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04 July 2017

SharePoint In The Mobile 2 - Microsoft Tools

SharePoint iconStoring and sharing information in SharePoint gives many benefits when it comes to security, flexibility and version control. But how do we best use SharePoint in mobile devices? We want to keep the functionality, but with less complexity and more touch ability and usability.

There are various options when you want to use SharePoint in a smartphone or tablet, more or less advanced and suitable for different needs. When we develop custom SharePoint solutions, we of course discuss the alternatives with the customer and find the best option together.

Here I have instead started a series of blog posts about the options as I see them. In an earlier post I summarized the mobile possibilities given by SharePoint itself. Today I will continue with a list of Microsoft apps and tools that are helpful when you want to use SharePoint in the mobile.
  • Microsoft FlowFlows can be used in several ways.The most important thing you can do with a flow is to connect your information and events to any other service. If the service has a mobile app or interface, you can get your SharePoint information in that mobile context. Furthermore, it is possible to create, trigger and modify flows in the Microsoft Flow app, allowing for true mobile SharePoint automation. We are finding it useful, although not 100% stable yet, to call a REST service from a Flow and then run PowerShell scripts based on that in an Azure Function. Combining mobile usability of Flow with enterprise scalability in Azure opens a lot of interesting possibilities.

  • SharePoint Designer icon2010 and 2013 Workflows may be used from a mobile device. The workflow can either distribute selected information to users via e-mail or be triggered from a mobile device to have interesting things happen on the SharePoint side. A 2013 workflow can interact with web services and a 2010 workflow could be used to set item level security per business rules.

  • Office 365 Teams iconTeams is a rather new collaborative app built on top of SharePoint. The mobile app allows sharing of documents, a calendar and also a range of third party apps.

  • The OneDrive App for mobiles allows browsing of documents and folders on SharePoint sites and on the personal OneDrive for Business. With this app you can also upload documents from your mobile, including images from your device camera. The app does not synchronize your files to your device,Microsoft OneDrive icon but you can select individual files that should be available offline.

  • The OneDrive for Business desktop app is not really a mobile app, but it is certainly relevant for being “on the run”. If you find yourself totally offline, most of the other apps in this list will not work. You need something that keeps the files on your computer in sync with the files on SharePoint. I have encountered some major problems with this app, so I am hesitant to recommend it. However, Microsoft has been promising rewrites, performance-improvements and better cache-handling so I will certainly give the new version another chance to prove itself. The desktop app only works with libraries and does not handle metadata at all, just folders.

  • Office 365 Delve iconThe Delve mobile app is intended for keeping track of the latest changes in personal or shared content stored on SharePoint sites of all types as well as files stored in OneDrive for Business.

  • Microsoft PowerApps iconWith PowerApps you can build customized mobile apps that connect to SharePoint, Flow and other services. Such an app can be deployed within the organization or Office 365 tenant and also shows up as a semi-view when using a desktop browser. There is both a Windows app and a browser-based development environment. Unfortunately there is no possibility to code behind PowerApps. Instead all customization is done by selecting options in the development environment. For me as a developer, this PowerApps environment feels limited and constraining, but I hope that I will learn to love it soon ;-)

  • Microsoft Office 365 VideoThe Office 365 Video App is a very basic little app that allows browsing existing videos and channels as well as uploading videos to a channel from a device.
There are even more alternatives, because you can use Office apps and create custom solutions. Those are the options I will point to in my next blog post about SharePoint in the mobile.

By Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer
kalmstrom.com Business Solutions