Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Office and SharePoint – Follow Up

I just wanted to beat this topic into the ground follow up on my last post on how office applications interact with SharePoint in an extranet scenario. I created a VPC and ran through installations of all office versions from Office 2000 through Office 2007 to see how the different versions interact with SharePoint. I’ve summarized the results of my testing here.

The following table shows what happens when you click on an office document in a SharePoint document library in various office versions:

 

Word

Excel

PowerPoint

Office 2000

A

A

A

2002 (XP) No updates

B

B

C

2002 (XP) With Updates

B

B

B

2003 (No Updates)

D

D

D

2003 (NU, ActiveX Disabled)

B

E

E

2003 (With Updates)

F

F

F

2003 (Updates, ActiveX Disabled)

B *

B *

B *

2007 (No updates)

G

G

G

2007 (NU, ActiveX Disabled)

H

H

I

2007 (With Updates - Pre SP2)

G +

G +

G +

2007 (Updates, ActiveX Disabled)

H #

H #

H #

2007 (With SP2 Beta)

J

J

J

2007 (SP2 Bata, ActiveX Disabled)

K

L

L

NOTE: The add-on disabled for "ActiveX Disabled" above is the "SharePoint OpenDocuments Class (File: OWSSUPP.DLL)

KEY:

A: File Opens in browser without prompt
B: IE Prompt to open or save file, File opens in browser
C: IE Prompts to open or save file, application opens with authentication error, file does not open
D: Prompt "Some files can harm your computer…", 3 prompts for credentials, application opens but file doesn't open, 3-4 more prompts for credentials
E: Prompt to open or save, 3 prompts for credentials, cancel all 3 - file opens in browser
F: Prompt "Some files can harm your computer…", prompt for credentials, Cancel - authentication error, file does not open, Enter credentials - file opens in application
G: Prompt to open or edit, tries to open file in application, two authentication prompts, cancel both - file does not open. Credentials in either one, file opens in application
H: Prompt to open or save, 1 prompt for credentials, cancel, file opens in application
I: Prompt to open or save, 1 prompt for credentials, cancel, file does not open, enter credentials, file opens
J: Prompt to open or edit, tries to open file in application, four or five authentication prompts, file does not open. Enter credentials in one of the first three prompts, file opens
K: Prompt to open or save, 2 prompts for credentials, cancel, file opens. On close, another prompt for credentials that can be cancelled. Enter credentials on a prompt prevents future prompting
L: Same as K: without prompt on closing application
   
* Office 2003 may try to open the "Shared Workspace" task pane when opening a document in the app or the browser. This will prompt for credentials. Hit cancel - no access to shared workspace.
+ Office 2007 with vista - even if you enter credentials in the first prompt, you still get the second prompt
# Office 2007 with Vista, ActiveX Disabled - you are prompted twice and can hit cancel both times

So, for versions prior to Office 2003, office documents are designed to simply open inside the browser. This makes for a very nice experience, so long as you aren’t trying to edit the documents directly in the document library. For read only users, it would be desirable to have this experience, but alas, once Office 2003 or higher is installed, that doesn’t happen by default anymore. With Office 2003, you can disable the SharePoint OpenDocuments Class add-on to effectively turn off the document library integration features and restore Office XP open-the-document-inside-the-browser functionality:

  • In Internet Explorer, browse to a SharePoint document library. This ensures that the SharePoint OpenDocuments Class add-in gets loaded.
  • Navigate to Tools >> Manage Add-ons >> Enable or Disable Add-ons…
  • In the Show: list, ensure “Add-ons currently loaded in Internet Explorer” is selected.
  • In the list of Add-ons, select “SharePoint OpenDocuments Class”
  • Under Settings, select “Disable” and click OK
  • Click OK on the warning that you may have to restart your browser. You don’t – the effect if disabling the SharePoint OpenDocuments Class Add-on is immediate.

Note that if you do this, you lose the ability to interact with the SharePoint document library through your office applications. If you need to edit a document, either re-enable the add-on or you’ll have to edit locally and re-upload the document when done.

Note that disabling the add-on with Office 2007 doesn’t make documents open in the browser – they still open in the application. They even still prompt for credentials, even though there’s no benefit to entering credentials. This is the FrontPage check I wrote about previously.

For fun, I even tested the Office 2007 SP2 beta, and I kind of wish I hadn’t. There are even more credential prompts. I really feel sorry for the end user that just wants to read a document posted on SharePoint and has to constantly deal with all these credential prompts. Hopefully some of that will be cleaned up before SP2 is released.

One other surprise was that the prompting in Office 2007 behaves a little differently with Windows XP as the client rather than Vista. With XP, if you enter credentials in the first prompt, you don’t get prompted a second time. With Vista, you’re prompted twice no matter what.

3 comments:

  1. Man I hope this gets resolved, it is really really annoying!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I've been beating this to death myself this morning. After some testing I found out if you are a site admin, you don't get the prompts. Also, it seems that if you have set various permissions on different folders in the heirarchy you may get these prompts. If you create a brand new document library, and leave permissions to be inherited, you no longer get any prompts. Weird, I know.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I haven't had the time to do extensive testing, but it looks like the double prompting issue is gone with Office 2010, even with a SharePoint 2007 site. So that means that the issue was with the Office client software, not necessarily SharePoint or ISA.

    ReplyDelete