A Comprehensive View of SharePoint, Part I

Introduction

Today's information workers have a constant need to collaborate, share information, and find information they are looking for. This need exists around projects and teams, meetings and documents, and furthermore on a department- and company-wide level. But also with customers, partners, and vendors as organizational boundaries more and more are disappearing. Typical approaches have been to create file shares, e-mail distribution lists, public folders on your mail server, and many more. But, these traditional approaches are difficult to manage, provide limited search capabilities, and also limited access from remote locations. The latest approach to solve such needs are enterprise portals.

Enterprise portals provide Web access to information and documents; this makes them ideal for remote access. The typical structure adopted by most enterprises is to have one enterprise-wide portal that is the default page opened when employees launch their browser. There, you find current information about the company, its strategy, and so forth. From there, you find your way to portals around departments, ongoing projects, and other topics. Most portals used nowadays are still fairly simple. More advanced portal solutions already provide search and indexing capabilities and document libraries with more advanced document management capabilities, but, most importantly, robust management tools. Organizations are constantly creating new projects and virtual teams around projects. The latest portal solutions make it very easy to create new portals, manage them, and then to discard those when no longer needed, but, most importantly, being able to search across all existing portals. Large organizations such as Microsoft, HP, GE, and so forth have hundreds of such projects and teams going on every year.

There are many portal solutions on the market; for example, from IBM, Microsoft, Plumtree, Vignette, and so on. Microsoft's latest portal solutions are "Windows SharePoint Services" and "SharePoint Portal Server 2003." This article will not evaluate different portal solutions but rather explain how to use and develop for "Windows SharePoint Services" and "SharePoint Portal Server 2003" from Microsoft. The first article explains the differences between these two technologies and how to install and configure each. The second article looks at how to use both from a user and administrator perspective. The last article looks at how to extend it by using its SDK and create Web parts.

The Differences Between WSS and SPS

WSS stands for "Windows SharePoint Services" and is the successor of "SharePoint Team Services." It runs only on Windows 2003 Server (Web, Standard, Enterprise, or Datacenter Edition) and requires IIS 6.x, ASP.NET, and the .NET framework 1.1. WSS is available for free and can be downloaded from this location. Make sure that you also apply the latest Service Pack (SP1 at the time of this article). WSS can utilize SQL Server 2000 or MSDE 2000 (SQL Server 2000 Desktop Engine) as its data store.

"SharePoint Portal Server" (SPS), builds on top of "Windows SharePoint Services." When you install SPS, it will automatically install WSS if not present. This assures that it is very easy to migrate from WSS to SPS and that any components developed for WSS can be used on SPS. It has the same system requirements as WSS: Windows 2003 Server with IIS 6.x, ASP.NET, and the .NET framework 1.1. It also can utilize SQL Server 2000 or MSDE 2000 for its data store. Also, make sure to apply the latest Service Packs for SPS, which is SP1 at the time of this article (this requires to the first install SP1 of WSS).

When to use Windows SharePoint Services

WSS is used for team and project Web sites or portals. It provides the base capabilities of creating and managing portals. You can create many top-level portals; each can have multiple sub-portals. For a smaller organization, this could be a top-level portal per department and then sub-portals for each project. For example, you could create a portal for Engineering with a sub-portal for the current and upcoming release and a portal for Professional Services with sub-portals for each ongoing customer implementation. On each portal, you can place Web parts (more later on) to show contact lists, event calendars, announcements, document libraries, and more. You can use these portals to share information within your department, projects, or meetings. WSS makes it very easy to create new portals and manage them. User rights are used to determine what a user is allowed to do. Users can be notified about events such as a document being added, a contact being changed, and the like. These notifications can be sent in real time when the event happens or via a daily or weekly summary of all events. WSS does not provide any search capabilities if it uses MSDE 2000 as its data store. When using MS SQL Server 2000, it can search within one portal, but it does not allow you to search cross many portals including sub-portals. So, you only can search for all the information within the portal you are in.

When to use SharePoint Portal Server

SPS builds on top of WSS so, by default, it provides all the capabilities WSS provides. The most compelling reasons to use SharePoint Portal Server 2003 instead of WSS is it has improved search capabilities, ability to target content to different audiences, and integration capabilities. SSP enables you to import users from Active Directory or any other LDAP data source on a one-time or scheduled basis. Audiences are used to target content to specific groups of users. When importing users from an external data source, you specify which user property is mapped to the SharePoint audience; this gives you ultimate control over how to target content, whether this is the department, location, or any other property. SSP provides a "My Site" site that is a personal portal for each user. This site provides a private and public document library, manage all alerts and links, and so forth. Any link or alert the user sets up on any portal shows on the "My Site" portal. SSP allows you to search across all existing portals; this provides a very powerful search. Through search scopes, you also can define the areas or topics that should be included in a search. The user can select the search scope when performing a search. SSP Single-Sign-On capability allows you to map portal credentials to credentials of other enterprise applications so that SSP can retrieve information from these enterprise applications without requiring an additional authentication by the user. Microsoft BizTalk Server can be used for integrations between SharePoint Portal Server and other enterprise applications. SSP also allows you to create server farms to scale over multiple servers and ultimately achieve the scale required for large organizations with thousands of portals.

Summary and where you can get a more detailed comparison

The main differentiator between WSS and SPS is that WSS is used for small teams and projects and SPS is used for company-wide portal solutions with sophisticated search and content targeting capabilities. Both can utilize MS SQL Server 2000 or MSDE 2000. Use MSDE 2000 for smaller deployments and MS SQL Server 2000 for a larger number of portals as well as corporate-wide portal solutions. The following document provides a more detailed decision guide about when to use WSS and when to use SSP. It uses typical requirements customers have and how to address them using WSS or SSP. The second article, which shows how to use SharePoint, explains the differencess of WSS and SPS in more detail.

How to Install Windows SharePoint Services

Where you can get the Windows SharePoint installation files and how to start the installation

Download WSS from this location as well as SP1 of WSS from this location. Run the executable "stsv2.exe" to start the installation of WSS. It first extracts the executable and places all the installation files in the "c:\program files\stssetup_1033" folder and then launches the installation. You can choose between the "Typical Installation" and the "Server Farm" installation. The typical installation uses the Microsoft SQL Server Desktop Engine (MSDE) that does not support any search capabilities. All portal sites you create will not provide any search box and users must manually search for the required information. The "Server Farm" option utilizes MS SQL Server, which provides a full text search. Users will see a search box that allows them to search within the portal they are in. But, it does not allow them to search across all existing portal sites (for that, you need SPS). Select the "Server Farm" option and continue the installation. This installs all the WSS files into the "c:\program files\common files\microsoft shared\web server extensions\60" folder, creates and starts a new Windows service called "SharePoint Timer Service," and creates a new virtual server called "SharePoint Central Administration." Note that SharePoint uses the term "virtual server" whereas IIS uses the term "Web site." The port number used by this new virtual server is randomly chosen during the installation and can be found in the properties of the virtual server.

Launching into the WSS configuration and what to do when .NET 2.0 is installed

The install then calls "iisreset" to restart IIS and then launches a browser into the "Configure Administrative Virtual Server" page. Keep in mind that WSS uses the .NET framework 1.1. If you have already .NET 2.0 installed, you need to tell IIS which version of the framework to use, which is by default always the newest version. The install created the new virtual server "SharePoint Central Administration," which by default uses .NET 2.0 and of course causes the WSS application not to function at all and present you with just a blank page in the launched browser. In the IIS Manager, open the properties of the newly created "SharePoint Central Administration" virtual server, choose the "ASP.NET" tab, and select version 1.1 in the "ASP.NET" drop-down list. You need to call "iisreset" again to restart the application and then refresh the blank page in the browser. This then shows you the "Configure Administrative Virtual Server" page.

How to configure the IIS application pool to use

In IIS 6.x, applications run within application pools and the WSS install creates a "StsAdminAppPool" application pool that uses the predefined identity "Network Service." The installation, by default, uses the "StsAdminAppPool" application pool for the "SharePoint Central Administration" virtual server. The "Configure Administrative Virtual Server" page allows you to change that and select which application pool should be used when running the "SharePoint Central Administration" application. Choose an existing application pool or create a new one. In your case, you create a new application pool called "wssadmin" and type in the username and password of the Windows user used to run this application pool. The user must already exist but the application will grant it the required security rights. Make sure you enter the user name as "domain\user name" or "machine name\user name;" otherwise, you get the following error: "System Error 1057 while trying to query service SPTimer." This performs a number of steps. It creates the new application pool "wssadmin", uses the user credential you typed in for that application pool, assigns the "SharePoint Central Administration" virtual server to this new application pool, changes the "SharePoint Timer Service" to also use the user credentials you typed in, and assigns the user to a number of Windows groups so that it has the required permissions. The groups are "IIS_WPG" and "STS_WPG." It then asks you to call "iisreset" again so that all the changes take effect and then to continue.

How to configure the database used by Windows SharePoint Services

Next, it allows you to choose the database server used to store WSS configuration information and the type of Active Directory integration. In the section "Configuration Database," you enter the name of the machine that runs MS SQL Server to use, the name of the database (that will be created for you in SQL Server), and the authentication type, which is recommended to be "Windows authentication." If required, you can type in a SQL Server user name and password. When choosing "Use windows authentication," make sure that you have granted your "wssadmin" Windows user access to SQL Server. Open the MS SQL Server Enterprise Manager and go to the "Security" item and "Login" underneath it. Right-click on "Login" and select "New Login" from the pop-up menu. On the "Default" tab, enter "domain name\user name" or "machine name\user name" in the name text box and leave the "master" database as the default database. On the "Server Roles" tab, give the user the "Database Creators" role and click OK. The user is used by WSS to create and manage databases, so it needs these permissions at a minimum.

How to finish installing Windows SharePoint Service

In the section "Active Directory Account Integration," you can choose whether users created in WSS have already Windows accounts. The Windows account is used to authenticate the user when accessing any of the portals. If users do not have Windows accounts yet, you can choose the "Automatically create Active Directory accounts" option and you enter the AD domain and OU (organizational unit) where the users will be created. Continue, which will create the configuration database in SQL Server and next show you the "Central Administration" page. This allows you to administer WSS and will be the page shown every time you open the "SharePoint Central Administration" application, which can be launched through the "SharePoint Central Administration" menu item added by the install to the "Administrative Tools" windows program group. Next, install SP1 by running "wss2003sp1-kb841876-fullfile-enu.exe" that you downloaded. This simply installs the latest files. Note that it does not require any restart because IIS 6.x detects a change in the files and starts a new application pool using the latest files. Afterwards, go back to the "SharePoint Central Administration" application.

A Comprehensive View of SharePoint, Part I

How to Administer Windows SharePoint Services

How to see which virtual servers have been extended for use by WSS

The previous section showed how to install WSS, but it has not yet created any portals to use. It created the "SharePoint Central Administration" virtual server that is used to administrate WSS. The "Virtual Server Configuration" section is used to configure virtual servers for SharePoint and create top-level portals. Select the "Extend or upgrade virtual server" item to show all the virtual servers. The list will always exclude the "SharePoint Central Administration" virtual server. By default, it lists all the virtual servers on this machine that have not yet been configured for WSS. You see the name, URL, and, on the right side, the remark "Extend," meaning that the virtual server still needs to be extended for WSS. You can click the "complete list" link on top to show all the WSS configured and not yet configured virtual servers. You can create new virtual servers through the IIS Manager. Make sure that each (including the Default Web Site) have been configured to use .NET 1.1 if you also have .NET 2.0 installed.

How to extend a virtual server for use by Windows SharePoint Service

Click on the virtual server to open the "Extend Virtual Server" page. It lists the virtual server details plus provisioning options. Click the "Extend and create a content database" link on the right side. Under the section "Application Pool," you select the application pool to use for this new WSS virtual server. You can enter the name and user credentials and it will create it for you and assign the virtual server to this new application pool. Or, you can choose an existing one, such as the "wssadmin" application pool you already created. Under the "Site Owner" section, you enter the user name and e-mail address of the person who owns the top-level portal created on this virtual server. Under the "Database Information" section, you enter the details of the content database. This is where all the content for all portals running under this virtual server is stored. It uses the same database server used for the configuration database, but you can enter the name of the content database or select "Use default content database server" and WSS will choose a default name, which is "STS_" followed by the machine name and a unique number. Under the section, you can enter the top-level portal URL; by default, this is set to "/", meaning it is the root of this virtual server; for example, "http://Enterprise-Minds/". But, you can enter, for example, the name of the portal, as in "Engineering," so that the portal URL becomes "http://Enterprise-Minds/Engineering/". The "Quota Template" section allows only the selection "No Quota" until you create a quota template.

You can create quota templates through the item "Manage quotas and locks" under the "Component Configuration" section. A quota template defines the maximum storage allowed for a portal plus the threshold when a warning e-mail is sent to the portal administrator. The "Language" section allows only the selection "English" or whatever language version of WSS you installed. This extends (configures) the virtual server so it can be used to run WSS portals. When completed, this brings you to the "Virtual Server Settings" page to configure this WSS-enabled virtual server. Note that this installs an ISAPI filter called "stsfltr" on the virtual server. With the link "Windows SharePoint Services" on the left side, you can go back to the "Central Administration" page. If you select the "Configure virtual server settings" item, you see all virtual servers and which ones have been configured, and so forth. This shows the same as the item "Extend Virtual Server" with the exception that "Extend Virtual Server" by default shows only the virtual servers not yet configured; you need to click the "complete list" link to see all virtual servers. Clicking the name of a configured virtual server again shows you the "Virtual Server Settings" page for this virtual server.

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How to configure the portal under the newly extended virtual server

Next, launch into the newly configured top-level portal of the virtual server (by typing its URL in the browser), which then asks you to select a template. The template is used to pre-configure the portal for a given need. The following six options are available:

  • Team Site—The template configures the portal for a team to create, organize, and share information. It includes announcements, events, tasks, contacts, and a document library.
  • Blank Site—This creates a blank portal; you add the content yourself.
  • Document Workspace—This creates a portal to share and work together on documents. It includes a document library, announcements, tasks, and contacts.
  • Basic Meeting Workspace—Creates a portal that allows you to track and organize a meeting. It includes an agenda list, objectives list, attendees list, and a document library.
  • Blank Meeting Workspace—Creates a blank meeting workspace; you add the content yourself.
  • Decision Meeting Workspace—Creates a meeting workspace to review documents and record decisions. It includes an agenda list, objectives list, attendees list, a task list, a document library, and a decisions list.
  • Social Meeting Workspace—This creates a workspace to plan social occasions. It contains an attendees list, directions list, "things to bring" list, and a photo library.
  • Multipage Meeting Workspace—Creates a basic workspace to plan and track meetings. It contains multiple tabs and the home tab includes an agenda list, objectives list, and attendees list.

Based on your needs, select a template. This pre-configures the portal but you still have complete control on what to show on the portal. The second article will explain how to use and configure a portal's content. When completed, this shows you the portal.

How to run multiple top-level portals under one virtual server

You also can run multiple top-level portals under one virtual server. Go back to the "SharePoint Central Administration" application and, under the "Virtual Server Configuration", select the "Create a top level web site" item. Select the virtual server under which you want to create a top-level portal. Next, enter the URL of the top-level portal. It will show you the complete URL for this new top-level portal as you type in the name; for example, "http://Enterprise-Minds/sites/Research/". Under "Site Collection Owner," you enter the user name and e-mail address of the top-level portal owner and, under the "Secondary Owner" section, the user name and e-mail address of the secondary owner. The "Quota Template" section allows you to assign a quota template (by default "No Quota") and the "Site Language" section allows only the selection English or whatever language version of WSS you installed. This creates the new top-level portal and brings you back to the "Central Administration" page. You can again launch into the new top-level portal by typing in the URL. Select the template to use again andm when donem it shows you the new top-level portal.

How to delete a top-level portal

You also can delete top-level portals through "SharePoint Central Administration" when no longer needed. Under the "Virtual Server Configuration" section, select"Delete site collection". Next, you type in the URL of the top-level portal; for example, "http://Enterprise-Minds/sites/Research/". It shows you the details of the top-level portal; you need to confirm its deletion. All content is deleted permanently. This way, you also can delete the top-level portal created when extending the virtual server for WSS. For example, you would simply type in the URL "http://Enterprise-Minds/". If you then want to create a top-level portal under this virtual server again, you again choose "Create a top level web site", select the virtual server, and where you type in the URL name, you also can select the "Create site at this URL" option. The drop-down list below shows possible URL paths, one of them being "root." So, it creates the top-level portal at the root path of the virtual server, which is, for example, "http://Enterprise-Minds/" again.

How to configure the e-mail server that WSS uses

This article does not cover all administrative options because there are many. There are two more administrative tasks you need to perform before users can start using the portals. One neccessary task is to configure the e-mail server to use so notifications can be sent. In the "SharePoint Central Administration" application, under the "Server Configuration" section, you find an item called "Configure default e-mail server settings". This opens the "Configure E-Mail Server Settings" page where you enter the out-bound SMTP server, the from and reply e-mail address for any e-mails sent by the system, plus the character set to use. You can use any SMTP e-mail server, including the SMTP server that comes with IIS.

How to add users to the portal so they can use it

The second neccessary task is to add users so they can access the portals. Back on the "Central Administration" page, under the "Security Configuration" section, select the "Manage web site users" item. Here, you can manage which users have what level of access to different portals. First, you enter the portal URL under the "Site URL" section and click the View button. Now, you can add new users under the "New user" section or modify the access rights of existing users under the "Change existing user" section. To add a new user, enter the user name (the format must be "domain name\user name" or "machine name\user name"), the display name, the e-mail address for the user, and select the site group the user belongs to. The following four groups exist:

  • Reader—Can access the portal and read information. Is not allowed to make any modifications to the information and the portal itself.
  • Contributor—Has read and write access and can add, modify, and delete information and documents on the portal but not the portal itself.
  • Web Designer—Has read and write access to the portal and is also allowed to modify the portal structure itself.
  • Administrator—Has full access, including administrative access to the portal.

Click the "Add user" button to add the user. Unfortunately, this brings you back to the "Central Administration" page and you need to repeat all the steps for each user to add.

How to change the rights of existing portal users or remove existing portal users

To change the users access rights, enter the user name under the "Change existing user" section and click the "View user" button. Next, select the groups the user belongs to (you can select multiple) and then click the "Update" button. To delete the user, click the "Delete user" button. The site owner always has administrative rights; you are not able to change its rights or delete it. To change the site owner, go back to the "Central Administration" page and select the "Manage site collection owners" item under the "Security Configuration" section. First, you enter the portal URL under the "Site URL" section and click the View button. Then, you enter the user name of the owner under the "Site Collection Owner" section and the user name of the secondary owner under the "Secondary Owner" section, followed by the Ok button.

This is all you need to know and do to manage portals through "Windows SharePoint Services." You can be up and running within a couple of hours. Please refer to the WSS documentation for all the remaining administrative options. Please read the second article of this series to learn how to use and modify WSS portals.

A Comprehensive View of SharePoint, Part I

How to Install SharePoint Portal Server 2003

How to start the installation of SharePoint Portal Server

SPS runs on top of WSS and requires that WSS is installed. So, you can install SPS on the same machine you just installed WSS on. If not present, the SPS installation will install WSS automatically. This article will assume that WSS has not been installed yet. Run the SPS setup executable or choose the "Install Microsoft Office SharePoint Portal Server 2003 components" option from the autorun when inserting the SPS CD. It shows you that SPS, WSS, and maybe MSDE are required and will be installed. Next, setup warns you that it has to restart the following four Windows services: "World Wide Web", SMTP, HTTPS, and "IIS Admin". Next, WSS gets installed; this installs all files of WSS into the "c:\program files\common files\microsoft shared\web server extensions\60" folder and creates and starts a new Windows service called "SharePoint Timer Service." Note that it also adds a "SharePoint Central Administration" menu item to the "Administrative Tools" Windows program group; this item could be used to administer WSS itself but not SPS. SPS creates its own menu group (see later). The IIS "StsAdminAppPool application pool" and the "SharePoint Central Administration" virtual server are not yet created. These components are created when SPS itself is installed. After installing WSS, it brings up the SPS installation dialog screens.

Next, you can choose between "Install with database engine," which will install and use MSDE, or "Install without database engine," which requires MS SQL Server to be available. You also can change the location where the SPS files are installed; by default, it is "c:\program files\sharepoint portal server". This now installs all SPS files and creates four new Windows services: "Microsoft SharePointPS Service," "Microsoft Single Sign-on Service," "SharePoint Portal Administration," and "SharePoint Portal Alert." It also creates a "SharePoint Portal Server" menu group in the Windows start menu. Next, you need to enter the user name and password used as the configuration database administrator. Make sure you use the format "domain name\user name" or "machine name\user name" or setup will fail. The Windows account must exist, be a member of the "Power User" group, and have been granted access to SQL Server (create the login in SQL Server and give it the "System Administrators" role). If you install a server farm, meaning multiple SPS servers, you must use a domain account. In your example, create a local "spsadmin" account and make it part of the "Power User" group; then, use it as configuration database administrator. Setup now creates the "SharePoint Central Administration" virtual server, assigns it a random port number, and adds a shortcut to it in the "SharePoint Portal Server" menu group. It also creates an application pool called "CentralAdminAppPool" and assigns the "SharePoint Central Administration" virtual server to it. Finally, it launches a browser pointing it to the "SharePoint Central Administration" application.

How to configure the IIS application pool and database that SharePoint Portal Server uses

The page displayed in the browser is the "Configure Server Farm Account Settings". The "Default Content Access Account" section already shows the "spsadmin" user you entered during the install, but you can override it by checking "specify" account and then entering a new username and password to use. In the "Portal Site Application Pool Identity" section, you enter the username and password to use for the application pool. Also, choose the local user "spsadmin". This changes the identity of the "CentralAdminAppPool" application pool to the user identity you entered here. It also changes the four services—"Microsoft SharePointPS Service," "SharePoint Timer Service," "SharePoint Portal Administration," and "SharePoint Portal Alert"—to use to the user identity you entered here. Next, it shows the "Specify Configuration Database Settings" page. You can connect to an existing configuration database or create a new one, which we do because it is our initial install. Choose the "Create configuration database" option, enter the machine name where SQL Server is installed, select the "Specify custom name" option, and enter the name of the configuration database; for example, "spsconfig". This creates the configuration database in SQL Server.

How to configure the SharePoint Portal Server site crawler

Next, it shows the "Configure Server Farm Account Settings" page. SPS crawls external sites to index them and allow users to search them. This site crawling sometimes may cause issues to the external site crawled. In the "Contact E-mail Address" section, you enter the e-mail address provided by SPS to these external sites so administrators of these sites can contact you in case of problems. In the "Proxy Server Settings" section, you can specify a proxy server to use when crawling external sites.

How to configure the SharePoint Portal Server server topology and e-mail server used

The next page shown is the "Configure Server Topology" page. The "Database Server Settings" section shows links to view the different database settings (configuration database, content database, and component settings database), the single-sign-on settings, and the e-mail settings. Click the "Global e-mail server" link to specify the SMTP server to use. Enter the outbound SMTP server, the from and reply e-mail address, and select the character set to use. This brings you back to the "Configure Server Topology" page. In the "Component Assignments" section, it shows which server performs which function. There are four components:

  • Web—The server is used as a front-end Web server. If you have multiple Web servers, you use a load balancer (software or hardware based) to distribute the load.
  • Search—The server is used for searching. For medium server farms, run this component on each Web server. For large server farms, run multiple servers with this component.
  • Index—The server is used to crawl external sites and resources to index them for searching. One instance is enough for small and medium server farms. For large server farms, run multiple servers with this component.
  • Job—The server is running SPS background services. For medium server farms, run the job and index component on one server. For large server farms, run this component on one of the servers that runs the indexing component. Only one server can run this component.

You can have multiple servers in a server farm and different servers performing different functions. Click the "Change Components" button to open the "Change Component Assignments" page. Under the "Component Assignment" section, it lists all servers (in our case, only the one server we installed) and for each you have a Web, Search, and Index check box. You select which server performs which function. In your case, the same server performs all three functions. In the "Job Server Component" section, you select which server performs the job function from the drop-down list. In your case, you again have only one server to choose from. This also creates the "MSSharePointPortalAppPool" application pool used to host any SPS portal site on servers that host the Web component. Click Ok to bring you back to the "Configure Server Topology" page and show that your server performs all four functions. The "Problems with this configuration" section shows any outstanding issues you need to resolve, like you have not yet set the e-mail server or selected which server performs which function. Proceed with the close button when all issues have been resolved. This brings you to the "SharePoint Portal Server Central Administration" and finishes the SPS install.

How to finish installing SharePoint Portal Server

Finally, install SP1 of WSS by running "wss2003sp1-kb841876-fullfile-enu.exe" that you downloaded. This simply installs the latest files of WSS. Follow this by installing SP1 of SPS by running "sps2003sp1-kb841883-fullfile-enu.exe" that you downloaded. This installs the latest files of SPS and allows you to enable automatic error reporting to Microsoft, so any error gets reported to Microsoft with its error details. This requires a restart of the machine. Afterwards, go back to the "SharePoint Central Administration" application (through the Start menu).

How to Administer SharePoint Portal Server

The previous section showed how to install SPS, but it has not yet created any portals to use. It created the "SharePoint Central Administration" virtual server that is used to administrate SPS. The "Server Configuration" section allows you to make changes to all the settings entered during the install; for example, the e-mail server settings, the server farm account settings, the configuration and "component settings" database server settings, and the server topology. Use the "Configure server topology" item if you install a server farm and you want to select which server performs which function.

How to configure and run WSS portals under SharePoint Portal Server

The "Portal Site and Virtual Server Configuration" section is similar to the "Virtual Server Configuration" section in WSS. What can be confusing at the beginning is that you can create WSS portals and SPS portals. SPS portals provide a richer feature set such as targeting content to audiences, richer navigational UI items, richer search capabilities, and so forth (see "the differences between WSS and SPS" section in this article). The "Extend an existing virtual server from the Virtual Server List page" item is the same as the "Extend or upgrade virtual server" item in WSS. The "Configure virtual server settings from the Virtual Server List page" item is the same as the "Configure virtual server settings" item in WSS. These items allow you to enable a virtual server for WSS, in that same process create a top level portal on that virtual server, and bring up the "Virtual Server Settings" of a WSS-enabled virtual server. The steps are identical as with WSS (see the "How to Administer Windows SharePoint Services" section in this article). When launching into the WSS portal, you again select the template to use to pre-configure the portal. You also can remove WSS from an enabled virtual server so that you can use it for a SPS portal later on. From "SharePoint Portal Server Central Administration," select the "Configure virtual server settings from the Virtual Server List page" item, click on the virtual server you want to remove WSS from; this brings up the "Virtual Server Settings" page. Under the "Virtual Server Management" section, select the "Remove Windows SharePoint Services from virtual server" item to bring up the "Remove Windows SharePoint Services from virtual server" page. You can choose whether you also want to remove the content database and continue; this brings you back to the "Central Administration" page of WSS. Click on the "SharePoint Portal Server" item on the left side to bring you back to the "SPS Central Administration" page.

How to configure SharePoint Portal Server portals

Use the "Create a portal site" and "List and manage portal sites" items to create and manage SPS portals. Select the "Create a portal site" item to open the "Create Portal Site" page. Under the "Site Name" section, enter the portal name; for example, "Enterprise-Minds". Under the "Site URL" section, you choose the virtual server to use for this SPS portal. Any virtual server that has been already enabled for WSS or SPS will show you a warning message after refreshing the page. It fills the URL with the URL pointing to the virtual server but you can change it if required; for example, to "http://Enterprise-Minds/". In the "Owner" section, you enter the user name and e-mail address of the portal owner. Continue, which now creates the SPS portal on that virtual server. This process takes much longer and shows you a progress bar while working. This assigns the virtual server to the "MSSharePointPortalAppPool" application pool and installs an ISAPI filter called "stsfltr" on the virtual server. It also creates three new databases, each starting with eight characters of the site name followed by a unique number and then the suffix _PROF, _SERV and _SITE.

  • _SITE database—The content database for this SPS portal (the WSS content database is named "STS_", followed by the machine name and a unique number).
  • _PROF database—Database to store the user profile information.
  • _SERV database—Database to store component settings.

When completed, it shows you the "Operation Successful" page with a summary about the created SPS portal. Click the "SharePoint Portal Server" item on the left site to go back to the "SPS Central Administration" page.

How to list and manage all SharePoint Portal Server portals

You can list all SPS portals through the "List and manage portal sites" item on the "SPS Central Administration" page. It lists each created SPS portal and from the drop-down list (which appears when you move the mouse over a listed portal), you can select to "Manage Portal Site Properties" or "Delete Portal Sites". When you delete a portal, you also can delete its databases (the profile, site content, and component settings database). You also can create new SPS portals or restore deleted SPS portals. When you restore a portal, you need to provide the name of the three databases (the profile, site content, and component settings database) that are used to re-create the portal on the selected virtual server. Under the "Restore Portal from database" section, you select for each the database server and enter the name of the database. Under the "Site URL" section, you select the virtual server used to restore this portal to. If required, you also can change the URL. This may take a while and again shows you a progress bar while working, followed by the "Operation Successful" page.

The "Security configuration" section on the "SPS Central Administration" page works the same as with WSS. It allows you to manage portal users and change the portal owners. This is all you need to know and do to manage portals through "SharePoint Portal Server 2003". You can be up and running within a couple of hours. Please refer to the SPS documentation for all the remaining administrative options. Please read the second article of this series to learn how to use and modify SPS portals.

SharePoint Resources

Summary

Portals are a powerful way to manage collaboration, documents, and information sharing within your projects, teams, departments, and corporate wide. Every organization constantly has a number of projects under way and forms virtual teams on an ongoing base. This requires that portals can be easily created, customized, and managed. Powerful document management and search capabilities are a must requirement, so it is easy for users to find the required information. Windows SharePoint Services provides a robust portal solution. It is easy for IT administrators to install and to administer. It is easy for end-users to use and to customize. SharePoint Portal Server builds on top of Windows SharePoint Services and provides a powerful enterprise portal solution. It can scale well to thousands of portals, allows targeting content to user audiences, and provides very robust search and indexing capabilities. It is still easy for IT administrators to install and administrate SPS. SPS builds on top of WSS and therefore makes it easy to start with WSS and later on migrate to SPS. This makes SPS also instantly familiar to users and IT administrators.

Both WSS and SPS are a big step forward compared to their previous versions. Being able to utilize MS SQL Server as its data store provides a robust data store. The only disadvantage I see is that each portal can have its own document library, so users may check the same document into different document libraries and you end up with duplicates, the worst case being that users only update the document in one location while they are outdated on other document libraries. Please read the second article of this series, which explains how to use and customize WSS and SPS. The third article explains how to develop Web parts and load them onto portal pages. If you have comments on this article, please contact me at klaus_salchner@hotmail.com. I want to hear if you learned something new. Contact me if you have questions about this topic or article.

About the Author

Klaus Salchner has worked for 14 years in the industry, nine years in Europe and another five years in North America. As a Senior Enterprise Architect with solid experience in enterprise software development, Klaus spends considerable time on performance, scalability, availability, maintainability, globalization/localization, and security. The projects he has been involved in are used by more than a million users in 50 countries on three continents.

Klaus calls Vancouver, British Columbia his home at the moment. His next big goal is doing the New York marathon in 2005. Klaus is interested in guest speaking opportunities or as an author for .NET magazines or Web sites. He can be contacted at klaus_salchner@hotmail.com or http://www.enterprise-minds.com.

Enterprise application architecture and design consulting services are available. If you want to hear more about it, contact me! Involve me in your projects and I will make a difference for you. Contact me if you have an idea for an article or research project. Also contact me if you want to co-author an article or join future research projects!



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