Discover Site Collections in Office 365

March 21, 2013

New cool feature from MetaVis: Discover site collections in Office 365 SharePoint 2013 environment. Office 365 does not have Central Administration console but it has Tenant Administration instead.

Click on the Discover Site Collections button on the Connect to Site dialog and type tenant administration URL. Click Connect to login.

Screen shot 2013-03-21 at 4.58.19 PM

The list of all site collections in the tenancy will be presented on the screen. Select one to copy, migrate, manage, analyze or backup.

Screen shot 2013-03-21 at 4.59.54 PM

There are several interesting things that we plan to build on top of this new functionality but Discover Site Collections is the first one released. Stay tuned!

MetaVis Tech builds tools for SharePoint Migration, SharePoint Backup, SharePoint Security, SharePoint Administration and Term Store Management and SharePoint Governance and PII Analysis.

The Case for the Office 365 SharePoint Backup

March 12, 2013

The process of backing up the cloud content sounds like a silly activity. Consider Office 365 SharePoint. Microsoft promises 99.9% service uptime, keeps deleted data in the recycle bin for 30 days, backs up online data every 12 hours (kept for 14 days afterwards) and, most likely, replicates the content between multiple data centers around the globe. What could be lost in such a protective environment?

It turns out that there are several possible reasons that make people look for an additional backup solution.

  1. Service Outage. Whether it is Office 365 or temporary Internet malfunction it is sometimes important to have the content at hands before the accessibility to the data will be restored. Think about missed submission dead line or late RFP as an example.
  2. Deliberately deleted or modified content. People may delete or modify non-versioned content based on their best intentions without realizing the damage at much later time. In this case a year or so old backup provides invaluable historical information.
  3. Corrupted Content. Viruses, power outages and software malfunction tend to corrupt portions of content. It is often too late to look for the clean copy when the corruption surface to somebody’s attention unless there is a months old archive saved outside of the frequently used workspace.
  4. Regulatory Requirements. Working in FDA, FAA, SEC or other regulated industry sometimes requires compliance with longer than 30-days project files backup policies. In this case the periodic backup of the cloud data provides a handy checkbox on the vendor qualifications papers.

MetaVis Backup for SharePoint is a simple and easy to use backup tool that empowers administrators and power users to efficiently backup, archive, and restore their content from SharePoint or Office 365.  With MetaVis Backup, you can quickly retrieve individual items or entire sites, so you never miss a beat.

Free trial is available at http://www.metavistech.com/product/backup-sharepoint

Botanical Nature of Modern Software Engineering: Re-reading Frederick Brooks

November 7, 2012

They say that “The Mythical Man-Month” is a Bible of Software Engineering at least in a sense that “everybody quotes it, some people read it, and a few people go by it.” (see http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2005/12/12/8363107/index.htm). One of the fundamental things Brooks asserts in the book as a way to maintain balance between tight project budget and quality of a software system is to build it by using developers organized as a surgical team. In such a team a single person (“surgeon”) is responsible for the conceptual integrity of the whole system and performs the most critical work himself. All other members of a team help “the surgeon” to achieve his goals. The system scales up through hierarchical division of problems. Brooks even suggests the optimal size of a team.

The fallacy of modern commoditized software development is in the attempt to overcome this principle by removing the surgeon from the development team in hope that team members will find a way to build the system (or part of it) themselves. Integration testing will uncover deficiencies that will be resolved by natural collaboration between QA and development teams that produced the parts of the whole application.

This approach leads to the situations colorfully illustrated by Brooks in “The Mythical Man-Month” ranging from the missing project dead lines, going over the budget, suffering software quality or just blatantly failed projects. However, there is another aspect of such anti-engineering practice that creates interesting side effects and redefines (in a sense) the nature of modern software development.

Some of the systems implemented in such an anti-Brooks way still make it to the market. They suffer from the broken dead lines, missed budgets, missing functions, suffered quality but they still come to us in the form of desktop, embedded or mobile applications, ERP or content management systems, security packages or integrated solutions. They have been implemented without single concept in mind by international teams that do not exist anymore because individual members of these teams switched companies, got reassigned to other projects, retired or left the industry. The knowledge of such systems or their parts has been completely lost because it did not originated in a mind of a single individual or documented by some central authority but existed rather as a number of dispersed folk tales in an ether of a short lived development group.

In such situation any information about the system that is a little bit deeper than mainstream use case or involves more than one component does not exist. It is not that it is just hard to get this information digging through the pages of documentation or looking for the right person who may know the answer or even contacting a group of people who can deduct the information from the knowledge they have. This information does not exist because it never existed. It is buried in the lines of code created by way too many people who are in most cases unreachable anymore, and almost always do not work in the same groups that created this information. For all practical purposes almost any complex system that is in use today is as little understood as any creation of a nature like a bacteria or a flower.

In other words, understanding certain interaction for the given software system requires study of this system using method of natural science: an iterative approach starting with an observation, proceeding to a hypothesis to an experiment and analysis. If computer science of 80th and 90th was closer to mathematics because, after all, people artificially created everything in this science, computer science today is closer to biology or chemistry.

Traditional software development in one form or another goes from requirements to design to coding and then QA and maintenance. In the situation when environment is fundamentally unknown it becomes hard if not impossible to specify usable requirements to test against them later. The software turns to a research tool that provides feedback about the condition of the environment in the client’s location.  A bug turns to a piece of knowledge about the possible states of the environment.

MetaVis Architect Platform Updates, Spring and Summer 2011

September 14, 2011

In this article we put together the list of new products, features and updates that we have recently added to MetaVis Architect platform.

  • Security Manager is a product to analyze, copy and mass-manage SharePoint security objects like users, groups, AD groups and permissions for nested structure of server farms, site collections, sites, lists, folders and items. Read this BLOG post for more information about Security Manager.
  • File Manager is a product to copy content from file shares to SharePoint and offload it back to file shares (including documents and items) while supporting metadata (either directly or through Excel spreadsheet), created / modified properties, filtering, scheduled migrations or synchronization. Read this BLOG post about File Manager.
  • Public Folders is a product to copy content from Exchange public folders, mailboxes, third party mailboxes, PST archives while supporting metadata, created / modified properties, filtering, scheduled migrations or synchronization
  • Content synchronization (Incremental copy) is a feature that enables co-existence of multiple SharePoint environments by allowing to copy changes made in one environment to the other one. Content synchronization could be used as a temporary solution to support long migration process when users still use the source environment during migration. It could also be used as a permanent solution for the ongoing co-existence of multiple environments like record management or archiving. Read this BLOG Post for more details.
  • Offline migration and synchronization is a feature that allows to copy or to synchronize content between unconnected SharePoint environments by using file system media to actually transfer the content. Offline migration and synchronization could be used to connect unsecured and secured environments or a disconnected environment (a ship) with its base.
  • MS Excel-driven migration is a feature that allows a user to filter content during the migration process based on the records provided in Excel spreadsheet. The Excel spreadsheet may also contain metadata that has to be applied to all migrated documents and items.
  • There are several updates made to the platform itself
  • Global settings for MetaVis properties is a feature that allows users to save commonly used combination of content copying settings like user mapping, template mapping, site or list copy parameters for further reuse for each copy operation
  • MetaVis Toolbox is a dialog that lists all MetaVis products available in the MetaVis Platform with the indication of their availability in the specific installation. MetaVis Toolbox allows a user to switch between products in the integrated Architect Suite environment.
  • There are several updates that enable better handling of SharePoint objects and environments
  • Allow to map values from hidden fields when copying or tagging individual SharePoint items
  • Support migration between two different Microsoft Office 365 environments (accounts)
  • Support for Enterprise Keywords fields
  • Support for various custom field mapping for Document Sets
  • Support converting text, lookup, note, choice fields with email or account login values to person or group field
  • Preserve look and feel of SharePoint 2007 sites when promoting SharePoint 2007 sites to SharePoint 2010 site collections
  • Copy item level permissions

All MetaVis Architect Platform products are easy to download and install, agent-less and work for on-premises, hosted and Office 365 environments.

We are also excited about more news and updates coming in the near future for MetaVis products. Stay tuned!

MetaVis Security Manager for SharePoint

September 12, 2011

One of the problems SharePoint Administrators and Site Owners face during their job is to efficiently manage SharePoint security across multiple site collections and server farms, possibly across multiple user directories: active directory domains, federated directories like ADFS or database user directories for form based authentication. MetaVis Security Manager for SharePoint is designed to simplify these activities.

Specifically, MetaVis Security Manager for SharePoint allows its users to perform the following functions:

  • Browse, add, edit and delete groups, users, permissions and permission levels in a visual hierarchical structure of site collections, sites, lists and individual items in a single GUI for multiple server farms, domains and site collections.
  • Copy groups, users, permissions and permission levels between server farms, site collections, sites, lists and individual items possible across different user directories (LDAP, ADFS, RDBMS).
  • Manage permissions for multiple SharePoint objects at the same time.
  • Compare objects permissions.
  • Discover and resolve potential security problems in multi-server farm environments like disabled users with granted permissions, broken chain of permission inheritance, etc.
  • Analyze who has access to what in a multi-server farm and multi-site collection environment. Discover what objects could be accessed by certain users or groups.

MetaVis Security Manager for SharePoint supports SharePoint 2007 and 2010 environments, connects to SharePoint from remote computers, does not require server side installations and supports managing hosted SharePoint environments like Microsoft Office 365.

MetaVis File Manager for SharePoint

July 25, 2011

MetaVis File Manager is designed to enhance and simplify the interaction between SharePoint and File Systems. SharePoint already provides basic functionality to load a single or multiple files. However, there are many gaps in that functionality that MetaVis File Manager fulfills including the ability to Load and Download (off board) content with metadata. Here is a sampling of these features:

  • Loading Files
    • Ability to set metadata as part of the loading process
    • Ability to extract metadata from file system folders and assign them to SharePoint metadata
    • Ability to retain or unwind the folder structure in SharePoint
    • Ability to retain the core properties such as created/modified by and created/modified at
    • Load files and metadata using a spreadsheet (CSV)
    • Auto-creation of CSV for loading based on content in the file systems
    • Ability to load files with pseudo-versioning to SharePoint versions
  • Downloading (Off boarding) Content
    • Ability to download content from sites, sub-sites and libraries into the File System with metadata stored in CSVs
    • Ability to Load downloaded content back into SharePoint
    • Ability to retain pseudo-versions in File Systems
    • Ability to remove downloaded content

Uploading Files from the File System

This option is designed to enhance and expand SharePoint’s ability to import files located in Windows or other operating systems. There are several advantages to using MetaVis File Manager to do this operation.

  • You can upload, tag and check-in content in one step and en masse
  • You may reuse existing file system (NTFS) attributes to tag the content
  • Users often implement a folder based hierarchy inside the file system to categorize content. Classifier/Migrator can automatically extract and use these folder names as metadata in SharePoint.
  • There are no limitations to how many files you can upload at one time

The process of importing files is very similar to interaction with Windows Explorer, but rather than moving content into another drive or folder, it is moved into a SharePoint list. All that is required is for the user to select the content (including folders) from Explorer drag it into the desired location in MetaVis.

When importing content from the file system, File Manager can use files system attributes such as created and modified dates and file owner to tag the imported content. These attributes are shown under Available Columns list in the Field Value Selection Screen and include relative folder names.

Uploading Files into SharePoint Using a Spreadsheet

The option is designed to enhance and expand SharePoint’s ability to import files located in Windows or other operating systems by utilizing a spreadsheet that contains accompanying metadata. The files will be imported into SharePoint and tagged with the metadata associated to it from this spreadsheet. The spreadsheet itself is automatically generated for the user and may be updated and used and any time.



Downloading Content from SharePoint

The option is intended to allow the user to extract content out of SharePoint into a local or attached storage or file share. There are a variety of situations where this feature is helpful. Some examples include:

  • Archive or off-board content from SharePoint
  • Move content from one SharePoint to another that is not accessible through a network
  • Ability to download and then reload content into a re-built environment


Copy SharePoint Library File Using CSV

This option allows the user to create a CSV file that will copy files located within SharePoint rather than in a file system. A typical scenario for this is to copy many files but with unique metadata changes for each file. This can be done by creating and modifying the CSV file and then using the Upload Copy Content Using CSV option.



MetaVis Platform Features Overview: Browse list or library permissions and copy selected list permissions between lists

April 8, 2011

SharePoint lists by default have their permissions inherited from the sites where they got created. However it is possible to break list permission inheritance and set up unique permissions for the specific list. In this case list permissions will not be changed in case someone will change site permissions however unique users or groups could be added to the list permissions.

 

MetaVis Migrator and MetaVis Change Manager support copying or unique list permissions between SharePoint sites. This time we added a function to display list permissions in the MetaVis Content Viewer and copy individual permissions between lists, sites and site collections.

 

Right click on a list, select Objects and then Show Permissions menu item to browse list permissions.

 

 

Users can copy and paste or drag-and-drop permissions records from this Permissions Viewer to the other list in this or other SharePoint site.

 

Also note the little icon on the Permissions Viewer toolbar that is an indicator that the list has permissions inherited from the parent site. Clicking on this button would break or restore list permissions inheritance.

 

 

MetaVis Platform Features Overview: Copy content types with dependencies

March 29, 2011

A content type is a reusable collection of metadata (fields) and other settings that could be applied to SharePoint items. A content type in SharePoint may have a parent content type, which in turn may have another parent and so on. A content type may also have fields some of which it can inherit from its parents and the other fields could be created right inside this content type. Content types could also be added to lists or libraries that allows them to be used to assign metadata values to items or documents.

This way, content types form pretty complex structure in SharePoint site collections. Look at the example below generated by MetaVis Architect

 

 

 

MetaVis Migrator for SharePoint can copy all content types including their complete parent hierarchy and fields when a user copies a list or library that used these content types. MetaVis Migrator also reproduces source content type hierarchy in the target environment when copying the whole site.

 

Recently we added the function that allows users to copy just one selected content type from one site to the other one in one operation including all tree of the parent content types and all fields in these content types.

 

Select source and target sites in MetaVis Navigation Tree, Start Compare, expand Content Type compare area, select the content type to copy and click Copy from Left to Right button (or Copy from Right to Left button depending of the circumstances)

 

 

Using this operation MetaVis Migrator will copy the selected content type and all its dependencies.

 

MetaVis Change Manager allows scheduling content type copy activities using simple copy / paste or drag-n-drop gesture on MetaVis Navigation Tree. Unlike MetaVis Migrator, Change Manager displays content types in the navigation tree and allows copying them between different sites.

 

 

A part of MetaVis Change Manager functionality is to execute activities for multiple source and target site pairs provided by Excel spreadsheet. This function allows to mass-distribute content types between multiple site collections as a part of an execution of a single activity.

MetaVis Platform Features Overview: Browse and Copy Individual WEB Parts between WEB Part Pages

March 23, 2011

Users and administrators use WEB Parts to customize look and feel and behavior of SharePoint pages. WEB Parts could be used to customize WEB Part Pages located in document libraries, Publishing Pages located in the Pages library of the publishing sites, WIKI Pages, system pages like site home pages or list views or update pages.

MetaVis Architect Suite provides an easy way to list WEB Parts for any selected page and to copy WEB Parts between pages. Find WEB Part Page in MetaVis Content View, right click on the page and select Show WEB Parts.

 

 

Show WEB Parts menu item brings the WEB Parts Viewer that displays WEB Parts located on the selected page.

 

 

It is possible to copy and paste or to drag and drop WEB Parts from MetaVis WEB Parts Viewer to any other WEB Part page in MetaVis Navigator tree or content viewer.

 

While MetaVis Migrator for SharePoint allows immediate copy of WEB Parts, MetaVis Change Manager for SharePoint creates activities that could be executed at the later time. As usual, MetaVis Change Manager activities could be executed at once for multiple targets. It could simplify such operations like mass distributing WEB Parts from list view page to hundreds of the sites in multiple SharePoint farms.

 

Another interesting functionality of WEB Parts View is the ability to save WEB Part XML definition to the file on the local computer. To do this, right click on the WEB Part in the WEB Part Viewer and select Save XML Config to File option like on the picture below.

 

MetaVis Platform Features Overview: Bulk user mapping to add or replace domain in login names

March 8, 2011

Many if not all SharePoint objects have user accounts associated with them. They could come in the form of basic item or document properties like Created By or Modified By. The other example is the value in Person or Group field. Users could also be members of SharePoint security groups or object permission records.

One of the common problems that arise when people copy SharePoint objects or the whole site collections between active directory domains is to change account information when copying users. For a long time MetaVis Migrator used to have an ability to specify user mapping when performing copy operations. Each Copy Wizard to copy items, lists, sites, permissions or user groups includes the controls to provide user mapping

User mapping should be provided in the form of CSV file with a row per user mapping. Each row should specify account name is the source and target environments separated with comma.

While this approach works well in majority of the situations it is often hard to compile user mapping file if environments contain hundreds if not thousand user accounts.

To cover the situation with bulk user mapping, MetaVis Migrator added the ability to provide user-mapping rows using wildcard specifications like on the picture below

In addition to this, the wildcard specification could just add a domain to the account that does not have domain in the source environment

The later mapping could be user to map user accounts from FBA environments or from non-user fields like text field or MS Office Authors or Last Saved By fields.

It is worth to note that the wildcard records could be provided in the mapping file in addition to the real account mapping. This technics provides the mechanism to specify default values to the user mapping in addition to the direct mapping of the account that have more changes in the source and target environment than just domain change.


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