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Scenarios for Custom Web Parts

Office 2007

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There are many ways to use custom Web Parts with Microsoft Office Project Server 2007. You can extend Project Web Access and project workspace sites with general Web Parts that have a wide range of functionality, use the SimpleUI URL option to limit the sections of Project Web Access Web Parts, and also use Web Parts that integrate with the Project Server Interface (PSI).

The following general uses of custom Web Parts are summarized from the Web Parts Overview in the Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 SDK.

  • Customize Web Part Pages for the shared view, and have a different customization for personal views.

  • Create custom properties and use the Web Part infrastructure to display the properties in the tool pane.

  • Create custom tools in the Web Part tool pane for configuring Web Parts. For example, instead of using a simple text box to enter a date, provide a custom calendar control that incorporates date restrictions based on related settings.

  • Create a base class for other Web Parts. Using a base class reduces the cost of developing and testing similar Web Parts.

  • Use compiled Web Parts instead of scripts to improve performance and scalability.

  • Add controls for user access to content. The default Project Server Web Parts allow any users with appropriate permissions to change content and alter Web Part functionality. With a custom Web Part, you can determine the content or properties to display to users based on additional information that you determine.

  • Connect your Web Part to other Web Parts on the page to provide or access data.

    NoteNote

    The default Project Server Web Parts do not support Web Part connections. However, you can access the ActiveX grid control to read data when a user clicks a row in a Web Part, such as Project Center.

  • Interact with the Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 and Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 object models. For example, you can create a custom Web Part to save documents to an Office SharePoint Server 2007 library.

  • Control the cache for the Web Part. For example, you can use the Windows SharePoint Services cache tools to specify when to read, write, or invalidate the Web Part cache.

  • Implement proprietary code. A compiled Web Part does not show the source code as a Web page with script does.

  • Control the Web Part implementation. For example, you can write a custom server-side Web Part that connects to a back-end database, or you can create a Web Part that is compatible with a broader range of Web browsers.

Project Server adds a URL option named SimpleUI that hides some navigation sections of a Project Web Access page. You can create custom Web Parts from Project Web Access pages so that only content parts that you want in a page show in the Web Part. For example, a Web application that is not hosted in Windows SharePoint Services can show a Project Web Access page without the navigation and title bars.

In Microsoft Office Project Server 2003, Project Web Access uses ASP pages. The SimpleUI URL option in Project Server 2003 has 128 possible values, for hiding different parts of the page to create custom Project Server Web Parts.

Project Server 2007 uses Microsoft ASP.NET 2.0 pages and simplifies SimpleUI. For example, the following URL hides all navigation and title bars in the Home page in Project Web Access.

http://ServerName/ProjectServerName/default.aspx?SimpleUI=15

Table 1 shows the 32 possible values and effects of SimpleUI, from 0 - 31. Because SimpleUI is a bitmask, values over 31 have no effect. The navigation parts of a default Windows SharePoint Services page are defined in the master page. The Project Web Access master page includes the following elements.

  • Breadcrumb Bar   The top bar in the page. Setting SimpleUI=1 hides the breadcrumb bar. In Project Web Access, the Breadcrumb bar includes the Project Web Access link to the Home page, a Welcome drop-down menu, and the Help button. There are no breadcrumbs (links that show the parent pages) in Project Web Access.

  • Title Bar   Shows the Microsoft Office Project Web Access logo. Setting SimpleUI=2 hides the title bar.

  • Top Link Bar   Shows the Home tab and the Site Actions drop-down menu. Setting SimpleUI=4 hides the top link bar.

  • Quick Launch   The left navigation pane has links to other parts of Project Web Access. Setting SimpleUI=8 hides the Quick Launch.

The page shows all elements for SimpleUI=16. The SimpleUI values of 1, 2, 4, 8, and 16 are additive. A SimpleUI setting greater than 0 is persisted as a cookie on the local user's computer. SimpleUI applies globally to the Project Web Access pages, but not to other Windows SharePoint Services sites that do not have Project Server provisioning. After you set a SimpleUI value of 1 through 31 on one page in Project Web Access, all of the pages have the same elements removed and you no longer see the SimpleUI option in other pages. To return to the default view, add ?SimpleUI=16 to any Project Web Access page URL. You can temporarily show all page elements by setting SimpleUI=0.

The following table shows the effects of SimpleUI combinations from 0 through 17 and for 31. There is a subtle difference between values of 1 - 15 and 17 - 31. With SimpleUI=15, for example, there is a small margin on the left, right, and bottom of the page. With SimpleUI=31, and other values from 17 to 30, the margin is missing.

Table 1. Values and actions of the SimpleUI URL option

Bit

4

3

2

1

0

SimpleUI Value (decimal)

No Margins

No Quick Launch

No Top Link Bar

No Title Bar

No Breadcrumb Bar

0 (temporary)

0

0

0

0

0

1 (persisted)

0

0

0

0

1

2

0

0

0

1

0

3

0

0

0

1

1

4

0

0

1

0

0

5

0

0

1

0

1

6

0

0

1

1

0

7

0

0

1

1

1

8

0

1

0

0

0

9

0

1

0

0

1

10

0

1

1

1

0

11

0

1

0

1

1

12

0

1

1

0

0

13

0

1

1

0

1

14

0

1

1

1

0

15

0

1

1

1

1

16

0

0

0

0

0

17

1

0

0

0

1

. . .

31 (persisted)

1

1

1

1

1

In addition to general Web Part customization, you can add Project Server functionality to custom Web Parts. For example, you can use the PSI to display and update Project Server data.

  • Expose Project Server data on individual, team, departmental, and organization-wide portal sites.

  • Present Project Server data directly with a combination of the built-in Project Server Web Parts and custom Web Parts. You do not need to develop extensive workaround applications to access Project Server data.

  • Custom Web Parts can be read/write so project team members can update status, or read-only for reporting.

  • Rely on Project Server security for updating or reporting data. Project Server Web Parts use the built-in Project Server security and permissions. Custom Web Parts can use the PSI Security Web service.

  • Integrate Project Server with line-of-business (LOB) applications. Web Part Pages can provide better integration of Project Server with other LOB applications where components are accessible on Web portal sites. You can mix and match any combination of Web Parts you want on a portal page; one page can contain a Project Server Web Part, along with custom PSI-based Web Parts and Web Parts that show data from other applications.

  • Use Web Parts for mobile access and with smaller devices. For example, you can create specific views for team members and for project managers to update or approve timesheets using a notebook or Pocket PC that accesses a Web portal site. The PSI TimeSheet Web service provides the necessary methods.

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