Tag Archives: Azure

Slides, Code, and More for my SPSBOS Session

Thanks to everyone who came out to SharePoint Saturday Boston yesterday! Once again, the organizers put together an outstanding event with well over 300 developers, administrators, and end users in attendance. Thanks, also, to all the sponsors who help to make such great events possible.

I had the great privilege of being able to speak at this event. I would like to extend a special thank you to everyone who attended my session on Claims-Based Identity, Facebook, and the Cloud yesterday morning. There were lots of great questions and discussions! Thanks to all of you for your participation. I hope you enjoyed the session and found the information presented to be valuable.

Below are links to my presentation, code, PowerShell script, and CloudShare environment. Additional background information can be found in my blog post Beyond Authentication: Deeper Facebook Integration with SharePoint.

Download presentation as .pptx

Web parts, source code, site template, and required certificates

PowerShell script to configure Azure ACS trusted identity provider

If you would like a copy of the CloudShare virtual machine I used for my demos, follow this link to obtain a 14-day free trial of CloudShare (if you don’t already have an account) and access a copy of the environment. I used the VM called SharePoint 2010 Enterprise SP1 for my demos. If you would like to know more about CloudShare (I love CloudShare!), please contact me.

Also, to take full advantage of the functionality shown in this demo, I strongly encourage you to sign up for a 90-day free trial of Windows Azure. This will give you access to the AppFabric Access Control Service (ACS) capabilities I demonstrated. If you already have a Windows Azure account, or if you choose to convert your trial to a full-blown account, the ACS features are free through December 1, 2012 (after this date, the charge will be $1.99 for every 100,000 transactions).

If you have any questions or issues deploying or running the code and/or scripts above, feel free to leave a comment below. Thanks again to everyone for such a fantastic event!

Beyond Authentication: Deeper Facebook Integration with SharePoint (with code!)

I had the privilege of speaking at SharePoint Saturday in Virginia Beach yesterday. This event is of particular significance each year within the community because the first ever SharePoint Saturday was held in Virginia Beach back in 2009 and SPSVB is seen as the “kickoff” for a new year of SharePoint Saturdays. As always, I learned so much at this event and had a great time meeting with and getting to know many of the speakers, volunteers, and attendees. I would like to thank each person who gave me 70 minutes of their time yesterday to learn more about Claims-based identity in SharePoint 2010 and see how we can do more than just log in to SharePoint with Facebook. I would especially like to thank those who provided me with feedback. I plan to refine and improve this presentation for future community events, so stay tuned!

Below is the slide deck I used in my session. In addition to introducing Claims-based identity in SharePoint 2010 and detailing some of the things to look out for when working with Claims, it illustrates how to configure Windows Azure AppFabric’s Access Control Services to support logging in to SharePoint with Facebook accounts. More detailed information about this process can be found here.

But we can do more than just log in…

Much of the feedback I received yesterday related to the various demonstrations of how I used the Facebook C# SDK to surface data from Facebook in SharePoint (and vice versa) using Facebook’s Graph API. When it comes to the potential of the integration of Facebook and SharePoint, the sky is truly the limit. The AccessToken claim that Facebook includes in the OAuth token it generates will provide your application with access to any data it requests (while still obeying the privacy settings you and everyone in your friends list have in place).

More about the Facebook C# SDK

You can download the Facebook C# SDK here. The “Assemblies only” version is all you need to get started, although it is interesting and informative to be able to see the source code. (Having access to the source code helped me troubleshoot this issue as well.) The SDK includes support for .NET Framework 3.5/4.0 and Silverlight. Obviously, we must use the .NET Framework 3.5 version in conjunction with our SharePoint development. The project is well documented and includes some great examples here and at Prabir’s blog here.

Data returned from the Facebook Graph API is in JSON format. To parse this data quickly and efficiently, my project includes the Json.NET framework.

If you download the source code for my demos here, you will see it includes a series of SharePoint project items. They include:

ClaimsWebPart

Largely based on this blog post, the Claims Web Part displays all of the claims included in the logged in user’s identity token in grid format. I added some Facebook-specific items in here for debugging purposes, such as displaying the user’s Facebook access token (parsed from the identity token), then using that token and the Facebook C# SDK to get the user’s current city, hometown, and Facebook user name.

The Claims Web Part is a great troubleshooting/debugging tool for developers and administrators who are new to working with Claims. It is a quick and easy way to verify the claim rules you configured when creating your Trusted Identity Provider are behaving the way they should.

SilverlightToFacebook

In my demo, a Silverlight application interfaces with the user’s webcam and saves snapshots to a SharePoint document library (hat tip to MossLover for that code). This class contains an event receiver that then takes those photos added to the SharePoint document library and uploads them to Facebook.

SPSVBDemos

This web part is the “dashboard” I used to do a handful of quick proof-of-concept demos, including the following:

  • Changing the display name of the currently logged in SPUser to match the name claim returned by Facebook (instead of the user’s email address or Claims-encoded username).
  • Adding information from the user’s Facebook profile (name, city, birthday, employer, job title, etc.) to a contacts list.
  • Populating a calendar list with recurring events for all of your friends’ birthdays (based on friends whose privacy settings allow sharing of this information).
  • Uploading a video from the file system to the user’s Facebook profile.

StatusUpdateWebPart

This web part allows the user to update his/her Facebook status directly from SharePoint. Optionally, the user may also include a link (with image, caption, description, etc.) with each status update.

WeatherWebPart

This web part determines the current user’s city from his/her Facebook profile, then constructs a request to the URL-driven Weather Underground API to retrieve the current weather conditions in that city. While many of these web parts may only have value in demos, I believe this web part represents a meaningful way for SharePoint site owners to provide a nice personalization experience to end users who log in to SharePoint with Facebook accounts.

Site Template

I also created a site template (SPSVB.WSP) that contains the custom lists and web parts I used in my demo. It is included in the code download.

Thanks again to everyone who helped to make SharePoint Saturday Virginia Beach such a great success! If you have any questions or suggestions about this code, please feel free to post them in the comments.

Download

SPSVB web parts, source code, site template, and required certificates to configure SharePoint trust for Facebook

Using Claims Authentication to Configure Multiple Authentication Providers in a CloudShare Environment

This post originally appeared in the CloudShare Community Blog on October 25th.

CloudShare’s very own Chris Riley recently shared an environment of mine in a blog post about network orchestration. This environment leverages some exciting new capabilities in SharePoint 2010: namely Claims Authentication in a SharePoint 2010 web application and the ability to configure multiple authentication providers in a single zone. These technologies offer exciting prospects to anyone who previously had to configure separate host headers and URLs for different extranet customers, depending on the mechanism required for each subset of users to log in.

How does this look to end users? To see Claims in action, fire up the “SharePoint 2010 (Clean Installation)” image from the shared environment, open Internet Explorer and navigate to http://intranet.contoso.com.

You’ll see an empty Team Site with a “Claims Web Part” at the top. Since anonymous access to the site is enabled, the Claims Web Part will initially be empty.

Press the “Sign In” link at the top right of the page. The page that appears, http://intranet.contoso.com/_login/default.aspx, is new in SharePoint 2010 and allows users to choose from all the different authentication providers configured for that web application. (As a side note, there are some exciting opportunities for custom code development here, including the ability to automatically redirect users to a specific authentication provider based on parameters such as their IP address, bypassing this page of options entirely! After all, not all end users are going to appreciate the distinction between “Windows Authentication” and “Forms Authentication.”)

In this web application, I have configured the following providers:

  • Windows Authentication – standard NTLM credentials.
  • Forms-Based Authentication (FBA) – you may remember this option from MOSS. In this environment, I have created a custom membership provider that validates inputted credentials against a SQL Server database. In practice, FBA can be used to authenticate external users against Active Directory or any other account database.
  • Azure Access Control Services (ACS) v2 – allows users to log in with credentials from Open ID providers such as Windows Live ID and Facebook.

For a more in-depth read about how to configure Azure ACS v2 as an authentication provider in SharePoint, including adding other Open ID providers such as Google and Yahoo, check out this blog post by Travis Nielsen.

If I choose Azure ACS v2 (this can be given a friendlier name when you set it up as a Trusted Identity Provider through PowerShell), I will see the following screen. Claims Authentication relies on a series of HTTP redirects to seamlessly direct users between SharePoint and external trusted identity providers such as Azure ACS to log them in. This page is hosted completely outside of my SharePoint environment:

By choosing “Windows Live ID,” I will be redirected to https://login.live.com, where I will be prompted to enter my Windows Live ID credentials. (Similarly, you will be redirected to any of the other Open ID providers’ sites should you choose them instead.) After I sign in, another series of HTTP redirects takes place that eventually lands me back in my SharePoint environment, all logged in. The Claims web part on the page shows the various Claims that were sent by the Trusted Identity Provider in an XML-based Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) token back to SharePoint:

As an application developer, I can leverage these Claims (you see some examples of Claims in the screenshot above include nameidentifier, emailaddress, userid, name, etc.) to make various authorization (what resources may this authenticated user access) and personalization (how is this particular user or class of user’s experience customized) decisions about how to handle this user.

Claims-based authentication and Azure ACS offer exciting possibilities to application developers who are liberated from having to maintain (or even worse, design and develop!) a user management system and all the nightmares that go along with it (think about password resets, forgotten passwords, security requirements for maintaining account information, etc.) As Chris mentions in his blog post, the same paradigm can be applied using Active Directory Federation Services (AD FS v2) to support users logging in to a SharePoint environment using credentials from a trusted external domain.

That said, Claims-based authentication is not always as easy to set up and work with as it may seem. Using CloudShare, developers and IT professionals can focus their valuable time and energy on solving the issues surrounding the implementation of Claims-based identity in SharePoint 2010 and not be concerned with software licensing, hardware, or other infrastructure concerns.