Tag Archive for corasworks

Scenarios and Solutions

As part of a new effort by CorasWorks to help people understand the power and ease with which solutions to common business problems can be implemented when powered by the CorasWorks Solution Platform, we have started this new series, Scenarios and Solutions. In each post, we will describe a common business scenario and then present one or more ways to quickly and easily address the solution using CorasWorks technology. This is a series focused on inspiration and creative thinking when it comes to solving problems and getting the most from CorasWorks.

The CorasWorks platform is based on extending the SharePoint environment to build solutions focused on solving business problems. The first step in this process is defining the problem in a manner that can be translated into “CorasWorks terms.” Here’s an example of how a common business problem can be redefined into a CorasWorks powered solution.

Scenario: A company has several divisions, all with their own collections of documents stored within SharePoint. The company has decided the best way to handle the documents is to provide one page in SharePoint from which every member of the company can access their documents. In this way the IT team has only one page to maintain and the users have only one page to visit for their content. The challenge comes from limiting what is shown to each user to only the documents they have access to while eliminating unnecessary maintenance and overhead.

Solution: A direct and easy solution to this scenario is to use the aggregation capabilities of the CorasWorks platform combined with SharePoint security permissions. The approach is to use separate libraries for each group in the organization and apply SharePoint security groups to manage rights and access to the libraries to the correct users. The separate lists of documents are then aggregated into one CorasWorks Grid display on an .ASPX page. Since CorasWorks performs a security check before displaying any content called by a grid, the user will only see content they have permission to view.

The second part of this solution is to deal with an issue that arises from it’s design. When you aggregate multiple libraries into one grid, it can be confusing to know what library each file came from depending on how you have the contents grouped and sorted. This is where another CorasWorks feature of the Grid displays comes into action. One of the capabilities of the Grid display is to show the list or library a record is being called from through a list variable (%list%). This is shown in the Grid through a simple check box and then is treated as you would any other list column.

By combining the aggregation features of the CorasWorks platform with the specific list column function, we have defined a solution that meets the needs of the original scenario and can be implemented in a matter of hours.

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Scenarios and Solutions is presented by Art Gelwicks, Solutions Consultant for CorasWorks. A former CorasWorks customer turned evangelist, Art provides a perspective on finding business ready solutions powered by CorasWorks that can be accomplished without extensive technical knowledge.

I upgraded, why didn’t the CorasWorks version change?

A frequent question to the CorasWorks Support team concerns the version of the Version 11 Platform installed into an environment.  Oftentimes, the user has performed an upgrade to the latest release, but is confused when the version displayed by a component indicates they are running v11.0.  The goal of this article is to explain why this phenomena is happening and how to check the version of a component.  Before we discuss Version 11, let’s look back on how the installations were handled with Version 10.

History: Installations and Upgrades with Version 10
When CorasWorks first released Version 10, we followed the generally accepted guidance concerning the installation process for SharePoint.  The Platform required a full deployment process, meaning that the 40+ components included in the platform were deployed into SharePoint.

Generally speaking, this installation methodology worked well, albeit slowly.  However, the deployment installation approach introduced two problems for our users.  First, when users upgraded to a new release, they first had to retract the original components from their SharePoint environment and then deploy the new components.  This took a great deal of time, particularly for multiple server customers, and could introduce stability issues within their SharePoint server environments.

Second, the components used on a web part page stored the version used.  When a v10.2 Basic Grid was placed onto a page, the Grid stored its version in the information on the page.  When the page was loaded, it looked for its stored version (v10.2) or later.  If an earlier version was found, SharePoint generated an error.  In short, this behavior meant that a site template built using a later version of the Platform could not be used in an earlier version.

Imagine a user created a site in their Development environment where they were testing Version 10.3 of the CorasWorks Platform.  When they went to implement their site template into a Production environment running the earlier Version 10.2, SharePoint would throw errors on the site.  The site template was looking for the v10.3 version of the components and wouldn’t run with the v10.2 version!

Our goal in developing Version 11 was to overcome both of these challenges.  It was clear when speaking with our users that they wanted an easier upgrade path, one that took minutes instead of hours.  Our larger customers and partners asked for a way of building site templates that would not introduce errors when running on an older version.  Version 11 accomplished both of these goals.

Overcoming These Problems
Version 11 has a different upgrade process.  Instead of requiring a complete retraction of the components, we instead offer MSI-only upgrades that update the DLLs within the environment.  Users who have Version 11 installed can download the smaller, upgrade-only package from the Community’s My Place.  This smaller package includes a new setup file.  Generally speaking, the upgrade process is to uninstall the current CorasWorks setup file from the web front end and to install the new one.  This process is run on each web front end and should take less than half an hour to install.

This installation process has been an overwhelming success for us.  Nearly all users like this new installation process, but some have noticed that the version of the components does not change.  This is expected behavior and a requirement for our DLL-only upgrades.  With the Version 11 release, CorasWorks has locked the version of our components being reported to SharePoint.  As a result, we can use the MSI file to update the DLLs on the web front ends without having to redeploy the components.

The benefit of locking the version of the components is a faster, more reliable upgrade process as well as removing the problem with web pages looking for the wrong version of the components.  Users who are building using our v11.1.01 release can save their sites as templates and use them to build sites in an environment using the earlier v11.1 release.  The components won’t throw an error as, internally, they are looking for the v11.0 version of the DLLs.  The result is a win-win for customers and partners alike.

How to Determine the Installed Version
Having said that, how do we check for the version of a component to ensure an installation was complete?  If you are a server administrator, the easiest way is to check the version of the installed MSI file within the web front end’s Add/Remove Programs via the server’s Control Panel.  If you don’t have rights to the server, you can check via the browser.  Go to a web part page with the CorasWorks component on it and add the following to the end of the URL in the address bar: ?version=coras.  This will flip all of the CorasWorks components on the page into “version mode” and show their version information.  This information is being displayed for you alone; all other users of the page will see the normal displays.  To get out of version mode, click on the “Close” button on the page or remove the ?version=coras from the end of the URL.

Once you’re in the version window, you should see something similar to this:

There are four fields presented.  The first is the Title of the component and the second is the Organization who created it (CorasWorks Corporation).  The Version displayed for the Basic Components is always 11.0.0.0 and will not change, regardless of the version of the Platform installed.  Remember, we’ve locked the version of the component being reported to SharePoint to allow us to have DLL-only upgrades and for backward compatibility between releases.

The Date value is different and is the key for determining the release of the component.  With the Basic components, the Date indicates when the component was last updated and it is what we use to determine when a component was released.  In short, the Version of the components won’t change, but the Date of the components will!


SharePoint 2010 Service Pack and Cumulative Updates

A frequent question to the CorasWorks Support team concerns SharePoint 2010′s Service Pack and Cumulative Updates.  Users would like to know if the CorasWorks PPM solution, Cim solution, and v11 Platform are compatible with these updates.

CorasWorks has been testing the SharePoint 2010 Service Pack, June Cumulative Update, and August Cumulative Update.  We haven’t found any problems nor issues requiring changes to the solutions or the Platform components.  Similar feedback has been received from users who have already installed the Service Pack and cumulative updates.  Please feel free to install these updates into your CorasWorks-based SharePoint 2010 environments!

Of course, the SharePoint 2010 environment is a complex one with many variations.  If you run into any unexpected behavior following the installation of a Service Pack or Cumulative Updates, report the behavior to the CorasWorks Support team.

Thanks!

CorasWorks Support

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