TweetFollow Us on Twitter

SharePoint 2003 and Macs

Volume Number: 22 (2006)
Issue Number: 6
Column Tag: Microsoft / Mac In The Enterprise

SharePoint 2003 and Macs

How to make the most of the experience

by Brian Johnson

Introduction

Microsoft SharePoint is a collaboration tool that's designed to help users share documents and information on the network. SharePoint has traditionally been designed to work very well on Windows clients, specifically on Internet Explorer in Windows. The reason for that is pretty simple: much of the rich functionality that SharePoint exposes through IE comes via ActiveX controls, which are supported only in IE on Windows. So what's a Mac user to do? In this article, I'll take you on a tour of SharePoint from a Mac user's perspective. I'll show you what works on the Mac and how users can work around some of the limitations faced when using a Mac with SharePoint.



Figure 1. A new Team site in SharePoint

SharePoint Background

To understand SharePoint better, it's worth describing the difference between the two main versions of the product. These versions are Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) and Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server.

Windows SharePoint Services is the version of SharePoint that's included with Microsoft Windows Server 2003. WSS features include alerts, browser-based customization, discussion boards, document libraries, document workspaces, meeting workspaces, lists, surveys, templates, and web part pages.

Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server 2003 is an enterprise level portal server, designed for use in large organizations that require additional enterprise features. These additional features include My Site (a SharePoint for individual users with support for personal and public data views), indexing across file shares, web servers, Microsoft Exchange public folders, and different SharePoint sites, integration with BizTalk Server, enhanced alerts, and single sign on for enterprise application integration.

All the features of Windows SharePoint Services are available in SharePoint Portal Server, so in this article I'll focus on the features of WSS, keeping in mind that each feature will work much the same way in SharePoint Portal Server 2003.

Typical Usage Scenario

SharePoint is typically used to share files on the network. It's usually an easier file sharing method for end-users than standard file shares because it employs a Web interface that makes it very easy to use. A new SharePoint site is created by an individual that needs to share a number of files with others in an organization. These files are placed in a Document Library in the SharePoint site. Figure 1 (previous page) shows a Windows SharePoint Services site running on Microsoft Windows Server 2003.

To get to the shared files, a user clicks on the Shared Documents link on the left side of the home page. This opens the view shown in Figure 2.



Figure 2. A SharePoint Document Library

The Shared Documents page contains a toolbar that provides for the creation of a new document, uploading a document, and creating a new folder. Note that new document creation doesn't work from within SharePoint on the Mac. To add a new document, you'll need to create it locally and upload it to the library. In addition, the Filter link allows the user to create a filtered view of the documents and folders on the share. Finally the Edit in Datasheet view allows a user on Windows running IE to show and edit the data on the page in a grid. This grid is provided by an ActiveX control and so it doesn't work on the Mac. For the most part, this isn't a problem because you can use the Filter option on the page to provide you with pretty good lists of the files on the share. If you do click the Edit in Datasheet link from a Mac, you'll get a message box that explains that this feature requires Internet Explorer.

A user running Office 2003 on Windows has a number of options for dealing with the content in this folder at this point. She can check out the file, which locks it for editing, she can open the document read-only for viewing, or she can click on the Explorer View link on the left side of the page to get a Window into the share on the server. From there she can right-click individual items in the folder and act on these items as if she's working on a standard network share.

The Mac user has fewer options, but it is possible to checkout, edit, and update the documents stored on the share. You simply need to download the document you want to edit, make your changes locally, and then copy the file back up to the share. Clicking on an individual item from the Firefox browser opens the page shown in Figure 3. From this page you can edit the file name (Edit Item), delete the file, and you can even check the file in and out for editing. In this case, I've checked out the file for editing, so my option reads Check In.



Figure 3. A document is checked out

Where this would be somewhat automated in Windows the workflow for checking out a document, making your edits, and checking the document back in on the Mac are as follows:

    1. Check out the document by clicking Check Out in the browser. This will prevent others from making changes to the document while you are editing it.

    2. Click the title of the document and download the document to your local machine.

    3. Make the changes that you want to the document and save it.

    4. When you're ready to upload your changes, click Go Back to Document Library on the document page.

    5. Click Upload Document and upload your updated document to the share.

    6. Click file name in the share and then click the Check In button.

The file will have been updated and so others can now check it out and make changes to it.

Since this process isn't very automated, you'll need to keep track of the file that you've downloaded. If you lose the checked out file, it's no problem because the file is still located on the share. You can just download it again, make your changes, and upload it to the share.

Copying the file back up to the share requires that you overwrite the previous version of the document. For that reason, it's worth turning on version control in SharePoint. To do so, just click Version History and then click Modify versioning settings to open the Document Library Settings. Here you can go to the Document Versions section on the page and select Yes. After this, check in and check out will store a previous version of the document. If needed, you can then review the previous versions of the document, or revert to an earlier version. Keep in mind that versioning is going to require extra space on the server because the files will be copied each time they are checked out and in. You can see the Versions page for a document in Figure 4.



Figure 4. Document Versions in SharePoint

There are two other things to note about using files from SharePoint on the Mac. First, the document Discussions feature won't work on the Mac, so any discussions about the document in the document library itself will need to be done on a Windows machine. Since most people comment on the document from within Word, Excel, or PowerPoint itself, this may or may not present a problem, but it's an issue you should be aware of if you administer or use these sites to share data.

Second, alerts do work on the Mac, so if you set an alert on a particular document in the library, you can receive an e-mail when the file is checked in or out, or you can even receive a daily or weekly summary or the activity for the file. You can also be notified of discussion updates. This might be handy if you have a lot of Mac users and you want to let the Windows users know they should consider an different communication method if they want everyone to see what they have to say about the document. General Discussion boards in SharePoint also work on Macs, so you could possibly steer discussions about the documents to that area as an alternative.

Creating and Editing SharePoint Content

Feature                Description              Works on an OS X Mac?

Document Library       Stores collections              Yes
                       of documents       
   
Form Library           XML Based                 No (Requires InfoPath)
                       business forms

Picture Library        Store and share                 Yes 
                       photos.
                       
Links                  List of Web and                 Yes
                       file share links
                       
Announcements          List of                         Yes
                       announcements      

Contacts               Contact database                Yes
   
Events                 Calendar of                     Yes
                       events
   
Tasks                  List of taks                    Yes
   
Issues                 An issues                       Yes
                       tracking database
                       
Custom List            Specify your                    Yes
                       own columns
   
Custom List            Edit a custom list               No   
in Datasheet View      as a Datasheet

Import                 Create a new list                No 
Spreadsheet            from an existing 
                       spreadsheet

Discussion             Discuss issues                  Yes   
Board                  related to project

Survey                 Create a survey                 Yes
                       for users
   
Basic Page             Create a new                    Yes
                       simple Web page
   
Web Part               Add a Web page                  Yes
Page                   consisting of Web Parts

Sites and              Create a new sub                Yes
Workspaces             site to your 
                       SharePoint

While Document Libraries are probably the most used feature of SharePoint, these sites have much more to offer users, and you can access almost all of this functionality from a Mac. Clicking the Create link at the top of a SharePoint site opens the Create Page. This page lets you create new lists, libraries, custom pages, and even new SharePoint sub sites. Table 1 lists the content you can create from this page and I've marked whether or not the items work on the Mac.

The caveat to all of this is that there are some features of these pages that don't work for Mac users. In general, anything that requires a direct link to an Office application on Windows uses an ActiveX control for that link and so it won't be accessible. For example, you can create and edit a list in Excel on the Mac, but to turn that list into SharePoint list using the Import Spreadsheet function, you'll need to do so on a Windows machine.

One of the best things about SharePoint is the number of templates available for creating all sorts of useful content. Figure 5 shows the Template Selection page for a new SharePoint site. In addition to the standard Team Site, there are templates for meetings, social groups, and even for classroom planning.



Figure 5. Creating a new SharePoint site

If we choose Classroom Management from the list of templates on the page we can create a new SharePoint subsite that's pre-populated with content that we can use to plan and execute a new course. You can see the site created in Figure 6.



Figure 6. The new Class SharePoint

This new site contains a syllabus, lecture plans, grading spreadsheets, discussion boards, and just a ton of other tools that instructors can use to plan and execute a course of study. Nearly every feature available in this SharePoint site is available to the Mac user.

Browser Considerations

It's worth noting that while sites will work from both Safari and Firefox on the Mac, default SharePoint sites currently render a little better in Firefox. The good news is that while the rendering in non-IE browsers isn't always perfect, system administrators who need to, can tweak the style sheets in SharePoint to improve the experience.

The next version of SharePoint (SharePoint Server 2007) is currently scheduled to be released in the same time frame as Microsoft Office 2007 for Windows. SharePoint Server 2007 is being fully tested on the most popular Mac browsers. This should make for an improved user experience on Macs and other platforms.

Conclusion

While it's pretty obvious that SharePoint does take advantage of some Windows specific features when you're using Internet Explorer on Windows, the experience can be still be quite full and rich on the Macintosh. You can build new sites, create new content, and you can manage that content, all from your Mac. The trickiest part of this is checking out and editing documents, mostly because it's a less automated task on the Mac. In this article, I've tried to describe a workflow that should make it fairly easy for Mac users to live in a SharePoint world and to take advantage of all the great functionality that this product has to offer. In my next article, I'll take you on a tour of the SharePoint Server 2007 from a Mac user's perspective.


Brian Johnson is a Product Manager with Microsoft's Macintosh Business Unit. You can read his blog at http://bufferoverrun.net and you can drop him a line at brianjo@microsoft.com

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

BBEdit 11.6.6 - Powerful text and HTML e...
BBEdit is the leading professional HTML and text editor for the Mac. Specifically crafted in response to the needs of Web authors and software developers, this award-winning product provides a... Read more
Brackets 1.9.0 - Open Source Web design...
Brackets is an Open-Source editor for Web design and development built on top of Web technologies such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. The project was created and is maintained by Adobe, and is... Read more
Audio Hijack 3.3.4 - Record and enhance...
Audio Hijack (was Audio Hijack Pro) drastically changes the way you use audio on your computer, giving you the freedom to listen to audio when you want and how you want. Record and enhance any audio... Read more
Tunnelblick 3.7.1a - GUI for OpenVPN.
Tunnelblick is a free, open source graphic user interface for OpenVPN on OS X. It provides easy control of OpenVPN client and/or server connections. It comes as a ready-to-use application with all... Read more
Amazon Chime 4.3.5721 - Amazon-based com...
Amazon Chime is a communications service that transforms online meetings with a secure, easy-to-use application that you can trust. Amazon Chime works seamlessly across your devices so that you can... Read more
Posterino 3.3.7 - Create posters, collag...
Posterino offers enhanced customization and flexibility including a variety of new, stylish templates featuring grids of identical or odd-sized image boxes. You can customize the size and shape of... Read more
Airmail 3.2.9 - Powerful, minimal email...
Airmail is an mail client with fast performance and intuitive interaction. Support for iCloud, MS Exchange, Gmail, Google Apps, IMAP, POP3, Yahoo!, AOL, Outlook.com, Live.com. Airmail was designed... Read more
Arq 5.8.4 - Online backup to Google Driv...
Arq is super-easy online backup for Mac and Windows computers. Back up to your own cloud account (Amazon Cloud Drive, Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Cloud Storage, any S3-compatible server... Read more
Microsoft Remote Desktop 8.0.39 - Connec...
With Microsoft Remote Desktop, you can connect to a remote PC and your work resources from almost anywhere. Experience the power of Windows with RemoteFX in a Remote Desktop client designed to help... Read more
Arq 5.8.4 - Online backup to Google Driv...
Arq is super-easy online backup for Mac and Windows computers. Back up to your own cloud account (Amazon Cloud Drive, Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Cloud Storage, any S3-compatible server... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Thimbleweed Park officially headed to iO...
Welp, it's official. Thimbleweed Park will be getting a mobile version. After lots of wondering and speculation, the developers confirmed it today. Thimbleweed Park will be available on both iOS and Android sometime in the near future. There's no... | Read more »
Pokémon GO might be getting legendaries...
The long-awaited legendary Pokémon may soon be coming to Pokémon GO at long last. Data miners have already discovered that the legendary birds, Articuno, Moltres, and Zapdos are already in the game, it’s just a matter of time. [Read more] | Read more »
The best deals on the App Store this wee...
If you’ve got the Monday blues we have just the thing to cheer you up. The week is shaping up to be a spectacular one for sales. We’ve got a bunch of well-loved indie games at discounted prices this week along with a few that are a little more... | Read more »
Honor 8 Pro, a great choice for gamers
Honor is making strides to bring its brand to the forefront of mobile gaming with its latest phone, the Honor 8 Pro. The Pro sets itself apart from its predecessor, the Honor 8, with a host of premium updates that boost the device’s graphical and... | Read more »
The 4 best outdoor adventure apps
Now that we're well into the pleasant, warmer months, it's time to start making the most of the great outdoors. Spring and summer are ideal times for a bit of trekking or exploration. You don't have to go it alone, though. There are plenty of... | Read more »
Things 3 (Productivity)
Things 3 3.0.1 Device: iOS iPhone Category: Productivity Price: $7.99, Version: 3.0.1 (iTunes) Description: Meet the all-new Things! A complete rethinking of the original, award-winning task manager – with a perfect balance between... | Read more »
Oddball mash-up Arkanoid vs Space Invade...
In a move no one was really expecting, Square Enix has put forth an Arkanoid/Space Invaders mash-up aptly titled Arkanoid vs Space Invaders. The game launched today on both iOS and Android and the reviews are actually quite good. [Read more] | Read more »
Arkanoid vs Space Invaders (Games)
Arkanoid vs Space Invaders 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $3.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: LAUNCH SALE: GET THE GAME AT 20% OFF! Two of the most iconic classic games ever made meet in Arkanoid vs Space... | Read more »
The best new games we played this week
Things got off to a bit of a slow start this week, but as we steadily creep towards Friday a bunch of great games have started cropping up. If you're looking for a quality new release to play this weekend, we've got you covered. Here's a handy... | Read more »
No Stick Shooter (Games)
No Stick Shooter 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Happy Robot presents a fresh take on the classic retro-arcade shooters we all know and love. Featuring 30 levels of non-stop... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

touchbyte Releases PhotoSync 3.2 for iOS With...
Hamburg, Germany based touchbyte has announced the release of PhotoSync 3.2 for iOS, a major upgrade to the versatile and powerful app to transfer, backup and share photos and videos over the air.... Read more
Emerson Adds Touchscreen Display and Apple Ho...
Emerson has announced the next evolution of its nationally recognized smart thermostat. The new Sensi Touch Wi-Fi Thermostat combines proven smarthome technology with a color touchscreen display and... Read more
SurfPro VPN for Mac Protects Data While Offer...
XwaveSoft has announced announce the release and immediate availability of SurfPro VPN 1.0, their secure VPN client for macOS. SurfPro VPN allows Mac users to protect their internet traffic from... Read more
13-inch Touch Bar MacBook Pros on sale for $1...
B&H Photo has 13″ MacBook Pros in stock today for up to $150 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY & NJ sales tax only: - 13″ 2.9GHz/512GB Touch Bar MacBook Pro Space Gray (... Read more
Tuesday deal: $200 off 27-inch Apple iMacs
Amazon has select 27″ iMacs on sale for $200 off MSRP, each including free shipping: - 27″ 3.3GHz iMac 5K: $2099 $200 off MSRP - 27″ 3.2GHz/1TB Fusion iMac 5K: $1799 $200 off MSRP Keep an eye on our... Read more
Five To Six Million 10.5-inch iPad Pro Tablet...
Digitimes’ Siu Han and Joseph Tsai report that upstream supply chain shipments for Apple’s new 10.5-inch iPad Pro have been increasing, with monthly shipment volume expected to hit 600,000 units by... Read more
Georgia Tech Students Win Toyota and Net Impa...
Earlier this year, a team of students at Georgia Tech realized that there was a critical gap in transportation services for people who use wheelchairs, and wondered if the solution could be in the... Read more
13-inch 2.0GHz Space Gray MacBook Pro on sale...
Amazon has the 13″ 2.0GHz Space Gray non-Touch Bar MacBook Pro (MLL42LL/A) on sale for $1299.99 including free shipping. Their price is $200 off MSRP, and it’s currently the lowest price available... Read more
Roundup of 15-inch MacBook Pro sale prices, m...
B&H Photo has the new 2016 15″ Apple Touch Bar MacBook Pros in stock today and on sale for up to $200 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY & NJ sales tax only: - 15″ 2.7GHz... Read more
15-inch 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro on sale for...
B&H Photo has the 2015 15″ 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro (MJLQ2LL/A) on sale for $1849 including free shipping plus NY & NJ sales tax only. Their price is $150 off MSRP. Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Technical Support - Atrilogy (United...
Our direct client is looking for an Apple Technical Support / Apple Help Desk Specialist for a Full Time Direct Hire role in West Los Angeles by Playa Vista, CA Read more
*Apple* Media Products - Commerce Engineerin...
Apple Media Products - Commerce Engineering Manager Job Number: 57037480 Santa Clara Valley, California, United States Posted: Apr. 18, 2017 Weekly Hours: 40.00 Job Read more
Director *Apple* Platform, IS Data Manageme...
…a real difference. Come, shine with us! Astellas is announcing a Director Apple Platform, IS Data Management Lead opportunity in Northbrook, IL. Purpose & Scope: Read more
Director *Apple* ERP Integration Lead - Ast...
…make a real difference. Come, shine with us! Astellas is announcing a Director Apple ERP Integration Lead opportunity in Northbrook, IL. Purpose & Scope: This role Read more
Associate Director *Apple* Platform -- SAP...
…real difference. Come, shine with us! Astellas is announcing a Associate Director Apple Platform -- SAP Security, Risks and Controls Lead opportunity in Northbrook, Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.