I recently had a conversation where someone was talking about the difference between people vested in their community and those that aren’t.  He said that when you walk by and see some trash on the ground, someone vested in their community will stop and pick it up and throw it into the trash, whereas someone else wouldn’t.  He pointed out those communities that had a lot of people vested in them tended to be clean and crime free whereas other communities where people didn’t contribute got worse and worse and the people in those communities suffered.  The point he was making was that active participation in a community was an enlightened form of self-interest.  You invest a little and in doing so, you establish a norm for others who follow your example and step-by-step things get better and better.

Each of you belongs to the Windows community.  You can choose to be vested in the community or not.  Many of you have already chosen to participate in the community and have made Windows one of the most robust communities out there.  I’m particularly excited by the Windows PowerShell Survival Guide (http://social.technet.microsoft.com/wiki/contents/articles/183.windows-powershell-survival-guide-en-us.aspx), a rich, curated offering of information about Windows Powershell.

But the reality is that getting the benefits of that community is not as easy as it could be and participate could be higher.  In today’s blog, Kathy Watanabe, Senior Director of the Server and Cloud Division Information Experience team, describes some of the innovative thinking and tools that we are delivering in Windows Server 2012 to help the community help itself.  You can do your job much better by leveraging the wisdom and knowledge of the community – so take some time to learn how to use these tools.  But don’t stop there. Start – or increase – your participation in the community. It has never been easier.

Cheers!  Jeffrey

With Windows Server 2012, the Information Experience team rethought how we deliver a great information experience to our customers. It is based on a few primary principles:

  • Content aggregation. We integrated links to our content and to content created by the community (more on that later). This provides rich, broad, and diverse product and scenario guidance, where you will find answers as you plan, deploy, and operate Windows Server 2012 in your enterprise. One of the platforms that illustrates this concept of content aggregation (or curation) is the PowerShell Script Explorer, which provides curated access to scripts.
  • Community. The idea of a community—you—is central to shaping Windows Server 2012 guidance. We created the information experience based on your feedback, and we depend on you to extend it.
  • Solutions and scenarios. We provide these in the IT Pro space (in the TechNet library) and in the developer space (on Windows Server Development). These scenarios and solutions are continually updated, to reflect your evolving network needs.

Content Aggregation (Curation)
There are several types of content aggregation offerings. We describe two in this section:

  • A tool called Microsoft Script Explorer
  • TechNet  Wiki-based “survival guides”

Microsoft Script Explorer
One important piece of our content aggregation offering is a tool called Microsoft Script Explorer.  Microsoft Script Explorer for Windows PowerShell helps scripters find Windows PowerShell scripts, snippets, modules, and how-to guidance in online repositories such as the TechNet Script Center Repository, PoshCode, local or network file systems and Bing Search Repository.

Leveraging the Concepts of a Semantic Web for Curation
A semantic web takes the information that is typically hidden inside product documentation, blog posts, support forums and so forth – and enables that information to be defined in a predictable manner – which, of course, enables discovery of that information. A great example of this is a PowerShell Script. Scripts are typically just text hidden inside web pages; search engines such as Bing / Google and Yahoo can’t discriminate whether you are looking for a page containing the words “PowerShell Script” or for pages that actually contain valid PowerShell scripts.

The illustration below attempts to illustrate that PowerShell Scripts can be stored in a number of different places – inside local file systems, network shares, web sites, online forums and script repositories. When the scripts exist inside a web page such as in a blog or a threaded discussion we believe HTML 5’s Micro-Data will enable us to include additional meta-data that will describe the specific parts of the page that contain scripts and information related to the scripts name and purpose that will better enable search. For repositories such as TechNet and POSH we believe OData provides a great programmatic means of accessing these repositories.

The PowerShell Script Explorer surfaces content from major repositories, blog sites and forums by smartly aggregating (or curating) that content. The illustration below shows the high-level design of Script Explorer. The dotted line in the middle illustrates the divide between code and repositories that run/exist inside a corporate network as opposed to those outside of the corporate network. One of the most interesting aspects of Script Explorer is something we have called the Aggregation Service. This service is responsible for helping aggregate scripts from different sources based on your requirements. The service can take content from any number of repositories, regardless of what protocol they use or what format the scripts are exposed in and then aggregate the functionality and expose that data as an OData based feed.

As you can see in the illustration, there are typically two instances of the Aggregation Service running. The first (on the right-hand side) runs on Windows Azure and is responsible for aggregating feeds from different Internet based repositories such as TechNet or Posh. The second (on the left-hand side) runs along-side Script Explorer and takes responsibility for retrieving scripts from the external aggregation service as well as internal resources such as your local file system and any corporate repositories you want to stand up.

The Aggregation Service includes a standard way to write new providers enabling you to search alternative sources of scripts and have them exposed directly inside Script Explorer simply by changing the configuration file. Furthermore, this idea is extensible; you can create/shape your own provider, to use your favorite search engine or to us a schema other than the one used by PowerShell Script Explorer. For more information on creating a new repository or creating a new provider take a look at the sample posted on Codeplex.

Survival Guides
Another curation offering is the survival guides. The Survival Guides are a TechNet  Wiki offering of links to information around a specific product, technology or set of scenarios. Created and managed by the community (including Microsoft), survival guides map information by lifecycle, area, scenario, or other criteria with links to top information. Links can point to any content and often include a mix of information from different Microsoft sites and community sites like blogs, wikis, and YouTube.

Survival guides provide community stewarded, up-to-date information conveniently organized for users and professionals. The Windows PowerShell Survival Guide, System Center Survival Guide, Hyper-V Survival Guide and others on the TechNet Wiki also are helpful for planning training, deployments and finding more information by experts in different regions. Contributors benefit from increased recognition.

Join the TechNet Wiki and share your favorite links, add thoughtful comments or better yet, create a new survival guide for a product or technology that you have a passion for!

Community is a big part of the information experience, as we work together with you to extend and expand the guidance offerings.  Here are the ways we are contributing, how our efforts impact your experience, and how you can get involved:

  • Events and error guidance, guidance added by the Community
  • Forum 2 Wiki. Your common forum questions with our responses are posted to the Wiki
  • Suggestion Box. Recommend areas where you’d like us to add information
  • Script Center. A host of great PowerShell scripts by all of you (and us!).

Events and Errors
Community sourced error and events harness the troubleshooting experiences of community. Using topics that address a single error or event, customers can find current troubleshooting information on the TechNet Wiki using search or, in the near future, forwarding from the Windows Event Viewer. When Event Viewer forwarding goes live, contributors will be able to create new topics that can be found by the forwarding system and used automatically.

This approach helps you, our customers. Since the content is on a Wiki, it can be continuously updated to reflect the latest techniques, insights and best practices. Since the Wiki shares a powerful profile system in common with the TechNet Forums, Blogs, Galleries and other Microsoft places, contributors are recognized and can achieve Wiki fame by creating or revising articles that reach thousands of views.

Join the TechNet Wiki and share your troubleshooting experience. You can update Event ID 1058 – Group Policy Preprocessing (Network) or over 50 others or create your own. Contributing is easy and appreciated by everyone!

Forum 2 Wiki
Forum Curation. This effort converts some of the highest-viewed forum threads on different TechNet forums into TechNet Wiki articles to increase clarity. In some of our customer roundtables (and feedback from others in the community), we learned forum answers are sometimes “lost” in the cacophony of multiple responses, tangential information, and updates to previous answers. Answers can also be difficult to find.

For an example, visit Renaming a Windows Server 2008 Active Directory Domain or try one of these.

By moving into an article on the TechNet Wiki, community can easily modify information inline rather than through additional comments. Content can be tagged, stewarded and easily shared with others. This increases discoverability and clarity for customers and can increase recognition for contributors (a common theme in community, no?).

You can make a difference. When on your favorite forum, convert a popular thread into a Wiki article. Include links from the forum to the Wiki article and the Wiki article back to the forum as a way to acknowledge sources and the work of community. Then ask your networks to review and update.

Suggestion Box
Suggestion Box. The Suggestion Box is a place where you can share ideas and suggestions, prioritize them, and help deliver community content. Our goal here is to help identify information needed by the community and to work together with community members to curate, develop, or point to that information, whether it’s on member blogs, forums, TechNet Wiki articles, Microsoft.com or other sites. The information experience can only improve with community feedback.

While the current iteration of the Suggestion Box does not share the same profile as the TechNet Wiki and other Microsoft community platforms, it is easy to suggest new ideas, vote on existing ideas, or volunteer to deliver content for an existing request. It also provides a prioritized list of ideas for times you want to contribute, but need an idea. This helps you get the content you need (and the recognition you deserve for contributing).

Script Center
For a similar experience focused exclusively on scripts, visit the Script Center. Download resources and applications for Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2008, SharePoint, System Center, Office, and other products. New resources are added frequently, so check often and see what’s new.  Join us!

Scripting Games. The Scripting Games are the premier learning event of the year for IT Pros, developers, and others who want to learn Windows PowerShell. Managed by Scripting Guy Ed Wilson, the Games are a great way to jump into the PowerShell scripting community (or raise your status as an expert in PowerShell) in a fun, accommodating and rewarding way. Meet other community members, write cool scripts and receive feedback from a distinguished panel of guest judges.

The Scripting Games helps community by raising awareness, fostering engagement and networking, learn some neat tricks and coding techniques, and win some cool prizes. Check out Ed’s top ten reasons to participate and mark your calendar for next year’s event!

Solutions and Scenarios
The integration of our products and technologies into a holistic solution to real customer problems drove our information experience.  As we shaped these scenarios, we considered the new value propositions offered by Windows Server 2012:

  • Building Your Cloud Infrastructure: Scenario Overview
    You can leverage new features around network and storage virtualization that, when combined with improved server virtualization, enable the building of your cloud infrastructure based on Windows Server 2012. This will help with your strategy in delivering Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) or building hosted services.
  • Dynamic Access Control: Scenario Overview
    You can apply data governance across your file servers to control who can access information and to audit who has accessed information.
  • Hosting-Friendly Web Server Platform (IIS): Scenario Overview
    Rapid and efficient scaling of your web applications makes for a cloud-ready web platform. Enhanced security, application initialization, NUMA-aware scalability, and the sharing of resources across sites allows for this rapid scaling with minimal management overhead.
  • Increasing Server, Storage, and Network Availability: Scenario Overview
    New experiences in Windows Server 2012 work together to improve availability, performance, and reliability at the single-server and multiple-server (scale-up and scale-out) levels.

Thanks for reviewing just some of the exciting information experiences we’re creating for Windows Server 2012. We hope you enjoy them!