Welcome to a new blog series I thought might be useful. Each Wednesday I'll post a short review of new SharePoint related projects on CodePlex. These are new projects that a) have been added to CodePlex in the last week and b) have a public file release (I won't include projects that don't have file releases). I was going to call this "Woody's SharePoint Roundup" but that name would be best left to my good friend with that *other* SharePoint site.
Alright, let's get this party started!
SharePoint jQuery MultiSiteAdmin UI
What it does
The app lets you perform actions on sites, lists, etc. by asking you minimal information. For example you can create a new list called "Project Info" on every site in a site collection by just entering a few pieces of information. Then you can turn around and add some columns to all those lists you just created. You can also perform actions like updating columns on a list and even drop new web parts (via their xml definition) onto every site in your site collection with just a few clicks.
How it works
This tool, while somewhat ugly, is pretty slick and a great example of one person building on a series of services available to create a solution. There are some nice things here that are useful for perforning changes across all sites that you would normally have to write a small console app for. It's great that it leverages jQuery services for SharePoint and web services so the install is minimal (nothing goes into the GAC or bin) and you can do this on hosted scenarios. Highly recommended but a word of caution. Try before you buy. Test out your queries in a VM before you try this on your test or production environments. It can lead to a pretty global change so be sure you have the right values set before you click!
SharePoint 2010 Developer Dashboard Visualizer
This is just downright cool. Not only it's cool looking, it's one of the first SharePoint projects I've seen on CodePlex specifically for SharePoint 2010. SharePoint 2010 Developer Dashboard Visualizer is a jQuery-based solution that extends the Developer Dashboard by plotting an interactive diagram with data from the Developer Dashboard, giving you an **instant** insight into where the bottlenecks are in your code.
What it does
The Developer Dashboard feature of SharePoint 2010 is a kick-butt tool and something like an uber version of the page trace you can get from ASP.NET. It's geared for SharePoint so knows about SharePoint-y things as well as SQL calls to the content database and other cool stuff. However it is limited and doesn't offer a ton of customization other than what you get OOTB. This project kicks things up a notch and is like the developer equivalent of YSlow for Firebug by providing you with a visualization of the page load. This is great in finding bottlenecks and deciding where to start with your code optimization (or if you have some troublesome webpart).
How it works
This is just the beginning of hopefully a lot of add-on tools for developers. SharePoint 2010 offers a lot of great tools but sometimes their visibility is lost or hard to find. Tools like this are simple add-ons for your development environment and low hanging fruit to help you along. Even if you're not looking for code bottlenecks (who is?) it's nice to have this on the page so you *can* take a look and say "Hmmm, I should really look into that long call to load". I'm not saying let's install these tools and go nuts on pre-optimization, but knowing about something is half the battle. Install this on your VM and pull it out from time to time.
SharePoint Discussion Board orphaned attachments analyzer
My woop woop alarm is already going off with this one. On the home page you see a disclaimer saying that this tool works directly against the database. Not cool. In any case, it's a tool to clean up attachments that have been orphaned in your system. The tool addresses a problem in that discussion board items with attachments can somehow find their way into la-la land with the attachment still in the database but the discussion board item nowhere to be found. The issue comes up when you try to export the site data, then an exception is thrown.
What it does
The tool will scan through the content databases finding any attachments that have been orphaned. And basically, it just deletes them. Once the tool had done it's magic, you should be able to export your site or use the content migration API without error. Also not having orphaned attachments is probably a good thing (however I have issues the approach, see below).
How it works
SQL baby, plain old SQL. Yup, this puppy issues rips through all web apps in your farm then doing a connection to the database deletes any orphaned attachments. Permanently. What's even better is that all of this is done in a single class (Form1) with happy-go-lucky SQL statements right in the code. This sucker is permanent so if there's a slipup you can kiss whatever it *thought* was your orphans buh-bye.
I have said in the past and will continue to take this stance. The SharePoint object model is your contract, use it. Now, I will give kudos to this guy for coming up with a solution. No, there is no API to find orphaned attachments but frankly, I've never come across this problem in my 10 year marriage with SharePoint. Maybe it's a problem but personally if I did stumble over this I would look for an alternative way to do it (or at least build an app without a honking MEGA class to do it). My opinion is to stay away from this project. If you need a solution to this problem consider alternatives (including putting in a PSS call to Microsoft to let them provide a supported way out this mess).
MAPILab Explorer for SharePoint
At first I thought this was a commercial product pretending to be an open source one. The name just sounded *too* commercial and the screenshots on the home page looked *too* polished. MAPILab also rang a bell for me as we just spent some time looking at the MAPILab product as a potential for gathering stats on SharePoint. Still, it took me some time to get my head around what exactly this project.
What it does
One would say it's part Reflector, part script compiler, part swiss army knife for SharePoint. It's touted as a developer tool (which it is) and it will allow you to browse the object model on a SharePoint server. The difference between browsing the object model using this tool from say Reflector, is that you're actually interrogating your running SharePoint server and performing tasks against it. The UI provides a view of the object model. In the UI you select objects you're interested in working against (for example a site collection or list). Then in the code editor you write snippets (in C# or VB.NET) against those selections. It's pretty neat and does allow you to see everything that's there.
How it works
The project is a Windows form application that runs on your SharePoint server. It uses reflection itself to poke and peek inside your server and allows you to execute code snippets against your running SharePoint server. Just unzip the exe to your server and run it. You'll need a copy of PKZIPC.EXE on your server if you want to create zip archives of your solution builds, but otherwise nothing else is needed. This *will* do things against your current SharePoint system (basically whatever you tell it to do in the code editor) so be careful or else you might wipe out your development environment.
There is a connection to the commercial MAPILab product here, at least from what I can tell. There are links to the product and this project seems to infer that they used this tool (internally) to build the MAPILab stats product for SharePoint. In any case, this is a developer tool and an interesting one. They claim you can save about 50% of your time doing research and testing code sections. I can't say I see those results as you're sort of locked into their object model which just convolutes simple things that can be done with the SharePoint OM (like programmatically creating sites).
Still a neat tool and maybe something to consider for your toolbox. Note that this tool works against your system and exposes *everything*. IMHO the contract you have with SharePoint is the public API so just because there's a property or method available privately, doesn't mean it's something that you should be mucking around with. So be smart, but be cautious. If anything, the source code is well structured and something fun to read (if you're into that sort of thing) that might provide some insights into SharePoint programming you might not have known.
Well, that's it for the first roundup. Hope you enjoyed it! See you next Wednesday.