Introduction: Why this article?
The best way to learn a new technology is by being able to play around and trying a few tricks as you read the concepts, especially if you are in the IT industry.
This article is intended to help newbies get started with "SharePoint Products and Technologies". Below I explain how this article would be of help to system administrators and developers new to this technology.
System administrators: can use this article to setup a SharePoint server on their network for test purposes, to get used to the features of SharePoint and also learn how to create and manage collaborative team sites.
Developers: Windows SharePoint Services is the DotNet Framework for developing collaborative applications, you need to have a SharePoint environment (server) where you can deploy and test your applications. For example WebParts have to be installed on a SharePoint server. This article will help developers new to SharePoint setup their test environment.
In addition, this article is part of a series of articles I will be writing to talk extensively about SharePoint Products and Technologies, right from the beginning to more advanced topics.
Importance of Windows SharePoint Services (WSS)
To appreciate the importance of WSS, we need to understand what Collaborative Applications are.
Collaboration refers to interaction between two or more individuals that may involve actions like information sharing, communication, problem solving, cooperation and many others.
Therefore Collaborative Applications can be defined as software that allows a group of users to communicate, share information and processes and to cooperate.
Windows SharePoint Services is a component of the Windows Server 2003 information worker infrastructure and provides team services and sites to Microsoft Office System and other desktop programs. It is also a platform for collaborative application development. WSS provides resources such as portals, team workspaces, e-mail, presence awareness, and Web-based conferencing. WSS enables users to locate distributed information quickly and efficiently, as well as connect to and work with others more productively. For more on WSS click here WSS Overview.
To me, WSS is the core of the entire SharePoint Products and Technologies, and I believe the best way to get started with SharePoint is by setting up a server running WSS.
System Requirements for Windows SharePoint Services
- Intel Pentium III-compatible processor
- 512 megabytes (MB) of RAM
- 550 MB of available hard disk drive space
||One of the following Operating Systems:
- Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition
- Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Edition
- Windows Server 2003 Datacenter Edition
- Windows Server 2003 Web Edition (requires full version of Microsoft SQL Server)
A Web application server with the following components:
- Microsoft ASP.NET
- Internet Information Services (IIS) 6.0 with the following components:
- Common files
- Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) service
- World Wide Web service
||One of the following versions of SQL Server:
- SQL Server 2000, with the latest service pack
- SQL Server 2000 Enterprise Edition, with the latest service pack
- SQL Server 2000 Desktop Engine (Windows) (WMSDE)
||Multiple server configurations must be members of a Microsoft Windows NT 4.0, Windows 2000, or Windows Server 2003 domain.
||One of the following browsers:
- Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.01 with Service Pack 2
- Internet Explorer 5.5 with Service Pack 2
- Internet Explorer 6
- Netscape Navigator 6.2 or later
- Mozilla 1.4 or later
Setting up your Windows SharePoint Services Environment
One question that may arise when it comes to this and the System requirements, is do I have a Windows 2003 server in place?
Well if your answer is yes, then all you have to do is make sure all the prerequisites as mentioned in the requirements table above are installed. Next you can download WSS and install on the Windows 2003 Server.
If you have no Windows 2003 Server in place, especially for developers who usually use laptops (code from anywhere), I recommend the use of Microsoft Virtual PC. You may download a trial version of Microsoft Virtual PC from this link http://www.softpedia.com/get/System/OS-Enhancements/Microsoft-Virtual-PC.shtml
Note: This article is not about setting up Microsoft Virtual PC, so I will not go into the details.
Assuming you have your server ready with the following components:
- Windows 2003 Server
- Microsoft ASP.NET
- Internet Information Server 6.0 (with Common files, SMTP Service, WWW Service)
- SQL Server 2000 with the latest service pack (This may exist on another server on the network).
Then you should be good to go with the Windows SharePoint Services installation.
You can start by downloading WSS from this link – WSS Download
- Run the stsv2.exe file downloaded.
- Accept the agreement, and wait for the installation files to be copied to your PC.
- Next you have to choose the Installation type as in the screen below.
Typical Installation is the most basic installation you can do, and this option installs Microsoft SQL Server Desktop Engine (MSDE) to store the site content and configuration data. It also sets up the Default website in ISS as the SharePoint team site.
In this exercise I chose Server Farm as the installation type because this option enables you to configure one or more front-end web servers, and you have to set the path to the MSSQL server, and set up the SharePoint sites by yourself.
- If your installation is successful, the Windows SharePoint Services configuration page will be opened, and this looks as below.
- Select the Use an existing application pool option, and leave the existing StsAdminAppPool(NT AUTHORITY\NETWORK SERVICE) as the application pool.
- Select the Security Configuration – For this I decided to use NTLM, which is the recommended security configuration to use with Integrated Windows authentication, if no other IIS applications are being run on the virtual server.
- On the page that follows, follow the instruction to restart IIS and click OK.
- Next you have to configure the virtual server settings using a screen similar to the one below.
- Click the Configure virtual server settings link, and on the window that appears click on Default Website. The Screen below will be displayed, here you can take the link Extend and create a content database. This option will enable you to create the Top level WSS site for the virtual server.
- On the screen that follows below, select the option Use an existing application pool, type your username as the site owner if no name appears, type the custom URL. For example my custom URL is /FirstSite. This means you will be able to access the site by typing the url: http://servername/FirstSite/
- Click OK on the window that appears next, wait for about 3 minutes for the content database to be created then test the created site by typing the URL http://server_name/FirstSite/. This should take you to the Template Selection page as shown below.
- At this level you are presented with different site templates provided by Windows SharePoint Services.
- For now we will select the Team Site template and click OK.
- Finally you should be looking at your First WSS team site as shown below.
- You can see the features provided by this site:
- Documents: A document Library to enable members of the site to share documents.
- Pictures: Allows easy uploading of pictures to the site
- Discussions:Default discussion forum for members of the site to exchange ideas
- Surveys: You can create surveys and team members can fill the surveys online (these may include questionnaires, Feedback forms and many others).
- Tasks and many other features.
Well if you have gotten to the point of browsing the top level site, then your server is ready and you can start playing with WSS. Now that your sever is setup, you can visit this link for more info and resources on SharePoint Products and Technologies. http://www.microsoft.com/sharepoint/.
I hope this article makes a difference especially to those new to SharePoint. Your feedback is very welcome and highly appreciated.
My next article will be of great interest to developers, because we will look at the WSS Architecture, and we will also develop our first Windows SharePoint Services application.