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A busy little SharePoint Cat

Wow, 2014 has been a whirlwind so far. Between planning SharePoint Saturday Huntsville in February, SharePoint Conference in Las Vegas in March, and planning a SharePoint Saturday in Nashville just last weekend. So many great community happenings and fun things to do.

Now that I have a second to breathe I want to acknowledge all the great people who have helped me, post a link to a new presentation, and note where you might find me next.

First off, I want to thank Microsoft for honoring with the SharePoint MVP designation for another year.  With each year that I have gotten this award I try to do more and more to say thank you to the SharePoint Community.

Now for thanks to people who have helped with different SharePoint Saturday events. SharePoint Saturday Huntsville would not have been a success without Mark Rackley (@mrackley)! And a giant thank you to all our speakers and sponsors.

SharePoint Saturday Nashville would not have been a success without Daniel Glenn, Elizabeth Hutson, Jamye Few, Brian Purdes, and Nesha Lankford! It was a great first SharePoint Saturday in Nashville and we look forward to many new events there in the future. Thanks to all our speakers and sponsors!

You can find my Become Your Own Business Analyst Presentation from SharePoint Saturday Nashville here.

Next up on my SharePoint Travel list is SPTechCon in San Francisco for the Women in SharePoint Panel luncheon.  If you are headed to San Fran, make sure you say hi. I’d love to chat and meet old friends and new friends.

SharePoint Conference 2014–The User Experience Designer’s Edition

The time is almost here when thousands of SharePoint professionals from around the globe descend on Las Vegas. I am honored to be one of the speakers at this years event and am looking forward to sharing my session with you. "SPC203 – Adjust the Perspective with Responsive Designs for SharePoint”

This year at the SharePoint Conference I have put together a group of recommended sessions for anyone who is a User Experience person.  Just some recommendations and things to watch out for. As a UX person for SharePoint there are so many great sessions this year on all the hot topics we need to be prepared for.  So get ready… set…. go to:

Session

Speaker

Date/Time

SPC 203 – Adjust the Perspective with Responsive Designs for SharePoint Cathy Dew 3/4 3:15 – 4:30
SPC 207 – Best Practices for Information Architecture and Enterprise Search Agnes Molnar and Sezai Komur 3/5 1:45 – 3:00
SPC 215 – Tips & Tricks to make the most out of your SharePoint site and Maximize Adoption Laura Rogers and Jennifer Mason 3/5 3:15 – 4:30
SPC 226 – Content Types, Managed Metadata and You Lori Gowin 3/5 5:00 – 6:15
SPC 228 – Deliver Adaptive and personalized experiences for your SharePoint 2013 sites Ryan Sockalosky 3/5 1:45 – 3:00
SPC 229 – Designing and Applying information architecture for SharePoint and Office 365 Agnes Molnar and Israel Vega Jr. 3/5 9:00 – 10:15
SPC 247 – Successful team collaboration with Yammer & SharePoint Steve Hopkins and Agnus Florance 3/4 5:00 – 6:15
SPC 265 – 6 Proven Steps to Get the Best Out of Search in SharePoint 2013 Paul Olenick 3/5 1:45 – 3:00
SPC 285 – No-code SharePoint 2013 Solutions for Power Users Asif Rehmani and Mark Gillis 3/4 3:15 – 4:30
SPC 290 – Branding Internet Facing web sites with SharePoint in the Cloud John Ross, Randy Drisgill 3/4 3:15 – 4:30
SPC 305 – SharePoint Web Templates for on-premises and the Cloud Mirjam Van Olst 3/4 5:00 – 6:15
SPC 311 – Nationwide: Building a World-Renowned Intranet with SharePoint 2013 and Yammer Jeff Schuman 3/4 9:00 – 10:15
SPC 321 – Customizing Search Experiences with Azure Hosted Data and Bing Maps Rainer Asbach and Timo Heidschuster 3/5 3:15 – 4:30
SPC 322- SharePoint 2013 Search Display Templates and query rules Matthew McDermott 3/6 9:00 – 10:15
SPC 326 – Customizing your SharePoint sites using the SharePoint Theming Engine Jonathan Keslin and Lionel Robinson 3/4 1:45 – 3:00
SPC 332 – Overview of Yammer App Development Brian Lyttle 3/4 9:00 – 10:15
SPC 337 – Search-driven Publishing in SharePoint Online Alex Pope and Helge Solheim 3/4 1:45 – 3:00
SPC 339 – SharePoint 2013 Hybrid End-to-End Sam Hassani 3/3 2:00 – 3:15
SPC 340 – SharePoint 2013 Search Analytics Nicki Borell and Thorsten Hans 3/5 9:00 – 10:15
SPC 345 – SharePoint for any screen size: an in-depth look into building responsive web design Eric Overfield and Rita Zhang 3/4 1:45 – 3:00
SPC 351 – Trends in Designing Portals for SharePoint 2013 Kanwal Hipple and Eric Lytle 3/3 3:45 – 5:00
SPC 357 – Developing an intranet on Office 365 Eric Shupps 3/5 9:00 – 10:15
SPC 359 – E-commerce solutions with Dynamics for Retail & SharePoint 2013 Balaji Balasubramanian and Meera Mahabala 3/5 5:00 – 6:00
SPC 365 – Governing & Configuring Organizational Sites in an Enterprise Environment Sean Squires 3/5 3:15 – 4:30
SPC 378 – Make your SharePoint social in 1-2-3! Runar Olsen and Thomas Molbach 3/4 9:00 – 10:15
SPC 388 – SharePoint 2013 Powering Web Sites and Mobile Apps Waldek Mastykarz 3/5 10:45 – 12:00
SPC 390 – Creating Internet Facing Websites with SharePoint on-premises or in the cloud Todd Baginski 3/5 3:15 – 4:30
SPC 398 – WCM in SharePoint 2013 for IT Pros from 0 to Infinity Faizan Khan and Robert Cullick 3/4 3:15 – 4:30

One other big thing at SPC this year is that we are doing another SharePoint Branders Gathering for lunch on Monday. Simply meet us at the Planet Technologies booth in the Expo Hall at noon on Monday and we will all sit together at lunch.  This is a great opportunity to network with other SharePoint branders at the conference and make some great friends for the entire event.

If you would like to be included on the MySPC meeting request, simple comment on one of the Yammer networks (SPYam or SPC14) and allow Meeting Requests on your Profile and I will send you a meeting request.

I’m looking forward to seeing many of you again and meeting many more people at SPC. The most important thing of SPC is to not be afraid to come up and speak to anyone, it is your chance to meet and network with any SharePointer.

Viva Las Vegas and see you all soon!

Don’t Look Back… Just take a Glimpse and Move Forward

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…. okay not so much on the worst side. As I have spent the last few weeks reflecting on 2012 I have realized how many fantastic things happened to me during this year.

Let’s focus in on a few of my top highlights.

A New Beginning

In 2012 I decided to switch jobs and sadly decided to leave Summit 7 Systems. While it was sad to leave one job I was extremely excited to join Planet Technologies and continue to expand my horizons. At Planet I get to engage as a Technical Project Manager, Taxonomy and Governance specialist as well as using my Branding and Design skills for customers. I’m excited to continue to spread my wings and grow my knowledge with a great group of people. And to top it all off, my team is fantastic and I count myself lucky to work with some of the brightest individuals in the SharePoint Community. Miguel Wood, Clayton Cobb, Shannon Bray, Becky Isserman, are just a few of these stars who I have already learned a lot from.

Expanding Horizons

Working as one of the leaders of the Women in SharePoint group is always rewarding. Throughout 2012 this was a continued trend. I was able to participate with a large number of women and men to expand the horizons for this group. As a part of this expansion I was thrilled to participate with Women in SharePoint at both of the SharePoint Technology Conferences (SPTechCon) in both San Francisco and Boston. These luncheon events have really helped to expand the horizons of Women in SharePoint. We even got a new group in Boston formed at the Boston Conference. Our group has also gained traction within Microsoft and were featured in an internal SMSG Women newsletter. We have been really excited to expand our reach into Microsoft and at the SharePoint Conference.

At the SharePoint Conference in Las Vegas, Women in SharePoint was featured in the Community Lounge and on the SharePoint TV with a panel interview. A big thanks to the ladies who participated in the panel: Susan Lennon, Debbie Ireland, Karuana Gatimu and myself. You can watch our interview on YouTube here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uTkZBkADmKk

This wonderful group of Women in SharePoint never fails to inspire me to continue on. We love to have new groups form and start to form the bonds of mentorship and help with each other.

Friends, Honors, Community and More

One of the things I tried to do in 2012 was continue my focus on the SharePoint community and how I can best help them. This is a big part of why I enjoy speaking at events, working with the Women in SharePoint group, and running a User Group.

Not only was I honored to become a SharePoint MVP this year, I was also given the honor of becoming a part of the newly formed Microsoft Community Leadership Board. These two awards have given me a fantastic opportunity to give back to others in the SharePoint world by helping, learning and sharing my knowledge.  I have enjoyed the last months utilizing them both and hope to continue in 2013 with taking this even further.

I have been honored to speak at quite a few events this year and participate in several conferences. Each of these events become opportunities for me to meet new friends and reconnect with others.

One of the other things I was able to do in 2012 was to release my first CodePlex project with Eric Harlan, Erik Akers and Paul Schaeflein.

What does the Future Hold?

As today is the first work day of 2013 I thought I would include a small bit of looking ahead to 2013. I am certainly looking forward to participating in many events in 2013. The big ones that I know of right now are SharePoint Saturday Virginia Beach this weekend, SPTech Con in March, and the SharePoint Evolutions Conference in London in April.

I am also looking forward to a potential new branding book and some new partnerships for some potential blogs, projects and maybe even community work. With the release of SharePoint 2013 so many options are available that my head is almost literally spinning just thinking of all the opportunities. I spent part of my New Year’s Day building a new SharePoint 2013 virtual machine and making sure my Office 365 environment was ready to go.

I hope to travel to new places, meet lots of new people and challenge myself to learn more than any other year. Those are my personal challenges for this year. I would try to resolve to blog more, but that is a sure fired method to prevent blogging.

“Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other.” -Abraham Lincoln

So let me know, leave me a comment or send me an email if there is a topic you would like me to write about on my blog or present about at an event. I’d love to hear from you.

Happy SharePointing in 2013 ya’ll!!! Smile

Starting out 2012

As I was sitting around trying to decide what to start out 2012 with when it comes to my blog posts I decided that I would go ahead and edit both my About Me page and my Design Portfolio page. 

This allows me to share some of my work with all of you and gives me some feedback on what people are looking for.

Please check out those updates and give me some feedback.

Catherine Dew Resume 2012

SharePointCat Portfolio

Also I am excited to announce that I will be working with a stellar group of people to create some great sessions for the International SharePoint Conference in London in April of this year.  Be sure to register to attend this conference if you can. It is one of the best shows that I have ever participated with, and we are excited to introduce a new format this year that is solution based.

International SharePoint Conference London 2012

If you can’t make it to London, but are going to be at SPTechCon at the end of February, please come find me and let’s chat.  I am not speaking, but am happy to be attending the conference to hostess a Women In SharePoint luncheon. This lunch will give the ladies who work in our industry a place to gather and discuss hot topic issues that we face.

I’m working on my speaking schedule for the rest of the year, so keep an eye out for me in a town near you this year.  And if you have requests, please let me know about those and I will try to accommodate them. (Simply comment on this post with those requests)

There is also a new blog post quite soon on the horizon titled “I Walk the Line” about designing SharePoint sites for “what people need” and not just “what they want”.

SharePoint Saturday the Conference–Recap

Let me start this blog post out with a gigantic thank you to all the organizers and sponsors for this amazing event! Without all of their hard work and dedication to the SharePoint community this event never would have happened.

Next up, a giant thank you to everyone who attended this event.  I am always surprised at just how many people come out to learn about SharePoint. And I am humbled every time someone comes to hear me speak.

At SharePoint Saturday the Conference – DC I was able to present a full day workshop: SharePoint Branding 101.  This workshop was exciting for me to try and fit in as much branding goodness into 6 hours as I could.  It was certainly a challenge.

During the day we discussed a full range of topics from Requirements Gathering for Branding all the way through to Implementation and Deployment of Features.

Now that we have all had a moment to take a breath and recover a bit from this very full day of branding learning. I wanted to post out a few things for you.  First up are the slides from the presentation.  Hopefully they will help some of you out as you approach projects in the future. (Thanks for the feedback from a few of you I helped already, it certainly makes me happy to share)

SharePoint Branding 101 Presentation

I really enjoyed spending the day with those of you who were able to join my session in DC. I look forward to meeting many more of the SharePoint Branding intrepid over the next few months!

I am sorry for the delay in posting this.  I also wanted to add a quick listing of helpful tools and items I mentioned in the session.

Wireframing:

Balsamiq Mockups – This is a for purchase application, not free

Visio Graphic Stencils – These are a free download

Visio User Interface Stencils – These are for purchase, not free.

SharePoint Design: (both of these are great and a huge undertaking for both of the creators!)

Starter Master Pages Courtesy of Randy Drisgill – A Gigantic Thanks to Randy

SharePoint 2010 CSS Chart Courtesy of Heather Solomon – A Gigantic Thanks to Heather

Every Problem has a Solution, Even SharePoint Branding

When working with SharePoint branding you often run across the problem of how to properly deploy your work. The best practice for deploying branding is to put it into a feature by creating a wsp.

But what is a wsp or Solution file and how do we create this.  Most of us who are Designers first and SharePoint people second, might never have heard of a wsp before SharePoint.  Let me explain the advantages to using a Solution file.

Creating a wsp for your SharePoint Branding will allow you:

  • Easier ability to troubleshoot site errors. You can turn the feature off and eliminate your branding as the root cause of problems
  • Make it Managed Code, which makes our developers happy and allows us to have a versioned copy of our files.
  • Easier to Update. Having all your files in one package will give you the ability to more easily make changes and updates.
  • Provides a greater sense of control. You can enforce policy around your site branding and even change the behavior around things like new site creation.
  • The other big component is where your files are located. Solutions will allow you to place the files for your branding on your server instead of in the content database.  This will help with performance and page load times.

These are just a few of the reasons that we deploy SharePoint branding as a feature.  But what exactly is a feature and how do we create this mysterious thing.  If you are a developer or have a staff of developers you can enlist their help in creating this.

The long and short of it is, that a solution for SharePoint branding is made using Visual Studio.  In order to make this transition you should set up a solution in Visual Studio much like you would if you were writing a web part. 

I have attached a sample wsp and Visual Studio 2010 project file to this post. You can use this as a basic sample for how you might start to set up your very own branding solution. This sample solution is being provided to you in conjunction with Paul Schaeflein, SharePoint MVP. I am not a developer, so I had to enlist some help to properly form this solution file.

Sample Solution

There are some big tips in working with solutions and moving your files into a proper SharePoint 2010 Branding solution. If you are anything like me, you will have worked your initial branding development using SharePoint Designer.  When it comes time to move your files into Visual Studio you will find yourself asking what is the best method.

I have found that simple exporting your files out and importing them into Visual Studio leaves you open to what I affectionately refer to as SharePoint Designer Gobbledygook. (Yes that is my very own fun technical term) SharePoint Designer is a great tool for working with SharePoint branding, but it has a tendency to create issues when it comes to moving your files outside of it. 

My favorite method for moving files from SharePoint Designer into Visual Studio is to simply copy the code out of your files in SPD and move it into a simple text editor like Notepad. Then when I have Visual Studio open I will create blank files and copy my code out of Notepad into these blank files.

Once you have done this you will still want to check for that gobbledygook. This can come in many formats. The most common are hard returns in the files or the insertion of some SharePoint Designer specific file characters in the head tag and !DOCTYPE declarations. This extra information can and will cause problems for you. So you will want to remove this as you find it.

Working with Visual Studio and SharePoint branding can be a bit of a challenge for those without an understanding of basic SharePoint development, but it is not impossible. Once again, I am providing you with a very basic SharePoint branding solution that you can start to see how it works.

Sample Solution

And again, thanks to Paul Schaeflein for helping me out and writing a solution and agreeing to allow me to share it with all of you.

It’s that special time of year again…

Conference season! I know these days there is always some SharePoint gathering for you to take part in. I started writing this post as I sat on an airplane heading to the Best Practices Conference in La Jolla, CA.

If you are looking for a great conference to attend check out any of the 3 upcoming conferences I’ll be participating in.

The Best Practices Conference was March 7-9th in La Jolla, CA.  The Women in SharePoint group will be bringing you the BPC via live blogging. Check out the live blogging online at Women in SharePoint website

I will be posting recaps and session slides here on this blog site soon. But it might be after the next two conferences.

Next on the schedule is the SharePoint Connections Conference in Orlando, FL. This conference is action packed and starts on March 27 and runs until March 30th. While at this conference I will be speaking about SharePoint 2010 branding and how to successfully plan for a design project.

Just one short week after the Connections Conference I head off to London for the Best Practices UK Conference.  I’m really hoping for no Ash Cloud this year and that I actually make it to London. 

Make sure to check back here on my blog site for fun updates and presentations.

I will also be heading up to Baltimore in May to present at the Baltimore SharePoint User Group.

After all that travel, I’m getting tired just thinking about it. If you are attending any of these events come say hi, I’d love to meet you!

It’s a SharePoint 2010 year, but Wait it is 2011

This year is off to a great start! I am even committed to blogging more this year.  You will see at least one blog from me each month here this year and I will try to do more that that.

First off, the book that I have worked on with a great team of people is now available on Amazon.com. SharePoint 2010: Six-in-One 

Secondly I have been on the road already this year teaching the second session of the new Mindsharp SharePoint Designer 2010 course.  Next up I venture to the frozen tundra of the northern states. But those snow boots I bought sure did come in handy as I was frozen in Atlanta this last week.

Oh and if you are wondering where you can find me soon… Well I will be speaking at the Best Practices Conference 2011 in La Jolla, California. Then I will be off to the Connections Conference in Orlando, Florida. And finally over to the Best Practices Conference in the UK in London, England.

So much fun and exciting stuff going on in this year already. So if you haven’t lost your breath already trying to keep up with my schedule, keep an eye out here for some great SharePoint 2010 Branding information over the next few months.

And Happy New Year to you all!

Women in SharePoint

In the past few years that I have been honored to be a part of the SharePoint community I have noticed an increase of women becoming more involved. This group of women have inspired some of us to form a Women in SharePoint group.

You may ask yourself why we have formed this group, to me it seemed like a great next move. With so many women in the community how do we continue to grow as well as encourage young girls to look into IT and SharePoint as a possible career path?

By forming the group we will have a better community platform to support and encourage women and girls. We will now have groups of other women to reach out to with questions or concerns as well as to gather in person for support and encouragement.

The new Women in SharePoint Board: Becky Isserman, Kathryn Birstein, Lori Gowin , Karuana Gatimu , and myself have already had our first event representation at SharePoint Saturday DC in May.

Our next big outing is at the Best Practices Conference in Reston, VA on August 24 – 26, 2010. At this conference the Women in SharePoint will be handling the live blogging and twitter stream for the conference. We are excited for the opportunity to spread the message of women pursuing careers in SharePoint and the men of SharePoint who have had strong women as influences in their careers. If you are interested in helping out with the live blogging at the conference please register at: http://bpc10liveblogging.eventbrite.com/

So be on the lookout for Women in SharePoint and how you can help us with our outreach programs to women and girls in school.

If you are interested in the group please check out our site at: http://womeninsharepoint.org and make sure you email us at womeninsharepoint@live.com to join our mailing list.

Best Practices Conference is coming up!

I’m going to be at the Best Practices Conference, will you?

I am excited to have been accepted as a speaker for the Best Practices Conference in August. This time there will be no ash cloud from speaking at my first major conference!

After all DC is a driveable distance from Alabama!!! I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am to participate in this event.

And not only will I be speaking in the regular conference sessions, but I am joining some of the other Summit 7 team in the post conference session.

So make sure you register to attend this great conference and come listen to me talk about some great SharePoint branding information that you will want to hear about!

https://www.bestpracticesconference.com/

And if you are bringing a laptop with you, please help out the Women in SharePoint group by signing up and helping us Live Blog the conference.

http://bpc10liveblogging.eventbrite.com

http://bpc10liveblogging.eventbrite.com