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Modify WSS 3.0 Helpdesk template

Posted on 2010-01-06
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Hi Experts.  I am making the committment to using WSS 3.0 and the helpdesk template as my ticket tracking system.  I would really like to make changes to the template but know very, very little in the way of VB.  What is the recommendation on app/software to make the changes to this template?  Thanks.
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Question by:samiam41
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by:aspehar
aspehar earned 600 total points
ID: 26193200
What types of changes are you trying to make?  SharePoint Designer allows you to manipulate the site somewhat without coding.
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by:samiam41
ID: 26193348
Thanks for the quick response and for not making me feel dumb.  : )

Well, it seems that between the time I stopped testing with WSS and started back up (4+ months), the SharePoint Designer is now a free app.  I posted this with the thought/memory that you still had to pay for it.  How about this; any problems using SPD 2007 on WSS 3.0 templates?
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by:aspehar
aspehar earned 600 total points
ID: 26193534
I've used SharePoint Designer on both MOSS and WSS without issues (aside from the ususal quirks of using Designer - it's a very buggy program).  WSS has limited functionality in comparison to MOSS, but that should not impact your ability to use designer.
No reason to feel dumb, I started out using WSS and had no idea what Designer was. I'd recommend this book if you're new to Designer:
http://www.amazon.com/Microsoft%C2%AE-Office-SharePoint%C2%AE-Designer-2007/dp/0735625336/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1262805396&sr=8-2
 
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Author Comment

by:samiam41
ID: 26193564
Designer is very buggy?  Well that sux....  Is it worth it to download and use?  Thanks for the recommendation on what book to use.  I plan on using WSS at work and home to become more familar with it so I can eventually take the MS exam on it.  Do you use MOSS?
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by:rdcpro
ID: 26197172
It's a necessary evil, unfortunately.
You won't need VB, and to do the sort of things you want (judging from the last thread), you probably don't need SharePoint Designer either.  Most of what you've described can be done through the UI.  
While SPD will probably make some of the trickier changes possible, to add a custom column to the ticket list, for example, is done through the list settings.
Regards,
Mike Sharp
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by:MsShadow
MsShadow earned 200 total points
ID: 26202971
The only "issue" with SPD is that it fails bigtime when you want to export the functionality you built to other sites / servers. If you build a lot in SPD migrating to SharePoint 2010 will have quite some unexpected results where you will lose the stuff you built using SPD. If it is any consolation, SharePoint Designer in 2010 has improved A LOT :p
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by:samiam41
ID: 26203012
Thanks rdcpro.  The main thing I want to change is the requirement for the "customer" field to already have an account in the domain/workgroup.  What is the best way to modify this field so that either it isn't required or I can enter in the information of the customer seperately?
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by:samiam41
ID: 26203057
MsShadow, thanks!  Is SPD 2010 out of beta yet and do you know if it is free?  From what I can tell, it appears to be free but no sense assuming....  (again)....  : )

Your recommendation is to use SPD 2010 on templates that will be used with WSS 3.0?
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by:MsShadow
MsShadow earned 200 total points
ID: 26203194
SPD2010 is free but still in Beta. It will remain free for 2010 (at least that's what they told me during the SharePoint 2010 Ignite trainings)
One drawback, you can't use it for WSS 3.0 so for that it won't be a help in your case.
Waiting for SharePoint Foundation 2010 (WSS 4.0) would be an option, but I have no information from Microsoft regarding the conversion of the fabulous 40 to SharePoint 2010. Another option would be to create your own SharePoint 2010 template for your ticketing system. As far as usability and user-friendlyness is concerned, I can tell you that 2010 is a great improvement.


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by:samiam41
ID: 26203569
Would anyone be so kind to provide me some sort of guide on how to modify the Service Requests > New Ticket page??  I have been trying to do so and am only getting more frustrated.  I would greatly appreciate it.
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by:samiam41
ID: 26203849
I found it.  Wow......  Field ID, Display Name, etc.....  This sh*t looks complicated!!  Guess it won't be just a quick entry or modification.  
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by:samiam41
ID: 26203927
This is the right template to modify in SPD 2007, isn't it??

C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\web server extensions\12\TEMPLATE\FEATURES\HelpDeskServiceRequestsList\servicerequest\schema.xml
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rdcpro earned 1200 total points
ID: 26206620
I would not modify the files in the filesystem like this.  If you apply a service pack, it's possible your changes could be lost.  You can create new features to deploy to the filesystem, using the SharePoint deployment mechanism, but that *generally* requires code.  Not always, as you could create a new feature with the stuff in the service desk template, and deploy that.  One thing those files are very useful for is figuring out how to tweak the views in the ListViewWebParts that the template uses.  They're kind of a cheat-sheet.  But this is pretty advanced stuff--I'd start out with simpler customizations.  I've been re-working the blog template this way for one client, and it's a headache...I'm much rather write code and deploy it.
One way to modify the existing template (but a bit scary for a noob!  ;^)  is to unpack the WSP file, and make your changes there.   Do this by renaming the WSP extension to CAB, and then you can unpack it.  You'll see a number of files.  You make various changes to these files, and repack it into a solution (there are several ways to do that).  Then simply re-install it.  
But in your case you can open the pages themselves, and tweak the template.  Or open the list in SharePoint, and add columns, etc.  
As for your main requirement of changing how the customer field works, I assume the ticketing system is supposed to be accessible to the customers, in order to submit their own ticket, right?  They could also view the status of their tickets.   I guess what I'd do in your case is implement forms based authentication using the AspNetSQLMembershipProvider, and let the customers self-provision--or if your customers aren't going to log in directly, you could still provision a new user yourself.  That way you can leverage the membership provider.  You can create your own custom profle, and then it's accessible from within SharePoint (or other ASP.NET applications, for that matter).
FBA is a bit challenging to set up, but still do-able.  The Community Kit for SharePoint has an FBA feature you can install.  There is a bug in the latest package that requires you to unpack the solution file, make one change and repack it.  There is a discussion on the site how to do that (search for my full name, or "rdcpro".
If you don't want to use the membership provider, you might be able to simply delete the old customer field, and create a new one that is either a plain text field, or even a lookup into a new list you'd create where the customer info is stored.  Try this in a dev environment first, though, as it's probably more likely to break.
All in all, it's not a simple project, but at the end you'll have a ticketing system that's exactly what you need.  I'd be tempted to help you build it (I could use this myself, and have been intending to add it to my client portal), but I'm pretty swamped at the moment.
Regards,
Mike Sharp
 
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Author Comment

by:samiam41
ID: 26332940
@rdcpro....  Wow....  : )  Didn't realize I was looking at such a major project to modify the default helpdesk ticket template.  Ugh.  Just once it would be great to pick something to do that wasn't so freakin' advanced.

To be honest, I put this aside to work on another project and came back to it today.  I would love to learn how to do this but am not sure I can do the "self-teaching" thing.  : )  I understand being swamped and completely respect that.  If you think this is something that this is going to be just too hard to explain or that you may not have enough time to devote to it, I will accept that and award points/close this out.  What good is the SPD?  I don't understand why it can't be used to modify this template...  

Thanks for your time and patience.
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by:samiam41
ID: 26332945
By the way, if it would be easier to do, I don't need the customers to be able to access the ticketing system.  That can wait.  I would much rather have the ticket modified just right.
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Author Closing Comment

by:samiam41
ID: 31679616
Thanks everyone for sticking it out with this question.  I've realized that WSS 3.0, 2007 and 2010 will require me to devote time and attention to learning more about it before I go off and try to do complicated tasks.

You each offered up something that I could take away from this question and I rewarded that appropriately.  For the time being, I am rolling back to SpiceWorks as I have managed to secure a SQL guru to write the reporting piece I need.  I actually bought the MS WSS books and am beginning the venture that way/

Thanks again everyone!  I appreciate your patience and willingness to offer up suggestions and constructive criticism.  I look forward to working with you all in the near future.

Regard,
Aaron Shaw
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