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.

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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.

Send in the Clouds: 2 New SharePoint 2010 Books from Microsoft Press – #bookreview

Microsoft Press recently has released two new books intended to help attract and train more users of  its SharePoint 2010 software and services. 

SharePoint is Microsoft’s suite of software tools designed to help “make it easier for people work together,” whether they are in the same office or scattered around the planet.

One of the new books focuses on SharePoint Foundation 2010, “the software that will get organizations started using SharePoint.” It is aimed at readers who “need to understand how to accomplish what they need to do.”

The other book is intended “primarily for IT professionals, IT architects, and IT decisions makers who want to understand the capabilities of SharePoint in the cloud….”

Microsoft SharePoint Foundation 2010 Inside Out
By Errin O’Connor, Penelope Coventry, Tony Lanphier, Jonathan Lightfoot,
Thomas Resing and Michael Doyle

(Microsoft Press, paperback, list price $49.99; Kindle edition, list price $39.99)

Microsoft SharePoint is a suite of tools that enables an organization or business to “share, exchange, and distribute information to their employees, partners, shareholders, and customers.” The software “is designed around an easy-to-use web-based interface that is fully integrated with Microsoft Office,” the six authors say.

If you are completely new to SharePoint Foundation 2010, read two easier books first,  Microsoft SharePoint 2010 Plain & Simple and Microsoft SharePoint Foundation 2010 Step-by-Step. Then tackle this “Inside Out” book.

This new “Inside Out” edition is intended “for readers who have some experience with SharePoint Foundation 2010 and are fairly comfortable finding their way around the product,” the authors emphasize.

SharePoint 2010 has been termed a significant improvement over earlier versions, and the “entry-level component,” SharePoint Foundation 2010, can be downloaded free from Microsoft.

The authors point out that “[y]ou don’t need to be a programmer (although it is helpful) to use the building blocks in SharePoint 2010. Even without using code, you can create highly customized business solutions in a matter of minutes.”

SharePoint Foundation 2010 “provides a robust collection of services that can be used to build powerful web solutions.” And: “It forms the basis for a number of other SharePoint products such as SharePoint Server 2010 and Office 365,which incorporates Microsoft’s SharePoint 2010 cloud-based solution, called SharePoint Online.”

Microsoft hopes, of course, that you will move up from “free” to “paying customer” once you begin to understand SharePoint’s many possibilities beyond Foundation.

The 760-page book is well-written, adequately illustrated, and follows a progression where “the early chapters concentrate on what you can achieve by using the browser; later chapters detail features from the perspective of the power-end user, administrator, and developer.”

The 16 chapters are:

  1. Introduction to Microsoft SharePoint Foundation 2010
  2. Administration for Business Users
  3. End-User Features and Experience
  4. Creating Sites and Workspaces by Using the Browser
  5. Designing Lists and Libraries
  6. Creating and Formatting Webpages
  7. Adding, Editing, Connecting, and Managing Web Parts on the Page
  8. Managing Site Content
  9. Working with External Content
  10. Using and Creating Workflows
  11. Integrating SharePoint with Microsoft Office 2010
  12. Taking Lists and Libraries Offline
  13. Managing Site Settings
  14. Creating, Managing, and Designing Sites by Using SharePoint Designer 2010
  15. Customizing the User Interface
  16. Developing SharePoint Solutions by Using Visual Studio 2010

The “Web Parts” in the Chapter 7 title refer to “a key component of any SharePoint installation.” A Web Part either receives input or displays content or sometimes does both. One example given is a module that displays weather information. A user can change the weather display’s city or ZIP code without affecting any other users visiting the site.

If you buy the paperback, you are also given a link where you can download a “fully searchable companion ebook” in PDF format, and the ebook periodically is updated.

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Microsoft SharePoint 2010 Deploying Cloud-Based Solutions
By Phillip Wicklund
(Microsoft Press, paperback, list price $34.99)

“Of all the great benefits of SharePoint in the cloud…business agility may be the most compelling cloud driver yet,” writes Phillip Wicklund in his new book.

“Consider time-to-market. With SharePoint in the cloud, you can literally have a cloud-based collaboration site spun up and ready for use within an hour of reading this sentence.”

This book should be on your reading list if you are helping a company decide whether – and how – to migrate to the public cloud, or a private cloud, or a hybrid cloud, using SharePoint 2010.

In some business settings, Wicklund notes, “SharePoint can be tough to deploy and maintain, primarily because significant expertise and experience is required to do so successfully. Many companies can’t afford or (for other reasons) are unable to recruit the necessary talent. Because of this, taking SharePoint to the cloud is especially appealing to them. When in the cloud, they can essentially outsource that costly, time-consuming administrative overhead.”

Part of Wicklund’s book is devoted to introducing – and, no surprise, touting — Office 365.

A Microsoft website describes that company’s new Office 365 service as “familiar Microsoft Office collaboration and productivity tools delivered through the cloud. Everyone can work together easily with anywhere access to email, web conferencing, documents, and calendars. It includes business-class security and is backed by Microsoft.”

SharePoint Online, of course, is one of the services available through Office 365.

But, while costs go down when you migrate to the cloud, so do your levels of control and flexibility.

Yet, as this book notes, there are at least two types of cloud: public and private (where you can hold onto more control). And it is possible, using SharePoint 2010, to work in both clouds.

“By creating your own private cloud,” the author says, “you benefit from all the automation, scalability, reliability, and self-healing that any great cloud ought to provide.”

Wicklund’s book is divided into three major parts and 11 chapters.

Part 1 is “Introducing SharePoint in the Cloud.” The chapters are:

  • Chapter 1: Introducing Microsoft SharePoint Online
  • Chapter 2: Office 365 Feature Overview
  • Chapter 3: Planning for SharePoint Online

Part 2 is “Deploying SharePoint in the Public Cloud.” Its chapters are:

  • Chapter 4: Administering SharePoint Online
  • Chapter 5: Identity Management and Authentication
  • Chapter 6: Migrating to SharePoint Online
  • Chapter 7: Introduction to Customizing and Developing in SharePoint Online

Part 3 is “Deploying SharePoint in the Private Cloud.” The chapters are:

  • Chapter 8: Introduction to Creating a Private Cloud
  • Chapter 9: Introducing Multitenancy in SharePoint 2010
  • Chapter 10: Configuring Tenant-Aware Service Applications
  • Chapter 11: Configuring Tenant-Aware Site Collections

The term “multitenancy” in Chapter 9 is definined first in terms of an apartment complex where individuals live in private spaces but share the complex’s resources. In SharePoint, the term relates to “data isolation, delegated aministration, and delegated configuration.” You can “‘host’ multiple department or customer sites, for example, within the same infrastructure and farm, whereby you can guarantee autonomy and isolation among those ‘tenants’ of your SharePoint farm,” Wicklund writes.

“Each department has its own set of site collections that they can centrally manage and administrate.”

The 448-page book has one appendix titled “Server, Online SharePoint, and Online Dedicated Compared.” It has a well-detailed index. And the code samples can be downloaded from a Microsoft site.

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SharePoint is not a product that fits conveniently into one big how-to manual. If you are thinking of adding SharePoint to your business, or expanding how you use it, be prepared to consider getting several books, these two included.

Si Dunn

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