Three new specialized how-to books for SharePoint, JQuery & Mac OS X Lion Server – #bookreview #in #programming

Here are three new books for those with at least some basic to intermediate experience with Microsoft SharePoint, or web development, or Mac OS X Lion.

Microsoft SharePoint 2010: Creating and Implementing Real-World Projects
By Jennifer Mason, Christian Buckley, Brian T. Jackett, and Wes Preston
(Microsoft Press,
paperback, list price $34.99; Kindle edition, list price $27.99)

If you have some background in Microsoft SharePoint and want to dig deeper, this book can help you learn how to use SharePoint to create real-world solutions to ten common business problems.

Each chapter is devoted to a single project, such as creating a FAQ system to help users quickly find answers to their questions, setting up a help desk solution to track service requests, or building a simple project management system.

The projects are based on “various scenarios encountered by the authors as we have used SharePoint as a tool to build solutions that address business needs….Each of the solutions has been implemented in one or more organization,” they state.

Do not jump into Microsoft SharePoint 2010: Creating and Implementing Real-World Projects until you have gained “a general understanding of the basics of SharePoint,” the authors caution. And note that SharePoint is not easily defined as one “type” of product.

If you keep in mind the process of building a house, they write, “SharePoint is like the various tools and materials, and the final business solutions you build are like the house. There are many features and tools in SharePoint, and within this book, you will see different ways to combine and structure them into business solutions.”

Their 403-page book is well written and cleanly organized with short paragraphs and many headings, step lists and illustrations. It also has an extensive index.

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JQuery: Novice to Ninja, 2nd Edition
By Earle Castledine and Craig Sharkie
(SitePoint,
paperback, list price $39.95; Kindle edition, list price $29.95)

Technology changes fast, and web developers curious about JQuery will welcome this updated edition of Earle Castledine’s and Craig Sharkie’s book that first appeared in 2010.

This also is not a book for beginners. “You should,” the authors note, “already have intermediate to advanced HTML and CSS skills, as JQuery uses CSS-style selectors to zero in on page elements. Some rudimentary programming knowledge will be helpful to have,” they add, “as JQuery—despite its clever abstractions—is still based on JavaScript.” 

The authors offer high praise for the power of JQuery: “Aside from being a joy to use, one of the biggest benefits of JQuery is that it handles a lot of infuriating cross-browser issues for you. Anyone who has written serious JavaScript in the past can attest that cross-browser inconsistencies will drive you mad.”

They describe how to download and include the latest version of JQuery in web pages. And their book is organized to introduce JQuery features and code examples while also showing you, step by step, how to build a complete working application.

JQuery: Novice to Ninja, 2nd Edition has plenty of illustrations and is well indexed and written in a friendly, approachable style. 

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Using Mac OS X Lion Server
By Charles Edge
(O’Reilly,
paperback, list price $29.99; Kindle edition, list price $23.99)

Yes, intermediate and advanced system administrators will find some useful information in this well-written and nicely illustrated guide.

“But the book,” says author Charles Edge, “is really meant for new system administrators: the owner of the small business, the busy parent trying to manage all of those iPhone and iPads the kids are running around with, the teacher with a classroom full of iMacs or iPads, and of course, the new podcaster, just looking for a place to host countless hours of talking about the topic of her choice.”

What Using Mac OS X Lion Server  does not cover is “managing a Lion Server from the command line, scripting client management, or other advanced topics.”

The topics it does cover include: Planning for and installing a server; sharing and backing up files; sharing address books, calendars, and iChat; Wikis, webs and blogs; building a mail server; building a podcasting server; managing Apple computers and iOS devices; network services; and deploying Mac OS X computers.

The author cautions: “In many ways, the traditional system administrator will find Lion challenging in its consumeristic approach. There is a lot of power under the hood, but the tools used to manage the server have been simplified so that anyone can manage it, not just veteran Unix gods.”

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Si Dunn is a novelist, screenwriter, freelance book reviewer, and former software technical writer and software/hardware QA test specialist. He also is a former newspaper and magazine photojournalist. His latest book is Dark Signals, a Vietnam War memoir. He is the author of an e-book detective novel, Erwin’s Law, now also available in paperback, plus a novella, Jump, and several other books and short stories.

SharePoint 2010 for Project Management, 2nd Edition – #bookreview

SharePoint 2010 for Project Management, 2nd Edition
By Dux Raymond Sy
(O’Reilly, paperback, list price $44.99; Kindle edition, list price $34.99)

Project management now provides the top use of Microsoft SharePoint 2010, and this updated edition quickly jumps straight into using SharePoint to create and run a Project Management Information System (PMIS). 

The book is written and structured for those “not interested in the nitty-gritty technical details of SharePoint,” the author says. His work “is focused on helping you leverage SharePoint for project management regardless of what industry you are in.”

And he emphasizes: “If you are interested in using SharePoint to deploy a corporate portal, create an ecommerce website, or develop a proprietary SharePoint application, this is not the book for you.”

In organizations large and small and even for individual users, “[t]he main purpose of SharePoint is to empower users with document management and team collaboration tools,” the author notes.  He points out that “SharePoint does not refer to a specific product or technology. Using the phrase ‘Microsoft SharePoint’ is like using the phrase ‘Microsoft Office.” It refers to several aspects of collaborative solutions.”

 This new edition is aimed at project managers, project team members, program managers, IT/IS directors and SharePoint consultants.

The 209-page book has nine chapters:

  • 1. Project Kickoff
  • 2. Setting Up the PMIS
  • 3. Adding PMIS Components
  • 4. Adding Stakeholders to the PMIS
  • 5. Supporting Team Collaboration
  • 6. Project Tracking
  • 7. Project Reporting
  • 8. Integrating PM Tools
  • 9. Project Closing

SharePoint 2010 for Project Management, 2nd Edition is well-written and tightly focused, with how-to instructions and illustrations on nearly every page.  It also provides a case study so readers can practice applying PMIS skills in SharePoint.

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Si Dunn is a novelist, screenwriter, freelance book reviewer, and former software technical writer and software/hardware QA test specialist. His latest book is a detective novel, Erwin’s Law. His other published works include Jump, a novella, and a book of poetry, plus several short stories, including The 7th Mars Cavalry, all available on Kindle.

Using Microsoft InfoPath 2010 with Microsoft SharePoint 2010: Step by Step – #bookreview

Using Microsoft InfoPath 2010 with Microsoft SharePoint 2010: Step by Step
By Darvish Shadravan and Laura Rogers
(Microsoft Press, paperback, list price $34.99; Kindle edition, list price $31.99)

A 21st century Shakespeare might write: “All the world’s a form, and we are just filling it in.”

One of this book’s authors contends (not completely in jest) that “forms run the world. Imagine modern life without forms, both paper and digital–it’s not possible! Everything that is known and recorded about you, from your birth city to your magazine subscriptions, to  your preference of aisle or window seats–yes, all of this information was entered in a form at some point in time.”

Microsoft InfoPath 2010 is used to design and build electronic forms, as well as gather data, without writing code. Meanwhile, SharePoint Server 2010 “offers a robust architecture for managing access to data connections and external systems.” SharePoint is Microsoft’s suite of software tools aimed at making it “easier for people work together,” whether in the same office or scattered around the planet.

This well-written and nicely illustrated book shows how to bring the two products together in powerful ways that (1) enable InfoPath forms to be created and formatted and (2) integrate data from SharePoint and other company systems. InfoPath forms also can be hosted on SharePoint.

The book is aimed at “any information worker that needs to build and use electronic forms that will be stored in SharePoint.” Its goal is to “teach you the basics of building and using InfoPath 2010 forms in a SharePoint 2010 environment.”

The writers assume you are at least a “savvy Office and Windows user.” It is helpful, but not mandatory, to also have at least some basic familiarity with SharePoint Server 2010. “However, even if you’re not a SharePoint guru, most topics in this book should be within your grasp,” they point out.

If you do not have a SharePoint environment in your company, “InfoPath 2010 supports the creation of forms in Microsoft Office 365,” the two authors note. Office 365 is Microsoft’s cloud product that provides online access to a variety of programs for communicating and collaborating.

InfoPath has been around for a few years and recently was given a significant update. But many businesses and computer users do not have it.

That’s not show-stopper when InfoPath and SharePoint work together, the authors point out. “If you create your forms as browser-enabled form templates, users who don’t have InfoPath installed on their computer can still work with the form in a browser. This lets you share business forms with a variety of users, including employees, customers, and vendors.”

The 446-page book has 14 chapters. The first four chapters show how to create and format forms using InfoPath. The remaining chapters focus on using InfoPath with SharePoint.

According to the two authors, “the mission of this book is to help you understand how to create business forms that provide a pleasant, reliable, and intuitive experience for your users and customers,” they write.

The process of creating, formatting and publishing forms is shown and described in clear, succinct how-to steps. Practice files can be downloaded from a Microsoft site, and the exercise topics range from the basics of form design to building an approval process and working with SharePoint views and dashboards, to (1) “control what fields are displayed at any given time” and (2) “generate reports from any information in SharePoint lists and libraries.”

The authors add: “SharePoint libraries, specifically form libraries, are well suited for storing and managing InfoPath forms.”

InfoPath’s native language is XML, “perhaps the single most powerful method of storing and sharing structured data to come along since the advent of digital computing.” Creating electronic forms has long been a code-intensive process.

InfoPath hides most of the XML behind an easy-to-use interface. And XSLT (Extensible Style Sheet Language) style sheets also “‘sit in front of’ the underlying XML and transform it into the rich and easy-to-use forms that InfoPath can create.”

The book’s illustrations, short paragraphs, step-by-step lists and example files can all help readers get up to speed quickly, whether Microsoft InfoPath 2010 is used with Microsoft SharePoint on a company network or via the cloud, by way of Office 365.

Si Dunn‘s latest book is a novel, Erwin’s Law. His other published works include Jump, a novella, and a book of poetry and several short stories, all available on Kindle. He previously worked in the telecommunications industry as a software and hardware tester and technical writer.

Microsoft SharePoint 2010: Customizing My Site – #programming #sm #bookreview

Microsoft SharePoint 2010: Customizing My Site
By Michael Doyle
(Microsoft Press, paperback, list price $9.99; Kindle edition, list price $9.99)

By computer-book standards, Microsoft SharePoint 2010: Customizing My Site seems a bit thin: just 95 pages. But it contains plenty of good information and deserves to catch some eyes in the expanding SharePoint community.

“The explosion of social networking has made the My Site component one of the key pieces in creating a cohesive SharePoint solution,” says the author, Michael Doyle, a veteran SharePoint specialist.

Doyle notes: “Straight out of the box, the My Site component is quite powerful, but it is far from easy to customize.”

His book is aimed primarily at SharePoint administrators and designers, but is also directed toward the wider SharePoint community, because: “…it takes a wide range of skills to customize the My Site Host (and personalization sites beneath), and almost anyone connected with My Sites would benefit from reading parts of this book to get a better idea of how it all fits together and what is possible.”

A few of the topics explored include: (1) Helping users share ideas, documents and personal information; (2) creating several My Site hosts to serve distinct audiences; (3) applying a company’s look and feel with themes; (4) determining a user content quota so you won’t overtax your database; and (5) editing profile properties to personalize the Twitter widget. 

Doyle’s book is divided into two major parts and 14 chapters. The first part focuses on setting up the My Site host and getting it running correctly. The second part is devoted to customizing “various parts of the functionality and social components.”

The chapters are:

  • Chapter 1: What’s New in Microsoft SharePoint 2010 My Sites?
  • Chapter 2: The User Profile Service
  • Chapter 3: Setting Up My Sites
  • Chapter 4: Multiple Farms and My Sites
  • Chapter 5: Customizing My Site Navigation
  • Chapter 6: Modifying the My Site Host
  • Chapter 7: Organizational Charts
  • Chapter 8: Tags and Notes
  • Chapter 9: Site Membership
  • Chapter 10: Colleagues
  • Chapter 11: Profile Properties
  • Chapter 12: People Search
  • Chapter 13: Outlook Integration
  • Chapter 14: Personal Sites

There are two key reasons for knowing how to modify and customize My Sites, the author notes. One is to “maintain the branded look and feel of your organization.” The other is “to make the My Site Host meet your business needs.”

Despite this book’s thinness, it is well-written and represents a lot of hard-earned experience with the process of customizing the My Site Host. And the book’s code samples can be downloaded from a Microsoft site.

If you work with SharePoint 2010 My Site, consider adding this book to your bookshelf or to your Kindle as a how-to reference guide.

Si Dunn

Configuring Microsoft SharePoint 2010 – Self-Study Guide for MCTS exam 70-667 – #microsoft #bookreview

Configuring Microsoft SharePoint 2010
By Dan Holme and Alistair Matthews
(Microsoft Press, list price $69.99, paperback)

If one of your goals in life is to deploy and manage Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 farms, here’s your book.

You definitely need it if you are already involved in configuring, customizing and supporting SharePoint and want to take the Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) exam 70-667.

This “2-in-1 Self-Paced Training Kit” follows the successful formula used in many other Microsoft certification test preparation guides.

First, you work through a series of lessons and reviews covering each objective in the exam. Then you apply what you have learned to some real-world case scenarios, and you do some practice exercises. Finally, you plug in the CD that accompanies the book and try your hand at the practice tests.

“You can work through hundreds of questions using multiple testing modes to meet your specific learning needs,” Microsoft promises.

In other words, the material is there if you’re willing to push yourself to learn it. And there is a lot to learn when you work with SharePoint.

One small example: one of the book’s “Best Practices” entries points out that “[y]ou might imagine that the best practice to scale out a farm is simply to add more servers and to continue adding all services to each server. In fact, in larger and more complex environments[,] performance is optimized by dedicating servers to specific tasks.” And the entry briefly explains why.

Another short example: the book describes how “[a]fter you complete your SharePoint installation and the SharePoint Products Configuration Wizard, you often run the Initial Farm Configuration Wizard.” But then it explains why you should not use this tool to configure My Sites, “because the resulting configuration is not considered secure.”

Indeed, the co-authors add, that combination can set up a situation where, conceivably, a My Site owner could use scripting attacks “to get Farm Administrator privileges.”

The book has 821 pages and is divided into 12 chapters:

  1. Creating a SharePoint 2010 Intranet
  2. Administering and Automating SharePoint
  3. Managing Web Applications
  4. Administering and Securing SharePoint Content
  5. Service Applications and the Managed Metadata Service
  6. Configuring User Profiles and Social Networking
  7. Administering SharePoint Search
  8. Implementing Enterprise Service Applications
  9. Deploying and Upgrading to SharePoint 2010
  10. Administering SharePoint Customization
  11. Implementing Business Continuity
  12. Monitoring and Optimizing SharePoint Performance

As an added inducement to buy the book, it includes a discount voucher good for 15 percent off the price of one Microsoft Certification exam.

Again, Configuring Microsoft SharePoint 2010 is not a book for SharePoint beginners.

 The co-authors note: “The MCTS exam and this book assume that you have at least one year of experience configuring SharePoint and related technologies, including Internet Information Services (IIS), Windows Server 2008, Active Directory, DNS, SQL Server, and networking infrastructure services.”

The writers recommend using virtual machines to do the training exercises in their book. And they assume you will “use virtualization software that supports snapshots, so that you can roll back to a previous state after performing an exercise.”

They also give information and limitations on using multiple virtual machines on a single host. And their book providess download links to evaluation versions of the software needed to do the exercises.

The book’s accompanying CD offers one other learning convenience: an e-book version of the hefty text.

Si Dunn