24 January 2018

Create Surveys With Microsoft Forms

Office 365 Forms icon Microsoft will soon roll out an Office 365 service for surveys, quizzes, and polls for all commercial users. It is called Microsoft Forms, and I introduce it in a new Forms  article in the Tips section.

Collect information
The name of the new Office 365 service can sound a bit misleading, but it is not a replacement for InfoPath. Instead Microsoft Forms is a basic app that helps you to quickly collect information via surveys and quizzes.

Use Forms to conduct customer surveys, question trainees or applicants, ask team members about their opinion, yes, anytime when you want formalized input from several other people.

What Forms replaces is rather the SharePoint Survey app. Forms is easier to use and the poll form is more mobile friendly than the Survey app.

Nice interfaces
With Forms you can create a survey and then invite others to respond to it via any web browser. The surveys look good and is easy to answer even on mobile devices. The surveys can be shared with a link or be embedded in a web page or blog.

As people submit their answers, the results are displayed in a graphic interface where you can evaluate them. The results can also be exported to Excel for further analysis.

Soon released for all
Forms became available in Office 365 Education subscriptions as early as in June 2016, as an answer to teacher requests for a tool that would help them assess student progress on an ongoing basis.

The preview for commercial First Release users came one year later, and from 15 February 2018 Microsoft will start rolling out Forms to all tenants. By default, Microsoft Forms is turned on for everyone in the organization, but admins can turn Forms off and then on again for specific people.
Office 365 from Scratch cover
In the demo above I show how to create two different kinds of surveys, how to share them, how to reply to them and how to see the results. The next version of my book Office 365 from Scratch will of course include more information on Microsoft Forms.

Peter Kalmström,
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

17 January 2018

Customize a List Form in PowerApps

Microsoft PowerApps iconThe PowerApps button in the modern SharePoint interface has a new option: to customize list forms in PowerApps. I have recently published a new Tips article where I show how this option can be used.

PowerApps for new views
When Microsoft first introduced the PowerApps button in SharePoint lists, it was to create a mobile friendly PowerApp from the data in the list. From a user perspective, such a PowerApp can be regarded as a new list view for the data that the PowerApp is connected to. I have earlier described how to do that in my books SharePoint Online from Scratch and Office 365 from Scratch, and there are also some Tips articles on PowerApps creation in the Tips section.

PowerApps for forms modification
From October 2017 Microsoft started to roll out a new option for PowerApps users: customize a SharePoint list form. With this possibility, PowerApps has become a browser based alternative to InfoPath for modifying SharePoint list forms.
The PowerApps command in SharePoint
The PowerApps button in the modern interface now has two choices: 'Create an app' and 'Customize forms'. This means that it is very easy to start modifying a SharePoint list form. Just select the customize option, and the form of the current list will open in the PowerApps studio online.

More options than SharePoint
When you create a new list app in SharePoint, you will probably make the possible modifications directly in SharePoint. However, for more extensive customization it is better to use PowerApps. It gives more options, such as coloring a field, making a field read only and organize the fields in multiple columns.

Import of Excel data
In my Tips article I describe how to modify a "Customers" list form in PowerApps. The demo below, which is included in the article, begins with an import from Excel to SharePoint. Such imports often give lists that need to be modified, so it is a good starting point for a tutorial.

The upcoming new versions of my books will include more details about forms modification with PowerApps, but for now I welcome you to my new Tips article about SharePoint list forms customization.

Peter Kalmström,
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

08 January 2018

Knowledge Base for Outlook

KBase for Outlook logotype If you are looking for a solution that adds a knowledge base to your Outlook, the add-in KBase is the right choice.

The knowledge base KBase, helps you create and search articles in Outlook. KBase is configured inside an Outlook folder, and the articles can be shared via an Access database, an SQL server database or a SharePoint site.

All the Outlook features like editing, text search, spell check, HTML code and attached files can be used in the KBase articles.

KBase categories and types, custom fields and full text search
The KBase articles can be grouped in categories and types, which is visualized in a tree hierarchy and in Outlook. You can add, edit or remove categories or types directly in the tree view.

The form for new KBase articles has a right pane for the article and a left pane where the creators select category and type. For additional metadata, KBase also gives the possibility to add custom fields to the default KBase form.

Moreover, the KBase articles can easily be searched by any word or phrase. KBase makes a full text search in the articles and lists all the articles which contains that word or phrase.

Share KBase articles outside Outlook
KBase gives options for sharing the articles outside Outlook as well. You can publish all or specific KBase articles to a website. This creates a contents pane and one web page for each article. Another option is to export the articles to Excel, which creates an Excel datasheet with the KBase articles.

KBase articles can be seen in Outlook Web Access also, but they can only be read, not edited there. When you use the SharePoint sharing option, the KBase articles can be both seen and edited in SharePoint.

KBase with Folder HelpDesk
Folder HelpDesk for Outlook logotype KBase is really helpful when used with Folder Helpdesk. Folder HelpDesk is another of product, which is completely integrated in Outlook. It converts e-mails with support cases or other issues received at the helpdesk into tickets.

When you use KBase with Folder HelpDesk, you can save the solutions to interesting issues as KBase articles before closing the tickets.

Trial and Support download icon To experience the features and functionalities of KBase, you are welcome to evaluate the full version of KBase for 30 days. The team provides full support to subscribers as well as evaluators.

To get the best out of the solution, I recommend you to read the KBase manual. You may download a Word or PDF file from the KBase product page. Should you still need any assistance with the product, you are welcome to contact our Support team.

Community icon KBase can be subscribed to on monthly as well as yearly basis. If you are a Medium subscriber to Folder HelpDesk, you may choose KBase as an additional solution without extra cost. Our Sales department is always here to help you, should you have any queries related to product subscriptions.

I hope my blog post has given a valuable review of the KBase features. I am looking forward to writing more such blog posts on the products. Last but not the least, your feedbacks and suggestions on KBase are always appreciated!

Dipti Francis
Executive Assistant Business Solutions

03 January 2018

Kanban and SharePoint Plans for 2018

As usual at the beginning of a new year, I want to inform about our plans and expectations for the coming twelve months. Much of what we anticipate includes a kanban board, because products with this possibility to visualize and manage work has become very popular. We will of course also continue developing for SharePoint.

Product updates
Most important for all subscribers is of course that we will continue enhancing the Outlook and SharePoint products and make sure that they make use of all the new features that Microsoft develops. Among the most important are:Kanban TaskManager for SharePoint icon
Custom solutions
Some of our subscribers also trust their custom development projects to us. During 2017 we have had such commissions going on all the time, and we also have a few small ones right now. We hope to get more in 2018, because those kind of projects have been mutually beneficial in the past. They of course provide business value for our customers, but the team is also learning a lot from them.

New products
In 2018 we plan to release several new products that are currently in development:
  • Pivot Explorer iconPivot Explorer: works as Excel pivot tables and charts, but you can use this SharePoint add-in directly inside SharePoint Online lists.
  • Kanban E-mail Manager iconKanban Email Manager: an Outlook add-in that gives a kanban view of the emails with drag and drop, e-mail statuses and project tagging.
  • Document Tagger iconDocument Tagger: analyzes and adds keywords to SharePoint library documents and presentations – but not until you have had a chance to review the suggestions and discard the ones you don't want.
  • Site Manager: creates SharePoint site collections for projects or similar.
When those products are up to our quality requirements, we will document and release them as soon as possible.

More colleagues
We are always looking for new, creative team members, and we hope to find some really inventive people this year. What we need is not mainly experience. As our business area develops rapidly, it is crucial to have a capacity to learn quickly and to find good solutions to the problems that inevitably will arise.

The whole team is looking forward to meet new customers and colleagues and to have an eventful and prosperous 2018. I wish all blog readers the same!

Peter Kalmström,
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions