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SharePoint User Group Conference off to a strong start

Last week I attended the New Zealand Community SharePoint Conference, and thought I’d quickly share some highlights of the two-day event. They had some good overseas speakers as well as some strong local talent as well.

Joel Oleson’s keynote had some intelligent thoughts for starting your SharePoint strategy. He had very good ideas around governance of the project, and change management, as well as very basic but highly useful concepts such as starting simple and working your way up with SharePoint as you learn its ins and outs. He was also a very nice guy to chat to offline during the breaks.

The first actual session that I attended was by Ian Morrish (from Microsoft NZ) discussing “Leveraging DataViews and DataForms.” These were pretty exciting. This session showed me the basic concepts behind SharePoint lists, and then opened my eyes to the huge amount of possibilities around being able to totally customise the display of lists of data. Plus seeing the ability to go another step further and edit the actual XSLT excited me even more because I have a large amount of experience with that. Ian also showed me my first view of SharePoint Designer, which is pretty cool looking, and it’s FREE to boot.

Steve Letford and Alex Dean talked about “Maximising Search Capabilities.” Here is another piece of functionality I could really get some use out of. They showed us how to add multiple search scopes to a single SharePoint installation, and to be able to search across all of them. The potential to search SharePoint, database tables and File System locations seamlessly is excellent. Throw some custom DataViews in there and you’ve got something awesome.

I also found our own Chaks (Chakkaradeep Chandran) and Robert Stewart’s discussion of “SharePoint Field Controls” very useful (one of the few deeper coding sessions at the conference).

Ending on a high note, the last session that I was able to attend was probably my favourite of all. I very much enjoyed Philip Town and Tony Kennedy from Kiwibank with Chandima Kulathilake showing their implementation of a systems information database. This is basically is a one-stop centralised repository for storing information about all of their disparate IT systems, be they web applications, load balancing switches, UPSs, servers, Windows Services, or pretty much anything else they wanted. They have implemented it entirely with SharePoint Lists, the main list called KBSystems. Each KBSystem could have other KBSystems added as dependent systems, creating a hierarchy where you can quickly and easily discover what is affected if one system fails. It was a very clever solution.

Probably one of the biggest wins for me was the opportunity to network with other people in the industry. It is really useful discussing particular issues with others who have already dealt with similar scenarios.

It was a great start for the first SharePoint User Group Conference. I look forward to seeing what they come up with next year.

Posted by: Beric Holt | 10 July 2009

Tags: SharePoint, NZ Community SharePoint Conference, SharePoint User Group

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