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Expanding SharePoint by Integrating with Other Applications

A design goal for SharePoint Portal Server 2003 was application integration; therefore, it was developed to be part of the .NET framework. It takes full advantage of ASP.NET, Web Forms, Web Parts Pages, and Web Services, enabling development of customized solutions using Visual Studio.NET. In addition, SharePoint Portal Server 2003 supports BizTalk Application Adapters, providing integration with hundreds of applications.

Accessing Information Using the PivotView and SpreadSheet Components

Microsoft created Office Web Components that integrate features of Microsoft Office 2003 and Windows SharePoint Services. These optional components, which can be downloaded from Microsoft’s website or found on the SharePoint Portal Server 2003 installation CD, need to be installed on the SharePoint server and consist of a combination of Web Parts (PivotView, Spreadsheet), data access services, templates, and Web Part Page solutions.

The PivotView Web Part enables placing a PivotTable and/or a PivotChart into the Web Part. These can be connected to external data or data contained in another Web Part. The view of the data can be changed from within the Web Part to Datasheet, PivotTable, or PivotChart to accommodate user requirements for data analysis and calculation.

The Spreadsheet Web Part creates a mini-Excel type of work area on the web page. It can be used for doing ad-hoc calculations, or it can be connected to data from another source, such as an Excel spreadsheet. The data from this Web Part can be connected to a PivotView Web Part for analysis and graphing.

Similar to the PivotView Web Part, the Spreadsheet component can be used to work with data imported from an external source, with a SharePoint list, or with data from another Web Part. By using these two together, numerical information can be displayed in a much more meaningful fashion. Figure 3.8 shows an example of the PivotChart Web Part connected to the Office Spreadsheet Web Part.

Incorporating Web Pages Using the Web Capture Web Part

The web capture Web Part provides a way to incorporate a web page, or a part of a web page, into a Web Part on a SharePoint Portal Server 2003 page. A special Web Capture tool, included with Microsoft Office 2003, is used to browse to the desired web page, select the page or a portion of the page, and then "capture" it. This web capture can then be incorporated into a SharePoint web capture Web Part. The information in the web capture can be refreshed by refreshing either the Web Part or the entire web page.

Figure 3.8

Figure 3.8 PivotChart and Office Spreadsheet Web Parts.

For example, a purchasing manager accesses a vendor page on a daily basis to check for special pricing. Instead of browsing to the page every day, the purchasing manager could capture the vendor’s web page and incorporate it into his site using the web capture Web Part, and then refresh the page each day to see the current information.

Retrieving Stock Quotes with the Quick Quote Web Part

The quick quote Web Part provides summary information for a stock, index, or fund specified by the user. When the symbol for the stock, index, or fund is entered into the Web Part, the high and low price for the day, trading volume, last price, the difference between the current price and the closing price of the previous day, and the percent of change are returned. The quick quote Web Part also provides a link to the MSN Money website for stock symbol look-up and detailed information about the stock, index, or fund.

This Web Part provides a means for users interested in trading transactions a convenient way to check the status of a security without leaving the portal.

Accessing Microsoft Great Plains for Accounting Data

SharePoint 2003 includes a series of Web Parts for accessing information from the Great Plains Accounting system. These Web Parts enable employees to access information such as pay stubs, past check detail, and expense reports. Using these Web Parts means that the employees do not have to learn the user interface for Great Plains, and the organization can get by with fewer Great Plains user licenses. The end result is that the organization spends less time training and saves money on software costs.

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