Interview with a Wiki Ninja and SharePoint Guru – Matthew Yarlett

Today's interview is with our 3-time SharePoint Guru (winner of the gold medal in May, June, and July), Matthew Yarlett!!

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Let's get to the interview...



#### Who are you, where are you, and what do you do? What are your specialty technologies?

I work as a Solution Architect for a global law firm, based in London. I've worked across infrastructure and development, with the last few years mostly dedicated to building solutions on the SharePoint platform (which I currently specialize in). I lead the development team, and we build solutions to business problems on top of SharePoint. Aside from SharePoint, I have a love for PowerShell. It makes my life so much easier! When you're developing and testing SharePoint solutions, you can save a lot of time with some simple PowerShell!


#### What are your big projects right now?

I've got lots going on at the moment. We're architecting a major upgrade of our SharePoint environment. The upgrade consists of major improvements to our information architecture and governance model, as well as upgrading the platform to SharePoint 2013. I'm planning to do a series of technical blogs around custom development on SharePoint 2013, and many of these will find their way onto the TechNet Wiki. In fact, I'm posting most of my blog posts to the TechNet Wiki now. Going forward, my blog will serve as a "snapshot" of information that I wrote at a point in time, whereas the wiki articles will be a more living body of work that I'll continue to refine, along with the input of other contributors. I’ve got a growing list of wiki articles, and I’m now setting aside time each week to author new articles.


#### What is TechNet Wiki for? Who is it for?

The second part of the question is easy, it's for everyone, whether you're a contributor or consumer. It's a place where you can give and you can get. What's it for? I'm sure there's many differing opinions and answers, but for me, I think it's about sharing professional and industry knowledge and experience with a large community of people. It's about helping each other become smarter and more efficient in our chosen field of expertise.


#### What do you do with TechNet Wiki, and how does that fit into the rest of your job?

I've only recently started contributing to the wiki and already I'm constantly thinking of the next article to write, or how I can format a forum answer into a useful wiki article. Aside from the design work I do, my role is still very technical, and I regularly use Microsoft forums, the TechNet Wiki and various blogs for technical insights, as well as for reference. These resources act as a library, and often save me hours of work. That saving is one of the primary reasons I want contribute back to the community; to be able to help people in the same way others have helped me. I have a certain amount of career development time at work, and I often use this time to write articles or answer forums (I also spent a lot of personal time answering forums and writing articles too (I get a little obsessive about getting an article written once I have an idea)). Aside from the warm fuzzy feelings associated with helping others, I think authoring and contributing articles sharpens my own knowledge and skills, and this makes me a more valuable asset to my employer.


#### What is it about TechNet Wiki that interests you?

When you contribute to the TechNet Wiki, your article exists with a large body of other work, and will (probably) outlive your own blog posts. It will be updated and improved by multiple authors, making the information more accurate and precise. Ultimately it helps more people, which is the primary goal (for me) behind contributing.


#### On what Wiki articles do you spend most of your time?

I usually spend the most time on an article before publishing the first version. I write the article out in a notepad editor to get the wording right, and I try to spend as much time testing (or sanitizing) the code I'm using in examples in an effort to ensure it works in a generic SharePoint environment. After publishing an article I periodically review it to see if I can make improvements to it, usually to the wording or examples.


#### What are your favorite Wiki articles you’ve contributed?

I quite like one I wrote recently on viewing, sorting and filtering SharePoint User Profiles using PowerShell ( I think it's a great example of just how easily user profile data in SharePoint can be accessed and manipulated, which can be a real time saver if you need to troubleshoot a problem or produce an adhoc report. I like it because there is very little code for getting the profile data, with all of the sorting and filtering being provided by "out of the box" PowerShell cmdlets. It's simple and any SharePoint admin should be able to utilize it.

I also like the one I wrote on importing data from Microsoft Excel into SharePoint using PowerShell ( It demonstrates how easy it is to get data into SharePoint. I used a similar script a few weeks back to import a few million records from an Access Database into SharePoint lists, manipulating the data along the way.


#### What's one of your favorite Wiki articles?

Backup and Restore IIS Web Server Configuration through PowerShell ( I really like this article. It's a very helpful article, explained thoroughly, and it was something I was previously unaware of. It made it into our backup and restore procedure.


#### What does success look like for TechNet Wiki?

If you take the example of Wikipedia, where you can search for almost any subject and find an article written about it, and have a sense that the information in the article is fairly accurate, having been written and improved by multiple domain experts. I think this is where success lies for the TechNet Wiki; articles that are helpful, insightful and accurate, written by a number of domain experts. A place where the community of professionals (that use Microsoft products) can come to for information. Information they can trust is accurate because it's backed by a thriving community of people who are ontributing, improving and moderating the content provided there.


#### Finally, is there anything stupid you’ve done recently?

Good question. Yes there is in fact. It was done while importing data using the double edged sword called PowerShell… I accidentally added approximately 32,000 list items into the wrong SharePoint list in a production environment. Thankfully, PowerShell was also the one to come to the rescue, and I was able to delete them using batch processing.


#### That was really silly. I hope you’ve written a wiki article about using PowerShell and Batch operations to delete thousands of list items.

Umm… it’s on my list!



Ha! Well I hope you know you're not the only one who does stupid things!


Please join me in thanking Matthew for his contributions, and feel free to ask Matthew any more questions in the comments! He's on vacation right now, but he'll be back soon!


   - Ninja Ed

Comments (6)

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  1. UPDATE: I added Matthew's image and profile link.

  2. Great Matthew. You well deserved.

    Glad to know my article helps you.



  3. Daniel Christian says:

    Great interview article Matthew.

    Glad to know that you too are working on migration to SharePoint 2013.

  4. Anonymous says:

    This blog is a follow up to our last list of Wiki Ninja Blog Authors: Council Spotlight: Who are the

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