Setting up a social strategy for SharePoint? Here are tips to get started

With the launch of SharePoint 2013 by Microsoft, social business became the talk of the day, with SP gradually moving towards becoming a company’s social hub. Last year, Microsoft acquired Yammer, and is planning to tie up the same with SharePoint as well as other wares of Microsoft ranging from Dynamics to SkyDrive. My Sites along with Community sites have been introduced by SharePoint 2013, and these aid in internal business collaboration by providing a social interface. These are also designed to make use of the security as well as other enterprise or business management features that SharePoint has. This implies a genuine extension of collaboration among partners and work-groups.

SharePoint site migrationAccording to R.Wang, leading social business analyst, going social might close the gap between execution and strategy, measurement and execution, as well as strategy and measurement. Organizations understand that SP might be a platform for integration of these technologies thereby bringing in innovation, provided there is a proper plan and strategy for social business.

Let us discuss briefly about three of the major social aspects of SharePoint 2013, namely My Sites, Community Sites as well as the new Newsfeed. All of these distinguish SP from its predecessors and make upgradation a forward-thinking smart decision.

Community Sites
Creating a new Community Site has become very convenient. You simply need to select Community Site from the list within SharePoint available for Collaboration site templates. As per the community’s business role, site owners can go for selection of four permission levels:

  • Private: Selected members can view or go for interaction with the community.
  • Closed: Content can be read by end users but only those members receiving approved requests would be able to contribute content.
  • Open with explicit membership: Content can be read by end users, who would also be able to automatically join the community for contributing content.
  • Open: Content can be contributed by anybody.

Like other SharePoint subsites, the Community Site template would be able to disinherit or inherit permissions from its parent site. The fundamental permissions as well as security constructs remain similar. Community Sites just build on this construct utilizing the permission levels. In spite of the presence of this architecture, it is always considered a better practice to make use of unique permissions for management of community membership. It is essential for organizations making use of communities at the site level to become well-versed with this setup. Moreover, community moderators can gain access to features such as offensive content reporting or alerts which enable them to follow discussions more effectively.

My Sites
My Sites is capable of giving users exactly what their requirement is- rapid access to their things. Presently a user is able to follow people, documents or sites. This ‘follow’ mechanism helps in the automatic creation of lists which are rendered in the user’s My Site, both on the Newsfeed page and also on the My Sites homepage.

Moreover, with the help of My Sites, a user is capable of having one click access to the sites he or she follows. It also recommends other sites the user might find interesting or useful, based on a number of criteria.

Newsfeed
Newsfeeds refer to content that is dynamically updated and generated through the activities indulged in by fellow users. These incorporate the currently omnipresent hashtags as well as ‘@ mentions’, and resemble Facebook or Twitter feeds closely. Unlike the case of external social networks, organizations are able to exercise some amount of control over the activities that would be appearing across the Newsfeed from the User Profile Service Application. On the Newsfeed Settings screen, there are provisions for a user to have considerable control over e-mail notifications, hash-tags, and so on.

It is true that in order to make use of these tools, the enterprise architecture does incur some cost such as licensing costs, software and hardware considerations, along with architecture to render support to redundancy as well as performance. But the benefits are indeed far-fetched. Leveraging the social features present in SharePoint development platform with the proper strategy can help organizations effectively manage their social business interaction while at the same time safeguarding intellectual property and content.

We provide SharePoint site migration services. If you would like to know more about the expertise of our SharePoint programmers, please get in touch with us at Mindfire Solutions.

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Introducing MVC Support for Apps for SharePoint

SharePoint, which has already established itself as one of the most popular and preferred web application development platforms, works more effectively when incorporated with certain apps. Apps are those powerful website applications that add to the effectiveness of the platforms. These days, the ASP.NET.MVC has become a preferred mode of project application.

SharePoint portal developmentASP.NET.MVC offers web developers with several advantages. To begin with, it comes up with a really pattern- based and powerful platform that allows easy building of dynamic websites. These websites, in turn, pave the way for separating different aspects such as that of the view, model and controller of the app. At the same time, the app provides full control over markup to offer a good experience of development.

SharePoint portal development with MVC as a remote project requires one to follow a two-step process. Firstly, this particular sort of project development needs to be created and secondly, one has to engage in what can be considered as the ‘app-etizing’ of the concerned web project. This is done with the purpose of adding an application for SharePoint.

When an auto-hosted or provider- hosted app for SharePoint is created in the Preview of the Visual Studio 2013, you get the option of choosing the type of the web application project. Once the procedure is accomplished and you click on the Finish button, the Visual Studio automatically takes up the following tasks:

  • Creation of the application for the project
  • Creation of the MVC website application project
  • Addition of the SharePoint-references to the said project
  • Addition of helper classes to that of the particular project

A working app for SharePoint with this advanced sort of web app is now ready. The following steps would encompass pressing F5 to debug the app. Now, Visual Studio deploys this app for SharePoint to the site of the specified developer. This is accompanied by a starting of the Internet Information Services or IIS Express and finally, running of your MVC website application. A browser is then opened to the home page of the app, in this case, the particular app that we are talking about.

A default template is created out of the box and it comes with the About, Home and Contact pages apart from some sample code. These sample code show you the way of interacting with SharePoint. The code helps in the creation of a client context for the host web while also retrieving the current user name, which is displayed in the home page.

The MVC website application project also offers a set of APIs, which involves a series of steps for the web project to communicate to SharePoint in a rather smooth manner and that too, in a single call. The SharePoint context filter takes up the additional processing for getting standard information when redirected from SharePoint to the remote web application, for instance, Host Web URL. Additionally, it also determines as to whether the application has to be redirected to SharePoint for the user to sign in. This is particularly applicable in case of bookmarks. This filter can be applied either for the purpose of viewing or to the controller.

The context classes of SharePoint incorporate all the data and information so that one can quite easily create particular contexts for the app web as well as the host web directly and thereby communicate with the platform. The introduction of the MVC support for apps turns out to be of substantial help provided that one is aware of the right ways of engaging in the process.

We provide SharePoint development services. If you would like to hire SharePoint developer from our team, please get in touch with us at Mindfire Solutions.