Using External Content Types in SharePoint with Microsoft Office – SQLSat #110

Last Saturday was SQL Saturday #110 in Tampa FL.  I was scheduled to present my session on using SQL Server as an External Content Type in SharePoint and Microsoft Office.  I’ve done this session before.  Several times in fact.  It is loose based on a series of blog entries I created back in March of 2011.  I practiced going through the demo several times before the event and thought that everything was OK except for the demo segment where I connect an external list with contact information to Outlook so that it show up as a new contact folder.  But I’ve determined that problem is related to some changes made to my demo machine in the security settings, but the rest worked fine.

Well I got up early Saturday morning and drove to Tampa (only a little over an hour from our house) an was there before the start of the first session.  I felt ready.  I even did not mind having my session in an adjacent building, or at least I did not mind at first.  When my session time arrived (I had the second session of the day in this session room), I connected my laptop to the provided projector and the first thing I noticed is that my resolution just went crazy.  I’m use to working in an environment with at least 1680 by 1050 with my laptop typically set at 1920 by 1200.  With most development environments today having menu bars and property panels and toolbars, and work areas, you really need a large screen resolution to see anything meanful.  So my first sign of potential problems came when the projector dumbed down my screen to 800 x 600.  I knew that would make scrolling around to find things a problem, but that wasn’t the only problem.

In fact, it that was the limit of my problems, I probably could have gotten by.  The real problem came when in some of the demos, dialog boxes popped up that were larger than 800 x 600.  In fact I hit one dialog box while building the filters for the first external content type definition that was so large that I could not see the buttons at the bottom of the screen.  The dialog box was a fixed size box so I could not resize it.  I tried to move the window up but would not work either.  So I started using the TAB key to try to guess which button was activated before pressing the ENTER key.  Well that sort of worked, but it was scarry.  Then opening the SharePoint site, I noticed that all of the Silverlight extensions would not display.  For example, when you select Create to define a new list or library, I got the old style column and link display of different types of objects I could create.  In fact, the further I went into the demo, the worse it became.  In one part of the demo that I tried to jump to just to get something to work, I need to open the template for the document library so I can use Quick Parts to insert document properties from the library metadata into the template so it can be used when a person creates a new document in the library.  Now even Word refused to open.

I yanked out the cable to the project and everything worked again.  But of course I could not expect the attendees to crowd around me to view my screen to watch what I was doing.  So apologized profusely and decided to just end the pain and the session.  Trust me when I say that no one was more disappointed than I was.  I knew I could go back and reproduce all of my presentation later, capture key screens, wrap the images up with a little text description and make the resulting document available as a PDF for anyone interested to download and view.  Therefore, this week’s technical blog entry is really the PDF referenced by the hyperlink following this paragraph.  It takes you step-by-step through what would have been my presentation.  It is a token of my appreciation to those who came and were disappointed by not being able to see my presentation.  In addition, this blog represents by 100th blog entry here.  So as a present to all of you faithful readers, here is the link:

Using External Content Types in SharePoint with Microsoft Office




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