Create a Business Solution, Step by Step, with No Managed Code at SPTechCon Boston 2013

3 minute read

SPTC_Boston2013_speakerbadge[important]If you’re coming to this post late, remember that you can still save $200 by using code ANDERSON, right up the conference![/important]

SPTechCon Boston 2013 is coming up fast. If you haven’t registered yet, do so by tomorrow (June 28) to get $400 off. If you use my code ANDERSON, you can get an additional $200 off. Act fast because there’s only a day and a half left to save that $600!

I’m doing two regular sessions this time around and one tutorial. Tutorials at SPTechCon used to be called workshops and I always wanted to try to do what I think of as a “real’ workshop: a session in which we work through some challenge as a group from start to finish. I managed to convince David Rubinstein (@drubinstein) at BZMedia, the SPTechCon head honcho, that this would be a good idea for me to try. We’ll see if I led him down a garden path or not, I suppose.

Here’s the description of the tutorial, taken directly from the listing on the SPTechCon site:

People often ask this instructor how he comes up with the somewhat unorthodox solutions he has built in SharePoint. In this tutorial, you will learn how you can devise powerful solutions from beginning to end without deploying any managed code. First, we’ll take a business problem submitted by one of you, go through a rapid design session, and figure out how we might build it. Next, you’ll be taken through the actual solution the instructor whacked together based on the requirements beforehand, and we’ll compare and contrast. Hopefully, we will hit on most of the same high points that we’ve designed into the solution together, but since we won’t know until we get there, all bets are off!
We’ll do the work in SharePoint 2010 so that the solution’s usefulness will be as wide as possible. However, we’ll dip into SharePoint 2013 as well to see how the solution might work there and discuss how we might approach things differently.
If you are interested in this tutorial and have a small solution you’d like to see the instructor run through, please send it to him via his blog ( before July 15. He will post the details of the requirements you’ll use, and then get cracking on his solution. A few constraints just to keep things relatively straightforward:

  • Single-site collection
  • Departmental scale solution (we’re not going to rebuild My Sites)
  • Things that are off the table: User Profiles, External Content Types (BCS), complex workflows, etc.

In other words, the point is education, not complexity or a production-ready solution. Come prepared to roll up your sleeves and participate. We’ll be making it up as we go, and we’ll all learn together!

Level: Intermediate

Topic Area : Developer Essentials, Information Worker Essentials

This post is to open up the discussion about a good topic or solution for the tutorial. If you have something you think would have broad appeal, I encourage you to post it as a comment here. Katie Serignese at BZMedia is also going to help me get the word out, so if something comes to me some other way, I’ll post it as a comment here myself. Even if you can’t make it to SPTechCon for some reason (Really? It’s a great conference!), if you have an idea, please post it. If you’re not there, I’ll still make sure that you get the demos and slides

In this case, it’s not a democracy, as I get to decide on the final topic(s). However, I’m sure many of you will have great ideas. If nothing else, we’ll gather a list of interesting things that one ought to be able to accomplish in SharePoint.

Please leave your ideas by July 15 and I’ll post the “winner(s)” shortly thereafter. Then plan to attend my tutorial on Sunday, August 11 from 9:00am-12:15pm and see if I can pull it off or not. It might be like watching a bad trapeze artist working without a net or it might be a thing of beauty. If you miss it, you may never know!



  1. Somwhat recently I was asked to create a way to store, submit and report on nominations submitted by various users.

    I decided to use a SharePoint list and create a submission form using InfoPath. Exporting the list to Excel would allow the admins the necessary level of reporting they were looking for.

    The team’s requirements were fairly basic. Automatically populating a few fields using user profile services was necessary but didn’t cause me any problems. There was one requirement that held me up. They wanted to limit how many submissions any one user could make AND provide a current count of how many submissions that user had made on the form.

    I ended up using another list with users and a count of their nominations combined with a workflow to either add a new user to the list or add 1 to the current count for an existing user on the list. The form would reference this secondary list to provide the count display on the form.

    The whole time all I could think was, “there has got to be an easier way.”

  2. Hi Marc,

    I think I’m too late for this, but just in case I’m not:

    We have a need for our researchers (and even for us IT folks) to dynamically create Clips or portions of a SharePoint document, email-enabled list, or web page, tag them with categories of interest, and save just the highlighted portion we care about to a “Clips” library/ list so we can later pull together relevant clips for whatever research we are focused the time.

    It has a broad application – imagine anyone researching a subject either on their Intranet or on the Internet, quickly browsing several documents, blogs,, presentations, etc. Each time we find something of interest, we Highlight the text and graphics of interest, tag/categorize and save the highlights in a SharePoint list/library with references back to the original documents/blogs/pages/presentations.

    Thanks for your consideration! Looking forward to your workshop no matter what!

  3. Yeah… I’m late as well…

    I have had this request in my mind though… Here is an idea:

    ### Customize a Site for use in a Support organization (Trouble tickets)
    Think an internal software support organization…

    Customer facing pages:
    – Ability to open support tickets
    – Ability to look at product/service stats and as well as personal pages (what tickets did I open/have open/closed).
    – Ability to generate notifications when updates happen on the tickets or they change status.
    – Ability to submit feedback/ratting when tickets close (service quality, etc)

    Support staff facing pages:
    – My work pages – tickets assigned to me – sorted perhaps on severity, SLA?
    – Ability to re-assign tickets
    – alerts on tickets that have been opened too long
    – metrics on individual performance
    – configurable – list of supported products, list of services, assignees, severity, SLA’s
    – Ability to auto-route item to individuals based on “rules” (ex. if prod=a, and sla=Gold ==> assign to Senior Support person).

    Good Luck.


  4. I missed the deadline on this as well but here is one that I have:

    Goal: Create a list/calendar for laptop/aircard checkouts

    Need to Have:
    Calendar for employee to reserve laptops/aircards, only the available inventory should be listed
    Notification system-Reminders for them to check out/return inventory, confirmation emails if request has been approved
    Generate ticket to our help desk system when reservation is submitted

    Currently, we have been using outlook to accomplish this by listing the laptops/aircards as meetings so they are able to schedule. The problem is when people travel for over a week; outlook won’t allow a meeting for a week so they are automatically denied the request. Also, outlook does not provide the notifications we would like.

    Between InfoPath and SharePoint Designer Workflows, I have a basic process down. It’s just the availability of resources that I’m having a hard time figuring out.



  5. In keeping with all the people who are submitting late suggestions, here is mine. A very simple project dashboard that contains a list of approved projects for organization, with a color coded status field (Green, Yellow, Red);
    Each project entry links to a project page where there are more detailed milestones that also have color indicators for Status.
    Either based on the colors in the status fields for the project or a static way for PM to set the overall project status and have this who up on the project site as well as on the dashboard.

    Hope this makes sense.

  6. Thanks for the suggestions, folks. I’m still mulling over what exactly I will use for the tutorial. One question for each of you: will you be in the session?


    • Hi Marc,

      Sorry for the delayed response – work has been WAY too busy.
      I will be at your session on Sunday – am flying in from DC Saturday evening.
      Am looking forward to it.

      What do you use for a JQuery editor? I’m trying to prep my laptop for the SPTechCon week. I didn’t bog it down w/SharePoint (yet) and am hoping to just use a SP 365 site for some tinkering since I can’t get to my real work over the Internet. I do have SharePoint Designer and haven’t decided what else to put on it. Could put Visual Studio and some other tools on it if need be.


      • John:

        Great to hear you’ll be there. It may surprise you, but I use SharePoint Designer for jQuery editing. I’ve tried other tools, but there’s simply no better one in that SPD understands SharePoint better than any other tool. Microsoft talks a lot now about mapping a network drive so that you can edit files with your favorite editor, and that’s actually always been possible. However, I still like SPD best.


        • Music to my ears Marc. I’m overloaded on having to learn new tools, so I’ll be happy just to stick w/SPD. I keep getting pulled into managing as well as other technical areas, so even my SPD skills are poor at best, but I’ll be happy just to stay in one place.

  7. I got one other submission from Dan Antion via email that I’ve forgotten to post here. I’m adding it because I may use bits of it as well.

    We want to build a list where people can submit links, stories, pictures, etc. and then tag them for publication. By that I mean:

    • We think this should go on our website
    • We think our company should Tweet about this
    • We think this should go on our company Facebook page

    Depending on the desired destination(s) different people would be alerted. The people who receive the alerts could “veto” the publication, but after a certain period of time (varies by destination) the post could proceed.

  8. hey Marc, interested in whatever solution you comeup with, will you record it and make it avilable. I’m interested in anything client base solutions.

    Currently I’m working with your workflow firings, with not much luck so far, but i’ll tame it…


    • LCR:

      I can’t make a paid conference session recording available because it’s not up to me to decide.

      Did you post your questions about workflow to the SPServices site?



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