Friday, May 27, 2011

Twitter Web Part

The web has rapidly turned into a social medium. When I started using and developing for the “world wide web”, I connected using Prodigy , a dialup service in 1993. In those days Google was still an unknown experiment in a closet at Stanford. Who could have imagined that it would one day host the opinions of nearly 200 million Twitter users spitting out 90 million Tweets per day? Some Twitter users have millions of followers. Lady Gaga currently has 10,433,026 followers. Now imagine that you own a business and Lady Gaga tweets poorly about your product or service. That’s like running a negative ad about you on the final night of American Idol. How many more units do you think you would sell?

Our company wanted to see what the Twitterverse had to say about our company’s products and services on a daily basis. We leverage SharePoint 2010 for our internal needs and it made sense to stick a web part on the home page where we communicate the company’s activities and news. After searching the web for a Twitter web part, we decided to build our own, mainly due to the cost.
Thanks to a few websites we found, we had the core understanding of where we wanted to go and how to get there. Jan Tielen’s blog was the first stop. If you do not have him bookmarked, you should. His article pointed me to the Twitter Search API, which as he mentions in his post, turns out to be easy to use.

Once the code was written and tested, we loaded the web part on our corporate intranet and loaded it with the search text. Since we only wanted to search Twitter and not allow users to submit Tweets, it was fairly straight forward. We also wanted to load the web part with predetermined search values that could not be changed by everyone in the organization. For this reason, the search criteria were set in the Tool Part Pane, which can only be changed by the administrator (in our environment). To setup the query, you can use a number of methods for submitting and returning searches.
Some of the ways are listed below:

• Microsoft + SharePoint – returns results for both “Microsoft” and “SharePoint”
• “web part” – returns results for the exact phrase “web part"
• walk OR run - returns results for either “walk” or “run” (or both)
• explorer -Ford - returns results for “explorer” but not “Ford”
• from:gregdamico – sent from person “gregdamico”
• to:microsoft – sent to person “microsoft”

The web part is free so please go download it and enjoy. You can see our other web parts at , Microsoft Office MarketPlace, cnet downloads or TuCows .

Friday, May 13, 2011

Remote Desktop Web Part for SharePoint 2010

Remote Desktop Web Part Available

While trying to figure out how to allow users into our network, without giving them the keys to the castle, I enabled Remote Desktop Access for a few members of my team. Thinking more about this, I quickly remembered a project several years ago while working for the Department of Defense. That project required us to "lock down" access to only necessary personnel and limited access to the programs on the servers. After spending some time on Microsoft's KnowledgeBase, we realized that we could create desktop "shortcuts" for those employees that made the RDP connection, logged them in and limited their access to one specific application on that server.

Recently the Efficience development team decided to build a SharePoint 2010 web part that does the same thing. Leveraging the remote desktop protocol, we created a SharePoint 2010 web part that allows a SharePoint administrator to drop the part on a web part page and configure it for use. It was not developed with the intention to allow users to "pick" their server, but that is coming in the next release.

Here's how it's used. Edit the web part page and select the RDP web part. Once the web part is on the page, choose the tool menu to edit the web part. In the Tool Part Pane, you will find the remote access settings.

Server = IP or URL of server with Remote Access enabled
Username = Account name for the server
Password = password for the Username
Domain = if necessary, provide the domain name
Program = the program name including extension, if you want the user to only have access to that program. Once they close the program, the session ends and the user is logged out and the RDP window closes.

That's it. Now you only have to go download it. The RDP web part is completely free and is available at the Efficience, LLC website @ For support, send an email to and we will answer your questions.

Thanks! Until next time...