Walking with SharePoint

To be overly cliche: you have to crawl before you walk, and walk before you run.  I’m not sure it could be said that I’m walking in the SharePoint world yet, but I have made some steps forward.  Last time I was able to get a simple wiki up and running.  This was crawling, as you can get a very simple page running in SharePoint in a couple of clicks.  For this post, I started by watching a little bit of the next SharePoint episode on dnrTV and found it did not go in the direction that I wanted.  I wanted to go further with my wiki, and they talked about content types that SharePoint could catalog. 

I do need to make a clarification from my last post.  In the second dnrTV SharePoint episode Sahil briefly spoke about web applications and web sites in SharePoint.  Web apps are hosted by SharePoint on a specific port on your server, and they are connected to the content database that SharePoint sets up.  Within each web app is a site collection.  Site collections are, as the name suggests, a collection of web pages.  These pages are stored in a tree structure.  You can create a site collection without creating a web applicatoin, but you do have to attach it to a pre-existing web application.  It is the sites in the site collection that the visitors to your page are served, and the app is place that these pages are served from.

My real purpose for this post was to get an operational wiki.  The first thing that I wanted was to get some pages that could resemble something useful to us.  Next I played with permissions and tried to figure out what they were all about.  Then I played a little bit with the site’s look and feel.  Going on the design philosophy that I should do as much as I can in the browser first, I stuck to the browser for all this.

Making wiki pages works exactly how you would expect.  When you edit a page you are given an area to edit the content of the page.  [[page name|link name]] is used to specify links to other wiki pages.  When you click one of these it will take you to the page, and if it doesn’t exist it brings you to the editor for the page.  Basically, it was really easy to get some content into my wiki.  It is also very easy to put something on the quick launch.  In Site Settings, go to Quick Launch and click Add.  Paste the url of the page in, and voila! you have a new link.  Deleting is a bit hidden though.  To delete (and keep this in mind for other things throughout SharePoint) you have to click the edit icon next to the link.  On this page there is a delete button.

Now I need people to be able to see my content.  SharePoint permissions are pretty easy to understand.  You can assign permissions to people who have accounts on a domain that the server can access.  Permissions are set in Site Settings->People and Groups, and the interface is pretty straight forward.  You put people in groups, and give groups certain rights.  SharePoint has already set up some default groups for you, so if they are good enough you can just add people to these groups.  The problem I faced here was that I had no way to give anonymous users access.  I wanted people to be able to view the site without authenticating.  The answer came from a quick Google search: I found this.  The first set of bullet points seemed unfinished, but the second and third sets gave me the instructions I needed.  After following these instructions I was able to access my wiki without authenticating!  I found that this doesn’t affect search results though, by default you have to be authenticated to access the search results page.  After another quick search I found this.  I have yet to implement it, and will write about it once I do.  It requires diving into the code, which is not something I wanted to do for this post.

The last thing I did was change the look of the blog.  This is quite easy to do in the browser, but the amount of control you have is a bit limited.  In Site Settings there is a Look and Feel heading.  In here I was able to change the theme (background, font color, etc.), add a picture to the top, change the title, and remove some buttons.

I was going to title this post “Stumbling with SharePoint,” but after writing it I feel like I have a pretty good handle on using the browser to edit my pages.

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