30 January 2015

SharePoint Templates Manager Next Solution

SharePoint logoWhen working with SharePoint for various organizations I have seen the need for a template management system for the SharePoint libraries. I have experienced that people have difficulties in finding the correct template, and administrators have no easy way to publish their templates on SharePoint so that everyone in the organization can use them. Now we are doing something to solve this problem.

Template management for the organization
Today I can give you the first presentation of what will be a new Solution: Templates Manager for SharePoint. With this solution, templates can be categorized and distributed to the whole organization, because Templates Manager uses only one Template library for the entire SharePoint farm.

Word 2013 icon     PowerPoint 2013 icon     Excel2013 icon     Outlook 2013 icon     

Use any file with the right look
One of the many advantages with SharePoint is that you don't have to create a real template. You can use any document of the same type that have the background, header and footer, font, colors and so on that you wish to use in new documents.

Template Search
The heart of Templates Manager is the Search page. Here all the templates are gathered, grouped by category. When a category is expanded, all templates in that group are displayed. Icons show what kind of document the template is intended for.
Template Manager for SharePoint Search

Find template
When Templates Manager is installed and a user clicks on "Add document" in a SharePoint library, he will not see the standard dialog. Instead the Template Search will open, and the user can write in a search word or phrase. Then all those templates that do not fit the search word will be filtered out, and only those who comply with the search will be left to select among.

Use template
When the user clicks on one of the templates it will be copied to the document library and opened, and the user can directly start working with the document. It will now have the correct formatting, metadata and everything else that is pre-defined in the template.

Upload template
Templates Manager creates a new Templates library, to where all files that you want to use as a template should be uploaded. When the file is uploaded, enter a template title and description and select a category in a dropdown. These categories are fetched from the settings, where you can add the categories you wish to use.
Template Manager for SharePoint Upload
Publish templates
Under the Library tab in the Template library, Templates Manager adds a new ribbon button, Publish Templates. This button is used when you have uploaded templates to the library and want to publish them. The templates can be published at the same time to all sites in the SharePoint farm.

From idea to product
For some time Templates Manager has been presented in the section for product ideas. What I describe there is something I still want to offer in the future, but we will start with a more basic solution only for SharePoint.

I am looking forward to showing you more of Templates Manager!
Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

28 January 2015

Create SharePoint Self-Study Exercises And Tasks

Study Manager for SharePoint logotype The new Learning Management System for student self studies in SharePoint is in its final development phase, and work with the documentation has begun. Today I can show you the first Study Manager demo, where I explain how to create the very first exercise and tasks.

For all kinds of education
Study Manager can be used by schools or for employee training. As we build Study Manager on SharePoint, no separate training platform has to be installed and learned. Instead you can take advantage of all SharePoint features to enhance your Study Manager installation and adapt it to your requirements.

Subject site collection
When SharePoint is already used within the organization it is easy to just create a new Study Manager site collection for each subject. Here you can gather everything that should be shared by students of that subject, like a discussion forum or a news feed.

Such shared information can be added to both the start page of the site collection and to the subsites that Study Manager creates for each study group.

Course management hierarchy
Study Manager for SharePoint table of contents Study Manager gives teachers and trainers a framework that can be filled with exercises for any purpose. These exercises and their self correcting tasks are the bottom level in a hierarchy, below courses, parts and chapters.

As the demo shows the very first exercise creation, I have to create a course, a part and a chapter where my exercise should belong. A table of contents is created automatically, so that the hierarchy is clearly visible.

Add in list or from superior level
Each hierarchy level has its own SharePoint list, where you can add new items just as you normally do in SharePoint. But new items can also be added from within an item of the superior level.
Study Manager for SharePoint add task

What students see
The description fields of the exercise forms can be filled with text, images, tables, links, graphs or videos. These fields, and the connected tasks, are what students see when they click on the links in the Study Manger table of contents.

Excel tutorial
 I the demo below I am using one of my Excel tutorials as exercise. When the students have watched it, I hope they can solve the self correcting tasks I have connected to this exercise. After that they will be presented with a file to practice on.

We hope to release Study Manager for SharePoint in the second half of February, and I will come back with more info before that.

Peter Kalmstrom
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

26 January 2015

Fetch Excel Values From Other Files

Excel iconMy mother Kate has written today's blog post. She had an Excel problem and could not find the solution online, so she asked me for a demo. And of course I obey when my mother requests something!

I know that my demo helped her, and I hope more people will find it useful. You can find it below and in the Tips section.

Linked Excel files
When I analyzed an Excel file with statistics, I understood that we would get better information if we fetched data from another file. But it was necessary that this data was updated in the statistics file each time it was updated in the source file, so I could not just copy and paste the value.
Kate Kalmstrom image
I tried to write a formula, but I could not get it right. Therefore I asked Peter for help, and I was surprised when he showed me that I did not have to write a formula at all! It was actually very easy to fetch the information I wanted from another file, and now I have seen that it gets updated too.

Side by side
To put two open files side by side in Windows 8, you just have to press the Windows key and place one file to the right with the right arrow key and the other to the left with the left arrow key. Windows 8 logotype It is not necessary to have the files side by side when you to tell Excel to fetch data from one file to another, but it makes it easier to see what you are doing.

Let Excel do the work
Thanks to the capacity of Excel it is very easy to link data from a different file than the current one. Select the cell where you want to place the value and write the equal sign in the formula bar, to tell Excel to calculate. Then click on the cell in the other file that you want to fetch – and Excel creates the correct formula for you!
Excel formula bar

Excel tutorials
"If I cannot do it, there must be more people out there who need help." This was my thought when I asked Peter to make the video for me like a demo.

Now the demo on how to make Excel fetch data from another Excel file is published with a step by step instruction in the Tips section, as one of many tutorials on various aspects of Excel: formulas, charts, use with SharePoint and more.

Excel formula barNote: when you add a new line in the source file, the row number of the cell you fetch a value from will be changed. Normally Excel handles this and updates the formula automatically, but this is NOT done when you refer between files.

This problem is avoided if you give the source cell a name instead of using the cell coordinates. Right click on the cell that has the value you want to fetch and select "Define name". Give a unique name to the cell, and then follow the instructions in the demo.

Now you can modify the other cells as you wish. The source cell will always have the same name, and the value of that cell will be fetched to the new file.
 Kate Kalmström
Documentation Manager Business Solutions

23 January 2015

Office 365 News and Changes

Office 365 logotype Office 365 is constantly enhanced, but around the turn of the year there have been more changes than usual. Here are my comments to news and removals.

Start button
The most eye catching new feature is something that Microsoft calls "app launcher" in the top left corner. Here users can reach all services that are available to them via one single icon.

There were many protests when the Windows start button that was removed in Windows 8 Now it is back again, in a new form. It will be included in Windows 10 (more about that in a later post), and the app launcher is basically the same thing, even if it is modernized and possible to customize.

SharePoint kanban card

Office 365 Video
Another new feature is the Office 365 Video, which I have not yet had an opportunity to test. It will make it easier to add videos to Office 365 and give features like ability to handle large amounts of videos, search, categorization, statistics and publishing in multiple formats for different devices.

As you might have seen Microsoft has been quietly removing Tags and Notes and My Tasks from SharePoint online in the last few months. This is of course a bit depressing news, especially since these features were recently drummed up as reasons to move to SharePoint 2010 or 2013. (If you miss My Tasks, have a look at the article where I show how to add a web part that shows "my open tasks".)

Better options in the pipeline?
However, there is hope and promise in these shut-downs. Think of what happened with Search a few years ago. First we had many different products and offerings depending on your license level and which products you purchased. FAST was sold as a separate product, requiring its own server. Microsoft Search Server (Express) was another product that was sometimes used.

All those search features were killed off and then replaced by the new search features in Office 365 and SharePoint 2013, which I am very enthusiastic about. As you might have seen I have started a series of tutorials on the SharePoint 2013 Search in the Tips section.

I hope the now removed Tags and Notes and My Tasks will be replaced with something better, in the same way as the earlier SharePoint search engines.

Yammer disappears?
I believe that we will see the same thing happen with Yammer in the next few months. Ever since Microsoft bought that platform it has been clear that a new integrated social platform will come.

Removing the old features is a way of paving the road for the new things to come. Regretfully I don't have any inside information about the new features, yet - but I am hopeful, and I will certainly blog about them as soon as I know something more!

Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

21 January 2015

SharePoint Kanban Board With Swim Lanes And Zoom

Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint logotype Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint V3 has been released! The new version has several enhancements, like a possibility to use swim lanes, a zoom and an instant search feature that begins searching as soon as you start writing. There are also additional ways to move tasks within or between phases and lanes.

Swim Lanes
SharePoint kanban card Several subscribers have asked for swim lanes in Kanban Task Manager, to get a possibility to group tasks and get a better overview.

The new version therefore creates a Lanes list at activation on a site, Enter your own values in the list, and the lanes will be shown on the kanban board.

If you don't want to use swim lanes, don't add any items to the Lanes list. Then no lanes will be shown on your kanban board.

Move tasks with keys or finger
Drag Kanban Task Manager tasks with a finger Right from the first release Kanban Task Manager has given a possibility to drag and drop tasks with the mouse.
In version 3 you can also use keys (Ctrl + arrow) to move tasks within or between phases and lanes, and if you have a touch screen you can drag the tasks with a finger.

In version 3 of Kanban Task Manager you can zoom in an out on the kanban board, by dragging a bar to the left to see details and to the right to see more tasks.

You may also use the same method as you normally use with web pages: Ctrl + the plus or minus key.

This new zoom is one more way of viewing the tasks in the best way. There is also the filtering – by project, responsible, priority and a custom value – and the details pane, which shows more of the task text at the bottom of the screen.
Instant search, responsive design and high performance
Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint V3 also has an instant search, that suggests hits as you are writing, and the design is responsive so that the kanban board adapts well to different screen sizes.

The developers have also enhanced the performance, so that Kanban Task Manager now responds quicker on all controls.

Add images and links
Earlier you could format the text in the description field of the Kanban Task Manager tasks,and now the default setting also lets users add images, tables, links and videos in that field.

SharePoint kanban cardThis enhanced rich text is useful for the task description, but to have a clean look and a good overview of the tasks on the kanban board, we have chosen to give the kanban cards a fixed design.

Therefore the formatting cannot be seen on the kanban cards. Links are clickable directly on the cards, but other formatting is only visible when you open the task.

Upgrade upgrade iconFree upgrades are included in all Subscriptions, so we recommend current users to upgrade their installations. Just replace the file and reactivate Kanban Task Manager, and then you can continue working with your tasks.

Try it download iconIf you have not yet tried Kanban Task Manager, you are welcome to evaluate the solution for 30 days without any obligations.

We give support during the evaluation period as well as when you start a subscription. That is the least we can do when you spend valuable time on evaluating our SharePoint Solution!

Update of Outlook versions
Kanban Task Manager for Outlook logoThere are two Outlook versions of Kanban Task Manager, one for workgroups and one for single users.

Soon we will release updates of these versions too, with the same enhancements as we have given Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint. I will come back to you about that!

Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

19 January 2015

Outlook Time Reporting Add-on Supports Russian

TimeCard for Outlook logotypeTimeCard Workgroup for Outlook has been updated today. This Outlook add-on now supports Russian, in addition to the earlier eleven languages. After a user request we also made a change in the reporting grid that will simplify changes made right before reporting.

All versions updated
TimeCard for SharePoint logotypeLast week I told you about the new versions of TimeCard for SharePoint and TimeCard Single, so now all three TimeCard versions support Russian and have had some other enhancements.

Last minute changes
TimeCard users tag their Outlook calendar appointments with information about customer, task, project or similar. Thus the appointments are converted into time sheets, and hours can be reported directly from Outlook to an Access or SQL Server database.

When TimeCard users want to enter additional hours they can do that in the reporting dialog right before reporting. Earlier you had to click on the Save button to save these changes before reporting. It happened that users forgot to save, and then their additional time was not reported to the database. In the new version you can just click OK to both save the changes and report hours and expenses.
TimeCard reporting dialog

Next version will sync
Today's update was just minor, but I hope that next release of TimeCard Workgroup will be a major one. Next step is to add SharePoint as a sharing option beside the databases and to make TimeCard Workgroup synchronize with TimeCard for SharePoint when that SharePoint sharing option is selected. Then you can use both these versions together and make use of the version that is most suitable for each occasion.

Downloads upgrade icon Upgrades are included in the Subscriptions. The Premium subscribers have already received their own updated copies of TimeCard Workgroup, and subscribers on the lower subscription levels are welcome to download the standard solution and upgrade their installations.

TimeCard evaluation icon Evaluators may download and test TimeCard Workgroup for 30 days. Please contact us if you have questions!

Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

15 January 2015

Visual Studio SharePoint Solutions With Shared JavaScript and CSS

SharePoint logoPart of the code is used in several solutions, and our Lead Developer Jayant Rimza makes sure that this shared code is managed in the correct way. Today Jayant will share some of his knowledge and explain how the shared code is managed in the SharePoint Solutions.
Jayant Rimza photo
Create shared code
When you develop SharePoint solutions, especially sandboxed solutions or apps, you write lots of code in JavaScript and design pages with CSS. In such cases it is always a good practice to create shared code for common tasks instead of writing repetitive code or copy from old projects.

Attach to VS
It is also advisable to attach JQuery or other JavaScript or CSS libraries to your SharePoint Visual Studio solution. The advantage of attaching JQuery or other libraries is that if you update a file at the Master location, it gets updated in all your projects. There is no need to replace files in all projects manually.

Reliable development
Here at we always focus on good shared libraries that give fast and reliable development. As we develop standard solutions, we know that if we do it wrong the first time, we will have to go back and fix it later (at our own expense). Thus we need to always do it right from the beginning!

Add to VS as link
JavaScript logoFor a Visual Studio solution you can also add an existing file as a link. That will solve the update issue, as you only have to change that file to get all projects updated. However, a in a Visual Studio SharePoint solution files are not deployed in the SharePoint site.

Step by step
Adding managed code projects or files into a SharePoint file is not a problem, but when you are adding non-managed code, shared JavaScript files or CSS files via “add as link” to your SharePoint solution, you need to do it in a few steps. This is the process:

Add to folder or project
CSS icon Place the shared JavaScript or CSS files in a folder. It can be any folder from which files should be accessible for other projects. If you are using TFS (Team Foundation Server), you can create a new project and add files into it.

Add existing item
Open your Visual Studio SharePoint solution and add a new module or use an existing one.

Right click on the module or on a folder inside the module where you want to keep your shared files. In the right click menu, select “Add” and “Existing Item".

Add As Link
In the bottom right corner of the Existing Item dialog, you will see an option to add a file. In the dropdown, select the option “Add As Link”. Do not add a file with the “Add” option, because it will make a copy of the original file in your solution.

Set deployment path
Now you need to set a deployment path into SharePoint for the file you added as a link, because when you add a file as a link it does not set the SharePoint deployment path automatically (even if Visual Studio does it automatically for you in other cases). The deployment path is an actual path where the SharePoint solution will be deployed on a SharePoint site.

To set the deployment path, select the file and go to its properties window (F4). In the properties window you will find a section named “Deployment Location”. Expand it and set the “Path” property. I would suggest the current SharePoint module path, to avoid later confusion.

After setting this path, you will find the shared file in the SharePoint deployed folder, and you can always use the deployment path to register your JavaScript or CSS files.

SharePoint Developer Tips
This information about shared code is also published in the Tips section, where SharePoint developers also can find two earlier developer tips. I hope you will find them useful!
Jayant Rimza
Lead Developer Business Solutions

13 January 2015

Time Tracking in Outlook and SharePoint - Updates

TimeCard graphics All companies, from international concerns to self-employed craftsmen, need a way to track how time has been spent on various tasks and projects. With the Solution TimeCard you can report work hours in Outlook or SharePoint, where many of us plan our time anyway. TimeCard comes in three version, and two of them have been updated today.

Outlook versions
TimeCard for Outlook logotypeTimeCard Workgroup for Outlook was one of my first solutions, created nearly fifteen years ago for a Swedish town and soon after that transformed into a standard product. The Swedish town is still using TimeCard – but the latest version, of course!

After a few years TimeCard Workgroup had a little sibling: TimeCard Single. While the workgroup version has central reporting and configuration, the single version is intended for only one person and his/her PC.

But the daily use is the same for both versions: tag Outlook appointments with project, task, customer or similar, and report them directly from the Outlook calendar to a database.
TimeCard Excel reports

Updated statistics in TimeCard Single
TimeCard Statistics iconTimeCard gives a possibility to create Excel reports on the information in the reported appointments. If the appointments are tagged with values for customer and task, the default reports will show costs and number of hours and appointments per customer and per task.
TimeCard Excel reports
Expenses can be reported with the hours, and if that feature is enabled there is also a report on expenses per customer and task. Today´s update has given the TimeCard Single statistics reports a nicer design, the same that has already been implemented in TimeCard Workgroup.

Quicker SharePoint version
TimeCard for SharePoint logotypeTimeCard for SharePoint is the latest member of the TimeCard family. In general it works like the Outlook versions, and it also has Excel reports. The new version has enhanced performance.

The big advantage of the SharePoint version is of course that you can reach it from anywhere over the internet. Another benefit is that workgroups within a company easily can have their own installations, with separate configuration and reporting.

TRussian flaghe two updated TimeCard versions support a new language: Russian. We are happy to now support 12 European languages, and Russian will be implemented in more Solutions at new releases.

Upgrade upgrade icon Upgrades are always included in the Subscriptions, so current users of TimeCard for SharePoint and TimeCard Single are welcome to upgrade their installations.

TimeCard evaluation icon Have you not tried TimeCard yet? If you need a convenient way to report time, please visit the TimeCard homepage and read more about the three versions. You may download and evaluate the version that suits you for 30 days. Please contact us if you have questions!

Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

07 January 2015

"My Open Tasks" On The SharePoint Home Page

SharePoint icon SharePoint web parts can be used for adding almost anything to a SharePoint page. A Content Search web part can be customized so that it lets each team member reach his or her open tasks directly from the team site home page.

My open tasks
In a new article in the Tips section I describe step by step how to create a "My open tasks" web part on a SharePoint page. A search query searches for tasks in all site collections and adds the open tasks assigned to the current user in that web part.

My open tasks lists in SharePoint

Customized search
The addition of  "My open tasks" is done in two steps. First you need to add the Content Search web part. However, that will give you a display of recently changed items on the current site, and that is not what we want here.

To get the search query to look for the current user's open tasks in all site collections, we need to modify it. The Build Your Query dialog has a test button, so it is easy to check if you are doing the right thing.  Therefore you may find my demo useful even if you want to display something else in the Content Search web part.

Search tips
The Tips section currently has 51 tips articles about various aspects of SharePoint 2013, from basic to advanced. I am a Microsoft certified SharePoint expert and trainer, and I am happy to share my knowledge. You are welcome to browse around!

Kanban style tasks cooperation
Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint logotypeWhen you need to cooperate on tasks and projects I suggest that you take a look at the SharePoint Solution Kanban Task Manager.

Each work group can have its own installation of  Kanban Task Manager in SharePoint, where tasks can be dragged and dropped between phases as the work proceeds. Managers can navigate among the installations to supervise the processes.

Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions