21 March 2017

SharePoint Online From Scratch Updated With PowerApps And Flow

SharePoint Online from Scratch coverMicrosoft has enhanced Office 365 SharePoint in several different ways lately, and as an author I am of course eager to cover them all. Therefore I have now released a new version of SharePoint Online from Scratch, on Amazon.

Practical use
SharePoint Online from Scratch focuses on no-code, hands-on instructions and explanations on how to practically make use of a SharePoint tenant for collaboration within an organization. The book also gives examples on how to use SharePoint for management of common business processes.

Multimedia tutorials
Microsoft has a lot of SharePoint instructions online, but they have no real course or manual with a progression. You must know what you are looking for to use the Microsoft tutorials, and how can you search for something when you don't even know that it exists?

Before you can browse Microsoft's articles you need to know the basics and a bit more of SharePoint, and you can learn that in my book. Video demonstrations are great, but to be optimal they need to be studied in a context. SharePoint Online from Scratch gives links to Tips articles with demos, and I believe this combination of textbook and video is a good way to explain things.

New experience and new page model
Microsoft has recently introduced a new user interface for SharePoint Online apps (new experience) and pages (new model). The new interface is more intuitive and easier to use than the classic one, but for several reasons you cannot just go over and start using it everywhere.
SharePoint Online New Experience Command Bar
All app templates don't have the new experience yet, and among those are such common apps as the calendar and tasks list. Furthermore everything you can do in the classic interface is not possible in the new one. You can for example not connect lists to Outlook or Access, and you cannot customize new model pages to the same extent as you can do with wiki pages.

The new experience, on the other hand, has features that are not available in the classic one. As a result of these differences, SharePoint administrators need to understand both interfaces, and SharePoint Online from Scratch now describes both. This has given the book more pages, but I have kept the price at the same level as before.

PowerApps and Flow
Microsoft PowerApps iconSharePoint Online lists that use the new experience have a PowerApp button in the command bar, so that users can start creating mobile friendly apps directly from within the list they want to use. PowerApps are created automatically this way, but for best result you should modify them. I give some examples on how to do that in the new version of SharePoint Online from Scratch.

Another new button in the modern experience lets IT professions create flows, which is Microsoft's replacement for SharePoint workflows. These can be used extensively with various services, and when you create a flow from a SharePoint list you will have a choice of all templates that include SharePoint.

Microsoft Flow In SharePoint Online from Scratch I show how you can continue building your flow from such templates, and I also give a general description on how Flow works. The classic workflows from the earlier versions of the book are still there, because everything cannot be done with a flow or even a SharePoint 2013 workflow. A good SharePoint admin should know all the options!

On today
   amazon logo     The new version of SharePoint Online from Scratch is released on all Amazon sites. I have joined the Kindle Matchbook program, so of you buy the paperback first, you may buy the e-book for a very low price. That way, you can take advantage of both the nice layout of the paperback and the e-book hyperlinking and use the edition that suits you best at each occasion.

By Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

16 March 2017

SharePoint Pages Instead Of Library Files For Company Guidelines

SharePoint iconOrganizations that use SharePoint tend to share most of their documents in libraries, and this is often the best way – but not always! In a new Tips article, I suggest a method that uses pages instead of documents. It is less common but quite striking when used on certain kinds of documents. In my demo I use new model pages, but everything that can be done in the new model can also be achieved with wiki pages.

Pages versus documents
Pages can of course only be edited and shared inside SharePoint, so you cannot always use them instead of documents. However, I recommend you to try pages when suitable. Once you get away from documents, you will find that it is easier to both read and edit pages as compared to documents. Furthermore, pages load much quicker than documents and can be more interactive, containing live videos etc.

Company guidelines
Most organizations have documents for company guidelines that should be shared among users. For such documents the page method is suitable, if you want to present the guidelines in a more elegant way than just uploading them to a document library. Therefore I have used a few of these documents as an example in my demo.

Subsite with pages
The page method idea is to create a subsite called Company Guidelines and add the content of each document on a separate page in that site. The page should of course have the same name as the guidelines document.

Custom links
When all pages are added to the subsite, I remove the default links from the Quick Launch. Instead I add links to the pages with company guidelines. This is done in the Site pages library, where I also set one of the pages as the default one.

With a link to the Company Guidelines site in the top navigation, users can easily reach the guidelines, and when the site is open they have all the pages at hand in the Quick Launch.

By Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

08 March 2017

SharePoint Online Content Type With New Experience

SharePoint iconWe have recently updated our Tips articles about content types to the latest version of Office 365 and the new experience interface. Using content types is the best way to make sure that items in a SharePoint list or library will have the desired content. A content type is a kind of template that decides what each item should contain, how it should look and which metadata should be collected.

Make similar content look alike
All organizations produce a lot of content, like invoices, quotes, manuals, guidelines and reports, and this content should preferably be created and managed in a consistent way. It should, for example, contain the correct metadata. When each kind of content has its own content type, it is easy for users and managers to create and keep track of SharePoint content.

Quotes library
In my experience, the concept of content types requires some learning. To make it easy to understand, I have recorded some demos on how to create a content type for a Quotes library.

When there is no custom content type in a SharePoint library, users can create any type of document that is allowed by the default Document content type. No metadata columns will be visible, and there is no way to limit the creation choice to a special type of documents, for example Word.

By adding a custom content type to the library and remove the default one (only from this library, of course), I can limit the user choices and give the library the desired columns for metadata.
SharePoint opens Word

Word template
To further enhance the content type, I add a Word template to it. I use the Word Quick Parts to create a table where the cells correspond to the metadata columns in the SharePoint library, and this way the required metadata can be easily added to the document and also become printable.

In the final Quotes library it is only possible to create new documents based on my Word template, and even if I cannot force users to actually fill out the metadata it is very easy to do it. The columns are present in the document itself, and dates and values in choice columns can be selected.

Library template
SharePoint custom library template The last step is to save the Quotes library as a template, so that it can be used on other sites. It will now show up among the other templates when you use the "Add an app" command.

Even if I have taken a Quote document content type as an example in the articles, content types can be defined for any item type, including list items, media files and folders. The method is similar whichever item you use, so I hope the Tips articles will be helpful.

By Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

28 February 2017

Dedicated Teachers Behind Study Manager For SharePoint

The other day I read in a Swedish paper that refugees who had come to the town Tierp as unaccompanied minors had managed very well in Sweden. As I have had a lot of cooperation with teachers and IT technicians in Tierp, this was really good news to me.

When you come to a foreign country as a refugee you often have experienced traumatic events, and that might be especially true if you arrive as an unaccompanied child. In those cases, it is extremely important that you are met by a welcoming society and dedicated teachers and other adults.

Study Manager for SharePoint logotypeI know Tierp has such devoted teachers, because I have had the privilege to cooperate with some of them in a project that resulted in the SharePoint solution Study Manager. The development of this product was sponsored by Tierp and initiated by professionals who teach Swedish to immigrants.

What we created for Tierp was a learning platform in SharePoint, where teachers can add and organize teaching material and where students can practice at their own pace but still with teacher supervision. The solution has served the immigrants who study Swedish very well.
Study Manager for SharePoint
"It is a joy to work with Study Manager", says one of the teachers, Medina Becirovic Emkic. "The solution works splendidly. All students, also those who are not used to computers, can work with the exercises, as Study Manager is so easy to use."

The article I read is unfortunately only in Swedish, but it says that most of the young people who came as unaccompanied minors to Tierp between 2007 and 2016 is working and have a good income - even a little bit higher than the average for Swedes of the same age! None of them have been convicted for a crime. cooperation iconSuch a result can only be achieved when the immigrants get qualified help to learn Swedish quickly. The whole team is familiar with Tierp and Study Manager, and we all congratulate the Tierp society and the young immigrants to the success!

Today Tierp takes advantage of Study Manager for many more subjects, and Study Manager has become a standard product that is used also by other schools and companies. If you think Study Manager could be useful to your educational purposes, you are welcome to try the solution.

By Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

24 February 2017

Office 365 From Scratch Published On Amazon

Office 365 from Scratch cover Office 365 is a quickly expanding platform – so quickly that it might be difficult to keep track of what is included and how to best make use of it. With my new book, Office 365 from Scratch, I want to help decision makers and administrators to learn the Microsoft cloud platform. Office 365 users who want to know more about the possibilities their accounts give them, will also find parts of the book interesting.

The topic Office 365 is huge and cannot be covered in one book. My intention has instead been to introduce the different parts of Office 365 and specify the right words for the features in apps and services. Microsoft has a lot of information online, but it is not easy to find it if you don't know what to search for!

Office 365 from Scratch starts with general information on Office 365 and describes how to get started and add user accounts. After that I introduce:
  • Microsoft OutlookExchange, for e-mail, calendars and contacts. E-mailing is mission critical for most organizations, but managing growing mailbox sizes can be a nightmare for IT-departments. The stable and secure Exchange Online is often one of the reasons for using Office 365.
  • Microsoft OneNoteOffice, which includes the most common applications for word processing, calculation, presentations and notes. The Office 365 Enterprise subscriptions include the Office desktop suite and online editions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote.
  • Microsoft SharePointSharePoint, for enterprise content management and sharing. I have already published two books and hundreds of video demonstrations solely about& SharePoint Online, but in a book like Office 365 from Scratch there is only room for an overview of what is most important to know. I also give information about apps that build on SharePoint: Video Microsoft OneDriveand My Site with Delve and OneDrive for Business.
  • Office 365 Groups, a service built on SharePoint and Exchange. In a Group users can share documents, work on project plans, schedule meetings and receive e-mails in a shared inbox – often concerning a specific topic, such as a project.Office 365 Planner icon The Planner app is included in all Groups, and the Conversation apps Teams and Yammer make use of Groups just like StaffHub, the brand new app for work scheduling.
  • Microsoft FlowFlow, Microsoft's replacement for SharePoint workflows, can be used extensively with various services, and you can create flows for elaborate collaboration over multiple platforms.
  • Microsoft PowerApps iconPowerApps lets IT professions create mobile friendly apps connected to data from various sources and distribute them to users within the organization.
  • Power BI iconPower BI helps you create interactive visualizations of data from unrelated sources and show them on websites or in apps.
  • Sway is a presentation app where users work on a web-based canvas.Office 365 Sway icon It is possible to insert images, text, documents, videos, charts and maps from many different sources in the sways.
Office 365 from Scratch includes links to Tips articles with video demonstrations. I hope these articles will make the learning more varied and enhance the understanding.

        Office 365 from Scratch is sold at Amazon. Just like my earlier books, Office 365 from Scratch is available as e-book as well as paperback and included in the Kindle Matchbook program, which lets you buy the e-book for a very low cost when you have purchased the paperback.

I have had good assistance with this book. My mother Kate helped me organize the material, Rituka Rimza proofread the manuscript and Vijayant Rimza created the book cover. I am grateful for your contribution!

By Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions