Archive for category: Development

2015 Recap: The king is dead – long live the king!

02 Jan 2016
January 2, 2016

3 times and you have a pattern, right? This is not the first time I write a recap for the past year, (2014, 2013) – and it is always good fun to reflect the last one and plan the next one.

The Past aka 2015

2015 was a super busy year for me – both work, community and private live was packed and very intense.

Events

I attended so many events this year, without my outlook calendar a reflection would not be possible anymore. Lets start with my favorites:

SharePoint Saturday Belgium / Antwerp

That was my first SharePoint Saturday ever – and it was epic. The spirit of the Belgium SharePoint Community is awesome, speaking there was really rewarding for me! Maybe I cant attend in 2016, but if I have the chance I probably will.

ShareCamp 2015

ShareCamp is totally unique, I totally love the open style of the conference – everybody can speak there, beginner, experts, customers, everybody. I totally like the mix, especially when there are topics that are outside of the “SharePoint box”, I learned a lot there and for me that is perfect infotainment.

ShareCamp Sessionvote

 

Search Stammtisch Munich

We are only few, but dynamite comes in small packages 🙂 Every first Monday we meet in my favorite cocktail bar. It is the best place to talk about SharePoint Search and everything around it, from 3rd party to hybrid, to Azure Search – we covered everything. I hope to see more people this year, but well, Search is a niche and won’t attract hundreds.

http://www.pussersbar.de/en/pussers-bar.html

taken from http://www.pussersbar.de/en/pussers-bar.html

SharePoint User Group Munich

I think I attended very SharePoint User Group Meeting in Munich (that should be 5-6) and organized one. Always good fun!

Conferences

I had the chance to speak at 2 commercial conferences about SharePoint Search this year: SharePoint Days and ShareConf – for 2016 I will try to speak more, maybe I try a different conference, too. Let’s see how it goes.

My blog

From a content producing side, 2015 wasn’t my best. I only crafted 16 posts, but well some of them took really a lot of time. Cloud Hybrid was one of them – and as a premiere I blogged about my new hobby: Paragliding. As one of my new year resolution is “fly more!” the chances are high that I will blog about it again.

Facts and figures

I like figures and statistics and all that – 89.000 page views is not that bad for my tiny blog, isn’t it? I have nothing to compare too, but I am quite happy with it. +12% from last year!

Blog Stats 2015

blog stats for 2015

 

Countries 2015

180 countries – I say “hello” from Germany!

My most visited blog posts are apparently from 2014 – luckily two are about search and that makes me happy:

  1. Installing SharePoint 2013 SP1 with SQL Server 2014 on Windows Server 2012 R2 – Picture Love Story (~14.000 views)
  2. #SharePoint 2013 – Create a Search Service Application and Search Topology with Powershell (~10.200 views)

  3. Install Office Web Apps 2013 for SharePoint 2013 – with PDF Preview (9.700 views)

Contributions

On the contributions part, I tried to commit some time to my favorite tool – SharePoint Search Query Tool – and it is totally worth it. I use that tool so often, so why not improve it to make it even better?

Additionally I started my own tool – Azure Search Tool – I have to admit that I haven’t put any time into it recently, but it’s still fully functionally. I will block some time soon to give some more love because its a cool and useful util.

The Future aka 2016

2015 was a shift year – I saw a lot of clients migrating to SharePoint Online and I think even more will do in 2016. With that move I learned a lot about migration to the cloud, SharePoint Apps and Azure – and I think that will be my business focus for 2016. Maybe we launch a SharePoint App as a product – that would be fun!
Lots of work a head, many challenges to be solved – there is a good year ahead of us! And we will see SharePoint 2016 RTM very soon. I am not as excited as I was for SharePoint 2013 – but the platform matures with every release and I hope to see many many Search challenges and projects. Even more as with 2013 because SharePoint Search is business critical, right?

Main goals for next year: SharePoint Search, Apps, Azure, Community, SharePoint Search, Hybrid, Azure Search, Paragliding. I am a simple man 🙂

just hanging there

Happy new year!

With that said, I wish you all the best for 2016, health, prosperity, lots of excitement and fun!

SharePoint CSOM and NetScaler

24 Sep 2015
September 24, 2015

I am currently preparing a test dataset for a SharePoint WebPart to see how it scales on a customer SharePoint 2010 environment. The problem I faced here was that the environment is protected by Citrix Netscaler and every CSOM call was ended with a lovely exception.

Problem 1: SSL

The underlying connection was closed: Could not establish trust relationship for the SSL/TLS secure channel.

The underlying connection was closed: Could not establish trust relationship for the SSL/TLS secure channel.

The underlying connection was closed: Could not establish trust relationship for the SSL/TLS secure channel.

The client uses https/SSL to secure the channel (good!), but the netscaler load balancer does not provide the correct certificate (I think that could be configured, but that’s not my job here…) and does a redirect to a different domain (netscaler.yourdomain.com) for authentication:

Netscaler Login Page

Netscaler Login Page

So CSOM correctly stops – oldy but goldy, right?

Solution 1

The following snipped accepts all certificates, valid or not. Dont use it in production code, for single use CSOM as in my case it is perfectly acceptable, right? 🙂

Problem 2: NetScaler Authentication

Once the SSL challenge is accepted, we have to take care of the authentication part. I have done something similar for ADFS were you emulate the authentication (basically you grab the cookie once the authentication happened and reuse it for the SharePoint CSOM).

Fiddler quickly confirmed my assumption – after login via the citrix interface, every call uses cookies for authentication:

Debugging Authentication Flow with Fiddler

On the left you can see the 302 redirect to a different domain. Once I provided the login credentials it sets 4 cookies.

Solution 2

Now lets try to convince the CSOM to use cookies for each request:

Once we have the event, we need to set the cookies (maybe you need different ones depending on the configuration):

This code is then executed when “ExecuteQuery” is called – and the cookies are set once. With fiddler you can verify the cookies are used then.

The approach above of course only works for a session lifetime – after expiration of the cookies, CSOM can’t connect. The code could be expanded to grab the cookies with the first call or after expiration – but for my test data single purpose code that’s apparently out of scope.

Summary

At first I thought – “well that takes me 10 Minutes to provision 1000 datasets” – took me longer 🙂

Hopefully this post saves somebody some time!

Recap: SharePoint Saturday 2015 in Antwerp, Belgium

20 Apr 2015
April 20, 2015

300 attendees on a Saturday – all “SharePoint-crazy”. Its my first visit to Belgium and I must say: I am impressed of the community and the spirit here. In the following I recap SharePoint Saturday 2015 in Antwerp.

Antwerp

 

SPSBE

From the start at 9:00am until the official end of SPSBE (SharePoint Saturday Belgium) at around 17:30 I had good fun. I apparently had to prepare my session on this Saturday, tests my demos and optimize my slides – so I could only attend one full session (see my summary here), but there was enough time for me to talk to community members, board members and other speakers – good times, good fun.

Some of the attendees stayed for the BBQ after the event – it was nice to share some ideas, get feedback – and well, the food was nice, too!

I must say, for a free event organized by a community, this was perfectly done – there is nothing I could rant about (and that’s almost impossible, because its free, right?). Good job @BIWUG (Belgian Information Worker User Group) – I am leaving Belgium impressed.

Thanks again to all the sponsors who made the event possible!

Speakers & Sessions

20 sessions and as many speakers from around the world attracted 300 attendees – not only from Belgium. In general the conferenced covered all kind of different topics, but the main themes were Office 365 with topics like development, governance, adoption, best practices, workflows, search, apps and solutions. Good stuff!

My Session: Search-Driven Applications with SharePoint 2013

I had a really good time presenting my content regarding Search-Driven Applications with SharePoint 2013 – I uploaded my slides, but the cool stuff is in the demos and I can’t make them available:

After the talk there were like 10 to 15 questions – some of them I would love to show you here:

Q: Do Query Variables work for Office 365 / SharePoint Online?

Yes, Query Variables are awesome and do work for SharePoint Online – see a reference here.

Q: How can I recrawl SharePoint Online User Profiles?

Once you changed the mapping of the managed properties, you need to tell SharePoint Online to recrawl the profiles. There is a PowerShell for that, see Mikael’s post.

Q: How to estimate and test load patterns for SharePoint search scenarios (e.g. in a publishing scenario)?

Estimation is tough, you need a lot of experience for that. And you need to know a lot upfront about the environment, the use cases, the users, … – if you don’t know that, you need to scale, test and adjust. One possible solution to test load patterns upfront is to use Visual Studio Test Manager and use the REST url to query for results. Then you can increase the load and see what could break and how to optimize.

Q: Some Chinese documents are not index properly, at least they are not presented to certain users. Why? 

I could only guess – multi-language is a complex topic. They guys tried a lot with forced language property, but without seeing and environment, well – good luck!

Q: Why didn’t you cover Display Templates in your session

Display Templates are awesome. Search is awesome. Apparently I only had 1 hour so I could not cover that much without loosing somewhere else. Of course they are an important part of a search-driven application that presents results within SharePoint. If you want to read more about Display Templates, go read Elio’s blog or Mikael’s blog – they have pretty good articles about them. Or look at my basic example here.

Summary

I totally enjoyed it – still I am a little tired because my friend Andy (@meligo) insisted to tour me around Antwerp! Thanks for having me! Smile

To sum it all up: That was my first international SharePoint Saturday – and it won’t be my last!

See you latest next year Belgium!

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