Should you be upgrading from SharePoint 2003 to 2007 or 2010, you may need to consider how to handle any customisation you have implemented on your current site.
There are a three options that are available for consideration:
- Keep the customisations.
- Replace the customisations.
- Redo the customisations.
The first option is to keep the customisations in place, which will allow you to keep the same look and feel as the current system, however you would not be able to take advantage of any new capabilities at this stage. If this is the option that would best suit you, there are three options; complete an in-place upgrade, do a gradual upgrade and keep the site in the previous version environment (do not upgrade the site) or you can do a gradual upgrade and upgrade the site , but don’t reset any pages to the site definition.
The second option to replace the customisation is a good option if you are planning on a complete site redesign or significantly changing the information architecture. You can accomplish this is one of two ways; one is to complete an in-place or gradual upgrade and then reset all the pages to the default pages from the site definition. The other way, if you do not need the structure or content is to start a complete fresh.
The final option is to redo the customisation. This method allows you to take advantage of the new capabilities and modify the design slightly if that is required and make it more manageable. You could take advantages of the new master pages to apply your design, rather than customise each individual page. There are three ways to redo the customisations. The first is to complete an in-place or gradual upgrade and do not reset the pages to the site definition version. After the upgrade, modify the appropriate master pages and page layouts of the upgraded site to take on the previous version’s look and feel, and then reattach the page layouts to all customised pages. The next option is to complete an in-place upgrade and do not reset the pages to the site definition. After the upgrade, open the site and copy the customisations, and then reattach the page layouts and reapply your customisations to the master pages and page layouts as appropriate. The final way to complete this method is to complete a gradual upgrade and, in the upgraded site, reattach the page layouts. Then transfer the customisations from your original site to the master pages and page layouts in the upgraded site by using Office SharePoint Designer.
The full article can be found at: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-gb/library/cc263203(office.12).aspx
In an article by Ed Bott, who attended the Office 365 Launch Conference, asked a few questions at the launch, one of which stood out to me. He asked about the development roadmap of the system and in particular SharePoint Online. As it stands SharePoint Online does not have the same feature set as the standalone on premise version (SharePoint Server 2010). John Betz (Microsoft’s Director of Online Services) is quoted as saying that Office 365 will be updated every 90 days, and that their ultimate goal is for SharePoint Online to have the same feature set as SharePoint Server 2010.
For more details check the article at: http://www.zdnet.com/blog/bott/office-365-three-questions-for-small-businesses/3503?tag=search-results-rivers
Single Sign On is a really useful tool to save users having multiple usernames and passwords and enables them to use their corporate login details for other services. Single Sign On is not available with the Small Business version of Office 365, but is available with Enterprise versions. Single Sign On has many benefits, including, policy control, access control, reduced support calls, security and support for strong authentication.
To use single sign on you must:
- Have active directory deployed and running Windows Server 2003, 2008 or 2008 R2.
- Install all required updates for Office 365 from Microsoft.
- Use the Microsoft Online Services Module for Windows Powershell to establish a trust with Office 365.
- Plan for and deploy AD FS 2.0 on Windows Server 2008 or 2008 R2.
The full article for preparing Office 365 and Single Sign On can be found here: http://onlinehelp.microsoft.com/en-us/Office365-enterprises/ff652540.aspx
Another more in depth article can be found here: http://onlinehelp.microsoft.com/en-us/office365-enterprises/ff652539.aspx
Microsoft Office 365 comes with an external customer facing website for the users. This is a prebuilt website using a prebuilt master page and CSS file. Office 365 gives the users the ability to easily update the website directly from the 365 Team Site, using the inbuilt tools provided. The user has the ability to add/remove pages, edit content and insert gadgets. Gadgets can be a useful tool to the developer, it allows certain useful objects to be inserted into the site without any programming knowledge at all, for example, the user can add an interactive map into their site, giving the consumer directions on how to reach their store, the user can also add a ‘contact us’ form into the site which will send an email direct to whoever deals with consumer questions. This is not the extent of the site customization.
We have found that many websites reviewing Office 365 have had an issue in the web development side of things, claiming that there are very few ways a user can customize their site. They say that a user is not able to edit the the HTML of the site, however, I have found this a fairly simple thing to accomplish. An external web .ASPX page can be taken from Microsoft Workspace 2010 and opened in Sharepoint designer. From here I have easily been able to add new content into the website in HTML form, for example, I inserted the Database that I created the previous day into the site using an iframe, this was fairly easy and it looked very appealing. Unfortunately, their issues with the web development area aren’t completely unfounded. When editing the external page, I realised I needed to alter the master page file, after sometime it became clear that it was hidden from the user. This meant that I was not able to edit the entire look of the page at all. Although there is a way to work around this, the user can create another master page from scratch and upload this onto the server and direct the site pages to this master page rather than its original master page.
This custimazation allows the developer create the customer facing site, making it look however they want and not just an extension of Sharepoint and Office 365.
Office 365 integration with the Office desktop apps appear to be quite useful and impressive, however, there are still some problems with it. One flaw we found was with the compatibility between web and desktop apps. I found my self rather annoyed that after creating a mock payrole Excel spreadsheet and uploading it to SharePoint Online, it could not be viewed on the 365 website, this was because the desktop appwas not fully compatible with the web app. There are certain features that the desktop app has which the web app cannot use, in the spreadsheet that I created I used validation fields in some cells, this feature was not supported int eh web app there for not accessible on 365. Granted the file can still be opened from the Cloud on the desktop app but the user might not always have Microsoft Excel installed on their machine. Although not fully explored this is true for other Office desktop features. I find this to be a huge flaw in Office 365 and I would hope that this is sorted out for the release version.