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TechEd – Wednesday

Advanced Web Parts and Custom SharePoint field types were on tap today at TechEd.
Andrew Connell held a great session on Building Advanced Web Parts with ASP 2.0. He gave some examples of building advanced features in Web Parts…
  • How to customize the Web Part ‘Verbs Menu.’
  • How to build an asynchronous Web Part in SharePoint, even though SharePoint doesn’t support it.
  • Building connected Web Parts – its much easier in SharePoint 2007 than it was in 2003.
  • Code Access Security Policy.

Andrew said he would be posting the code samples to his blog. I look forward to seeing it again – this is really good stuff.

Todd Bleeker gave an excellent session on building Custom Field Types in SharePoint 2007. If you haven’t seen Todd in action, he’s really enthusiastic and it makes for a great presentation.

Its pretty easy to imagine a situation where you need to store data in a SharePoint list or library that doesn’t neatly conform to one of the out-of-the-box field types. So what to do? Create your own filed type! You’ll need a custom field type class and a custom field type definition (.xml), based on the fldtypes.xml file found in TEMPLATESXML. I can’t reproduce his code here, but this a really interesting area to investigate – I’m interested in looking into it further.

One interesting field type that many developers might miss even exists is the SPFieldMultiColumn. It is acessible via the object model only – not the UI. It’s functionality may be useful for some situations – its worth a look.

Another interesting thing Todd pointed out is the concept that you can actually store a custom field type’s data somewhere outside of the content DB. I can imagine a use for this when storing some highly structured data in a single field. He didn’t have an example, but just the idea that it can be done presents exciting possibilities.

Back at the vendor booths were more free t-shirts and some good conversations with companies doing interesting things with SharePoint. echoTechnology has wizard-based tools for migrating to SharePoint 2007, and other SharePoint tools for doing things like migrating from dev to stage to prod, and for taking a workflow developed in SharePoint Designer and adding it to any number of lists across your SharePoint environment.

Proposion has tools for migrating from and integrating with Notes. They actually have a tool to use as a ADO.NET data driver for Notes, allowing you to develop apps against Notes data.

2 days to go – and some very promising sessions ahead.

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