Shivering on the 49th Parallel
Monday, November 3, 2008

Today’s frustration is brought to you by… SharePoint! WSS 3.0: when it absolutely DOESN’T have to be done overnight!

The other day I received a request to set up a blog in SharePoint to replace an old-school email newsletter that was distributed throughout one of the divisions at work. Sure it’s the beginning of SharePoint Sprawl, but this is a good reason to USE SharePoint and to get people used to spending more time in it.

WSS3.0 comes with a Blog site out of the box. It’s very, very basic though. Perhaps I’ve been spoiled by using DasBlog for the last five years or so, but the WSS 3.0 blog only allows ONE category per post and it just looks so plain. There’s a free third-party add-in called Community Kit Enhanced Blog Edition available at CodePlex which allows multiple blogs, theme/skin-ability and more than one category per post but I didn’t feel the need to start experimenting with a new solution on the production site. It’ll do for now.

The good news is that Windows Live Writer works with the SharePoint Blog right out of the box (as it were, it’s a download).

More good news is that like every other thing in SharePoint, it generates an RSS Feed.

The BAD news is that Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 (WSS3.0) does NOT come with an RSS Viewer out of the box. What the shit? It comes as part of Microsoft Office SharePoint Server, but not WSS3.0.

Back over to CodePlex, there’s a free third-party add-in called Feed Reader. I downloaded it and installed it to my test SharePoint site… and it doesn’t work 100%. There’s a broken image link for the icon, a broken image link for each bullet-point image and a broken “refresh feeds” link down at the bottom. Other than that, it works pretty well, but I’m not about to go and start messing around with the production server with something that’s only 90% working. It’s PURELY a visual problem, but it’s enough to generate calls to the helpdesk and minimizing those is of course, job #1.

Falling back to the things that come with SharePoint, there IS an XML web part. I thought I’d give that a try, because what is an RSS feed anyway? It’s an XML file! I even found an XSL example that would display it the way I wanted to that was as simple as copying and pasting. Just when you thought everything was going to work out, there it is. The Rub. The RSS feed generated by SharePoint is a a file called listview.aspx?List={Gigantic Guid} and not a .xml file. Because of that, SharePoint cannot resolve the listview.aspx GUID to an XML file and it fails, even though IE7 resolves it and displays it as a newsfeed properly. Le Sigh.

It HAS to work, other people are using it, and even some comments on the page with the XSL file said “it works great, thanks!" so I don’t know what my problem is, other than the obvious: I’m not 10% smarter than the program is.

Monday, November 3, 2008 3:21:57 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [2] | Microsoft | SharePoint#
Tuesday, November 4, 2008 9:57:45 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Regarding the broken images in the Feed Reader web part - I experianced this too. If you just search for the images on your front end IIS box and copy them to the directory referenced in the web part - you should be alright. I think there is a step-by-step fix on how to do this on the creator's site.

As for the categories - you can go into the column for category and check "allow multiple values".

The blog feature is very limited and hopefully will see some new features added in upcoming releases. I agree also that the lack of a default RSS feed web part in the "freebie" edition of sharepoint was poor planning... why offer an RSS feed for a blog with no way to display that feed on other portals?

Good luck with your sharepoint installation. I can tell you SharePoint for us has been... well.. interesting to support and a challenge to maintain. All that aside, it is an easy way for users to do basic publishing and collaboration - it just needs a lot of help with basics like these...
Tuesday, November 4, 2008 11:03:10 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Thanks for the tip, Kyla. I thought about hunting down the few files and manually moving them or copying them to the IIS server, but the whole point of having a .wsp and having operators in the stsadm command line like "addsolution" and "deploysolution" kind of makes me think it should, you know, do it on it's own. Maybe it's just because of the word "solution", or maybe it's just me :)
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