Sunday, January 17, 2010

FAST ESP SharePoint Connector (Part 1)

Late last year (2009) Microsoft had released the new SharePoint Connector for FAST ESP.

I’m planning on blogging about the installation process for the connector (in Part 2), security trimming support through the installation and configuration of FAST ESP Security access module (Part 3) as well as integration of the FAST ESP search results with SharePoint UI using CodePlex Web Parts (Part 4) and some of the tricks of making it all work together.

But for now, let’s take a look at some major functionality that this connector is providing:

  • Secures SharePoint content through indexing of SharePoint ACLS.
  • Supports User and group extraction, AD users and Groups as well as SharePoint Groups
  • Mapping of SharePoint groups membership to AD through Security Access Module
  • Besides NTLM it also supports Kerberos authentication.
  • Indexes all possible meta data in the propertybag SharePoint Property.
  • Indexes all information as XML in the scopes scenario.
  • Include/exclude filters that allow you to configure the connector to include/exclude SharePoint webs/lists, you can even include / exclude by the type of the lists, or/and by the title, etc.
  • Exposes inheritable properties for lists items, such as site metadata (Created by, description, etc)
  • No need to install anything on WFEs or SharePoint servers, this version of the connector is using SharePoint Web Services instead of it's own as it was in the previous version.
  • While there is no User Interface for the connector, it does come with installation wizard.
  • Error recovery and checkpoint.
  • Connector state can be stored in SQL or Oracle DBs, and these databases are very light weight.
  • Export of processed SharePoint content into FastXML fields. This is very useful when after initial run of the connector you need to fine tune document processing pipeline and index profile. During testing you will not have to run the connector multiple times against live data, you can just use file traverser to reprocess all the content from XML files.

Enjoy :-)

SharePoint Bad Practices of 2009

Some of the observations that I had in 2009. These thing really surprised me as 2008 and 2009 were all about Best Practices and really left not too much room for these mistakes to be made. But these are the once that bugged me the most.


  1. 1. Creating site definition just to apply custom branding.

I don’t think I have to go into too much explanation here :-)


  1. 1. Not creating site columns up front when you are promoting fields to content type from InfoPath.

Once you promote fields without mapping them during publishing the form to previously created columns, will make those columns virtually un-modifiable  in SharePoint site columns later.  it means that if you have to republish the form with modifications to these promoted fields, you will end up with duplicate columns and the previously published columns will be orphaned and you would not be able to delete them.

Another one is a scenarios when you would want to publish one more infopath form and promote fields with the same names as previously published form, duplicates again.

  1. 2. Managing the state of infopath form from the form its self as well as from workflows.

EX: you have a form where users are filling out their expenses, the form is also being used to accommodate a process when end user submits the form for designated users to “Approve” the form, approvers get “approve/reject” view, and submit the approval status along side with the disposition. Once it is done a field that is promoted to the library (EX: FormStatus) indicates the status of “approved” or “rejected”. This sound simple and clean, but it’s not when you have to also have for example a notification workflow running under the library. Say that the workflow is using form state fields (EX: FormStatus, endUserNotified, etc..) that are managed within the InfoPath to notify users, but what happens when the form is resubmitted for approval, or you have to maintain as most of the time multiple approval or rejection cases and scenarios within the workflow, this is when it becomes VERY MESSY.

The moral is: before you start creating a solution make sure that all processes are mapped out and clear, if a form will not have workflows (read processes) running under it, or if those workflows will not update form state information (fields maintaining the state of the form), then it’s OK to manage it from the form only, but in cases when workflows will rely on updating these fields and the form will rely and update this information as well, you can get your self in trouble. Make sure that state info is maintained only in one place, but is accessible from the form as well as from the process, if it will have to be maintained from the process, it should be maintained only from the workflow.

Do not create content types from infopath publishing process, if you did not plan for those content types. Plan for infopath content types as if you were planning for SharePoint originated CTs, remember the Information Architecture 123 in SharePoint Planning Best Practices. It is very easy to create a content type from InfoPath, but it is very difficult to manage it without deleting and recreating it.

Hope it helps

Thursday, January 7, 2010

How Microsoft and FAST are defining Next Generation Advertising and Internet Business

This topic will be covered in our Enterprise Search User Group meeting on January 13, 2010 at 5:30 PM.

First of all HAPPY NEW YEAR! and I hope to see you at the meeting.

How Microsoft and FAST are defining Next Generation Advertising and Internet Business

The FAST AdMomentum Platform (AdMo) is a key piece of Microsoft’s Internet Business strategy in helping companies increase top line revenues and maintain full control over their entire advertising business. AdMo is unique in the market as it is the only solution for the management and serving of all ad types (display, performance, and tenancy), ad formats (image, text, video, multimedia, etc), and pricing models (CPC, CPM, and CPA). AdMo is a complete, white labeled, end-to-end solution that also allows for total flexibility and configuration to meet functional and integration requirements of an organization.

In this session, you'll get a first-hand look at how this game-changing advertising technology offers improved opportunities to provide more relevant ads and targeted message improving the user experience and increasing revenue. The presentation will focus on AdMo as a stand-alone advertising platform and also part of a Internet Business strategy utilizing FAST ESP integrated to drive a larger digital strategy. 


James Cooper, Solution Sales Professional in Advertising for North America in the Microsoft Enterprise Search Group

Tim McKinnon, TSP Lead & Strategic Accounts, Americas in the Microsoft Enterprise Search Group

Register now!

  • Address:
    1290 Avenue of the Americas, Sixth Floor
    New York, NY 10104

Event Sponsor: non~linear creations

See you there :-)