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    Office 365 MVP Brett Hill

    From: Washington, United States

    Time as an MVP: 5 years


    Which technical communities are you most active in?

    Office 365 and Microsoft Online Linked In Group


    How did you first start in community?

    I made a decision to truly dive into a specific expertise and found myself just naturally answering questions. This led to writing articles and posts that answer FAQs and posting them on the net. That resulted in links and good positioning for my websites, which helped with exposure. This “virtuous cycle” just kept going.


    What's the best technical tip you have for implementing Cloud deployment?

    Read the service descriptions carefully


    What do you tell people who are considering using the Cloud, but aren't sure about making the move?

    The cost savings alone are generally pretty persuasive so people tend to balk at the loss of control and concerns about security. Loss of control is fact of life with online service, but really, how much do you want to be dealing backup software, anti-virus, anti-spam, failover system, hard ware failure, upgrades, security patches, service packs, raid arrays, the whole enchilada. Don’t you have ways to use your IT expertise to actually improve productivity rather than just maintain it? And is your security really better than multi-million dollar ISO certified datacenter? Generally not. Even so, some people just want to look at those hard drives humming and feel warm and fuzzy about that – and I can’t say that I blame them.

    Consider the benefits that are not so obvious such as improvements in productivity from access to features you don’t have today. Here’s a quick example. Let’s say that you are travelling and your cell phone is lost or broken, but you must keep in touch due to urgent business. You arrive early at the hotel and you can’t check-in to your room. How can people reach you?  You buy a prepaid cell phone at the local convenience store. You get on the net and in Lync 2010 in the “what’s happening” line you say “Cell phone broken: call temporary cell at 555-1212 room 2222”. Then that urgent matter comes into the office and instead of office mates scrambling to figure out where you are and how to reach you, it’s right in front of them. The deal is sealed and you paid for your entire year of Office 365 through one little known feature of Office 365. Sure you can email everyone, but larger organization, sometimes people have urgent needs to reach you that you are not normally in an email conversation with.  if they haven’t checked their mail or if someone needs to reach you that you did not email, you’re sure to be reachable. This is the kind of thing that can really save the day.


    Do you have a blog/website link to Cloud related Tips or deployment stories you would like to share? has several key articles on the differences in the plans that I hope are informative. There is also an article on the difference in the P plan and E plans that should be read by most people as it reviews differences that are not so easy to discover. hosts training I’m developing for end users.  It’s a set of pre-recorded lessons that get people up to speed on how to use Office 365. I’m planning on releasing a P1 administration class before summer 2012


    What words of advice do you have for new MVPs?

    Take advantage of the opportunity to get to know your fellow MVPs and the Microsoft staff (when you have the chance).  Keep in touch with email. Feel free to add to Lync 2010 or skype me at Office365guy

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    In just a couple of weeks, Microsoft will open the doors of its Redmond campus to MVPs from around the globe for what is likely the largest community event in the world.

    More than 1,400 exceptional community leaders from 70 countries will be traveling to Microsoft’s world headquarters. They’re coming for closed door meetings and deep dive technical sessions with top Microsoft executives and a host of product teams.

    The sessions are private and under tight NDA (non-disclosure agreements)—which allows for an open exchange of ideas. Microsoft product teams can share what’s new and what’s coming, and MVPs can provide their community feedback and real-world expertise. The goal: Strengthen community and enhance the experience of Microsoft customers.

    Get a first glimpse into what’s in store at this year’s MVP Global Summit from Microsoft Community and Online Support general manager, Toby Richards, and the MVP Award program’s new leadership team, Lourdes Orive and Mike Hickman.

    (Please visit the site to view this video)

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    MVPs are known for their expert contributions to the technology community. They provide answers to common questions, complex problems and, just as importantly, they ask questions and inspire discussion. This week’s MVP Friday Five illustrates the full spectrum of MVP contributions.


    Why Small Businesses Should Switch from Exchange to Office 365  

    By Exchange Server MVP J. Peter Bruzzese | @JPBruzzese

    J. Peter Bruzzese describes why many small business clients he has encountered would have benefited from choosing Office 365, and discusses the value and benefits of a hosted Exchange service.


    EntityFramework 4.3 CodeFirst Trivial One File Example – Part 1

    By ASP.NET/IIS MVP Peter Kellner | @pkellner

    In this three part series, Peter demonstrates a very simple example of using Entity Framework Code First to create a SQLServer Table and populate it with data.


    Saving and Retrieving Arrays in Local Storage

    By Silverlight MVP Chad Campbell |@chadcampbell

    Chad discusses the HTML Local Storage feature that allows you to store information that is more complex than you would store in a traditional cookie.


    Windows Phone Apps to Trial or Not to Trial That is the Question

    By Windows Expert- Consumer MVP Richard Hay | @WinObs

    Richard asks the question: should windows phone application developers offer trial version of their apps before going public? He uses an example of a recently launched app Carbon to illustrate.


    Microsoft Model Databases: Some Unconventional Alternatives?

    By SQL Server MVP Michael J. Swart | @MJSwart

    Michael discusses some examples of databases, including specific interesting lessons learned from sample databases.


    We’d also like to remind you that as the 2012 MVP Global Summit approaches, we’ll be looking for articles from MVPs on their experience at the event and the power of having so many influential community experts together in one place.

    If you are planning to write blog posts, create videos or publish podcasts on your experiences at #mvp12, please let us know by contacting your MVP Lead or posting your blog url in the comments below.

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    Editor's Note: The following MVP Monday post is by SharePoint Server MVP Dux Raymond.

    Are you stuck in an environment where project management procedure is more of a happy accident than a smooth process that properly employs tools that will enhance collaborative processes on projects?

    Currently, you may be working in an enterprise where most project management efforts are ad hoc and not organized for maximum efficiency and effectiveness. In such scenarios, you may be used to using email, spreadsheets, Word documents, a file share (or ideally, SharePoint), and mobile devices to manage your projects.

    These tools are integral to effective collaboration, but they don’t always provide a keenly robust project management solution on their own, without an established process in place to define how they’re used and integration to ensure that all project information is synced and collected in a central location.

    Without a standardized process using standardized project management tools, you’ll also find gaps, like a lack of project reporting, consistency in look and feel of project artifacts, a centralized place to store documents and other project artifacts, version history and control of project documents, a shared project schedule accessible to and updatable for all members of the team, and a way to collaborate in real-time on project artifacts.

    Learn to use Office 365, Microsoft Office 2010, Microsoft Project Professional 2010 and Windows Phone 7technologies to put together a streamlined project management system that encourages effective collaboration and will yield a more complete, standard and workable solution than your on-the-fly project management efforts have yielded.

    Create a standard project site with a set of templates that enhance a consistent look and feel and provide a basis for all your collaboration sites. You can do this with Office 365, which has SharePoint Online built right in, along with other Microsoft tools like the full suite of Microsoft Office products.

    Watch how to create a project site on Office 365:

    Use the integration of Microsoft tools in Office 365 to make project info available to your team. A good first step after you’ve created your project site is to integrate the calendar on your site with Outlook. This enables you to create meetings with team members without having to leave Outlook and go to the project site. Sharing a project calendar among all team members, accessible as a separate calendar on each of their Outlook clients, ensures that everyone will have the project calendar available in that most-used and familiar of tools: Outlook.


    For more on Outlook integration, watch this video:

    Simplify revisions by collaborating in real-time on documents using Office 365. Team members can look at and edit project documents at the same time, with changes visible to each person viewing the document. This real-time collaboration works with Word 2010, PowerPoint 2010 and OneNote 2010.

    Find out more about document co-authoring, watch this video:

    Link document libraries on your project site with Outlook to make mobile document collaboration easy. Email is probably the number one collaboration tool businesses use, so people are used to using email heavily in the course of their work. When a team adds a document library from their project site to their Outlook clients, they’re able to access and update documents even when they’re away from the office, via their email clients. Office 365 facilitates working offline via Outlook and syncing up with the SharePoint site when team members have connectivity again.

    Here’s a video on integrating a document library with Outlook:

    Link Project Professional 2010 to facilitate sharing your project schedule easily. Tasks, schedules and other critical project management pieces created in Microsoft Project Professional 2010 can be linked to your SharePoint 2010 site, much in the same way that you’ve linked Outlook to your project site. This enables everyone to visualize critical project dates, tasks, and other important project milestones as updates are made, because changes made in Microsoft Project Professional are updated on the project site everyone has access to.

    Watch how to synchronize Project 2010 with SharePoint Online:

    Take communication between team members to the next level. Yes, yes, we all lean heavily on email in the course of our work, but email can be messy: not everyone has access to every relevant thread, and relevant email threads get lost among other emails in the inbox. Creating a discussion area on the project site using Office 365 lets all team members have access to all project-related emails and see the history of the discussion thread. These discussions, too, can be integrated with Outlook so that people can stick with the familiarity of email for communication, while still syncing project communications to the project site.

    Watch how to integrate project site discussions with Outlook:

    Enhance Reporting using Office 365. Sync Excel with your project site to enable team members to add pertinent information used in reporting to a central location, and then to have access to the finalized report. Rather than sending bits and pieces of info necessary for reports back and forth via email, team members can put all information into the same document on the project site, and then a report can be generated from the information put into that one bucket.

    Here’s a video on syncing Excel with an Office 365 project site to facilitate more efficient and collaborative reporting:

    Use OneNote to consolidate project notes. Less ubiquitous than Outlook, OneNote lets project teams take notes (including multimedia entries, like photographs), and Office 365 lets team members add those notes to a project site. There is a OneNote desktop client, but OneNote really shines when you use it with a Windows phone (where the functionality is integrated), or use the OneNote app developed for other mobile platforms. Virtually everything you can do on your project site with a computer can also be managed on your phone, particularly if you’re using a Windows phone.

    Here’s a video on mobile collaboration with a Windows phone:

    Create a project dashboard to make accessing and visualizing reports simple. Everybody likes pictures, graphs, and charts. SharePoint Online makes it easy to put graphical info on your project site as a dashboard for ease-of-access for team members and senior stakeholders alike.

    Creating a project dashboard video:

    Keep track of changes to project artifacts and control who gets what kind of access. SharePoint Online contains robust out-of-the-box change control capabilities to help you keep your project documentation manageable and clean. See how your documentation has evolved with a history of change requests, and control who can make changes to documentation. Find out more about automating business processes:

    Upgrading your current ad hoc project management platform need not initially involve complicated and sometimes overwhelming changes for you and your project change. Office 365 helps you ease into a more managed and structured project management process without drastic changes that can feel foreign and thwart user adoption across members of your team. The complete integration of familiar tools like Outlook, Word and Microsoft Project Professional with SharePoint Online means you can slip a more efficient and easily accessible (from anywhere!) project management process that will cut wasted time and increase true collaboration and productivity.

    For more tips about how to use Office 365 to enhance collaboration within a managed and manageable project management solution, download the whitepaper and videos for “Leveraging Office 365 for Project Collaboration Success”, available here:

    Also, I invite you to learn more about maximizing Microsoft tools for your project management needs at the upcoming Microsoft Project Conference on March 19 in Phoenix, AZ

    Author's Bio

     With over 15 years of experience in Information Technology and Project Management, Dux has earned a reputation as among the leading experts in leveraging technology to enhance project management. A certified Project Management Professional (PMP), he is currently a managing partner and the chief evangelist of Innovative-e, Inc., a Microsoft Certified Gold Partner focused on leading, inspiring and being the catalyst of organizational transformation that enables clients to achieve tangible business result.

    As a thought leader in maximizing project team collaboration, he is the author of "SharePoint for Project Management" published by O'Reilly Media. He is focused on empowering organizations on how to leverage the benefits of SharePoint technologies. A sought after speaker, Dux is a SharePoint MVP and has presented in various Microsoft and Project Management Institute (PMI) events worldwide. He regularly blogs on topics related to project management, SharePoint and globalization at


    MVP Mondays

    The MVP Monday Series is created by Melissa Travers. In this series we work to provide readers with a guest post from an MVP every Monday. Melissa is a Community Program Manager for Dynamics, Excel, Office 365, Platforms and SharePoint in the United States. She has been working with MVPs since her early days as Microsoft Exchange Support Engineer when MVPs would answer all the questions in the old newsgroups before she could get to them.


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    Windows Azure MVP Wely Lau

    From: Singapore

    Time as an MVP: 3 years

    Blog:  or A Cloudy Place


    Which technical communities are you most active in?

    AzureUG.SG (Windows Azure User Group Singapore)


    How did you first start in community?

    The adoption and level of interest in Windows Azure are pretty high in the region, so I co-founded AzureUG.SG in December 2010 with the aim of sharing knowledge and experience. We have successfully conducted 8 user group meetings during the first year. Moving forward, we will consider other forms of engagement models and will hopefully reach more members.

    What's the best technical tip you have for implementing Cloud deployment?

    Always stay up to date with new releases of technology and you will become an early adopter that is well-distinguished in the IT industry. There's no magic here! The fundamentals are still everything. You will need to have basic fundamental software development skills and IT knowledge. Once you have good fundamental skills, then you must stay up-to-date with new technology. I would also encourage you to get involved more in practical scenario, because it will sharpen the knowledge you have studied.

    What do you tell people who are considering using the Cloud, but aren't sure about making the move?

    Cloud would bring tons of benefits starting from cost, elasticity, effectiveness, and so on. You are encouraged to assess your (your company’s) vision of Cloud adoption properly before stepping ahead. Resources like other’s success stories are a good place to start off. It is important to note that it isn’t necessary to move everything end-to-end to the Cloud. Many Cloud players (including Windows Azure Platform) enable customers to have a hybrid Cloud service model. Middleware services such as Windows Azure Service Bus and Windows Azure Connect are good implementations from Microsoft to make the hybrid model possible today.

    What words of advice do you have for new MVPs?

    Keep up the learning and sharing spirit. The more you share, the more you learn.

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    Editor's note: the following is a guest post by MVP Award Program Events and Marketing Manager Paulette Suddarth

    We’re now less than one week away from what is likely the largest community event in the world—the MVP Global Summit.

    This year, more than 1,500 MVPs will travel from 70 countries to meet with members of the Microsoft community. They share their valuable real-world feedback with our product teams to help drive improvements and innovation in Microsoft technologies, and they learn about what’s new and what’s coming in our products.

    For MVPs, the focus is on learning—from Microsoft teams and from each other. That’s why one of the new features of this year’s MVP Global Summit is an evolution away from traditional keynote addresses to audience-focused panel discussions led by Microsoft senior executives. This year, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Developer Division, S. Somasegar, corporate vice president of Visual Studio, Jason Zander, and corporate vice president of Server & Tools Business, Scott Guthrie, will be presenting at the MVP Global Summit, talking with MVPs about areas of specific interest to them.

    That’s in addition to the 760 technical sessions  planned this year, where MVPs and product team members will sit down together and engage in deep technical discussions about current and future innovations.

    This is a time when MVPs get to “geek out” with each other—sharing tips and best practices and stories from the technology trenches. They also share their passion for community—technology communities and the wider communities of our world. This year, as in past years, many will arrive a couple of days early for the Global Summit in order to offer their time and energy at a GeekGive event—packing food for those in need at Northwest Harvest.

    Windows Azure MVPs from Japan will be arriving at the Global Summit to share their stories about the work they did nearly a year ago to keep communications alive in the wake of the terrible tsunami and ensuing nuclear reactor crisis. You can read more about how they created mirror cloud web sites to alert residents about radiation levels and other critical information in this blog post.

    From the Surface MVP, Dennis Vroegop, who committed countless hours to develop a promising tool for diagnosing autism in children to MVPs like Dave Sanders, whose Carolina IT user group routinely contributes thousands of dollars to the needy in their local community, MVPs share a commitment to supporting others. When they get together, as one MVP last year explained, “It’s like a family reunion, except you like everyone!”

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    Thanks for tuning in for this week’s MVP Friday Five! There is a lot of excitement happening around the 2012 MVP Global Summit that is happening next week, but we still want to take the time to highlight some of the great technical content that MVPs are providing through their blogs. This week’s articles are no different from previous weeks- they are packed full of MVP expert knowledge!

    Next week we’ll be looking for blogs stories from MVPs who are attending covering their experiences meeting and learning from other MVPs. If you plan on writing about your experiences at this year’s summit, please leave your blog Url in the comments section below!


    1.  Node.js, Windows Azure (and

    By Windows Azure MVP Neil Mackenzie | @mknz

    This post by Neil is a brief introduction to Node.js and, focused on the implementation of Node.js inside the Windows Azure environment.


    2.  Find the jQuery Bug #4: Animations Gone Wild

    By ASP.NET/IIS MVP Elijah Manor | @elijahmanor

    This is the fourth post in a series by Elijah in which he showcases a snippet of buggy jQuery code that you might encounter, explains what the problem is, and then identifies how you can easily resolve the issue.


    3. C# + ReSharper = Awesome: Tip #10 of 10 – Generate Equality Members

    By Visual C# MVP Alvin Ashcraft | @alvinashcraft

    This is the tenth and final post in Alvin’s series of quick how-to articles on ReSharper. This post covers how ReSharper can quickly generate the necessary method implementations for you if you are creating a class that will need to participate in equality operations.


    4. Generics: The Better Method Match

    By Visual C# MVP Bill Wagner

    In this post Bill tries to help clear up confusion on the topic of “Generics: the better method match” by posting the rules and reason behind the rules for the topic.


    5. Using Data Annotations in the .NET Framework

    By MVP ASP.NET/IIS MVP Jason Gaylord | @jgaylord

    Jason talks about how a developer can use a data annotation on a property to force data validations when starting with .NET or MVC3.


    If you’re an MVP and would like your blog posts considered for our MVP Friday Five, please reach out to your MVP Lead or provide your URL in the comments section below!

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    In what is becoming an MVP Global Summit tradition, community members from around the world arrived a couple of days before the official kick-off of the event to contribute their time and energy to helping those in need.

    Fifty-five members of the MVP community jumped on buses yesterday morning and headed to Northwest Harvest to pack more than 7,500 pounds of food for northwest families who have fallen on hard times--the equivalent of 5,769 meals!

    MVPs came from as far away as Kuwait, Japan and the United Kingdom to contribute to this annual GeekGive event.

    Masterminded by former MVP (and current Microsoft employee) Steve Andrews, GeekGive began a few years ago when members of the MVP community came together before TechEd to help build a home in New Orleans for Habitat for Humanity.

    Check out GeekGive in action at Northwest Harvest!

    (Please visit the site to view this video)


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    Editor's Note: The following MVP Monday post is by Dynamics CRM MVP Jerry Weinstock.

    When you create a custom entity (think table for all you DB gurus) in Dynamics CRM if you do not think before you click you will end up with a Primary Field that is Required.

    What you normally get is the configuration shown in this screen shot of a default setup.

    This may not fit some environments where you:

    1. Do not want it to be required.
    2. Would like it to be something else than a free form text field.
    3. Want to rename it from the generic “Name” to something more meaningful.

    Unfortunately, there are no other field types available – you are limited to Text, you can change the Display Name and the Requirement Level. However, once you save the record the settings cannot be edited.

    The following is a how-to using a client example on moving from the default configuration to a customized configuration. The client needed a CRM entity to track what types of technology an Account was using. They wanted to enforce the name of the technology the CRM user would enter into the Primary Field, which is utilized throughout CRM for Lookups, etc.

    We created a new entity called Technology, renamed the Primary Field to ‘Technology’ and made the Requirement Level ‘No Constraint’.

    We then created a new field called Technology Type as an Option Set and entered the option values.

    Then we created a Workflow Rule that would fill in the Primary Field (Technology) with the value from the Option Set. That way the client could easily enforce consistency in the Primary Field. The workflow rule was set to start when the record was initially created or if the option set value changed.

    After the Workflow Rule was created, published and tested we went back to the Technology form and made the Primary Field Read Only.

    The nice thing about using Workflow to support this work around is that it is a technique that programmers or non-programmers can use. Yes, you could use Jscript to populate the value as soon as the Option Set Value is selected or changed but Workflow removes one less piece of code to manage and document. In addition, it further demonstrates the power of Dynamics CRM Workflow, which some other competitors do not have in their feature set.

    Author's Bio

      Jerry Weinstock is the Business Development Manager at CRM Innovation. Jerry has been working with CRM since the 1.2 release in 2003. CRM Innovation builds Email, Marketing and Event Management solutions for Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Twitter: @crminnovation

    MVP Mondays

    The MVP Monday Series is created by Melissa Travers. In this series we work to provide readers with a guest post from an MVP every Monday. Melissa is a Community Program Manager for Dynamics, Excel, Office 365, Platforms and SharePoint in the United States. She has been working with MVPs since her early days as Microsoft Exchange Support Engineer when MVPs would answer all the questions in the old newsgroups before she could get to them.

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    More than 50 MVPs came together for the second annual Women in Technology session in Bellevue today to discuss the challenges, opportunities and growing influence of women in technology.

    Microsoft Group Manager of Community and Influencer Programs, Lourdes Orive, kicked off the event by noting that women today play an unprecedented role in consumer technology buying decisions. Senior Community Program Manager for the Visual Studio Lisa Feigenbaum moderated a stellar panel of highly influential women in technology—all of whom offered thought-provoking and often inspiring perspectives.

    This year’s panelists included Linda Averett, Microsoft Director of Program Management for the Experience in Windows, Julia Liuson, Microsoft Partner Director of Development for Visual Studio, Mitra Azizirad, Microsoft General Manager of the Developer Tools Marketing and Sales team in DPE, SQL Server MVP Stacia Misner, an independent consultant specializing in business intelligence technologies, Tracey Trewin, Microsoft Principal Director of Program Management on the Visual Studio Ultimate team, and Karen Lopez, a Senior Project Manager and Architect for InfoAdvisors.

    We spoke with Lourdes and Lisa about the issues that would be discussed at today's event. Get a sense of today’s conversation.

    (Please visit the site to view this video)

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    Windows Azure MVP Magnus Martensson

    From: Sweden

    Time as an MVP: 2 months

    Blog: Magnus Martensson


    Which technical communities are you most active in?

    In forums I could certainly become more active. My BIG passion is to actually meet people and make them as excited and passionate about the greatest job in the world as I am! (Lowly Stackoverflow profile)

    Then you need a great blog to share your thoughts and code samples. It does not hurt to make it very professional:


    How did you first start in community?

    Sharing knowledge and a passion for technology was the obvious way into communities’ years ago. Today, I am one of the driving forces behind both Swedish .NET User Group (Swenug) and Swedish Windows Azure Group (SWAG). I started with the goal to share and my attitude has always been to give away my current knowledge as a guarantee that I will gain new knowledge in the process.


    What's the best technical tip you have for implementing Cloud deployment?

    Without doubt it is to design for Windows Azure in your applications but to add a layer of abstraction to shield your code from the Windows Azure dependency. The reason we do this is to make sure your code runs on a standard server environment and/or on a build server but more importantly from a unit test! The same SOLID principles of good design apply to Windows Azure as they do in all other code projects. We must never forget this!


    What do you tell people who are considering using the Cloud, but aren't sure about making the move?

    First of all we are all going to wind up there in the end. It will all be the Cloud. It may be that it is not a public cloud in all situations but all IT will be as a Service. IT will be a utility and the paradigm change how we think about our applications is an imminent reality. Let’s pretend without really knowing that this is the real reality for us down the line: Wouldn’t you rather get going now when there is potential to take advantage of the frontier spirit out there in the Clouds rather than being one of the stragglers that come in late to the party and miss out on all the opportunities!? There are stakes to be claimed in the Cloud now – get going!

    Secondly, the Cloud is the most exciting and empowering change I have ever seen in our industry yet and I have never had so much fun as when I’ve worked with the Cloud! IT becomes so much easier on PaaS!

    I’ve also written about how Find a Cloud you don’t have to pull the virtual cord form on my blog.


    Do you have a blog/website link to Cloud related Tips or deployment stories you would like to share?

    I share knowledge and code through my OSS project Azure Contrib. This code is available as Nugets. I find that the best way to relate to code today is to extract general (reusable) pieces of functionality and put them out there on the blog but also as OSS through CodePlex and as Nugets.


    What words of advice do you have for new MVPs?

    If you are already an MVP you’ve been through the same thing I have, but I would advise any new MVP to continuously build on the professionalism of a public profile. Today I have my ego site my Facebook Business Person page and my twitter account as my most used channels of interaction with communities, clients and fans.

    Also, professionally approach the whole public presentation gambit. I have a professional network here in Sweden organized by Microsoft Sweden, called MEET – Microsoft Extended Expert Team, which is a network of “the usual suspects” whom always show up at all the Microsoft events and speak. A great way for Microsoft to be able to give back to us enthusiastic and frequent speakers and a much appreciated initiative from us in the network. The activities are professional speaker, presenter, theatrical and pedagogic coaches etc. Be professional, improve, evolve, hire professional coaches who train speakers for a living!

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    As if there’s not enough for community to talk about at the MVP Global Summit, today marked the release of Microsoft Windows 8 Consumer Preview and Visual Studio 11 Beta.  We caught up with Silverlight MVP Michael Washington, Beth Massi, a senior program manager for Visual Studio, Visual Basic MVP Andrew Brust, and Paul Yuknewicz, a principal program manager lead for Visual Studio, to talk about the role community plays in the development and ecosystem of Visual Studio 11 and what’s new in Visual Studio LightSwitch. Make sure to check out the book Beth and Michael talk about, Microsoft Visual Studio LightSwitch Unleashed, by Visual Basic MVP Alessandro Del Sole.

    It’s already been half a day, but if you haven’t already, you can download the new releases here: Windows 8 Consumer Preview and Visual Studio 11 Beta.

    (Please visit the site to view this video)

    (Please visit the site to view this video)

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    We have a special MVP Friday Five for you this week in honor of the 2012 MVP Global Summit that has been happening here in Redmond! These stories from MVPs who attended cover their experiences meeting and learning from other MVPs. Get a feeling for what it’s like to be an MVP in Redmond for this annual event, and tune back in next week for our regular Friday Five content.


    1.  The Takeaways from MVP Global Summit 2012

    By Zune MVP Marques Lyons | @tromboneforhire

    “I wanted to, on a more larger scale, say to every MVP that you are doing something fantastic that not only affects business people and consumers, but other MVPs as well […] At the end of the day, even MVPs could sometimes need a little help or a boost or a word of encouragement. Events like MVP Summit provide that opportunity and it’s always an opportunity that gets taken advantage of”


    2.  From the MVPs: My 2012 Global Summit Experience

    By Visual C# MVP Joseph Guadagno| @jguadagno

    “All in all, the Summit is an event that you should not miss if you’re an MVP. Whether you need to take vacation time or pay for it yourself, it is well worth the time and investment. As I always say, it is the family reunion for the family you actually like.”


    3. MVP Global Summit 2012 - BizTalk360

    By BizTalk MVP Saravana Kumar |@saravanamv

    The initial idea of BizTalk360 was originated from 2010 summit while having dinner with some of the great BizTalk MVP folks in Redmond. The original idea was to build some web based administration console for BizTalk server. Like any typical chit-chat over coffee, after the summit everyone went on their own way and nothing materialized. Couple months after the summit I started to work on the idea”


    4. How’s Microsoft Doing with Community Involvement?

    By Sql Server MVP Jen McCown | @MidnightDBA

    “In the introduction to the seminar, we found ourselves talking about the truly wonderful SQL community, and the very communicative and supportive Microsoft SQL Server teams available to the world at large.  I don’t know of any other technology group with such a large and open community involvement.  So yeah, this is fairly close to my nerdy, nerdy heart.”


    5. My 2012 MVP Global Summit Experience (So Far)

    By SharePoint Server MVP Ivan Sanders |@iasanders

    "Second and if I am totally honest our team of SharePoint MVPs have become my best friends, we share so many things in common and have have so many of the same issues that it would almost be impossible for us not to become close. But none of this would have been possible since we come from all corners of the world and may never get to spend enough time together to form these relationships if it wasn’t for the MVP Summit."


    If you’re an MVP and would like your blog posts considered for our MVP Friday Five, please reach out to your MVP Lead or provide your URL in the comments section below!

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    Editor's Note: The following MVP Monday post is by Excel MVP Tom Urtis.

    Over the course of Excel’s evolution, many older features that were state of the art in their day have been cast aside for newer ways of doing things. Some of those older features remain fully supported and useful in later versions of Excel.

    One such oldie but goodie is the 5.0 Dialog sheet, the precursor to UserForms for building user interfaces in Excel 5 and Excel 95. The dialog sheet has become a lost art in this modern era of UserForms and programmable ActiveX controls, but that’s what makes it special when used in the appropriate development scenario.

    Dialog sheet examples

    Dialog sheets create customized dialog boxes on the fly using Forms controls. After a dialog sheet serves its purpose, it is deleted as part of the VBA code that created it. Here are a few dialog boxes I created using dialog sheets.

    Advantages of dialog sheets

    I’m not recommending to eschew Userforms for dialog sheets, but dialog sheets do have several advantages that merit their worth, for example:

    • Dialog sheets utilize only Forms controls which, unlike ActiveX controls, are fully integrated with Excel and do not cause as many VBA programming errors.
    • Dialog sheets are a history lesson in Excel. You may come across older workbooks with dialog sheets, so it’s a good idea to at least be familiar with them as you would any Excel object.
    • A frequent question in Excel newsgroups is how to customize the button captions on Message Boxes. With a dialog sheet, a solution can be posted that visually satisfies this request, without requiring the project’s author to know anything about UserForms or setting trusted access to anyone’s VBE.
    • They have an intangible “wow” factor of a custom-looking Message Box or dialog box that has a simple, straightforward design.
    • They are fun to work with, as a way to do something different that can also get the job done.

    Disadvantages of dialog sheets

    To be fair, a downside to dialog sheets is the volume of code they require for being produced, designed, executed, and discarded. It’s the trade-off from not having to manually create a UserForm, and draw controls onto the form, and associate the event code with the controls. With dialog sheets, the creation and positioning of controls and their OnAction code are written one time, albeit with a fair amount of VBA code.

    A dialog sheet will never win a beauty contest. One look at a dialog sheet is enough reason to avoid showing it. When I use them, only the dialog box (called the DialogFrame) is seen by the user, not the dialog sheet itself.

    To see a dialog sheet, right-click any worksheet tab. From the pop-up menu, select Insert, and on the General tab of the Insert dialog box, select MS Excel 5.0 Dialog. Here’s what a new dialog sheet typically looks like.

    A Working Example: Customizing Buttons for Printing Options

    To enhance the user’s experience when printing a worksheet, you can show options to select a print orientation of Landscape or Portrait, or to cancel the print job altogether. As shown in the next pictures, when the Print button is selected, a simple dialog lets the user decide how or if the print job will be carried out. If the Close or “Forget it…” buttons are selected, a Message Box confirms the print job’s cancellation.

    Here’s the code that produces the preceding example. In a standard module:


    Public dlgPrint As DialogSheet

    Public blnPrint As Boolean

    Sub CustomButtonsDialog()

    blnPrint = True

    Dim ButtonDialog As String

    ButtonDialog = "CustomButtons"

    Application.ScreenUpdating = False

    Application.DisplayAlerts = False

    On Error Resume Next



    Application.DisplayAlerts = True

    'Add, name, and hide the custom dialog sheet.

    Set dlgPrint = ActiveWorkbook.DialogSheets.Add

    With dlgPrint

    .Name = ButtonDialog

    .Visible = xlSheetHidden

    'Size and caption the dialog frame.

    With .DialogFrame

    .Height = 130

    .Width = 204

    .Caption = "Orientation preferences."

    End With

     'Hide the OK and Cancel default button for custom ones.

    .Buttons("Button 2").Visible = False

    .Buttons("Button 3").Visible = False

    'Add a label at the top of the dialog frame.

    .Labels.Add 80, 50, 180, 18

    .Labels(1).Caption = "What's your printing preference?"

     'Add 3 buttons, Distance from Left, Top; Width and Height.

    .Buttons.Add 84, 84, 80, 18 'Custom Button #1,index #3.

    With .Buttons(3)

    .Caption = "Print Portrait"

    .OnAction = "myCustomButton"

    End With

    .Buttons.Add 180, 84, 80, 18 'Custom Button #2,index #4.

    With .Buttons(4)

    .Caption = "Print Landscape"

    .OnAction = "myCustomButton"

    End With

    .Buttons.Add 84, 116, 176, 18 'Custom Button #3, index #5.

    With .Buttons(5)

    .Caption = "Forget it -- I don't want to print anything."

    .OnAction = "myCustomButton"

    End With

    Application.ScreenUpdating = True


    'The X Cancel button was clicked on the title bar.

    If .Show = False Then

    MsgBox "You clicked the ''X'' close button.", 64, "Print cancelled."

    blnPrint = False

    End If

    'Close the dialog sheet's With structure.

    End With

    'Delete the dialog frame.

    Run "DeleteDialog"

    End Sub

     Private Sub myCustomButton()

    'Hide the custom dialog sheet.


    'Cases for index of custom button that was clicked.

    Select Case dlgPrint.Buttons(Application.Caller).Index

    Case 3: ActiveSheet.PageSetup.Orientation = xlPortrait 'Portrait.

    Case 4: ActiveSheet.PageSetup.Orientation = xlLandscape 'Landscape.

    Case 5: blnPrint = False 'Cancel (the "Forget it"-captioned button).

    MsgBox "No problem -- nothing will print.", 64, "Print cancelled."

    End Select

    End Sub

    Private Sub DeleteDialog()

    'Delete a previous dialog sheet if by chance it exists.

    With Application

    .ScreenUpdating = False

    .DisplayAlerts = False

    On Error Resume Next



    .DisplayAlerts = True

    .ScreenUpdating = True

    End With

    End Sub

    As a precaution, when the workbook is activated or deactivated, I delete a previously-created dialog sheet if by chance one still exists. This can happen after a critical moment such as a power failure or other odd happenstance. For this example, the BeforePrint event triggers the dialog, with the following code in the workbook module.

    Private Sub Workbook_Open()

    Run "DeleteDialog"

    End Sub

    Private Sub Workbook_Activate()

    Run "DeleteDialog"

    End Sub

    Private Sub Workbook_Deactivate()

    Run "DeleteDialog"

    blnPrint = True

    End Sub

    Private Sub Workbook_BeforeClose(Cancel As Boolean)

    Run "DeleteDialog"

    blnPrint = True


    End Sub


    Private Sub Workbook_BeforePrint(Cancel As Boolean)

    Run "CustomButtonsDialog"

    If blnPrint = False Then Cancel = True

    Run "DeleteDialog"

    End Sub


    For more information, a sample workbook can be viewed on my site

    Author's Bio

    Tom Urtis is a Microsoft Office developer, programmer, trainer, and author, with 30 years of experience in business management and developing spreadsheet and database projects for business of all types.

    Tom founded Atlas Programming Management in 2000 (, a silicon valley-based Office business solutions company specializing in Excel that provides consulting, development, training, and support of fully customized projects for a diverse international clientele.

    Tom is an Excel instructor, and received the Most Valuable Professional award for Excel from Microsoft in 2008. He is the author of "Excel VBA 24-Hour Trainer", a 400-page book and CD package, and co-author of "Holy Macro! It's 2,500 Excel VBA Examples". Tom is a technical editor and consultant for Excel books and training material, and an active contributor to Excel newsgroups.

    Tom is a graduate of Michigan State University, living in the San Francisco Bay Area. He can be reached by email at

    MVP Mondays

    The MVP Monday Series is created by Melissa Travers. In this series we work to provide readers with a guest post from an MVP every Monday. Melissa is a Community Program Manager for Dynamics, Excel, Office 365, Platforms and SharePoint in the United States. She has been working with MVPs since her early days as Microsoft Exchange Support Engineer when MVPs would answer all the questions in the old newsgroups before she could get to them.

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    SharePoint Server MVP Jeong Woo Choi

    From: Korea

    Time as an MVP: 2 years



    Which technical communities are you most active in?

    SharePoint Korea


    How did you first start in community?

    I wanted to share my knowledge about the SharePoint Server Product including SharePoint Online.


    What's the best technical tip you have for implementing Cloud deployment?

    Managing the development related to SharePoint Online, it wasn’t easy to port what was embodied in the on-premise environment.

    The reason for this was the limitation of server programming model in the cloud environment. However, the issue was solved through the client techniques using Silverlight and the JavaScript.

    I recommend the hybrid development method using both the server programming and the client programming appropriately rather than giving up on the whole process due to the given environment that’s often burdened with limitations.


    What do you tell people who are considering using the Cloud, but aren't sure about making the move?

    We need to consider the strategies to maximize the strengths of the Cloud. It could be possible by turning the focus onto the effectiveness of Cloud implementation on evolutionary improvement in the workplace and the performance enhancement in information infrastructure rather than focusing on the cost saving.

    Moreover, the Office 365 is foremost the best Cloud service for IT employees. Not only does it offer the Office Client environment which is already familiar for most corporate users, but it also allows the easy expansion into the Cloud through Hybrid system, even if you are already using Microsoft infrastructure on premise.


    Do you have a blog/website link to Cloud related Tips or deployment stories you would like to share?

    What SharePoint Developer should know about SharePoint Online

    A basic introduction about Office365 Administration and Development


    What words of advice do you have for new MVPs?

    Being an MVP is an excellent privilege which recognizes your professionalism in your chosen sector. I believe that if you want to be a professional at a certain thing, you need to fall in love with it first.

    For those who love what they’re best at, I strongly recommend to try out for an MVP Award!

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    S. Somasegar, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Developer Division, celebrated the new MVPs of the Year at a special dinner last week during the MVP Global Summit. This is a tremendous community honor: the 30 MVPs were selected by their MVP peers and members of Microsoft. And two of the MVPs—Visual Basic MVP Alessandro Del Sole and C++ MVP Peter Ritchie— have made this prestigious list for the last three years!

    Alessandro has distinguished himself as community leader for the Italian "Visual Basic Tips & Tricks" user group, home to more than 42,600 Visual Basic developers. He also recently co-founded the Italian "WPF Tips & Tricks" and "LightSwitch Tips & Tricks" user groups.

    But what may be even more impressive about Alessandro is that he is a self-taught developer who originally turned to community to hone his expertise. By trade and training, Alessandro started his career in one of the Italian government’s organizations. By day, he worked in a department entirely separate from IT, and at night he was a passionate programmer.

    In addition to his leadership in user groups, Alessandro is a prolific technical writer and records webcasts and instructional videos. He also has published five books, including the recently released Microsoft Visual Studio LightSwitch Unleashed.

    Microsoft first recognized Alessandro as an MVP in 2008. After ten years spent in a different department, his technical expertise as a writer and speaker gained him recognition in the Italian government and for the last few years he has been able to bring his passion to his everyday work.

    Peter has been working professionally in software development for more than 16 years.  But he's been working with computer software far longer—since his first computer, an Atari 800.

    Starting in C, Peter progressed to C++ not too long after its adoption by the major compilers.  With a strong background in C++, Peter has been writing, designing, and architecting Windows-based software and solutions for over 13 years.

    Most recently, Peter has gotten involved in the .NET movement, concentrating on C# and making an effort to try and transfer his knowledge to the community--resulting in becoming an MVP C#.

    Peter is an active contributor to the MSDN Forums and .NET newsgroups and also an active moderator of MSDN Forums. Peter’s prolific and carefully considered contributions to the C# forums provide a high standard and a valued resource to members of the community. Year after year, he has given expert guidance and support to customers who seek help on the forums, establishing himself as an expert whose opinions are highly valued.

    Peter is president of Peter Ritchie Inc. Software Consulting Co, where he provides Windows-based software development services in Canada's national capital region.

    In addition, there are three returning winners from last year: Richards Seroter, in the category Connected Systems Development/BizTalk; Meinoff Weber for Top Answerer on MSDN Forums; Reed Copsey for Top Answerer on StackOverflow,

    Please join us in congratulating all the new MVPs of the Year!


    Award Area

    MVP Name


    Scott Forsyth


    Scott Cate


    Dave Ward

    Connected Systems Development/BizTalk

    Richard Seroter

    Data Platform Development

    Julie Lerman

    Developer Security

    Troy Hunt


    Brennon Williams

    Top Answerer on MSDN Forums

    Meinolf Weber

    Top Answerer on MSDN Forums

    Shen Jiang

    Top Answerer on MSDN Forums

    Clayton Cobb

    Top Answerer on MSDN Forums

    André Alves Lima

    Top Answerer on MSDN Forums

    Chi Wai Yau

    Top Answerer on StackOverflow

    Schabse Laks

    Top Answerer on StackOverflow

    Reed Copsey

    Top Fixed Bug Filer on Connect

    Greg Ramsey

    Top Fixed Bug Filer on Connect

    Raphael Perez

    Visual Basic

    Alessandro Del Sole

    Visual Basic

    Kathleen Dollard

    Visual C#

    Peter Ritchie

    Visual C#

    Joseph Guadagno

    Visual C#

    Lluis Franco i Montanyes

    Visual C#

    Michael Eaton

    Visual C++

    Igor Tandetnik

    Visual C++

    Marc Gregoire

    Visual C++

    Nish Sivakumar

    Visual F#

    Tomas Petricek; Ryan Riley

    Visual Studio ALM

    Neno Loje

    Visual Studio ALM

    Mike Fourie


    Jake Ginnivan

    Windows Azure

    Chris Auld


    Catalin Zima

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    We’ve scoured the MVP blogosphere and selected some great posts which highlight some great tips, how-to’s and insight.

    1. Limiting the Accessibility- Another Way of Friend Assemblies

    By ASP.NET/IIS MVP BrijMishra | @brij_bhushan

    In this post, Brij walks us through another way of implementing the C# feature of Friend Assemblies.


    2. XamDataGrid Cell Adorner Framework

    By Visual Studio ALM MVP David Starr | @ElegantCoder

    David shows us how to adorn the cells of the XamDataGrid that doesn’t rely on events or initializing controls in the code.


    3. Microsoft Outlook Configuration Analyzer Tool - OCAT

    By Exchange Server MVP Manu Philip

    Manu shares with us how to setup and run the Microsoft Outlook Configuration Analyzer Tool – OCAT.


    4. WinJS – Navigate in a ListView Using the Mouse Wheel is Easy!

    By Client App Dev MVP Jonathan Antione | @jmix90

    Catch Jonathan’s post showcasing how to use your mouse wheel to navigate through a ListView.


    5. Cool Dev 11 Trick: Diff Random Files Easily

    By Visual C# MVP John Robbins | @JohnWintellect

    Want to diff the output of two files and do this in Dev 11?  Read John’s recent blog post to
    find out how.

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    Editor's Note: The following MVP Monday post is by SharePoint Server MVP Clayton Cobb.

    One of the most powerful features of InfoPath 2010 is the ability to dynamically populate fields in the form
    with already-known data without input from the user – or with minimal input.  With out-of-the-box (OOTB)
    list forms, we cannot do this, which makes OOTB forms very limiting in their native form.  However, once
    we switch to InfoPath forms,the possibilities increase immensely.

    In this article, we will provide a prequel to the article by Laura Rogers named SharePoint Designer
    Workflow Tasks and InfoPath 2010
    .  In that article, Laura showed us how to display relevant Expense
    Report data when working with task forms within a SharePoint Designer workflow.  In this article, I will
    show you how to auto-populate data in the original form that the user is filling out to trigger the workflow,
    and my scenario will be a Leave Request approval system, which is another common process in most

    The Components

    The following components will be involved in the Leave Request approval solution:

    • Leave Request - SharePoint form library that contains all leave requests that employees submit
      for approval
    • InfoPath Designer 2010 - This software will be used in order to create the Leave Request form
      that the user fills out
    • Data

           Multiple data connections will be used in the InfoPath form in order to retrieve and
           auto-populate relevant data, thus making it easier, more efficient, and more accurate for the
    • Rules – Action rules within the InfoPath form template will be leveraged for retrieving
           parameterized data and for subsequently auto-populating form fields

    The Leave Request Form Template

    The Leave Request form template contains
    the following columns (Fig. 1):












    Figure 1 – InfoPath form fields used in the Leave Request form template

    Some of these fields get promotedto the form library for display purposes and for usage in the
    workflow, but others are used strictly within the form for comparison and matching purposes
    while the form is open.

    The run-time version of the form template looks like this (Fig. 2):

    Figure 2 – InfoPath Leave Request run-time experience

    Figure 2 above shows exactly what the user sees upon initially opening a Leave Request. 
    Let’s take a look at all the fields that are visibly auto-populated, and then we’ll show how each one
    was done:

    1. Profile Picture
    2. Employee (Contact Selector)
    3. Employee Email
    4. Days Accrued
    5. Employee’s Manager
    6. Manager’s Email
    7. Workflow Status (this is driven
      dynamically by the process via workflow and is read-only)

    Let’s start by proving that the first 6 items in the above list really are coming from external data
    sources (Fig. 3):

    Figure 3 – Proof of external data sources

    In Figure 3 above, you can see the following items:

    1. My profile picture, which is coming from my Profile and is being shown in the form
    2. My full name, which is coming from my Profile and is being shown as a fully-resolved
      identity in the Contact Selector of the form
    3. My email address, which is coming from my Profile and is being shown in the form
    4. My Leave Days accrued, which is coming from an External List in SharePoint 2010 and
      is being shown in the form
    5. My Manager, which is coming from my Profile and can be seen in the Silverlight
      Organization Browser.  Ann’s name is being shown in the form.
    6. My Manager’s email address, which is coming from her Profile and is being shown in
      the form

    Data Connections

    In order to retrieve this external data, we need to add the appropriate data connections as seen below (Fig. 4):

    Figure 4 – Proof of external data sources

    In Figure 4 above, you can see five data connections, but the two key ones for this article are
    the ones named Leave Days and GetUserProfileByName.  I’ve highlighted the Leave Days data
    connection in this case in order to explain it in detail.  You can get an in-depth
    explanation of how to set up and use the GetUserProfileByName data connection here: 
    InfoPath - Get user information without writing code (extended).

    Notice these details regarding the Leave Days data connection:

    1. It is a SharePoint list data connection
    2. It is set to NOT automatically retrieve data every time the form is opened.  You can
      tell this is true, because it does not show the detail line that says, “Data retrieved:  Every
      time form is opened.”
    3. Three fields are being retrieved:  Employee ID, Leave Days, and Full Name

    Bullet #2 is very important, because this is something you want to always try to do whenever
    it is possible.  I am not querying the data connection on form load, because I want to query the
    Leave Days list using a known value.  If you query automatically on form load, then the resulting
    data set includes all data from the source.  If the source contains hundreds or thousands of items,
    then your form’s performance will suffer.  Instead, we are performing a parameterized query
    so that the resulting data set only contains the information we need.  This can still be done on
    form load, but it cannot be done dynamically within the data connection settings itself.  Instead, we
    perform the steps shown below (Fig. 5 and 6):

    Figure 5 –Action rules that fire after form load, thus starting the auto-population process

    Figure 5 above shows the initial actions that take place when the form is first opened. 
    Notice the following details:

    1. This action rule is associated with the SubmitterID field
    2. The action rule is set to only run if the Filename field is blank, which means it will only run
      the first time the form is opened
    3. The SubmitterID field has a default value, which is set to the userName() function. 
      Since this is a browser form, the userName() function will retrieve the full AccountName
      value.  In a Claims Mode web application, this value will resemble something like this: 
    4. The first action in the rule is to set the AccountName query field of the
      GetUserProfileByName data connection to the value of the current field
      (SubmitterID), and that value is the same as the userName() value
    5. Next, we set the SubmitterEmail and SubmitterName fields in the form to the
      WorkEmail and PreferredName values from the GetUserProfileByName data
    6. After that, we set the three fields of the Employee Contact Selector.  This causes
      the Contact Selector to properly resolve to the identity of the user who opened
      the form.  This value can then be changed by the Submitter, which would then trigger
      all the corresponding fields to change to the values of the selected user:
      1. AccountId = current field’s value (SubmitterID)
      2. DisplayName = SubmitterName
      3. AccountType = “User” (static text without the quotes)


    Figure 6 – Additional action rules that continue the auto-population process

    Figure 6 above shows the next string of actions that auto-populate the rest of the fields in the form:

    1. First, notice that this action rule is associated with the EmpID field
    2. The EmpID field has a default value, which is set to the value of the AccountId field. 
      If you recall from Step 6 of Figure 5, the AccountId field is part of the Employee Contact
      Selector, and its value is equal to the AccountName of the original user who opened
      the form OR the Employee selected in the Contact Selector by the original submitter.
    3. The first thing the rule does is to retrieve profile information for the selected user from
      the Contact Selector including the following fields:
      1. EmpEmail = WorkEmail
      2. EmpName = PreferredName
      3. MgrID = Manager (this is the AccountName of the selected user’s
      4. ProfilePic = PictureURL (this is the URL to the selected user’s profile picture)
    4. Next, the GetUserProfileByName data connection is re-queried using the MgrID so that
      we can get the Manager’s profile info:
      1. MgrName = PreferredName
      2. MgrEmail = WorkEmail
    5. Lastly, we set the Employee ID (DBEmpID) query field of the Leave Days data
      connection to the EmpUN field of the form so that we can retrieve the selected user’s
      accrued # of leave days.  This step isn’t shown, but the EmpUN field has a default value that is
      set to the username portion of the EmpID field by using the following function: 
      substring-after(EmpID, "\").  This function takes the value of i:0#.w|warr\ccobb and converts
      it to ccobb, which is the format of the username value stored in the Leave Days list shown in
      Figure 3.  The summary of steps is as follows:
      1. Set the Employee ID query parameter of the Leave Days data connection to the
        selected user’s username
      2. Query the Leave Days data connection
      3. Set the Days Accrued field of the form’s main data source to the Leave Days field of
        the LeaveDays data connection

    The result
    of this string of steps is that we only retrieve the data for the current/selected user (i.e. Clayton Cobb)
    instead of the entire data set, and then we auto-populate the most important field – Days
    - with the current user’s actual # of accrued leave days per the master data source.  Again,
    this technique is extremely important to master, because it will streamline your solutions while
    ensuring the least amount of overheard with your data connections.  This technique will allow you to
    deal with large data sets in an efficient manner while resulting in excellent performance.

    forth the effort on the front-end of your solution so that your form template populates as many fields
    as possible is highly recommended.  Approaching forms in this manner allows your users to spend
    less time, have less frustration, have fewer mistakes, and have more meaningful interactions with
    your solutions.  Doing this helps transform frustrating paper-based processes into streamlined
    electronic-based processes.

    Author's Bio



    Clayton is a current Microsoft SharePoint Server MVP and former InfoPath MVP
    who is very active in the SharePoint community. Clayton has coordinated and
    led three SharePoint
    Saturday Denver events and actively co-leads the Colorado
    SharePoint User Group. 
    Additionally, Clayton has spoken at many conferences
    and user groups over the
    last few years in order to share his knowledge and
    gain new friends who share
    the same passion for technology.

    Clayton has a wife, Ann, and three young children, including twin baby girls.
    Clayton is an avid fan of the University of Alabama and races his Mitsubishi Evo
    in his free time (drag, autocross, and circuit).

    MVP Mondays

    The MVP Monday Series is created by Melissa Travers. In this series we work to
    provide readers with a guest post from an MVP every Monday. Melissa is a
    Community Program Manager for Dynamics, Excel, Office 365, Platforms and
    SharePoint in the United States. She has been working with MVPs since her
    early days as Microsoft Exchange Support Engineer when MVPs would answer
    all the questions in the old newsgroups before she could get to them.


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    Office 365 MVP Loryan Strant

    From: Australia

    Time as an MVP: 11 months

    How did you get started in community?
    I first started by giving back to the BPOS TechNet forums as I saw a great many questions unanswered. Shortly afterwards I started a blog and became engaged in many more community outlets.

    What technical community or communities are you most active in (where can people find you)? 
    The Office 365 Community site ( is where I would spend most of my
    community time, as well as on LinkedIn group discussions.

    What's the best technical tip you have today for implementing a cloud deployment?
    Back in the BPOS days there was an RSS feed that allowed you to subscribe to alerts for system
    issues/outages and planned maintenance notifications.This wasn’t originally available in Office

    365 but it was recently implemented under the Service Health section in the Microsoft Online

    The great thing is you don’t actually need to authenticate against Office 365 to subscribe
    (once you know the URL) so it can easily be incorporated into dashboards or other RSS viewers
    such as the one in SharePoint Online.

    You can read more at BoxFreeIT:

    When considering using the Cloud, what do you tell people if they aren’t sure about
    moving to the Cloud?
    Think about what you want to achieve – then choose the right technology. Also make sure
    you engage a partner to help you – they generally know more about the technology than
    you as they work with it all the time.

    Do your research and check the forums. Not everything may be possible straight out of
    the box – you
    may need a 3rd party solution to get you that final step of the way. There are
    lots of them out there which
    make your life easier.

    You already have been using the Cloud all day every day, and have for a long time. The
    pros definitely outweigh the cons, and 9 times out of 10 it’s better than what you’ve got
    now or can do yourself.

    Do you have a blog/website link to Cloud related Tips or deployment stories you
    would like to share?
    I’m now blogging for both business and technical professionals on and, until recently, I was also blogging at  We also have a case study posted at with a Cloud deployment I worked on.

    Speaking from your experience, what words of advice do you have for new MVPs?
    Connect with fellow MVPs, work together, and keep helping the community.

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    Listening to community is the cornerstone of the MVP Award—these exceptional community leaders offer
    invaluable insights into how Microsoft can enhance the technology experiences for customers around the

    At the recent 2012 MVP Global Summit, 1,457 MVPs from 72 countries sat down with 664 Microsoft team 
    members. They learned what’s new and what’s coming in Microsoft products and shared their real world
    feedback in over 800 deep dive technical sessions— more content than ever before at an MVP Global

    All MVPs participating in the Summit sign non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), which paves the way for
    truly deep and insightful conversations with these community leaders. The private, closed door sessions
    that take place during the MVP Global Summit sets an unparalleled example in community investment
    and involvement in the technology industry.

    Here are some of the highlights—

    • Scott Guthrie, Corporate Vice President, Server & Tools Business,
      presented three standing-room only sessions and shared his thoughts about the value of the MVP
    • Jason Zander, Corporate Vice President, Visual Studio, presented two sessions to capacity
      crowds and videotaped a direct message to the MVP community.
    • S. Somasegar, Corporate Vice President, Developer Division, presented a session at a
      private dinner to celebrate 30 MVPs of the Year.


    Jason Zander presents to a capacity crowd

    Of course, we don’t just ask MVPs for feedback on Microsoft technologies at Summit—we ask them
    about the event itself. This week, the results are in—and this year’s MVP Global Summit received the
    highest marks ever!

    We want to thank everyone for coming and for those members of the MVP community who weren’t able
    to make it we want to let you know you were missed. We hope to see you next year!

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