21 June 2017

Lead QA Becomes A Father On Father's Day

Vijayant Rimza's newborn daughter The team is happy to congratulate Lead QA Vijayant Rimza and his wife Monika to their newborn baby girl. The little princess was born right when Father's Day was celebrated in India, and we cannot imagine a better gift.

Reliable team member
I first met Vijayant when I attended his brother's wedding in 2010. At that time Vijayant was still studying for his Master of Computer Application exam, but the following year we could welcome him to the team.

Now Vijayant has been with us for six years, and he plays an important role in leading the QA team in the testing of new features and products. Vijayant is also an active member of the support team, as he often assists with the troubleshooting when a user reports a problem.
Peter Kalmström and Vijayant Rimza
Finally Vijayant makes sure that the solutions are user-friendly and fit well into SharePoint and Outlook, the platforms we build on.

In December 2015 I attended the wedding when Vijayant married his Monika. It was a wonderful party with more than 1000 guests, and I told you a bit about it in a blog post.

Next time I visited the team in Indore I was told that Vijayant and Monika were expecting a child, so it was no big surprise when they announced the birth of a baby girl this last Sunday.

Vijayant Rimza with his newborn daughterHappy family
The image to the right was taken at the hospital, and even if is dark I hope you can see Vijayant's happy smile when he for the first time holds his newborn daughter.

The Rimza family has given us two more team members. Now Jayant has become an elder father, or bade papa in Hindi, and Rituka is the baby's paternal aunt, bua. The bua is always a respected person, as she is the one who decides the name of the child.

The whole team wishes baby Rimza a bright future!

By Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

07 June 2017

Enforce A SharePoint List Business Rule

SharePoint iconAll organizations have rules and guidelines for processes and procedures, and in an ideal world all employees follow them. In reality rules are forgotten, and in such cases it is convenient to have a reminder sent out automatically. When the business rule involves SharePoint, both can be done with a workflow.

In a new Tips article, I have described how a SharePoint workflow can reverse a forbidden action and send out a reminder about the correct process to the user who forgot the rule.

Tasks list
TimeCard for SharePoint icon I have taken a list in one of our products as an example. The default tasks list in Kanban Task Manager has no "Minutes worked" field, but new fields can be added just like in any other SharePoint list.

If a manager decides to add a "Minutes worked" field, it is probably important to have it filled out also – maybe so important that a task with "Minutes worked" set to 0 should be impossible to mark as completed. That is where the workflow come in.

Two conditions and two actions
SharePoint logoThe workflow that I create in the demo below has two conditions: the task status must be set to Completed and the "Minutes worked" value should be 0, which is the default value.

Two actions are performed when both conditions are met: the task status is reversed to In Progress and an e-mail with a reminder about the rule and a link to the task is sent to the person who last modified the task.

Even if I have used a tasks list in the demo and the Tips article, the workflow method can be used in many different ways. Regard my demo as an inspiration, an idea that you can adapt so that it suits your organization and its business rules.

Peter Kalmström,
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

31 May 2017

Kanban Task Manager Screen Efficiency

Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint logotype Kanban Task Manager, the product for tasks and projects visualization in SharePoint and Outlook, can be optimized to fit different requisites and screen sizes. In the first demo below I show some of the methods to adapt the kanban board.

The Kanban Task Manager SharePoint editions also have options for showing just "My Tasks" on any page, and our ShareTask app gives a user friendly interface in mobile devices.

The SharePoint editions of Kanban Task Manager runs in a browser, so each user can easily change the size of the kanban board by using the Control key together with the plus or minus key to zoom in and out.

In the latest versions of the single and organizational editions for Outlook, we have given the same possibility to use Ctrl + minus/plus to either see more tasks or zoom in on a few tasks only.

The SharePoint editions can also take advantage of the inbuilt SharePoint feature "Focus on Content" to hide the navigation and top banner.

Multiple columns and hidden completed phase
Administrators can set any phase on the kanban board to contain more than one column of task cards. Kanban Task Manager does not limit the number of columns you can have in one phase, so it can be decided for each installation.

Another way to have more room for task cards on the horizontal level is to hide one of the phases (or more) from the kanban board. Organizations often opt to hide the completed phase. The tasks are still kept in the tasks list, of course, so that they can be used in the Kanban Task Manager statistics.

These two features belong to Kanban Task Manager, so they are available in all editions, both for Outlook and SharePoint.

My Tasks
To give best possible interface to users who only need to see their own tasks, we have added a button for an embed code in the configure page of the Kanban Task Manager SharePoint editions. The code can be embedded in any page, and with the sandboxed edition "My Tasks" can even show tasks from all Kanban Task Manager installations in the farm or tenant.

ShareTask for SharePoint logotypeWhen users often manage their tasks in mobile devices, Kanban Task Manager can be combined with another product: ShareTask.

This mobile app gives users an interface that is adapted to small screens, and it is not only intended for Kanban Task Manager. It works with all lists built on the SharePoint Online Tasks or Issue Tracking template. The admin just has to activate the sandboxed solution on the list site, and then users can download their free apps to their Android, iOS or Windows devices.

Our Medium and Premium subscriptions give free access to both Kanban Task Manager and ShareTask, so for organizations who use SharePoint Online this is a valuable combination of products.

As you see there is a lot to be done to help users get an efficient screen for their tasks management, whether they are working on a kanban board or just handle their own tasks.

Peter Kalmström,
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

24 May 2017

Space And Speed In New Outlook Kanban Add-in

Kanban Task Manager for Outlook logotypeToday I am happy to announce the release of Kanban Task Manager Single V6, the fourth edition of our popular kanban board product.

The single edition of Kanban Task Manager is intended for one-man businesses, consultants and anyone else who requires a way to visualize and keep track of projects and tasks but don't need to share their kanban board with others.

Outlook tasks
The Kanban Task Manager ribbon group in the Outlook mail viewOn a kanban board, task cards are moved between the phases of a project as work proceeds. In Kanban Task Manager we use the kanban board idea with Outlook tasks, so that you can see your tasks in Outlook and group them in various ways.

You can either  create new tasks directly on the kanban board or use the Convert button in the Outlook mail view to convert e-mails into tasks.

Space and speed
In Kanban Task Manager Single V6 we have redesigned the kanban board to give room for more tasks without scrolling, and we have also managed to speed up the loading of the Kanban Task Manager load tasks, views and settings. It was not slow before, but now it is really quick!

Features from organizational editions
As you might have seen in earlier blogposts, we have already updated the three workgroup editions of Kanban Task Manager, for Outlook and SharePoint. The single edition build on these and has the same features except those who are intended for sharing.

This means that Kanban Task Manager Single is more advanced than other products on the market that also build on the kanban board idea. We also give support and free upgrades to the single users, just like we do for organizations who subscribe to the workgroup editions.

Upgrade upgrade iconIf you already subscribe to Kanban Task Manager, I recommend you to upgrade your installation to get the enhanced kanban board and the faster performance. The upgrade is quick. Just download the .msi file and run it. The installer will find your earlier installation and upgrade it automatically. Refer to the Revisions page for a list of all the news in Kanban Task Manager Single V6.

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

11 May 2017

V6 Released After Five Years With Kanban Task Manager For Outlook

Kanban Task Manager logotype The two SharePoint editions of  Kanban Task Manage have recently been updated, and now the time has come to the Outlook edition for workgroups, Kanban Task Manager for Outlook. The responsible developer, Jitu Patidar, will tell you more about this update.
Jitendra Patidar image
When I joined the team in the spring of 2012, I came right into the development of our very first Kanban Task Manager product. It was intended for kanban style collaboration on tasks and projects in Outlook.

Five years of kanban development
Our color coded kanban board for Outlook became a success, and later we have also developed a single edition for Outlook and of course the two SharePoint editions. I have been included in all Kanban Task Manager development, but the two Outlook editions have been my responsibility for the last five years, so I know them quite well by now!

Design enhancements on the scene and behind it
Last time Peter came to visit us here in Indore, we discussed a prototype for a new design of the Kanban Task Manager kanban board. That first glimpse was promising, so we were excited to implement it.

When working with the new versions, we also wanted to make some major design changes at the SharePoint/database level, to improve the performance. While the new design is visible at the first glance, users will notice the better loading speed when they start working with the new version. I am sure they will be happy with both!

Share via database or SharePoint
Kanban Task Manager for Outlook offers three options for sharing of tasks and settings: an SQL Server or Access database or a SharePoint site. When the SharePoint option is selected, the Outlook edition can synchronize with one of the SharePoint editions, so that users can choose which edition to work with at each occasion.

Several subscribers use Kanban Task Manager that way. It is easy for users to feel at home in both editions, because we have used or built as much shared code as possible to give a similar user interface in all editions.

Team project
The spirit encourages cooperation, and I have had great help from my co-workers in the development of the new version of Kanban Task Manager for Outlook. Together we have solved many problems, but I think the most difficult one was to make the kanban board in Outlook work well in different resolutions.

Subscription icon Now our QA team has ensured me that everything works well, and I am glad we can offer subscribers to upgrade their installations without cost.

If you are new to Kanban Task Manager, you are welcome to try the Outlook edition for workgroups. We give free support to evaluators, as well as to subscribers, so my colleagues and I are always here to assist you if needed!

It has been a privilege to follow Kanban Task Manager from the first idea to an advanced product with many users all over the world, and I am sure that new ideas and technologies will keep me busy with Kanban Task Manager for many years to come!

Jitu Patidar
Senior Developer, Support Lead Business Solutions

05 May 2017

New Kanban Task Manager Add-in With My Tasks Embed

Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint logotype Today I am happy to tell you that we have released a new version of Kanban Task Manager SharePoint Add-in. It has the same new design as the sandboxed solution, which was updated last week. The new add-in now also has a My Tasks embed code, which makes it possible to show the current user's tasks in any site page.

Kanban board and task cards
When Kanban Task Manager was first designed five years ago, we wanted the kanban board to look like a physical board with small pieces of paper for each task. The task cards even had pins that "held them" to the kanban board!

Eventually we of course got rid of the pins and adapted the design more to the Microsoft platforms we build Kanban Task Manager on: SharePoint and Outlook. The revision of all editions that we have undertaken in the beginning of this year, is a big step forward.

In our contacts with organizations that use Kanban Task Manager, we have understood that many of them would benefit from a design that shows more task cards on the screen, so by simplifying the look of each card we have been able to make them smaller without removing important information.

To give more vertical space and show more lanes without scrolling, we have moved the filter options to a left pane and the details screen to a right pane. Both panes also give other, new, options. And of course, the panes are only visible when you need them.

Welcome to have a look at the new design in the video version of the Kanban Task Manager SharePoint editions slideshow:

Systems design
We have not only enhanced the look of Kanban Task Manager. There are also important changes "behind the scene", changes that make Kanban Task Manager much faster than before. The settings and the various views open quickly, and new tasks are created in a wink and in more ways than earlier.

My Tasks in new model pages
Earlier versions of Kanban Task Manager SharePoint Add-in had an app part for the current user's open tasks, but now we have managed to give the add-in the same embed code as the sandboxed solution.
The Kanban Task Manager SharePoint Add-in My Tasks
This means that "My Tasks" can be shown not only in wiki pages but also in pages of the new model. The admin just needs to enter the app URL to the Site settings >HTML Field Security.

Upgrade upgrade iconCurrent users who downloaded their add-in from the web page are welcome to download the new version of Kanban Task Manager SharePoint Add-in from again. Organizations who downloaded from SharePoint Store will have a message once the add-in has been updated there. Free upgrades are included in all subscription levels.

Try download iconKanban Task Manager has a free trial period of 30 days and if you are interested in the SharePoint add-in you are welcome to download it from the website. If you prefer using SharePoint Store, you will have to wait until next week.

By Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

03 May 2017

Goodbye SharePoint Online Access Services

SharePoint Access AppMicrosoft has recently announced that they will stop supporting Access Services in SharePoint Online. This came faster than I had expected, and the depreciation will be implemented quickly. Instead Microsoft wants us to use their new product PowerApps, which has great potential but still needs to be further developed to be as useful as we would wish.

Publish databases to SharePoint
Access Services was created to make it possible to publish a database to SharePoint and thereby study and use it in a web browser. I have taken advantage of it in several solutions, but now I have to find new ways, of course.

At the same time Microsoft has ensured that they will continue to support and invest in desktop databases, so you can continue creating forms, queries, reports and more in an .accd file on your computer. Only the web based service will be depreciated.

Microsoft PowerApps iconMicrosoft suggests that we replace Access Services with their newer product PowerApps, and PowerApps indeed has some very good features that Access Services is lacking. PowerApps support mobile devices, and you can connect the apps to various databases and third-party data sources. PowerApps also gives developers a more building tools and connection to custom web APIs.

SharePoint lists with the new experience interface has a PowerApps button in the command bar. This makes it very convenient to create apps from a SharePoint list, but the result often leaves a great deal to be desired. In my experience you can get useful apps from SharePoint lists, but you must modify the auto-created app rather heavily.
Office 365 from Scratch cover
My book Office 365 from Scratch includes some examples on how to modify auto-created PowerApps from various data sources, and the Tips section has articles on how to build PowerApps from SharePoint Projects and Phone Messages lists.

SharePoint Online Exercises
In my book SharePoint Online ExercisesSharePoint Online Exercises cover, I show how to create two apps that make use of Access Services: an issue tracking all and an inventory app. These exercises are not central for the book, so it is still useful for anyone who wants to learn how to create SharePoint apps for common business processes. I will however replace the exercises that require Access Services and update the book as soon as possible.

In Office 365 and SharePoint Online the Access Services will stop support for new databases as soon as in June, 2017, and existing apps and web databases will be closed by April, 2018. Therefore it is time to start thinking about how to handle the data you currently manage with the help of Access Services.

Microsoft gives several suggestions on how to migrate web databases to other data sources. When that is done, you can start developing PowerApps!

By Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

26 April 2017

Quick View Switches In New Kanban Task Manager For SharePoint

Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint logotype We are updating all editions of Kanban Task Manager, the product for tasks and project management in SharePoint and Outlook. Today we have released the SharePoint sandboxed solution, Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint V6, and my mother Kate will share her first impression.

New design
SharePoint iconWhen Peter visited our Indian colleagues in December, they discussed next Kanban Task Manager version, and soon after that he showed me the first draft for the new kanban board and asked for comments. I therefore knew well that there would be smaller and cleaner task cards and that some functions would be moved to left and right panes.

The design changes aim to let users see more phases, lanes and task cards on the kanban board without scrolling, and I like it very much. Even though the cards are smaller, they still give a lot of information.
The Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint kanban view
New views
In the new Kanban Task Manager users can see the tasks in five other views: month, year, timeline grouped by project, timeline grouped by responsible and a project view where each project is visualized with a pie chart.

In the month and timeline views, users can also work with the tasks. For example, when a team member is absent, it is very convenient to open the Timeline Responsible view and drag the tasks assigned to that person to another member.

Quick loading
The developers have tried various methods to make Kanban Task Manager faster, and with version 6 they have really managed to make a difference. The switch between the views is really quick, and I find that the new Kanban Task Manager overall is very fast. Drag and drop tasks cards, opening and creating tasks, filter and search – everything works smoothly.
The Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint configuration page
All settings on one page
In earlier versions of the Kanban Task Manager SharePoint editions, the values for phases, lanes, projects and so on have been entered in different lists and dialogs, but now everything is done easily on one page. Here managers can enter, edit and remove values, change tasks list, decide color coding, WIP limits, columns per phase, add a custom parameter and much more.

Upgrade upgrade iconThe  upgrade process has not been changed, so current subscribers can upgrade their Kanban Task Manager installations in the same way as before. Free upgrades are included in all three subscription levels.

Try download iconKanban Task Manager has a free trial period of 30 days and if you are interested in the sandboxed solution you are welcome to download it from the website. For a rapid test you can use the example data, but believe me, with the new configuration page it does not take many minutes to add your own data.

We will release new versions of the SharePoint add-in edition and of the two Outlook editions during the next few weeks. Until then, please have a look at the introduction to the sandboxed solution above! The design of the other editions will be nearly the same.

Kate Kalmström
CCO Business Solutions

19 April 2017

Scalable, Cost-Effective SharePoint School Solution

SharePoint iconA huge amount of information flows through a school, not only from teachers to students and vice versa but in all directions between students, administrators and other staff. Controlling and managing all this information is a daunting task, but in SharePoint it can be handled well.

During a recent series of remote control workshop sessions with the SharePoint admin at a chain of US sports schools, I have made some good progress. Below is a summary of what we have achieved within a rather low budget.

Base of site collections
For permission reasons we decided to divide the information into site collections, so we set up one collection for each school location and also some collections that were shared among all schools. In each site collection, we created SharePoint groups for students at the location, for staff and for Enterprise admins who should see everything.

We also created various document libraries with default Enterprise Keywords sets. Thus, users will be able to tag their information simply by uploading it to the proper document library.

Two site collections, with different editors, are intended for reading by everyone. The Enterprise collection has announcements from the company management, policy documents and a graphical site map. The main content of the Development collection is a video list and an Exercise Plans library, and I will share some details about both of them.

SharePoint iconTeachers and trainers in these schools often create videos to illustrate a drill, move or technique, and there are literally thousands of them. Managers had tried to organize the videos into folders, but the shortcoming of folders soon became obvious to everyone involved. The same video could be used to illustrate several different techniques, and having the same video in many folders is wrong in lots of ways.

Therefore, instead of using folders, we built a series of managed metadata fields. The metadata will make it easy to find exactly the right video for a specific subject. To make it easier to tag each video, the edit and display form of the list was customized to embed the video.

Office 365 has a Video app that would have been useful, but it demands a more expensive SharePoint license than the one this organization is subscribing to. Therefore it was decided that the actual video files should be placed on a 3rd party video host.

PowerPoint library
The Exercise Plans library contains PowerPoint files, and a special template is used for new files. This template allows for several special layouts. One of them shows an embedded video and its description. Another layout has a background picture of the sports arena, where the trainer can draw movements and patterns.

Each location site collection has been given a contact list, where users can drag and drop their contacts using Outlook. We have also put some work into a mobile friendly contact search page in the Enterprise site collection. It allows users to search for contacts and click-to-call the phone numbers of the found contact. The search results will be permission trimmed, so that each person only can see the contacts shared with him/her.

The school chain had a limited budget but huge needs, so it was a real challenge  to find the right solution. We went through several iterations and ideas and ended up with a cost effective, scalable and very useful solution. I am looking forward to working more with this school to enhance it further.

By Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

28 March 2017

Get Live Excel Survey Results Into SharePoint With PowerShell and Azure

SharePoint iconExcel surveys are useful when you want to get input from customers or other persons outside your organization. An Excel survey is created and answered in Excel Online and does not require login.The problem is to transfer the answers from Excel Online to SharePoint as they come in, but that can be done with a PowerShell script. We recently created such a solution for a client.

The Excel survey option
Excel iconWhen external sharing is enabled in a SharePoint site collection, the Excel survey is shown as an additional option when users create a new library item. We have an article about the Excel survey in the Tips section, from where the demo below has been fetched.

The Excel survey is easy to set up and work with, and it also has the added benefit of anonymous sharing. That is, you don't have to create accounts for the people you want to have survey answers from. Instead you can allow people from outside of the organization to fill out your form without any log in.

Get the data to SharePoint
One potential problem with Excel Surveys is that the results are saved in an Excel table instead of in a SharePoint list. When the survey is finished, you can of course use the different "Export to SharePoint" techniques that I have described in several Tips articles. However, to use the submitted responses as they come in and build workflows or flows on top of the results is extremely tricky.

PowerShell iconSolve problems with PowerShell
SharePoint and Office 365 comes with a plethora of features that we and our customers make use of every day. Sometimes you need a bit of glue to put it all together, and these days PowerShell is usually our answer.

In this case we used an Azure Function built in PowerShell to resolve the transfer problem:
  1. Microsoft Flow icon Created a flow that runs on each file modification in the SharePoint document library where the Excel survey is stored.
  2. The flow in turn calls to an Azure Function with a http get request, essentially notifying the function that there is work to do.
  3. The Azure Function built in PowerShell connects to the SharePoint document library, finds the new information in the Excel table and adds corresponding new rows to a SharePoint list.
  4. Our client can now continue building workflows and flows based on what happens in the SharePoint list.
We are very happy with this technique and are already using similar steps to solve other business needs. Essentially it allows us to run a PowerShell script based on a trigger in SharePoint. That an Azure Function can be run on a free shared infrastructure is also helpful, of course.

Combining the power of SharePoint with Azure like this, opens up a world of possibilities. This is only the beginning!

By Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

21 March 2017

SharePoint Online From Scratch Updated With PowerApps And Flow

SharePoint Online from Scratch coverMicrosoft has enhanced Office 365 SharePoint in several different ways lately, and as an author I am of course eager to cover them all. Therefore I have now released a new version of SharePoint Online from Scratch, on Amazon.

Practical use
SharePoint Online from Scratch focuses on no-code, hands-on instructions and explanations on how to practically make use of a SharePoint tenant for collaboration within an organization. The book also gives examples on how to use SharePoint for management of common business processes.

Multimedia tutorials
Microsoft has a lot of SharePoint instructions online, but they have no real course or manual with a progression. You must know what you are looking for to use the Microsoft tutorials, and how can you search for something when you don't even know that it exists?

Before you can browse Microsoft's articles you need to know the basics and a bit more of SharePoint, and you can learn that in my book. Video demonstrations are great, but to be optimal they need to be studied in a context. SharePoint Online from Scratch gives links to Tips articles with demos, and I believe this combination of textbook and video is a good way to explain things.

New experience and new page model
Microsoft has recently introduced a new user interface for SharePoint Online apps (new experience) and pages (new model). The new interface is more intuitive and easier to use than the classic one, but for several reasons you cannot just go over and start using it everywhere.
SharePoint Online New Experience Command Bar
All app templates don't have the new experience yet, and among those are such common apps as the calendar and tasks list. Furthermore everything you can do in the classic interface is not possible in the new one. You can for example not connect lists to Outlook or Access, and you cannot customize new model pages to the same extent as you can do with wiki pages.

The new experience, on the other hand, has features that are not available in the classic one. As a result of these differences, SharePoint administrators need to understand both interfaces, and SharePoint Online from Scratch now describes both. This has given the book more pages, but I have kept the price at the same level as before.

PowerApps and Flow
Microsoft PowerApps iconSharePoint Online lists that use the new experience have a PowerApp button in the command bar, so that users can start creating mobile friendly apps directly from within the list they want to use. PowerApps are created automatically this way, but for best result you should modify them. I give some examples on how to do that in the new version of SharePoint Online from Scratch.

Another new button in the modern experience lets IT professions create flows, which is Microsoft's replacement for SharePoint workflows. These can be used extensively with various services, and when you create a flow from a SharePoint list you will have a choice of all templates that include SharePoint.

Microsoft Flow In SharePoint Online from Scratch I show how you can continue building your flow from such templates, and I also give a general description on how Flow works. The classic workflows from the earlier versions of the book are still there, because everything cannot be done with a flow or even a SharePoint 2013 workflow. A good SharePoint admin should know all the options!

On today
   amazon logo     The new version of SharePoint Online from Scratch is released on all Amazon sites. I have joined the Kindle Matchbook program, so of you buy the paperback first, you may buy the e-book for a very low price. That way, you can take advantage of both the nice layout of the paperback and the e-book hyperlinking and use the edition that suits you best at each occasion.

By Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

16 March 2017

SharePoint Pages Instead Of Library Files For Company Guidelines

SharePoint iconOrganizations that use SharePoint tend to share most of their documents in libraries, and this is often the best way – but not always! In a new Tips article, I suggest a method that uses pages instead of documents. It is less common but quite striking when used on certain kinds of documents. In my demo I use new model pages, but everything that can be done in the new model can also be achieved with wiki pages.

Pages versus documents
Pages can of course only be edited and shared inside SharePoint, so you cannot always use them instead of documents. However, I recommend you to try pages when suitable. Once you get away from documents, you will find that it is easier to both read and edit pages as compared to documents. Furthermore, pages load much quicker than documents and can be more interactive, containing live videos etc.

Company guidelines
Most organizations have documents for company guidelines that should be shared among users. For such documents the page method is suitable, if you want to present the guidelines in a more elegant way than just uploading them to a document library. Therefore I have used a few of these documents as an example in my demo.

Subsite with pages
The page method idea is to create a subsite called Company Guidelines and add the content of each document on a separate page in that site. The page should of course have the same name as the guidelines document.

Custom links
When all pages are added to the subsite, I remove the default links from the Quick Launch. Instead I add links to the pages with company guidelines. This is done in the Site pages library, where I also set one of the pages as the default one.

With a link to the Company Guidelines site in the top navigation, users can easily reach the guidelines, and when the site is open they have all the pages at hand in the Quick Launch.

By Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

08 March 2017

SharePoint Online Content Type With New Experience

SharePoint iconWe have recently updated our Tips articles about content types to the latest version of Office 365 and the new experience interface. Using content types is the best way to make sure that items in a SharePoint list or library will have the desired content. A content type is a kind of template that decides what each item should contain, how it should look and which metadata should be collected.

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. When each kind of content has its own content type, it is easy for users and managers to create and keep track of SharePoint content.

Quotes library
In my experience, the concept of content types requires some learning. To make it easy to understand, I have recorded some demos on how to create a content type for a Quotes library.

When there is no custom content type in a SharePoint library, users can create any type of document that is allowed by the default Document content type. No metadata columns will be visible, and there is no way to limit the creation choice to a special type of documents, for example Word.

By adding a custom content type to the library and remove the default one (only from this library, of course), I can limit the user choices and give the library the desired columns for metadata.
SharePoint opens Word

Word template
To further enhance the content type, I add a Word template to it. I use the Word Quick Parts to create a table where the cells correspond to the metadata columns in the SharePoint library, and this way the required metadata can be easily added to the document and also become printable.

In the final 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. The columns are present in the document itself, and dates and values in choice columns can be selected.

Library template
SharePoint custom library template The last step is to save the Quotes library as a template, so that it can be used on other sites. It will now show up among the other templates when you use the "Add an app" command.

Even if I have taken a Quote document content type as an example in the articles, content types can be defined for any item type, including list items, media files and folders. The method is similar whichever item you use, so I hope the Tips articles will be helpful.

By Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

28 February 2017

Dedicated Teachers Behind Study Manager For SharePoint

The other day I read in a Swedish paper that refugees who had come to the town Tierp as unaccompanied minors had managed very well in Sweden. As I have had a lot of cooperation with teachers and IT technicians in Tierp, this was really good news to me.

When you come to a foreign country as a refugee you often have experienced traumatic events, and that might be especially true if you arrive as an unaccompanied child. In those cases, it is extremely important that you are met by a welcoming society and dedicated teachers and other adults.

Study Manager for SharePoint logotypeI know Tierp has such devoted teachers, because I have had the privilege to cooperate with some of them in a project that resulted in the SharePoint solution Study Manager. The development of this product was sponsored by Tierp and initiated by professionals who teach Swedish to immigrants.

What we created for Tierp was a learning platform in SharePoint, where teachers can add and organize teaching material and where students can practice at their own pace but still with teacher supervision. The solution has served the immigrants who study Swedish very well.
Study Manager for SharePoint
"It is a joy to work with Study Manager", says one of the teachers, Medina Becirovic Emkic. "The solution works splendidly. All students, also those who are not used to computers, can work with the exercises, as Study Manager is so easy to use."

The article I read is unfortunately only in Swedish, but it says that most of the young people who came as unaccompanied minors to Tierp between 2007 and 2016 is working and have a good income - even a little bit higher than the average for Swedes of the same age! None of them have been convicted for a crime. cooperation iconSuch a result can only be achieved when the immigrants get qualified help to learn Swedish quickly. The whole team is familiar with Tierp and Study Manager, and we all congratulate the Tierp society and the young immigrants to the success!

Today Tierp takes advantage of Study Manager for many more subjects, and Study Manager has become a standard product that is used also by other schools and companies. If you think Study Manager could be useful to your educational purposes, you are welcome to try the solution.

By Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

24 February 2017

Office 365 From Scratch Published On Amazon

Office 365 from Scratch cover Office 365 is a quickly expanding platform – so quickly that it might be difficult to keep track of what is included and how to best make use of it. With my new book, Office 365 from Scratch, I want to help decision makers and administrators to learn the Microsoft cloud platform. Office 365 users who want to know more about the possibilities their accounts give them, will also find parts of the book interesting.

The topic Office 365 is huge and cannot be covered in one book. My intention has instead been to introduce the different parts of Office 365 and specify the right words for the features in apps and services. Microsoft has a lot of information online, but it is not easy to find it if you don't know what to search for!

Office 365 from Scratch starts with general information on Office 365 and describes how to get started and add user accounts. After that I introduce:
  • Microsoft OutlookExchange, for e-mail, calendars and contacts. E-mailing is mission critical for most organizations, but managing growing mailbox sizes can be a nightmare for IT-departments. The stable and secure Exchange Online is often one of the reasons for using Office 365.
  • Microsoft OneNoteOffice, which includes the most common applications for word processing, calculation, presentations and notes. The Office 365 Enterprise subscriptions include the Office desktop suite and online editions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote.
  • Microsoft SharePointSharePoint, for enterprise content management and sharing. I have already published two books and hundreds of video demonstrations solely about& SharePoint Online, but in a book like Office 365 from Scratch there is only room for an overview of what is most important to know. I also give information about apps that build on SharePoint: Video Microsoft OneDriveand My Site with Delve and OneDrive for Business.
  • Office 365 Groups, a service built on SharePoint and Exchange. In a Group users can share documents, work on project plans, schedule meetings and receive e-mails in a shared inbox – often concerning a specific topic, such as a project.Office 365 Planner icon The Planner app is included in all Groups, and the Conversation apps Teams and Yammer make use of Groups just like StaffHub, the brand new app for work scheduling.
  • Microsoft FlowFlow, Microsoft's replacement for SharePoint workflows, can be used extensively with various services, and you can create flows for elaborate collaboration over multiple platforms.
  • Microsoft PowerApps iconPowerApps lets IT professions create mobile friendly apps connected to data from various sources and distribute them to users within the organization.
  • Power BI iconPower BI helps you create interactive visualizations of data from unrelated sources and show them on websites or in apps.
  • Sway is a presentation app where users work on a web-based canvas.Office 365 Sway icon It is possible to insert images, text, documents, videos, charts and maps from many different sources in the sways.
Office 365 from Scratch includes links to Tips articles with video demonstrations. I hope these articles will make the learning more varied and enhance the understanding.

 Amazon logo       Office 365 from Scratch is sold at Amazon. Just like my earlier books, Office 365 from Scratch is available as e-book as well as paperback and included in the Kindle Matchbook program, which lets you buy the e-book for a very low cost when you have purchased the paperback.

I have had good assistance with this book. My mother Kate helped me organize the material, Rituka Rimza proofread the manuscript and Vijayant Rimza created the book cover. I am grateful for your contribution!

By Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions