24 May 2016

SharePoint Kanban Board Enhanced In Updated Add-in

Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint logotypeLast week I described several new features in Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint V5. Now the add-in edition of Kanban Task Manager has been enhanced in nearly the same way.

The APP file has already been released on the website, and very soon you can find version 2 in SharePoint Store too.

SharePoint kanban board
Kanban Task Manager, also available in two Outlook editions, builds on the kanban board idea, where cards with task descriptions are moved between phases as work with a project proceeds.
Kanban Task Manager kanban board in SharePoint

Having the kanban board in SharePoint will of course give a multitude of advantages over the physical board, and in the latest version we have given even more possibilities. Now you can study and manage tasks in Month and Project views, and there is a My Open Tasks web part/app part for users who only need to see and work with their own tasks.

Add an app
Sharepoint Add an App IconMicrosoft has announced that the word "App for SharePoint" will be replaced by "SharePoint Add-in", so that is the term we are using in our product name. Kanban Task Manager SharePoint Add-in is installed in a site with the "add an app" command – the same as you use when creating a new list.

To find the add-in, users can either open the SharePoint Store or search among "Apps you can add". If the APP file has been downloaded from our website and added to the App Catalog, it will be available in "Apps you can add" for the whole farm or tenant.

2013 and higher
The App for SharePoint was first introduced in SharePoint 2013, and it is clear that Microsoft intends to make the app/add-in concept grow stronger.

Like other add-ins, Kanban Task Manager SharePoint Add-in does not have any custom code that runs on the SharePoint servers. This is a reassurance that the add-in cannot harm servers or reduce performance of  SharePoint Online websites.

Add-in limitations
Add-ins have two limitations that affect Kanban Task Manager. Task descriptions cannot contain attachments, videos or inline images, and add-ins don't have permission to access other sites.

We have found a workaround for the first problem, by giving a Kanban Task Manager app part that can have HTML in the task description field. The permission limitation, however, so far prevents add-in users from moving tasks to other kanban boards.

Sandboxed Solution
To encourage the development of add-ins and avoid server issues, Microsoft has deprecated the use of custom managed code in SharePoint Sandboxed Solutions.

This is however no problem for the Sandboxed Solutions, because they build on JavaScript, not on custom managed code, and they run in browsers to 99%. Therefore we can keep developing our sandboxed edition of Kanban Task Manager for subscribers who use SharePoint 2010 or who use multiple installations and want to have the possibility to move tasks between them.

Learn more about the Kanban Task Manager SharePoint editions in the slideshow!

Upgrade upgrade iconI recommend current subscribers of Kanban Task Manager SharePoint Add-in to upgrade their installation. If you downloaded  the Kanban Task Manager APP file from SharePoint Store, you will get a message about the new version. When you have the file in an App Catalog, you should first download the new version from the upgrade page and then upload it to the App Catalog.

Try it download iconBoth SharePoint editions of Kanban Task Manager may be downloaded and evaluated for 30 days, with our full support but without any obligations from your side. I am looking forward to hearing your comments!

Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

16 May 2016

New SharePoint Task Views In Updated Kanban Task Manager

Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint logotypeToday I am happy to announce the release of Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint V5. This major update has several new features, among them the new Month and Project views and more graphic indicators on the task cards. You can see them in the demo below.

Month View
The Month View gives a good overview of when tasks are planned to start and end. The time slots can be dragged to change the start and due dates, and events can also be edited or created directly from this view. The Month View is displayed either as a calendar or as a timeline, where tasks can be grouped in various ways.

Project View
In the Project View each project is visualized in the form of a pie chart, so managers and team leaders can quickly see  how many tasks there are in each phase of each project. Only phases that have tasks for the specific project are shown.
Kanban Task Manager Project view in SharePoint

Completed icon and Overdue indications
When a task on the kanban board is overdue, it is indicated with a red left border.
Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint Overdue icon
When users fill out the % Completed field in the task, the value will be shown with an icon on the task in the kanban view. In the image below the task is nearly finished.
Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint Completed icon
If the Trip to India task above had been overdue, it should have had the red right border, but it should also have had the rest of the completed icon marked with red – a strong "Finish this now" signal!

Move task to another site
The new version of Kanban Task Manager has a new feature that has been requested by some subscribers with many installations: a possibility to move tasks to any other site within the farm/tenant where Kanban Task Manager is activated. Our developers have made this very easy. When the admin has entered the URLs to the sites users should be allowed to move tasks to in the settings, users can just right click on the task and select a URL.

Phase Columns
To allow users with few phases and big screens to use their horizontal space better, we have added a possibility to use more than one column of tasks in the same phase. This is also a subscriber request, that we are happy to be able to implement.

In the image below there are many incoming tasks that are waiting to be moved through the phases. Therefore the "Not Started" phase has been given 2 columns, which shows more tasks with less scrolling and gives a better overview.
Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint with two columns in the first phase
My Open Tasks
Last week I told you about the "My Open Tasks" web part, that can be added to any editable page in sites where Kanban Task Manager has been activated. I hope it will be appreciated by users who only want to see their own tasks.

Add-in update
There are two SharePoint editions, a sandboxed solution and an add-in, and we will very soon update the add-in with the features I have described above. It is only a matter of days, so you will not have to wait for long if you prefer the add-in edition.

Upgrade upgrade iconI recommend current subscribers of Kanban Task Manager to take advantage of the free upgrade benefit that is included in all subscriptions.

Try it download iconIf you have not yet tried Kanban Task Manager, you are welcome to evaluate the solution.

You can either try the sandboxed solution now, or wait for my next blog post about Kanban Task Manager, where I will announce the release of Kanban Task Manager SharePoint Add-in V2!

Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

04 May 2016

My Kanban Board SharePoint Tasks In New Web Part

Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint logotype We will soon release major updates of the SharePoint editions of Kanban Task Manager. Most of the new features are important to managers and team leaders, but the demo below shows something we have created to help users who only want to see their own tasks.

Project and tasks management
With Kanban Task Manager, SharePoint tasks are visualized as cards on a kanban board with project phases. This gives a good overview over how work on different projects proceed, and it is easy for managers to discover bottlenecks and make sure the processes run smoothly.
The new versions will give even more options for a quick survey of the situation, with new views as well as indications on the kanban cards. These features enhance Kanban Task Manager for all who need to understand the greater picture.

However, some users don't want or need to see more than the work they are supposed to take care of. These users can instead manage their tasks in the "My Open Tasks" web part.

My Open Tasks
Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint My Open Tasks web partThe web part can be inserted into any editable page on a SharePoint site where Kanban Task Manager has been activated. It shows each user the open tasks that are assigned to him or her, sorted first by priority and then by created date. The tasks have the same color coding as on the kanban board.

"My Open Tasks" has a search box, so that users can search among their tasks, but there is no other filter options and no phases and lanes. This makes the web part very simple to manage. Here user can study their tasks, open them and change status and other parameters without being disturbed by information they don't need.

Should the "My Open Tasks" web part not be enough, you can of course still open the kanban board and manage the tasks there instead. Users don't have to choose either the web part or the kanban board. They can switch between the web part and the kanban board as often as they like.

The demo below shows how I insert the "My Open Tasks" web part to the home page of a site where Kanban Task Manager is activated. To avoid extensive scrolling, I use a two column layout and add "My Open Tasks" to one column and the default web parts Newsfeed and Documents to the other column.

I will soon come back and tell you more about the valuable manager features in the new version of Kanban Task Manager!

Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

28 April 2016

New SharePoint Online Library Interface - Pros and Cons

SharePoint iconThis month Microsoft has launched the new user interface of SharePoint Online document libraries to some Office 365 subscribers. I have studied the interface and found great enhancements – but also problems for my colleagues and me to solve.

Only to First Release users
By default SharePoint Online subscribers do not get the latest updates until these are released to all Office 365 customers, but there is an option to let admins or the whole organization have the updates earlier. I recommend administrators to take advantage of the First Release possibility, to have a chance to prepare for upcoming changes.

When it comes to the new library interface this is extra important, because much will be different when the new interface is released to all. Currently First Release users are offered to test the new interface, and it is easy to return to the classic appearance. Because of the extensive changes I think Microsoft will keep that possibility for a rather long time, but I doubt that it will last forever.
SharePoint Online Check new library

Quick Action Pane instead of Ribbon
The new library interface has no ribbon, and that was of course what first struck me when I had pressed the "Check it out" button. A panic-stricken thought went through my head: has Microsoft removed all the useful ribbon features?

SharePoint Online A´new Alert iconThe answer is of course no, which I soon discovered. Most of the features are still there but reached in another and often better way. The Alert icon has for example been moved to the new quick action pane, where it is more easily accessible to users. It has also been easier to delete multiple files and to move and copy files within the library.
SharePoint Online new library quick actions pane

Thumbnails for Pin and Pictures
The new library interface gives us a new feature: pin files and folders. Pinned items are easy to find, as they are displayed as thumbnails above the other items. Thumbnails are also used in the new alternate view, which is especially handy for images.
SharePoint Online library grid view

Good for beginners, not as good for power users
In general I find the new library interface an enhancement for most users. Microsoft has focused on the core tasks and made them easier to perform, and they have also added some features that I think will be appealing to ordinary users.

But I am afraid many power users will feel disappointed. Some options are not there anymore or are at least more difficult to achieve, and that is a serious drawback. There is, for example, no no-code way to edit the page or customize the Quick Launch, and you cannot open the library in Outlook, Excel or Windows Explorer.

I hope Microsoft reconsiders and give us a possibility to use these more advanced features in the SharePoint libraries again. Why not add the controls in the Library Settings? There they will not disturb ordinary users.

Courses and solutions
When you use the new library interface, some of what I have shown in my SharePoint Online from Scratch videos are done in other ways, and the same goes for a lot of teaching material out there. This is a problem but absolutely no reason for Microsoft to stop development. When you create IT tutorials, like I do, you are fully aware that they will not be valid forever.

Templates Manager logotypeI have the same attitude towards the products: they need to be updated, and we are happy to do that and to give subscribers free upgrades. In this case we need to update Templates Manager to work with the new library interface.

Next week Microsoft has promised to give more info about their plans for SharePoint in general and the libraries in particular, so I will probably have reason to come back to this subject. Until then, please have a look at the demo below and at the Tips article where I have listed the most important news in the SharePoint document libraries.

By Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

25 April 2016

TimeCard for Outlook With SharePoint Connection

TimeCard for Outlook logotypeTimeCard Workgroup for Outlook was one of my first products, and there are still organizations who have been with us from the start!

With version 6, which has been released today, we have taken TimeCard for Outlook a big step forward by making it compatible with the SharePoint version. People can use the version they prefer at each occasion, and with the mobile app they can tag time slots with parameters like project, customer and/or task in their tablets and mobiles.

No double entries
TimeCard for SharePoint logotypeWith TimeCard, users tag appointments/events in their Outlook or SharePoint calendars, where they of course also plan their time, and they report directly from the calendar. The tags are set globally, so users only have to select the appropriate tag values from dropdowns in the appointments or events.

Use both versions
The Medium and Premium subscriptions allow use of both TimeCard versions, so if you select SharePoint as reporting medium instead of the traditional database, users can switch between Outlook and SharePoint as they please.  The calendars in Outlook and SharePoint synchronize when the user is online.

TimeCard Mobile
TimeCard for SharePoint logotypeIncluded in TimeCard for SharePoint is a mobile app for SharePoint Online and Android, iOS or Windows devices, and when you connect TimeCard for Outlook to SharePoint Online the synchronization goes all the way to the mobile app. That way users can tag appointments/events with time reporting info in their mobile devices when out of office and then report from their Outlook calendars.

Upgrade upgrade iconCurrent Medium and Premium subscribers are welcome to upgrade their installations. If your organization only uses the Outlook version today, you can easily upgrade the subscription. The fee for the Medium subscription is just a little bit higher than the minimum level. Please contact us!

Try TimeCard
TimeCard evaluation icon I recommend you to try TimeCard if your organization needs a simple but efficient tool for time tracking and reporting. As TimeCard is a mature product it has many useful features, like Excel reports, statistics, planning information and report on behalf of.

Maybe you will end up saying like one of our long time customers: "We have loved TimeCard and for 12 years!"
By Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions