Launch your web browser as another user

In SharePoint 2013 there is no longer a quickie menu choice to allow you to indulge your alter ego. I’ll let others go into depth on why it went a way, but I wanted to share a quick tip for how to be another user when you need to test your SharePoint install: create a desktop shortcut to launch your browser with the runas CL argument.

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New identity, no waiting

When you created your new SharePoint installation you probably gave yourself Epic Guru level access (it may be called Farm Admin in your version). This is good, it allows you to get tons done. It doesn’t, however, allow you to verify you’ve adequately secured the CEO’s Beanie Baby picture collection, or pretend to be an adoring fan posting to your My Site news feed. To do that, you need to be someone else.

For my example I’m going to use Internet Explorer, because I’m an unapologetic company man. You should feel free to swap in your browser of choice… like Netscape or Lynx.

  1. Create a shortcut to your favorite browser. In Windows I did this by navigating to C:\Program Files (x86)\Internet Explorer and dragging iexplore.exe to the desktop (by default this creates a shortcut).
  2. Right click your new shortcut and select “Properties”
  3. Modify the shortcut target by adding runas and the desired user account to the beginning of the path. Change the target to (replace user@domain with your test acct):
          %systemroot%\System32\runas.exe /user:user@domain "%ProgramFiles(x86)%\Internet Explorer\iexplore.exe"
  4. Click OK to save changes.

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(Note: if you’re not running 64bit windows, the target should be: %systemroot%\System32\runas.exe /user:user@domain "%ProgramFiles%\Internet Explorer\iexplore.exe")

Double-click your new shortcut and you’ll get a prompt to enter a password. You won’t see anything on the screen as you type, so just go on faith. Type your pw and hit enter.

A little extra for style points

Because I can never leave well enough alone, I had the need to soup up my shortcut (I’m way to old to say “pimp my shortcut”… but you know I was thinking it). The icon of the runas.exe shortcut is boring. I need an icon that screams “I’m a browser shortcut!”

Once again, right-click the shortcut and select properties. Click the change icon button. I went for the globe with a mouse on top.

image Just because I want to customize it, don’t assume I have any imagination.

Finally, give yourself a reminder that you’re someone else. Double-click your shortcut to launch the browser. When your browser comes up, enable the favorites bar (in IE, right-click the title bar and choose favorites bar). Bookmark a site (any site will do) and add it to the favorites bar. Right click your new favorite and rename it to the user name of the special account.

image  Must remember to put on the glasses…

Instant split-personality. Let me know how it works out for you!

Showing more detail in SharePoint Calendar

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The SharePoint calendar is an ideal place to give people a quick overview of team events, but the overview can be a bit thin on detail for some people’s tastes. The calendar structure is pretty rigid, so we can’t just add columns to the view like we do in other SharePoint lists. We can, however, pick which column to display in the calendar view. Using calculated fields we will build a new event title to have our calendar events communicate extra information at a glance.

Here’s what we want: when looking at the calendar we’d like our site members to see the title of the calendar event AND the location of the event in parenthesis. The pictures below show what SharePoint gives us out of the box compared to what we’d like for our site members:

SharePoint gives us: image We Want: image

Here’s what we’ll do in brief:

  1. Create two calculated fields, one to be the month view title and one to be the sub heading for day and week views.
  2. Modify the view to show our new columns instead of the default columns.

Create new calculated field columns

imageIn our SharePoint calendar we’ll navigate over to the Calendar tab and click the "Create Column" ribbon button. We’ll call this column "Month View Title" and set the type to "Calculated". Now, let’s build up the formula. Remember, we want the end result to look like this:

Event Title (Location)

To create that string, our formula will look like this:

[Title] & " (" & [Location] & ")"

SharePoint’s calculated field will (among other things) combine, or "concatenate", strings. To concatenate strings we use the "&" (ampersand) symbol much the same way we use the "+" (plus) symbol for adding numbers. Building a string is as easy as double-click a column, type an ampersand, type some text in double quotes ("). We use the double quotes to make sure SharePoint knows we’re concatenating a string and not just another field.

For consistency with the month view, we also would like the location wrapped in parentheses for the day and week views. Let’s create another calculated column for this. Repeat the steps to create a column and call it “Day Week View Sub Heading”. The formula will look like this:

"(" & [Location] & ")"

Modify the calendar view

Now that we have the strings we want, we can change the calendar view to show our new calculated columns instead of the default, "out of the box" (OOB) event title.

imageIn your calendar, head back over to the Calendar tab again and this time click the "Modify View" button. In the Edit Calendar View settings we’ll change the "Calendar Columns" to show our new calculated fields. The title fields we’ll change are the "Month View Title", the "Week View Sub Heading" and the "Day View Sub Heading". Since we’re extra clever, we gave our calculated columns names which match up very nicely with these field titles. Click the OK button to save changes and we’re done.

Go crazy

The SharePoint calculated column feature gives a lot of flexibility and can be used without having to open SharePoint Designer or learn to write custom SharePoint solutions. Check out this article on MSDN to get your creative juices flowing.


Update: We’ve cross-posted this on the SharePoint for End Users blog.

InfoWorld likes SharePoint 2010

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On January 12th InfoWorld released their Technology Of The Year Awards list for 2011.

Best collaboration platform? SharePoint 2010.

"it’s clear that SharePoint 2010 is setting a new bar for what employees and users — and their IT organizations — will expect from a collaboration platform"


Makes me proud.

My first SharePoint post is up: Linking images in SharePoint

Building the next version of a product is great fun, but being able to help existing users makes me feel like I’m doing more than building a product and tossing it over the wall.

If you’ve ever tried to hyperlink an image in Windows SharePoint using the rich text editor you’ll know that you can’t do it.  SharePoint Server 2007 (the one that ties in more closely with Office 2007) has a slightly different text editor and you can link an image the same way you’d expect in other apps (click the image then click the link button). WSS, however, doesn’t make it that easy.  If you’ve ever struggled with it you should check out my post: Linking images in SharePoint.

You want the quick summary? Create a hyperlink then insert your image in the middle (remove the extra text when you’re done).

 

A Reference Library For SharePoint Developers

If you’re looking for a great starting place for finding SharePoint information, then check out the SharePoint Learning Resources site.  It’s a searchable resource for both developers and IT workers and even offers feeds so you can stay up to date on the latest additions.

Perhaps this weekend I’ll curl up with a warm laptop and do a little light reading.