SharePoint 2010 Installation Error – The specified user is a local account. Local accounts should only be used in stand alone mode.

So, you’re installing the beta (thanks for redefining that one Google…) and you’re trying to do a complete installation on a single server using a non-domain account. (As most have done because we’re using VirtualBox local VMs which are not connected to any domain…) All of a sudden, something most of us can do in our sleep with 2007 now suddenly gets complicated as it requires the use of domain accounts instead of local machine accounts.

Specifically you get something like this: SharePoint Products Configuration Wizard version 14.0.4514.1009. Copyright (C) Microsoft Corporation 2010. All rights reserved.
The specified user NNNNN is a local account.
Local accounts should only be used in stand alone mode.

Well don’t fret as Windows PowerShell is your savior here, as New-SPConfigurationDatabase allows you to specify non domain credentials for the farm.
To execute this command launch the SharePoint 2010 management shell (in the same location as the central admin link), type the New-SPConfigurationDatabase and press enter. It will ask you for stuff such as the database name e.g. “SharePoint2010_Config”, user, password etc. but overall is easy and interactive.

After it has completed you will find your brand new configuration database sitting next to an admin content database. (The fact that the GUID is existent almost feels like punishment.)

Just make sure you have SQL 2008 updated to at least CU2…

Note that often no matter how many CUs you apply to the RTM, if 2010 says it needs SP1, then it will continue to fail. You simply have to install up to SP1 (10.00.2531) and then install the SP1 CUs to roll forward the version to 10.00.2714. So you’re really going to be looking to run SQLServer2008-KB975977-x64.exe

Build numbers are structured like:

  • 1xxx is RTM
  • 2xxx is SP1
  • 3xxx will be SP2

and so on.

Useful reading: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee554869%28office.14%29.aspx

Microsoft WebsiteSpark program: free Web development tools

Microsoft just launched WebsiteSpark, a third program designed to foster development and design, in this case for the web, for three years with no up-front cost if you can meet their requirements. As I mentioned, this is the third “Spark” program out of Redmond. The first two are quite appealing in their own right and I have mentioned them before:

  1. BizSpark helps early-stage startups succeed, by providing Microsoft software, support, and visibility at no cost
  2. DreamSpark gives students professional-level developer and designer tools as well as training available at no charge.

There are, as always, catches. In this case their are two:

  1. The company interested in WebsiteSpark must have fewer than 10 employees and owners that build websites and Web applications on behalf of others.
  2. There is a $100 program offering fee, payable on exit.

If you can meet those two requirements, you’ll get access to the following:

  • Microsoft Web design and development tools, including three licenses of Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 Professional Edition, two licenses of Microsoft Expression Web 3, and one license of Microsoft Expression Studio 3
  • Four processor licenses for production usage to Windows Web Server 2008 or R2 (when available) and four processor licenses for production usage to Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Web Edition
  • A third-party premium Web site control panel (DotNetPanel)
  • Two technical support incidents per company
  • Access to community support through connections with Network Partners, Hosting Partners and peers with complementary services and technologies
  • Unlimited access to technical managed newsgroups on MSDN
  • Unlimited program support for nontechnical issues
  • Your company’s offerings featured in a WebsiteSpark marketplace (coming this fall), supported by Microsoft marketing vehicles

The value of distributed computing: The return of Markov chain Monte Carlo methods

A while back I wrote something on doing Monte Carlo simulations with Web Services and SharePoint. Halfway through I mentioned that Google Pagerank was defined by a Markov chain which in turn was an output of a process called Markov chain Monte Carlo methods. Not that it concerned me but only one person mentioned this, and at that it was a vague mentioning. Huh…

This actually is a big deal. In fact a very big deal. A multi billion dollar deal in fact, as in the case of Google PageRank. Distributed computing has the power to help us solve many things if applied correctly. The “cloud” does not. (A topic for later.) Probably the greatest hurdle in getting people back on track is that this technology has use beyond the scope of most peoples daily lives. For example…

A paper was published in PLoS last week, September 4th 2009, called “Can an Eigenvector Measure Species’ Importance for Coextinctions?” In it the authors state that “PageRank” can be applied to the study of food webs. Food webs are the complex networks of who eats whom in an ecosystem.Typically we’re at the top, unless Hollywood or very bad planning is involved. Essentially, the scientists are saying that their particular version of PageRank could be a simple way of working out which extinctions would lead to ecosystem collapse. A relatively handy thing to have these days… As every species is embedded in a complex network of relationships with others, even a single extinction can rapidly cascade into the loss of seemingly unrelated species. Investigating when this might happen using more conventional methods is complicated as even in simple ecosystems, the number of combinations exceeds the number of atoms in the universe… E.g. a typical lottery which has 8 numbers that can range between 1 and 50 has 39,062,500,000,000 different combinations…

The researchers had to tweak PageRank to it to adapt it for their ecology focused purposes.

“First of all we had to reverse the definition of the algorithm.” “In PageRank, a web page is important if important pages point to it. In our approach a species is important if it points to important species.”

They also tested against algorithms that were already in use in computational biology to find a solution to the same problem. PageRank, in its adjusted form, gave them exactly the same solution as these much more complicated algorithms.

With the right design SharePoint can be an extremely useful, and totally appropriate, interface for accessing and disseminating the inputs and outputs of such an effort. It can store and present this data with all of the requisite benefits one would expect from a collaborative platform. Certainly there’s a world of work involved in doing something like this but the key point is that the right tool for the right job mantra works here. “All” you need is:

  • IIS
  • .NET
  • SharePoint
  • PowerShell
  • Visual Studio
  • SQL
  • Skill

Microsoft Windows Azure July 2009 CTP new features

This download extends Visual Studio to enable the creation, building, debugging, running and packaging of scalable Web applications and services on Windows Azure. A hot topic to say the least.

In case you are not sure what it is: “Windows Azure is the cloud operating system that serves as the development, run-time, and control environment for the Azure Services Platform.”

And you can get the whole marketing blurb here: http://www.microsoft.com/azure/default.mspx

If you are just getting started with the CTP go here Working with Multiple Web and Worker Roles and here Associating an ASP.NET Web Application (including MVC) as a Web Role.

Download it from here: Windows Azure Tools for Microsoft Visual Studio July 2009 CTP

Copy of text from the link page below
=====================================================

Overview


Windows Azure Tools for Microsoft Visual Studio extend Visual Studio 2008 and Visual Studio 2010 Beta 1 to enable the creation, building, debugging, running and packaging of scalable web applications and services on Windows Azure.

Please note that this is a CTP release and should not be used on production systems. Please see the EULA for more details.

New for the July 2009 CTP:

  • Support for developing and deploying services containing multiple web and worker roles. A service may contain zero or more web roles and zero or more worker roles with a minimum of one role of either type.
  • New project creation dialog that supports creating Cloud Services with multiple web and worker roles.
  • Ability to associate any ASP.NET Web Application project in a Cloud Service solution as a Web Role
  • Support for building Cloud Services from TFS Build
  • Enhanced robustness and stability

Windows Azure Tools for Microsoft Visual Studio includes:

  • C# and VB Project Templates for creating a Cloud Service solution
  • Tools to change the Service Role configuration
  • Integrated local development via the Development Fabric and Development Storage services
  • Debugging Cloud Service Roles running in the Development Fabric
  • Building and packaging of Cloud Service Packages
  • Browsing to the Azure Services Developer Portal
  • SSL Certificate selection

System Requirements

  • Supported Operating Systems: Windows 7; Windows Server 2008; Windows Vista

Nifty: Microsoft Business Data Catalog Definition Editor for Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007

Ah Microsoft, you giveth and you taketh.


The Microsoft Business Data Catalog Definition Editor for Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 aka MSBDCDEFMOSS2007 (all me…) is a nifty yet hobbled tool fresh(ish) from Microsoft. In brief its features include:

  • Underlying XML is abstracted by the design surface and properties window
  • Drag and drop web methods, tables, or views to create line of business (LOB) connections.
  • Entities and methods are created automatically from database metadata and WSDLs.
  • Additional method instances can be added to further enhance the database or web service connection.
  • Method instances can be tested from within the tool, enabling incremental development of LOB connections

That said… Here’s the catch. (For now I hope…)
The tool is unusable with SQL Server 2005/2008 schemas… So, you cannot use it against AdventureWorks, BUT you can use it against AdventureWorksDW. If you dare to try, you will be rewarded with a “Could not process Table ‘….’. Also, make sure you have SELECT Rights on the Table/VIEW”.

Helpful links

How solution deployment has changed development with SharePoint technologies

Background:

Anyone who is familiar with development & deployment of custom solutions on SharePoint Portal Server 2003 or Windows SharePoint Services will probably agree when I say there are certain areas lacking in the end to end process.

For example, here is a high level generic step by step process that usually happens:

  1. Spec written (some people seem to think this step is optional)
  2. Developer develops code etc… Usually on a stand-alone, single server SharePoint environment. (I personally use a VPC for all development these days)
  3. Developer packages code into an installer if you are lucky
  4. Testing
  5. Hand off to production people who go and install it on the server(s).

This would normally be really easy right? Well, in SharePoint land there are many areas where “things” need to be done during an installation. Some of these are (but not limited to):

  • Assembly deployment. GAC or BIN
  • Web.config changes. Additions to the safe controls list, CAS security policies,
  • Resource files like images,
  • Dwp files
  • Site definitions (list definitions etc…)

Depending on how your development team packaged these would depend on how much work you had to do to deploy them.

To make matters worse, depending on your physical SharePoint farm you might need to do install steps on each server. This brought in complexity around what servers had what versions at what time etc… A nightmare if you were managing a large farm with many servers.

How we make this better in MOSS and WSSv3:

In MOSS we have a good solution to all of this called the Solution Framework. Here is a little summary about what this is:

“The Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) solution framework provides a way to bundle together all of the components for extending SharePoint in a new file called a solution file (a CAB-based format with a WSP extension). A solution is a deployable, reusable package that can contain a set of features and site definitions, templates, Web Parts, and assemblies that you can apply to a site, and individually enable or disable.” – WSS SDK

Not only this but the Solution Framework takes care of deploying the solution to ALL front end web servers in the farm without the admin having to go to each box to do this manually!

You can:

  • Deploy the Solution package to the farm
  • Retract the Solutions package
  • When a new web server is added, automatically deploy the solution to it
  • Deploy new versions of the Solution

Practical example:

In the system I talked about in “Application Development on MOSS & WSSv3” we are using a Solution package to deploy:

  • A custom Site Definition
  • 6 Feature Definitions (another new MOSS technology) that are:
    • Custom Workflows x2
    • Timer Job
    • Content Type
    • Custom List definition
    • Custom Site Columns definition
  • Web part
    • SafeControls list entry

Note: I won’t talk about Features or how to create them; Todd has a good post on that subject here: http://www.sharepointblogs.com/tbaginski/archive/2006/06/02/8062.aspx

[Updated] This means when we want to deploy this solution to a new farm we simply use the STSADM -addsolution -filename to upload the solution to the farm. Once uploaded you can simply to into the “Solution management” section under the “Operations” tab in the Central Administration Site, and deploy that solution.

Once it is uploaded we can then choose to Deploy that solution.

This gives you options on when you want the deployment to take place and to what web applications. (In the shot above I had an assembly being deployed to the GAC, hence the warning)

Although all this will be/is documented in the WSS SDK, I thought I quickly go over how to make a solution file.

Consists of:

  • A CAB file containing
    • A Manifest.xml file
    • All the files for the Features etc… that make up your solution

Below is a cut down sample XML manifest.xml file for the example I used above (highlighted text is comments):

< ?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8" ?>
< xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/sharepoint/" solutionid="{79d1a62e-3627-11db-963e-00e08161165f}" resetwebserver="TRUE">

<>
< deploymenttarget="GlobalAssemblyCache" location="Foo.Sharepoint.WebpartsFoo.SharePoint.WebParts.dll">
<>
< assembly="Foo.Sharepoint.Webparts, Version=1.0.0.0, Culture=Neutral, PublicKeyToken=63cce650e8605f5d" namespace="Foo.Sharepoint.Webparts" typename="*">
< /SafeControls>
< /Assembly>
< deploymenttarget="GlobalAssemblyCache" location="Foo.Sharepoint.Timer/Foo.Sharepoint.Timer.dll">
< /Assemblies>

<>

< location="Foo.Sharepoint.TimerFeature.xml">

< location="Foo.CustomTypeFeature.xml">

< location="Foo.FooLibraryFeature.xml">

< location="Foo.ColumnsFeature.xml">

< location="Foo.Workflow.ProcessFooFeature.xml">

< location="Foo.Workflow.ProvisionFooFeature.xml">

< /FeatureManifests>

<>
< location="FOO">
< location="1033XMLWEBTEMPFoo.XML">
< /SiteDefinitionManifest>
< /SiteDefinitionManifests>
< /Solution>

Then you package this up along with all your Feature files into a CAB file with a “.wsp” extension. In short each feature goes into a sub-dir in the CAB that matches the path you have in the Manifest.xml file. You can use cabmake.exe to do this, or any other tool you like.

Then you are ready to go and deploy!

Although this is probably a little more work to begin with, your deployment team will thank you for it immensely.

WSRP Toolkit for SharePoint: Aka render SharePoint data natively from BEA AquaLogic Portal, IBM WebSphere Portal, SAP NetWeaver Enterprise Portal etc.

The WSRP Toolkit for SharePoint provides sample code for producing WSRP conformant data from SharePoint lists and libraries. External portal platforms (e.g. BEA AquaLogic Portal, IBM WebSphere Portal, SAP NetWeaver Enterprise Portal etc.) can then render SharePoint data natively through their WSRP consumer portlets. The Toolkit is available now for download from the MSDN Code Gallery.

Specifically it consists of

  1. Visual Studio sample projects that demonstrate two different approaches to producing WSRP conformant output from SharePoint lists and libraries
  2. A whitepaper that provides details on the different architectural approaches of the two WSRP producer samples
  3. Screen casts showing the two WSRP producer samples in action

Of course WSRP is just one of many options available to support portal interoperability and Microsoft continues to invest in open standards for interoperability including XML based web services, CMIS, Office Open XML, RSS and REST. Microsoft is also investing heavily in Silverlight, designed to deliver rich user experiences and applications across multiple platforms. For more details on the SharePoint interoperability story, visit the TechNet Office SharePoint Server Interoperability TechCenter.

Microsoft BizSpark – Starting up Start-Ups

Recently Microsoft announced BizSpark, a new program targetted at start-ups. It gives you access to the latest and greatest versions of SQL, VS, and Microsoft Support for a very good price. Zero dollars. In order to stem abuse there is a need for “sponsorship”. Specifically you need to belong to one of the organizations listed during signup. Other than that requirement it is a suprisingly easy process. Once in you get for three free, yes 3 and free, years:

Software

  • All the software included in the Visual Studio Team System Team Suite (VSTS) with MSDN Premium subscription Expression Studio (Version 2), plus VSTS Team Foundation Server Standard Edition – for the entire development team
  • Production license use rights, to deploy, host and support Startup’s “software as a service” applications for delivery over the Internet, using the following products: Windows Server (all versions), SQL Server (all versions), BizTalk Server, and Office SharePoint Server for hosting; and Systems Center for managing hosting server operations.

Support

  • Guidance, resources and mentoring provided by Network Partners, active members of the global software ecosystem who are qualified to provide support and advice to Startups
  • Access to MSDN Premium: managed newsgroups, online library, online concierge, etc.
  • Two technical support Incidents per Startup

Visibility

  • Each BizSpark Startup will have the opportunity to profile their company in the BizSparkDB, an online Startup directory, hosted on the Microsoft Startup Zone web site. Startups will get exposure to potential investors, partners and customers around the world.
  • Opportunity to be highlighted on the BizSparkDB as a featured company and be promoted as BizSpark Company of the Week on the Microsoft Startup Zone website.

    How to qualify?
    If you meet these three simple criteria, you can sign-up today:

  • Actively engaged in development of a software-based product or service that will form a core piece of its current or intended business[1],
  • Privately held, and in business for less than 3 years[2], and
  • Less than US $1 million in annual revenue[3].

To get in follow these steps:

1) Go to http://www.microsoft.com/bizspark/ and click “Join BizSpark now!”

2) Sign in with your Live ID or create a new Live ID

3) Click the “I Accept” check boxes, and enter your enrollment code (If you don’t already have a sponsor, contact Bill and he’ll help you get started! Btw, that’s where these steps came from!!!)

4) Provide some basic information about your start-up

5) Identify your primary contact

6) You’re done!!! Now you can manage your BizSpark account from here. Note your BizSpark Subscription ID, one of the things you’ll want to do next is activate your MSDN subscription using this ID. You’ll need to do this in order to start downloading the software.

7) To activate your MSDN subscription, visit https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/subscriptions/add/default.aspx and enter your name, email and the BizSpark subscription ID from the previous page, click the “I acknowledge and accept” checkbox and submit ‘OK’. (Note, it may take 4-6 hours for your MSDN subscription to become available after signing up for your BizSpark account. If MSDN doesn’t find your subscription, check back later.

8) Once you’re up and running you may want to find a Windows hoster who can work with you and your production use licenses to offer your low-cost, discounted hosting services. Through the BizSpark Start-up page you can click the “Manage Hoster Relationship” and find hosters in your country which are part of the program.

Oxite on Codeplex

http://www.codeplex.com/oxite

The team behind Microsoft’s Channel 8/9/10 developer sites has released a new blog/CMS engine named Oxite to Codeplex. Oxite was originally developed for the company’s MIX Online site and, as one might expect, it uses the typical Windows stack of ASP.NET, ASP.NET MVC, and SQL Server. Citing a lack of large-scale ASP.NET MVC samples, Redmond has published the core code under its OSI-approved, permissive open source license, Ms-PL, giving any developer the right to incorporate Oxite into their own blogging or CMS software.