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07 January 2019

kalmstrom.com University Collaboration

During my recent visit to India it was agreed that kalmstrom.com will partner with a highly respected university in Indore.

MoU
A memorandum of understanding has been signed between and the Symbiosis University of Applied Sciences and the kalmstrom.com Indore office. Among the university's other industry partners are big corporations like Hyundai, John Deer and SKF, but we think that our comparatively small business also can bring valuable input.

This MoU includes many ways for the university to get access to the knowledge of the kalmstrom.com developers and testers, but the most important point is the internship program.

Industrial training
After three years of university studies, the students will spend their final year at the kalmstrom.com office for industrial training. After that year, each student will write a report, and on basis of that report and maybe a live project, they will have their Bachelor of Technology exam.

In the image below, I am posing for the camera together with Jayant Rimza, Director of the kalmstrom.com Indore office, and managers from the Symbiosis University, among them Dr. Ashok Bhansali, Professor & Dean, and Dr. Rajdeep Deb, with whom I cooperated in a SharePoint workshop.
SharePoint workshop at the Symbiosis University of Applied Sciences
SharePoint teaching
To inaugurate the new partnership, I had a SharePoint lecture as well as a workshop together with Dr. Rajdeep Deb. It was a truly inspiring experience to meet the young, eager students.

I have taught similar classes many times before, but seldom have my attendees been so receptive to my advice and suggestions. They also offered many insightful questions, and we had interesting discussions on what SharePoint can and should be used for.

In the practical exercises, the group showed enthusiasm and willingness to try new things, far outside of what I managed to show them in my demonstrations. Additionally, the staff and facilities at Symbiosis are first class, making everything run smoothly without a glitch.
SharePoint workshop at the Symbiosis University of Applied Sciences
Mutual satisfaction
Jayant and I find it a great pleasure to be able to educate next generation of SharePoint experts, and we think that the students will find the environment in the kalmstrom.com office valuable for learning.

We have had many earlier interns, even if the collaboration with universities not has been formalized with a MoU, and these students have always appreciated the support from the kalmstrom.com team. A few of them have even joined the team after their graduation.

Next step in the process will be our review of the students who applied to kalmstrom.com for their one year internship. Then we are looking forward to welcoming new people in the team!

Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer
kalmstrom.com Business Solutions

03 January 2019

SharePoint Flows from Scratch in New Book

SharePoint Flows from Scratch CoverI am happy to announce the release of my new book SharePoint Flows from Scratch! Readers of my other books have asked for it, and I hope it will give the information they need to start exploring this rather new Microsoft service.

Cloud based service
Microsoft launched Flow in the beginning of 2016, as a future replacement for SharePoint Designer workflows. I still see the need for workflows, but Flow is a cloud based service that gives new options.

Flow can integrate across multiple data sources and deliver across multiple devices, from desktop to mobile. The flows can be used extensively for many online services, and often several of these services are combined in one flow. This cannot be done with a traditional workflow, which is restricted to a SharePoint site.

Automate SharePoint processes SharePoint icon
In SharePoint Flows from Scratch, I focus on flows that are created with SharePoint Online as one of the included services.

Flows can be used in all kinds of SharePoint Online lists and libraries to automate time consuming or repetitive processes. Such tasks are tedious to perform manually, so often they are performed badly or not performed at all.

Theory and Practice
I believe in learning by doing, but of course you cannot do anything if you don't know the basics. Therefore, SharePoint Flows from Scratch begins with several explanatory chapters that I hope readers will use as a reference. Among all theory, I have put in one simple flow to show the idea and make the reading more tangible.

After the theory chapters, I give 20 more example flows to practise on or use as templates. Each of these flows also give more Flow theory, so with the examples the readers expand their learning in two ways.

Video demonstrations
YouTube iconSharePoint Flows from Scratch has many links to related articles with video demonstrations in the kalmstrom.com Tips section. The demos come from our YouTube channel, which currently have more than 16 000 followers. Some of the Tips articles are about Flow, and for this book I have created more. (You might have read about these Tips articles and demos earlier in this blog.)

Unfortunately, for me, Microsoft changed the Flow Designer interface a bit late in 2018. The book was updated before publication, but the demonstrations still have the old interface. The difference is not big, so I don't think there will be a problem.

Vijayant Rimza imageKate Kalmstrom imageDipti Francis photoJitu Patidar image      
Teamwork
As always in my work, I have had help from kalmstrom.com team members. The SharePoint Flows from Scratch cover was created by Vijayant, who also designed the covers for my other books. Kate edited the text and made it easier to follow, and Dipti and Jitu has proofread the book and given valuable comments. Thank you!

SharePoint knowledge SharePoint Online from Scratch cover
To really benefit from SharePoint Flows from Scratch, you need to have some understanding of SharePoint, especially SharePoint Online. SharePoint features are only sporadically described in SharePoint Flows from Scratch. Anything else would make the book too big and expensive, and a lot of SharePoint explanations would be boring for those who already know SharePoint and only need to learn Flow.

SharePoint Online Exercises coverIf you want to learn SharePoint Online, I instead recommend two other books: SharePoint Online from Scratch explains in detail how SharePoint is built and how it can be used, from the very basic to advanced features, and SharePoint Online Exercises has a number of hands-on step-by-step instructions on how to create specific business solutions.

Book and e-book
SharePoint Flows from Scratch is available as paperback Peter Kalmström on Amazon.com or Kindle e-book, and both editions are sold via Amazon. On Amazon you can also find my other books.

By Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer
kalmstrom.com Business Solutions

02 January 2019

SharePoint Online Permission Settings

SharePoint iconSharePoint permissions are very easy to use if you accept the default settings. That can work for a small team, but if you want to have more control over what users can see and do, SharePoint permissions get more complicated.

In an updated article about SharePoint Online permissions in the kalmstrom.com Tips section, I explain how the permissions work by default and what you can do with them. I hope to warn for problems but also show the possibilities given by a good management of SharePoint permissions.

Permission levels
Microsoft has made it easy to set permissions by grouping connected permissions into permission levels. For example, if you want to give a user the right to view, add, update, and delete list items and documents, but nothing more, you don't have to give these four permissions separately. Instead you can set this user's permission to the pre-defined level 'Contribute'.

If none of the pre-defined levels fit, you can easily create your own permission level, and I show how to do that in the demo below, which is also included in the article.

Default Edit permission
In SharePoint Online (and SharePoint 2013 on-premise), the default permission levels for all users is Edit. This means that users by default can not only view, add, update, and delete list items and documents but also add, edit, and delete lists and libraries as well as create, edit and delete columns and views.

In my opinion this is a high level, but it is no problem as long as you are aware of it. Then you can decide if you should keep it or change it. Problems arise if admins are not aware of this default permission.
SharePoint hierarchy
Default Inheritance
Another default setting that can create problems is the inheritance. From the site collection and downwards, SharePoint is organized in a hierarchy. Sites by default inherits the same permissions as the site collection, the lists inherit the site permissions and the items inherit the list permissions.

This means that users who have Edit permission on a site by default also have Edit permission on all lists in that site, and they even have Edit permission on all items in each list.

If you don't like this, it is not difficult to break the inheritance. When you create a new site, you can just select another radio button than the default one in the settings and set new permission levels. Also for existing sites, pages and lists you can break the inheritance in the settings. This can be done down to file or item level.


Security Groups
In the Tips article about SharePoint Online permissions I also explain how security groups work. These groups of users who have the same permission level over sites simplify the permission management a lot. They are especially useful when you want to give people permissions on multiple site collections.

I hope my introduction to SharePoint permissions will give SharePoint admins who are new to the topic a better understanding of the problems and possibilities of SharePoint permissions. Refer to my book SharePoint Online from Scratch or to Microsoft for more detailed information on SharePoint permissions.

Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer
kalmstrom.com Business Solutions

28 December 2018

Monthly Project Reports with a SharePoint Flow

Microsoft Flow icon Managers often want to have monthly or weekly reports on various things, and if you are efficient you let a flow put together the report and send it. In a new article in the kalmstrom.com Tips section, I show how this can be done.

Flow that creates and send e-mail report
The flow I describe in the article and in the demo below, will generate an e-mail report with the total number of projects and the sum of the approved budgets for these projects. A 'Schedule - Recurrence' trigger will make sure that the flow sends an e-mail with this content on the same day every month.


Flow variables for calculation
A variable is like a container that holds different types of information, and you can use variables for storing, modifying and retrieving any kind of data. In my report generating flow, I first Initiate the variables (required in Flows), then I Increment them and finally I read the variable values into the e-mail body.
Microsoft flow generated e-mail

I initialize two variables, one for the number of projects in a SharePoint list and one for the total of the approved budgets. The values in these variables are calculated by two Increment variable actions. They are executed inside an 'Apply to each' action that loops through the project items.

E-mail with calculated figures
When the 'Apply to each' has looped through the list, and the values for the Initialize variables have been calculated, the flow sends an e-mail with the figures for number of projects and total budget. The values are added as dynamic content in the e-mail body.

The total budget sum in the e-mail has no thousand separator. I decided to not include a thousand separator in the demo, because it is, at least currently, very complicated to add. The report will still work and give a correct result that is sent punctually each month, so I hope the manager will be content without the separator! SharePoint Flows from Scratch cover

My new book, SharePoint Flows from Scratch, will be published very soon, and the cover is already finished. I will come back and tell you more about it as soon as the book has been published on Amazon.

By Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer
kalmstrom.com Business Solutions

20 December 2018

SharePoint Flow for List Input from Outside

Microsoft Flow iconThe Microsoft Flow action "Send email with options" is useful when you need input by e-mail from people outside the organization. In a new article in the kalmstrom.com Tips section, I describe such a flow for e-mail input that also updates a SharePoint list.

In my example, the flow sends an e-mail to a legal counsel when a new item is created in a SharePoint Projects list. This counsel does not have access to the list, so he/she cannot directly see the new project and approve or reject it. Instead, the e-mail has a field for the dynamic content of the project description, and if that is not enough, the counsel has the option to ask for more information.
SharePoint flow e-mail options
Each option entered in the flow is shown as a button in the e-mail. My flow has the three options in the image above, and the help text in the flow also shows three options. You can however use this Flow action with more or less options too.

A flow like this one can of course be used for much more than approvals. It is convenient whenever you need a quick input or vote in cases where a form or something else more elaborate is not needed.


I have created this article and demo for my book SharePoint Flows from Scratch, which I have now left to the proof-readers. As soon as their comments are studied and we have a good book cover, we will publish the book as both e-book and paperback on Amazon.

By Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer
kalmstrom.com Business Solutions