22 June 2016

Study Manager for SharePoint V2 Released

Study Manager banner Last week I told you about the new features in Study Manager V2, and today I am happy to announce that the new version of our tuition solution for SharePoint has been released.

SharePoint learning management system
Many teachers and instructors create their own study material. With Study Manager they can present such material in a structured way in SharePoint, and a group of teachers can collaborate around a subject and give students a set of exercises with self correcting tasks. They can also see statistics on each student's progress.

Image task type, test option, show answer
As I wrote about the new Study Manager features in the earlier blog post, I will not repeat that description here. On the website you can find a lot of documentation on Study Manager, like manual, slideshow and video demonstrations. Below is a video version of the slideshow.

Instead of talking about the new features once more, I will mention one of our services: installation assistance.

The development of  Study Manager V2 has been sponsored. A sponsorship gives the sponsor the requested features at a low cost, because takes on part of the development cost. In return we get a better product to sell, so a sponsorship is a win-win for both parties.

12 installations
Most products have standard fees for one installation, but at sponsorships and multiple installations we set the fee for each customer, depending on the requirements. In this case the sponsor wanted 12 installations, so that each subject could have its own Study Manager site collection.

You may of course ask for an installation quote even if you don't sponsor development. We know exactly how to do, so we can install our products much faster than anyone who is new to it. Time is money, so you might very well gain from it!

Free upgrades are always included in the download iconSubscriptions, and we recommend current users to upgrade Study Manager. There are only four steps to perform, and they are of course listed on the Study Manager upgrade page.

Try Study Manager
Do you want to create a SharePoint learning center? Do your students want to study from home, or are they in another location? Study Manager is suitable for schools, businesses, yes, any organization that uses SharePoint and needs to educate students or employees. download icon You are welcome to try Study Manager for 30 days without any costs or obligations. Install Study Manager in a new SharePoint site collection, and it will become a center for learning, cooperation and discussion.

By Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

13 June 2016

SharePoint Study Manager V2 With Test Option

Study Manager for SharePoint logotype We are currently developing version 2 of our learning platform for SharePoint, and today I can give you a glimpse of the new features. The release will hopefully come later this month.

Teacher controlled self-studies
Study Manager gives teachers, instructors and trainers a platform where they can create and manage self study material – texts, sound, images, videos, links – in SharePoint. Many standard SharePoint and Office 365 features are used, so Study Manager is easy to learn and work with ‒ or as a teacher in a subscribing organization expressed it: "All students, also those who are not used to computers, can work with the exercises, as Study Manager is so easy to use."

Get the right answer or not?
The students work online with exercises that contain various tasks to solve. When one task is solved, they click on a Next button to reach the next task of that exercise. By default, the next task is not displayed until the current one has been solved correctly. When a student fails at the first attempt, Study Manager automatically gives hints to help the student to solve the task and continue with the exercise.

In version 2 we will give the teachers two more options. For each task they can opt to give the correct answer after three failures, and for each exercise they can opt to let students continue with the next task even if the answer is wrong.

When an exercise is set to allow students to continue through all tasks without seeing the correct answer until the exercise is finished, Study Manager can be used for testing and evaluation.

Study Manager also gives teachers and students statistics on their progress, and teachers can see how much time each student has spent to perform a task and how many attempts were needed to solve it.

Exercises and tasks can be updated quickly, so if something turns out to be not optimal teachers can correct it without delay.
Study Manager for SharePoint Exercise
Task types
Version 2 of Study Manager will have seven different task types. This diversity makes work more interesting for the students, as each exercise can have various kinds of tasks. The task types span from self correcting tasks like multiple choice to work with documents.

Connect with image
One of the task types is new: "Connect with image". It shows the students two columns, one with images and one with text. The task is to drag and drop the right text to each image.

The teacher who creates a "Connect with image" task just have to give image links and words or phrases in the correct order. Then Study Manager will randomize how the text is shown to the students. Study Manager will also give the images a suitable size.

Subscriber suggestions
All these enhancements have been suggested by subscribers, and we are grateful for all input from people who really use our products. You are the ones who know best what is needed. We are the ones who can figure out how it should be implemented!

Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

03 June 2016

Outlook HelpDesk With Kanban, Month And Pie Views

Folder HelpDesk logo Folder HelpDesk for Outlook V14 has been released! The new version can visualize support tickets in three colorful HTML views: kanban board, month and pie chart.

Mature add-in
Folder HelpDesk for Outlook was one of my first Outlook add-ins, created for a Swedish company more than 15 years ago. Soon after that I made Folder HelpDesk a standard product, and today companies and organizations all over the world use Folder HelpDesk to keep track of issues and support cases.

Tickets list in Outlook
Folder HelpDesk has a lot of useful features and can be highly customized, but the base is the ticket list in Outlook. When you install Folder HelpDeskin a shared mailbox or public folder, a team can cooperate on the tickets. These are created directly by team members, converted from e-mails or fetched from a web form. The demo below gives a general introduction to Folder HelpDesk.

Multiple views
Users can see the tickets in various ways. They can group the tickets by one of the ticket parameters, for example Caller, Responsible or Status, and have colorful overviews in the kanban, month or pie chart views.

The Month view can be displayed as a timeline or as a calendar. The image above shows the timeline. Both the timeline and the calendar show the tickets as time slots from start to due date, and the slots are color coded by either incident type or responsible.
Folder HelpDesk for Outlook Month view

In the Pie view, each incident type is represented by a pie chart, and each slice shows a status value. The size of the slice depends on how many tickets have this incident type and status.
Folder HelpDesk for Outlook Pie view
In the kanban view the tickets are displayed as color coded cards on a kanban board, where each status value is visualized as a phase. The tickets can be dragged and dropped from one phase to another, and the status value will be changed automatically. If you have added a custom field to the ticket form, the tickets can be grouped in lanes by this custom parameter.

Kanban Task Manager features
Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint logotypeSome of my readers have probably recognized the new views in Folder HelpDesk, because they are nearly the same as in Kanban Task Manager. Thus the developers did not have to "invent the wheel" again, as they could reuse much of the code from our project and task management solution for Outlook and SharePoint.

Upgrade upgrade iconSubscribers are welcome to upgrade Folder HelpDesk without any extra costs, and I recommend you to do it. The new views will give users an enhanced experience when working with Folder HelpDesk.

Try Folder HelpDesk download icon If you need a good issue tracking tool for Outlook and Exchange, I recommend you to download and try Folder HelpDesk . Please contact us if you have questions. Your e-mail will be well received!

Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

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