Microsoft Project Conference 2012

Just back in the office after a great conference.  It was a pleasure to meet up with so many people who read the blog – some I have known many years and others I have only known through e-mail or the forums – and yet others I was meeting for the first time.  Thanks also to Christophe and his team for putting together what one of our partners described to me on the plane home as “the best Project Conference ever!”  It was wonderful to see such an active partner expo area with some cool add-ons, solutions and services available to help our customers get the best out of the product.  In speaking to many attendees I know that the sessions from our customers were much appreciated – thanks to all who took the time to prepare and present these topics.  I enjoyed doing a couple of sessions with Adrian Jenkins where we walked though a few different scenarios and showed the tools we use to troubleshoot problems – and a fun part of the conference was a webcast with Dux Raymond Sy, Jennifer Mason, Christophe and David Milner.  This is out on YouTube on the Microsoft Project channel , along with plenty of other videos that you might find useful.  Lunchtime webcast from the Microsoft Project Conference 2012

Project Server 2010: Slow load times of PWA and SharePoint pages

Thanks to a couple of my European support colleagues for sharing this one, which I know could also affect many of our customers world-wide if they are running servers that are not internet connected.  Great work by Jorge Puig Altozano from our Project support team in Madrid, and special thanks (and all the credit – according to Jorge) to Hector Calvarro for the SharePoint team – also in Madrid.  If Spanish is your preferred language then read on at http://blogs.technet.com/b/elfarodeprojectserver/archive/2012/02/22/project-server-2010-elevados-tiempos-de-respuesta-al-cargar-paginas-de-sitios-pwa.aspx and also Hector’s blog at http://blogs.technet.com/b/hablamoss/ .  Although we are just talking about PWA and SharePoint here – consideration also needs to be given to other 3rd Party assemblies that may be installed too – and this could affect the loading of PDPs. On to the English description – translation thanks to Jorge, with some additional input from Catalin Olteanu from one of our partners, UMT , as they also experienced the same slow downs. We had a Project Server 2010 server, with no Internet connection, that was returning high response times when we would try to load any PWA page – slow response was seen to be due specifically to the calls to SecurityCheckUserPagePermisison, and CheckUserProjectPermissions.  We observed the information n the SharePoint Developer Dashboard, and decided to take a look at the Certificates behavior. BriSmith note – I’m sure lots of analysis went into this decision by Hector – and for anyone interested in understanding more about the problem Catalin found the lookup for www.download.windowsupdate.com from a netmon trace, and the event viewer showing a 4102, and a couple of 4107 CAPI2 errors helped join the dots… We disabled the timeouts for the certificates verification in the SharePoint server On Windows Server , this component is on by default and , whenever an application is presented with a certificate that is not present in the trusted root store, it will attempt to contact Microsoft download servers to get the latest root chain. The SharePoint OOB certificates can induce this as they are stored in a particular repository (SharePoint- Under Certificate management -Local Computer), as opposed to the trusted root. The decision not to have SharePoint code creating and installing a root cert in the Trusted Root store was taken for security reasons (ex if an application could install a certificate into the TRC store might compromise the security of the system). Can this behavior be avoided? ( ie. bypass this check for subsequent validations). Supported workarounds:     Disable automatic update of root certificates on SharePoint Servers          • Launch gpedit.msc as admin on the box          • Go to Computer Configuration –> Windows Settings -> Security settings -> Public Key Policies -> Certificate Path validation settings          • In Network retrieval tab -> Define the policy and uncheck “Automatically update certs from Microsoft root cert program”          • Run gpupdate /force for policy to take effect immediately. Additionally , the cert management plan needs to be implemented as per below article: Manage Certificate Path Validation: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc731638(WS.10).aspx • It is not unusual for enterprises to disable auto-root update. If they opt to do it, they will have to manage distribution of third-party roots that they need in their enterprise via group policy. • The customer  will want to monitor new releases (KB931125) quarterly and update their trust as required. Implications of disabling : There should be no specific implications to SharePoint since we are using self-signed certs and manage them ourselves . The SharePoint certs do have an expiry and we do have a health rule that watches for that IIRC and will warn the admin to update/re-roll them.  The main aspect to think through is for “other” certs used on the box (like SSL certs, certs to trust download packages or for SAFER policy etc etc) which are issues from certs chained to those in the TRC store. But note there is nothing “new” about these issues with this setting; since the boxes in question cannot access the Internet … they actually “require”  more hands on. We also got rid of the verifications for Code Access Security and some other certificates (Certificates Revocation List and Authenticode signatures) doing the following: We have to edit this file: C:WindowsMicrosoft.NETFramework64v2.0.50727CONFIGmachine.config And add/change the value:             The explanation for this key: This element was introduced in the .NET Framework version 3.5 and applies only to that version. It has no effect in later versions of the .NET Framework. The common language runtime (CLR) tries to verify the Authenticode signature at load time to create Publisher evidence for the assembly. However, by default, most applications do not need Publisher evidence. Standard CAS policy does not rely on the PublisherMembershipCondition. You should avoid the unnecessary startup cost associated with verifying the publisher signature unless your application executes on a computer with custom CAS policy, or is intending to satisfy demands for PublisherIdentityPermission in a partial-trust environment. (Demands for identity permissions always succeed in a full-trust environment.) http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb629393(v=vs.90).aspx If we don’t use code signed by Authenticode, and work with CLR validations, we can work with the mentioned option. This is a more detailed explanation about this: A little background – CAS is feature in .NET that allows you to have more granular control over what code can execute in your process.  Basically there are 3 parts: 1.Evidence – Information that a module/code presents to the runtime.  This can be where the module was loaded from, the hash of the binary, strong name, and importantly for this case the Authenticode signature that identifies a modules publisher. 2.Permissions Set – Group of Permissions to give code (Access to File System, Access to AD, Access to Registry) 3.Code Group – The evidence is used to provide membership in a code group.  Permission Sets are granted to a code group. So when a module loads it presents a bunch of evidence to the CLR and the CLR validates it.  One type of evidence is the “publisher” of the module.  This evidence is validated by looking at the Authenticode signature which involves a Certificate.  When validating the Certificate the OS walks the chain of Certificates and tries to download the Certificate Revocation List from a server on the internet.  This is where the slowdown occurs. A lot of servers do not have access to make calls out to internet.  It is either explicitly blocked, the server might be on a secure network, or a proxy server might require credentials to gain access to the internet.  If the DNS/network returns quickly with a failure the OS check will move on but if the DNS/network is slow or does not respond at all to the request we have to timeout.  This can occur for multiple modules because we create this evidence for each module that is loaded.  However if we have looked for a CRL and failed we will not recheck.  However different certificates have different CRLs.  For instance a VeriSign Certificate may have one CRL URL but a Microsoft Certificate will have a different one. Since this probe can slow things down it is best to just avoid the probe if you do not need it.  For .NET the only reason you would need it is if you are setting Code Access Security based on the module Publisher.  Because this can cause potential slow downs and you do not need to occur this penalty you can just disable the generation of the Publisher Evidence when your module is loaded.  To disable this use the Application configuration.  Just set the enabled property to false and you will avoid all of this. Now for ASP.NET applications it was not immediately obvious how to do this but it turns out that
you cannot add this to an applications Web.Config but you can add it to the ASPNET.CONFIG file in the Framework directory.  For other applications just add the attribute to the APP.CONFIG file. More information here: Site slowness due to SharePoint STS Certificate CRL checking http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2625048/

February 2012 Cumulative Update Announced for Project and Project Server 2010 and 2007

Take a look over at  http://blogs.technet.com/b/projectadministration/archive/2012/02/29/microsoft-project-server-and-sharepoint-server-2007-and-2010-february-2012-cu-announcement.aspx for the full details of the release, and thanks to Rob for pulling the details together and of course to the engineering team for all their hard work on getting things fixed!  There will be a slight delay with the SharePoint Server and the roll-up packages, due w/c March 5th 2012. As mentioned in the Admin blog please also sign up for the Webcast, and don’t forget to join early if you haven’t attended before and need to download the Live Meeting client software. TechNet Webcast: Information about Microsoft Project and Project Server February 2012 Software Update (Level 200) https://msevents.microsoft.com/CUI/EventDetail.aspx?EventID=1032493966&Culture=en-US Also looking forward to the Project Conference 2012 in Phoenix, March 19-22 – reminder, it isn’t too late – see Christophe’s recent post on all the great content you can expect – http://blogs.msdn.com/b/chrisfie/archive/2012/02/22/it-professionals-and-developers-content-at-project-conference-2012-mspc12.aspx !

Microsoft Project Conference 2012: What do you want to hear?

Myself and Adrian Jenkins are attending and presenting at the Project Conference 2012, March 19th to the 22nd in Phoenix Arizona and will be delivering a couple of the sessions.  The sessions are planned to be one about the February 2012 Cumulative Update for Project and Project Server, and the other one will be a guide to troubleshooting Project Server – looking at some of the tools we use in support to help identify issues.  But if there are some specific scenarios or tools that you are especially interested in then we would be delighted to consider these for inclusion in the sessions.  The conference is your chance to hear great things from our partners, customers and of course Microsoft – and here is your chance to let me and Adrian know exactly what you’d like to hear from us.  Looking forward to meeting friends old and new in Phoenix!

Project 2010: Events now raised by changes in Project Information dialog

This will be the first of a couple of postings about some changes in behavior that you might see once you install the December Cumulative updates .  This one is specifically about the client, and the Project Information dialog.  In the past if you changed a field value within the Project Information dialog then this would not raise the ProjectBeforeTaskChange or ProjectDeforeTaskChange2 events.  The values in Project Information relate to the project summary task (Task 0) and in Project 2007 these events would fire regardless of where the change was made.  Now, with the December CU these events are available to you.  However, there are a couple of things you need to be aware of: 1.  Firstly the event will fire once for the complete dialog, so unlike if you were changing values in the Project Summary task you may need to allow for and have your users prepared for multiple pop-ups (depending what you code does) once they click OK on the Project Information dialog. 2. If you cancel then you will lose all your changes – so make sure users are aware they may need to go back and check the values if for some reason your code rejected one of the changes.  For example if you popped up a dialog for each change and accepted a couple then rejected one the values that had been accepted get cancelled too. 3. There appears to be a bug which we are investigating whereby the Project Department field will always raise the event even if it has not been changed. I know that we didn’t have the issue with the Department field in 2007 – I will double check the behavior of the second bullet and see if that has also changed since 2007 – and if that should be considered a bug too. *** Update – looks like this wasn’t the behavior in 2007 – you could cancel any of the individual events and not roll back other changes – so I’d consider this a bug in 2010.  No promises on any fix dates though. One workaround to avoid cancelling if you thought the Department field had been changed would be to check if the value has actually changed – something like: If ((Field = FieldNameToFieldConstant(“Project Departments”)) And (NewValue = vOldValue)) Then Exit Function should help. *** Update – you may also see this same issue with the Notes field.

December Cumulative Update Announced for Project and Project Server 2010 and 2007

Take a look over at http://blogs.technet.com/b/projectadministration/archive/2011/12/14/microsoft-project-server-and-sharepoint-server-2007-and-2010-december-2011-cu-announcement.aspx for the full details.  Also don’t forget the webcast in January giving you the inside scoop on what we are delivering in these Cumulative Updates. TechNet Webcast: Information about Microsoft Project and Project Server December 2011 Software Update (Level 200) https://msevents.microsoft.com/CUI/EventDetail.aspx?EventID=1032493964&culture=en-us A couple of my favorite fixes – the correction of an earlier problem that saw many non-English sites having English headers on the Project Center, My Tasks and Resource Center pages, and a change to single entry mode behavior so that you do not see unexpected changes to your timesheet entered data.  More about these and all the other fixes on January 10th Webcast with Adrian Jenkins and me.

Q and A following the recent October Cumulative Update Webcast

Thanks to everyone who attended the webcast covering details of the Project and Project Server 2007 and 2010 cumulative updates for October 2011 – as well as some brief comments on Project and Project Server 2007 SP3.  The recorded webcast can be viewed here – https://msevents.microsoft.com/CUI/EventDetail.aspx?EventID=1032493963&Culture=en-US .  Mark your calendars for the next one about the December 2011 CU on 1/10/2012 – https://msevents.microsoft.com/CUI/EventDetail.aspx?EventID=1032493964&culture=en-us . I’m posting the questions that were asked both during and at the end of the webcast – in some cases I’ve found out more complete answers since the webcast and have included the detail here too. Q.   Adrian mentioned an anti-virus package had slowed down Project Professional – which one? A.   We not going to name names here – and really the same could apply to any of the packages that scan what winproj is doing.  It is really up to the customers to decide if they feel they can exclude the project executable from the virus scanner – balancing the virus risk against the performance gain. Q.   Ref fix 30990 (Modifying time-phased work in Project Professional moves actual work; additionally, the “Out of Sync” message does not occur), will this fix work if you are on a server with August 2011CU+SP1, and client with SP1 + October 2011CU? (i.e. out of sync client server CUs) A.   Yes, this is a client side fix and not dependent on the server CU or SP level. Q.   Project Server 2010…Graphical indicators – we have had lots of issues with graphical indicators not displaying correctly. The issue is random (as far as we can tell) and it doesn’t matter whether the custom field references a formula or lookup table. Both can be affected. Sometimes (not always) opening, modifying, saving and publishing the project in PWA resolves the issue, but on next publishing from ProjectPro the indicators disappear again. This problem is well over 18 months old and was supposed to be fixed in the Dec 2010 update, but wasn’t. When will this be fixed ??? Customers (as well as ourselves) are finding this incredibly frustrating. A.   Had some dialog on this after the webcast with a couple of the attendees (Thanks Kelvin and Marc!).  Looks like we have specific issues where the first publish does not show the indicator – just the text.  We have a fix coming in December that should address the publish from

Microsoft Project Server and SharePoint 2007 and 2010 October CU 2011 over on the Admin blog

The Cumulative updates for October 2011 for both the 2007 and 2010 versions have now been released.  Full details over on the admin blog at http://blogs.technet.com/b/projectadministration/archive/2011/11/02/microsoft-project-server-and-sharepoint-2007-and-2010-october-cu-2011-announcement.aspx I’ve also included the usual details on the 2007 CU which was released last week (The packages containing SharePoint Foundation were withdrawn and re-released earlier this week). Enjoy!

Project 2003: Service Pack 3 (SP3) and the October 2011 Cumulative Update (CU)

I’ve posted over on the admin blog – http://blogs.technet.com/b/projectadministration/archive/2011/10/28/project-server-2007-service-pack-3-and-the-october-2011-cu-announced.aspx so go there for more details. There is a slight delay on the release of the 2010 October 2011 Cumulative Updates – more details when I have them. Don’t miss the next Cumulative Update webcast where we (or more correctly, Adrian) will also talk about SP3 (briefly – as there isn’t much to say) Here’s the URL for the 11/8/2011 8:00:00 AM – Information about Microsoft Project and Project Server October 2011 Software Update https://msevents.microsoft.com/CUI/EventDetail.aspx?EventID=1032493962&Culture=en-US

Project Server 2010: August Cumulative Update package hotfix re-released

Pink Floyd are not the only ones re-releasing their back catalog this month – we have re-released the SharePoint Foundation 2010 August Cumulative Update.  As this is also contained in the roll-up packages then these too have been re-released.  Unfortunately the title of the Project Server package has also been updated to reflect this new release date and it could make it look like the October Cumulative update released early – so take care! The re-released Project Server package at http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2553049 is still the August Cumulative Update, although it is labeled Description of the Project Server 2010 cumulative update package (Project server-package): October 13, 2011.  This is NOT the October CU coming early!  The version has been incremented to 14.0.6109.5005 to reflect the new build, but it is just the SharePoint Foundation component that has been updated.  The Project Server only package at http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2553047 is still showing the original date and version, as it was not rebuilt as it does not contain the SharePoint Foundation component. (sts-x-none.msp). I think the change in the SharePoint package is support for updates to Russia, Fiji and Samoa daylight saving time (DST) settings in SharePoint Foundation 2010 – I’ll see if I can get confirmation.