On Deck: Chatter for SharePoint 2.1

Hi Everyone. Just a quick update to share with you on the next release of Chatter for SharePoint. Version 2.1 is going through testing at the moment and will be released before the end of May. The full change list is below but I wanted to highlight a few significant changes:

Acceptable Use Policy

Several customers have inquired about requiring users to accept terms-of-use prior to participating on social platforms. Version 2.1 allows you to enable a feature to require users to read and accept terms of use (via a file you supply) prior to completing the authorization process. Proof of acceptance is logged on the server in the authorization log file. See the updated documentation for details on configuring and enabling this feature.

EasySetup Improvements

Another highly requested feature was the ability for the EasySetup and PrepareSharePoint utilities to update the web configuration on remote servers. This can now be accomplished – provided each server has the IIS Remote Administration feature enabled. Run ‘ASPNET_REGIIS -CONFIG+’ on each server in the farm prior to running EasySetup/PrepareSharePoint and it will be able to update all of the web.config files for you.

Other updates/improvements

  • Adds support for Acceptable Use Policy acknowledgement during authorization
  • Adds support for opening object types: Accounts, Contacts, Leads and Opportunities
  • Adds support for jpeg/png/bmp image previews
  • Improvements to API-enabled user account error handling
  • Updates to EasySetup and PrepareSharePoint now allow remote editing of web.config files on multi-server farms
  • Fixes an issue in Read Only Mode where the ‘Like’ names were clickable

Look for version 2.1 to be released shortly on the site. Thanks again to my customers who suggested some of these improvements and I hope you continue to find this solution useful.

Chatter for SharePoint 2.0 FAQs

Hi Everyone. As we approach the launch of Chatter for SharePoint 2.0 I wanted to provide answers to common questions I am receiving:

Q: What’s new in version 2?
A: A Lot! See my earlier posts for details and screenshots. Some of the more noteworthy improvements include: a completely new (and customizable) UI, faster performance, improved caching, a new middle-tier library and support for: @mentions, following and trending – among many other improvements.

Q: Can I do an in-place upgrade from version 1.x to version 2.0?
A: YES! The upgrade process is very simple. You can use the InstallWebPart utility to automatically retract/remove the old version and add/deploy the new one. Alternatively, you can use STSADM or PowerShell commands to do the retract/remove and the add/deploy. All existing instances of the web part will automatically be upgraded to the new version.

Q: When upgrading do I need to rerun EasySetup or PrepareSharePoint.exe?
A: No. If you already have a working 1.x solution deployed the new version will inherit all of the existing configuration settings.

Q: I have the BETA version of 2.0 installed. Can I upgrade to the final version?
A: YES! Just retract/remove the beta and add/deploy the final version using STSADM or PowerShell. See the documentation for the command syntax if you are unsure.

Q: I have the 1.x solution installed and would like to try the 2.x version – but retain the option of downgrading to the 1.x solution. How can I do that?
A: By default, the 2.x solution changes how the user tokens are stored. This new format is incompatible with the 1.x solution. To retain backwards-compatibility, add the AppSetting ‘Chatter_Compatibility_Mode’ to all your web.config files and set the value to ‘true’. This will allow you to go back to the 1.x solution if you so desire. Note: running in this mode will reduce the security of the user-tokens.

Q: What version of SharePoint does this support?
A: Chatter for SharePoint 2.0 is compatible with on-prem installations of the Foundation, Standard or Enterprise editions of SharePoint 2010 or 2013. This software is NOT compatible with O365/SharePoint Online due to platform restrictions. There is also no 2.0 version for SharePoint 2007.

Q: What are the SalesForce requirements?
A: Your users must have Chatter Free or Chatter Plus licenses on your instance of SalesForce.

Q: Is there an Evaluation Version?
A: YES! The solution will run in Enterprise Evaluation mode for 15 days from the date you first installed the product. You can test all of the Enterprise features with the following restrictions: An evaluation banner message will appear in the web part and the feed results are restricted to only three items.

Q: How much does the solution cost?
A: Version 2.0 has two flavors – Standard and Enterprise. The Standard License is a one-time charge of $299 per farm (unlimited users) and allows you to use the Feed Web Part only. This license DOES NOT include: Ribbon Integration, Sharing of pages/documents/items from SharePoint, Share from Anywhere, File Upload, Search Integration and Sync. The Enterprise license includes all of the solution functionality (similar to the old 1.x license) for a one-time charge of $599 per farm PLUS per-user licenses. User licenses start at $1.50 per user for less than 1000 users. Customers interested in the Enterprise license should contact me for a quote.

Q: I am interested in the Enterprise license. How do I know how many user licenses I need?
A: I have created a License Calculator tool which is included in the ZIP file. Run the tool from one of your SharePoint Servers (see the documentation for details). It will determine the user count based on the larger of the user count in the User Profile Service (if provisioned) or the largest site collection. It will then add 10% and round the number up to the nearest tenth to give you a suggested license size. You may choose to increase that number if you know your user base will grow quickly. Otherwise you can purchase additional licenses in groups of 100.

Q: We already have purchased the 1.x solution. How do we get version 2.0?
A: 1.x customers under maintenance as of November 1, 2014 will be receiving the 2.x solution at no cost and will be grandfathered into the Enterprise licensing model for the number of users recommended by the License Calculator tool. 1.x customers not under maintenance must repurchase the solution under the new licensing terms.

Q: Do you offer support or maintenance?
A: YES! Yearly Support and Maintenance contracts are available. The cost varies depending on the license type. For Standard licenses it is $1000/year per license. For the Enterprise license it is the greater of $1000 or 20% of the total license cost (farm+user licenses).

I hope these are helpful. If you have a question not addressed above please feel free to contact me. Look for the Chatter for SharePoint 2.0 launch during the week of November 3rd!

On Deck: Chatter for SharePoint 2.0

Hi Everyone! As you can guess from the title we are getting close to the release of the next major version of Chatter for SharePoint. This project began almost a year ago and is finally coming to fruition. I’d like to thank my BETA testers for their feedback. Since the BETA was released last month there have been major changes to the codebase, including general bug squashing and significant performance improvements. The majority of the work has been around performance and I am happy to report that version 2 is far faster in rendering feeds and performing feed actions than the 1.x codebase. In many areas – it’s as much as a 100% performance increase. This is due to an entirely new caching design. While the 1.x solution cached entire feed pages – the 2.x code caches individual feed items and dynamically builds feed pages on the fly. This new caching was not implemented in the BETA – but you will be able to see it very soon.

Which leads me into the next topic – the general availability of version 2.x. Plans are to release the final version the week of November 3rd! I’m in the final debugging stages – soon to be updating the installer and documentation.

Next – a final reminder about the licensing change. Only Version 1.x customers who are under maintenance as of November 1, 2014 will be grandfathered into the new Enterprise licensing model at no cost. New and existing customers not under maintenance will need to purchase the 2.x solution and license it under the new terms.

Finally – some screenshots (just because everyone loves screenshots)

Screenshot of the Read Only Feed View

The Feed – with the new Trending Panel open.

A feed item with Topics.

Comments on a feed item with attachments.

New dropdown action menus.

The new Edit Mode info panel – licensing details will be visible here.

The Web Part Properties panel is now just one section for easy management of settings.

Thanks again to all my customers who have invested in the Chatter for SharePoint solution. This version represents a year (on and off) of development – with features and improvements suggested by you. I hope you continue to find it useful. I’ll be updating the site the week of November 3rd with the release announcement. Existing customers will be notified via email with download links and instructions for requesting new license keys.

Chatter for SharePoint 2.0 BETA

Hi Everyone – apologies for being a few days late with the Beta – wanted to fix some last minute things before I let this code into the wild. We’re still on track for a mid-October November release.

Couple of things:

First – you can find the 2010/2013 Beta download links on the Chatter for SharePoint page. Just a reminder – there is no SharePoint 2007 port of version 2. The 1.8.x codebase will be the last for 2007. All good things must come to an end.

Next – You are going to be testing BETA software. It is not perfect. It is not finished. It has bugs. It will do weird things. It may smell bad. Don’t even think of installing this on your Production systems. Please see the Release Notes for full details and installation/upgrade instructions.

You don’t need to be an existing customer or have the 1.x code installed to test this software. The Beta can be installed on a clean farm or it can upgrade existing 1.x installations of Chatter for SharePoint.

In the download you will find a License Calculator tool. If you are going to be upgrading to 2.x and want more than just the feed web part you will need the Enterprise license – which is farm + per-user licensing. This tool will help you determine your user-count and suggest a license size. You will need this information when purchasing 2.x licenses. The tool must be run from one of the servers in your farm and with a farm admin ID.

If you are going to download and test this I only ask that you provide feedback to support@sharepointsnapple.com. I need to know what’s working, what’s not, what could be better, etc.

So please – take version 2.0 for a spin and let me know how I can make this product even better.

Thanks!

On Deck: Chatter for SharePoint Roadmap & EasySetup

Hi Everyone. The march towards the next milestone begins. Development on the 2.x codebase has begun. Still looking at between 3-4 months of development time before we have usable code but the feature list has been locked down and preliminary work has begun. I will be sharing more details of 2.x over the next month so look for more updates soon. Office 365/SharePoint Online support is on the roadmap for 2.x.

But before then we have several significant releases of the 1.x codebase in the pipeline. A feature of the 2.x codebase is going to be delivered early in the form of a new install program and a Zero Configuration Setup. So what does ‘Zero Configuration’ mean? Think Staples Easy Button™. No SalesForce setupNo Connected Applications to configure… just install, add the web part to a page and you’re done in less than 5 minutes. This method is great for those who don’t have administrator access to SalesForce or who don’t want to go through the manual setup process. If you already have a connected app setup don’t worry – everything will still work as normal. This is just a great way for new customers to get Chatter for SharePoint installed and running as quickly as possible.

CFSP_EasySetup
Above: The new EasySetup utility.


Above: Screenshot of new solution installer in action.

Look for this and more updates soon. Thanks for using Chatter for SharePoint!

BREAKING NEWS: Chatter for SharePoint

Hi Everyone! I have some exciting news regarding a major development with Chatter for SharePoint. Version 1.8 – which is being tested now – will allow Chatter Free users to use the solution! This is a huge breakthrough and (next to O365 compatibility) was the most requested feature. Chatter for SharePoint will be one of the few 3rd party Chatter applications that support Chatter Free and I’m thrilled to offer it to you.

So – if you were looking at Chatter for SharePoint and were discouraged that it wouldn’t work with your Chatter Free users – look again. I hope to release 1.8 within the next few weeks.

Stay tuned. And thanks for using Chatter for SharePoint!

Update: Several of you have inquired regarding if the Chatter Free compatibility is read-only or full access. It is fully functional and identical to the Chatter Plus user experience.

Chatter for SharePoint Version 1.7 Released!

Hi everyone. Version 1.7 of the Chatter for SharePoint solution is now available on the blog. Please see my earlier posts and the updated documentation for details on the new features and fixes. One additional fix is included to address reported issues when using SAML/Claims based authentication.

Chatter for SharePoint Version 1.5 Released!

Hi everyone. The new version of Chatter for SharePoint is now available on the blog. You can download the files for your version of SharePoint from this link.

New and updated features in this version include:

  • Added ‘Load more posts’ option to the bottom of feed to fetch next X number of feed-items into the web part
  • Added support for callback URLs to provide a better and faster authentication experience (your web applications need to be SSL for this to work; the forms authentication method is still present for non-SSL sites)
  • Added ‘Following’ filter to show all feed items from users and groups you are following
  • Added ‘Bookmarked’ filter to show all feed items you have bookmarked
  • Added support for bookmarking items from within the web part
  • Added ability to post to group when in the group feed
  • The group dropdown is now trimmed to show only groups to which you are a member
  • Fixed issue with hash tags and searching
  • Fixed Alpha filter error on Chrome
  • Fixed spelling error for Unliked link
  • Fixed issue where the ‘Also Share on SharePoint’ option was not working properly (2013)
  • Fixed issue where share box panel would not expand on the ChatterFeed form (2007)
  • Hash tags are now searchable within the web part. Just click on a hash tag within a feed item to search for all instances of the tag
  • Updated mouse-over event for bookmark/delete functionality to be on the item rather than the right-corner
  • HTTP timeout values adjusted to 30 seconds
  • New and updated debug information in the logs

Please download the latest version of the documentation for descriptions on the new features.