Interview with SharePoint Wiki Ninja: Daniel Christian, TechNet Guru Medal Winner

Namaste All.

Today the interview will be with our 2-time SharePoint Guru (TechNet Guru gold medal winner  in August and October 2013), Daniel Christian .So far Daniel has written 7 articles and is been active  on forums since July 2012.

Let’s get to the interview...

Mahesh : Who are you, where are you, and what do you do? What are your specialty technologies?

Daniel :  I am an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) engineer at Cardinal Innovations Healthcare solutions here in Charlotte, North Carolina, USA. SharePoint 2010 and 2013 is one of two applications we use for ECM. As a SharePoint Engineer, I focus on both the architecture of the several farms we have and also provide custom solutions for departments. My architecture responsibilities include migrations across farms which are either  the same version or different versions i.e. From one SharePoint 2010 farm to another or to a 2013 farm using database migration method, governance and monitor / improve the performance. As a solutions provider I build custom workflows for departments to automate processes. I am a big fan of using no-code solutions with SharePoint lists, document or InfoPath libraries, using InfoPath designer and SharePoint Designer.

Besides my responsibilities at work, I also participate in our monthly Charlotte SharePoint User Group meetings.

Mahesh : What do you do with TechNet Wiki, and how does that fit into the rest of your job?

Daniel : I don't believe in re-inventing the wheel hence TechNet Wiki is the first place I look to find a answer to a problem I have run into. I also refer to TechNet for ideas to build custom solutions. This is also where I get ideas to write articles. I usually write an article if I have exhausted the resources and haven't found a solution, or if I find bits and pieces of solutions all across the internet. It's times like these that I get motivated and encouraged to write a 'one-stop-shop' article which walks you through the process from the begging to the end. This primarily started as a documentation process, however, later on I add more information such as screenshots and videos and built them as articles as well.

(Daniel with his two boys wishing you a belated Merry Christmas and a prosperous new year)

Mahesh : What are your big projects right now?

Daniel : On average I will have anywhere from 3-4 projects running simultaneously, which includes both architecture and solutions. Currently, my architecture projects include doing some deep-dive tests with Office 365 SharePoint. I am also part of a team of talented individuals to replace current web apps and migrate existing SharePoint 2010 to SharePoint 2013 on-premise farm.

I believe that SharePoint is soon becoming the new Web OS. Time and again I come across third party application companies not providing a standalone  application, but instead a solution or an app which integrates with SharePoint. Currently, I am testing several of such solution's integration with our existing SharePoint farms.

Some of my solutions projects include doing some  deep-dive tests on using Access service application to provide solutions.


Mahesh : What are your favorite Wiki articles you’ve contributed?

Daniel : What's my favorite article? It’s the one I am going to write next, however, for now, I must admit that I did enjoy writing the 'SharePoint 2013: A no Code Solution to Build a Change Management Request' and the 'SharePoint Online: A no-code solution to create and customize Access service app using Access 2013'. I am already working on a part 2 version of both of these two articles…stay tuned ;-)


Mahesh : On what Wiki articles do you spend most of your time?

Daniel : I have spent the most time on both the articles I mentioned above. I revised both the articles several times, which isn't a bad thing, but in my case, I had to go back and re-build several of the videos again. I re-wrote the entire 'SharePoint Online: A no-code solution to create and customize Access service app using Access 2013' from scratch since I wasn't pleased with the flow of the article. It was at that time I had my Nikon DSLR right now to me as well, which is when it dawned on me to re-write the entire article based on a camera sales shop :-).

On an average I spend anywhere from 2-3 weeks writing a rough-draft with screenshots and videos. Finally, I will carve out some time over a weekend, polish the article and post it. Due to the screenshots and videos, it can take me up to 2 hours to complete posting the article. The embedded videos reside on YouTube, but I also provide links to the high resolution videos available on my SkyDrive.


Mahesh : What is your thought process when you write an article?

Daniel: I write all my articles to be easily understood by an everyday SharePoint user. We all have different ways to learn, some prefer text, some images and some videos. I take into account each and every one of those and hence write articles with steps, screenshots and videos. I always write articles with a scenario which makes it easier for the reader to relate to the topics I am describing. I also provide “tidbits” throughout the article which are useful to both understand the topic am describing and help resolve/learn other topics which are similar.


Mahesh : What is it about TechNet Wiki that interests you?

Daniel : Group collaboration is the key feature of Wiki. One person doesn't know everything, however, in a wiki everyone can share their ideas, therefore creating a healthy database of active knowledge. In short, TechNet Wiki is a place where you can find everything which is constantly being revised.


Mahesh : Finally, is there something silly you’ve done recently?

Daniel : Ooooh yes, there is, something I will never forget and will make sure it won't happen again. Ok, so one day, I made the changes to an existing embedded form design and the workflow to an existing list on a SharePoint web app and sent the all clear email to the department. I was immediately bombarded with emails stating that the changes weren't "noticeable". Really!!!?? How come?? I'm seeing them. Is it possible that the Network Load Balancing (NLB) cache needs to be flushed? On second thoughts, that shouldn't be the problem. I logged on to one of the SharePoint application server and noticed that I didn't see changes there either…*light bulb*. Logged off the sever, got back on my local machine and pinged the site. Yup!, from the IP addresses I got I knew where the problem was. I opened the Host file on my local machine and noticed that the URL was forced to point to the DEV site. All the changes I had made were on the DEV environment and not the production.

Like I said…won't happen again. And Thanks Mahesh for nominating me for a TechNet Wiki Ninja Interview.

Thanks Daniel for all your contributions, and welcome to the community again.


 Feel free to ask questions to Daniel.


-- BizTalk Wiki Ninja Mahesh