Tag Archives: here

Still here…

Hi guys – I’m still around, but fighting a few more "CKS:EBE on SharePoint 2010" issues than I expected (in what little spare time I have). In particular the rich RSS feed (a critical bit, don’t you think) doesn’t appear to be working correctly.
Don’t worry, though, you haven’t been forgotten, and I’ve got a couple cool post subjects already on tap.

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Planning SharePoint Permissions Worksheet

Download the SharePoint Permissions Planning Worksheet here

I was going to write a blog about what I considered best practices around SharePoint security but Jasper Oostervald – https://www.nothingbutsharepoint.com/sites/eusp/Pages/SharePoint-Permissions-Part-1.aspx in his 2 part blog pretty much covered exactly what I wanted to say and more.

So instead of rewriting what he said I hope to add something by providing a worksheet that I have been working on. It’s really in Alpha so if anyone can improve on it and share what they have done that would be great.

In case you are unaware, Microsoft provides planning worksheets here – http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc262451.aspx

In my opinion most of them complicate things by having columns that most of our projects don’t really use.

I am hoping my one is simpler and more useful.

This worksheet has 4 tabs and instructions and tips.



Start by looking at the “Sites” tab.

Here you add your sites and the permissions of those sites.


You may need to go to the Groups tab to add your new groups that you will need.

The “Content” tab is very similar to the “Sites” tab but is for assigning permission to the libraries and lists in your site.


If your dropdowns stop working you may need to reset them by following these instructions – http://spreadsheets.about.com/od/datamanagementinexcel/qt/20071113_drpdwn.htm.


I would love to get some feedback to see if this worksheet is of use to anyone or even better if someone with actual Excel skills can improve it, that would be great!

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SharePoint 2010 Social Networking: Part 5c – Browsing Bookmarks and Tags


This post is Part 5c of my SharePoint 2010 Social Networking series.  The other parts of Part 5 are all related to the Social Bookmarking and Tagging features of SharePoint 2010:

Part 5a – Intro and Central Database of Bookmarks and Tags For All Users

Part 5b – Bookmarking and Tagging User Experience

Part 5c – Browsing Bookmarks and Tags < You are here

Part 5d – Searching Bookmarks and Tags

(Note: For the first post of the SharePoint 2010 Social Networking series and a table of contents, go here.)

Feature: Browsing Bookmarks and Tags

Of course, having a community of users bookmarking\tagging pages and storing that data in the database for the benefit of others (described in Part 5a and Part 5b) is only a good thing if there are well-designed tools for the users to retrieve and sift through the data when they need to find something.  Of the most common approaches for finding information in a database, 1) browsing, and 2) searching are the most familiar for most users.

So, let’s first look at what Delicious and SharePoint Server 2010 have to offer in terms of browsing through bookmarks and tags and then I will cover searching in the next post.

(Note: I am using the grandfather of all social bookmarking applications, Delicious, to help me compare/contrast the social bookmarking and tagging features of SharePoint 2010. See Part5a of this series if you would like the complete explanation about this.)

For bookmark browsing functionality, a user needs well-designed features that address these fundamental questions/requirements:

  • How can I browse through all of my bookmarks and tags?

- By bookmarked page name chronologically

- By bookmarked page name alphabetically

- By tag name chronologically

- By tag name alphabetically

  • How can I browse through and discover other users’ bookmarks and tags that might help me?

Let’s look at how well Delicious and SharePoint 2010 support these requirements:



Browsing for bookmarks and tags on Delicious is very intuitive and powerful.

By default, on the home page Delicious shows the most recent bookmarks saved to its database by the entire community of users:


Here are some important points about this page that I have called out in the screen shot above:

  1. The home page defaults to the most recent bookmarks collected by the service (Fresh Bookmarks tab), but also shows tabs for the most popular bookmarks (Hotlist tab) and a way to explore the most popular tags being used (Explore Tags tab).
  2. A count of the bookmarks saved in the last minute is shown and it is hyperlinked to a page that will show all of those bookmarks in reverse chronological order.
  3. Each bookmark shows as a line item with the page’s title as a hyperlink and the site that the page is from noted below beginning with the word “via”.
  4. A count of the number of users who have bookmarked the page is shown.  The count is hyperlinked to a page that will show all of the users who have bookmarked the page and any tags that they have used.
  5. The most popular tags that have been used with the bookmark are shown and hyperlinked.  Clicking on one of the tags will take the user to a page that shows all bookmarks that have used that tag.

What if the user just wants to see his\her bookmarks\tags?  By clicking on the Bookmarks button in the top navigation of the page header, the user will go to their My Delicious home page and see only his\her bookmarks, by default, in reverse chronological order:


One thing I particularly like about this page is that I can see how many other users have bookmarked the same page that I have bookmarked (example circled in the screen shot).  If I click on that number, I am taken to a page that gives me the list of all of the other users and the tags that they used when creating the bookmark: 


The Delicious approach to prominently displaying counts of users who have bookmarked a given page is powerful.  It lets the user easily see what bookmarks others are finding to be most useful and does so in a quantitative way.

Also, from the page above I might find other tags that other users have used that might lead me to other useful pages related to a given subject.  This type of functionality demonstrates the essence of how social bookmarking and tagging can facilitate knowledge sharing and discovery.

Now, let’s shift the discussion from “Bookmarks” to “Tags” in Delicious.

Delicious uses a fairly standard tag cloud for browsing tags:


If the user clicks on a tag in the cloud, he will see all of his bookmarks where he used that tag:


What if the user wants to see all bookmarks for all users for a given tag?  Delicious doesn’t make this quite as easy as I think it should be, but it is still fairly easy.  The user just navigates to the Explore Tags page (using the drop down in the top navigation) and types in the name of the tag they are interested in.  The result is a page that shows the most recent bookmarks for that tag:


By adjusting the number of bookmarks to show per page, the user can see up to 100 bookmarks per page that have been associated with the tag and scroll through them in reverse chronological order.

In summary, Delicious gives the user numerous easy-to-use and powerful ways to browse through and filter its database of bookmarks and tags and discover bookmarks and tags that other users have stored.


SharePoint Server 2010:

Browsing for “My” Bookmarks and Tags

If a user wants to see all of their bookmarks\tags, the feature that is provided for this is the Activities web part that is on the Tags and Notes view of the user’s My Profile page of their My Site:

SharePoint 2010 Tags and Notes on My Site

(Note that Tad Orman is signed in as the user.  Because of that, he sees all information on his My Site – even information he has marked as private.  Other users can see a public version of this page on his My Site that would only show information that he has not marked as private.)

To snap this screenshot, I logged in as Tad Orman, navigated to his My Profile page (1) on his My Site, selected the Tags and Notes tab (2), and refined what is shown in the Activities web part (5) by clicking on the Tags hyperlink (3) in the Refine By Type (4) control.  The result is that the Activities web part (5) is showing all of Tad’s tagging activities for the month selected.  (Note that the Activities web part has a scroll type of control (6) at the top that allows the user to scroll forward and backward through his/her activities by month.)

Within the list of activities, the user can see the page name (or URL, in some cases) he bookmarked\tagged (e.g. “Gears Marketing Project – ….” in the highlighted line), the tag that he used (“Gears” in the highlighted line), and the date that he bookmarked\tagged the page.

The page name (or URL) is hyperlinked.  So, the user can go directly to the tagged page by clicking on the link.

The tag is also hyperlinked.  If the user clicks it, he is taken to the Tag Profile page for that tag.  I will explain more about the Tag Profile page a little later.

Finally, there is a line below the bookmark/tag that gives the user the additional options to View Related Activities, Make Private, or Delete the bookmark:

SharePoint 2010 Tags Options

I think the options to mark a bookmark as private and delete a bookmark are self-explanatory.  The option to view related activities is not and requires more explanation.  I’ll cover it a little later. 

***One very important point to note here is that SharePoint 2010 never uses the terminology “bookmark” or “link” anywhere.  Even though the product certainly stores bookmarks\links in its database, it never uses that terminology in the user interface.  It only uses the term “Tags”, which it also stores in its database along with each bookmark\link

Even though this can be explained to end users (as I do below), I believe it will end up being confusing to many of them.  Users will ask questions like “How can I store bookmarks in SharePoint and share them with other users?” and “How can I find all of the bookmarks I have saved to the database?” and “What happened to the “My Links” feature from MOSS 2007 – what replaces it?”.  The answer to all of these questions is “Tags”, but the jump from the term bookmarks (or links) to tags will not be that intuitive for many everyday users, IMHO.***

Filtering and Sorting the List of Bookmarks\Tags to Make Finding Easier

The tag cloud underneath the Refine by tag control, needs some more explanation because it is the key to browsing and filtering tagging activities alphabetically, as opposed to browsing tags in reverse chronological order by month (which is the default).

Users can filter the list of tagging activities by using the tag cloud and the contents of the tag cloud can be sorted alphabetically by tag name to help the user find the tag she is interested in.  But, the steps for doing this may not be very obvious to new users.

In the sequence of screenshots below, this is accomplished by setting the Refine by Type control to “Tags” (1)  and then setting the Refine by Tag control to “Alphabetically” (2), and finally selecting the specific tag in the tag cloud that you are interested in (Gears Project in the screen shot) (3):

SharePoint 2010 - Browsing for Bookmarks

What this causes to happen is: the Activities web part (4) will only show bookmarks\tags activities for the tag selected in the Tag Cloud web part (Gears Project in the example).  This allows the user to browse through her tagging activities alphabetically by clicking on each tag in the Tag Cloud web part until she finds what she is looking for.

So, the three web parts, Refine by type (1), Refine by tag (2), and Activities For (4), are designed to work together to facilitate filtering and browsing of bookmarks and tags.

(Note: It is not possible in SharePoint 2010 to view the Activities web part (4) filtered or unfiltered sorted alphabetically by bookmarked page name. The list of activities in the web part are always sorted in reverse chronological order. Because of this, users cannot browse through the complete list of all of their bookmarked pages alphabetically. They can only browse tags alphabetically and then filter the activities list down to those for a specific tag.)


Browsing to Discover Bookmarks and Tags Used by Other Users

This is really the functionality of social bookmarking and tagging that makes it “social”.  More importantly, as I stated above about Delicious, this is where these software features can really help enterprises with knowledge sharing and discovery.  I believe the bigger the enterprise the more value this can provide because of the sheer volume of internal content that is stored in SharePoint.  The search engine is also critical, just like it is on the Internet.  But, there are times when humans can discover important information that search crawlers can’t.  The ability for humans to easily share what they have discovered is another important way to make sure quality content gets out to those who can benefit from it.

It seems to me that the SharePoint product team went to great extents to try to provide multiple ways and multiple places for a user to discover the bookmarks and tags that other users have created.  I think this approach to surfacing the bookmarking and tagging activity is great!

The best way to understand this is to walk through a scenario.  The scenario I will run through below is as follows:

Scenario: Jeff Williams is a member of the Contoso CRM Consulting team.  Tad Orman is also a Contoso CRM consultant and on Jeff’s team (they both report to Syed Abbas, the team leader).  Because Jeff and Tad report to the same manager, out-of-the-box SharePoint 2010 automatically connects them as Colleagues.  Jeff has heard through the “grapevine” that a group in a division in another geographical region is working on a new project to develop a product line that is vastly different than the existing product lines at Contoso.  Jeff would like to learn a little bit more about this initiative in case it might impact his work at some point.  Unfortunately, Jeff is out of the office most of the time and he doesn’t get a chance to “gather at the water cooler” with his co-workers that much, so he doesn’t think he will overhear what might be going on with the new product line anytime soon.  But, he does have some new social computing tools in SharePoint 2010 that are supposed to facilitate knowledge networking.  Maybe they could help him find more information…………

Here is Jeff Williams’ My Profile page in SharePoint 2010 (Note: the My Profile page is no longer the home page of a user’s My Site as it was in MOSS 2007):

SharePoint 2010 My Site My Profile page

To begin, Jeff starts paying attention to his My Newsfeed page which is now the home page of the My Site in SharePoint 2010:

SharePoint 2010 My Newsfeed

All of a sudden he starts noticing that his colleague, Tad Orman, has been tagging pages and documents in a site and using the tag “Gears Project”.  Could this have something to do with the new product line that Jeff has heard about?  Jeff has been stuck on an internal project in a remote office in Peru for the last six months and he is not as informed as he normally would be if he was working back at headquarters.

In the newsfeed, Jeff clicks on the hyperlink that reads “What is the projected Go-live date”.  This apparently is the name of a SharePoint page that Tad has bookmarked and tagged with “Gears Project”.  This is what Jeff sees when he clicks on the link:

SharePoint 2010 Error Page

Ooops, it doesn’t look like Jeff has access to this page.  (As an aside, it also doesn’t look like bookmarks and tags in the newsfeed in SharePoint 2010 follow the security trimming rules that SharePoint Search follows.)

Jeff navigates back to his My Newsfeed page and decides to click on the tag “Gears Project” in one of the line items to see if that would give him any more information.  He is taken to the Tag Profile page for the Gears Project tag:

SharePoint 2010 Tag Profile page 

In SharePoint 2010, every tag that is created has its own Tag Profile page, like this one.  The Tag Profile page is designed to show a list of all of the content where the tag has been used and the number of users who have used the tag on each content item.  Content items can be SharePoint pages, document libraries, lists, documents or list items.

It looks like another person has been using the Gears Project tag and tagging some of those same pages that Tad tagged and that showed up in Jeff’s newsfeed.  Since it is a hyperlink, Jeff decides to click on the number (2) in the first item to see who else has tagged one of these pages:

SharePoint 2010 People Who Tagged dialog

Looks like someone named Jeff Hay has also tagged those pages.  That name, Jeff Hay, sounds familiar.  Sounds like he might be one of the big shots at Contoso.  Jeff Williams decides to click through to Jeff Hay’s public profile on his My Site:

SharePoint 2010 Tags and Notes on My Site - Jeff Hay

Yep, Jeff Hay is a big shot.  He is the Corporate Vice President of Operations at Contoso.  And on this Tags and Notes tab, Jeff Williams can see that Jeff Hay has used the Gears Project tag several times.

Still, Jeff Williams is stuck. If he clicks on any of the bookmarked pages for the Gears Project (whether on Jeff Hay’s profile page, or on Jeff Williams My Newsfeed page, or the Gears Project Tag Profile page), he is just going to get an Access Denied message like the one he got above.

Wait.  It looks like there is another public tag in Jeff Hay’s tag cloud that might relate to this.  Next to the Gears Project tag there is a “New Product” tag.  Can’t hurt to click on it and see where it leads:

SharePoint 2010 Tags and Notes on My Site - Jeff H


SharePoint 2010 Tags and Notes on My Site - Jeff H

Hmmm… Looks like Jeff Hay has also been tagging some of the Gears Project related pages with the “New Product” tag as well.  That’s very interesting.  If Jeff Williams could only access one of these pages he might get another clue………

The second one in the list “Gears Project – Blog” didn’t appear in the list of bookmarked pages for the “Gears Project” tag.  So, Jeff Hay has bookmarked that page with the tag “New Product”, but not the “Gears Project” tag.  Wonder why?  Maybe it is worth a click to see if that page is accessible:

SharePoint 2010 Tags and Notes on My Site - Jeff H

Whoa!  Jeff Williams just hit pay dirt. Read the content of the blog post in this screen shot:

SharePoint 2010 My Site Blog Post

Frank Martinez is the Chief Operating Officer of the company and Jeff Hay reports to him.  Frank Martinez reports directly to the CEO, Dan Jump:

SharePoint 2010 My Site

Frank Martinez has decided to write a blog post on his internal My Site blog.  By default, My Site blogs are viewable by anyone that can authenticate to SharePoint.  Frank is divulging some breaking news and choosing to do it using his SharePoint blog because he is interested in fostering knowledge networking in the company and believes that the new tools in SharePoint 2010 can help do that.

On top of finding this information, Jeff Williams also sees that Frank Martinez has indicated that he is willing to be asked about the Gears Project tag:

SharePoint 2010 Ask Me About

Why not?  Seize the day!  Jeff Williams clicks on the hyperlink in Frank’s “Ask Me About” section and asks the COO a question:

SharePoint 2010 Note Board and Ask Me About

SharePoint 2010 Note Board and Ask Me About

How cool is that?  Jeff Williams finds an open door to ask a question of the Chief Operating Officer of the company!

So, to recap, Jeff Williams was able to fairly quickly discover some new important knowledge that he didn’t have when he walked in the door to the office that morning.  Moreover, he discovered it while working at a remote office far away from headquarters and not working side by side with his other team members.  SharePoint 2010’s social bookmarking and tagging approach really enabled Jeff to jump from bookmark to bookmark and “find the needle in the haystack” pretty quickly.  Finally, two other social computing features of SharePoint 2010, Note Boards and Ask Me About, gave Jeff an easy opportunity to engage with the company’s COO by asking a question related to the subject.

In this scenario, I showed the following tools in SharePoint 2010 that help the user browse and discover other people’s bookmarks and tags:

  • My Newsfeed
  • The Tag Profile page for a tag
  • The public view of another user’s My Site and their public tagging activity

In addition to these three tools, users can discover what tags other users have used by looking on the Tags tab of the Tags and Notes dialog of any SharePoint page.  There is a Suggested Tags section with hyperlinks to the Tag Profile page for each tag, and there is a Recent Activities section that shows some of the most recent users who have tagged the page and what tags they have used.  The user name and the tag used are both hyperlinked:

SharePoint 2010 Suggested Tags and Recent Activities

By the way, this dialog box can also be brought up when you click on the “View Related Activities” hyperlink when browsing through bookmarks on a My Site:

SharePoint 2010 Bookmarks and Tags - View Related Activities


Finally, with respect to browsing and discovering bookmarks and tags, SharePoint 2010 also provides a Tag Cloud web part that can be placed on any page in a SharePoint site.  The Tag Cloud web part has a few web part properties that can be adjusted to affect the content and display of the web part:

  1. “Show Tags” filter
  2. “Maximum Items” to display
  3. “Show Count” check box

SharePoint 2010 Tag Cloud web part options

The “Show Tags” filter, offers three options:

  • By Current User
  • By All Users
  • Under the current URL by all users

“By Current User” is going to show all of the tags that the currently logged-in user has created in all sites, in all site collections and all web applications, up to a maximum of the top 50 most used tags.  Essentially, using this filter will result in showing exactly the same tags as is shown on the tag cloud on a user’s My Site.

“By All Users” is going to show an aggregation of all users tags from all sites, in all site collections and all web applications, up to a maximum of the top 50 most used tags.

“Under the current URL by all users” is going to show only tags that have been assigned to content from the current site and all sites underneath it.  It will show all users tags up to a maximum of the top 50 most used tags.

Here is a sample of the Tag Cloud web part with the “Show Tags” filter set to “By All Users”:

SharePoint 2010 Tag Cloud web part

One other point worth noting about the Tag Cloud web part is that I have seen it appear in at least two different Categories in the Web Part Gallery.  I have seen it appear in the “Navigation” group in some site collections and the “Social Collaboration” group in other site collections.  I assume that this is due to different templates being used to create the site collections and inconsistency between those templates.  Here are a couple of screen shots that demonstrate this:

SharePoint 2010 Web Part Gallery - Tag Cloud Web Part

SharePoint 2010 Web Part Gallery - Tag Cloud Web Part


Comparison: Browsing Bookmarks and Tags

At first, I did not feel like SharePoint 2010’s tools to browse and discover bookmarks and tags were very robust or well-designed.  At first blush it seemed to me that the average user could pretty easily figure out how take advantage of the social bookmarking features of Delicious and find relevant bookmarks and tags, but I wasn’t so sure about that being the case with SharePoint 2010.  The approach the two products take is very different.

The all-together, all-in-one-site approach in Delicious makes it easy to “get your arms around” the capabilities and how to use them.  The spread out, “follow the string” approach in SharePoint 2010 is not nearly as easy to logically understand, but may turn out to be much more effective at helping the user discover the knowledge and actually do something with it.  I think the example scenario I walked through in the latter half of this post does a good job of demonstrating that fact.

I am about finished with covering social bookmarking and tagging in SharePoint 2010.  All that is left is to look at how the Search engine supports finding bookmarks and tags.  That will be the subject of my next post and then I will move on to other aspects of SharePoint 2010’s deep set of social computing features.  Thanks for reading!

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Live Chats to Learn more about SharePoint with the MVP Experts

The ever popular MVP chats are back. Cross posting from here.

Do you have questions about SharePoint? Want to learn more about the recently launched SharePoint 2010?  By popular request, SharePoint MVPs from around the world are participating in a live chat event about SharePoint. These Q&A events are a great opportunity to tap into the vast knowledge of these industry professionals who are regarded as the best in their field.

Please join us on Wednesday Sept 29th at 9am PDT or noon EST.  Learn more and add these chats to your calendar by visiting the MSDN event page http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/chats/default.aspx

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SharePoint 2010 Social Networking: Part 4 – Diagram

I have created a diagram that attempts to give the “big picture” of how the social computing features and processes in SharePoint Server 2010 fit together:

(Note: This is the fourth post in this series. For the first post and a table of contents, go here.)

Social Computing Processes in SharePoint Server 2010

As you can see the diagram is a mix of functional and technical. In general that is my goal for this series of blog posts as well.

I am planning to refer back to this diagram as I walk through the social computing features in the upcoming posts.  I think it is easier to explain the purpose and functioning of individual features if the bigger picture is kept in mind.

I created this diagram using the following resources:

  • What I learned from presentations Microsoft made on the subject at the SharePoint Conference 2009 in Las Vegas
  • What I could find on other blog posts on the subject (a little bit, but not a lot of depth)
  • What official documentation is available on TechNet and MSDN (a little bit, but not very thorough)
  • My own analysis and testing of the software (this is where I’ve spent the most time)
I am positive the diagram is not 100% accurate.  I think the only way to get it 100% accurate will be for someone on the SharePoint product team to comment on it and point out where I am wrong.  I don’t know if that will happen or not, but would welcome the critique if Microsoft cares to provide it.
Finally, here is a link for you to download a PDF version of the diagram if you would like to have it.
My next post will drill into “tags”, which is in the upper left corner of the diagram.

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SharePoint 2010 Social Networking: Part 3 – Prerequisites

In this post on the SharePoint 2010 Social Computing feature-set, I am going to walk you through a number of prerequisites that have to be in place in your SharePoint environment before the social computing features will work at all.

(Note: This is the third post in this series. For the first post and a table of contents, go here.)

Before jumping into the details of the prerequisites, let me give you my master list of SharePoint 2010 Social Computing features that I plan to drill down into one by one during the next several posts:

  1. Tags
  2. Note Board
  3. Tag Profile pages
  4. Tags and Notes on My Site
  5. Tag search
  6. Tag and Notes bookmarklet
  7. Tag cloud web part
  8. Ratings
  9. Status Updates
  10. Activity Feed / Newsfeed
  11. Activity Feed preferences
  12. Recent Activities web part on My Site public profile
  13. Extensibility of Activity Feed
  14. Add Colleagues feature
  15. Keyword and Colleagues Suggestions feature
  16. “Interests” field on User Profile record
  17. “Ask Me About” field on User Profile record
  18. Integration with Outlook 2010
  19. People search

All of these features are part of the SharePoint 2010 Social Computing feature-set, and, as I pointed out in my first post in this series, are intended to help organizations do a better job at knowledge networking.

After months of searching the Internet, I have found a lot of articles on many of these features, but I haven’t found a comprehensive series of articles that really aims to go both broad and deep into the subject area. That’s my goal with this series of articles, and you can look forward to many more after this one that will step you through the details of all of the features in the list above.

SharePoint Server 2010 Prerequisites for Social Computing

As you might expect from the long list of features I show above, there is a lot going on “under the hood” in SharePoint Server 2010 to enable the social computing features. My experience is that it can be a challenge to get all of the prerequisites properly set up. It can also be a challenge to figure out what component is configured improperly when troubleshooting problems once the features have already been deployed to the users.

The infrastructure prerequisites generally fall into two categories: 1) Service Applications and 2) Timer Jobs. Therefore, I’ll break up my discussion into those two categories.

Service Applications Required

It is not so obvious at first glance what service applications are required to be configured and running to enable the social computing features in SharePoint 2010. There are two: 1) the Managed Metadata service application, and 2) the User Profile service application. Neither of them has the term “social” in their names, but nevertheless, you have to have both of them properly configured and running.

A couple of visual clues that there may be something wrong with one or both of these services is to take a look at any SharePoint page in your environment where you expect the social computing features to be available. You should see the icons for “I Like it” and “Tags and Notes”:


You should also see the “My Site” and “My Profile” menu items on the drop down menu for the user control on the page:


If you don’t see all or some of these visual clues, then you need to proceed to Central Administration and determine if you have instances of the Managed Metadata service and the User Profile service running in your farm. (Note: SharePoint 2010 does not give the user an error message if these services are not running. It just doesn’t display the features that these services enable.)

It’s easy to see if you have instances of these services running in your SharePoint 2010 farm. Just go to Central Administration and navigate to the Manage Service Applications page to see if they have been provisioned and are running:



If you don’t have these service applications running in your SharePoint 2010 farm, then you will need to provision them by clicking on the New icon:


Explaining the configuration pages for these two services is beyond the scope of this article, but you should be able to easily find a number of articles that will walk you through the configuration steps.

Why does the Managed Metadata Service have to be running?

You might be wondering why it is necessary to have the Managed Metadata service application provisioned in order to use the social computing features? The reason is that the “tags” that users create when tagging pages, documents, list items, etc., get stored in the Keywords portion of the Term Store (which is the name of the central metadata repository that is maintained by the Managed Metadata service).

The Keywords portion of the Term Store is only half of the Managed Metadata repository. The other half is frequently referred to as the Taxonomy portion of the Term Store. The Taxonomy portion of the Term Store is hierarchical, while the Keywords portion is random. The master list of user tags gets stored randomly as they are created in the Keywords portion of the Term Store:


If the Managed Metadata service is not provisioned and running, users can’t use the social tagging features, because SharePoint 2010 has nowhere to maintain a master list of tags. One way to recognize that the Managed Metadata service is not provisioned/running properly is when your SharePoint site looks like this:



If you see this behavior in your SharePoint 2010 site, the first place to look is in Central Administration to verify that the Managed Metadata service is running.

One more point before moving on to the User Profile service application. I have been referring to the Keywords portion of the Managed Metadata Term Store as the place that SharePoint 2010 stores the “master list” of user tags. This is an important concept to understand, and here is a little more detail.

Each time a user starts to tag an item in SharePoint 2010, the Keywords portion of the Term Store is queried in real time to see if suggestions can be made to the user about previous keywords that other users have used. If a keyword appears in the list of suggestions and the user deems it suitable, the user can use it to tag the item. If not, the user can add their own unique keyword to the Keywords store and then it will be available for SharePoint 2010 to use as a suggestion in the future for other users.

So, the Keywords portion of the Term Store only stores one instance of a given keyword. That instance may be used by many users and many times as they tag items throughout SharePoint. Therefore, the Keywords list in the Term Store is truly a master list of unique keywords.

What does the User Profile Service Application Have to Do with SharePoint 2010 Social Computing?

The short answer is, “just about everything”. All of the plumbing to make the social computing features work in SharePoint 2010 is built into the User Profile service application.

When you provision the User Profile service application, the SQL Server database gets created that is needed to store all of the social data. And, that database contains a long list of tables that are required to make social computing work:


You can see from this screen shot that there are a number of tables that have names that that are fairly easy to figure out what feature of social computing they relate to. The “socialtag” tables relate to Tagging, the “socialcomments” tables relate to the Note Board, and the “socialratings” tables relate to the Ratings feature. So, this database needs to get created and that is one big part of what happens when you provision the User Profile service application in Central Administration.

The basic concepts of the User Profile service have been around since SharePoint Portal Server 2003. It was enhanced significantly in MOSS 2007. But, in both prior versions, the User Profile service’s primary scope and focus was to manage SharePoint’s User Profile database, synchronize it with a directory service (such as AD), and configure My Sites. In SharePoint 2010, the User Profile service continues to perform these roles in addition to providing the social computing infrastructure.

If you want to take advantage of the social computing features in SharePoint 2010, you will also need to properly configure the User Profile database and properly configure My Sites. The social computing features will not work without User Profiles and My Sites working.

If your User Profiles and My Sites are not set up and/or working properly, you will easily be able to tell by a user control that looks like this:


As I mentioned earlier in the article, the user control looks like this when User Profiles and My Sites are set up and working:


Timer Jobs Required

A fairly long list of timer jobs get provisioned and scheduled when you provision the User Profile service application in SharePoint 2010. Timer jobs have long been utilized in SharePoint Products and Technologies and it seems like with every new version of SharePoint, the list of timer jobs at least doubles. Timer jobs are processes that need to run on a schedule in the background to aggregate information, clean up data, and perform other process-oriented tasks.

In the case of SharePoint 2010, the User Profile service provisions 13 timer jobs:


(You can find the timer job list and definitions under Timer Job Definitions in the Monitoring section in SharePoint 2010 Central Administration).

Microsoft does not provide a lot of documentation on what each of the timer jobs do in SharePoint 2010. So, it is a little difficult to say which of these timer jobs is responsible for doing a particular task that is important to the proper functioning of a specific social computing feature. Nevertheless, it is safe to say that the following User Profile Timer Jobs need to be running on an appropriate schedule in order for social computing to work properly:

  • Social Data Maintenance Job
  • Social Rating Synchronization Job
  • My Site Suggestions Email Job
  • Activity Feed Job
  • Activity Feed Cleanup Job

In the previous paragraph, I mentioned the idea of “appropriate schedule”. It has been my experience that the out-of-the-box schedule for some of these timer jobs may not be appropriate in all situations. Certainly, in a demonstration/test scenario, the out-of-the-box schedules don’t work very well. Too much time is allowed between runs of some of the timer jobs to process the data and present the results back in the user interface on a timely basis. Even in some production environments, the out-of-the-box schedule may not produce fast enough results to suit the users.

 Here are the default schedules for the five social-oriented timer jobs I listed above:






You are free to change the schedule for any or all of these timer jobs that relate to social computing. In my demo/testing environments I routinely set them all to run every three minutes. Obviously, I would want to be very thoughtful in making changes to schedules in a production environment and consider the needs of my users and the server resource availability as well.

That’s it for the prerequisites for the SharePoint 2010 Social Computing features. By now, you should see that making all of these features work together and accomplish their purposes requires quite a lot of technical infrastructure “under-the-hood”. Hopefully, this article will help you make sure you have all of the right components provisioned from the start and/or help you troubleshoot problems that your users may surface as they are using the social computing features.

In my next post, I will drill into the the details of what Tags are intended to be used for in SharePoint 2010 and exactly how they work.

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SharePoint 2010 Social Networking: Part 5b – Bookmarking and Tagging User Experience


This post is Part 5b of my SharePoint 2010 Social Networking series.  The other parts of Part 5 are all related to the Social Bookmarking and Tagging features of SharePoint 2010:

Part 5a – Intro and Central Database of Bookmarks and Tags For All Users

Part 5b – Bookmarking and Tagging User Experience < You are here

Part 5c – Browsing Bookmarks and Tags

Part 5d – Searching Bookmarks and Tags

(Note: For the first post of the SharePoint 2010 Social Networking series and a table of contents, go here.)

Feature: Bookmarking and Tagging User Experience

How does the end user go about adding bookmark and tag records to the database?

(Note: I am using the grandfather of all social bookmarking applications, Delicious, to help me compare/contrast the social bookmarking and tagging features of SharePoint 2010.  See Part5a of this series if you would like the complete explanation about this.)


Delicious provides multiple ways of adding bookmarks/tags to its database, but the most commonly used way is through a “bookmarklet” (a small amount of javascript) that is added by the user to his/her browser(s) as a Favorite:


With this bookmarklet added to the browser, the user can click on it on any web page and a Delicious bookmarking dialog will pop over the web page:


The Delicious bookmark dialog has some intelligence built in.  It automatically populates the Title and URL fields, and queries its’ master tag database to recommend existing tags (sort of like Intellisense) to use that others have used to tag the page or similar pages.

SharePoint Server 2010:

SharePoint has a very similar bookmarking/tagging dialog box.  It looks like this:


It is similar to the Delicious bookmarking/tagging dialog in a couple of ways: 1) it suggests tags to use by querying the master tag database, and 2) allows the user to mark a bookmark/tag as private (not to be shared with others, but saved to the database). 

It is different than Delicious in a few ways as well.  On the plus side, it shows a short history of the most recent tagging and notes activity for the page under the Recent Activities section at the bottom.    On the negative side, it does not allow the user to change the page Title or URL that gets saved in the database.  SharePoint 2010 saves whatever text is in the Title tag of the page and the exact URL of the page.

Something both SharePoint and Delicious do well, but is not apparent from the screenshots above, is suggest tags as the user types characters.

Here is how it looks in SharePoint 2010:


It does this by querying the Managed Metadata Term Store in real time for existing Keywords.  If the user doesn’t like any of the suggestions, he/she can simply create a new keyword (or tag) and it will be automatically saved to the master list of keywords in the Term Store.  The automatic saving of new keywords to the Term Store helps the next user that comes along as the keyword can then be suggested to them by the system.

SharePoint 2010 provides two ways to call up the Tagging dialog box:

1.  The user can click on the Tags & Notes icon that appears on every SharePoint Server 2010 page in every site that uses the out-of-the-box master pages:



2.  The user can add a SharePoint 2010 bookmarklet to their browser Favorites and use it to call up the dialog box (exactly like is done with Delicious):


Either way the user chooses, the end result will be that the Tag and Notes dialog will open up.

It may not be apparent, but the second approach opens up the door to tag “non-SharePoint” pages.  These non-SharePoint pages could be other web pages from other internal applications OR pages from anywhere on the web.

This means that a user could research the competitions’ product pages, for example, and tag those pages with a label such as “competitor products”.  The bookmark\tag for each page would be stored in the SharePoint database and shared out for others in the company to use.  This is a very powerful feature.

To add the SharePoint 2010 bookmarklet to the browser’s Favorites, all the user has to do is visit their Tags and Notes tab on their My Site profile page and right click in the text that gives the instructions for how to do it:


Comparison: Bookmarking and Tagging User Experience

I think SharePoint 2010 is very similar to and does every bit as good a job as Delicious in giving the user easy-to-use tools to bookmark\tag pages.  Microsoft has done an excellent job making the process simple, intuitive and providing integration with a master list of Keywords in the Managed Metadata Term Store.  When the user bookmarks\tags a page, the page URL, User ID, Term ID and a date and time stamp are saved as a record to the dbo.SocialTags table.  Couldn’t be simpler or more effective.

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