30 March 2016

Correct Document Properties With Templates Manager for SharePoint

Templates Manager logotypeThe product Templates Manager for SharePoint gives important enhancements to SharePoint libraries. Templates Manager makes it easy to distribute Office templates to the whole organization, and when users create new documents, Templates Manager make them enter correct metadata. SharePoint itself lacks both these features.

Templates Manager Publisher Template Manager Publisher buttons
Templates Manager has two parts. Content writers and administrators should activate Templates Manager Publisher for one or several sites. Each site will have a settings page and a templates library that serves the entire SharePoint farm or tenant.

Upload any Word, Excel or PowerPoint document to the library created by Templates Manager Publisher. You don't have to create a template file. Just make sure the file has the background, header and footer, font, colors and so on that you wish to use in new documents of this type. Give it a proper name, select category and click on the Publish button in the library ribbon to propagate the file to the whole organization.
Word 2013 icon          PowerPoint 2013 icon          Excel2013 icon

Templates Manager User
The other part, Templates Manager User, is activated on sites where templates should be used in the libraries. When a user creates a new document, all templates in the templates library selected for that library will be shown. (There is also a button to switch templates library.)

When the user clicks on one of the templates, it will not open immediately. Instead the Properties dialog will open, and this is an important enhancement compared to the standard SharePoint behavior.

File properties with and without Templates Manager
Without Templates Manager, the user has to open the Properties dialog manually when the file has been saved. That might be overseen, which gives some serious problems. If created online, the new file will have an improper name, set automatically by SharePoint, and if some column value is required, it will not be filled out. Then the file will remain checked out and not visible to other users.

As Templates Manager opens the properties dialog first, the user can enter a proper name and other metadata before starting to work on the document, and it will not be possible to leave any mandatory columns blank. The difference is illustrated in the demo below.

I have used a very simple quotes library as an example, but the Tips section has more elaborate instructions on how to build a SharePoint quotes library. I recommend them, just as I recommend you to try Templates Manager for SharePoint!

By Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

23 March 2016

SharePoint Online From Scratch In New E-Book

SharePoint Online from Scratch cover All who follow this blog knows that SharePoint is my specialty, and for several years I have used my expertise in standard products, custom solutions and education.

Today I am happy to announce that I have used my knowledge in a new way: I have published an e-book, SharePoint Online from Scratch.

In my work with the SharePoint products and custom solutions, and when I have held SharePoint courses for  IT professionals, I have come to understand what areas are the most important to SharePoint power users. SharePoint Online from Scratch focuses on those areas.

Microsoft has developed SharePoint so that it is possible to get substantial benefit without coding experience, and I have made SharePoint Online from Scratch as much no-code as possible. None of my instructions and suggestions require knowledge of how to write code, but in a few cases, I have given examples of code that you can use.

SharePoint Online from Scratch is not intended to be a full description of everything in SharePoint Online. The topic is huge, and Microsoft has a lot of detailed information on their websites. Instead, I want this book to give hands-on instructions on how to practically make use of a SharePoint tenant for an organization, or parts thereof.

The questions I get from customers, students and followers are most often concrete – “How do I …?, or “Can SharePoint …?” – and I hope this book will give the answers to the most common of them. Therefore, SharePoint Online from Scratch has many images and step by step instructions, and to be even clearer I often give links to articles with video demonstrations in the Tips section.

Ever changing platform
Even if SharePoint Online from Scratch primarily is a handbook, explanations on how SharePoint works are mixed into the instructions. My Tips articles and demos must be step-by-step based, but SharePoint Online is an ever changing platform so I want the e-book to give a deeper understanding. 

I hope that the SharePoint Online from Scratch instructions and suggestions will make you understand why things are done as they are and how everything is connected. That way, you will be able to figure out how to things even when SharePoint changes and things no longer work as described in the book.

Even more important is that the understanding I hope you will acquire by studying SharePoint Online from Scratch will help you explore SharePoint far beyond the limits of my 400 pages e-book!

By Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

21 March 2016

Smooth Document Management With SharePoint Customer Portals

SharePoint iconApart from our standard products, the team provides custom solutions, often built on SharePoint. In one of our recent projects we have helped the US business advisory firm Alexander Remington International Associates, Inc. (ARI) migrate lots of documents from a cloud based file storage system into SharePoint. Today, I will give you some glimpses of that project.

One site collection per customer 
ARIs main request was that would build site collections to be used by the ARI customers, so that each customer had their own site collection. We have therefore moved all data from the earlier cloud based file storage system into SharePoint libraries in different site collections, in general one library for each folder in the earlier storage system.

The home page of each site collection displays a summary of all document libraries in that collection. We have also added a custom SharePoint Search Center to perform a smooth search. Next step is to enhance the site collections with more resources, like instructional videos, links and other self-service features.

The customers log in to their site collections with their free Microsoft accounts, so there is no SharePoint Online license fee for them.

PowerShell to migrate data
PowerShell iconA PowerShell script helped us migrate all the existing files, from the folders in the file storage system to each customer’s specific document libraries. There were so many files that a manual transfer would have been practically impossible, but once the PowerShell script had been constructed the process was quick.

As you probably know, SharePoint sets a new created day when you upload files to document libraries. With our PowerShell script the original created dates of the files are retained.

Custom security groups
Instead of using the default SharePoint security groups, we have added two groups with different permissions to the site collections, one for ARI employees and one for their customers.

In general, the customers have permission to upload documents only to one library, called Inbox, but they can search and read documents in the other libraries. The employees are the people who administer the site collections, so they must of course have full rights.

This project is just an example on how we can help organizations build an efficient system for a work process. Please contact us if you want to discuss a change within your own organization. You don’t need to know the solution to your problem – that is our job! Just tell us what you are discontent with, and we will find a better process for you.

By Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

15 March 2016

Kanban Task Manager SharePoint editions - Sandboxed or Add-in/App?

Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint logotypeThe product Kanban Task Manager is available in two SharePoint versions, sandboxed solution and add-in. Evaluators sometimes ask us which version to choose, and when they do we always ask them what SharePoint version they use. The add-in only supports SharePoint 2013 and higher, and that is part of the reason we have two setup files.

Sandboxed Solution came first
Sandboxed SharePoint solutions came with SharePoint 2010, and Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint was released in 2012. A sandboxed solution is delivered as a WSP file that is uploaded and activated in the Solutions Gallery of each site collection where it will be used.

When that is done, the sandboxed solution must also be activated on each site where the solution will be used.

A sandboxed solution can contain custom managed code, which will be deprecated by Microsoft, but the sandboxed solution uses JavaScript as much as possible, and the code is to 99% running in the browser. Only a minimal part runs on the SharePoint server.

App for SharePoint
SharePoint 2013 iconWith SharePoint 2013, Microsoft introduced a new concept: apps for SharePoint. When we were developing our Kanban Task Manager "app", Microsoft announced that the name "apps for SharePoint" is changing to "SharePoint add-ins", so we decided to change our name into Kanban Task Manager SharePoint Add-in.

Apps/Add-ins only support SharePoint 2013 and higher, so if your organization is on SharePoint 2010 you only have the sandboxed alternative. For evaluators with a later SharePoint version, I would recommend the Add-in.

Add-in gives easier installation
While the sandboxed solution file must be uploaded to each site collection, the add-in APP file only has to be uploaded once for the whole organization ‒ to the app catalog of the farm or tenant. Then Kanban Task Manager can be added to any site with the "add an app" command. The demo below shows how this is done.

Instead of downloading the APP file from and then upload it to an app catalog, you can of course download Kanban Task Manager Add-in from SharePoint Store. This works well for a few installations, but otherwise I recommend you to keep the add-in in the app catalog. All subscription levels give free use of Kanban Task Manager Add-in within the farm or tenant.

Add-in in web part
Once Kanban Task Manager Add-in has been configured on a site, it can be inserted as an App Part on any page in the site. This is not possible with the sandboxed solution. download iconThe add-in runs entirely in the browser, so if you are worried about the single percent of the sandboxed solution that needs the server, you have another reason to choose the add-in when you evaluate Kanban Task Manager. Good luck!

By Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

10 March 2016

Better Metadata With Updated SharePoint Templates Manager

Templates Manager logotypeIn October last year we released a new Solution: Templates Manager for SharePoint. Now it has been tested and used by subscribers for a while, and we have received valuable input. Today we have released a new version with two important enhancements.

Distribute to everyone
SharePoint has no easy way to distribute templates to all document libraries in the farm, so one of the major advantages with Templates Manager is that we have made the templates distribution very easy. The administrator or content writer only has to click on a button to publish all changes in the templates library to the whole organization.

Templates Manager supports Excel, PowerPoint and Word templates, and the files don't have to be in template format. Even if SharePoint has no good way to distribute templates, it is very convenient when it comes to creating templates. Any .xlsx, .pptx or .docx file that has the correct design and content will do, so you don't have to create special template file.
Word 2013 icon          PowerPoint 2013 icon          Excel2013 icon
Select templates library
The templates are stored in one or several document libraries, and the admin who activates Templates Manager on a site should also select what library the templates on that site should be fetched from.

After requests from subscribers we have now added a possibility for all users to switch templates library if needed. We have added a button in the SharePoint library ribbon, and when you click on it you can select another one of the organization's templates libraries.

Easy name giving
When users click on the +New button in a SharePoint library in a site where Templates Manager is activated,  they will see the templates in the selected templates library. As Templates Manager provides both instant search and popup descriptions of the templates, users can quickly find the correct template for each document.

When a user clicks on the template he or she wishes to use, it will be copied to the document library and the Properties dialog will open. Here the user can directly give the document a proper name and title.

Metadata first!
That Templates Manager displays the Properties dialog, is an important enhancement compared to the standard SharePoint behavior. Without Templates Manager users have to manually open the Properties dialog. If that is overseen, you will end up with a lot of "Document", "Document1"," Document2" and so on, and with such metadata the SharePoint Search will work badly.

Another reason it is a very good idea to show the Properties dialog before starting to edit the document is when you have mandatory columns. If those are not properly filled out, the document will get created correctly but not checked in, which means a lot of trouble for the user.

Each organization wants their documents to have a consistent look and content, and the best way to achieve this is of course to supply templates. Templates Manager makes that process much easier, so I hope you want to try Templates Manager for SharePoint. We allow free evaluation with full support for 30 days.

Current users are welcome to upgrade their installations. We are grateful for your comments on the first version, and now you will have an even better product!

Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

08 March 2016

SharePoint Idea For Rental Agreements

SharePoint iconMost organizations rent equipment or premises and need to manage the contracts for these rentals in an efficient way. When you store and share them in SharePoint, you will have a good overview over what the organization is renting, and you can take steps to make sure that renewals are taken care of in due time.

In a series of articles in the Tips section, I share some ideas on how a SharePoint application for rental agreements management can be built.

Content Type
I build the rental agreements lists on a custom content type, so that we have the same metadata columns for all rental agreements lists. In my demos I create the content type from the root site of a site collection, but if you want to use the content type in the whole tenant you should create it in the Content Type Hub, which I described in an earlier article.

List Template
The content type makes sure that the columns of each rental agreements list will be the ones you have specified, but it does not give you the views and list settings you want. Therefore I recommend you to first create one list, add the content type and then create some suitable views and make other settings.

When you have tried the first rental agreements list and found it satisfactory, create a template from it and use that template for further lists of the same kind. The template will be saved to the  List Templates Gallery and show up among the other app templates. This way the same type of lists can be created easily via "add an app".
SharePoint app
If you want to use the template in other site collections, download the template STP file from the List Templates Gallery and upload it to the same library in the new collection.

Reusable workflows
SharePoint Designer 2013 iconWe don't want to miss rental renewal dates, so I create two workflows that will help us remember. First I need one workflow that calculates the renewal date, which I set to two months before the contract expires.

The second workflow will send an e-mail alert to the person who is responsible for the renewal. For this workflow I need to set a retention policy, so that the e-mail is sent on the renewal date calculated in the first workflow.

My intention with these articles and demos is not to tell how to create the perfect application for rental agreements management. Instead I want to point to various options that might be useful when you handle similar information sharing situations in your own organization. You are welcome to take what you need from my suggestions!

Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

02 March 2016

Mobile App for SharePoint Tasks Released

ShareTask iconToday I am happy to announce the release of a new App: ShareTask. Many users of our SharePoint products have asked for such an app, to be able to work with SharePoint tasks in their smart devices and still have a user friendly interface.

App fetches your tasks lists
The ShareTask App connects to a SharePoint Online site and fetches all lists that are built on the Tasks, Issue Tracking or KTM Tasks templates. Select one of them, and the open tasks in that list are displayed in your smartphone or tablet.

With a few finger taps you can add, edit and complete tasks, change their status and priority, add comments and assign tasks to users or groups. Everything is of course synchronized with the SharePoint site. ShareTask supports Windows Phone, Android and iOS.

Sandboxed Solution fixes the connection
To make the ShareTask App as easy as possible to use, we have selected to combine it with a Sandboxed SharePoint Solution that manages everything around the connection and synchronization to SharePoint.

This means that app users only have to log into a SharePoint site that has one or more list they want to use in their smart devices. The ShareTask Sandboxed Solution takes care of the rest!

Free app
Each user must of course get the ShareTask App to his/her smartphone or tablet from an app store, and to make this process as smooth as possible the app is free of charge.

Instead we are charging the ShareTask Sandboxed Solution a subscription fee. This way the payment can be handled for the whole organization once a year or once a month. There is no limit to the number of installations or users, and support and upgrades are of course included in the subscription.

Try it! download iconEven if we considered what Subscribers might need when we decided to develop ShareTask, it is an independent product. It does not require anything more than a smart device, SharePoint Online and an internet connection. I hope you want to try it. Download the ShareTask Sandboxed Solution from to make everything ready for the app!

Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions