After I had setup it for a friend of mine, some days ago I decided to take a look to the Drupal open source CMS. As usual, I did not have the time to get in deep with it, but I feel it could be a good platform to develop on, mainly to build clean corporate public web sites (looking for theme developers…). Until I’ll be able to take a sharper look at its potential, I’ll publish my work-in-progress pages on http://drupal.valsania.it. Take it a look… I’ll be glad to read your opinion about Drupal as long as you’ll insert your comments to this post.

Internal WSS migration project has begun

After a long period of deferring, I have finally get the time to start the activities for upgrading my corporate application platform, based on the Windows SharePoint Services, to the latest version from Microsoft.
The first step was to learn about the supported upgrade procedures, on the WSS 3.0 Technical Library. Then I spent some hours to build a SharePoint web farm “cloned” from that which is running on my production systems, to be used for testing all procedures.

As specified on TechNet, I accomplished all the pre-upgrade steps on that development environment, thus operating the simplest approach (in-place upgrade), because my WSS farm has not undergone so many customizations, and I have no strong downtime limits to comply with.
By following a quite simple step-by-step procedure, I was able to see the fist results in a couple of hours: all virtual servers, application pools and site collections were upgraded in a seamless manner by running the SharePoint Products and Technologies Configuration Wizard, after I installed .NET Framework 3.0, SharePoint 3.0 and the new language packs.
A few additional steps were required to finalize the upgrade from the Central Administration web interface.
The only actions I had to do to address some issues:

  • to setup the search service and connect each web application to the new indexer;
  • to reset some .aspx pages customized far in the past with FrontPage (with WSS 3.0 you must use SharePoint Designer to modify pages).

After that, I was able to uninstall the old language packs and WSS 2.0 from my development systems.
One important thing to remember is the large amount of space needed to maintain WSS diagnostic log files: you may need to dedicate a VHD to it, if you want logging.

By any other point of view, the new SharePoint version is somewhat of exciting! I finally get convinced to convince some professional developers to spend the necessary time in trying to extend all the applications I currently use and to build new solution on this wonderful platform. 😉

Windows SharePoint Services 3.0

Finally Microsoft released the new WSS package on November, 13. The new system requirements include the .NET Framework 3.0, Windows Server 2003 SP1 and SQL Server 2000 with SP3 (or later).

Yesterday I had the time to have a first try to this new platform, so I started a new testing website at http://wss.valsania.it/. What I have first noticed is the setup process, dramatically simplified to guide the administrator through the creation of the first WSS webfarm, the search server role assignment, and the whole IIS configuration (virtual sites, application pools, etc.). It is now extremely simple to manage that OS components by using the Application Management site, under the redesigned Central Administration website.
From the user perspective, the new look and feel is simply awesome, tanks to the new Recycle Bin feature (great stuff!), the redesigned Quick Launch, the new “Site Hierarchy”, the Breadcrumbs and “Top Link Bar”. All these components greatly improve the user navigation experience, by reducing the time needed to reach the contents you are looking for.

I have not so much time to spend in testing, but I wish to try at less the migration of site contents from my current WSS 2.0 environment. Hoping to have the time to post further comments about that.

VirtueMart laboratory

Since someone request me an order management solution for a small business, I was looking for a product or technology which could best target the needs with the smaller amount of investment.

The SharePoint solution seems to fit well: first of all, the simple Microsoft Office System interface can be used to easily upload and maintain the whole catalog and moreover, the WSS framework (included by defaul in the Windows Server 2003 license fee) assures the best security, stability and scalability a customer can be ever asked by his/her business.
The fist development lab of the solution founded on the WSS framework can be accessed to this URL http://sharepoint.valsania.it/sites/commerce.

In order to test a product specifically designed to deploy and maintain an E-Commerce solution, I have also deployed a VirtueMart web site (http://commerce.valsania.it), using the same “BSDBOX” which runs the Phoibos hosted WordPress weblogs… try both and say me what you think about! 🙂

WordPress µ

This is the first message posted to my personal weblog, only for testing purposes. This new web space has been activated yesterday to try the multi user version of WordPress, and (beside of some setup troubles) it seems to be quite simple to manage. Some complaints about theme management: not all WP skins worked well also in WPMU. The hosted edition seems to run a bit more slowly than the standard WP, but the overall impression is good.