It’s not too late! Attend SP24 – The free 24h worldwide SharePoint conference!

16 Apr
April 16, 2014

This is a last minute call for SP24 – The free 24h worldwide SharePoint conference – the free 24h worldwide SharePoint conference starts today/tomorrow and I am presenting!

STARTING TODAY

Register for FREE now (it is not too late) and skip lunch, breakfast – or what every you are doing and be part of the great community event! 1 month ago you had to pay at least $1,500.00 to see some of the speakers – again SP24 is free!

FACTS FACTS FACTS!

  • SP24 lasts for 24 hours and will follow the sun from New Zealand to Hawaii.  It will begin on April, 16th 2014 at 10 pm GMT and will end 24 hours later.
  • SP24 will feature speakers that are voted for by the community (Note: some slots are already reserved for experienced speakers and world-renowned SharePoint experts) – you can see the agenda here.
  • SP24 sessions will be hosted live and you will have the possibility to interact with the speaker and other attendees through integrated chat.
  • SP24 has 2 tracks, one to appeal to Business Users and one for Technical Users such as developers and administrators.
  • SP24 is going to be held entirely on-line.
  • SP24 is completely FREE!

My Session: Search-First Migration for SharePoint 2013 – Benefits / Disadvantages

I was lucky enough to grab a session – you can watch the teaser here for it:

Official Start:
GMT time: 17.04.2014 11:00 AM GMT
German time: 17.04.2014 01:00 PM CEST

I will be in the chat during my session and answer question!

So, who stays up the whole time?

Download all SPC14 session slides (simple solution)

12 Mar
March 12, 2014

Attended SPC14 in Las Vegas and want to download all slides? Here we go with a really simple solution – it only takes some times and roughly 100 clicks. Kudos to Sahil Malik for the script.

6 easy steps to download all SPC14 session slides

1. Open SPC14 Yammer: https://www.yammer.com/sharepointconference/groups/company/uploaded_files

2. Filter on Documents:

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Filter on Documents to remove unwanted files

3. Scroll down and click on “More” until all elements are visible:

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Scroll down and click on more – repeat until all files are visible.

4. Open Developer Tools (F12)

5. Paste in this script and execute:

Execute script to download all session slides

Execute script to download all session slides

If there is a popup warning allow them always and rerun the script.
_2014-03-12_10-40-06

6. Click on save until all files are downloaded.

Slides Slides Slides!

Slides Slides Slides!

Other options

I tried to create a console application to authenticate and download files – but that was so much pain that I went for the not so comfortable JavaScript variant. If you have improvements to this – leave a comment!

SPC14: My Summary

09 Mar
March 9, 2014

Here is my summary of the SharePoint Conference 2014 in Las Vegas (3/3/2014 to 3/6/2014) – if you don’t want to ready everything: It was really good!

Highlights

The Main Keynote was perfectly delivered – I did not notice a single glitch. Even the talk of President Bill Clinton was quite good, even though that he did not mention SharePoint with a single word.

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The introduction of Project OSLO – for me as a Search guy was a really pleasant surprise – in my opinion the end users will like it because of its simplicity and you will get the relevant documents, not just everything.

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My “wow” moment was when the presenter showed the OSLO app and then switched back to the SharePoint document library containing a couple hundred of documents and folders – you don’t want everything, right?

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Sessions

I always try to take notes and summarize every session for me on my blog – sometimes it’s a “fast publish” and contains not that much information, but I hope the gist is understandable. If not, feel free to comment or wait 30 days until the recordings are published on Channel 9.

I did not miss one single session – but the schedule was so full, sometime I had 5 sessions in parallel and had to choose just one of them. That’s the problem when you are interested in very broad area (ITPRO; DEV; Search). Additionally there was not that much room for me to explore the exhibit hall – but that’s not something I really miss.

In the case you want to read it – I created 19 posts for the conference:

  1. Migrating traditional SharePoint Solutions to App Model (PreConference Part 1)
  2. Refactoring Business Solutions into Apps for Office (PreConference Part 2)
  3. Keynote (Main Keynote with President Bill Clinton)
  4. What’s new for Office and SharePoint Developers (Developer Keynote)
  5. Introducing Codename Oslo and the Office Graph (read this – good stuff!)
  6. SharePoint 2013 hybrid end-to-end (Hybrid architecture is the new thing!)
  7. Real-world SharePoint architecture decisions (Wictor Wilén – that’s a must)
  8. Complex Problem Solving with the new HTML5 APIs (once my clients have new browsers I will profit from this session)
  9. Search-driven publishing for Intranet Portals in SharePoint Online (new Search Features in O365)
  10. Developing future-focused, on-premises solutions (Develop outside SharePoint than you are set for SP2013 / SP vNext / O365)
  11. Best practices for Hybrid Search deployments (Hybrid for Search in all details)
  12. Designing and applying information architecture for SharePoint and Office 365 (one of my not so technical sessions – liked it!)
  13. Build your own REST service with WebAPI 2 (nice and simple – will use it in my next App)
  14. Best practices for Information Architecture and Enterprise Search (Agnes again – good advice in this session)
  15. Futuristic Search applications using Kinect and Yammer! (that was a fun one – you have to watch the recoding once its live)
  16. Search architecture and sizing in SharePoint 2013 (that session was too short – I wanted this one to be for like 4 hours – high value for me)
  17. Effective Search deployment and operations in SharePoint 2013 (neat little tricks and some insights in this session)
  18. Managing Search Relevance in SharePoint 2013 and O365 (new Search Query Tool was announced in there – go get it!)

Additionally to the sessions, the concluding Q&A part was really worth to follow – the questions that were raised there were sometimes really challenging – and the responses of the speaker were good to know.

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Ask the Experts was a great opportunity to meet the experts and members of the SharePoint product team – I asked some special questions and received some free advice – good stuff! I have never seen so many SharePoint Experts in one place – impressive!

Community

That was the part that was amazing for me – I met so many people I know only via Twitter, from SharePoint StackOverflow or from contributing to Open Source projects like SharePoint 2013 Search Query Tool. Connecting with others, facing the same problems challenges was really worth to attend – lets keep in touch!

But – there were too many of them – even on the last day I met “new” attendees, I could have promised that they were not at the conference at all.

The Venetian

Is the Venetian a hotel? That place was huge! The session rooms were great, friendly staff to help you where to find the rooms – and coffee, drinks, snacks the whole time – really a perfect managed event.

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Pre-Conference room

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Floor in the Venetian

Las Vegas

Pictures are worth a hundred words – Las Vegas was really special:

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Water show in front of the Bellagio

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Metalogix “Best of Breed” Party – that was a good one.

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Fake daylight – this really affects your mood.

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Las Vegas View

Wish List for SPC2015

There is not much to change for SPC2015 – basically it boils down to three things:

  1. More options to charge my batteries – I really had problems creating my session notes after 4 hours because the session were so dense that there was not enough time to recharge my notebook.
  2. The Level 300/400 sessions most of the time started with basic stuff – I wanted it to go deeper, but for this you need time. Spending 15-30 min on basics is not the way to go. Maybe an increased “deep dive” sessions with 2 hours would be something.
  3. I want attend again – maybe as speaker, lets see how the next year goes.

Closing notes

I really liked the event – from crazy Las Vegas to sessions – it was the best SharePoint event I ever attended. That’s something!

SPC14: Managing Search Relevance in SharePoint 2013 and O365

06 Mar
March 6, 2014

Improve the value of search results by managing Relevance. SharePoint 2013 and O365 provide a comprehensive set of tools to manage Search Relevance. SharePoint 2013 and O365 combine and improve upon the best tools available for Fast Search and SharePoint 2010, and introduce the notion of Query Rules that allow administrators to influence relevance for a single query or sets of queries using a straightforward user interface. In this talk, we will explain how ranking works under the hood, and give hands on demonstrations of how to use query rules, result sources, XRANK, federation to external search providers, and use the rank tuning tool to improve relevance and the value of your search solutions. We will explain the Relevance Lifecycle, the iterative process of finding problem queries and fixing them that is essential to optimizing relevance, and discuss which tools are most appropriate for various situations.

My notes for “Managing Search Relevance in SharePoint 2013 and O365” by David Louis Hollembaek and Mikael Svenson.at SharePoint Conference 2014 in Las Vegas.

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15 years of search experience on stage

The Problem

Standard search results lack personal relevancy and the result presentation is not that good – this can be done better.

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The Plan

What can you adjust? Query? Content? Ranking? User Interface? You can adjust everything.

Goals? What do you want to achieve? Set targets.
Golden set: Create a reference set that is optimized and show that to end users. This motivates users to increase the quality – this was also part of the IA Best Practices session.

Relevancy cycle

Establish a relevancy cycle to adjust the ranking and gather feedback how that worked. Then plan what to adjust, gather feedback and improve.

New Tools

Query Rules: reformate/transform query
Dynamic Ranking Rules: reorder the result ranking
Rank Model Tuning App: a new tool by Mikael
Custom Rank Model: not covered in this session – there is some Technet articles out there.

Capturing Intent: done with Query Rules.

Demo 1: add a result block
Demo 2: add user context / segments to query rule

Search Query Tool v2

New functionalities where added in v2: XRANK freshness generator (new documents are ranked higher than older documents):

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Explain Rank feature (why is this result ranked like this)

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and much more. I contributed to the project – there was much more added, go try it and provide feedback!

It is a very essential tool when you do something search related – for ITPRO and DEVS.

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Download is free – go grab it here.

Ranking App for O365

Mikael showed us the ranking app for O365 that was released in January – wow, good stuff. To modify the ranking in O365 you add the app to your tenant, then you need to add 11 search query and manually rank the results – than the magic happens. It autotunes the ranking set based on your feedback and this could result in a better relevancy for your users. It is O365 only so far – but there will be an on-prem version “later”. Really an interesting approach –  I would love to see that in the general search results – you don’t like your results, please down/up-vote them – that would cool.

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Summary

Search was my expectation – Search was delivered. Solid presentation, good slides – I am happy with that. Roughly 400 people attended in the very last session, there is a demand for that. Very good message they transported – very good one!

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SPC14: Effective Search deployment and operations in SharePoint 2013

06 Mar
March 6, 2014

SharePoint 2013 introduces a new and highly flexible search topology. This gives more flexibility on how to scale a system, and allows search to tackle demanding requirements for query and indexing performance. In this session we will take you through the deployment of a multi-node search installation, provide best practices for common operational procedures, and give you tips and tricks on how to keep your search system healthy.

My session notes for “Effective Search deployment and operations in SharePoint 2013” by Kristopher Loranger and Mert Sangar at SharePoint Conference 2014 in Las Vegas:

Search Architecture

Mert showed a comparison how the architecture of search changed from SharePoint 2010 and FAST Search for SharePoint to SharePoint 2013 – good overview.

Bug: October CU 2013 has an issue that when you have a very long Search Service Application name – things break.

High Availability

Search is FAST Search now – they implemented the high availability concept of FAST.

Set up your initial search topology

Best to do it in PowerShell – I have a sample script here, there is a better one on MSDN by Brian Pendergrass.

Its not supported that you change the index location after provisioning,

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I need to clarify that quote – I thought it is supported when you migrate to a new topology where the index is in the new location.

During a repartitioning the search query application is paused, no search results during that time – and I experienced it can take very long!

Recommendation: symmetric index layout.

Demo: Setup up multi-node deployment

Kristopher showed the script in action – nice

Deployment Options for Large Enterprise

  1. Central Search Farm: better relevancy, lower maintaining costs, better end-user experience
  2. Distributed: Search index on each farm, federated results as result blocks
  3. Hybrid: On-prem and O365 – federation, stepwise migration of the cloud

Keep your Search Topology Healthy

Search Diagnostics are available through the UI or with PowerShell (Get-SPEnterpriseSearchStatus) – there is a helper script that renders the results nicely.

Search Reports: Performance, Zero-Result queries, etc.

Monitoring: SCOM and ULS

The yellow state in the UI means its degraded and (might) recover, red means hardware or configuration problems. Use powershell cmdlet to get more information.

Kristopher showed some nice tricks how to get insights out of the many search reports – need to rewatch the video afterwards to internalized this for me.

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Daily/Weekly tasks

Admins: check search topology, monitor performance, health, # documents per partition
Business users: create best bets and query rules, check zero results and abandoned query.

Patch and updates

Its recommended to install March PU and at least October 2013 CU. Many changes that regarding to scale.

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High Availability

Kristopher showed the concepts behind search high availability (great stuff) and how to replace a failed node in a search installation. Apparently the demo failed, but they prepared a video so all was good.

Summary

Most of the stuff I knew already – but the devil is in the detail, right? Kristopher and Mert did a nice presentation, very valuable presentation to me! Q&A afterwards was great, too.

SPC14: Search architecture and sizing in SharePoint 2013

06 Mar
March 6, 2014

In this session we will dig into the new architecture for Search in SharePoint 2013. We will cover all architectural components, plus discuss the differences between the 2013 release versus FAST Search and search in SharePoint 2010. Microsoft has updated topology models for different sized deployments. This will be presented along with sizing and scaling data for both physical and virtual machines – actionable data you can use to assess and use during your planning phase. We will also cover planning for high availability, backup/restore, and migration.

Here are my session notes for “Search architecture and sizing in SharePoint 2013” by Barry Waldbaum and Thomas Molbach.

Search Architecture

Thomas briefly explained the Search Architecture – nothing new here for me, its very well documented on Technet.

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Scaling

SharePoint 2013 Search scales pretty well –. I tried it in a project and it works.

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Web Front-End

Display Template, Query Rules – quite a lot happens on the web frontend.

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Analytics

With the analytics service you can do very great things because it provides the insights behind the “Trends” in SharePoint. It even provides a view counter.

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Search Query Tool

Thomas showed some nice tricks with the awesome Search Query Tool. There is a property called recommendedfor that accepts a url and shows what other items are recommended for the given url. Then he filtered on ViewsRecent to show the elements that were recently clicked on.

More about the tool will be announced tomorrow by Mikael Svenson (blog).

Sizing

Benchmark the VMs to verify that you get the performance they IT department promised you

Scaling from small 10M to 40M:

Average document size is 250KB

I use that as a rule of thumb, too – but it has constraints.

SharePoint 2010 had Single Point of Failures – SharePoint 2013 does not have this anymore

Large Topology: 100M Enterprise

24 Servers – phew.

October 2013 Cumulative Update

High Density Indexing: 4 Index Partitions per Node – this cut the amount of server requirements in half (less licenses!) but you have to scale up your hardware.

Q: Why only 10M items in one index?

A: Higher amount: Backup takes longer, Response time gets worse

Analytics: Scale-up, otherwise it eats more network.

That was incredible – I had to stop taking notes, really dense information delivery :)

Backup and Restore

Robust backup, no Query Downtime during backup – it is even supported to restore QA backup on PROD (same topology).

Migration

Re-Implement

Create everything from scratch.

Search First Migration

Publish Search Service Application – done that, works great.

Migrate from SharePoint 2010

Attach the Search Service Application Database

Migrate from Fast Search For SharePoint 2010

Backup/Restore Database – PowerShell script to to some work.

Summary

Apparently 50% of the session was not in the description – I expected more Sizing and Architecture and was close to leave the audience. Then the good part with the sizing started and provided really good value to me. WOW – had a blast! The changes that happened in October 2013 CU/SP1 for search are really incredible. Additionally, I waited in the queue because there were so many questions – and learned even more. Great stuff. Did I say it was great yet?

SPC14: Futuristic Search applications using Kinect and Yammer!

05 Mar
March 5, 2014

Use your body and voice to search SharePoint and Yammer. Learn how you can utilize SharePoint 2013 Search to index your Enterprise Yammer content on-premises in addition to your regular SharePoint content, then use futuristic UI design and Natural User Interface (NUI) features of the latest Kinect SDK and Kinect Sensors for Windows to build rich NUI and voice controlled search applications. It’s possible. It’s cool and a little crazy – much to be learned. And not a keystroke will be wasted.

My notes for the session: “Futuristic Search applications using Kinect and Yammer!” by Chris Givens and and Ben Lower at SPC 2014 In Las Vegas.

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Yammer Search

Yammer offers a search rest endpoint but its not used for this – you need Enterprise Yammer to export data, that’s how Chris did it.

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On-Premise Integration

To integrate the extracted data you need a BCS connector to get the data into the search index.

  1. Connector (reading the data)
  2. Result Types / Content Source (connect it to the search service application)
  3. Display Templates (make it look nice)

Dang – this demo took a while to create – and we only saw 50% so far.

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Kinect Basics

Ben explained the basics of Kinect – wow, impressive. Natural User Interface, User Engagement – its crazy what is possible with the little box. Relate this to SharePoint and you would need 7 servers Smiley

Kinect can detect when your cat jumps on the couch and can yell “hell no!” in the owners voice!

SDK is available for free – grab it and do amazing stuff.

Kinect can listen and speaking – and so much more. Ben showed a demo application – simply impressive.

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Minority Report Demo

Creating this demo took him 5 weeks – applause for that!

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Natural language searching

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Grabbing and moving stuff with your hand

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I don’t have a good photo, but Chris said “Search Chris” and his app connected to SharePoint search and read out the yammer search results – very slick one!

Summary

I am a search guy, so this session was a must for me: Fun, search and new technology – very good mix, I like it a lot. Especially that you connect technologies that are not related and get something out of it is really cool. Minority Report Technology for Consumers connected to SharePoint, epic.

Asking a question got me this book – thanks for that, I had a blast.

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SPC14: Best practices for Information Architecture and Enterprise Search

05 Mar
March 5, 2014

Information Architecture (IA) for a large organization is often as complex as a twisting labyrinth. In this session, we will explain, and demonstrate, why a good IA design is important for search and also provide best practices on how to plan, maintain and govern. We will also demonstrate how search provides the building blocks (entity extraction, metadata processing, etc..) for improving knowledge management and discovery scenarios for people and content.

Session “Best practices for Information Architecture and Enterprise Search” by Agnes Molnar at SharePoint Conference 2014 in Las Vegas.

Another session by Agnes – really looked forward to this session, here are my notes.

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Information Overload

Getting information off the Internet is like taking a drink from a fire hydrant – Mitchell Kapor

Everything is connected – we get much more information than we can process, example 63000 words on average we read today – in relation an average size of an amazon book is ~64000 words, so we read a book a day.

And “social” does not make this any better – it gets “worse” because you get more information.

Search

You have SharePoint – you have Search!

Search is not only a technology problem – the challenge is to have a good search, where users can find the right information. Project Oslo helps tackle that, increase findability, discover relevant information around me.

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Users

Analyze what your users want and do – profile them. Then

Content

Analyze what you have (Inventory), review the content (Audit), gather what Metadata and Taxonomy you have and analyze the structure. Do this with a “golden set” – a well defined small set of your data.

Targeting / Semantic Search

With SharePoint OOTB (out of the box) you can interpret the query and correlate it to the current users profile – with this you can control what the user will get, even with the same search query. Sales Manager search for “presentation” and will get sales presentation. Consultant search for “presentation and get consulting presentations – very powerful tool in SharePoint.

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Metadata and Properties

Map inconsistent fields from lists and sites to consistent, recallable properties. You can increase the quality of your metadata with auto-tagging. Take in mind that changing Properties require a full crawl – this can take time and consume resources.

Summary

More of this, please! Good stuff – very good structure of the presentation, I could totally follow it. If you don’t follow Agnes blog – she shares very good information there – follow her!

SPC14: Build your own REST service with WebAPI 2

05 Mar
March 5, 2014

REST and OData are the foundation of data access in a cloud-based world. Office and SharePoint developers are well aware of the new RESTful endpoints available in SharePoint 2013 and may have already consumed some publically-available RESTful endpoints from the Internet. Many apps, however, will require their own RESTful service for accessing custom app data. In this session, we’ll cover the fundamentals of creating custom RESTful services with WebAPI 2 and consuming those services in Office and SharePoint apps. Additionally, the session will present approaches for securing your custom services and accessing them across domains. Attendees will exit the session ready to build custom RESTful services for their Office and SharePoint apps.

Session “Build your own REST service with WebAPI 2” by Scot Hillier – here are my notes.

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Level 400 – yes!

REST

Client pulls data – stateless, cache indication, accessible through a url.

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WebAPI

  1. Framework to create Restful, oData, custom http based services.
  2. Part of ASP.net MVC
  3. Stand-alone or as part of an app

Controllers

Basic methods are mapped to http verbs, you can control this through routing:
/api/{controller}/{id}

Content Negotiation

WebAPI services return what you request – xml or json.

Demo

Scot always show many demos, like it – he showed how to create the service,

OData

A Protocol to query data in a standardized, restful way.

Security

  1. Use SSL
  2. Validate calling domain in CORS scenario (there is a nuget package for that).

Summary

Scot Hillier. Solid. Will try this soon, I have a project that is perfect for that.

SPC14: Designing and applying information architecture for SharePoint and Office 365

05 Mar
March 5, 2014

This session will demonstrate a proven process for defining, designing, implementing and governing your information architecture (IA). IA is more than just columns and metadata. You will learn how the different components available in SharePoint and Office 365 can be leveraged to their fullest potential and your users’ ultimate benefit to content organization and discovery.

Session “Designing and applying information architecture for SharePoint and Office 365″ by Agnes Molnar and Israel Vega Jr.

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Here are my notes.

Information Architecture (IA)

IA: The art and science of organizing and labeling content

Three points to think about when designing an Information Architecture.

  1. Try to determine your cost when user do not find documents vs. the cost of finding
  2. Cost of development
  3. Value of learning

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Governance

You need (to establish) a convention how to name documents and define a structure where to put them – keep your SharePoint clean.

IA Components

Search has the problem that it needs to find things that humans created.

Don’t rename adjust the Document Content Type – instead inherit from it and create at least a “My Document” (my = company).

It is always very sad when a SharePoint Farm dies – I cry (Israel Vega)

Minimal Components are: Content Types, Navigation, Taxonomy, Site Structure, Site Types.

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Plan Plan Plan!

  1. Plan Migration (Inventory what you have, Cloud?)
  2. Plan Structure (Sites, Host Headers, Cloud Strategy)
  3. Plan Information Lifecycle

Make Search Better

Key message: SharePoint Search is really good, User need to take care of the document/metadata quality otherwise Search has no chance.

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Search is the key – I totally agree.

Summary

Very very solid session  – totally liked what Agnes and Israel presented. Their experience in this area is outstanding, I follow Agnes on twitter and she shares so many good articles how to layout a good Architecture – for me as a technical person she highlights how to focus on the not so technical problems. Seeing her on stage in combination with Israel was good fun!

The presentation style was – WOW – supporting slides, nice pictures – that was my most valuable session so far (so good, I could not write everything down, notes are not complete).