As I mentioned in an earlier post, I used to use my Mac at my day job. However, a combination of not-so-subtle hints from our Information Security folks as well as the general pain in the posterior of managing a SharePoint site on the Mac forced me back to a PC. Frankly, for what I do, my little Dell ultraportable is just fine.
A project recently hit my desk, though, where using the Mac became the best choice for me. We’re shuttering a data center and moving about 300 servers to new locations. It became my task to update all of our documentation to reflect the servers new homes.
After poking around with some lack-luster search tools in SharePoint and a conference with our admins, I learned there wasn’t an automated way to feed a list of servers into SharePoint’s search engine and have it spit out a list of documents each server is in.
With SP2 for Office 2008, Microsoft introduced a new Document Connection tool, which allows Office 2008 to connect to SharePoint sites very easily. Figuring this tool might be beneficial to my chore, I fired it up.
Unfortunately, I quickly learned that I can’t actually search the contents of documents on the site; I can only search on the name of the document. No worries. Part of our “in case of emergency” recovery plan is the entire site is exported to a share on our file server.
This was a great task for Automator. I quickly created a little search tool that would copy the selected text (server name) to a Text Edit document, and then append to that document the names of all the documents that contained that server. A little find-and-replacing to clean up the document, I soon had a nice Excel sheet with the list of documents I needed to edit.
Finding the actual documents through SharePoint’s web portal would be a hassle, though. I could find them on the master list, or depending on how they are tagged, but it sure would be nice if I had a tool where I could quickly type in the document name and open it in Word. Oh, wait, I do: the newly-released Document Connection tool. It worked perfectly. Since I had the list of document titles, it was amazingly easy to find the document I needed and edit it.
While the tool made my life easier, there are a few things I’d like to see in future releases. All of our documents need to be approved before people can see them. There was no way to approve the changes via the tool; I still had to go to the web interface to do this. It wasn’t the end of the world, since the approval process actually works well on non-IE browsers.
The real hassle, though, was assigning the metatags we use. Each document needs to have two tags assigned to it that “file” the document in their correct bins — these are what the product is and what market it belongs to. These are assigned from a pre-defined list, and when you go to the SharePoint site, there are pulldowns you can choose the product and market groups. The pulldowns to assign a newly-uploaded document its proper tagging do not work on non-IE browsers, so it’d be nice to have a way I could assign those via the tool as well.
What has your experience been with Microsoft’s Document Connection tool?