Monday, April 12, 2010

MOSS 2007 Tools - a few of my favorite (free) things...

As a MOSS consultant who focuses on finding native/creative no-code solutions, I often find myself latching on to 3rd party tools and code snippets to achieve the functionality I am looking for.  Many of them cost cash money, but there are a few tools out there that I use on almost every single project, that are FREE (and darn good).

The Enhanced Content Query Web Part

  • The Enhanced Content Query Web Part is a free 3rd party tool available on CodePlex.  It leverages the native Content Query Web Part, but makes it more robust by incorporating the use of context menus, toolbars, passing in additional fields to render, and a single source to customize the XSLT.
  • Why I Love It:
    • It's Free
    • It's Stable
    • It allows me to be very creative with the display format of content...I can render content like a typical list view, or I can wildly (and very easily) change the format for a more dynamic, engaging user experience.
    • Most importantly...I can do all of this without having to export/modify/reimport the web part on a page level AND the styles are reusable and centralized.
  • Where to Get It:

 

The HTML Calculated Column

  • If you have ever tried to generate HTML in a calculated column you will find that the HTML doesn't actually render...all you get is some text that is the HTML.  Annoying.
  • Enter the HTML Calculated Column which is basically some JavaScript that detects HTML in a column and renders the HTML on the page.  This becomes very powerful from the perspective of generating richer list content, like icons, colored highlights, gantt charts, spark lines, and more.  Me, I primarily use it to render a variety of icons using logic in a calculated column.
  • Why I Love It:
    • It's Free
    • It's Stable
    • It provides an avenue to be more creative in delivering regular old list content.  Adding color and icons (and heck, lot's of other things) can add a lot of visual usability to content that otherwise can seem flat.
  • Where to Get It:

 

Happy (no code) developing!