Friday, January 29, 2010

Useful and Free SharePoint Tools (Part 3)

It has been a while since my previous "Useful and free SharePoint Tools" post. Over the past period I have ran into some more brilliant tools and didn't want to keep them from you, so here we go again! :-)

Just for reference:
Part 1: Useful and Free SharePoint Tools (Part 1)
Part 2: Useful and Free SharePoint Tools (Part 2)

SharePoint ULS Log Viewer
Do you know that feeling: You have to troubleshoot an issue and dive into the ULS log. Soon you find out how difficult it is to find what you are looking for in these logs. When using Notepad, you can try to search on time stamp or error message, but filtering is out of the question. Fortunately a guy at Microsoft created a great tool that offers searching and filtering capabilities. Just open a ULS log file and go crazy. Life suddenly becomes a lot easier :-)

Zevenseas SharePoint Search Coder
This tool is useful for developers and IT Pro's. Using this tool you can generate search queries, but also send them to SharePoint, using the object model or web services. I have used this tool often to troubleshoot some search issues I encountered. By entering the search query you can see exactly which data is returned and therefore determine if the search engine is the issue, or some code (web part for example) that processes the returned data.

SharePoint Feature Administration and Clean Up Tool
Ever seen the error "failed to determine definition for feature with id <GUID>" in your ULS log? This means that a feature is still registered as active somewhere in your environment, but is not installed anymore. Unfortunately there is no way using the GUI to fix this issue. The SharePoint Feature Administration and Clean Up tool has the answer for this issue. When you start this tool, it has a button "Find Faulty Feature" in the lower right part of the window. This functionality searches for feature registrations of features that do not exist anymore and if found, it can delete these references. The tool can do other stuff with features, which I didn't need to far but I thought the clean up functionality is brilliant!

SPTraceView is a tool that connects to the tracing service of SharePoint and shows you all logged messages in real time. You can set filtering so only certain messages are displayed. The tool has an icon in the system tray and pops up a balloon if a message comes in. By clicking the balloon, a window with all captured messages is displayed. Really useful when troubleshooting!
The tool only has one "issue": It cannot display any messages higher than configured in the SharePoint Central Admin. For example if you set messages for the General category to High, you won't see Medium or Verbose messages in SPTraceView (or the ULS log for that matter). This is inherent to the way the tracing log is built.

Ever wanted to know how your farm is configured in high level? This tool can create a very high level report of your farm configuration. I have been looking for such a tool for quite a long time now. Even though this tool creates a nice report, I would like to see a little more detail in a next version. But until then.....another useful and free tool :-)

The last one of this post isn't a tool by itself, but I have to say PowerShell rules!! I am not a developer, so creating applications/webparts/etc is not for me, but which IT Pro isn't a bit lazy by nature :-) Why do something manual if you can script it? Using other scripting languages, you couldn't use .NET objects so were very limited when it comes to SharePoint. But with PowerShell you can use every .NET object you like, so also SharePoint .NET objects!! And with the addition of 650+ PowerShell commandlets in SharePoint 2010, PowerShell becomes more and more important for the IT Pro. So if you haven't done much with it yet, LEARN POWERSHELL!! You will love it and it will make your life a lot easier!


Daniel said...

Thanks for mentioning our SearchCoder, glad it has been helpful to you!


rbethleh said...

I think the ULS viewer from Microsoft is more powerful. Check it out at:

Kind regards,

Roel Hans