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SharePoint Saturday – My Day, My Session, My Verdict

On Saturday 2nd October the UK saw its first SharePoint Saturday event and what an event it was. I want to be completely honest in my post because I feel that is important for the future events and so that people can really see how great the event was and I’m sure will be in the future.

So I set off in the morning woken up by the best alarm clock – my baby daughter. There was me worrying about sleeping in that morning that I set 3 alarms – first at 7.00am, second at 7:15am and the third at 7:30am, only to be woken at 6:55am! I set off for the event with Andrew Woodward who was kind enough to give me a lift. Once we arrived we headed straight into the Key Note speech from Mark Miller and Joel Oleson – Mark did a funny, yet to the point speech combined with some excellent videos based on the theme of Lord of Rings. Joel followed with a series of analogies based on juggling roles and responsibilities – at least that is what I thought…

Key Note with Mark Miller – Hobbits, Wizards and Elves – Discuss SharePoint 2010


The attendees – a large crowd for the first SharePoint Saturday


The first session I attended was Matt Groves – SharePoint in the Cloud, which gave me a great insight into what is to expect and the future of SharePoint, something I am interested in, in particular the whole BPOS scheme and what I will mean to myself & my business. All in all another polished presentation from Matt.

Matt Groves delivering SharePoint in the Cloud

Next was my session, although I had decided I was going to attend Chris O’Brien’s session but I couldn’t because I was presenting myself! Prior to the day I had a nightmare and awoke in a cold sweat, I dreamt that my virtual machine crashed and I couldn’t get it back! So I was pretty nervous about presenting but I was also confident in my subject and like to think I know what I am doing when it comes to SharePoint Design & Branding. I was lucky enough to do trial run of my session at a recent Manchester Usergroup back in September.

My session started with a quick run down about what tools I will using during the session and what I will specifically covering such as changing the top and left navigation, adding a banner, logo and revamping the search . My VM started a bit slow then kicked into gear and allowed me to do a 45 minute live branding session showing you what a small piece of knowledge and the right tools can achieve using SharePoint Designer and CSS. I then wrapped up my session with a design showcase of SharePoint 2010 sites that showed the possibilities of what can be achieved – accompanied with a piece of music made famous by Tony Hart. I think was my session was well received and my session was pretty full – I just hope people enjoyed it but more importantly took something away from it whether that be an insight into SharePoint branding, what can be achieved or even the tips to actually doing it – that’s what makes it worthwhile. On a side note if you liked/disliked my session or you thought of any areas where I could improve, I would really appreciate a comment or an email. Thank you in advance.

Me, getting to grips with my slow Virtual Machine!


Me, talking about SharePoint Design & Branding


The final product – taking SharePoint out of the box and adding some pink petrol to it!


After my session I took a little break and had some lunch, food was good considering the event was free. I had a chat with a few people such as new 21APPS recruit Ant Clay and then planned what sessions I was attending next.

Lunch time!


Next I headed to Andrew Woodward‘s session – Real World Sandboxed Solutions. What I loved about this session were two things. Firstly the annotated slides, using his fancy new laptop with touch screen, the interaction was brilliant, sketching out development paths/servers etc – this worked really well. Secondly I loved the crowd interaction, Andrew has this knack of getting people talking, something that isn’t seen much in these type of sessions. The session turned from presentation to group session/conversation and was really well received. The session covered Sandbox solutions – a new feature in SharePoint 2010. Andrew showed us how he, James Fisk and myself developed and built 21SCRUM using a Sandbox solution for the development. At the end of Andrew’s session he gave away packs of his cool 21SCUM post it notes – if you can get some of these (get in touch with him, he may send you some) I would recommend them!

Andrew Woodward and his live annotates


After Andrew’s session I took a break and caught up with Mark Miller of, a great guy and a key figure head in the SharePoint community. I have a lot of respect for this guy, he beams positivity and is one of those people you could talk to for hours. We had a picture together and talked SharePoint – well what else were we going to talk about? Oh yes, his shirts – brilliant.

Mark Miller and I – loving the shirt!

My final session was Creating an effective and highly developed Learning Gateway for education with SharePoint 2007 and 2010 with Dave Coleman and Mike Herrity. A session I was looking forward to because they were talking about their Learning Gateway in which I designed and branded. The session was a great insight into what they have achieved in the education world, something they are proud of. They showed the live version of their Learning Gateway from back in 2001 and how it has come on leaps and bounds to SharePoint 2010. It was a good session and reminded me a bit of Laurel & Hardy or the Chuckle Brothers? To me, to you!

The Dave Coleman and Mike Herrity double act!


The conference was wrapped up by Brett thanking everyone and with an ask the experts session followed by I think everyone’s favourite bit – the prizes!

The prizes that people could win here fantastic , you had the chance to win an XBOX360, an Amazon Kindle, various book vouchers, USB Headsets, MSDN licences, development books, tshirts and an Apple iPad! I think you will agree some absolutely fantastic prizes but you had to be there to win it! And some poor person chap missed out on the Kindle and some lucky second drawn person won it!  I personally didn’t win anything but my friend Peter Oare did – a book and software vouchers, twice!

The free prizes – XBOX360, iPad & Kindle to name but a few.

So with the first SharePoint Saturday wrapped up it was on to the SharePint! In the bar I had a few beers with some great guys. I met Seb Matthews for the first time, he’s a top bloke and loves Formula 1 and Fulham – someone has to! I also met up with Intelligent Decisioning guys – Mark Macrae, Andy Smith, Tony Pounder and his son Jamie; who all helped putting this fantastic event on.

SharePint well underway

With the SharePint drank Brett Lonsdale, Ant ClayMatt Groves, Andrew Woodward, James Fisk, Veronique Palmer, Benjamin Athawes, Mark Miller and myself headed into Solihull for a ShareCurry – one of the best curries I have had before!

Time for a ShareCurry

Once that was consumed – I headed home for a much needed cup of tea.

So what can I pick at? Again I want to be honest and I think no WiFi was a bit of a problem, however that didn’t stop the constant flood of tweets and updates from the different hand held devices. Water was another one, I couldn’t find a glass of water anywhere! And that is about it – 2 measly picky points from a free event and the first Intelligent Decisioning have put on. Not bad I think.

So people there you have it, the first SharePoint Saturday, a completely free event put on by people in their own time to help other learn more about SharePoint and a place where you can gain knowledge, talking to experts and professionals and socialise at the same time – FOR FREE! A fantastic event, a great atmosphere, great content and great people.

Thanks for reading, but I want to say thanks to the organisers and thanks to the other speaking for taking time out of their busy schedules to make this great event happen.

All the speakers!

Thanks to James Love for taking the pictures – the full album can be found on ID Live’s Facebook page.

My session can be viewed below – resources to follow



4 thoughts on “SharePoint Saturday – My Day, My Session, My Verdict

  1. Hi Sam
    Good review of the day only other thing I picked up on was trying to find my way around the venue. When you asked organisers they didn’t know where the rooms were either. Really minor points in what I thought was an excellent day and for free!

    Really enjoyed your session and followed most things apart from how to add brand to sub pages and sub sites, I will have to ask you to explain that one again 😉

    Well presented.

    Well done.


  2. Nick,

    Thanks for your kind comment, glad you enjoyed it. Also I will pass the comments on to Mark, Tony & Brett.

Comments are closed.

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