A problem I faced with WSS 3.0 configuration on a Windows 2003 Server

I’d like to share a typical problem recently I faced with WSS 3.0 configuration on a Windows 2003 Server.

I created a virtual machine with Windows 2003 OS and named it “myvpc” in a hypothetical workgroup viz. “WKGP” (I initially planned to use it in stand-alone mode). Then I installed all available updates to the Windows Server and .Net framework 3.5 with IIS followed by Stand-alone installation of Latest WSS 3.0. The default team site and central administration site were working smooth. I even created another application using central administration.

Later I changed my mind and thought that it would be better if I include this virtual machine into our company’s local intranet Domain. At this point of time I had to change the PC name from “myvpc” to “SUDEV-VPC” due to some or other reasons.

Now, suddenly none of the SharePoint sites were accessible even from the “localhost“! I opened IIS console and noticed that “SharePoint Admin” site was stopped!!! I checked the systems log and found many errors stating “Cannot connect to SQL Server. MYVPC\Microsoft##SSEE not found“. I was surprised to see this, why SharePoint did not understand the change in name of computer.

I just thought lets run the “Configuration Wizard” again for the WSS. I did it but it failed too at the step-5 saying “Could not access search service configuration database“.

I uninstalled the WSS 3.0 completely and restarted the OS. I noticed that IIS don’t have the sites I created using WSS anymore.

I installed the WSS again, ran the configuration wizard but just to get a disappointment. The error continues to occur. This time I checked IIS and found that the sites I created with previous installation have been created again on the same port (sounds strange again, how new installation of SP came to know about it?)

The WSS 3.0 was using same database (Windows Internal Database aka SQL Server Embedded Edition). But at some location it was using previous computer name and at other it was using new name. (Surprised?)

So I thought lets re-install the Windows Internal Database itself. There is no direct way to uninstall it. So I uninstall the WSS 3.0 first. And then with help of MSDN link (http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc708610.aspx) I uninstalled the Windows Internal Database as well. I removed the data files from “%windir%\SYSMSI\SSEE” as per their suggestion followed by a system restart.

Now I installed the WSS 3.0 in stand-alone mode, ran the configuration wizard and guess what? The configuration wizard ran successfully and I was able to access the default team site and admin site again.

It took quite some time to figure out this solution but it worked for me. In your case you may need to retain the backup of the content database and configuration database before un-install and install of WSS.

THE MOSS ARCHITECTURE

 

Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 can, working with other components of the Microsoft Office 2007 suite of applications, provide the functionality and benefits described previously. However, the amount of functionality derived from an MOSS installation depends on the features implemented and activated, as well as whether or not the MOSS environment is used to extend other building blocks, such as WSS and SQL Server. Figure 1 illustrates the structure of a complete MOSS environment. MOSS provides much of the functionality, but that functionality can be enhanced by the inclusion of other extended capability systems.

The MOSS Common Framework

MOSS 2007 supports other server-based applications and services with a set of common administrative services, as shown in Figure 2. The primary elements in the common group of services are (as shown in Figure 2, left to right):


Collaboration

This service supports discussions and shared task lists on server-based portals and determines the status of each member of a collaborative team, which could be online, offline, away, in a meeting, on the phone, and so on.

Enterprise Content Management (ECM)

Using this service, users can create data validation and workflow procedures for Office 2007 documents through the Windows Workflow Foundation (WWF). MOSS includes a variety of predefined workflows, but users can create custom workflows using MOSS Designer 2007 or Visual Studio 2005.

Excel Services

This service provides the ability for users to display all or selected portions of server-based Excel workbooks using a web browser. An Excel web services application programming interface (API) is available to support server-based calculations and complex graphics renderings.

Portal

At the core of MOSS is the portal manager, which has been brought forward and upgraded from the previous version, Microsoft Office SharePoint Portal Server 2003. The portal services provide the user experience and content display functions used by all other SharePoint functions.

Web Content Management (WCM)

The capabilities enabled by the WCM service include support for Office SharePoint Designer 2007 for web template development, and web authoring using a template, site navigation services, security and access control, and site publishing.

MOSS Application Services

MOSS includes or supports a wide range of application- and activity-related services to facilitate information sharing, collaboration, and document management. As shown in Figure 3, these services include:

Document Libraries

A series of document libraries that allow a company to manage, organize, and categorize its information in a consistent form. There are three primary levels in the document libraries: the Managed Document Library, the Divisional Library, and the Translation Library.

Web Parts

MOSS contains a number of predefined ASP.NET web page segments that can be included in user- or information-based portal pages or used as standalone web pages. A few of the Web Parts available out-of-the-box are document roll-up Web Parts, Members and Colleagues Web Parts, and Social Networking Web Parts. Custom Web Parts can be created using Visual Studio 2005.

Workflows

MOSS includes a wide range of predefined workflows, which are in effect work unit scripts that define the step-by-step processes to be performed in order to accomplish a given work product. MOSS workflows are built on the Windows Workflow Foundation, which is a part of the .NET Framework.

Scorecards

MOSS 2007 supports the business information report units created under the Microsoft Business Scorecard Manager 2005, although this particular feature has been upgraded to the Microsoft PerformancePoint Server 2007. Scorecards are custom business performance tracking reports.

People Search

This feature allows users to search for people and information defining what or who they know. This feature supports indexing, Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) directories, and Active Directory distribution lists.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

A KPI presents business intelligence information in a visual way to signal how a certain product, function, or any other business activity is doing. For example, a KPI might display a green light if customer returns are below a preset level, a yellow light if they approach the accepted level and a red light if they exceed it. MOSS includes a variety of KPIs out-of-the-box that work with Excel 2007 and WSS.

Dashboards

A dashboard is essentially a web page that contains a number of elements that can be automatically updated independently, as well as lists, links, and other commonly accessed elements. The analogy is to an automobile dashboard. MOSS supports the creation of custom dashboards that can include KPIs, Excel workbooks, and information from SQL Server Reporting Services.

Report Center

The Report Center hosts predefined and custom web pages and sites that display, manage, and maintain links to reports and spreadsheets.

My Site

Perhaps one of the user-friendlier features of MOSS, MySite allows a user to customize a personalized view (using the Personalization Sites feature) of existing portal web pages, such as MyFinanceWeb or MyBenefits, based on their user profile and access permissions information.

User Profiles

User profile information from Active Directory is used by the Notification Service to target alerts to appropriate users, Social Networking to define common interests, and the Memberships Web Part for group and distribution list memberships.

Business Data Applications

MOSS provides a number of services that support the cataloging, storage, and access to business information and links related to each defined line-of-business (LOB) area using the Business Data Catalog, Business Data SharePoint Lists and Web Parts, and Business Data Actions services.

Note that the services and applications in the preceding list are only the proverbial tip of the iceberg. MOSS includes a wide range of administrative services that can be employed to create a customized environment suited to any particular company.

MOSS Core Services

As shown in Figure 4, MOSS includes a number of core services that enable a company to get up and running quickly and provide users with ease of use and a variety of tools to help increase their productivity. The major services supported by MOSS out-of-the-box are:

Templates

Like the document templates included with each of the Office 2007 applications, MOSS includes templates for a variety of web pages (sites), lists, and documents that can be deployed to enable collaboration, reporting, and timed or triggered events.

Personalization

Users can be defined by their name, position, location, job, department, work responsibilities, and other characteristics. This information, along with other identification information entered in other Office 2007 applications, such as Outlook 2007, is used by additional MOSS services, like MySite, to create views and information feeds that meet the needs of the user.

Targeting

This feature, brought forward from Office SharePoint Portal Server 2003, develops target audiences for certain documents, reports, and functions using a rule-based criteria, groups defined in WSS 3.0, and Outlook 2007 and Exchange distribution lists.

Single Sign-on

This service is one that most users really appreciate. MOSS provides a Single Sign-on (SSO) capability that stores and maps user credentials for use in signing into back-end applications and third-party systems that are included in the user’s portal. However, in cases where a company already has an SSO system in use, MOSS supports pluggable SSO that allows non-MOSS SSOs to be used.

Site Directory

This service is basically what its name suggests, a directory of web sites and network locations referenced by the system. It also includes a mechanism that can be used to scan for broken links, changed site Uniform Resource Locators (URLs), or missing sites.

Business Data Catalog

This service enables MOSS to merge data from external applications and back-end systems into its lists, Web Parts, and search results, as well as in custom applications developed under the .NET environment.

Navigation

This service manages the navigation links included on personal web pages and other web-browser supported displays provided through Office 2007 and MOSS.

Alerts

This feature enables users to identify and tag events and data elements that are then continuously monitored for changes that fall within the parameters set by users defining specific conditions. The Notification service then sends an alert to the user indicating the condition that has occurred.

Information Rights Management (IRM)

This feature is present throughout the Office 2007 applications suite to enable a company to protect its data from unauthorized access and use. IRM is integrated with the Rights Management Services (RMS) of Windows Server 2003, which allows system administrators to specify exactly who can access data, what they can do with the data, and how they can access the data.

Search

MOSS includes extensive data and document search capabilities that support search functions across an enterprise-level network, intranet, and even the Internet.

Excel Services

This general service includes three specific services:

Excel Calculation Services (ECS)

This is the core of the Excel Services. ECS performs real-time calculations on Excel workbooks in conjunction with Office Excel 2007, incorporates external data, and manages active sessions.

Excel Web Access (EWA)

A predefined Web Part that provides the display and interaction with an Excel 2007 workbook illustrated by a web browser using Dynamic Hierarchical Tag Markup Language (DHTML) and JavaScript as part of a dashboard or embedded into another Web Part page.

Excel Web Services (EWS)

This is an MOSS web service that provides an API to support the development of custom applications that incorporate an Excel 2007 workbook.

It is the combination and synergy of the MOSS services and functions that provide the wide range of capability, productivity, and collaborative environment through which a company can better manage, control, share, and report its business functions and information resources.

Why SharePoint 2007?

It is rare for a technology product to attract as much attention as SharePoint has in recent years. The industry has historically paid little attention to new product suites, particularly those related to web design. SharePoint products and technologies, however, have managed to excite and rejuvenate industry followers, causing them to take notice of the ease of use, scalability, flexibility, and powerful document management capabilities within the product. A number of organizational needs have spurred the adoption of SharePoint technologies. Some of the most commonly mentioned requirements include the following:

A need for better document management than the file system can offer—This includes document versioning, check-out and check-in features, adding metadata to documents, and better control of document access (by using groups and granular security). The high-level need is simply to make it easier for users to find the latest version of the document or documents they need to do their jobs, and ultimately to make them more efficient in those jobs.

Improved collaboration between users with a minimal learning curve— Although virtually everyone has a different definition of what comprises collaboration, a functional definition is a technology solution that allows users to interact efficiently with each other using software products to share documents and information in a user friendly environment. In regard to SharePoint, this typically refers to document and meeting workspaces, site collections, discussion lists, integration of instant messaging and presence information, and integration with the Office suite of applications. Integration with Office applications is a key component: Most organizations do not want to force users to learn a new set of tools to collaborate more effectively because users generally resist such requirements.

A better intranet—Although most companies have an intranet in place, the consensus is that it is too static, that it is not user friendly, and that every change has to go through IT or the “web guy.” This level of request generally comes from a departmental manager, team lead, or project manager frustrated with their inability to publish information to a select group of users and regularly update resources their team needs to do their jobs.

A centralized way to search for information—Rather than using the “word of mouth” search engine (that is, asking coworkers via email for a specific document), there should be an engine in place that allows the user to quickly and efficiently find particular documents. The user can search for documents that contain certain words; documents created or modified during a certain timeframe; documents authored by a specific person; or documents that meet other criteria, such as file type.

Creation of a portal—Many definitions exist for the term portal, but a general definition that a portal is a web-enabled environment that allows Internet and, potentially, external users to access company intellectual resources and software applications. A portal typically extends standard intranet functionality by providing features such as single sign-on, powerful search tools, and access to other core company applications such as help desk, human resources software, educational resources, and other corporate information and applications.

SharePoint is a set of products and technologies with informative and collaborative web-based capabilities that help people create, organize, distribute, and maintain stored knowledge. SharePoint web sites and pages are commonly used to build intranet and extranet portals and team sites, as well as public-facing Internet sites.

SharePoint is a great platform upon which to build applications and provides many key services in the greater story of the Microsoft Application Platform. SharePoint shows great maturity in terms of its user interface, database design, and workflow and communication features. It provides a standard interface with standard navigation, enabling users to focus on tools and information, not on learning how to navigate new menu controls.

SharePoint helps resolve database and business logic issues by providing a powerful complement to structured data – that is, a managed environment to store unstructured data that gets the information and business rules onto the network and out of local Excel files. SharePoint takes advantage of the first workflow platform built into an operating system and makes it easy for developers and power users to use Windows Workflow Foundation (WF) to automate business processes.

Creating Custom SharePoint Timer Jobs

In previous versions of SharePoint (or other platforms), if you had some task you wanted to perform on a scheduled basis, you’d have to either create a console EXE and schedule it to run via Windows Task Scheduler (ala AT.EXE) or create a Windows Service that went to sleep for a period of time. In order to install (and maintain) these tasks, you had to have console access to your production SharePoint (or other app) servers… something IT or admins wouldn’t easily hand out.

Addressing this issue, Microsoft has added something called timer jobs to Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) 2007. Microsoft uses timer jobs to do things like dead web cleanup (purging unused sites from site collections) among others. To see what other timer jobs are out there, from Central Administration, click Operations and then Timer Job Definitions. Not only does Microsoft use timer jobs in MOSS, but you can create your own custom timer jobs to do your own scheduled tasks. What’s nice about this is once your timer job has been installed (something you can easily do with a solution & a feature), you can view it’s status through Central Administration and even disable/enable it… all without console access to your production servers! Another cool thing is that when your job runs, MOSS passes it the GUID of the content database for the site the job is registered with. You can use this GUID to obtain a reference to a content database, then a site collection, and finally a site within the collection (SPWeb).

How do you build one? Well, unfortunately the documentation is lacking here… there isn’t a single article in the SDK talking about creating custom timer jobs and the necessary objects aren’t well documented either.

MVP Andrew Connel has described the Custom Timer Jobs on SharePoint well in depth on his blog http://www.andrewconnell.com/blog/articles/CreatingCustomSharePointTimerJobs.aspx. Awsome functionality. Thanks Andrew.