25 November 2015

Keep Track of Name Days for 2016

iNameDays has a little cheap app that is updated with new information each year: iNameDays. This app gives you name days in your standard calendar, where you have your other information, so with iNameDays you can delight relatives, friends and colleagues by remembering their name days.

iPod, iPad, iPhone
iNameDays support mobile devices with the iOS operating system, which means iPods, iPads and iPhones. You can buy it from the iTunes App Store for the reasonable cost of 0.99 US dollars.

No extra calendar
There are many name days apps on the market, but unlike the other apps iNameDays gives you the name days in the calendar you normally use. You don't have to open a separate calendar to see the name days.

13 countries
Name days are not celebrated in all countries, but so far iNameDays has the name days for 13 countries. For Swedish users we have also added the Swedish week numbers, which are commonly used when you plan time in Sweden.

App for consideration
iNameDays iconYou cannot build a company on a name days app, but I like iNameDays. The other Solutions make a difference for companies and organizations, while iNameDays reminds each individual of a cause for celebration.

iNameDays gives a reason to be extra kind to another earthling, so I find it a highly sympathetic app.

Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

24 November 2015

SharePoint Tips For Issue Tracking Lists

SharePoint icon SharePoint lists are often used to share tasks and helpdesk tickets. In my tutorial series SharePoint Online from Scratch I have now published some articles on how Tasks and Issue Tracking lists can be enhanced. I call them helpdesk lists, but I think my tutorials are suitable for any SharePoint team site lists.

My intention has not been to give a recipe on the perfect helpdesk list. Instead I wanted to point to various options, so that each team can make the modifications that suit them best.

Tasks or Issues?
SharePoint provides two templates that both can be used as helpdesk lists, so I start with comparing them. Both have their benefits and drawbacks, but I decided to use the Issue Tracking template as a base and modify and enhance it in various ways.

Efficient work
The list design is crucial for work efficiency, so in the following articles I suggest how the basic helpdesk list should be created, how to reach the edit mode as quickly as possible and how to edit multiple items at the same time.

Example data
When you try different solutions it is convenient to have example data that shows how the list behaves in various scenarios. In two tutorials I show how to open the SharePoint list in Microsoft Access to create example data for an Hours Worked column and for Assigned To, Priority, Title and more.

Analyze list data
When you have worked with the list items for a while, you probably want to study the data. What kind of issues takes most time? How many issues have been solved for a certain period? By exporting the list to Excel you can both analyze data and visualize it in charts.
SharePoint landing page with web part
Landing page
When you have many list views you cannot see all of them at the same time. That can be solved with a landing page, and I show how to create such a landing page with the views and an Excel chart to the right and the list items to the left on the page. I also show how to make the list link point to the landing page.

Convert e-mails to list items
HelpDesk OSP logotypeIf your team often gets request, questions or error reports by e-mail I suggest you have a look HelpDesk OSP, and Outlook add-in that converts e-mails into list items. You can connect HelpDesk OSP to any SharePoint list, and with HelpDesk OSP you can also create new list items directly from Outlook. My helpdesk tips are of course also suitable for the SharePoint lists you use with HelpDesk OSP.

Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

23 November 2015 Lead QA Gets Married

Peter and Vijayant Vijayant Rimza, our Lead QA, will marry in the beginning of December. I will attend the wedding, of course, so I will soon be leaving Sweden for India.

Technical expert
Vijayant has been with for nearly five years, and he has a deep knowledge of our products and the Office and SharePoint platforms they build on. Therefore he is not only a skilled tester but also a technical all-round expert who can take care of most tasks at the office. Now he is going to be married to his fiancée Monika, and I am really looking forward to meeting them both.

Vijayant and his future bride are Hindus, and Hindu weddings often have many ceremonies. This past weekend the families celebrated Lagun, which is held 15-20 days before the main wedding day. After the Lagun everyone gives special attention to the bride and groom.

At the Lagun ceremony the bride’s family declares in front of their relatives that their daughter is getting married. A priest writes a beautifully adorned letter confirming the wedding plans, and that letter is then read aloud by a priest at a ceremony in the groom's home. In the photo below, Vijayant is sitting at the priest's side while he is reading.
Lagun ceremony
The second ceremony will take place next week. At this occasion family members apply a paste made of turmeric, sandal wood powder and rose water on the skin of the bride and groom, so that it will look sparkling on their wedding day.

After the Haldi ceremony the couple cannot meet until the wedding day, according to tradition, but I have heard that many couples sneak around and make memories :-)

The ceremonies continue, and I will tell you more when I come to India. Vijayant's sister, Rituka, have helped me with information and the photo for this blog post, and I will rely on her for the future wedding reports also.

Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

20 November 2015

New App Gives SharePoint Tasks In Mobile UI

ShareTask icon Do you often work with SharePoint tasks in a mobile or tablet? Then you know that the SharePoint user interface is not the best for smart devices. Soon you can use our new app ShareTask to manage your tasks while travelling, waiting for the dentist, seeing a boring TV show ‒ you name it! ‒ and have a user interface that is adapted to mobile devices.

Connect to SharePoint list
ShareTask can connect to all SharePoint lists that are built on the Tasks or Issue Tracking templates and also to the Kanban Task Manager default list, KTMTasks. After login, ShareTask takes the information from the SharePoint list and displays it in a mobile friendly user interface.

Edit tasks
With ShareTask you may add, edit and delete SharePoint list items directly in your smartphone or tablet. You can change status, add comments, assign priority and assign tasks to users or groups.
ShareTask will work on the three dominating operating systems for smart devices: Windows Phone, Android and iOS.

For subscribers
HelpDesk for Outlook and SharePoint logotype We hope that current Subscribers will appreciate ShareTask, especially HelpDesk OSP and Kanban Task Manager users.

Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint logotypeHelpDesk OSP converts Outlook e-mails to SharePoint list items, and Kanban Task Manager lets users manage tasks and projects on a color coded kanban board. These two solutions can of course be combined, and we have a subscription level that includes both of them.

For anyone
Even if we were considering what Subscribers might need when we decided to develop the ShareTask app, it is an independent product. It does not require anything more than a smart device, SharePoint and an internet connection.

I am sure many will discover and use this ingenious little app, which gives users an advantage that we so far not have seen on the market.

Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

17 November 2015

SharePoint E-mail Alerts With And Without Workflows

SharePoint iconSharePoint is a platform where several people share and work with the same files and list items, so the possibility to have automatic e-mail notifications when something has been changed or needs attention is a valuable feature. It can be done in various ways, with more or less customization and control, and I show some examples in my new demos in the SharePoint Online from Scratch series.

Alert me
SharePoint Alert iconSharePoint libraries and other lists have an Alert Me button for e-mail notifications on either all items or singular items. These e-mail alerts can be somewhat customized, because you can decide at what time they should be sent and for what changes. The site collection administrator can set alerts to be sent to other users, and each user can also set his/her own alerts.

Tasks and Issues alert
The Alert Me button is easy to use, but SharePoint lists that build on the Tasks and Issue Tracking templates have another option that is even quicker to set. These lists have a radio button for e-mail alert to users when they have been assigned a task.

This notification cannot be customized at all, and once the radio button is selected an e-mail is sent to every user who is assigned a new task. There is no control over when the e-mail is sent out, but normally it is sent within a few minutes after the assignment.

SharePoint Designer 2013 iconWhen you create a workflow in SharePoint Designer, you can customize the e-mail and decide to whom and under what conditions it should be sent. SharePoint Designer 2013 lets you create both SharePoint 2010 and SharePoint 2013 workflows, and I show both options in my demos.

Visio 2013 logoI also show how to use the SharePoint 2013 workflow Visual Designer view, which can be used if you have Microsoft Visio installed. The Visual Designer view gives a picture that explains the workflow's conditions and actions, and you can add your own comments to it. This makes the workflow easy to explain to users and customers.

Open the item in edit mode
The workflow I use to introduce the Visual Designer view and to show the difference between the SharePoint 2010 and SharePoint 2013 workflows is simple and just gives the assignee a link to the list where a new high priority item has been created.

In the last Alert articles I describe how to create more advanced workflows. One of them gives the assigned person a link to the exact item and opens it in edit mode. This saves a few clicks and is of course the most efficient way to receive the alert. I also show how to add a CC to an alert and how to send an e-mail when a task is overdue. HelpDesk for Outlook and SharePoint logotype

Use with SharePoint Solutions
These tips articles are useful for all, but we have especially created them for subscribers to our solutions HelpDesk OSP, which converts Outlook e-mails to SharePoint list items, and Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint logotype Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint.

I use a helpdesk list in most of my demos, and in a later blog post I will come back to this list and show ways to enhance such a list. All these Tips articles and demos are part of the SharePoint Online from Scratch series, which already has 132 articles and will contain more before it is finished. Welcome to browse!

Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

11 November 2015

Diwali - For Enlightenment And Victory Of The Good

Wednesday to Friday our Indian office is closed for the Diwali festival, a holiday that honors peace, enlightenment and the triumph of good over evil.

Universal wishes for a better world
Diwali is also called "The festival of lights". It is celebrated for five days, and each day has its specific ceremonies. It is India's most important holiday, but Diwali is celebrated in Hindu, Jain, Sikh and Zoroastrian communities all over the world.

Also people from other religions join the festivities, and in the U.S. President Obama lit a diya, a lamp, to show his support for the universal hope that marks Diwali: peace on earth and the victory of good forces over evil.

Rangoli and diyas at the office
The Indore staff has celebrated the first day of Diwali at the office, and the image to the right shows two team members, Neha Gupta Kaushal and Rituka Rimza, lighting diyas at a traditional floor painting, a rangoli.

The diyas symbolize the victory of light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance, something we all hope and strive for.

The rangoli is just for decoration, and such paintings can be created in offices, living rooms and courtyards to mark any festivity. Therefore our CEO Peter is met by a new rangoli each time he visits the Indore office. The team members often choose a peacock motif, as here, because the beautiful peacock is India's national bird.

Extra day off
Normally the Indore members of the team will be off for two days, but this year we wanted to give them three days. They have all worked hard during the last year with releases of totally new solutions like Study Manager and Templates Manager for SharePoint and new SharePoint versions of several more products. Now they will have a break for five days including the weekend.

Even if the Indore team gets a well earned break, we will not leave subscribers and evaluators of the Solutions unattended. The Swedish team members, Peter, Sigge and myself, will work as usual while the Indian team is celebrating, and if we need technical assistance our dedicated developers Jayant Rimza and Jitu Patidar will be available. We might not be as quick in answering as usual, but you are not forgotten!

Peter, Sigge and I wish a happy Diwali to our Indian colleagues, to our customers and to the great majority who believe that peace, understanding, kindness and tolerance will give a better world.

Kate Kalmström
CCO Business Solutions

09 November 2015

SharePoint Content Types For Consistent Library Management

SharePoint iconA content type with a document template is the best way to make sure that a SharePoint library will contain the desired content and be managed in a consistent way. To help SharePoint admins to get started with content types, we have now published six Tips articles about content types in the SharePoint Online from Scratch series. These tutorials are also suitable for SharePoint on-premise.

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. This is why SharePoint supplies content types.

When each type of content has its own content type, it is easy for users and managers to create and keep track of SharePoint content. A content type is a reusable collection of metadata that describes the shared attributes and behaviors for a specific kind of content. Such content types can be defined for any item type, including documents, list items, media files and folders.
SharePoint content types hierarchy
The SharePoint content types are organized in a hierarchy, and a content type can inherit its characteristics from a higher level content type. Thus core properties can be defined in base content types and inherited by more specific content types. Refer to Microsoft for detailed information about content types.

Quotes library metadata
In my experience the concept of content types requires some learning, so to make it easy to understand I have created some articles on how to enhance a Quotes library with views and metadata columns. In these articles I do not use a content type, because it is not until you understand the basic about views and columns that you can grasp what difference content types make.

Intro shows the problems
In my introduction to the content types tutorials I show that users can create or upload any type of document to a library that does not have a content type. Another big problem is that metadata columns are not visible  if the new document is created in Word Online, and without a content type there is no way to force uses to create new documents i Word, where the columns can be seen and filled out.
SharePoint opens Word
Create and connect content type
I seldom show a problem without giving a solution, so in the two subsequent articles I show how to create a content type for my SharePoint Quotes library and how to connect the content type to the library.

When the content type has been added to the library, I create a new document and show the difference.

Template makes metadata columns printable
Word 2013 iconTo further enhance the library, I continue with creating a Word template to use with the content type. This template has the metadata columns, so this way the metadata is not only added to SharePoint but also becomes printable.

The final step in this little series within the series is to connect the template to the content type. Now we are ready to go! In the updated 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 as the columns are present in the document itself.

By Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

06 November 2015

Outlook Kanban Board for Single Users Updated

Kanban Task Manager for Outlook logotypeDo you often need to enter information from e-mails into Outlook tasks? In that case today's update of Kanban Task Manager Single will be useful, because we have made it very easy to convert e-mails into tasks. Just click on a button to copy data from the e-mail to the task.

The workgroup version of Kanban Task Manager was updated a few weeks ago, and now the turn has come to the version for single users, like one-man businesses or consultants.

Visualize your work process
A physical kanban board is a board where cards are moved between different phases of a project as work proceeds. Kanban Task Manager uses the kanban board idea with Outlook tasks, so that you can see your tasks in Outlook and group them in various ways. You can:
  • Drag and drop tasks between or within different phases of a project. You may also use lanes to categorize your tasks.
  • Display tasks for multiple projects in one kanban board. Filter the tasks to see only one project.
  • Search tasks.
  • Zoom in and out on the kanban board, to see more details or more tasks.
  • Generate Statistics Excel reports. Study and show your data with all the features of Excel.
And now also:
  • Convert e-mails into task with a button click. Select or open the the e-mail and click on the 'Convert' button. This button is displayed both in the Outlook mail view and in open e-mails.
Kanban Task Manager ribbon group
Support for inline images
The new version of Kanban Task Manager supports inline images and bold and italic text in the task body. This is especially useful together with the 'Convert' button, because e-mails often have images and formatting.

You can also drag e-mails to the Kanban Task Manager folder to convert them into tasks, but with this method e-mail images will not be transferred to the task.

Conversion settings
In the Kanban Task Manager settings you can decide what to do when an e-mail has been converted into a task: always open the task, never open it or ask. When you open each task after conversion, you can directly select Project and Phase (and Lane and your custom tag if you are using those options).

If you choose to not open the tasks, they will be placed in the first phase on the kanban board, where you can easily find them and tag them with your Kanban Task Manager parameters. You may even call that phase "Not Assigned" and use that phase exclusively for tasks that are converted from e-mails and not yet have been tagged.

Open button
An 'Open' button will be displayed when you select an already converted e-mail in the e-mail view, or when you open a converted e-mail. Click on the button, and the corresponding task will open in a new window.

Upgrade upgrade iconIf you are a subscriber and often get work orders or other task information by e-mail, I recommend you to upgrade your installation. We give Subscribers free upgrades, and the upgrade is quick. Download the .msi file and run it. Then the installer will find your earlier installation and upgrade it automatically. Refer to the Revisions page for a full list of enhancements and bug fixes.

Try it download iconDo you need to get an overview over your Outlook tasks and want to use the kanban  method to visualize the work process? In that case you are welcome to try Kanban Task Manager Single. There is plenty of documentation on our website, and should you still have questions I hope you will contact us.

Peter Kalmström,
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

03 November 2015

SharePoint Views and Metadata Columns

SharePoint iconThe possibility to create different views is a powerful and popular SharePoint feature. Combine meaningful views with the use of columns for relevant metadata, and your SharePoint lists and libraries will be very informative.

In a series of Tips articles in the SharePoint Online from Scratch series, I show how to create columns and show their metadata in calendar and Gantt views and views with filters, grouping and totals. I use a library in the demonstrations, but what I show is also applicable to other SharePoint lists. The tutorials are suitable for SharePoint 2013 on-premise too, as most functions work in the same way as in Office 365 SharePoint.

The folders limitation
When moving files from a file server to SharePoint, it is possible – but not recommended! – to put all the files in a big document library with lots of folders within folders. The main argument for folders is that users will feel at home and the move to SharePoint will be very fast.

FoldersHowever, you will quickly experience that folders have some major drawbacks. Imagine if a site such as was organized in folders. It would start out rather well, I could click my way into the Europe folder and then into the London folder, but then I would quickly realize that once I get into deeper categories it gets complex.

Where will I find the hotels that both have both the “Free breakfast” and the “Free wifi”? In one of those folders or both? As you see at a certain level of complexity the folder way of storing information breaks down, and most likely your information is that complex too.

Use columns and views instead
A bit more complicated but a lot better when it comes to categorization is creating list columns and combining them with views, so that your information can be sliced and diced in many ways.

If we continue to use the hotels example from above I would create a country column based on the choice, managed metadata or lookup column type and then I would create two yes/no fields for the breakfast and the wifi.

If I filled in the column values for my hotel description documents correctly, it would be very easy for anyone to find hotels with free wifi and breakfast in London by applying a filter. To make such a filtering permanent I could create a permanent public or personal view that includes the filter values looked for.
SharePoint views

23 categorization articles
My colleagues and I have so far created no less than 23 articles about categorization in the Tips section, and I have already introduced some of them in two earlier blog posts: about folders, columns and libraries and about rates and keywords.

Now we have released more articles, and this time we focus on the use of views. At first we discuss views more generally and describe how to make a filtered and grouped view, how to create a views landing page and how to calculate the values in a numbered column.

SharePoint Gantt view

Then we take a Quotes library as example and show how it can be enhanced with new metadata columns and a calendar view and a Gantt view. I also give a workflow that sets titles to documents, because I have found that the Gantt view works best with titles.

I hope you will find the categorization articles useful. Most of them include a step by step instruction and a short demo, so it will not take too long to go through them all.

By Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions