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Infrastructure Update Caveats for Cost Resources

posted July 16th, 2008 by Stephen Sanderlin
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While reviewing the white paper that describes the recent Project 2007 Infrastructure Update in detail, I came upon some interesting information at the end of the document.

Before I start, I first want to thank and congratulate Microsoft on a job well done with the quality and quantity of documentation they’ve provided for this update. Compared to the sometimes-cryptic KB Articles that typically accompany hotfixes and updates, the Infrastructure Update’s documentation is outstanding.

That being said, I do have some concerns relating to the changes in Cost Resources, which are a new way in Project 2007 of accounting for costs associated with a project. Cost Resources are typically used to account for non-work costs such as travel expenses. The Infrastructure Update makes some significant changes to the way that Cost Resources function, and while I am a big fan of the idea of Cost Resources, I cannot help but be concerned by some of the caveats I’ve quoted below:




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Creating or Viewing Views in Data Analysis can cause Analysis Services to become unresponsive

posted April 23rd, 2008 by Stephen Sanderlin
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At a previous client, I encountered an issue where, when creating or viewing certain views in Data Analysis, the Analysis Services service would spike in processor/memory utilization and become unresponsive.

I have recently discovered that this is a known issue in environments that have an interaction between Office Web Components and SQL Server 2005 Analysis Services with Service Pack 2 (which means Project Server).

Although I’m not 100% sure, I believe the KB that covers this issue is KB936251. The symptoms seem to fit.

At any rate, I have been told that the resolution was included way back in SQL Server 2005 Cumulative Update 2. I recommend that you install the current CU, which is CU7, due to the number of fixes it contains. UPDATE: I’ve recieved information that CU6 is a better choice due to some issues introduced by CU7. I’ve posted a followup article here.




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Adjust the Default Project Web Access Permission Levels

posted April 3rd, 2008 by Stephen Sanderlin
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At many of my clients, I encounter situations where the default Permission Levels created by Project Server for Project Web Access sites cause problems. Typically, everything is going along just fine when suddenly one day PWA has a different theme or the “My Tasks” or “My Timesheets” page is blank and/or throws an error. While on occasion the error is legitimate, usually it is due to an inexperienced user editing the Shared version of the page. If you haven’t encountered this issue yourself, at this point you may be wondering how this is possible… The simple answer is that for many organizations, the default Permission Levels grant too much power to non-Administrative users.

When you provision a new Project Web Access site, Project Server creates four Permission Levels (described in this technet article):

  • Web Administrators (Microsoft Office Project Server)
  • Project Managers (Microsoft Office Project Server)



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Looking behind “An unexpected error has occurred” messages

posted March 31st, 2008 by Stephen Sanderlin
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At one time or another, almost everybody recieves an error while working in Project Server 2007’s Project Web Access. By default, SharePoint (and therefore Project Server 2007) are configured to present what are known as “custom” errors. These are an inherent part of ASP.NET that allow developers to create friendly error pages to report errors rather than the stock ones provided by the .NET Framework. These pages are generally simplistic and often leave out a great deal of information, such as stack traces. The reason for these pages is chiefly to spare the user the gory details of whatever unhandled exception just occurred. Unfortunately, not every error is or can be logged. This causes an obvious problem in Project Server deployments — especially when trying to resolve a transient error.




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Are your timer jobs inexplicably failing to complete?

posted January 24th, 2008 by Stephen Sanderlin
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I recently encountered a situation where I would see literally hundreds of errors in the ULS logs like this:

01/18/2008 10:22:59.99 OWSTIMER.EXE (0×0600) 0×08F8 Windows SharePoint Services Timer 5uuf Monitorable The previous instance of the timer job ‘Config Refresh’, id ‘{3F51D43C-C7DD-403D-A63B-1163EA9B46A6}’ for service ‘{2F8D95DC-ECBF-4661-83AD-92CA4162CD4E}’ is still running, so the current instance will be skipped. Consider increasing the interval between jobs.

Every single Timer Job Definition was throwing these errors (sometimes hundreds of them) every time it was invoked. There were no other errors in the Application Log or ULS Logs, even with verbosity cranked all the way up. Alerts weren’t going out, the cube build was failing, and literally everything that relied on a timer job was nonfunctional. Restarting the Timer service alleviated the problem temporarily, but it would inevitably come back after the first invocation of the timer job.



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Choosing the PWA Administrator Account during provisioning (or changing it afterwards)

posted January 22nd, 2008 by Stephen Sanderlin
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In Brian Smith’s recent post about the PWA Administrator that you select during provisioning, he points out that there is nothing special about this account — as you know, this account is the first admin in the system. According to Brian, it is also set as the administrator for the PWA site collection:

The first administrator is also set as the primary administrator of the site collection created for the PWA site. You can update the user in this case using stsadm -o siteowner. The parameters for this command are -url -ownerlogin -secondarylogin

My personal practice is to set the PS07 Service Account as this “primary admin” to ensure that it always has access. After provisioning, I log in as the service account and create the other administrators as needed. During post-deployment knowledge transfer, I strongly discourage clients from ever making any changes to the service accounts used during configuration (e.g. passwords, changing to another account entirely). While it’s possible to go through and change all the passwords, it’s labor intensive and error-prone, and any missteps during that process will cause issues in the environment.



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