Thursday, September 26, 2013

InstallShield 2013

It has actually been a while since I last looked at InstallShield (2010 to be exact).  Therefore, when InstallShield 2013 was recently released, I decided to check it out once again to see what changes were introduced.

First, let me provide a few screenshots of what was previously available in InstallShield 2010:

Here is the Installation Designer in InstallShield 2010:

Here is the list of what was available for Custom Actions in InstallShield 2010:

Here is the SQL Scripts view in InstallShield 2010:

Here is a screenshot of what was available for Windows Installer project types in InstallShield 2010:

Below is a screenshot of the new Installation Designer screen in InstallShield 2013:

Some of the new features that have been introduced in InstallShield 2013 since InstallShield 2010 are the following:

  1. Support for Windows 2000 has been dropped from the Project Assistant dialog.
  2. You can now configure Scheduled Tasks
  3. You can now configure Services
  4. You have a greater list of available Custom Actions including Kill Process and PowerShell!!
  5. You can now open SQL Scripts in SQL Server Management Studio.
  6. ApplicationPoolIdentity has been added as an available Process Identity for Application Pools.

There is a new project type called Suite/Advanced UI Project which allows launching multiple installation packages through one consolidated User Interface:

 In the list of available Installation Requirements, you will notice the following options missing:

  1. Adobe Reader 11
  2. .NET Framework v. 4.5
  3. SQL Server 2012 Express
  4. Internet Explorer 10 or Internet Explorer 11
  5. Microsoft Office 2013
Of course, many of these are available through the Redistributables section, however, it would be convenient if these were also available as Installation Requirements.

Finally, though this feature was also present in InstallShield 2010, there have been some updates to App-V support to allow targeting different versions of App-V for deployment:

Friday, September 20, 2013

Office Web Apps with SharePoint Server 2013


There are a few significant differences in installing Office Web Apps with SharePoint Server 2013:


  1. You can no longer install Office Web Apps on the same server as SharePoint.  Instead, you have to install Office Web Apps on a COMPLETELY different server from the SharePoint Server.  In addition, Office Web Apps is not part of its own farm separate from the SharePoint Farm.
  2. In addition to not being able to install SharePoint on the Office Web Apps Server, you also cannot install the following: Exchange, Lync, SQL Server or any Desktop version of the Office suite.
  3. You ABSOLUTELY need to keep these ports open: 80, 443 or 809.
  4. It can only be installed on Windows Server 2008 R2 or Windows Server 2012.
  5. Office Web Apps 2013 REQUIRES Claims-based Authentication in order to operate.  If you are still using Classic mode Authentication, you will have to switch it over to Claims-based Authentication before you can begin using Office Web Apps 2013.
  6. Office Web Apps 2013 supports a wider variety of browsers on both PCs & Macs for Editing and Viewing (IE, Firefox, Chrome & Safari) as well as Tables & Saltes.  Viewing is also supported on a variety of Smart Phones and it is optimized for touch screens.
  7. In order to create a new Office Web Apps Farm, you will have to run a PowerShell command such as the following:
    New-OfficeWebAppsFarm -InternalUrl -AllowHttp –EditingEnabled

  8. Once you have run the PowerShell command, you can verify that your Office Web Apps Farm has been successfully created by navigating a to a Url similar to the following:
  9. Unfortunately, once you have created your Office Web Apps Farm, you have to manually configure your SharePoint Farm to communicate with the Office Web Apps Farm through using a series of PowerShell commands.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Installing SharePoint 2010 on Windows Server 2012


With the release of SharePoint 2010 SP2, you will now be able to install SharePoint 2010 on Windows Server 2012!!

If you check out my previous article here:, you will notice that were some hacks/workarounds in order to get SharePoint 2010 to install on Windows Server 2012.

However, with the release of SP2, Microsoft has included the native ability to install on Windows Server 2012 and thereby reap the benefits of hosting on IIS 8 (vs. IIS 7 and IIS 7.5).

Since Microsoft now ships a new PrerequisiteInstaller with SP2, simply slipstreaming the SP2 Updates into the original SharePoint 2010 media will not be enough.  Instead, you will need to grab the latest SharePoint 2010 with SP2 DVD media from MSDN Subscriptions.  MSDN Subscriptions.

Now you can enjoy deploying your SharePoint 2010 installations on Windows Server 2012!!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

First Look at Windows Server 2012 R2

I just installed Windows Server 2012 R2 today to see how many changes were made in the UI compared to Windows Server 2012.

Not surprisingly, the changes were miniscule!!

The only major change in the UI was the addition of a “pseudo” Start button.

I call it a “pseudo” Start button because it does not open the traditional Windows Start menu that we have become used to in previous versions of Windows (such as Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2), but rather, it simply opens the Windows Metro Start screen.

However, on this new Windows Metro Start screen, they have a new, unexplained “arrow” icon (in the bottom left hand corner).  By clicking on this arrow icon, you jump straight to the Apps screen.  So, this is a minor value added convenience over and above what was in the base release of Windows Server 2012, but overall, it does not add back the productivity that was previously available to desktop and laptop users in Windows Server 2008 R2. 

Well, fortunately, there are still a number of Start Menu alternative providers out in the market place for us to choose from such as Classic Shell.

In addition, Windows Explorer renames “My Computer” to “This PC”.

Finally, they seemed to have removed the concept of "Libraries" and simply provided the standard folders of "Pictures", "Music", "Videos" etc. reverting back to the days prior to Windows Vista when the concept of "Libraries" was first introduced.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Major limitation when using SharePoint on a Windows Workgroup computer

If you are a developer and you set up SharePoint on a VM (Virtual Machine), it is very easy to set up your entire environment on a computer which is not a member of a domain (i.e. part of a Workgroup).
Unfortunately, one of the major problems that you may encounter when doing this is while dealing with Workflows.

Particularly, the Tasks List has a built-in e-mail notification Workflow that sends an e-mail to the individual in the “Assigned To” field of the Tasks List.

As you can guess, in a Windows Workgroup, this e-mail field is never populated because Windows User Accounts do not expose the Mail attribute on the User schema when your computer is only part of a Workgroup!!

Therefore, if you are planning on doing any testing with SharePoint Workflows (especially workflows based on the Task List), it is advised to build your SharePoint developer VM as a member of a domain.

Dealing with orphaned Tasks in SharePoint Designer

Whenever you create a Workflow that “Assigns a To-Do Item” in SharePoint Designer, SharePoint behind the scenes will end up creating a Custom Content Type for you. 
However, one of the problems with this is that if you end up renaming the “To-Do Item” in SharePoint Designer, the next time you Save and Publish your Workflow, you will inevitably end up with a brand new Custom Content Type.
This can really mess things up when you delete a “To-Do Item” and attempt to re-create it with the same name.  You will get an error message stating that the item already exists!

So how do you deal with this problem?

You have to delete the Custom Content Type!!

Unfortunately, this cannot be done directly from the Content Types view in SharePoint Designer, because then you will simply get another error message stating that the Content Type is still in use.

Therefore, the best way to handle this is to navigate directly to the List or Library in SharePoint Designer on which you created the “To-Do Item” and delete it from amongst the listed Content Types.

This should allow you to then re-create the “To-Do Item” with the same name as you desire.

Monday, September 16, 2013

SharePoint 2010 SP2 is available!

It has been a very long time since the release of SharePoint 2010 SP1, therefore, most organizations have had to resort to applying CUs (Cumulative Updates) to their SharePoint installations to get the latest and greatest hotfixes applied to their SharePoint environments.
Fortunately, SharePoint 2010 SP2 has been recently released, therefore, you can simply apply SP2 and avoid downloading all of the various Cumulative Updates one has had to download and apply individually in the past:
If all goes well, SP2 will not introduce the same fiasco as SP1.  With the release of SP1, a CU was immediately required to deploy on top of SP1 to ensure a fully functional SharePoint environment.  If the CU was not applied, many aspects of your SharePoint installation would be completely broken!!

For a complete listing of available SharePoint 2010 SP2 updates, check out this link here:

Get ready for Windows PowerShell 4.0!


If you haven’t noticed already, Microsoft has had a very quick turnaround of versions of PowerShell.  We started back with Windows PowerShell v.1.0 and not long afterwards Windows PowerShell v. 2.0 was released.  With the release of Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012, PowerShell v. 3.0 was released.

Now, with the release of Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows PowerShell v. 4.0 is now on the way!!

You can download a preview version of Windows PowerShell v. 4.0 here:

If you want to start playing around with the RTM release of Windows PowerShell v. 4.0, you can download the RTM releases of Windows 8.1 or Windows Server 2012 R2 from MSDN Subscriptions:

PowerShell Script to improve SharePoint Load Time


If you have read the following Microsoft Support article:, you may already know that you can modify the Windows Registry in order to improve SharePoint’s overall load time.  This is especially useful if you are simply using SharePoint as a development environment rather than in a production scenario.

As the article states, you can simply modify the registry manually on your development machine, or if you prefer to automate these registry changes, you can simply use a PowerShell script such as the following:


#Set the DisableStrictNameChecking Registry Key
Set-ItemProperty -Path HKLM:\System\CurrentControlSet\Services\LanmanServer\Parameters -Name DisableStrictNameChecking -Type DWORD -Value 1 -Force
#Set the DisableLoopbackCheck Registry Key
Set-ItemProperty -Path HKLM:\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Lsa -Name DisableLoopbackCheck -Type DWORD -Value 1 -Force

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2 now available to MSDN Subscribers!


If you have been eagerly anticipating the RTM releases of Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2, if you are an MSDN Subscriber, the wait is over!

You can now download the RTM releases of Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2 from the MSDN Downloads site here: MSDN Subscriptions

Pre-pidding a SharePoint 2013 Installation


For those of you who have just started installing SharePoint 2013, fortunately, Microsoft has not changed the installation process significantly from SharePoint 2010, therefore, you can pre-pid a SharePoint 2013 installation just in the same manner as how you did it previously for SharePoint 2010:

SharePoint 2013 Development – 1 or 2 Developer VMs?


If you have checked out this blog post: SP Dev Machine, you will notice that the article refers to a single development machine for all SharePoint 2013 Development.  You can add a 2nd VM to the mix for Office Web Apps, but that is largely just an option for everyday development.

However, if you refer to various other consultants or professionals, most will recommend 2 VMs at a minimum for SharePoint 2013 Development.

Why is this?

The main reason is to separate the functionality of the domain controller from the actual SharePoint 2013 Development environment. 

In this manner, you can easily build out larger SharePoint Farms all using the some domain controller VM without having to worry about messing up your original SharePoint 2013 installation. 

The biggest reason that I find for separating out this functionality is because of the extremely heavy emphasis many organizations are placing on Claims-based authentication.  Numerous corporations are now adopting ADFS (Active Directory Federation Services) to handle SSO for many of their applications, so it would be logical for a Claims-based SharePoint developer to eventually have to set up his/her own ADFS Server.  In this case, the most logical choice for setting up an ADFS Server would then be the existing and available domain controller.

The 2 VM segregation also provides you with a little bit more leeway while testing Cumulative Update patches on your SharePoint 2013 environment.  Of course, before you apply any Cumulative Update on a VM, you always want to have a snapshot before installing the patch, but separating your SharePoint 2013 environment from your domain controller/ADFS Server provides an additional safety net in case something goes wrong.  Worst case scenario, you would have to completely re-build your SharePoint 2013 environment, but you would still have your domain controller/ADFS Server intact.

Therefore, if you have enough memory to support 2 SharePoint Development VMs (16 GB minimum but preferably 24 GB or greater), I would definitely recommend that as the way to go. 

Site Collection Templates in SharePoint 2013

In SharePoint 2013, Microsoft has introduced a new set of Site Collection Templates as well as deprecated/removed some Site Collection templates that were previously available in SharePoint 2007/2010.

Below are screenshots of the available Site Collection Templates in SharePoint 2013:

One of the very new and exciting Site Collection Templates that is now available with the Enterprise set of templates is the new eDiscovery Center.  As you can guess by the name, this facilitates eDiscovery within an organization.  This can be especially useful for large corporations which have already adopted SharePoint as their primary document repository.  This allows for documents to be built as "eDiscovery Cases" that can be used for legal proceedings.

Specify an Alternate Source Path for Windows Server 2012 using PowerShell

As you may already know, unlike Windows Server 2008 R2, for Windows Server 2012, you have to specify an Alternate Source Path for the installation media in order to configure Server Roles and Server Features.  If you are directly using Server Manager to do this, you can specify the Alternate Source Path at that time.  However, if you are attempting to automate the installation of some software programs and applications, it is probably more convenient to simply do this using Windows PowerShell. 
This setting can also be controlled through Group Policy, but here I prefer to control it directly through manipulating the Registry Keys:
$AlternateSourcePath = "D:\sources\sxs"

#Make sure you change the PowerShell execution policy prior to running this script (Set-ExecutionPolicy RemoteSigned)
#Create the Servicing Registry Key
New-Item -Path HKLM:\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\policies\Servicing -Force

#Create the LocalSourcePath String Value
Set-ItemProperty -Path HKLM:\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\policies\Servicing -Name "LocalSourcePath" -Value $AlternateSourcePath -Force

Installing SharePoint 2013


Before you get started with installing SharePoint Server 2013, I would recommend that you use the following 2 platforms:

  1. Windows Server 2012
  2. SQL Server 2012

Why do I recommend these 2 platforms?  Well, SharePoint Server 2013 uses .NET Framework v. 4.5 and this is built right into the Windows Server 2012 platform.  In addition, there are some features in SharePoint Server 2013 that can only be utilized in conjunction with SQL Server 2012 (such as Access Services).  Therefore, for the best overall SharePoint experience, I would recommend building your underlying SharePoint Server 2013 infrastructure on top of Windows Server 2012 and SQL Server 2012.

In addition, if you are planning on developing for SharePoint 2013, you will need to get the Microsoft Office Developer Tools for Visual Studio 2012 here:  This is essentially just a Microsoft Web App Installer specifically designed for you to download all of the tooling required to begin developing for SharePoint 2013.