Monday, May 7, 2007

Using FrontPage Data View Web Part Without Un-Ghosting the Page

Introduction to FrontPage data view web part:

This article will demonstrate how users can make use of the powerful data view XSL Based web part without having to pay the cost of un-ghosting the page like using FrontPage normally do.
This web part has many exiting features and can save hundreds of development hours by creating a data view web part that can connect to various data sources such as:
· Web Services
· Databases
· Excel Files
· XML Files
· SharePoint Lists
Plus it offers a great deal of formatting feature like:
· Filter
· Conditional Formatting
· Sorting
· Field Format (display as link Etc.)
Now, as if this was not enough – this cool web part also exposes a provider and consumer web part connections to enable us creating an interactive solution.

Why am I telling you this?

Well, being an experienced SharePoint solution provider or a newbie you must know all about this feature provided by FrontPage.
Also – you must of heard the warning about using FrontPage on your SharePoint site pages – you don’t want to regret un-ghosting the files from the template, do you? – well, in most cases you cannot afford this price.
For more information about ghosting or un-ghosting pages please see this blog for example.
Well, there is a secrete way you can utilize this powerful tool (FrontPage) to construct the data view web parts you want and use them in your page with no need to un-ghost the page. Sound exiting? Tricky? You will be amazed to learn how easy it is!

Solution Description

Quick Overview

For those of you who are experienced with using both SharePoint and FrontPage, here I will lay down the principal of the solution. You may find it inspiring for more other solutions based on the same concept like I did.
What we want to do in order to achieve our goal is to create a playground.aspx page on our site. Then we will use FrontPage to add edit and change the data view web parts and save the page.
So far – normal FrontPage unwanted work. But not to worry – here comes the big change:
After we have finished creating the web parts, connecting them and customizing the XSL code if needed we will browse to our playground.aspx page using the internet explorer and export these web parts to a DWP file.
All we have to do now is browse to our default.aspx page, import these web parts and what do you know – we have them up and running with no un ghosting taking place.
Tip: you can use the Data Transformation Services to create views to remote lists as well.
The playground.aspx file can now be deleted.

Our Solution Step-By-Step

1. Open FrontPage
2. Nimrod – Please add steps to adding a data view web part
3. Save the page and close FrontPage
4. Open the page you created in the browser
5. Look for the Web Part you added using FrontPage earlier
6. In the web part menu you’ll find the “Export” option – click it
7. This will download a “.DWF” file to your local PC, save it with the web part name
8. Browse back to the original page you wanted to add the Web Part to, Click Add Web Parts
9. Select “Import option
10. Click Browse and select the “.DWF” file you saved earlier
11. Click upload
12. The Web Part will be loaded to the tool pane, drag and drop it anywhere on the page to use it
13. Done!!!


Hope you find this useful and finally we will start making use this great tool – FrontPage. These guys did a great job and we can benefit very much from the tools available there.
And guys – feel free to contact me if you have any questions or if there were something obscure in here…


Shai Ben Shooshan

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