Mea Culpa

imageA couple of weeks ago I wrote about how we are using SharePoint to support a Holiday Door Decorating Contest in our office. Well, the doors are decorated and the votes are in. The winning door is shown at the right, and some lucky charity is going to receive a nice donation. Unfortunately, the SharePoint part wasn’t as simple as I had hoped. Although some people think others said this first, I’m going with the fact that Albert Einstein said:

“Everything Should Be Made as Simple as Possible, But Not Simpler”

In a developer’s twist on Einstein, I would say that “perhaps I was hoping for my task to be too simple.”

I made a newbie’s mistake. I made a mistake that I shouldn’t have made. I made a mistake that many people in the SharePoint community complain about people making. I took something out of a blog, pasted it into SharePoint without taking the time to fully understand it. To make matters worse, the person who wrote the blog had explained everything very well. I glossed over that section of his post because; well because A) I was in a hurry. B) I was thinking “yeah, yeah, I get this” and C) It was a door decorating contest! I mean it’s not like the site was calculating premium for a nuclear reactor (we actually do that, so…).

As I said in my earlier post, we don’t work with images very often. In fact, all of the other times that we have worked with images, we’ve just plopped a default picture library onto a site and dumped a bunch of JPG’s into them. Here’s a partial list of things I didn’t know about picture libraries:

The default columns (file size, picture, size, selection, etc.) activate themselves when you edit a view. So, unless you turn them each time you edit a view, they show up again and your neat and tidy view looks stupid.

The thumbnail is available as an optional column that you can show in your views (I mentioned in my earlier post that I didn’t know where this could be found and I used a solution to build the link to the small image).

The thumbnail image is linked to the view properties. I wanted to have a link from the thumbnail to a full sized image, preferably one that opens in a new window, so I ended up using the solution I mentioned in my previous post anyway.

The default view of a picture library doesn’t seem to preserve all the view settings. A picture library view can show details or thumbnails or be a filmstrip but the URL is the same. Some people saw the details view (that I included in my instructions) and some saw the thumbnail view that made no sense at all since it didn’t have the link to cast the vote.


As for that link, the one I built to start the workflow that “casts” the vote (a.k.a. the idea I copied from the blog) I only didn’t understand one thing, but it was a comically critical thing. The GUID of that workflow changes each time the workflow is published because the workflow is versioned. That makes sense, but because I didn’t know that, I was reacting to the error I got when clicking on the link as though it was an error in my workflow. You can imagine the frustration that ensued as I kept trying to correct a workflow that really had nothing wrong with it. As I write this, I’m trying to figure out which of my friends are just laughing and which are also thinking “it serves you right” while they laugh.

Let’s count the mistakes I made:

  1. I skimmed over a blog entry, modified a solution and stuffed it into my library.
  2. I didn’t fully investigate the attributes and behavior of the SharePoint feature (the picture library) that I was using.
  3. I published a solution without having a user other than me test it. If I had had one other person test this, I would have discovered the issue with the view because the person I pick on for testing saw the thumbnail view, not the details view.
  4. I decided that the nature of the business process I was working on wasn’t worthy of my full attention and / or best effort.

I am most disappointed in myself over number 4. Everything we do in SharePoint deserves our best effort. Every project that doesn’t represent our best effort contributes to the various negative perceptions people have about SharePoint. A fun project like this is a great way to show what SharePoint can do and I almost squandered that opportunity – ho ho ho!

Note: I didn’t compound my newbie mistake by complaining to the author of the blog. I went back and studied what he wrote, pulled my head out of my … the darkness and made the library work like it should have worked at the start.

3 thoughts on “Mea Culpa

  1. Pictures – That’s the winning door, a great entry by one of our accountants (who had some help from her daughter). The lower image shows the two ways that people were seeing the picture library. Had I known that could happen, I would have included information about it in my instructions for voting.

Comments are closed.