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Controlling SharePoint from outside executables or asp.net pages

Posted on 2014-01-29
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Last Modified: 2014-01-30
Is this even do able?

We are on Office 365 and this is our entire LAN. Everyone works from home.

We have a QuickBooks file for our accounting that is stored in an SP lib. Each person syncs this library to a local folder of theirs. So they can open it locally and make changes to it and it syncs back to SP and everyone can see the latest version. However, we have to enforce checkouts, and in the case of QB, 3 effected files must be checked in and checked out,

So the user can't launch the QB files from SP because that will cause a download since it is a non MS doc and if they save the file after changes, it will save to the temp directory, not automatically to the correct local folder synced to SP.

So they have to first go to the SP lib, checkout all three files, then open the main QB file from their local synced folder. Then edit, save, and then go back into SP and check these files in. This is too messy and too much to ask the user to do every time.

I'm looking for a way to have them press a button or provide some mechanism, whether that be within SP or an app outside of SP, that checks out those three files from the lib, then launches the one main file from the local synced folder, Then when the file is saved back to the local synch folder, it checks the file in.

This sounds to me like it would require some sort of executable that can talk to both SharePoint and windows, as it would have to do both during this process.  Can anything like this be done or are there certain rules in SP that woulds not allow something like this (an outside app launching SP and checking things in and out)? I can't see how one can create any app that runs within SP to launch a file from someone's local folder.

We cannot use QB online, which would actually be the easiest solution for us, so we are left trying to create unorthodox workarounds.
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Question by:BobHavertyComh
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Accepted Solution

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Jamie McAllister MVP earned 500 total points
ID: 39817883
It's doable alright. In fact I'm basing as much of my functionality outside of SharePoint as possible as detailed here;

http://the-north.com/sharepoint/post/Alternatives-to-SharePoint-Timer-Jobs

There's a heap of web services and CSOM/REST APIs available to do a lot with SharePoint. These can be called from script, Macros in Excel, etc etc.
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by:BobHavertyComh
ID: 39817969
I'm still a little confused. Would I create some sort of exe or asp.net app that could use web services and the SP API to open SP libs and check files out, and then use regular windows calls to launch the QB file locally, and then go back to web services to check back in after the file has been saved?? This is not an MS file.

If one could just open the file locally from their synced drive and have it automatically checked out in SP or receive a message telling them to check out and then checking in upon save to local sync folder and allowing them to do all of that without going on to SP at all, that's what we would want.

I still don't see how this would work doing double duty between SP  and someone's local system
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Author Comment

by:BobHavertyComh
ID: 39817990
Hi Jaime, saw some or your published articles here. Good stuff. I should probably simplify my explanation and say that it would be perfect if one were allowed to do checkins and checkouts for an SP lib doc from one's local folder that is synced to that lib. How can we do that?
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LVL 31

Expert Comment

by:Jamie McAllister MVP
ID: 39818027
There is SharePoint Workspace 2010 or 'OneDrive' in 2013 for file syncing itself. It works for many but not all library types.

Doing a checkout from the folder without the above, I'm not clear where the functionality would have to reside. If QB has any macro or other capabilities the services I mention could be called. Other than that, there's no home for the functionality without some other app being in play.

Am I understanding you?
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Author Comment

by:BobHavertyComh
ID: 39819488
By SkyDrive, I mean OneDrive. I have SkyDrive Pro. I can use that to sync to an SP lib and the synced folder will not show up under the skydrive local folder, it will show up in a synced folder underneath "SharePoint" instead of SkyDrive. It's still using SkyDrive Pro to make this happen, but when i sync to an SP Lib it puts it under a different folder locally than my SkyDrive folder.

With either type of synced folders, I do not see any way to check the file out from the local side of the sync and it can only be done in SP. The reason why I want to have them be able to check out and in from their local synced folder is because if they launched Quickbooks opening their local file in local folder, QB will automatically save back to that folder and the sync with SP will happen when the file gets saved back there. If they open it from SP, since it is a non MS file, it will download the file and any saves after changes will default to saving to the temp directory. The problem is that they have to first go into SP and check the file out, and then open the file locally, make changes and save and then have to go back to SP to check it in. If they could do checkins and checkouts from the local synced folder, that would solve the problem.

Is there any way for a .NET app to be able to add checkout and checkin functions to a local folder that apply to that SP list?
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Assisted Solution

by:Jamie McAllister MVP
Jamie McAllister MVP earned 500 total points
ID: 39820199
I'm going to say no. As described there's nowhere for the process to reside and run inside.

I've seen a similar thing with CAD files, and in such positions we default to user education about editing procedure and re-upload to SP.
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Author Comment

by:BobHavertyComh
ID: 39820420
Yes, you are correct, it needs a process to run inside. I suppose it would be theoretically possible to create a windows app that would talk to SP via web services for checkins and checkouts, but I think it would have to be a polling windows service to catch a file opened event, and users would now basically have to launch a custom app, to launch an app and open a file instead of just launching the app directly. The whole thing is a semi crazy idea that someone has and if i say it can't be done, or would be too complex to be worth it, I need to explain why. So I'm asking others to make sure I'm not missing some blatant way to do this. Seems like I'm not
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LVL 31

Expert Comment

by:Jamie McAllister MVP
ID: 39820433
This sounds like one of those classic requirements that come up and need to be pushed back on. User Education is far simpler than any other approach for this.

Off topic I often find the same thing with 'Workflow'. 95% of the time the business says it needs a Workflow we end up with a manual process, or code that never goes anywhere near WWF.
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