Description

Publish any SharePoint discussion board through a complete NNTP server implementation with full security trimming and NTLM authentication support. The discussion boards act as the backing store for the newsgroups on the NNTP server. All commands described in RFC3977 supported.

This open-source software is published by QinetiQ.

Overview

The software comprises a Windows service that is configured to listen on a particular port for incoming connections (default =119), then returns messages from the published set of SharePoint discussion boards. The newsgroup configuration is based on the contents of a custom list, with:
  • Name of the group, e.g. qinetiq.communities.mathematics
  • Site/web URL where the discussion board is hosted
  • Name of discussion board list
  • Retention period in days (i.e. the number of days worth of messages to present through the server - items from the original list are not deleted)
  • Read-only flag for archived newsgroups

Installation Guide

Visit the Installation Guide page for instructions on how to install and configure the service.

Features
  • Any regular SharePoint discussion board may be presented as a newsgroup through the server,
  • Vast majority of commands described in RFC3977 are supported. This includes the core set (originally described in RFC977) and a sufficient number of extension commands for common USENET/newsgroup/NNTP readers such as Outlook Express.
  • NTLM authentication support.
  • The security of the discussion board is adhered to - if the user does not have read access to the discussion board, the newsgroup will not appear in their news reader.
  • Fully instrumented - 89 performance counters in a range of categories (caching, networking, NNTP commands, etc.)

Background

Internal newsgroups have been used by the scientists and engineers at QinetiQ for some time. For many years the NNTP service in IIS was used to host numerous newsgroups covering hundreds of topics, from business, science, and technology, to selected social domains. These groups have been invaluable in unlocking the tacit knowledge stored in minds of scientists and domain experts. Around two years ago SharePoint 2007 was rolled out across the organisation. As part of this deployment a set of community of practice collaborative SharePoint sites were created. For each community site, the corresponding newsgroup was ported across to a SharePoint discussion board. Feedback from users was mixed. Whilst the new collaborative features were welcomed, the discussion board user experience was viewed as a retrograde step when compared with the old newsgroup client access, i.e. through Outlook Express. Therefore, a custom NNTP bridge solution to meet our specific requirements was developed to allow access to discussion board threads as if they were regular newsgroups. The solution also meant that the SharePoint web interface was still available to users less comfortable with a tradition news client.

This software was developed in-house and has been in production use since 2008. We have now decided to release the source code to the SharePoint community. Hopefully this software will be of use to some of you.

You can read more about how QinetiQ is using SharePoint in this Microsoft case study.

Performance and Scaling

We have not experienced any scaling issues with the service based on roughly 8000 users targeting a 'medium/large' MOSS 2007 server farm (4x WFEs plus multiple application and SQL boxes). CPU/memory utilisation is low so it should work fine on single web server. No specific MOSS 2007 functionality is used, hence the service may be hosted on WSS 3.0 platform.

Alternatives

It is possible to consume discussion board content via Outlook 2007. More information:

Roadmap
  • Automated installation and deployment
  • Integration with SharePoint Central Administration (start, stop, and configure service from one or more custom admin pages)
  • Improved attachment handling
  • Implement authentication provider model (assumes integrated security / NTLM at the moment) - this will enhance the usefulness of the solution for Internet scenarios, wider news client support, etc.
  • SharePoint 2010 support


Last edited Jan 5, 2010 at 2:41 PM by ahayes, version 13