File Modified date misalignment in SharePoint, Explorer View and file shares/drives

04/09/2012

Most of you have been using for ages now the Explorer View of a Document Library. It’s indeed one of the most controversial features SharePoint (sometimes painful for IT Pros) offered since early days but is arguably one of those feature that seduced the “normal” and non-IT users thanks to the easiness of move/copy drag and drop.

During a recent scenario we discovered a misalignment between a file’s “Modified SharePoint metadata field and the actual Date Modifiedof the file as displayed in the Explorer View (if one uses the Explorer View of a Document Library or if the Document Library is mapped as a network drive on the users computer – very common scenario for users) or if one checks the date of the file properties in Office applications (e,g Word, Excel, etc)

The complete scenario is as follows: the “Modified” column in SharePoint has been basically overwritten during a copy/move operation performed using the Document Library Explorer View and now reflects the “Modified” date in which the moving operation was done instead of the last modification date of the file itself.

Below the picture displays the Modified date as it appears in SharePoint (2/08/2012) which is indeed the date where the file was moved from the source to this Document Library:

Below the picture displays the Modified date as it appears if we use the Explorer View on the same Document Library (with the original date when the file was truly modified (27/7/2012):

When you upload a document to a document library SharePoint will use the last modified date as the date which the upload was done while the Explorer view (Windows) will display the modified date stored as property of the file itself!

This behavior can also be explained from another angle: “Modified” date in SharePoint is actually the Content Type modification date while “Modified” date in Windows (classical file shares or drives) is the date of the file itself.

Well, in our case this behavior creates big problems given the fact that many users continue to use the Explorer View in order to access and find their work files in their department or team site (most of them simply remember that the file they look for it was modified at a certain date in time so they will look for that file rather sorting on the modified date than on performing a search).

We looked than for a way of mapping these inner file properties reported above, carrying the last modification date of the file, onto a site column to be shown in a Document Library View. We know that this approach is very useful for search purposes: in Shared Services Administration -> Search Administration -> Metadata Property Mapping we can map the properties Basic:14(Date and Time), Basic:16(Date and Time), ows_Modified(Date and Time) onto a new property labelled, for instance, LastModifiedTime (see pic below).

Nevertheless, this mapping seems to be useful for search purposes only and unfortunately Microsoft confirmed that there is no out-of-the-box configuration for our purpose.

It seems that the only out-of-the-box solution would be to use Backup and Restore which will then preserve the original last modified dates…or custom development of course (event handlers, etc)

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Harshness of the Enterprise Search Solutions

13/04/2012

Une très intéressante analyse de Stephen E Arnold suite aux grands acquisitions du marché en fin de l’année dernière (HP a acheté Autonomy et Oracle a acheté Endeca) que je vous invite tous à lire.

Main conclusions :

  • Whatever the search solution, the users never embraced trully one or truly satisfied..still don’t find what they look for.
  • Cost control is really inexistent. Open end costs for enterprise search solutions. Search and semantics are getting always more complicated and more costly…not what a manager or a user wishes.
  • Social behavior: it is easier to ask someone for information than search, browse, discover, or interpret jazzy charts to get it.”
  • Good thing is that innovation (in accessing and retrieving information) will continue: « innovation will continue because search, content processing, and the hot sectors like semantics run into the mercurial characteristics of language” 🙂

Read the entire analysis:

http://arnoldit.com/wordpress/2011/10/23/enterprise-search-silliness/

Thanks Stephen E Arnold!

If you have an Enteprise Architecture or a Portal project I fully advise you to read the RealStory group reports on Enterprise Architecture solutions: http://www.realstorygroup.com/Reports/Search/ and Portal Solutions:  http://www.realstorygroup.com/Reports/Portals/

They will cost you something like 2-3 days of consultance but they are really comprehensive. Very useful for SWOT, TCO or aquisition analysis.


Mobile applications vs Web Mobile

30/03/2012

The corporate question often arise these days:  should I build a mobile web site or a mobile application? Well, there are already thousands or millions of pages on pro and cons but below, thanks to the feedback I got attending the Usability Week by NNGroup, I tried to summarise the essence of this discussion:

  1. MOBILE APPLICATIONS: For highly specialized services and/or very specific content with frequent recurrent users a mobile application makes sense. Nevertheless, marketing/service positioning can be a special and valid reason for building a mobile application for the organization. (e.g. I need to have an app because my concurrence has already or is planning one.
  2. MOBILE WEB: For all the rest(kinds & targets of users, the accessibility is the most important requirement so a mobile website is enough.There are nevertheless (at least) 2 main technical implementation options:
  • Keep your web site as it is but place a specialised proxy in front of it so it detects when a mobile is coming to your web site. You can easily outsource the detection and service of mobile web pages (reverse proxy or similar solutions to Adesso in Germany) as it will be impossible for you to maintain the caracteristics of each and every main mobile device out there.
  • Build a mobile version of a site using for instance adaptive layout (one size that fits all – average quality; see Lessframework exemple : http://www.lessframework.com/). Device detection layer (point above) can still be outsourced or insourced.

But ultimately DO NOT FORGET this: Building a Mobile Application or a Mobile Web Site…..this MUST BE a business decision and not an IT one!




Creating Content-Centric Sites with SharePoint 2010 Web Content Management (MNC04) – my notes

30/09/2010

SharePoint Connections 2010, Den Haag, 29 September 2010

Session: Creating Content-Centric Sites with SharePoint 2010 Web Content Management (MNC04)

Speaker: ANDREW CONNELL (http://www.andrewconnell.com)

  • Planning a SharePoint 2010 WCM Site
    • Define major areas of the site
    • Define the types of content
    • Define different rendering options on the site
    • Define major actors for different sections
    • Define content review & approval process
    • Define content management plan
  • Tooling small nice application from CriticalPath Training company (check on the Members area of the web site for it: AC’s SharePoint 2010 Site Collection Keep Alive Job Utility (v1.1 – Updated June 7, 2010) for site warm-up : to be used before demos and presentations or for testing purposes.

Designing Governance: How Information Management and Security Must Drive Your Design (MIT02) – my notes

30/09/2010

SharePoint Connections 2010, Den Haag, 28 September 2010

Session: Designing Governance: How Information Management and Security Must Drive Your Design (MIT02)

Speaker: DAN HOLME

  • Always keep in mind the scope and the goal: what you try to achieve with the solution
  • Understand the business
  • Understand SharePoint and especially its limitations
  • Identify Information Management (IM) requirements:
    • Ownership of information
    • How long the content is online and who consumes it?
    • What kind of content do you have
  • Identify SharePoint management controls and scopes
    • Requirements on authentication imply a certain choice of the Web APP.
    • Authentication providers: In SharePoint 2007 if you have two authentication providers you had to extend the web app and thou have two links for access to the same web app (disadvantage is that users could not send links between them as they were not similar) – in SharePoint 2010 you can have two authentication providers for the same web app
    • Only one-way to manage ownership and quotas: site collection. Site collections is thou directly linked to the ownership of information (who needs to have full access to content)
    • Storage, quotas, locks influence also the site collection planning (on or more content databases in regard of backup and restore time and efficiency)
    • Navigation and content types are also influencing the topology at the site collection level
    • Users are also ‘scoped’ at the Site Collection level: you might have to plan it at this level if you need to give access to users who do not have to see each other: a possible solution: create a site collection for each client?
  • Align controls and scopes with requirement
    • Recommendation: have a web app for the Intranet, another one for collaboration where people can be empowered to have self-site provisioning (http://intranet vs http://team ) and another one or more for clients (http://clients )
    • Content Promotion
      • Is extremely important: e.g. take the content from the collaboration site and publish it to the intranet once it’s finished.
      • Consider document life-time and expiration policies in order not to find yourself with another garbage place like on the old file shares;
      • Consider also exposing content from one site to another site especially using RSS or third party tools for roll-ups or content query web parts (Avepoint has a tool to share a file share as it was a document library)
    • Farm level scope:
      • GEO performance: Farm geographical location is important – it should be as close as possible to the users – performance for collaboration might be an issue
      • Isolation – dedication for a specific service might be interesting (Application services specific servers)
    • Consider Premium farms(s) for custom applications vs out of the box SharePoint farms for standard features use. Standard Farms will be a lot easier to upgrade and maintain = mitigate risks & costs
  • Overlay information architecture and administration
    • Lay Navigation (usage of top link bars and custom link lists are security trimmed), content roll/up & search on top of a manageable structure end not vice-versa!
    • Use administration tools (third parties)
  • SharePoint 2010 has now built in Resource Throttling (max 5000 items returned in a list for example) and it is scoped at the web application level
  • What users can or can not modify in their sites using SharePoint Designer it is scoped at the web app level
  • Use Powershell to create a site collection and specify a specific database (which is not possible through the UI) – for SharePoint 2007 there is a similar stsadm command.
  • TIP: in SharePoint 2010 there is a Content Organizer (allows pulling documents from a drop-off library and dispatching elsewhere) and it can be activated as a site feature.