Category Archives: Featured

New SoftArtisans Website Design

So fresh and so clean. The SoftArtisans website got a makeover – nay, an overhaul. The hard work of our designers Christiana and Jon produced a site worthy of praise. No longer hosted on Yahoo!, the site features new and improved navigation, a slick layout and custom graphics in order to create a more user-friendly environment. Gone are the days of the unattractive panel menus and outdated feel. The new layout incorporates a custom slider, more ways to follow and connect with us through social media and a new theme for the blog to match. Before the site’s demise, designer Christiana caught a screenshot so you could view the dramatic change. See below for the before and after shots and let us know your thoughts in the comments section.
Continue reading New SoftArtisans Website Design

Meet the Team: Whitney

Hello and welcome to our Meet the Team series, in which we aim to give you deeper insight into the minds and personalities of those who make up this eclectic, close-knit group. We are developers, marketers, and technical support engineers, and at work we craft everything from Microsoft reporting APIs to mobile email applications. And outside of work? Let’s just say racing against the machine during hackathons, building architecturally sound beer towers during retros, and paddling down the Charles during the warmer months are simply the beginning.

This week we caught up with Support Engineer, Whitney.

1. What do you do?
At SoftArtisans, I’m a developer and I fight with C# all day.  Outside work I have far too many hobbies to fit into my spare time.*

2. What are you listening to right now?
The Decemberists – One Engine .  I swear I liked them before The Hunger Games.  …But probably not before they were cool.

3. When you were 5 what did you want to be and why?
A vet, I think?  I didn’t actually decide to get into CS until I graduated high school and had no choice but to select a major.  For something essentially pulled from a hat, it’s been going rather well.  I also contemplated being a music major for awhile, until I realized that would require practicing.

Continue reading Meet the Team: Whitney

Simple PowerShell Deployment Scripts

Stsadm is the standard for MOSS 2007. Although still available in SP2010, it is deprecated and should not be used. So let’s start with some basics of PS for SP.

  1. One does not simply use PowerShell: The commands are specifically geared for the SharePoint Management Shell. If you open Management Shell as an administrator and type each command in, it’ll work fine. However, when it comes to running scripts there are some issues.
    • You have to load the Microsoft.SharePoint.PowerShell snapin, like so:  “Add-PsSnapin Microsoft.SharePoint.PowerShell”
      • This may give you an error: “The local farm is not accessible.” You need to have your account enabled as a SharePoint Admin (see below)
    • Make sure you’ve set the execution policy. This one is easy, just use the “Set-ExecutionPolicy” command. The possible values are:
      • AllSigned – You can only run trusted signed scripts.
      • RemoteSigned – If the script is downloaded, it must be signed, otherwise just run it.
      • Restricted – This one is self explanatory. No one gets to run scripts. No nobody. Not nohow.
      • Unrestricted – Again, self explanatory. As a very wise English professor once told me, “Unrestricted is the opposite of restricted.” I never forgot that…
  2. You always need root: You have to be an SP administrator in order to run SP commands from PowerShell. You can check your local permissions by:
    • Right clicking on SP Management Shell and running it as an administrator. This will give you access to admin privileges, but if your login isn’t a SP admin, then you can’t do any of this in regular PowerShell.
    • Typing “Get-SpShellAdmin”
    • Looking for your login.
    • If you aren’t on the list, you can use the current Shell to add yourself, like so: “Add-SpShellAdmin -UserName YOUR\UserName”
    • Now you should be able to execute SharePoint scripts in PowerShell.
  3. Remember – All Files .Ps1.: The script has to be saved with extension .ps1.
    • You  shoud save as “All File Types” rather than “*.txt,” otherwise it may not work.
  4. No execadmsvcjobs: That command is no longer available. So timer jobs have to be waited for a little differently.
## Get the solution
$Solution = Get-SPSolution -identity $SolutionFileName
$lastStatus = ""
## loop whilst there is a Job attached to the Solution
while ($Solution.JobExists -eq $True)
{
 $currentStatus = $Solution.JobStatus
	 if ($currentStatus -ne $lastStatus)
	 {
		Write-Host "$currentStatus…" -foreground green -nonewline
		 $lastStatus = $currentStatus
	 }
	 Write-Host "." -foreground green -nonewline
  sleep 1
 }
 ## completed
 Write-Host ""
 Write-Host " "$Solution.LastOperationDetails -foreground green

The Script
I wrote a simple script that prompts for file name, webapp name, and what function you’d like to perform. It is based on the script found on Nik Patel’s SharePoint World blog. The difference between Nik’s and mine is that mine doesn’t check for everything before performing operations. If you choose to use it, you have to be aware that you might get an error; however, it is a very simple version and much easier to use/understand/modify.

#####
# Script to deploy Webparts/Solutions. Does not make use of feature installation
# Kate Mogel 2012
#
# To use:
# Place in folder with WSP file. Open powershell and cd into solution folder
# Run script as admin, refering to local file (e.g. ./DeployScript.ps1)
# Enter full file name (e.g. solution.wsp), web app name, and choose an operation
#####
param(
[string]$solName = "$(Read-Host 'Enter WSP File name ')",
[string]$webName = "$(Read-Host 'Enter WebAppName. i.e. http://SP2010APP ')",
[string]$whichFunct = "$(Read-Host 'Enter IS to install, RS to remove, US to upgrade ')"
)

function main{

 #Check for snapin. Add if not present
 $snapin = Get-PSSnapin | Where-Object {$_.Name -eq 'Microsoft.SharePoint.Powershell'}
 if ($snapin -eq $null)
 {
        Add-PSSnapin Microsoft.SharePoint.Powershell
 }

#Get location
$solLoc = Get-Location 

  #Check the operation
  if($whichFunct -eq "IS")
  {
 	addSol
  }
  if($whichFunct -eq "RS")
  {
      Uninstall-SPSolution -Identity $solName -WebApplication $webName
  }
  if($whichFunct -eq "US")
  {
      Update-SPSolution -Identity $solName -LiteralPath $solLoc\$solName -GACDeployment
  }

}

#Function to add and install solution
function addSol{
	$Sol = Get-SPSolution | where-object {$_.Name -eq $solName}
	if($Sol -eq $null){
	    Add-SPSolution -LiteralPath "$solLoc\$solName" -Confirm:$false
	    Install-SPSolution -Identity $solName -WebApplication $webName -GACDeployment
 	}
}
#Run Main Method
main

Okay. Go deploy your WSP.

Stories from the WIT Trenches: Jen Stirrup

[This is the eighth in a series of posts exploring the personal stories of real women in technology. Every woman in tech overcame, at the very least, statistical odds to be here; this blog series aims to find out why, and what they found along the way. Author of a prestigious BI blog, Jen Stirrup (t|ln), runs a small Business Intelligence company (Copper Blue Consulting) with Allan Mitchell (t|ln) and is an active member of the SQL Server community. If reading her story inspires you to share yours, please email me.]

Meet Jen:

“I have been a SQL Server Most Valuable Professional (MVP) for nearly one year, in the SQL Server discipline. This allows me to connect more deeply with the great minds and kind hearts in the MVP community and at Microsoft. One day, I hope that I won’t be as tongue-tied when I meet the other MVPs that I’ve admired for such a long time!”

1) Can you take us back to your “eureka!” moment—a particular instance or event that got you interested in technology?

When I was eight years old, my Uncle gave us a computer that he’d fixed. It was a little Sinclair ZX81, and I loved it. I learned to program in BASIC, and my love of technology has been with me ever since.

2) Growing up, did you have any preconceived perceptions of the tech world and the kinds of people who lived in it?

My perception of the tech world was shaped by older males in my family, who took the time to involve me in all things electronic and computer-focused. For example, my grandfather was one of the first television engineers, and continued to be impressed and excited by technology until he passed away in his mid-eighties.  One of my great uncles was a spy during the Second World War, and worked to code-break Japanese codes. Their experiences combined to influence me, and continue to do so until this very day.

3) When did you first consider a career in technology? What did you envision doing?

Initially, I wanted to train as a psychologist and I had a specific interest in cognitive psychology. I used my programming skills in order to set up psychological experiments and I found that I preferred it to psychology.

I moved into Artificial Intelligence, moving from my cognitive psychology and programming background. I was fascinated by the algorithms that attempted to further research into human cognitive processes. I still see Artificial Intelligence alive and well, but in a different guise (e.g. search technologies).

4) Did you experience any personal or systemic setbacks at any point of your academic or professional career?

In the first two years of my son’s life, he was critically ill on occasion. At some points, he was given an hour to live. His illness was a constant stress, and I obviously couldn’t work as he recuperated. I’m glad to say that he survived, partially due to his own tenacity and zest for life. I’m very grateful to the doctors and nurses who saved him, despite the odds.

5) Whom do you look at as mentors and/or sources of inspiration in your field?

I am inspired every day by people in the community, particularly the Professional Association of SQL Server (SQLPASS) community. There are a huge number of selfless volunteers who give up their time to create training material, give presentations, and provide help and support to people who are on the path to learning SQL Server.

6) How has your participation in both the on- and offline SQL Server communities changed the way you look at and work with these technologies?

I’ve learned a lot about business benefits and perspectives from interacting with people in the community. Someone might ask a question which seems strange, but when you start to understand the ‘why’ of the question, it becomes clear that there may be a strong business reason for doing something, even if the proposed technical response seems strange.

I’ve met members of the Analysis Services, Excel and Reporting Services teams, and I’m hugely impressed with their dedication and innovation to provide high-quality products and solutions that SMEs can afford.

7) Why do you think the rate of attrition for women in software engineering is higher than that of women in most other tech fields?

I’m not sure if this is the case, cross-culturally. From my own experience, the issue is perceptions about returning to a technical role after maternity leave. Women leave the field for awhile, and then lose confidence to come back to technology since the tech world has moved on so fast. I have to say that, after returning to work after having had my son, women should not lose confidence in coming back to technology after having had a child. Remember most of the guys you work beside are also parents. The technical skills are transferable to newer versions and editions.

8) Do you have any suggestions for how to get more girls interested in computers and computer science? Is this important to you?

I think it is important to show girls that technology can help people. For example, Microsoft uses technology to help girls across the globe, in partnership with UNESCO.

Don’t dismiss girls from technology, at an early age. Teachers need support in the classroom to make sure that girls also get attention and equal education in subjects such as math, computing science and so on.