The Microsoft strategy for publishing content on the Web has been, until recently, based on Microsoft Content Management Server (CMS) 2002. CMS provided a structured way for content authors to add content to a company’s public Web site using professionally formatted layout pages. CMS also provided a formalized scheme where a privileged user must approve any page modification before it can be seen by the Web site’s visitors. While there is a connector that provides a certain degree of integration between CMS 2002 and SPS 2003, these two products are built on very different architectures, and you cannot build a site that fully benefits from both the CMS Web content management features and the SPS portal features.With the introduction of MOSS 2007, Microsoft recommends migrating CMS-based Web content management to MOSS. This will obviously have a significant impact on customers who have already become familiar with CMS development. If you have worked with CMS in the past, it’s important to note that the CMS concepts of channels and postings are not used in the MOSS 2007 Web content management infrastructure. Instead, the infrastructure has been designed using basic WSS 3.0 building blocks such as child sites, page templates, content types, document libraries, and security groups. This approach lends itself to building custom solutions that extend the basic Web content management infrastructure by using standard WSS components such as custom event handlers and workflows.

When you need to brand a MOSS 2007 portal site, you can modify a single ASP.NET Master Page to customize the appearance of the entire Web site just as you would in a standard WSS 3.0 site collection. However, MOSS 2007 extends this functionality by introducing a publishing scheme based on page layouts. A page layout provides a structured approach to collecting content from content authors and displaying it on a page within a portal site. Some of the page layouts provided by MOSS 2007 include welcome pages, articles, and news items. Page layouts are designed to make it fairly straightforward to add and modify content from within the browser. MOSS 2007 alos provides a toolbar within the browser to give content authors and approvers a convenient way to move content pages through the editing and approval processes.

Each page layout is based on a WSS content type and an associated .aspx page template. By layering page layouts on top of content types, MOSS makes it possible to add custom fields for storing different types of structured content such as HTML, links, and images. Once a custom field is defined inside the content type associated with a page layout, it can be data bound to the associated .aspx page template using another new MOSS 2007 component known as a field control. MOSS 2007 ships with several field controls such as a rich HTML editor as well as others for editing custom fields based on images and links. Many field controls support adding extra declarative constraints to keep portal content within a highly structured format.Note that the page layout infrastructure is extensible because WSS content types support inheritance. It’s fairly straightforward to take one of the built-in page layouts and customize it by extending its underlying content type or .aspx page template.In addition to field controls, an .aspx page template for a page layout can also contain ASP.NET server controls and Web Part zones. A page layout with Web Part zones provides the content author with the flexibility to add Web Parts displaying content outside the schema of the current page layout. MOSS 2007 provides several Web Parts that have been designed for use in portal pages including the Table of Contents Web Part and the Content Query Web Part.The .aspx page templates associated with page layouts are stored along with the portal site’s Master Page in the master page gallery. The master page gallery also contains a metadata column to associate each .aspx page template with a content type. Note that it is possible to have multiple page layouts, each with its own .aspx page template, that are all associated with the same content type. This is useful when you want to create several different views for the same set of structured content.Whenever a content author creates a new content page from a page layout, MOSS 2007 creates a new instance of the associated content type and stores it in a document library named Pages. When a content author updates content for custom fields within a page layout, WSS stores the data within a structure defined by the underlying content type. The fact that content page instances are stored in a WSS document library means that the MOSS Web content management infrastructure can take advantage of basic document library features such as versioning, auditing, approval, workflows, per-document security configuration and security UI trimming.By default, MOSS uses the basic document approval features of a WSS document library to control when the updated content is shown to the site’s visitors. However, the infrastructure was designed to make it straightforward to associate custom workflows with the Pages document library for scenarios where you need something more sophisticated than the default content approval functionality.Note that an instance of a content page stored in the document library does not represent a copy of the page template. Instead, it contains redirection logic to link it with the .aspx page template at run time. That means updating the .aspx page template will always affect content pages that have already been created from the associated page layout.A number of other MOSS 2007 features focus on Web content management. MOSS provides a framework for document converters, components designed to read content from an external format such as a Word document and convert it into a format that can be displayed within a content page. Several document converters are scheduled to ship with MOSS 2007, as well as a framework for building and integrating custom document converters.MOSS provides content deployment features that allow you to transfer content from one site collection to another. This is valuable for companies that prefer to author content in a staging environment before moving it into their production environment. You take advantage of MOSS 2007 content deployment features by configuring paths and jobs. A path defines one site collection as a content source and another site collection as a content destination. Once you have defined a path, you can define one or more jobs to move content from the source to the destination. Jobs can be run on demand or they can be scheduled to run at a future time or on a periodic basis.MOSS 2007 also supports a feature known as site variations for companies that need to duplicate a site’s content for translation into multiple spoken languages or for targeting different types of rendering devices. For example, imagine you have configured variation support for German, French, and Spanish. MOSS 2007 maintains a parallel structure across these three different sites with respect to pages and child sites. When a content author adds a new page to the master variation site maintained in Spanish, MOSS automatically adds the same page into the structure of the other sites as well. MOSS can also be configured to create a WSS task marking the required translation as a to-do item for a language translator. While MOSS 2007 will not actually convert your content from one language to another, it does keep multiple sites in sync with respect to their content structure, which provides a good deal of value.Finally, it’s important to note that MOSS 2007 publishing sites benefit from WSS 3.0 security advancements. In particular, WSS 3.0 is built on top of the ASP.NET 2.0 authentication provider infrastructure. Unlike SPS 2003, which is tightly coupled to Active Directory, you can configure a MOSS 2007 portal site to use forms-based authentication. That means you can store the user credentials in a SQL Server database or another LDAP identity management system of your choosing. 

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Thats Business Intelligence (BI) issues by the way – SPS 2003, the Office 2003 Web Parts and Components Add-in, and Business Scorecard Manager all provided customers with important business intelligence (BI) features. Developers have used these BI technologies as a platform for building dashboard-style applications that provide upper-level management with up-to-date data that reflects the health of a business and flags potential problems in a timely matter.Based on their experience with these earlier BI components, the Office team designed MOSS 2007 to include a next-generation platform for building dashboards and integrating with other technologies such as Microsoft Excel 2007, SQL Server Reporting Services, and SQL Server Analysis Services. As with all other aspects of MOSS 2007, its BI platform builds on top of ASP.NET and WSS 3.0 and provides many opportunities for extending the default functionality.Consistent customer feedback indicated that a large percentage of corporations maintain a significant amount of business logic in Excel workbooks, and that this business logic has been hard to reuse across a large organization. This feedback led the Office team to create MOSS 2007 Excel Services, a server-side version of the traditional Excel calculation engine that has been rewritten from the ground up on top of WSS 3.0. Excel Services doesn’t suffer from the same types of scalability problems that occur when you run the desktop version of Excel on the server.Excel Services also provides a server-side rendering engine that can display worksheets in the browser as HTML. That means a company can store its Excel workbooks in a centralized document library and make them viewable by users who don’t even have Excel installed on their desktops. Furthermore, users can see the numbers displayed by a worksheet within the browser without having any access to the business logic behind it, thereby protecting a company’s intellectual property.The 2007 Microsoft Office system introduces a new paradigm, recognizing that companies maintain business logic within Excel just as they maintain business logic within compiled assemblies or SQL stored procedures. To support this new paradigm, the Office team added many new features to the 2007 Office system products designed to expose and update this business logic as well as to protect the intellectual property represented by this logic.The desktop version of Excel 2007 has been enhanced to allow information workers with Excel expertise to publish and update their workbooks in a document library within an MOSS 2007 portal site or a WSS team site. Users running Excel can view these workbooks through the familiar client experience while other users can rely on Excel Services to view the same workbook inside the browser. Note that this new workbook publishing metaphor allows a company to maintain a single master copy of its critical workbooks. It also allows the workbook author to post updates without the need to involve the development or IT staff.It’s important to note that the use of Excel Services isn’t restricted to the browser. You can create a Windows Forms application that uses the server-side Excel calculation engine but that doesn’t use the rendering engine. For example, a Windows Forms application can use Web services from Excel Services to load a workbook on the server, enter input data, perform calculations, and return a result as shown in Figure 10.You can see it’s not that hard to take advantage of formulas in Excel spreadsheets from across the network in a desktop application. This example furthers the analogy that Excel Services exposes the business logic defined in a workbook just as SQL Server exposes the business logic defined in a stored procedure.MOSS 2007 provides a special site template named Report Center for companies that want to build dashboard-style applications. Report Center was designed to make the new BI features of MOSS 2007 easy to discover and use. A Report Center site contains a document library named Reports Library that is tuned for storing and displaying BI reports such as Excel workbooks and reports built for SQL Reporting Services.Another important aspect of Report Center is the built-in support for creating and importing key performance indicators (KPIs), visual BI indicators that tell a manager how some aspect of the business is doing. For example, the KPI for a product inventory level might display a green light when there is enough inventory to supply all the orders for the coming week. However, the light might turn from green to yellow when the inventory level drops below some predefined threshold such as the amount of inventory required to supply orders for the next four days. The light then might change from yellow to red when the inventory level drops to a point where it will run out within the next 48 hours. The main idea is that a KPI flags business problems that require immediate attention.MOSS 2007 provides out-of-the-box support for several different KPI types. For example, you can create a KPI whose indicator changes automatically depending on data it reads dynamically from a WSS list or an Excel workbook. MOSS also provides integration support for KPIs in SQL Server 2005. That is, if you have already created KPIs with SQL Server Analysis Services, you can import and display them on a Report Center site alongside other supported KPIs.The last aspect of Report Center I want to discuss is the built-in framework for filtering data before it’s shown to the user. This is a key component of the MOSS 2007 dashboard framework because it makes dashboard pages more relevant to the user. When a manager visits a Report Center site, the experience is enriched if the dashboard views have been customized with data that is relevant for that particular manager. For example, a sales manager for the Eastern region can be presented with a different view of sales figures than the sales manager for the Western region. Furthermore, managers like to be able to see high-level data at first and then drill down into more specific categories on demand.

Filtering support is built into MOSS 2007 dashboards at the page level using Web Part connections. MOSS supplies Web Parts that allow page designers and users alike to specify criteria such as the name of the current user, a date range, or a product category. There are also many supplied Web Parts that can be configured to consume the filtering criteria supplied by other Web Parts such as the standard WSS List View Web Part as well as the Web Parts designed for use with the BDC, Excel Services, SQL Reporting Service, and SQL Analysis Services.

Remember that BI is only one of the four key pillars or themes coming out of Office 2007 server capabilities, Enterprise Content Management, Enterprise Project management and Communication and Collaboration are the others which i’ll be blogging about in the coming weeks.

In past versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint®, Microsoft relied on a default file structure based on binary files written in a proprietary format. These formats have been very hard to read and modify unless you go through the object model of the hosting Office application, such as Word and Excel. As a result, companies have tried to run Office desktop applications on the server, which poses problems with scalability and robustness not to mention expense.Office 2000 and Office 2003 added some modest capabilities for creating Excel workbooks and Word documents using XML. In the 2007 Office release, we  take this idea much further by adopting the Office Open XML File Formats for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents. These formats use a new file standard for creating composite documents containing multiple inner XML files that factor out content from other aspects of the document such as formatting instructions, data, and code.The top-level file in the Office Open XML File Formats is known as a package and it is structured using standard XML and ZIP technologies. The internal files contained within a package are known as parts. Many parts within Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files contain XML structured in accordance with published XML schemas. Other parts within a package can consist of binary files for items such as graphics, audio clips, and video.A major goal of the Office Open XML File Formats is to provide a standard approach for reading, manipulating, and generating documents in server-side scenarios where using the object model of a desktop application such as Word or Excel isn’t a viable option. Think about a scenario in a MOSS portal site when you have created and configured an event handler to fire whenever someone uploads a new Word document. The new Office Open XML File Formats make it significantly easier to extract data or to perform hygiene on the document such as removing comments and personal information. You can also use Office Open XML File Formats to develop server-side components that generate Office documents on the fly using data pulled from content sources such as a WSS list or the BDC.To get started working with the Office Open XML File Formats, you need to learn how to program against the new WinFX® packaging API. You must also learn the specific package structure and XML schemas for the type of Office document you are working with. Some of these details will change as you move between Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents. Microsoft has started a developer community effort around the Office Open XML File Formats at openxmldeveloper.org and you’ll begin to see the myriad of user based productivity gains that could be achieved.

Boy am i excited about this and proud to be a part of the launch – Office Professional 2007 provides  a complete set of productivity and information management tools to accomplish routine tasks quickly, effectively manage customer and contact information in one place, produce professional-quality marketing communications and campaigns in-house, and simplify database creation and reporting. Here are the top 10 ways that Office Professional 2007 can help you save time, stay organized, and spend more time with customers, i’ve been using the product now throughout the beta cycles for eight months and have gained so much in acheiving better results in less time.


Find and use the features you need with ease.

The new and more intuitive look and feel of Office Professional 2007 helps you use the software features you need easier and faster. Task-based menus and toolbars are automatically displayed based on the feature you are using.

Locate, manage, prioritize, and act on an increasing volume of e-mail.

The new category coloring feature in Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 helps you more easily sort and manage e-mail messages. Advanced Instant Search capabilities speed your search for critical information. Improved junk mail and anti-phishing technologies help you filter out unwanted e-mail and manage the messages that matter. Learn more about Office Outlook 2007.

Manage time and tasks more efficiently.

The new Office Outlook 2007 To-Do bar consolidates your tasks, e-mail messages flagged for follow-up, and appointments in one view. Using the improved task and calendar integration, you can allocate time for tasks with drag-and-drop functionality to help you stay well organized. Learn more about Office Outlook 2007.

Manage all your customer and prospect information in one place.

Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 with Business Contact Manager brings small business contact management functionality to Office Outlook 2007. Track, view, and access customer information in Office Outlook 2007, including contact information, e-mail messages, phone calls, appointments, notes, documents, and faxed or scanned items. Learn more about Office Outlook 2007 with Business Contact Manager.

Manage sales leads and opportunities better.

Office Outlook 2007 with Business Contact Manager helps you manage sales leads and opportunities in one place, including contact information, communications history, phone calls, notes, documents, and more. You can customize the enhanced reporting features with new filtering capabilities to help forecast and close sales. And the innovative dashboard feature gives you a consolidated view of your customer and prospect information, which helps you make decisions and prioritize tasks. Learn more about Office Outlook 2007 with Business Contact Manager.

Create, publish, and manage designer-quality publications in-house.

Microsoft Office Publisher 2007 helps you establish a visual brand identity for your business. You can then easily share design and content elements across all types of projects. Office Publisher 2007 walks you through the process of creating and publishing materials for print, e-mail, and Web sites. New tools and tighter integration with other Microsoft Office system products help you distribute your marketing and communications materials and track your activities. Learn more about Office Publisher 2007.

Manage all your marketing efforts more efficiently.

Office Outlook 2007 with Business Contact Manager helps guide you through the full spectrum of marketing campaign activities. Create custom mailing lists and personalize print or online marketing materials created in Office Publisher 2007, Microsoft Office Word 2007, or HTML. You can then use Office Outlook 2007 with Business Contact Manager to track and assess responses so that you can determine the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns. Learn more about Office Outlook 2007 with Business Contact Manager.

Create professional-looking documents and presentations in less time.

New Office Word 2007 tools, including the new QuickFormats and Live Preview features, help you create more professional Word documents by making it easier to reuse content, apply professional formats, and quickly preview changes. In the Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2007 presentation graphics program, an extensive library of customizable slide layouts and new tools help you create powerful charts, diagrams, and tables. You can also quickly preview changes to create more dynamic presentations faster. New style capabilities in the Microsoft Office system help to ensure a consistent appearance between documents you create in Office Word 2007, Office PowerPoint 2007, and the Microsoft Office Excel 2007 spreadsheet program. Learn more about Office Word 2007 and Office PowerPoint 2007.

Analyze your information to make better decisions.

Office Excel 2007 includes new tools that help you more effectively filter, sort, graph, and visualize your business information. The new collection of predefined styles, Microsoft Office art, and integrated graphics in Office Excel 2007 help you quickly apply a consistently professional look to your spreadsheets. For more advanced analysis, improved PivotTable and PivotChart views are now much easier to create. Learn more about Office Excel 2007.

Simplify database creation and reporting.

Microsoft Office Access 2007 helps you create new databases easily, with no experience required. A library of predefined database applications help you track important business information, including assets, expense reports, and customer orders. Create reports with a single click, and use improved tools to filter, sort, group, and subtotal data. Learn more about Office Access 2007.

Its time for change and this suite is built for the changing demands placed upon organisation in the digital age.

What’s Core CAL?

October 5, 2006

A client access license (CAL) suite is available through volume licensing—the Core CAL, i’ve been asked twice in the last two weeks what this is all about so heres a quick post. The Core CAL includes CALs for Microsoft Windows® Server, Microsoft Exchange Server, Microsoft Systems Management Server, and Microsoft SharePoint™ Portal Server. The Core CAL offers a convenient way to license basic server components across desktop computers. In addition, it reduces the overall complexity of managing CALs for server software for IT professionals. The economic upside is circa 10% rather than buying the individual component elements.

The next development in licensing is the Enterpise CAL and this is in response to those customers who are really at the leading edge of adoption looking to use technologies such as OneNote 2007 and Office Groove 2007 – it really is a superset suite. It will still offer deployment flexibility and control, simplified licensing and increased value for IT spend – More bang for your buck as I keep hearing during this week at the IW readiness session in Redmond.

Office Groove 2007

October 5, 2006

Office Groove 2007 is a collaboration software program for working on a broad range of project activities, from simple document collaboration to custom solutions integrated with business processes. Here are the top 10 ways Office Groove 2007 can help you, your organisation and your team work together more effectively and improve the quality of your deliverables.

 

1. Work together in context.Teams often lack context because not everyone is in the same place and connected to the same data and systems. Groove workspaces add context by putting all people, tools, and data in one place—the workspace—and making them accessible to all team members right on their computers.
2. Customize each workspace for the team’s unique needs.With Office Groove 2007, you and your team decide what tools you need to get the job done. Choose from more than ten basic tools, such as Files, Discussion, and Calendar, as well as several pre-built templates. Or design your own custom tools with Groove Forms and Groove InfoPath Forms.
3. Collaborate with colleagues, partners, and customers—with one product.No more switching tools when you need to work with people outside your organization. With Office Groove 2007, it’s as easy to invite a customer or partner to a workspace as it is a coworker.
4.Work effortlessly anywhere, online or offline.Groove stores all your workspaces, tools, and data right on your computer—there’s no need to connect to the corporate network to access information. You stay productive whether you’re working in the office, at a customer site, on the road, or from home.
5.Keep your team in sync, automatically and efficiently.Groove automatically “pushes” just the changes you make in a workspace to your team members’ computers in the most efficient manner. No more attaching, detaching, uploading, or downloading.
6.See who’s working on what, when.With built-in presence awareness, alerts, and unread marks, you know who’s working on what, when, without having to ask. You and your team spend less time coordinating and more time working.
7.Synchronize SharePoint document libraries with Office Groove 2007.With the new Groove SharePoint Files tool, you can easily check out documents from Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 or a Windows SharePoint Services V3 teamsite into an Office Groove 2007 workspace, collaborate on them, and push them back when you’re done—all with just a few mouse clicks.
8.Create a form with Microsoft Office InfoPath 2007; share it with Groove 2007.With the new Groove InfoPath Forms tool, you can import forms solutions created in Office InfoPath 2007. Why? So you and your team can collect and track fielded data, like status reports and questionnaires, in the context of your project activities.
9.Make the most of impromptu encounters with Microsoft Office Communicator integration. With new integration with the 2005 and 2007 versions of Office Communicator, Office Groove 2007 helps you engage your teammates at just the right time, wherever they are.
10. Work with international teams in their own languages.With support for 28 languages, your global team members can now experience the power of Groove in their native languages.