Long live the best SharePoint ULS Viewer

Update (15th June 2014): We may see a return of the SharePoint ULS Viewer very soon. Jeremy Thake and Office Dev indicated it is coming back to life very soon.

Community Discussion (9th June 2014): SharePoint Consultant and MVP Vlad Catrinescu has started a discussion about possible replacements for the ULS Viewer on the SharePoint Community site (http://sharepoint-community.net/forum/topics/what-is-the-best-replacement-for-ulsviewer).

After noticing a tweet from Brian Lalancette ‏(@brianlala, you might also know him through his AutoSPInstaller project), I gasped at the thought that the best ULS Viewer for SharePoint is no longer going to be available.

Along with many others in the SharePoint community I was quite surprised by this news and started to consider what alternative were available. I’ve used the ULS Viewer from MSDN so many times I have lost count and don’t know where I would be without it.

The best ULS Viewer
The best ULS Viewer

For those who’ve found this post and just want to download a copy of the ULS Viewer tool you’re in luck. I have preserved a copy of ULS Viewer as a .exe and a .zip archive – these are available here http://bit.ly/UlsViewer and http://bit.ly/UlsViewerzip.
You might receive a warning from the URL shortening service when using the .exe link warning against directly downloading an exe – this is why I have also provided a ZIP version.

Other SharePoint ULS Viewer tools…

As the ULS Viewer is no longer available I thought I shared some alternative tools or techniques to get access to the SharePoint ULS logs.

ULS Studio

A Codeplex project that I’ve used on several occasions and does somewhat come close to the features that the ULS Viewer tool had – ULS Studio (https://uls.codeplex.com).

ULS Studio
ULS Studio

CSOM for SharePoint Online

If you’re using SharePoint Online you could follow Vardhaman Deshpande’s blog post (http://www.vrdmn.com/2014/03/view-tenant-uls-logs-in-sharepoint.html) and access the ULS logs using the Client-Side Object Model (CSOM).

SPO ULS with CSOM - Vardhaman Deshpande
SPO ULS with CSOM – Vardhaman Deshpande

Developer Dashboard

There’s also the ULS tab within the Developer Dashboard, although this is limited to reviewing errors related to those requests where the Developer Dashboard is displayed or used.

The Developer Dashboard can be activated using PowerShell – SharePoint Developer Devendra Velegandla shares the PowerShell and reviews the Developer dashboard on his blog (http://www.sharepoint-journey.com/developer-dashboard-in-sharepoint-2013.html).

[code language=”PowerShell”]
$svc = [Microsoft.SharePoint.Administration.SPWebService]::ContentService
$dds = $svc.DeveloperDashboardSettings
$dds.DisplayLevel = "On"
$dds.Update()
[/code]

ULS errors displayed in the Developer Dashboard
ULS errors displayed in the Developer Dashboard

PowerShell

Use can even use PowerShell to get details about a correlation error. Wictor Wilén shares details about this method in an article on his blog (http://www.wictorwilen.se/Post/Working-with-SharePoint-2010-Correlation-ID-in-PowerShell-and-code.aspx).

[code language=”PowerShell”]Get-SPLogEvent | out-gridview[/code]

Get-SPLogEvent | Out-GridView
Get-SPLogEvent | Out-GridView

Summary

While I’m not going to stop using the ULS Viewer – I can only recommend you use something to help you view the SharePoint ULS logs. Troubleshooting SharePoint is not easy but you can help yourself, firstly by always checking the event log and secondly being comfortable with your method of doing.

Long live the best ULS Viewer.

Forms Based Authentication Configuration Manager for SharePoint

I’ve configured Forms Based Authentication (FBA) in SharePoint on several occasions – from 2007 right through to 2013, but until now I have never discovered a life saving tool that Steve Peschka has written called Forms Based Authentication Configuration Manager (FBA Configuration Manager for SharePoint 2013) available on his TechNet Blog Share-n-dipity.

I’ve been there at least once or twice and I’m sure others have as well – where we’re happily modifying the web.config on half-a-dozen or more servers and as Steve so elegantly describes it, we “fat finger some random part of a web.config change” causing complete devastation to the running of SharePoint and to your progress. Well not any more my sysadmin friends, not any more not with this tool. It allows you to edit the connection string, people picker wildcard, membership provider, role provider details within the web.config for a specific web application. It then creates a backup copy and updates the web.config across all the servers in your farm through a timer job which is a really neat trick.

FBA Configuration Manager
FBA Configuration Manager

Having done this now on several occasions I thought I was pretty confident flying through the steps necessary within an hour or so…the occasional error would sneak in and then I would spend as long again troubleshooting the configuration. Steve’s Forms Based Authentication Configuration Manager has now completely removed the chances of any errors sneaking in and will make me even quicker configuring FBA in SharePoint. Thank you Steve!

ZoomIt for Mac – another screen magnifying utility

On many occasion, I have been to conferences and on training where the presenter has done a demonstration and used a screen magnifying utility to enlarge part of the display. There are many utilities available that provide this functionality and are typically included with the accessibility option of most operating systems.

Zoom It working
Zoom It working

Having asked many a presenter what they were using to magnify the screen, most pointed in the direction the Sysinternals utility ZoomIt which I have since used. More increasingly I am presenting and doing demonstrations on my Mac which leaves without such as useful utility.

After a short time reviewing various Apps available, I decided on Zoom It for Mac for a small price of £0.69 in the Mac App store. It sits nicely in the toolbar, and allows you to customise the loupe size, zoom and shape through various key shortcuts or from the toolbar menu.

Zoom It toolbar menu
Zoom It toolbar menu
Zoom It Settings
Zoom It Settings

Enhance your demonstrations and use a utility like either of the magnifying utilities I’ve mentioned – I sure am!

Remote Desktop Connection Manager

When I started my new job a fews weeks ago I decided I was going to  introduce some new tools and utilities to help myself and my colleagues be more productive. The first one I brought to their attention was Remote Desktop Connection Manager (RDCMan) from Microsoft.

Remote Desktop Connection Manager (RDCMan)
Remote Desktop Connection Manager (RDCMan)

I’ve known about this tool for almost a year now but it always surprises me how few administrators out there don’t know about this tool. It’s a must have for any System Administrator using mstsc.exe or Remote Desktop to manage more than one server or computer!

RDCMan manages multiple remote desktop connections. It is useful for managing server labs where you need regular access to each machine such as automated checkin systems and data centers. It is similar to the built-in MMC Remote Desktops snap-in, but more flexible.

Remote Desktop Connect Manager can be downloaded directly from the Microsoft Download Centre.

Please also say a big thank you to Julian Burger the developer at Microsoft who wrote this awesome tool and David Zazzo for working to get it released! You can read about how David discovered Julian’s RDCMan tool within an internal Microsoft repository  and worked to get it licensed for external distribution on the Exchange TechNet Blog.