SPC14: How to Make Your Portal More Social


UPDATE: Here is the link to the presentation on channel 9

Runar Olsen and Thomas Molbach, both Microsoft Architects, presented a mix of best practices and developer level coding around making your SharePoint portal more social. As an avid Nation reader, you’re going to see some familiar terms here. It’s no secret that the big news from SPC this year is the Office Graph and lots of new APIs. Guess what?  This session had both. Runar and Thomas started talking about how a social portal differs from any other portal. Most portals today are one-way/information-seeking portals. People will log in, look for something they need, and continue on their way. A social portal engages the user more, presents content that is interesting, and still has all the necessary information that a one-way portal has. So how do you set up a portal with functions like comments, likes, tags, and related content recommendations? Get ready for those SPC14 buzzwords: Yammer, Office Graph, cross-site publication, and content Web Parts.

Truth be told, this is mostly Yammer and configured content Web Parts. As in the case study for the Seattle Art Museum, Runar and Thomas talked about setting up templates into which you can drop Web Parts. This keeps things simple and consistent across pages. The information in the portal is made dynamic through content via a search Web Part, putting the power of SharePoint 2013’s search to good use. That, coupled with cross-site publication allows you to pull content from wherever you want on your farm. This again simplifies things having the same information displayed in multiple places, not duplicate information. The coding presented in the session revolved around customizing some views. They made a nice content box with horizontally scrolling content. There wasn’t much to it really, but I couldn’t write everything down fast enough.  We will of course provide links to the presentation and deck once it becomes available.

The other main focus was Yammer. There are three ways you can implement Yammer into a social portal: the Yammer app, Yammer embed, and the Yammer Open Graph REST API. Each option had pluses and minuses. The app and embed are both very simple to use and will receive updates automatically. The REST API is far more robust and customizable, but you have to be ready to maintain it manually. The biggest benefit to the API is that it can pull content from other content management systems. This allows a lot of customization. For the inside scoop on the Yammer Open Graph REST API, check out www.yammer.com/connect. The last piece to the puzzle is the new Office Graph and search. With these running in the foundation, you are able to leverage some serious functionality in pulling dynamic content, tracking and analyzing content, and delivering an overall more useful experience to the user.

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