Showing posts from 2009

First online Commerce Server User Group Meeting

We will be having our first online Commerce Server User Group Meeting on Wednesday 30 December, 2009.
Please see the Commerce Server User Group page for further details.

Well done Microsoft Switzerland!

Microsoft Switzerland put on a Commerce Server 2009 day for their partners. This was the program:

Commerce Server Day - Switzerland
Morning (0900-1200), Sales content
Module 1:
Trends, Sales Strategies, Solutions
• Key e-commerce market trends
• Roadmap and history
• New Commerce Server 2009 features
• How to sell Commerce Server 2009

Module 2
PreSales Consulting
• Understand the positioning
• Avoid the pain points
• Building a basis for a successful project.
• Cross sell, BizTalk, SharePoint
• Reference Cases, Marketing Materials

Afternoon (1300-1700), Technical content
Module 3
· Architecture
· Subsystems, Catalog, Inventory, Profiles, Orders, Marketing
· Data Warehousing
· Staging

Module 4
· SharePoint Commerce Services
· Commerce Server Foundation
· Integration to BizTalk
· Performance
· Resources

The partners were of high calibre, and had a number of customers evaluating Commerce Server 2009, and went deeply into performance issues an…

Thanks Max!

Max reports on his site that he is winding up his Commerce Server business. We had talked about this back in June but he asked me to keep it to myself for a while.

I would like to thank him for all his work for the Commerce Server community and wish him well for his new endeavours. I personally have learned a lot from him, particularly in the area of pipelines. Thanks Max!

This means that Commerce Server 2009 training is now pretty thin on the ground, so I have been expanding our presence in North America to make up the slack. We have a great new CS2009 training manual, running to about 1000 pages, and it seemed to work well in class. We were a little ahead of ourselves, our labs included BizTalk 2009, but fortunately this is now supported.

Commerce Server 2009 R2 (CS 2010)

Tried out R2 today. Since R2 is 64 bit only it had to wait until I had finally got myself a 64 bit laptop and installed Windows 2008 and HyperV. The installation went well, was the way it should be without the old complexity that a CS2009 installation must have CS2007 installed. (That said, I didn 't find any migration options.) Was a little puzzled that the IIS 7 still had to have IIS 6 compability installed, surely we can make a clean break here. Haven't tried the new Business toolbar yet, that is next on my list. The broker still can't do authentication so the dream of a true CS application server must wait a little longer.

Commerce Server User Group

We formed the Commerce Server User Group last week. Meetings will be held online. We have members from 4 countries so far: US, Denmark, France, Germany. Details here:

Commerce Server Book Released and Available!

I finally got my Commerce Server 2007 book back from the printers today. Here is the information how to order.

Adding the path to stsadm

I often need to quickly set run a stsadm machine on a virual machine where the path has not been set up. Here is the command ready to cut and paste to save time:

PATH=%PATH%;"C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\web server extensions\12\BIN"

Upgrading Windows 2003 Evaluation Edition to Enterprise Edition

have a large number of virtual pc's, some of which were installed with the evaluation edition of Windows 2003. I tried to upgrade some of them recently to Windows 2003 Enterprise with SP2. Basically there is no upgrade option, one does a repair using the Windows 2003 disks. However I kept getting the message that the repair could not find install.exe on disk 2. This file does not exist on disk 2. The workaround is to uninstall the .Net framework 2.0 and upgrade and then reinstall the framework afterward.
Update: I have also succeeded without uninstalling the .Net framework 2.0. I have unpacked the .Net framework and pointed the Windows 2003 to this install.exe file when it asks. Installation works fine, but I likely because I have 2.0 SP2 I have found that I also have to repair the framework after installation.

Microsoft SharePoint Courses

There used to be just two (not very well designed) SharePoint MOC courses, one on WSS, one on MOSS. They can be great courses if the instructor does a lot of extra work. Now there is an explosion of SharePoint courses on the Microsoft courseware library. Some are excellent, some do not work at all.

MOC courses.
MOC 5060
WSS I have given this one. Needs quite a bit of work to make it into a great experience for the student.
MOC 5943 German version of 5060. No extra problems in the German version.MOC 5061 MOSS. Same problems as 5060.
MOSS 5945 German version of 5061. Need to check first if administrators really use the German version of SharePoint.
MOC 6438. This is the 5060 using Windows 2008 instead of 2003.

Courseware Library
Wherever there is no vpc for a course, this means quite a bit of work to set up the labs and make sure they work.
50003A Customizing and Extending Enterprise Content Management Solutions No vpc. 1 day course.Lab on reusable content should work fine, just need to make so…

Commerce Server 2009 Resources

List of sites using MOSS 2007.

Personalization of the Business Managers

You have likely noticed that each of business applications stores the connection information to the web services. Where do they store this information?

The Catalog Manager stores the information in a file at a path similar to the following: C:\Documents and Settings\Administrator.ADVWORKS\Application Data\Microsoft\Commerce Server Catalog Manager\CatalogManager2007_UserPreferences.xml
Here is a sample of the xml from my machine. You can see that apart from the connection to the web services most of the other settings have to do with settings changed by the Column Chooser.

Here is the url to the Catalog Schema Manager preferences.
C:\Documents and Settings\Administrator.ADVWORKS\Application Data\Microsoft\Commerce Server Schema Editor\CatalogAndInventorySchemaManager2007_UserPreferences.xml
Here is a sample of the xml from my machine.

The other managers store their preference files at quite a different place.
Customer and Order Manager stores its preferences here:
C:\Documents and Settings\Adm…

Commerce Server 2009 RTM product images not displaying

I found that I had to make the following tweaks to the default site to get product images to display:1. Add the Image_FileName property to the ImageViewer web part on the Product Page.2. Correct the spelling Image_FileName in the Product Query template. Doubtless because my vpc has been updated all though the beta cycle, but wanted to post it here in case someone else had the same problem.

Commerce Server 2009 released

Commerce Server 2009 RTM was released on MSDN last night. Installed it this morning and have it working

Resetting Commerce Server site cache from the browser

First Commerce Server 2009 course!

We are giving a combined CS2007 and 2009 course on the 9th to 11th March. We have delegates from the Netherlands and Sweden. We will take half a day and cover the delta between 2007 and 2009 as well as SharePoint architecture

Commerce Server 2009 and Developer Edition

You cannot upgrade a Developer edition of Commerce Server 2007 to 2009. You have to first upgrade the Developer edition to the Enterprise Edition.That means (after packaging and backing up databases):Uninstall Dev, install Enterprise, Run SP1, Run Config Wizard.You can get the Enterprise Edition for free if you have an MSDN subscription.I do not see this as a big problem for us as a training center, I have not come across a student who does not have access to MSDN. This is the recommended method.

We do not recommend changing the key:
/HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/SOFTWARE/Microsoft/Commerce Server 2007
to have productName: Microsoft Commerce Server 2007 Enterprise Edition and SKU: ENT.
This will leave your machine in an unsupported state!

PerformancePoint 2007 Planning module is not dead yet

Since Microsoft announced discontinuing the PerformancePoint 2007 Planning module, we are considering rebuilding the Planning module and offering it as a standalone product. But first we have to establish that there is a business need for it. If you think this product would be useful to you, please drop me an email. If you think that you would like to help with creating this product we would also like to hear from you. The Microsoft team has encouraged us, but cannot offer support. Please email pps at
Update: Microsoft has made the source code for the planning module available. See

Video - Using Visual Studio 2008 and Workflow

Here is my video in from the Sharepoint Konferenz. As you can see from the spelling of "Konferenz", the video is in German.

How to change the currency of the Starter Site

The Starter Site documentation tends to lead you astray here, most people start trying to change the catalogs without success. The answer is to change the Web.config from

commerceComponents baseCurrencyCode="USD" baseCurrencyCulture="en-US"

to (for example)

commerceComponents baseCurrencyCode="EUR" baseCurrencyCulture="de-DE"

Video - How to Skin the Starter Site.

Still waiting for Microsoft to release my Commerce Server 2007 video. I have cached it here until it appears on MSDN.

Virtual Lab Broken

The MSDN Virtual Lab: Customization and Extensibility with Commerce Server 2007 lab has the lab manual as a blank page. Not too useful. As a public service I am caching it here, until the lab is fixed

Another Software-Smith video on MSDN.

Just wanted to give you a link here to my video on MSDN. It explains how to use SharePoint backup and restore.

My SharePoint video on MSDN

Just wanted to give you a link here to my video on MSDN. It explains how to use Sharepoint workflow with Visual Studio 2008. I also created a Commerce Server 2007 video but it seems to have disappeared into the MSDN cellars.

Getting Virtual Server running under Vista Home Premium

Virtual Machines are essential part of life in the Commerce Server/Sharepoint space. I have been working on getting several Virtual Machines running at the same time and need them as fast as possible. I need them for some demos for Sharepoint courses that I am giving for Mindsharp/Combined Knowledge and also for some Microsoft internal Sharepoint training courses I am teaching for the Microsoft field engineers in London, Paris and Munich. Of course, I also need a fast Commerce Server 2007 virtual pc.

My first step was to get a laptop with enough memory, I chose a Lenovo 3000 N200 TY2BEGE with 3GB RAM for Euro 699,00 from First surprise, the internet price was 729,00 in spite of having the latest printed catalogue. But still seemed reasonable, about GBP 540,00 or $1070, including tax. The laptop and the memory arrived separately, but it was easy enough to install. Seemed reasonable to buy 3GB, does not seem that buying 4GB would let me address more than 3GB at present w…

Book review time

Another few Microsoft books came accross my desk recently courtesy Microsoft Press.

I was very impressed with Microsoft® .NET: Architecting Applications for the Enterprise by Dino Esposito and Andrea Saltarello. I often teach programmers and there was much in the book I could use in class when passing on architectural principles. For example, rather than just warning about spaghetti code they have the alternative, lasagna code. Absolutely uptodate at the moment, the entity framework is also discussed.

MCTS Self-Paced Training Kit (Exam 70-536): Microsoft® .NET Framework—Application Development Foundation, Second Edition is fairly dry since it has just the information needed for the exam. Competently done however with each module selfcontained and would work well for reference as well. I will use some of the concepts on Code Access Security in my SharePoint developer classes.

Cartooning (with apologies to Picasso)


How to skin the Starter Site

How to skin the Starter Site Why would you skin the starter site? Perhaps for a proof of concept, a demo just sizzles if it has the corporate look and feel. Or, you may have built your entire site on the starter site basis. It can be a good idea, at least it is a guaranteed solution. You just have to get used to having code not exactly to your personal taste, but it can drastically reduce project times. The starter site came out 3 months after Commerce Server itself. Make sure you install it properly according to the installation instructions. You can use the SpeedSmith installation method of this for a demo, the rights would be too generous for a production system.

Ok. Hold your mouse back. Don't start changing the CSS just yet! Starter Site is a real ASP.NET 2.0 site so you can go to the App Themes directory and see the default theme. Simply right click and create a new Theme. You can start by copying the CSS and gif's into this theme directory. Now change the webconfig to us…

The real quick CS2007 installation guide (SpeedSmith)

Have you looked at the ''quick'' installation guide for Commerce Server 2007? 21 pages of step by step instructions? Most customers I know just sort of wing it trying to get Commerce Server going and then run into problems because they missed a step. I needed a Commerce Server 2007 with a Starter Site that I can get up quickly, that I know works, and that I can let the customer change as a Proof of Concept. One option is to give him a virtual machine with everything already installed, but I then I have two options: 1. If I make the machine using evaluation software, next time I want to use the virtual machine much of the time periods are just about to expire. 2. If I use my own versions of software, I cannot leave the virtual machine with the customer. Plus I would like to teach him how to install and change his own machine. For some situations it is enough to use the virtual labs for Commerce Server, but see that they do no…

Tip: Misuse the virtual labs!

Have you ever had Commerce Server 2007 up and running on a virtual pc and then wondered if a setting was correct? Or, you need to explain the BizTalk connectors, but don't have the time to install Biztalk as well on your machine? Or just want do show something about the CSharp site. The virtual labs for Commerce Server 2007 are a great help. Unfortunately they do not have the Starter Site installed, but you remember how much later the Starter Site came. Don't forget, you are essentially using terminal services to connect to a virtual machine, you can basically do anything you like, it will be all discarded when the virtual machine changes are discarded at the end of your lab session. There is no reason to stick to the lab guide. Don't be put off by the registration, you are up and into the virtual machine quicker than you can say: Microsoft.CommerceServer.Profiles.UpmMembershipProvider...

Lab1: Connected Commerce is the BizTalk on…