Posts Tagged SharePoint
Today I thought it would be fun to do more research on what InfoPath looks like in the cloud. There had been a few hints about Forms Services running on SharePoint Online and some people were suggesting that it would only work once Office365 came out. Today I started a BPOS trial at https://mocp.microsoftonline.com/site/services/bpos/signup.aspx?offer=suite"eid=067303dd-bef3-4bc9-8f95-2b24c6dae143 and created a forms library to test out my strategies on InfoPath.
To give away the spoiler, I got it to work successfully. Apparently this is currently an unsupported feature (I think until Office365 comes out), but it does work. Here are the steps that I did to test this out. In a recent post I talked about how the license changes to MOSS 2010 no longer provide forms services as a feature when you use the standard CAL. But BPOS is relatively inexpensive so I think it provides a cost-effective replacement for the MOSS functionality. I found the documentation a little lacking on how to do this so I thought I would put together a walkthrough of how I got it to work.
1. So the first thing I did was make a sample form in InfoPath:
2. Then I save it and go to Tools\Form Options to enable it to work in a browser:
3. Then I just have to go through a couple pages of the wizard to publish to a Microsoft Online site.
You have to authenticate with SharePoint Online at this point. Then the next page
Then choose the forms library from your SharePoint Online site that you want to publish the form for. In the following screenshot I show a couple forms libraries. I actually used a different form library for the later pages of this wizard called OnlineFormsLibrary.
Then you get a page that says the form was published successfully:
4. Then I wanted to show the form from my browser even though I had InfoPath installed. On the form library settings you can specify that you want the form to display as a web page which will show the forms services rendering that does not require InfoPath. Here is the form for specifying this:
5. Then you can view the form by making a new item in the forms library. Here is an example of my form being rendered through Forms Services:
So Forms Services does work with SharePoint Online, even with just a BPOS trial. This is exciting news. As far as I know, BizTalk cannot currently integrate with SharePoint Online for document library functionality because the WSS adapter web service does not exist in the cloud. The next thing I will try is being able to post the results from InfoPath back into a custom WCF service in the cloud. From there the data could be sent back into an on-premise hosted BizTalk server via the service bus. This whole integration feels like sending something from outer space back to earth but I feel good just knowing that at least it is possible. 🙂
I got some pretty good traffic for my recent post on the changing BizTalk landscape regarding 3rd party BizTalk adapter companies that no longer sell adapters so I thought it would be good to also try to aggregate some recent licensing changes. Due to new products being out now for both of the license changes, the old terms are no longer available and the old products can no longer be purchased (AFAIK). Both of these licensing changes seemed shocking and a little annoying to me because the previous version was a great deal, especially when paired with a BizTalk standard license.
Forms Services (InfoPath on the web)
- In SharePoint 2007 it was possible to run Forms Server under a Standard CAL.
- In SharePoint Server 2010, Forms Services requires Enterprise edition.
From a BizTalk perspective not being able to work with InfoPath on the web without purchasing a full, enterprise edition of SharePoint is a significant barrier to entry. InfoPath has often been used with BizTalk for providing a rich client application for error routing & resubmit scenarios. There are actually many samples of using InfoPath with BizTalk that are included with the BizTalk SDK. BizTalk standard is a very good deal for smaller businesses when compared to Enterprise edition. Fortunately it is still possible to use InfoPath with BizTalk 2010 as long as the InfoPath client has been installed.
A really interesting and likely cost-competitive workaround would be to use SharePoint Online which will eventually support Forms Services. I was unable to determine if this capability is already available but there are several Microsoft people mentioning this is an upcoming reality. Here is one example: http://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/onlineservicessharepoint/thread/03581d46-64bc-4c8e-953b-211ac55fc70c/.
BizTalk Adapter Pack when used outside of BizTalk
- With BizTalk 2009 it was possible to purchase a separate license for using the BizTalk adapter pack WCF custom bindings without a BizTalk license.
- With BizTalk 2010 a BizTalk license (Standard or Enterprise) must be purchased
At the very bottom of the page at http://www.microsoft.com/biztalk/en/us/editions.aspx, this change to the BizTalk Adapter Pack is listed. I am not sure if this change might have been a trade-off with the developer edition now being free. It seems like a relatively good trade. In my experience I have not seen many people pay for the BizTalk Adapter Pack separately from BizTalk. I was actually surprised when anyone mentioned even knowing about this separate SKU for just the BizTalk adapter pack.
Since BizTalk is not licensed on a CAL model it seems like just a matter of time before the BizTalk Adapter Pack could be remotely hosted (perhaps even in the cloud) and could be provisioned for costs in this way. This is just a guess – I have no knowledge of this being an upcoming trend or possibility. But considering the requirement of needing to upgrade to a BizTalk server edition for anyone currently using the pack in their .NET applications, there seems to be a compelling reason to have a cost-restricted upgrade model.
So both of these licensing changes can make a big impact on your architectural estimates for projects unless you look at using a cloud or ASP based workaround.
|Configuration Interface||Command-Line and BizTalk Configuration Wizard||SharePoint Central Administration website|
|Encryption Key Management||Possible only via Command-Line||Possible only via website function "Manage Encryption Key"|
|Encryption Key Backup||Command-Line File Based, Can backup to any file location||Website Based, Can backup only to a removable drive|
|SSO MMC Capability?||Exists as an MMC, can be loaded remotely with appropriate BizTalk install||MMC does not exist, cannot be configured remotely.|
|Requires RDP access for SSO configuration?||No||Yes|
|Group Setup for SSO||SSO Administrators, SSO Affiliate Administrators, SSO Service Account||SSO Administrators, SSO Administrator Account, SSO Service Account|
|Requires SSO Service Account to be process identity for configuration?||No||Yes|
|SSO delegation options||Credential based on port configuration||Credential variability options – Group and Individual options.|
|Runs as Windows Service?||Yes||Yes|
|Required on all servers in Farm?||No||Yes|
|Operates out of an SSO database?||Yes||Yes|
|Command-line options for SSO?||Yes||Partial|
|Automatic Credential Update?||Yes||No|
The above table shows there are a considerable number of differences in the SSO configuration and functionality options of SSO across the two products. Perhaps in the future the two SSO products can provide a combination of the features in the chart above because both offer valuable options and would make an excellent combination together. A more consolidated SSO experience would also be helpful from a product administration perspective.