MPUG Melbourne–Tuesday 6th December

mpug

It’s time for the last MPUG Melbourne of 2011, being held at Microsoft Melbourne on Tuesday 6th December. In a change from previous events, this session is being held at 12:00pm, instead of the usual 5:30pm start, based on feedback from attendees.

The topic for December is The low-down on Project 2010 and Project Server 2010 Service Pack 1

We will provide an overview of the recently released Microsoft Project & Project Server 2010 Service Pack 1. Demonstrating the improvements that have been made that were highly requested by EPM users, including multiple-browser support, synchronisation to Microsoft SharePoint task list updates, manual scheduling extensions, and schedule web part improvements. We will also provide guidance on how to successfully deploy this Service Pack within your organisation.

If you’re running Project Server 2010 and haven’t installed SP1, then this is a must attend event. Registration is free, but please RSVP via EventBright so we know numbers.

Date:  Tuesday 6th December 2011

Time: 12pm to 1:30pm

Location: Microsoft Melbourne, Level 5, 4 Freshwater Place, Southbank VIC 3006

Project Server Service Pack 1–Two handy SharePoint Features

With the introduction of Service Pack 1 for Project Server and SharePoint in late June, in addition to the raft of bug fixes, a number of new features were included. The Project product team has as usual, done a diligent job in communicating these changes and I am not going to recap what they have already covered. Instead I am going to look at two new features of SharePoint that will no doubt benefit users and administrators of Project Server.

Site Recycle Bin

With WSS 3.0, Microsoft introduced a recycle bin capability that allowed items that had previously been deleted accidently to be captured in a recycle bin, allowing users, or site collection administrators to restore those items if required. Whilst the recycle bin captured pretty much everything SharePoint could throw at it, one glaring omission was that it couldn’t capture sites natively. With the introduction of SharePoint 2010 SP1, all sites that are deleted via Site Actions> Delete Site are now captured in the Site Collection Recycle Bin, allowing site collection administrators to recover any site deleted accidently.

Delete Site

Site Collection Recycle Bin

When I first heard of this feature I was keen to see how Project Server would work with it. As you are aware, Project Server allows you to save backups of various settings into the Archive database via a scheduled or administrative backup. However, this backup does not include the workspaces. Typically if you accidently delete a workspace, you need to do a database restore and recover the site accidently deleted. So when I heard this feature was coming, I was pleased to know there was a quick and convenient option to restore the sites should the need arise.

However, it appears there is a Project Server related ‘gotcha’ with this feature. If you choose to delete a site via the Server Settings > Delete Enterprise Objects of Project Server by checking the ‘Delete the associated Microsoft SharePoint Foundation Sites?’ option, the site will not captured in the Site Collection Recycle Bin.

Server Settings - Delete Enterprise Objects

Only those sites that are deleted via the Project Workspaces Site Actions > Delete Site option are. I am not sure why this is the case, but based on this I would suggest that any administrators that use the Delete Enterprise Objects functionality and usually choose to delete the associated workspace at the time of deletion choose not to check the ‘Delete the associated Microsoft SharePoint Foundation Sites?’ option and instead manually delete the site, giving an option to restore from the recycle bin should it be needed.

Storage Metrics

The second feature I wanted to look at was is called Storage Metrics This feature provides an overview of the storage being used by the sites and folders within a Site Collection allowing an administrator to see which sites are storing too much data within a site or if you are using quotas, which sites need archiving to ensure the quota is not breached.

Site Collection Storage Metrics

I can personally think of several customers that would benefit from the ability to easily see just how big certain project’s workspaces are becoming.

Project Demo Image–Excel Services problem after SP1 upgrade

Excel Services ErrorAnother Update: Thanks to SeaMonkey76 in the MSDN forums pointing out that this issue is fixed in the October 2011 SharePoint CU (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2596582), so get patching :)

Update: A couple of readers have pointed out that this behaviour is is the norm where there isn’t a root site and it’s best practice to implement one. I totally agree and have run into situations where things like InfoPath have ceased to work due to this. The purpose of this post is more for those people that run into this error in the demo image, after an upgrade and can’t figure out why. It took me a little while to track it down, so I just through I would share.

I am posting this in case anyone else runs into a similar problem in Excel Services and to give some search engine index bait.

Following upgrading my IW demo image to SP1 + June CU, I noticed that Excel Services components in the Business Intelligence centre were no longer rendering and consistently showing the loading graphic.

Excel Services - Loading Graphic

On closer inspection, the browser was showing the following error:

Message: Syntax error
Line: 1
Char: 1
Code: 0
URI: http://project.contoso.com/_layouts/EwaStringsHandler.ashx/en-US?rev=V5cXKzVnvQRpcOxdnGD5cQ%3D%3D&flh=4sHCQGJUaMtQCBbbV6EmZw==

Checking the ULS logs showed these error messages:

An internal error occurred.    at Microsoft.Office.Excel.Server.MossHost.MossHost.Microsoft.Office.Excel.Server.Host. IEwaHost.IsSecureConnection()     at Microsoft.Office.Excel.WebUI.EwaCUIDataSource.EnsureDocument()     at Microsoft.Web.CommandUI.CUIDataSource.RunQuery(UIQuery query)     at Microsoft.Office.Excel.WebUI.EwaRibbon.QueryRibbonDataSource(CultureInfo uiCulture, String clientID, Boolean denormalizeImareUri)     at Microsoft.Office.Excel.WebUI.EwaStringsHandler.ProcessRequest(HttpContext context)

and

Watson bucket parameters: SharePoint Server 2010, ULSException14, 5f9be61a “excel services application”, 0e00178d “14.0.6029.0”, f5b5c9d6 “microsoft.office.excel.server.mosshost”, 0e001785 “14.0.6021.0”, 4d65e5e7 “wed feb 23 21:00:23 2011″, 000002d3 “000002d3″, MISSING, 4a6d3421 “nullreferenceexception”, 66326e39 “f2n9″

It seems that Excel Services now needs a site collection to be present in the root of the a web application or it will throw the above error. I am not sure when this behaviour changed, but given the IW Demo Image and Project Demo and Evaluation pack does not install a site at http://project.contoso.com it is necessary to create a blank site collection via Central Admin manually.

Once this is done, the Business Intelligence Centre should start to render the Excel Services components once again.

Native Project Server Support and the iPad. It works. Sort of.

With the introduction of Service Pack One, Microsoft have introduced Cross Browser support to the timesheet, task and risk and issue features of PWA (in addition to the existing support of the Project workspaces), for the following browsers:

  • Internet Explorer 9 (32-bit) on Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows Server 2008
  • Internet Explorer 8 (32-bit) on Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows Server 2008
  • Internet Explorer 7 (32-bit) on Windows Vista, Windows XP, and Windows Server 2003
  • Firefox 3.6.8+ on Mac OS X v10.6, Windows 7 (32-bit/64-bit), Windows Vista SP2, Windows XP SP3, Windows Server 2003 and UNIX/Linux
  • Google Chrome 6.0 on Windows 7
  • Apple Safari 5 on Mac OS X v10.6

What isn’t listed is Safari for iOS which the iPad uses which I was keen to see would work or not. Like many people, I purchased an iPad so I could sit on the sofa and catch up with twitter, RSS feeds, email and play Angry Birds without having to have a massive laptop burning a hole through my legs.  So the idea of being able to fill in my timesheets in Project Server using an iPad really appeals to me.

Anyway to cut a long story short, I thought I would wire up my SP1 + June CU VM to my home network and point my iPad over at PWA to see what would happen. To my surprise, instead of seeing the new cross browser error message (below)…

Project Server - Non Compatible Browser

I was granted with this Smile

PWA on iPad

Clicking through the cross browser pages (Tasks, Timesheets and Risks / Issues), the pages seem to render fine, both in portrait and landscape mode:

Timesheets on iPad

However the issues seem to start when you try and use the app.

Splitter Bar

To start with the splitter bar (as highlighted above) doesn’t seem to work via the touch interface, which if you have a lot of fields being displayed in the left hand pane, can make the screen unusable.  There is a potential workaround for this, by reducing the number of columns in the view, however these won’t be reflected until a new period is created.

More Timesheets on iPad

Scroll Bars

Like the splitter bar, the scroll bars don’t seem to operate as expected, but touching on the region outside of the actual scroll bar as marked in red below will work

image

On closer inspection the scroll bar itself is not a traditional scroll bar, instead it is one rendered in HTML as part of the JSGrid, which might explain why Safari on the iPad is having trouble interacting with it.

Keyboard sensitivity

Again, more of a limitation of the iPad, but when trying to enter text into a timesheet entry towards the bottom of the screen, the keyboard will fly out and obscure where the text entry is taking place.

Tasks and the iPad keyboard

One option is to run this in portrait mode, but that will have the side effect of hiding some of the columns of information.

Ribbon

Finally, the ribbon seems to be having a bit of a hard time when used on the iPad. When you pinch to zoom in, the ribbon tries to do it’s best and resizes as per the screen below. However when you zoom out the ribbon can take a while to realise. This isn’t a Project thing per se, and I would imagine it’s an issue with all SharePoint sites viewed via the iPad.

iPad Ribbon Confusion

Conclusion

As I said above, Project Web App on the iPad works, sort of. But it does have some limitations and annoyances which you will need to work around. As this isn’t an officially supported browser within SP1, if you use the iPad you will have to live with these, but kudos to the Project team for their excellent implementation of cross browser and not explicitly blocking the iPad.

Project Server 2010 : Service Pack One

Achievement unlocked - PS2010 SP1 Installed

Last week Microsoft released Service Pack 1 for Project Server 2010 and SharePoint 2010.  To complicate matters on the same day, the June 2011 CU was also released and recommended to be installed at the same time.

A full list of the fixes and changes in SP1 can be seen here, and the June CU here. At the time of writing, the June CU has a number of known issues that must be understood prior to patching as they may impact your underlying SharePoint farm.

As for installing, make sure you have read and completely understand the Deploy Service Pack 1 for Project Server guidance on Technet, I would also recommend you read this article by Spence Harbar which gives some great guidance and advice on patching SP1.