21 October 2014

Archive SharePoint List Items With New Solution

SP Archive for SharePoint logotypeSharePoint lists cannot contain an unlimited number of items, so for a sustainable data management, organizations need to archive old or unused data that cannot be deleted.  To help organizations handle the archiving in an efficient way, is developing a new solution SP Archive. Today the documentation work has come so far that I can show a demo on how SP Archive works.

Customized archiving to database
The best storage option for archived SharePoint list items is a database, and SP Archive supports both the Access and SQL Server database. Often all fields and items don't have to be archived, and with SP Archive you can select exactly which items and fields should be archived at each occasion.

Kanban Task Manager
Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint logotypeThe SharePoint version of Kanban Task Manager allows teams to work with projects and tasks on a kanban board in SharePoint. Color coded tasks are dragged between phases as work on a project proceeds.

When Kanban Task Manager has been used for a while many of the tasks have been finished. Kanban Task Manager can hide any phase from the kanban board, and many teams choose to hide the finished phase. These tasks can still be used in the Kanban Task Manager Excel reports.

Eventually, when there are many finished tasks and projects, most organizations want to archive them. However, an ordinary workflow cannot be used with the Kanban Task Manager task list, so that was the original reason for developing SP Archive. We soon decided to create a powerful tool for all SharePoint users. SharePoint Solutions HelpDesk OSP icon Business Solutions has more products for SharePoint. The first one was HelpDesk OSP, an add-on that connects Outlook and SharePoint and makes it possible to create SharePoint list items directly from Outlook. Kanban Task Manager icon
Recently we published TimeCard for SharePoint, a time tracking solution for SharePoint calendars. Two more SharePoint solutions are under development, but I will save them for later blog posts.

SP Archive can of course be used with all these products, and we have decided to let it be free for subscribers to a SharePoint Solution. Organizations who are not subscribers can subscribe to SP Archive separately.

Released soon
The development of SP Archive is finished, and the solution is now in the testing, bug fixing and documentation phase. We hope to release it by the end of this month or in the beginning of November. In the meantime you are welcome to watch the demo!

Peter Kalmstrom
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

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