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SharePoint-based CMS for Online Community

A SharePoint-based portal for a partner conference held by a major technology company. The goal of the project was to create a highly flexible CMS-driven solution to support the company’s partners and help them build an interactive community.

The system integrates with external data sources and authenticates users from external systems, including third-party domains and the Windows LiveID service.

The solution also showcases the innovative SharePoint 2010 technology with its enterprise content management and data integration capabilities.

Nuvem is a provider of enterprise-level hosting services, including SharePoint implementation. The company was selected to host the partner conference held by a major technology company and turned to Altoros to develop a solution that would promote this event and help to build a community for MS partners.

The existing conference portal had rich content but did not provide for user-friendly content management. Altoros had to enable non-technical users, such as conference organizers, to easily manage all the information. The old solution also required refactoring to migrate data from the legacy Web site.

The portal had to be integrated with social networks and external data sources, so that users could easily find and manage information about other users. Another requirement was silent authentication across multiple Web applications. Users were to sign in using their Windows Live ID credentials or accounts registered at other MS Web sites.

The Web portal was to enable searching and filtering MS partners by various criteria to allow for more efficient collaboration.

Finally, the whole solution had to showcase the possibilities of the innovative SharePoint 2010 technology.

The existing solution was an SQL-based Web site using data formats incompatible with MS SharePoint Server. First of all, we had to figure out how to import content and publish it on the portal.

The new system had to be heavily branded and customized not to look like a regular SharePoint Web site.

Integration with third-party databases and components posed another challenge. We had to enable Web site administrators to view user information stored on other Web sites. The team also had to implement silent authentication across multiple Web applications, so that MS users could log in at the conference portal using their local domain credentials.

The team used the SharePoint 2010 Publishing Portal solution with custom Web parts. The publishing infrastructure and enterprise content management features of SharePoint 2010 were leveraged to allow for easy content management.

One of the main advantages of the SharePoint-based CMS solution is that it tracks versions of documents and Web pages. This means users and editors can return to any previously published version at any time.

SharePoint includes many standard features, such as custom UIs and other Web components. We did our best to use them to their fullest. At the same time, we customized the portal to look like a regular Web site optimized for users and search engine crawlers. For example, the team used SEO-friendly URLs and custom navigation to create a better user experience and ensure full indexing by search engines.

The SharePoint platform also includes customized blog templates. The old solution used to have one blog for all users, which was inconvenient for some MS partners and representatives. The redesigned version provides a separate blog with a custom layout for every regional representative.

The Business Connectivity Services feature was implemented for integration with external data sources. Among other improvements, this enabled searching MS partners by various criteria with the help of the FaceWall function.

The solution proposed by our SharePoint developers was integrated with all major social networks that can now be accessed right from the Web site.

The customer received a user-friendly solution that assists MS partners and conference organizers in their daily tasks.

The system helps bring MS partners together, allows for more efficient collaboration, and serves as a showcase of the SharePoint 2010 technology.

Expenses related to support have been decreased considerably as conference organizers can manage the solution and all the content without the need to involve any technical personnel.

Technology Stack

Server Platform

MS Windows Server 2008 R2

Client Platform/Application Server

Multiplatform clients / IIS 7.5

Technologies

SharePoint Server 2010, ASP.NET, Silverlight, WCF, BCS (Business Connectivity Services), Search Service, Managed Metadata Service, LINQ, LINQ 2 SP, CAML, JavaScript, jQuery, HTML, CSS, XML, PowerShell

Programming Language

C#, JavaScript, CAML, PowerShell Script

Database

MS SQL Server 2008 R2

Database Design Tool

Microsoft Visio 2010, MS Visual Studio 2010

Modeling Tool

Microsoft Visio 2010, MS Visual Studio 2010

Development Environment

MS Visual Studio 2010, SharePoint Designer 2010

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