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Overview of upgrading from SharePoint Portal Server 2003 to Office SharePoint Server 2007 and new methods for common customizations

Office 2007

Updated: July 15, 2008

Applies To: Office SharePoint Server 2007

 

Topic Last Modified: 2008-08-08

In this article:

This article supplements the Upgrading to Office SharePoint Server 2007 Guide. The guide covers the process of planning and performing an upgrade from Microsoft Office SharePoint Portal Server 2003 to Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007. This article discusses some common customizations that required developing custom code in SharePoint Portal Server 2003 that do not require custom code in Office SharePoint Server 2007. This article also reviews best practices for customizations to help you ensure that any future upgrades go smoothly.

The following additional resources are available on the MSDN and TechNet Web sites:

Upgrading from SharePoint Portal Server 2003 to Office SharePoint Server 2007 requires several steps, even in environments without customizations. If you have customizations in your environment, you must decide the best method to use to upgrade your environment and how you want to handle your customized elements during the upgrade process. For information about all of the steps involved in upgrading from SharePoint Portal Server 2003 to Office SharePoint Server 2007, see Upgrading to Office SharePoint Server 2007. You can also get the downloadable version of this book at http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=85556.

The following sections summarize the four steps that compose the upgrade process: plan, prepare, perform the upgrade, and perform post-upgrade steps.

As you plan to upgrade, review the customizations in your environment and determine which are critical to the functionality of your sites and which are cosmetic or can be replaced by new functionality in the product. Making these determinations can help you decide on an upgrade method, and can also help you create a plan for customizing the new Office SharePoint Server 2007 environment.

As part of the planning step, you should also audit your environment to be sure that you understand exactly what is in your environment and what you need to change in the environment before performing the upgrade. For example, consider the following:

  • Is your current hardware sufficient or do you need to purchase new hardware?

  • What third-party software are you relying on and are updated versions of that software available?

See the following resources to help you make planning decisions:

For a complete list of planning steps, see Chapter overview: Plan and prepare for upgrade (Office SharePoint Server).

After you have planned your upgrade and decided on an approach, you need to prepare for upgrade. This step includes preparing for upgrading any custom site definitions or area definitions and running the pre-upgrade scan tool. See the following resources to help you perform these tasks:

For a complete list of preparation steps, see Chapter overview: Perform pre-upgrade steps (Office SharePoint Server).

After the upgrade has completed, you may still have some work to do reapply some small customizations and finalize the upgrade. For more information, see the following resources:

For a complete list of post-upgrade steps, see the following chapters:

The following article written for Windows SharePoint Services describes a few best practices for developing customizations for the SharePoint Products and Technologies, particularly when it comes to applying software updates or upgrading those customizations to a newer version: Best Practices for Ensuring Application Reusability and Upgrade in Windows SharePoint Services (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=105301&clcid=0x409). In addition, the article describes additional best practices to follow when planning your customizations that can make future software updates and upgrades easier to perform. The advice from this article largely still applies when considering customizations for Office SharePoint Server 2007.

One general best practice for customizations is to keep detailed notes about customizations you make to any files in the setup directory. These customizations should be rare, but if you have such customizations, they are likely to be overwritten during an update or upgrade. If you have detailed notes, you can more easily reapply the customizations if they are lost.

A series of articles in the Office SharePoint Server 2007 Software Development Kit (SDK) also provides specific best practices for common customizations in Office SharePoint Server 2007. For more information, see SharePoint Products and Technologies Customization Best Practices (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=106349&clcid=0x409).

Several types of customizations for SharePoint Portal Server 2003 required custom development. In Office SharePoint Server 2007, new functionality may reduce the need for some of these customizations, or a new method may be available for customizing the element. The following table lists some common customizations that required custom development in SharePoint Portal Server 2003 and the new method to use for Office SharePoint Server 2007.

 

Customization Most common SharePoint Portal Server 2003 implementation Recommended method in Office SharePoint Server 2007

Specific designs for area pages

Custom area page templates

Use subsite templates or Master Pages and Page Layouts to control how areas look.

Custom authentication

Custom authentication or single sign-on solutions

Use ASP.NET authentication methods — for example, forms-based authentication.

Specific navigation scheme

Custom navigation

Use the default navigation, or use standard ASP.NET menu controls and navigation providers.

Customized look and feature set for a template

Custom site definition, custom themes, and .css files

Create custom features, master pages, and page layouts, or create custom site definitions. You can continue to use custom .css files and themes also.

Search customizations

Search alerts, schedules, and custom content sources

Create new search-based alerts, and use content sources for scheduling. For more information, see How search features are affected by upgrade.

The remainder of this article discusses these common customizations and the changes in methods for customizing these elements in Office SharePoint Server 2007. Additionally, each of the following sections contains resources for more information and recommendations for best practices in customizing these elements.

For more information about how specific features have changed between SharePoint Portal Server 2003 and Office SharePoint Server 2007, see Comparison of key features.

In SharePoint Portal Server 2003, area pages had their own page definitions. For Office SharePoint Server 2007, SharePoint Portal Server 2003 areas are upgraded to subsites and use the same site definitions available to other subsites.

If you had custom area pages in SharePoint Portal Server 2003, you need to take specific steps to correctly upgrade them to the site definition that you want, including creating a new version of the custom template (including master pages and page layouts) and creating an upgrade definition to map elements from the old custom area page template to the new template and the page layouts. In publishing sites, you need a site definition with a master page, a page layout, and a welcome page layout for your old custom area page templates.

For more information about upgrading custom area pages, see How to Upgrade an Area based on a Custom Site Definition on the Microsoft SharePoint Products and Technologies Team Blog (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=106108&clcid=0x409).

If you are redesigning your site and you want to create new templates for the subsites of your top-level site, create new subsite templates or Master Pages and Page Layouts to control how these subsites look. As a best practice, rather than customizing individual pages, use templates and master pages (and page layouts in publishing sites) to control the look and functionality available within pages.

For more information, see the following resources:

  • For information about planning for master pages and page layouts, see Plan Web pages.

  • For information about creating master pages and page layouts, see Page design roadmap.

For SharePoint Portal Server 2003, if you wanted to use your own authentication providers, you needed to create a custom authentication solution. You can now use ASP.NET authentication methods — for example, forms-based authentication — with Office SharePoint Server 2007 instead of needing to create a completely custom authentication solution. If you use a third-party authentication solution and want to continue using it, contact your software vendor to see if they have an upgraded version of the authentication solution.

You can use a trial upgrade to determine whether your custom authentication solution will continue to work in Office SharePoint Server 2007. Alternatively, use a gradual upgrade approach. With the gradual approach, you can verify whether the authentication solution still works after upgrade without committing to the changes until after you review the site.

For more information about performing a trial upgrade, see Use a trial upgrade to find potential issues (Office SharePoint Server). For more information about upgrade methods, see Determine upgrade approach (Office SharePoint Server).

Instead of creating a completely custom authentication solution, you can customize the new ASP.NET authentication methods. For more information, see Plan authentication methods (Office SharePoint Server).

For SharePoint Portal Server 2003, you needed to create a custom navigation solution if you wanted anything other than the default options (for example, if you wanted a hierarchical view of the portal site). In Office SharePoint Server 2007, a site's navigation is based on the site hierarchy by default. This makes the default navigation acceptable for many cases.

In addition, the navigation for Office SharePoint Server 2007 is based on standard ASP.NET menu controls and navigation providers. Therefore, if you want custom navigation that includes fly-outs or other such elements, you can use the ASP.NET navigation provider (SiteMapProvider) to create the navigation you want.

You can use a trial upgrade to determine whether your custom navigation will continue to work in Office SharePoint Server 2007. Alternatively, you can use a gradual upgrade approach. With the gradual upgrade approach, you can see how the navigation looks after upgrade without committing to the changes until after you review the site.

Typically, custom navigation controls were implemented as Web Parts. These Web Parts may need to be recompiled by using ASP.NET 2.0 before upgrade. After upgrade, however, they will continue to work and will display on the page along with the default navigation. You can then compare the controls and determine whether to continue using the custom navigation control or configure the default navigation control to appear the way you want. Significant performance improvements and other improvements were made in the navigation capabilities for Office SharePoint Server 2007, so you should evaluate performance in addition to design when you consider whether to continue using a custom solution.

For more information about performing a trial upgrade, see Use a trial upgrade to find potential issues (Office SharePoint Server). For more information about upgrade methods, see Determine upgrade approach (Office SharePoint Server).

Use the Microsoft Visual Studio development system or Microsoft Office SharePoint Designer 2007 to customize the standard ASP.NET menu controls and navigation providers to create the navigation you want. For more information about customizing navigation links, see Page design roadmap.

For SharePoint Portal Server 2003, if you wanted a custom look and feature set for your sites or subsites, you needed to create a custom site definition that included the elements you wanted. You could also create custom .css files and themes. For Office SharePoint Server 2007, you can still use a custom site definition with .css files and themes to get a customized template for your site, but there are more options for designing the components of that site definition, such as features, master pages, and page layouts.

If you have custom site definitions in SharePoint Portal Server 2003, you must perform specific steps to upgrade them correctly. First, you must create a new site definition based on Office SharePoint Server 2007. Then, you create an upgrade definition that maps elements in the old site definition (for example, a particular list or library) to the elements in the new site definition. Do not start the upgrade process until you have created both the new site definition and the upgrade definition.

For more information about upgrading customized site definitions, see the following resources:

Some of the styles and tags used by .css files have changed in Office SharePoint Server 2007, and themes have been redesigned in Office SharePoint Server 2007. Consider using a gradual upgrade approach, and then reviewing the sites after upgrade. You can then see how the styles look after upgrade and adjust them in the new environment, or you can revert to the previous version, change the styles in SharePoint Portal Server 2003 and try the upgrade again. For more information about reverting to the previous version, see Revert to a previous version site (Office SharePoint Server).

You can also reset any pages that were customized in FrontPage to the site definition to remove the custom styles and themes and apply the default site definition. For more information, see the following resources:

Web Parts need to be recompiled by using ASP.NET 2.0 before upgrade, but after upgrade they should continue to work. Consider using a gradual upgrade approach, and then reviewing the Web Parts after upgrade. You can then see how the Web Parts work after upgrade and determine whether to:

  • Adjust the custom Web Parts in the new environment.

  • Change to using default Web Parts instead.

  • Create new custom Web Parts based on new capabilities in Office SharePoint Server 2007.

Several best practices apply to these customizations:

  • Never directly edit a default site definition to customize it. If you want to base a site definition on a default site definition, copy the site definition, save it with a unique name to its own directory, and then customize the copy.

  • Rather than customizing individual pages, use page layouts and master pages to control the look and functionality available within pages.

  • Whenever possible, use features to make custom lists or other elements available in your sites. This gives you more flexibility in deploying the custom elements.

For more information, see the following resources:

This topic is included in the following downloadable book for easier reading and printing:

See the full list of available books at Downloadable books for Office SharePoint Server 2007.

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