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Thank you to everyone who attended my webcast on The Evolution of Web Content Management in the 2007 version of Microsoft Office yesterday. If you didn’t attend, you missed out as everyone walked away a winner with a brand new iPod Nano! OK, just kidding.

The webcast is now available for viewing either streaming from the Live Meeting site OR for download for offline viewing. Use the following links to either view the webcast OR to download my slide deck:

Webcast Site References (sites I mentioned during the webcast):

Blog References (webcast references within this blog):

Webcast Correction:I need to make a correction on one of my slides. The slide that had the terminology changes (#11: “WCM in MOSS 2007: Changes from MCMS 2002 (2 of 2)”), the table stated a Placeholder was equivalent to a Field Control. This isn’t entirely correct, it should be Placeholder Control = Field Control & Placeholder Definition = Column Template. Thanks Stefan Goßner for pointing this out.

Before I move onto the questions that I wasn’t able to answer, there are a few topics that I mentioned were beyond the scope of this webcast, but they are significant within WCM and I feel you really need to hear to get more of the big picture on WCM:

  • Variations: WCM has the ability to host multi-lingual sites… it does this with variations. What you do is select a source site for a variation (like the English [EN] site), and then link it to one or more target sites… each of these target sites would be a different language, like drench, Spanish, German, Chinese, etc.. Changes you make to the source site will automatically appear in each target site. *Variations only work for the pages library; they are not designed to work with SharePoint lists or list items. They are also only designed to work with publishing sites; other sites such as team sites and document workspaces can’t participate in the propagation process.
  • Mobile UI: Everything in SharePoint has a mobile interface exposed. So, how would you get to the mobile version of the site? In my webcast, I referenced the site http://wcm1/PressReleases. Well, to view the mobile version, just tack on “/m” to the URL: http://wcm1/PressReleases/m.
  • Extensibility: I touched on a few areas where you can modify how some WCM menus work OOTB. Microsoft has made it very easy to add buttons to the Page Edit Toolbar and the HTML Editor for field controls using a small XML file that specifies new buttons, new actions, and the assembly containing any special code for your actions.
  • SharePoint Designer: this is the new version of FrontPage 2003, but don’t think of it as just a new name. Think of it more along the lines as the SharePoint IDE. You will use SPD to create new master pages & page layouts, as well as modify existing ones. Visual Studio isn’t lost in this… you’ll still use it for doing things that require a build (like code behind files, Web Parts, custom Field Controls, some workflows (see next bullet for more info on this).
  • Custom Workflow Creation: In the talk I said you could use Visual Studio 2005 or SharePoint Designer 2007 (SPD) to create custom workflows in WCM. So, when would you use one and not the other? Think of SharePoint Designer as a “lite” version of a workflow authoring IDE. You’d need Visual Studio to do the following:
    • When you need Step-by-step debugging
    • When you need a code behind file to write custom code to express business logic
    • When you want to develop the workflow as a template and use it across multiple lists (SPD built workflows are tied to a specific list at design time)
    • When you want to built state workflows (SPD can only do sequential workflows)
    • When you want to create custom activities for use in your workflow (SPD only allows you to use the workflows provided)
  • Solutions: this is a new concept. Basically, a solution (not a VS.NET *.sln file) is used to deploy stuff around SharePoint. So if you have a new page layout with an associated DLL, you package it up in a solution and deploy it to the server. I guess you could think of it like a CMS SDO object that also had the capability to contain the VS.Net project containing your ASP.NET templates.

Post Webcast Question/Answer:During the presentation there were a handful of questions that I didn’t have time to answer and I said I’d address those here (a few came in via email as well… these are included in the list below):

Q: Roadmap? When is this available? What about a public beta?A: Currently WCM, and the entire 2007 Microsoft Office System (clients & server applications) are at the Beta 1 Tech Refresh milestone which is a private beta. Beta 2 is a public beta and will be available in the second quarter of this year. RTM is scheduled for the fourth quarter of this year to volume license customers. It will be widely available in the first quarter of next year (2007).

Q: What’s the developer experience going to be like for debugging Field Controls?A: I’d expect it to be very similar to developing custom placeholders today in CMS 2002 or WSS v2 Web Parts in today’s SharePoint: You’d develop your component within VS.NET, build the solution, and then manually attach the debugger to the web process.

Q: I am also wondering, will there be a method to programmatically set field values and other page content (i.e. if field "a" has a specific value then show field "b")?  As far as I have seen so far there is no code behind or in-front allowed for page layouts so any existing applications built on top of current CMS will not be possible in the next version.A: I assume it will work in very much the same way it works in today's CMS. Yes, you can create code behinds that the page layouts reference and compile those into DLL's, the same way you do with any ASP.NET 2.0 page. While the ASPX page will reside within the master page gallery, the DLL will likely reside in the bin directory of the web application.One thing I didn't cover in the next version of SharePoint is a new concept called "solutions". Basically, a solution (not a VS.NET *.sln file) is used to deploy stuff around SharePoint. So if you have a new page layout with an associated DLL, you package it up in a solution and deploy it to the server. I guess you could think of it like a CMS SDO object that also had the capability to contain the VS.Net project containing your ASP.NET templates.  I assume this is how you'll get new ones into the site.

Q: I do not like losing the PAPI… At all..  But, if there are ways to accomplish the same goals, I'll live with it. My question is 'what will programmatic access of fields look like in '07?A: Sure! Remember, Field Controls reference fields defined within a content type. The Field Controls live within a page… this page is stored within the Pages library & each page in the Pages library is a separate list item. Each of these list items contains fields similar to how a database table contains columns. The Field Control’s contents will be stored within one of these fields. So, to access the Field Control’s contents, you simply use the WSS object model (OM) to get a reference to the current site, then the Pages library, then the ListItem corresponding to the desired page, and finally the field you’re looking for. I guess I could have said “well, the pages are stored in a list, so just reference the WSS OM on how to access a field within a ListItem within a WSS List.”

Q: The existing Sharepoint Services 2 default site templates do not provide security role dynamic modifications to the site presentation. For example a reader can go into a discussion group and create a reply to a discussion and does not receive feedback that replying is not valid until the messages is types and the reader tries to save his comments. Has this been changed?A: If I understand your question correctly, you’re talking about security trimming. In other words, users could see things they didn’t have access to, but weren’t notified until AFTER they tried to submit it. The answer is YES, WSS now has security trimming: if you can’t do it, you don’t see it. Read this recent post on the SharePoint Team Blog for more information on “Security Highlights”, specifically refer to #5 in the post.

Q: Are the styles available in the drop-down for the HTML Editor editable / addable?A: Yes... this is very extensible.

Q: Which tool is used to create page layouts, SharePoint Designer or Visual Studio 2005?A: SharePoint Designer 2007.

Q: Can the 'Pages' doclib be called something else?A: They can be called whatever you want to call them... just rename the library.

Q: I am new to MCMS. Is this MOSS to be the same as Sharepoint Portal Server? Or different? Is WCM the same as MOSS or just a subset?A: MOSS is the next version of Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (there's no SPS anymore). MOSS includes WCM, portals, shared service providers, more robust search, Excel services (spreadsheets on the web), Forms server (web-based InfoPath Forms), etc... WCM is part of Enterprise Content Management (ECM), a larger strategy including records management and things like SOX, JSOX, and HIPPA compliance.

Q: Do the Field Controls render text WYSIWYG for CSS? Also, is text copied from MS Word stripped of MSO styles?A: Yes, & on the second question, something I couldn't show was the ability to set rules on your field controls. Say, for example, I say "nothing but my CSS classes" and I paste from Word, yielding "MOS-*" classes, when I click OK to save my content, I'd get an error with an option to "auto clean" my content. So I'd say YES, it will help you manage that problem with Word.

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