Everything I know about Microsoft Groove so far…

Groove is essentially a rich client (part of Office 2007 Enterprise Edition) used to facilitate dynamic team working for persons intermittently connected to a network. Groove can also apparently work across networks without the need for reconfiguration.

It offers message board functionality, presence info, as well as most importantly sharing and merging of files. When i first saw the client, it reminded me loosely as an irc client (such as hydrairc) with some versioning features similar to CVS.

There is document integration with sharepoint – allowing you to work offline with a sharepoint doc. It apparently supports bidirectional syncing with sharepoint. It is also possible to kick off a workflow event when syncing with sharepoint 2007 (but I think this is inherantly handled by sharepoint).

There seems to be a way for indicating and merging conflicts on docs etc which seems pretty cool. The only thing it makes me question is why sourcesafe doesnt currently use these types of features – to allow multiple people to work on a file and then merge and approve their changes.

One of the shortcomings i saw was that the calendar cannot sync with outlook and apparently the sharepoint security model does not fully persist when syncing with libaries.

Architecture
To run groove, you need Groove Server. This consists of two components – a relay server and a services manager. The relay server maintains the flow of information, holding changes etc (so it feels like p2p – although other users dont need to be online), while the services manager is used to set up accounts / rules etc (note that this can sync with Active Directory). Note that Microsoft may offer to run groove server themselves as a service for small business – so setting up of groove server may not be compulsory.

http://www.microsoft.com/office/groove/default.mspx
http://www.microsoft.com/office/preview/programs/groove/highlights.mspx

My overall impression was that Groove is really cool, but initially i was not sold on why it needed to be a seperate app. Still, i think it goes a long way to solving project collaboration issues.

Note that some of the above statements may be incorrect – please let me know of any errors.

Sharepoint 2007 – Templates and Definitions

Similarly to SPS 2003 / WSS 2, Sharepoint 2007 (MOSS and WSS 3) has both templates and definitions. Note that the end user is not aware of the difference between templates and definitions – they are both effectively sharepoint sites.

Definitions
are the core definition of what a site is (they are contained in folders with many markup files), are stored in 12\Template\1033. Note that Sharepoint 2007 will be compatitible with Sharepoint 2003 definitions.

Templates
As per Sharepoint 2003, templates (.stp files) contain the differences between the site template that has been created and a definition that they extend. These are effectively cab files that are stored in the content db and can be create by an end user. It should be noted that sharepoint 2003 templates are not compatible with sharepoint 2007 (unless, possible, that the sharepoint 2003 definition on which they are based has been exported over to the Sharepoint 2007 deployment.

Note that Features are a totally new addition to Sharepoint 2007 – these extend definitions. I plan to write a seperate article discussing the ins and outs of these.

Simulating framesets

This is a really cool thread i found on simulating a frameset with divs and javascript. This is particularly useful when you dont want to force the reloading of the entire frame (but without having control over the frames content and links, and dont want to have to use the base tag in a frameset http://www.webdeveloper.com/forum/showthread.php?t=87875

Also, how to get rid of the IE vertical scrollbar http://archivist.incutio.com/viewlist/css-discuss/466. Basically just set margin: 0; and overflow:auto; for the body css tag.

Note that I have only tested these out in IE, and have not checked for cross browser compatibility or w3c compliance.

Microsoft Expression

I have just seen the Microsoft expression suite – I am pretty keen to get my hands on them (especially sparkle, when used for developing interfaces for windows apps).
http://www.microsoft.com/products/expression/en/default.mspx

Acrylic Graphic Designer – I guess that this is equivalent to Photoshop

Quartz Web Designer – This seems to offer functionality similar to the Macromedia suite and I guess would fill the space left by frontpage (which is becoming SharePoint Designer) and offer more professional functionality.

Sparkle Interactive Designer – This product really excites me – it seems to be the primary tool now used to create interfaces for windows programs (it has also been rumoured that you will be able to also create web interfaces – rumoured to compete with flash – i wonder whether this is where the microsoft ajax suite, Atlas, will fit in with this?).

Windows Presentation Foundation WPF (not part of the expression suite)
I believe that Sparkle will be the primary tool for designing this.

Formerly known Avalon, is Microsofts unified presentation layer for Windows and is exposed through WinFX, (vistas managed-code programming model that extends the Microsoft .NET Framework. WPF consists of a display engine and an extensible set of managed classes that development teams can use to create apps. WPF also introduces Extensible Application Markup Language (XAML), which enables developers and designers to use an XML-based model to declaratively specify the desired user interface (UI) behaviour.

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