under an extension to our own AD and one thing we wanted to test and run through is configuring the Farm for Apps.  Basically setting up our own App Store.

Now TechNet have a an article  http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/fp161236.aspx which is a really good article and quite easy to follow.  There is one problem though.  If you are using SSL and do actually configure a separate DNS domain for your Apps, the article is incomplete.  There is one extremely important item missing and this item results in you always getting redirected to a 404 “Page Not Found” when you deploy and run your App.

Luckily Chris Whitehead, bless him, a Microsoft Premier Field Engineer has filled in the essential detail in his blog article http://blogs.technet.com/b/mspfe/archive/2013/01/31/configuring-sharepoint-on-premise-deployments-for-apps.aspx which took me quite a while to track down.

The missing item in the TechNet article is the “Routing Web Application”.  Basically when you have set up everything as per the TechNet article, I was left wondering how does SharePoint actually know where to redirect the request to when all the Apps have a dynamically created DNS name such as apps-12345678abcdef.yourappsdomain.co.uk .  Yes, it exists in DNS as a wildcard entry against your Apps server, but the server itself has no knowledge of this domain name and so refuses the request.  The trick is in this final step which Chris mentions but the TechNet article omits.  You create a new Web Application through SharePoint which has either:

  • A different IP address to the main SharePoint Domain or …
  • No Host Header if it shares the same IP address as the main SharePoint Domain.

This means that the server can now respond to any dynamically generated DNS name and SharePoint internals handles the fiddly routing bit. Now since we’ve run up our servers in Azure we cannot grant our Apps domain a separate IP address.  This results in another issue.  We end up with the Apps domain Web Application using the same certificate as the main SharePoint domain, so we get a certificate error coming up.  So on your production domain you need to have two IP addresses available in order to successfully implement an App Store using SSL without certificate errors.

I thought this stuff was meant to be getting easier!

In summary read both the TechNet and Chris Whitehead’s articles if you want to successfully run up a production App Store on-premise and make sure you have 2 IP addresses available. One for the SharePoint domain, one for the App domain.

Hope this helps

Cheers

Dave Mc

SharePoint 2010 : “The search service is not able to connect to the machine that hosts the administration component”

I came across this very annoying message when provisioning the SharePoint 2010 Search Service Application recently, and interestingly it occurred on two farms on the same network.  Both were brand new stand-ups a Test and a Production farm.  Both were two-server farms, a SharePoint and  a SQL Server database.  The message appears when you provision the Search Service Application and then navigate to the Search Service Administration page.  The full message is something like:

Crawl: The search service is not able to connect to the machine that hosts the administration component. 
Verify that the administration component c8519b74 status -<GUID> in search application Search Service 
Application is in a good state and try again."

There are numerous blogs relating to this  post but none of them helped me solved the situation.  So I decided to recreate one of the farms.  This is when I came across another problem initially when trying to create the farm in Powershell, I got the error:

“The given key was not present in the dictionary”

when I tried to create the Central Administration Database. When I used a different account the farm created perfectly OK.  I then tried to create some managed accounts.  Through the UI I got the same error again about the ‘the given key’, but with Powershell it was fine.  On Binging the problem I found the following forums thread:

http://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/sharepointadminprevious/thread/5279f8da-2924-461f-8c35-5b81a2329927

and the solution suggested which I have seen on other blogs is as follows:

Try this:

  1. Open up “Active Directory Users and Computer”
  2. Select “Advanced features” from the “View” menu
  3. Right-click the relevant account(s) and select “Properties”
  4. Select the “Securities” Tab
  5. Scroll down and select “Authenticated users” in the “Group or user names:” field
  6. Allow “Read” permissions in the “Permissions for Account Operators” field just below
  7. Hit Ok

Sure enough this solved the issue of “The given key was not present in the dictionary”.  I then proceeded to build the rest of the farm, but I still got the original problem of the Search Service being unable to find the administration component.

Eventually I tracked this issue down to there being an installation of IIS 7.5 Express edition having been installed for whatever reason on the SharePoint Server.  Along with this came the .NET 4.0 Client Profile and Extended Profile.  Now I’m unsure exactly which component it was caused the issue, but uninstalling all of then definitely solved the problem on both farms.

So in summary, make sure that IIS 7.5 Express, .NET 4.0 Client Profile and Extended Profile are NOT present on your SharePoint Server when you install.

Hope this helps

Cheers

Dave Mc

 

SharePoint 2013 PerformancePoint Database Dropdown Empty

When configuring PerformancePoint Services in SharePoint 2013, I struggled for a while with two problems when trying to create a Data Source for in the PerformancePoint Dashboard Designer:

  • No matter what server name I entered I didn’t get an error.
  • The database dropdown was always empty, irrespective of whatever server name was entered.

After many hours effort, recreating the PerformancePoint Service Application several times, I finally stumbled across this blog entry .  This seemed to tally exactly with what I was encountering, though I didn’t spot the exception in the ULS logs, but at this point I was happy to try anything.  The solution appeared to be to install the ADOMD.NET 10.0 on the SharePoint Server which is running PerformancePoint Services.  I did this but had to do the additional step of running an IISRESET in order to get the change to kick in properly and sure enough after this I managed to connect successfully to the Analysis Services cubes.

Hope this helps and thanks to James Love for this invaluable nugget …

Cheers

Dave Mc

 

… one of those epic trips …

Our family has a history of what we call ‘epics’. These are those trips which on the face of it, seem simple and straightforward, but in actual fact go so horribly wrong that you wonder why you bothered in the first place. I suppose my current trip to Seattle is not such a disaster in relation to what some people go through, but it’s gone sufficiently haywire in the last 72 hours so as to warrant a blog post, and I think at least the subtitle of ‘epic’. In fact … I’m sitting in a hotel just outside Seattle as I’m writing this, seeing as I’m stopping in the USA a day longer than expected.

It all started when I decided to attend the MVP (Most Valued Professional) Summit in the USA which is held every year.  For various reasons I’ve not been able to attend the last few, but this year I thought it would be good to go.  Sandra dropped me off at Digbeth Coach Station in Birmingham UK early Sunday morning and I boarded the coach and headed down to London Heathrow. Arrived in plenty of time, but for some reason the online booking system would not let me check-in, so I had to go to a special desk to check-in.  All well and good.

The next challenge was the seat I was in had no functioning in-flight entertainment, so after settling down and having had a meal, I was offered another seat which had working in-flight entertainment.  Except the woman sat next to me had a stinking cold and kept coughing and sneezing. I covered up my mouth and nose best I could and kept drinking the Orange juice …

Anyhow I arrived at Seattle and eventually found some transport to the hotel, got booked in and was allocated my room which I was sharing with a young Italian Hyper-V MVP by the name of Francesco.  We got on well, his English was really good, my Italian limited to “Ciao” and “Bella Bella” …

The summit passed pretty much without incident, but I was still pretty jet lagged even on the third day and  I started having difficulty breathing and developed a cough. “Thanks lady on the plane!” I thought, and sure enough next day it erupted into full blown headaches, coughing, sneezing, shivers etc, etc.  We had some sessions that day, and I ploughed on until lunchtime when I gave up and went back to my hotel room to crash out and try to get some rest.  This was plainly a sign of things to come …

After a terrible nights sleep I got up feeling pretty ropey but determined to do what I had planned which was to drive around the local mountains sightseeing and meeting some of the locals.  I’d hired a car at the start of the week and so I collected it, still not feeling great.  I found a chemist and got some super strength cold and flu capsules which I took and headed out.  The weather forecast wasn’t good in fact it was 90% chance of rain in Bellevue which meant snow in the hills.  It wasn’t raining when I started the car engine. By the time I hit the freeway 10 mins later it was hammering it down.  It continued to hammer it down for the next 2 hours as I doggedly drove first North then East heading for the Washington North Cascade Mountains.  Probably the height of optimism really, seeing as the cloudbase was about 500ft with torrential rain, and the Cascades are around 10,000 ft and above in height.  But to hell with it, I’m British, and those mountains damn well better show themselves eh what?

Having found out about now that I’d taken a wrong turn and I wasn’t in fact now heading for the Northern Cascades, but in fact heading towards Leavensworth, and feeling rather ill, I stopped for an hours power nap on the roadside.  An hour later I continued on feeling a little refreshed, so I decided to stop and get some food. I checked the weather forecast and was annoyed to see that it was the same or worse.  So I ordered 2 pancakes, 2 bacon and 2 eggs at the Sultan Bakery and was served two drain covers, two pieces of pork that looked like they’d spent the last 2 years inside Sellafield Nuclear Processing Plant and two runny anemic eggs. Yum.  And some people complain about the English cuisine? Ah well onwards and upwards, my unplanned change of route was probably just as well, I reflected, seeing the weather was so bad.  This route I was on now only went up to about 4000 ft or below, so I stood a better chance of getting through.

… or perhaps not …

2 hours later I was just about holding the car steady as I drove through driving snow with only about one tyre width of road visible ahead.  Discretion being the better part of valour I stopped, somehow managed to turn the car around and headed back down the hill disappointed. Only to be met by the snowplough  heading up the hill clearing the way nicely with a column of cars behind it … Doh!  I decided not to follow suit as I didn’t know the area and I still was not feeling great. But I’d paid for this car hire and I was damn well going to enjoy it when I did or not!

So onto plan B.  Visit Mount Rainier, which I’d already done on a previous trip, but hey, it’s a great hill, but I didn’t hold out much hope of seeing it, as it’s over 12,000 feet high.

Three hours later I was parked up at a viewpoint overlooking Mount Rainier … seeing nothing but rain, mist and sleet.  Not my day obviously.  By this time I think I’d gotten the message that this trip really wasn’t a happening thing and decided to stop at the next big town, get a meal and then head home.  So I took another dose of drugs, found a diner, thought about having a beer, decided it was a really bad idea the way I was feeling, ate some chicken pieces and chips and headed out for Bellevue.

By now it was dark, still pouring with rain and I only had a local map to get me home.  USA road signs are not great, not the worst but not great.  After a couple of wrong turns I found the right road, but whilst I quickly checked the map I must have drifted right and bumped the curb. No problems so I thought, car felt OK, so I drove on.  About 30 mins later finally on the right road, the 90 freeway, a police car lit up like a Christmas tree behind me.  I had no idea what I’d done, wasn’t even sure if it was me he was signalling, there was another car behind him, but I thought best  to stop.  I pulled over and wound the window down, and the policeman arrived and asked me to give him the car keys which I did, then told me that I’d been seeing bumping the curb a while back and I was suspected of drinking and driving.  I silently thanked my lucky stars for avoiding that drink earlier, as the policeman quickly followed up by saying that he could tell straightaway I wasn’t drunk .  I said something like “I did hit the curb, but it’s because the car and the roads are all the wrong way around for me here, I’m from the UK”.  Luckily this policeman had a sense of humour and he laughed and said he’d had the same problem when he visited Australia.  A quick license check and he was happy and I was on my way.

Never been so glad to get back to the hotel and crash out.  I was exhausted, feeling really rough and ready for bed.  Sat and watched “Air Force One” all about a jumbo jet being hijacked and crashing, just what I needed … and fell asleep.

Next day (today as I write) I’m ready to go home.  I’m feeling better, and ready.  I get to the hotel lobby and meet up with Liam Westley and Andy Westgarth two fellow UK MVPs.  I ask them what flight they’re on, they say the 18:10 BA49, I say “Oh I’m on the one an hour later at 19:10”.

Liam looks at me and says “Oh I think what’s happened to you is what happened to me, the browser form didn’t update correctly and it booked me in to 23rd March. I had to cancel and then rebook”.   I’m looking at him like he’s speaking Mandarin or Farsi to me.  No way, I couldn’t be that silly could I? I check my booking at sure enough it’s there and it says 23rd March not 23rd February. Holy crap. Perfect end to a fraught couple of days.  How the heck didn’t I spot that?  Somewhat panicky I contact British Airways and sure enough no mention of me being on today’s flight. Crap, crap, crap , crap  crap …

So, after nearly having a heart attack when the lady from BA says I can get on the flight if I pay the penalty fee of $3000 … like that is going to happen, I finally manage to arrange a flight the next day (tomorrow as I write) back home to the UK paying only a $170 penalty. Thank God.  The nice lady at the hotel I’m staying at feels very sorry for me and gives me an extra night at a 50% discount which is really sweet of her, and I rearrange the hotel- flight transfer no problem.

Note to self: in future either get Sandra or Katie (Admin lady at Ridgian) to book all flights OR triple check the booking and get the right month for the return flight you wassack! Honestly, at the honourable age of 50 you’d think I’d be able to organise the right day for my return to the UK.

Plainly not.

There is a serendipity to this sorry tale however.  The extra day, means I have to go straight to my course in London which I’m due to attend Monday, not that I don’t want to go home of course, but it does save on me having to go from Heathrow to Birmingham and then all the way back again the following day.  Also today was actually a nice day in the end, and I discovered Old Bellevue town and had a very enjoyable meal there, took some decent pictures for a change and met a few really nice people who I otherwise would not have met had I not been inadvertently delayed.  So every cloud does have a silver lining …

So, I think this counts as at least a mini epic , what do you think?

Cheers

Dave Mc