SharePoint Dragons

Nikander & Margriet on SharePoint

Monthly Archives: December 2012

SharePoint migration and content databases that are too big

In his first job, Nikander started out as a junior internet engineer for the newly founded Internet division of a large Dutch media company (Wegener). The internet division was called WIN (Wegener Internet Nederland) but didn’t exist long (only 2-3 months) because Wegener decided to buy one of the most successful Dutch internet companies of the time: Riverland (later this company was called Netcast, but it also doesn’t exist anymore).

Because of this lucrative take over, the ceo’s of Riverland decided it would be a good idea to move to a different location and expand. The ceo’s even had a better idea: they understood that they could save some money by letting all junior developers move the stuff and let them do the cabling for the building, instead of hiring professionals to do the job. During this period of a couple of weeks, Nikander only saw computers from a distance, but did get his hands on miles of cables and hundreds of cable ties. We stumbled upon this web site, so for old time sake, if you want to be like Nikander and have fun with cable ties, please check out cable ties and hundreds of cable ties.

Once Nikander was allowed access to computers again, one of the first problems he was dealing with was a database not performing well because of its size. Recently, a customer experienced the same thing. They have a single SharePoint content database, used by a single site collection containing many subsites, which is gaining rapidly in size, already surpassing 200 GB. How to deal with this?

First some pieces of relevant knowledge:

  • A site collection can be moved to another content database.
  • A single site collection is connected to a single content database.
  • You can set the content database status to offline to prevent new site collections being connected to such a content database.
  • Offline content databases will still continue to grow in size because of new content in existing site collections.
  • Don’t let the content database stay in offline status for too long (see for more info).
  • You can have +/- 300 content databases per SharePoint web application.
  • You can have +/- 2000 site collections per content database, and 250,000 (non personal) site collections in a farm.
  • The recommended maximum site collection size is 100 GB.
  • The recommended maximum content database size is 200 GB.

BTW, if you like some help with checking SharePoint requirements, try the SharePoint Max Dragon (

In this scenario, the approach of dealing with a large content database goes something like this:

  • Create new content databases.
  • Put the current one in offline status.
  • Promote current sites to site collections via custom code.
  • Divide site content equally among new content databases to share the load and adhere to MS size recommendations.
  • Change old content database status back to normal.

As a rule of thumb, we like to go for content databases of approx. 50 GB in size.

Now, we know not everybody has the possibility to use custom code, and most of the time it’s not even the best approach. Instead, you can use one of the quality sharepoint migration tools out there.

The SharePoint 2013 Machine Translation Service

SharePoint 2013 is an awesome product, but for some features we have to wait and see if they’re mature enough before reaching a verdict (SharePoint Apps will be great eventually, but are they in this release?), but there is one feature that just fails to enthuse us: the Machine Translation Service.

We’ve heard a presenter say on SPC 2012 that it’s all about translating words into foreign words, and okay, you might loose some context, but the foreign reader will at least be able to understand it. We’re pretty sure that this presenter only speaks a single language, because this is not what translation is all about. More than being able to translate the words, it’s about being able to capture the context of the original text. Did you ever run a real text thru a translator service? This could be a party game in its own right, because the garbage you get is incredible typically resulting in the most incomprehensible texts imaginable.

We remember doing a job for Intel Europe and they had a team of dedicated translators ready because normal translators weren’t able to translate technical content into something readable, the total opposite of a machine translator but that worked.

Is there anybody out there gaining real benefit from this machine translation service? We’d love to know!

Naming conventions for SharePoint 2013 Service Accounts

The following Wiki page provides an overview of service account naming conventions: , based on the SPC 2012 Installation presentation by Dan Holme ( ).

SharePoint 2013 Best Practices Update

The SharePoint 2013 Best Practices page at TechNet Wiki has been updated:

Good Software Design Practices for the French Online Poker Market

If there’s one increasingly popular form of software in play in the online space at the moment, it’s online poker software. Sadly, despite the popularity of this particular genre and its phenomenal growth in countries like France, it’s not always a guarantee that you’re going to be able to understand the games taking place at the virtual tables you’ll frequent. This isn’t because poker is difficult to grasp – It’s because some software designers aren’t always thinking objectively enough to see potential UI and usability problems before the software hits the market.

1) Be clear.

This is not an application that allows you to track the movements of a certain star across the sky – it’s online poker software. Simplicity is the name of the game when it comes to user interface design, and ensuring you give yourself enough space means having enough room for translated text appearing inside the allotted space, rather than French spilling out all over the UI, which may not please your user base.

Clear cards with obvious numbers, visible chip amounts, and of course, enough space on the table so it doesn’t feel like if the table was real you’d have nowhere to put your drink will also help. Responsive design isn’t a bad idea, either – it means your UI (for tips on it, this is worth a look) will work on a 27″ monitor or a netbook at a pinch – almost literally.

2) Be quick, be clear and think head.

Do not design slow software. While some software is powerful and complex enough to require a noticeable load time, the reason someone sits down to play around on a poker site is because they want instant gratification – poker, but without travelling to, say, the Paris poker rooms. As long as you’re thinking ahead in terms of your visual assets and how swiftly everything moves, you’ll be fine.

The thing about the French is they follow a lifestyle of enjoying art but getting things done, and you’ll find that if you learn to balance your software design principles across territories, things will go more smoothly. In the example of the French user logging onto, you’re looking at an individual just sinking into the incredible rise of poker in the country, and someone who may be new to it, and thus will need a clear GUI, as will pro players who want pure information with the minimum of interference from over-the-top animation and graphical work.

3) Don’t forget the fun.

Don’t make the software so “functional” that it then becomes almost depressing to use. It’s an online gaming platform, so remember to add colour, animation, make things visually enjoyable whilst remaining informative. Just because you’re opting for a WYSIWYG GUI doesn’t mean that you need to make everything simplistic.
The best part is you’re appealing to an audience who are finding all of this new and exciting.The rise of poker in France needs to be maintained by good poker  so if you take advantage of the trend in minimalist design and newbie-friendly GUI elements and tutorials, you’ll swiftly encounter a user base who are drawn to you because you’re the maker of software they want right now.

No more sticky load balancing for SharePoint 2013

We’ve liked Distributed Cache back from the day when it was still called Velocity ( ), but an unexpected benefit from its inclusion in SharePoint 2013 is that it no longer requires a load balancer to be configured for session stickiness. Cool!

Build SharePoint 2013 PowerShell cmd visually

It kinda defeats the purpose of learning and getting a technology, and then start using it, but this HTML 5 based SharePoint PowerShell editor is still kinda nice: It also has support for SharePoint Online.

Grinder performance test tool

AN interesting performance/load/stress tool: , although it’s not that easy to set it up.