Fabrikam, can't ! At least not yet.

June 19, 2005 03:00 by keithkaragan
So, I downloaded the Fabrikam 3.1 Office Developer Sample Demo from Microsoft a few weeks ago, and finally got to unpack it try it out. I had to do this twice (un-pack, not download) because the winRAR decompression of the virtual PC (vpc) image was corrupted the first time and the VPC would blue screen and reboot continuously. Second  unpacking solved this, but it took a while since it's a big file (~6GB). When I run a 'packed' vpc (one with lots of stuff) on my laptop, I tend to run it with 600-700 MB of RAM devoted to it. Microsoft's requirements stated a 1 GB RAM requirement, I wasn't sure if that was for the PC or VPC ... Apparently its for the VPC, because it is pretty slow with 675 MB of RAM ... but life goes on, and I can deal with that.
Loading up the site in a browser running on the host PC was interesting as several images didn't load up, nor did several features work that linked to specific pages in the site. The site URLs for these puppies linked to hrrp://localhost ... Nice! This shouldn't have passed QA - seriously, that like a file:// type url getting onto a production site ... If I was one of the developers or product managers, I'd be mighty pissed off that this type of error made it to the shipping copy of a product.
I've been waiting for this sample, particularly to see what kinds of integration and interoperation stuff they pulled of and this demo packs a lot of punch on paper, there's: Core Portal Server functionality and Customization; WSS Core and Custom stuff; Smart Docs; SQL XML; Reporting Services; Biz Talk; Web Services; and a suite of custom web parts. I've only scratched the surface on these - but this is an incredible opportunity for aspiring SharePoint developers to get their mitts on a bona-fide real portal to totally fuck up and learn from - unfortunately, some of the fuck ups come built in.
One of the things I really wanted to see was the Multi-Library viewer (roll-up) web part. I had a client that 'seemed' perfect for a while back - but this wasn't yet released. So I put something together for them using the XML web part. I still hoped that once this was released they would be able to utilize this part (and it may work out, once I get it to operate in the demo). This web part is apparently loaded on the Finance section of the demo, and seems to work. But try to add it to another page and one gets an error indicating that the part is not marked as 'Safe' ... oh, joy! You SharePoint developers know that when you get this error, and the part IS in the web.config, you got a problem ... So this is a great start.
Likewise, the expense report sample that utilizes InfoPath craps out too. I was further disappointed that this expense functionality would be one of the key areas that use the workflow / Biz Talk stuff that's in the demo too. Pretty bleak. I'm not really shocked, or that dismayed, considering that I've been working on this technology for well over a year (solid), I know that although this technology is really useful and overall very stable, development on this platform is not at a rapid pace for anything that is beyond simple customization of the core components. I feel really, really bad for the developers of Fabrikam. I can imagine that the deadline for this release must have been pretty tight, and the goals lofty ... there is really a lot of stuff in this demo - a lot of really useful stuff. I hope a patch or re-release of this demo comes out soon - it would be a terrific learning tool, and a great platform to base sales demo on for clients interested in what SharePoint can do.
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