SharePoint 2010 Central Administration Resource Links Generator

SharePoint 2010 Central Administration Resource Links Generator

Ok, so although I love almost everything about SharePoint 2010 relative to SharePoint 2007, one of the things that I don’t really like is the Central Administration home page.  I just can never find the links that I constantly use quickly and I don’t find the navigation very user friendly in terms of logically finding what you need.  This is probably due to the fact that I am so used to SharePoint 2007 Central Administration.

I know Microsoft has provided a Resources links web part which you can use to manually add the links you constantly use but it’s too bad this wasn’t automatically pre-populated with the Central Administration links you most constantly use or with the most commonly used links throughout the Central Administration.

The links that I constantly use are all of the Service Applications along with a few others like “Manage web applications”, “Manage services on server”, among some others.

So what I have done is created a feature called the SharePoint 2010 Central Administration Resource Links Generator that I think will be useful for all SharePoint 2010 Administrators and consultants who are constantly going through SharePoint installs and those that constantly use Central Administration.  It auto generates quick links on your Central Administration home page.

This feature can be configured to:

  1. Automatically populate the SharePoint 2010 Central Administration “Resource” list with all of the links to the service applications on your farm
  2. Automatically populate the SharePoint 2010 Central Administration “Resource” list with links that you configure in the feature yourself

In my Resources list, by default, it adds links to the following (in alphabetical order):

  1. Access Services
  2. Business Data Connectivity Service
  3. Create site collections
  4. Enterprise Search Service Application
  5. Excel Services Application
  6. Manage services on server
  7. Manage web applications
  8. Metadata Service Application
  9. PerformancePoint Service Application
  10. Secure Store Service
  11. User Profile Service Application
  12. Visio Graphics Service
  13. Word Automation Services
  14. WSS Usage Application

 

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If you don’t want to have the feature automatically add all the service application links or you want to customize it to have your own links, you can also do that via configuration.

 

Summary

The latest release and solution installer files can be downloaded in the downloads section here:

http://sp2010resourcelinks.codeplex.com/releases/view/61240#DownloadId=209357

The source code and deployment files have been uploaded to Codeplex and can be found here: http://sp2010resourcelinks.codeplex.com/.

Please log any issues on Codeplex and please provide feedback there as well.  I welcome any feedback for improvements.  Also, if you would like to contribute to this Codeplex project, let me know.

Please note that you should use this at your own risk, as it does modify the Central Administration web site collection and as always note my “works on my machine” disclaimer.

Note that the feature is installed as a hidden, site collection level, global feature, so you won’t be able to browse to the site actions –> site settings –> site collection features and activate/deactivate it there, instead you will have to run the Solution Installer tool that I have included in the release or activate/deactivate it using powershell on the Central Administration site collection:

Enable-SPFeature SP2010CAResourceLinkGenerator_ResourceLinks -Url http://server:port

Also note that I have written a deactivation mechanism so that it will remove all the links on feature deactivation or package uninstall if you would like to clean up the resource list of these links that this feature has added.

The installation and configuration instructions are below:

 

SharePoint 2010 Central Administration Automatic Resources Link Generator

Installation Instructions

1. Download the latest SP2010CAResourceLinkGenerator solution installer zip file from http://sp2010resourcelinks.codeplex.com.  Note that I have chosen to use a version of the SharePoint Solution Installer (http://sharepointinstaller.codeplex.com) to make it easier for SharePoint Administrators to deploy

2. Extract the files to your main SharePoint 2010 web application server

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3. Run Setup.exe

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4.  Ignore the one yellow error in the below screen (I have found an unsupported converted version of the Solution Installer to work with SP 2010 and it has some bugs)

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5. Choose your Central Administration Site Collection (expand the drop down).  Note: if you try to install it to another Site Collection, it will fail.

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6. Wait for the job to complete as it will:

a) Add the solution file to your SharePoint farm as a hidden, global feature,

b) Deploy it to your Central Administration Site Collection (deployed as a site level feature because that is all the Solution Installer will support),

c) Automatically activate the site level feature on your Central Administration site

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7. To uninstall the feature and solution, just run setup again and go through the wizard. 

Note: If you get an the following error during wsp package uninstall, don’t worry:

“This feature can only be installed on the SharePoint 2010 Central Administration web site
System.Exception: This feature can only be installed on the SharePoint 2010 Central Administration web site”

This is because I have a check to ensure that the feature is only activated on the Central Admin site collection.  Don’t know why by this solution installer tries to deactivate the feature on all site collections under the web application and the Central Admin help site collection is under the Central Admin main site:

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Configuration Instructions

If you don’t want to have the feature automatically add all the service application links or you want to customize it to have your own links, you can also do that in the feature xml.

To disable automatically including all the service application links in the resources list, just set the “Include Service Application Links” flag to false.

For new Central Administration or other links, you just add a new property with the key being the name of the resource link and the value being the actual link:

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Now, in order to do this, you probably should download the source code, open it up in Visual Studio.NET 2010, change the file called ResourceLinks.Template.xml and rebuild the wsp solution file

but…..

if this is too much work for you and you don’t have access to Visual Studio or a tool to regenerate the wsp solution file, than I found this nice work around (http://sharepointroot.com/2010/07/07/editing-contents-of-a-wsp-sharepoint/) to edit the ResourceLinks.Template.xml file directly (and create the property resource links you want) and re-create the wsp/cab file by using a tool called IZARC:

The steps involved to update the WSP are as follows:

  1. Rename the WSP to CAB
  2. Extract all contents to a folder – using Windows Explorer, or WinZip, WinRAR, or whatever
  3. Change the items you want, ie. ResourceLinks.Template.xml (in ourcase)
  4. Create a new CAB file with the updated contents, using IZARC
  5. Rename the newly created CAB to WSP
  6. Add to the setup directory and install to SharePoint

 

 

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