16 October 2014

SharePoint Apps or Sandboxed Solutions?

SharePoint logoMicrosoft has deprecated the use of custom managed code in SharePoint Sandboxed Solutions, a decision that of course affects the future of the SharePoint Solutions.

Choices for SharePoint development
At we are constantly evaluating new technologies and trying to make the best choices for our product development. When it comes to SharePoint development one such choice is the type of product to build. Currently there are three major choices, each with its own pros and cons.

Technology Pros Cons Apps
Server-side code in C# - also called custom code. Easy to build, fast and we are able to protect our IP. Very good developer tools. Deprecated, subject to resource points and server-side timeouts.No
Server-side code off SharePoint Same as above, but harder to build All of our customers would need to be connected to the internet, which some are not.Yes
Client-side code in JavaScript Slow development process. Hard to protect our IP, cross-browser problems, poorly documented.Yes

HelpDesk OSP icon
Client-side development
In addition to the above choices, another option is to do client-side development, which allows us to integrate Kanban Task Manager for Outlook icon SharePoint with Outlook or write to a local database. This
is what we do in HelpDesk OSP, Kanban Task Manager 
for Outlook and the upcoming SP Archive, and we plan to
continue doing so in future products.
SP Archive icon
To use both SharePoint and Outlook in the same solution gives many advantages, and our customers also like to be able to choose between SharePoint lists and databases for sharing and storage.

Kanban Task Manager iconSandboxed gives support for 2010
So far we have selected to package our only-SharePoint solutions, TimeCard for SharePoint and Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint, as Sandboxed Solutions, not Apps, because of the backward compatibility.Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint icon

Apps are not compatible with SharePoint 2010, while our sandboxed solutions work fine on both 2010 and 2013.

No-code Sandboxed
Thus we are not fully following Microsoft’s recommendations. However, most of our functionality is already in JavaScript and we are moving off server-side code fast.

This means that we are making our products nearly 100% no-code sandboxed solutions, NCSSs, which is not included in the Microsoft deprecation. It only applies to custom managed code within the sandboxed solution.

"While developing sandboxed solutions that contain only declarative markup and JavaScript -- which we call no-code sandboxed solutions (NCSS) -- is still viable, we have deprecated the use of custom managed code within the sandboxed solution.", says Brian Jones in Microsoft's official blog for SharePoint Developers

We will continue to discuss the future development in the developer group as well as with subscribers to our SharePoint Solutions. However, our aim is to start building only Apps as soon as our Community Members are ready and we can drop the support for SharePoint 2010.

Peter Kalmstrom
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

14 October 2014

SharePoint Navigation Among Site Collections

SharePoint logoMany organizations prefer site collections to sites and subsites, and this is often wise if you have a well functioning navigation between the top-level sites of each collection.

In a new Tips article in my SharePoint Links series I give three suggestions on how to solve the navigation between SharePoint site collections.

Sites and subsites or site collections and sites?
To achieve a hierarchy in sites, it is quite possible to use sites and subsites instead of site collections and sites (and subsites). Navigation is easier with sites and subsites, as subsites can inherit the top-site navigation. However, the SharePoint site limitations make it difficult to expand sites.

For site collections the limit is much more generous. In Office 365 the limit has recently been raised from 10 000 to 500 000 site collections, and that should give enough space for sharing and storage even for large organizations.SharePoint Create Site Collection Button

Another advantage of site collections compared to sites is the possibility to set different permissions on different collections. That is more complicated to achieve when you are using sites and subsites.

Use Search!
In the demo below I am first showing a navigation for small companies with only a few site collections. It works in the same way as the global navigation between sites, which I also showed in the introduction to the SharePoint Links demonstrations.

When the number of site collections grow it is more practical to use the SharePoint Search feature to navigate between the top sites, and with a few adaptions that works very well.

The SharePoint Search is virtually unlimited and can handle any number of sites collections and sites, so I recommend it as the main solution for all organizations.
SharePoint Global Navigation Search Link

How do I know what to search for?
Soon after the demo and Tips article about site collection navigation were published I got a good question: "What about new employees with little knowledge of company structure? How would they know what to search for?"

To help these new people I suggest an overview  in the form of a clickable image of all available top sites. This solution would work well up to a rather large number of site collections. I have demonstrated how to create such a hotspot image in another SharePoint Links tutorial in the Tips section.

Step by step
In the Tips articles we often have step by step instructions as a complement to a video demonstration. In the article about navigation between site collections I show how to use:
  • Links to other top sites in the global navigation of each top site.
  • A Search link in the global navigation of each top site.
  • A Search center for all site collections. This is the default solution in Office 365, where users can reach the center by selecting "Search everything" in the search box dropdown in the top right corner.
There is also a step by step instruction on how to create a search vertical that shows only top-level sites. Such a search vertical makes it easier to find the correct site when the SharePoint farm or tenancy has many site collections.

Everything is also shown in the demo above, but for more info I recommend a visit to the Tips section.

Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

09 October 2014

Calendar Browser for Outlook Updated

Calendar Browser logoThe Solution for resource booking in Outlook has been updated today. This is only a minor update, to correct problems with Cached Exchange Mode.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the HelpDesk OSP update that made it possible to use our issue tracking add-on for Outlook and SharePoint in a shared mailbox with Cached Exchange Mode enabled. Now when we have a solution to the cached mode issues, we have also updated Calendar Browser.

Export to PDF
PDF export in Outlook In Calendar Browser each bookable resource has a calendar, and users reserv a resource by making an appointment in its calendar. Supplies may be added to the booking, and it is also possible to auto-book one resource with another.

When you use Calendar Browser in a reception or similar, where rooms, cars or other resources can be booked, you want to give a confirmation of the reservation.

PDF iconA PDF file is the best option if you want a proof of the booking, because the Calendar Browser specific terms in the appointment are removed when you export it to PDF. The file can be printed, sent by e-mail or uploaded to a place where it may be downloaded.

Unfortunately the Cached Exchange Mode created some issues here too, but today's update has solved them.

Multiple installations
Calendar Browser is installed in a server folder and in an Outlook shared mailbox or public folder. Several installations can be shown in the same Outlook, so you can easily group resources in various ways. That makes it easier for users to find just the resource they need.

A few organizations with multiple installations of Calendar Browser experienced a problem when they upgraded the solution. We always recommend Subscribers to take advantage of the free upgrades that are included in the subscription, but when we do that we must also make sure the upgrades are smooth. Therefore this issue has also been solved in the new version.

Upgrade Calendar Browser upgrade icon
If you have experienced problems with the Calendar Browser PDF export, we recommend you to upgrade your installation or installations.

Calendar Browser evaluation icon Does your organization need a resorce booking system that is efficient and easy to learn and use? If the answer is yes, I advise you to evaluate Calendar Browser. It is a mature product that has been on the market for 14 years, so it has many features and is highly customizable.

By Peter Kalmstrom
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions