Dashboard Site User Interface Overview

Microsoft® SharePoint™ Portal Server 2001 uses Microsoft Digital Dashboard technology to create a modular, configurable, and extensible user interface to SharePoint Portal Server. Clients who use Web browsers such as Microsoft Internet Explorer can access the document management, search, news, and other features that use the digital dashboards.

Digital dashboards are applications that run on the Microsoft Windows® 2000 Internet Information Services (IIS) platform. A dashboard site is composed of several digital dashboards. A digital dashboard is composed of reusable, customizable Web Parts. SharePoint Portal Server uses a default Home dashboard with several sub-dashboards and Web Parts. In addition, you can create or import other web parts.

Web Parts are stored in the Microsoft Web Storage System, as part of the SharePoint Portal Server workspace. A coordinator can customize the dashboard site to suit the needs of the users. A coordinator can also add custom Web Parts into the dashboard site and create new workspace dashboards.

Rendering a digital dashboard requires communication between the client browser, IIS and SharePoint Portal Server. The following figure shows the dashboard site components on a SharePoint Portal Server.

Figure 3: Dashboard Components

Web Parts

A Web Part is a customizable section of the dashboard site that contains a specific type of content. A Web Part is an object that wraps a script fragment with a custom property schema that Microsoft defines. This schema is not the SharePoint Portal schema. Web Parts can be written in HTML, Extensible Markup Language (XML), JavaScript and Microsoft Visual Basic®. The output of the script can be HTML or XML.

Web Parts can be distributed and imported into other dashboards in XML format, when saved as dashboard Web Parts with a .dwp extension.

To create Web Parts for the SharePoint Portal Server dashboard, you should use Microsoft Office Developer. Microsoft Office Developer replaces the Web Part Builder add-in to Visual InterDev 6.0. For more information about Microsoft Office Developer, see Microsoft Office Developer Web Site.

Digital Dashboard Framework

Digital Dashboard technology provides the framework for managing the different dashboards and Web Parts. For example, the dashboard view is a visual representation of a Web Part folder. The framework understands and uses the custom schemas for Web Parts and Web Part folders.

Dashboard Factory

Part of the framework is the dashboard factory. A dashboard factory is the code engine that assembles Web Parts into a layout suitable for rendering in a dashboard view. For SharePoint Portal Server, this is an Active Server Pages (ASP) page executed on the server. SharePoint Portal Server uses dashboard.asp. In addition, the SharePoint Portal Server dashboard factory provides support for caching and debugging.

SharePoint Portal Server Services

SharePoint Portal Server includes a number of services including document management capabilities unique to SharePoint Portal Server. In addition, SharePoint Portal Server provides a set of team collaboration services such as document, folder, category-based threaded discussions, announcements, and query-based subscriptions and notifications. These services are incorporated as part of the SharePoint Portal Server Digital Dashboard Web Parts.

Comparing SharePoint Portal Servers to Other Dashboard Platforms

Like all Microsoft Digital Dashboard implementations, SharePoint Portal Server has its own dashboard factory that interacts with the underlying store. Although the Digital Dashboard Service Component (DDSC) is not used by SharePoint Portal Server Web Parts, a version of the DDSC is included in the SharePoint Portal Server. This means that you can add other Web Parts that use the DDSC to your SharePoint Portal Server dashboard without change in functionality.

Like the Microsoft Exchange Digital Dashboard implementation, the SharePoint Portal Server is based on the Web Storage System. SharePoint Portal Server can be installed in a stand-alone workgroup or in a Microsoft Windows NT® or Windows 2000 domain environment. Unlike Microsoft Exchange 2000, SharePoint Portal Server does not use Microsoft Active Directory™ in a Windows 2000 environment. For more information about the Web Storage System, see Microsoft Exchange SDK.

Programming the Dashboard Site

By using the Digital Dashboard framework and the dashboard site configuration user interface, programmers or coordinators can modify the SharePoint Portal Server Web Parts settings, and can add new dashboards and Web Parts.


SharePoint Portal Server Web Parts must be stored within the workspace in which they operate. They will not function outside their SharePoint Portal Server workspace.

This section includes the following topic:

Category-Specific Web Part Sample

Dashboard Sites

Extending a SharePoint Portal Server Digital Dashboard Site

SharePoint Portal Server Digital Dashboard Web Parts