06 May 2013

Publish E-mail Attachments To SharePoint

SharePoint document libraries have many useful features that enhance document management, and in an earlier article I described various ways to add files to SharePoint.
SharePoint 2013 Document library
Today I want to tell you about yet another way to add files to a SharePoint document library: an Outlook add-on that connects to SharePoint and makes it easy to add files to a SharePoint document library directly from Outlook. This is a product idea, also described in the Ideas section of our website.

E-mail attachments
I would guess that sending an e-mail attachment is the most common method when people want to share a  file. It is convenient to send files as attachments. Often you want to write a few lines to the receiver anyway, so why not send the file in the same process?

However, that it is convenient to add files to e-mails does not mean that sending e-mail attachments is the best method for sharing files. It is certainly not the safest way, and if the file is big it might take time to download it.

Another problem is that files are gathered in mailboxes, where they take up space without giving any of the benefits you will get when using SharePoint document libraries.

Outlook Attach File iconSP Attach publishes "attachments" to SharePoint
I call the add-on I am designing SP Attach. SP is for SharePoint, and Attach is for e-mail attachments, because what this application does is changing the default behavior of the "Attach File" command in Outlook.

With SP Attach installed you click on the "Attach File" button and select a file, as usual, but  the file will not be attached to the e-mail. Instead it will be published to a SharePoint document library, and in the e-mail you will get a link to the document in the library. The same thing will happen when you drag a file into an e-mail.
Link to SharePoint Document Library in Outlook e-mail
Auto or choice
 SP Attach will give several possibilities. You can choose to let the add-on publish all your files to a specified SharePoint document library, and in that case you will never be asked about it. You will just see the link in your e-mail when the file is published.
SP Attach in Outlook
Another option is to let SP Attach ask you what to do with the file.  In this case you can have various document libraries to select for publication, and you can also opt to not publish the file to SharePoint at all but send it as a normal e-mail attachment.

This alternative must of course be used when you send files to people who don't have access to the SharePoint site.

Other cloud platforms
The team will first concentrate on making SP Attach work well with SharePoint, but the same idea can be applied to other cloud platforms for file sharing, like Dropbox, and I hope we can expand the add-on to support more platforms.

Give us your input
As you might have seen in my earlier blog post about document managemen in a SharePoint list, I have decided to publish my product ideas on the website.

I hope we will get valuable comments and questions that can tell us about the interest for my ideas, so you are very welcome to contact us. And please, read more about SP Attach on the website.

Addition 9 December 2014: SP Attach is no longer just and idea. This Solution is now under development and has its home page under >products:

By Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions