A sensible guide to branding SharePoint 2013

This post details my thoughts on where to start with branding for SharePoint 2013. In particular, I think Themes (.spcolor, .spfont) are now usable, and recommend to start there, linking to a couple of resources. But first, I talk about what not to do.

What not to do

It might seem like a good idea to get a graphic design company to develop a whiz-bang look for your intranet, then turn around and ask a web development company to turn it into a SharePoint branding. Often this starts out with an HTML reset or HTML boilerplate.

The core SharePoint stylesheets have over 10,000 lines of CSS — unless you want to rewrite all of that, you do not want to be doing a CSS reset. You never know when BI dashboard widget XYZ is going to need to display a green/red traffic light based on some CSS buried deep within the core files.

Don’t do it.

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Visual Studio Online – Component architecture

Following on from my colleague Mitch Denny’s Federated Identity in Visual Studio Online, I have expanded his work on the directory architecture and partner integration for Visual Studio Online, and expanded to include the other architectural components of a VSO environment such as build servers, deployment targets, and cloud-based load testing.

Visual Studio Online - Component Architecture

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Ways to load jQuery in SharePoint (2010/2013)

There are many different approachs to using jQuery with SharePoint. Here is a summary of several different methods I have used, including how to get it to play nicely with NuGet.

There are three main decisions to make:

  1. Decide where to put the jQuery files
  2. Add the jQuery (and other) library to the project
  3. Referencing the scripts

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WSRP ‘support’ in SharePoint 2013

Web Service for Remote Portlets (WSRP) is a standard for aggregating content within a host system, allowing the content to come from an external system, yet styling to be provided by the host.

SharePoint has ‘support’ for WSRP since SharePoint 2007, via the WSRP Viewer web part (Enterprise), however while it may technically meet the standard it is all but useless for anything except the most basic of requirements (as at the current version, SharePoint 2013).

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Vote Compass

So, usually I blog about technology, but it’s about time I added a bit of social commentary.

A cool feature of the recent Australian Federal Election was the ABC Vote Compass. Here it is, showing where the major political parties are placed:

VoteCompass2

This concept, of plotting both the economic and social position of politics, has been around for a while, e.g. the Political Compass or Political Quiz (note: both of these have the Y-axis the other way around, so you have to swap top-bottom to compare to the ABC Vote Compass).

It also shows why none of the major Australian political parties are a good fit for me — I want a mix of the economic right AND social liberalism, I want the social policies of the Greens / Labor, and the economic policies of the Coalition.

The positions of the major parties is something I could never quite understand: why is social liberalism so connected to the economic left, and why is the economic right (economic liberalism) so connected to conservative social policies?

That leaves me to turn to minor parties such as the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), often with below the line voting (and wishing we had above the line optional preferences).

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XML Logging in the .NET Framework

This was originally going to be some guideline instructions for a CodePlex project, Essential.Diagnostics that I work on, but it ended up being more an opinion piece so I thought it would fit better on a blog.

There are several trace listeners (loggers) in the .NET Framework that can produce XML output. Outputting to XML results in more complex (verbose) files than, say, a simple text file output, but usually has the benefit of being better processed by tools, correlated across tiers, etc.

There are three main XML listeners, plus one extension in Essential.Diagnostics:

  • XmlWriterTraceListener
  • RollingXmlTraceListener (in Essential.Diagnostics)
  • EventSchemaTraceListener (in System.Core)
  • EventProviderTraceListener (in System.Core)

Examples of how to configure and use each one (used to produce the output below) is provided in the Essential.Diagnostics project.
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Windows 8 Developer Preview Safe Mode

In Windows 8 the ‘Safe Mode’ option is not available on the boot with F8 screen, prompting several guides on creating an additional boot entry using BCDEDIT and chaning the properties via the Windows GUI — not much use if your machine has already run into trouble.

Shift+F8 is the secret key that gets the old boot options menu, with ‘Safe Mode’, but you need to hold it down during POST and keep holding it down until the “Advanced Boot Option” screen appears, otherwise you can’t time it right (unlike F8, or F10 below, which you just hit at the beginning of the boot).

Also the Edit Boot Options menu, available via boot with F10, is still available, and that allows low level control of all the boot options.

I couldn’t track down a current reference for the options, but did find one for Windows XP / Server 2003, most of which still appear relevant: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/833721

To get the same as ‘Safe Mode with Networking':

  1. Press F10 while booting
  2. You should get a text screen titled “Edit Boot Options”, with a section “Edit Windows Boot options for: Windows Developer Preview”
  3. There should be an input area that already has “/NOEXECUTE=OPTIN” (in my case it also had “/HYPERVISORLAUNCHTYPE=AUTO”, which I think is because I am running Hyper-V)
  4. Add “/SAFEBOOT:NETWORK” (Note: “/NOGUIBOOT” doesn’t seem to work — it still shows the loading screen, so options like “/SOS” didn’t work)
  5. Hit ENTER to boot

Safe Mode is important for an early Developer Preview like this as drivers issues are much more likely (I ran into problems trying to add the NVIDIA drivers for my Alienware M14x and had to boot into safe mode to uninstall them).

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