09 November, 2007

Dogfooding SharePoint

I have always believed in eating your own dog food (or sipping your own champagne, depending on how you look at it), so as a consultant with SharePoint as one of my specialities, I have always used the product a fair bit outside of work.

I used to run my personal website on SharePoint, mainly just for the heck of it. I have occasionally used team sites for organising trips and other social events. However most of this has now moved to Facebook because it relieves you of the cumbersome task of managing user credentials. I have used document workspaces for group assignments when I was still doing my MBA. When travelling I usually set up a secure document library with scanned copies of all my travel documents, so I can access them from anywhere if need be. And finally I currently have a few private wikis for developing various ideas and concepts with friends.

There are potentially a few scenarios in your personal life where you can take advantage of SharePoint as a productivity tool. The good news is that there are plenty of providers out there offering hosted SharePoint for a reasonable price (I use Webhost4life and WebCentral) or even for free (e.g. Frontpages Web Hosting).

08 November, 2007

Troubleshooting the RSS viewer web part

The RSS viewer web part is a quick and easy way to integrate external live content into a SharePoint portal. However, this seemingly simple web part appears to be causing trouble for a lot of people. Quite often it simply does not work straight off the bat because additional configuration is required.

First of all, if your environment is using a proxy server to access the Internet then the proxy details need to be added to the web.config file. Refer to this post on how to do this. If you have not configured this you will see the error "An unexpected error occured processing your request. Check the logs for details and correct the problem."

Once you have put in the proxy details in the web.config file you may hit another wall with the error "proxy authentication required" displayed in the web part. And this is despite the current user can access the feed directly in a browser.

The RSS viewer web part uses authentication delegation and is using the current user's credentials to access the proxy. However, the RSS viewer only supports anonymous and Kerberos authentication. So if you are using NTLM authentication the RSS viewer will not be able to authenticate the user through the proxy.

What you can do in this case is adding exceptions to your firewall so it will not prompt for authentication for certain URLs. The unfortunate downside of this of course is that every time a user adds a new RSS feed to a page the user needs to request the IT department to reconfigure the firewall.

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