January 2009


There are more than 2000 standard images and icon files used by MOSS 2007 which are copied to the _layouts/images folder on the front-end web SharePoint servers. Many of them are useful and can be accessed easily by designers in the knowledge that they will always be available. However, it is difficult to know exactly what the filenames of the images are. Neither is it easy to browse the images folder on the SharePoint server. So below is a link to one single screenshot of all 2000 images. Beware the all images graphic is nearly 2 Mb in size. I am adding links to screenshots of all the images, organized by first letter of the filename, as I find the time, for those who already have an idea of what the filename may be and just want to check.

All images (1.83 Mb)

Images – A

Images – B

Images – C

Images – D

Images – E

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The workhorse computer application in most finance departments is still Microsoft Excel. Despite the existence of customized accounting suites and ERP systems such as SAP , Excel offers the advantages of greater flexibility and now, in its 2007 incarnation, considerably more power, for a user community that has spent years getting to know all its features.

Excel 2003 was already capable of storing quite a few rows of data, around 65,000 but the number of columns was limited to only 256. Only is a relative term here, for many users this limit was no real barrier. But in other cases, the 256 column limitation proved to be a real problem. The “Big Grid” provided by Excel 2007 allows for over 1 million rows of data and 16,000 columns. With a limit of 32,000 characters per cell, the density of information stored in spreadsheets will inevitably spiral even where row and column constraints are not important. All this means that typical Excel spreadsheets are likely to grow in size and so an increasingly important question becomes, where should all this data be held to avoid the risk of loss?

This is typically a real problem for finance professionals, especially in the post-Sarbanes-Oxley world (properly known as the Public Company Accounting Reform and Investor Protection Act of 2002) which tightened accounting standards following the Enron and WorldCom corporate scandals. One of my clients, a major multinational headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, recently faced this challenge when using Excel to keep a grip of financial controls across the business covering more than 70 separate entities in a large number of countries.

The answer was to store all the data in SharePoint lists. The data were broken down into simple lists which could be easily updated by a group of authorized users. The SharePoint infrastructure provided the necessary security in terms of access control, with versioning and approval cycles built-in. And it meant that the data were backed-up, providing what is often termed “one version of the truth.” But then, what about the monster Excel file, which had provided the data in the first place? The finance professionals were used to using this file to get an overview of what was required and did not want to lose this functionality. The answer consisted of writing a series of macros within Excel to rebuild the file dynamically, exactly as it appeared in its previous form, with the same layout, but looking up the live data from SharePoint. In this way, the best of both worlds was achieved, with one central source of data which could be tightly controlled, yet with the possibility to automatically re-create snapshots of these data in a form which was useful and could easily be copied for distribution.

Complex Excel Spreadsheets can be built from data held in SharePoint using macros