Chatter for SharePoint 1.8 Released!

Hi Everyone. It is with great pleasure I release version 1.8 of Chatter for SharePoint – and with it the long-awaited support for Chatter Free. You asked, I found a way. Thanks go out to my beta testers for taking the time to run 1.8 through its paces. This version also includes some great new functionality – including support for thumbnails/previews and direct downloading of attachments right within the chatter feed. The full change log is below. You can download the updated version here.

Changes in 1.8:

  • Added Chatter Free support
  • Added support for attachment thumbnail/preview images
  • Added direct-download of SalesForce attachments in feed items
  • Added new verbose logging option to web.config
  • Fixed issue where comments on Links or Files would not be posted with the item
  • Fixed issue with finding correct web.config with multiple AAMs
  • Fixed issue where group selector would be blank if user was not a member of any groups
  • Fixed issue where the web part would not properly detect a Team Site in edit mode
  • Updated web part branding styles
  • Improved formatting of posts in Read Only mode
  • Web Part Properties panel now updates it’s values from web.config after the initial configuration
  • Cleaned up deprecated code
  • New ‘Edit Mode’ information panel
  • Minor fixes

Thanks for using Chatter for SharePoint!

SalesForce Chatter Integration to SharePoint – Part 2

UPDATE: Click here to download the Chatter for SharePoint solution.

So we just finished the second phase of our SalesForce Chatter integration efforts – the displaying of feeds and basic wall-functionality: Posts, Comments, Groups, Tags, and Likes.

Here’s what it looks like:


I described the basic workings of the web part in an earlier article (https://marcrdavis.wordpress.com/2012/02/11/salesforce-chatter-integration-to-sharepoint/) so please check that out for the details. I think it worked out very well. We added the ability to cross-post to your SharePoint profile when updating Chatter, nice. We also added properties to control the number of feed items returned, the cache and refresh timeouts, and options to produce debugging information per-user so we can trace issues in production.

Users who have authorized our intranet on their Chatter profile get the full experience above – they can post, like (or unlike), and comment on items. If they have not done the authorization step yet (or it was revoked), then users will get a read-only view of the All Company feed (which is done by adding a SalesForce API-enabled account in the web part configuration). Read-Only users are invited to authorize the app so they can get the full experience:

Clicking the link starts the authorization process:

The biggest challenge we had with the design was the Chatter API rate-limit of 200 requests per user, per application, per hour. We had to get creative with caching so we would not run over the limit – especially for the read-only view.

The goal here was not to reproduce Chatter or all of the Chatter features – but rather bring the feed data and the basic social experience into our SharePoint Intranet. Links, hashtags, and attachments are redirected to a new browser window that opens to the full Chatter web application. SalesForce has been working on a version of this web part for some time – but it is still in beta and not widely available. The version we tested also had a requirement of SSL on the SharePoint front-end servers. Since we offload SSL on our load-balancers, we could not use their web part properly. Ours does use SSL to talk to SalesForce (so the feed is secure) but we don’t need to have SSL on the web applications. Our web part is also not encumbered by the SalesForce branding – so it fits in perfectly.

The next phase will continue to integrate the platforms further, with indexing Chatter so it can be returned in SharePoint search results. We may also look to embed the wall-experience in the user’s profile page.

That’s it for now – look for more on this soon. Be sure to look for my tweets and blog updates from the SharePoint Connections Conference in March. Take care.

SalesForce Chatter Integration to SharePoint

UPDATE: Click here to download the Chatter for SharePoint solution.

Hi everyone – sorry it’s been awhile between posts but got really busy at the end of the year. This article continues my series on SunGard’s corporate Intranet and the custom development we’ve done. As we were designing the branding we had some challenges around where to put some of the native controls and ribbon elements – especially two in particular: ‘Tags and Notes’, and ‘Like’. Since we effectively hid the ‘Browse’ tab, those default ribbon icons were MIA – but we didn’t want to lose that functionality. Another tab in the ribbon seemed the most logical place, and would serve as way to integrate other social aspects into SharePoint.

Being new to working with the SharePoint Ribbon, I looked on the net for examples – and found a great one on CodePlex: http://socialsharepoint.codeplex.com/ . This project helped me create the new ‘Share’ tab on our intranet and relocate the ‘Tags and Notes’ and ‘Like’ buttons. The tab also contains other sharing options, like ‘Email’, ‘RSS’, and ‘SalesForce Chatter’.

Above: The Share tab open on the ribbon.

When SunGard standardized on Chatter as their social platform, the focus became integrating Chatter into SharePoint as seamlessly as possible. We’ve approached this process in stages. The first stage was basic integration – common authentication, status updates, and shaing pages, documents, and list items. The first phase was achieved with the Share on Chatter feature in the ribbon, and a custom web part for posting status updates (detailed later in this post).

Above: Clicking on the Chatter ribbon icon opens a modal window with the selected page, item, or document as an embedded link. Users can add comments and share the item on Chatter.

The Ribbon enhancement and the web part use OAuth and the Chatter REST APIs to communicate with SalesForce. The user’s token and secrets are stored in hidden fields within their profile. Once they authorize the KnowHow Application on Chatter once, they can use any of the Chatter integration features we design.

Users can also post status updates simultaneously to both SharePoint and Chatter by means of our Status Update Web Part:

This web part is placed in everyone’s Sidebar (see: https://marcrdavis.wordpress.com/2011/09/27/persistent-personalized-content-in-sharepoint/ for details on the Sidebar) making it quick and easy to post updates. The user’s posts are sent to their SharePoint profile as well as posted on their Chatter feed.

The second stage, which is underway now, involves bringing the many different feeds in Chatter directly into SharePoint. Doing this has proved challenging, since only this weekend has the Chatter v24 API been rolled out in our Org. Our Feed web part will leverage the above common authentication and will allow site owners to place feeds directly on their sites. The web part uses the REST API to pull down feed data as a JSON array (http://json.codeplex.com/) and then parses that data into feed-items and their components. Then, with some CSS and markup, we format that data into a wall view. Properties in the web part control what feed is shown (personal, company, or group) and options for supplying default credentials for Chatter, which can be used to authenticate users that do not have a Chatter profile or have not authorized the site on their profile yet. In that mode, all feeds are read-only. The web part also leverages Ajax to provide dynamic updating of the feeds without the need to repost the entire page

Our Status Update web part will then get an overhaul – adding the user’s personal feed view right in their Sidebar.

I personally would have loved to see true threaded discussions, micro-blogging, and a wall-like interface in SharePoint natively (maybe v15) – would have saved me a lot of work. But we’ve been able to do some really cool things with these two platforms and while getting them to place nice is a challenge, our end users really enjoy the experience and this helps us drive more traffic to SharePoint now that they can seamlessly collaborate on our external social platform.

Up next – our take on Exchange and Outlook integration with SharePoint.