Hello World! This is my first post!
Here I am at home, after a long day of work, drinking a glass of wine for celebrating my new decision to create my own Blog. It is quite an exciting time I must say, after years of reading very compelling and interesting posts on internet, to decide on becoming an active contributor and start throwing to the world my own views and thoughts!
I have named my first post "Hello World", after the classical application sample you would write when first trying or demonstrating a programming language, as I actually am writing my first post and shouting "hello" to the connected world, ready to start an interactive sharing of knowledge and return of experience on matters around business oriented software solutions (more on this a bit later!).
I want to start my Blog, humm what Blog platform will I use?
First step was to select a blog platform, there are plenty of them, so comparing them and choosing one appears to be a difficult and time-consuming task. However I had already strong constraints that dramatically reduced the choice: I already discarded hosted Blog platforms and wanted a Blog platform that integrates with WSS 3.0, SharePoint 2007. I indeed have a SharePoint 2007 server and want to integrate my Blog and Blog contents on my SharePoint server for easy integration of my Blog contents with my internet site, leverage the use of the SharePoint search engine etc. Well, first obvious choice is… the new WSS 3.0 Blog site template.
First look at the SharePoint 2007 Blog site template: not convincing!
I therefore started by looking at the Blog site template that ships with WSS 3.0 but my first impression was that the WSS 3.0 Blog template is very limited with regards to many aspects and only offered basic functionality: no anonymous comments, no multiple categories for a single post… and more important: little support for look and feel customization, the Blog theme is still customizable but only through creation of a SharePoint 2007 master page which is all but an easy and straightforward task. And when you start a Blog, the concern is to have an easy setup procedure to start blogging asap and not go through a painful customization and probably coding phase first! I therefore was disappointed and decided on having a look at other available solutions …
Community Server: an attractive good looking solution, but…
After my first disappointment with the SharePoint 2007 Blog, I digged into the internet, remember several nice looking and fully featured Blog, and got though the "Powered by Community Server" link to the Community Server web site and was quite amazed. Hey here we are! Looks like a great Blog platform, which you can host on your server and integrate with SharePoint! Plus you have plenty of extra collaboration functionalities including forums, documents sharing an more.
However, after a time of high excitement, I came to realise that the little problem was the cost of the solution. Even though you indeed have an Express edition that comes for free, integration with SharePoint requires the purchase of a highly expensive Enterprise Edition… Bummer! back to the beginning, and no still no target Blog platform…
And after some thinking, it seems not the best to go for Community Server as a full collaboration platform when you already have a SharePoint 2007 that is itself a collaboration platform! So let's try to have a deeper look on the SharePoint Blog site template and see if we can make it a real compelling solution for internet Blogging.
Second look at SharePoint 2007 Blog template: Community Kit for SharePoint
So let's try to leverage WSS 3.0 and its Blog template. After searching on internet, I found interesting links to solutions for customizing the default Blog template to make it a more relevant, fully feature Blog platform, but no fully ready to use solution… Until I finally found the open source CKS project (Community Kit for SharePoint) and its Enhanced Blog Edition!
From the CKS CodePlex source:
"The Community Kit for SharePoint is a set of best practices, templates, Web Parts, tools, and source code that enables practically anyone to create a community website based on SharePoint technology for practically any group of people with a common interest."
And more about the Enhanced Blog Edition:
"The Community Kit for SharePoint: Enhanced Blog Edition is designed to enhance and extend the functionality of the built-in blog feature in Windows SharePoint Services 3.0"
And this day, I finally found the solution I would use for my Blog, fully featured Blog platform, fully integrated with SharePoint, free and easy to install (with little subtleties to properly configure anonymous access). And this solution comes with a powerful modular theme framework that allow easy customization of the Blog look and feels without having to deal with the complexities of creating WSS 3.0 master pages. I especially find elegant and convenient the way you can customize the look and feel of the various CKS controls by just changing the XSL file the controls are mapping to.
Just one word about the subtlety when configuring anonymous access to your Blog: not only will you have to configure anonymous access to the WSS site that will host your Blog, but you will also need to perform an extra step to make sure anonymous users cannot navigate your SharePoint lists using the standard SharePoint pages (example : /_layouts/viewlsts.aspx for the all content of the site). The anonymous user would have only read access to the whole content; however this is still a behaviour you want to disable for internet anonymous users. This can be done by activating the ViewFormPagesLockDown feature on the Web application that is hosting the Blog site. More details on TechNet about this.
And here we are: I am now proudly publishing my first post! So go and try it for yourself, I am so far very impressed and convinced with the Enhanced Blog edition of the CKS 2.0 project. Another great thing is that the SharePoint Blog also integrates seamlessly with MS Word 2007 as SharePoint is known by MS Word 2007 as a BLOG provider. You can therefore use Word to author posts, open and modify existing posts, manage Blog categories etc.
I will next present myself and talk About me.
I will then talk about my Blog, to introduce the intent of my Blog, what future content I will be writing.