25 March 2013

SharePoint 2013 Document Library Templates

SharePoint 2013 logotype Your company problably has templates for documents created in Word, Excel and PowerPoint, but do you use them also when the documents are created directly in SharePoint?

In my series of tutorials on SharePoint 2013 for the Tips section I have now published a demo that shows how to use Content Types to add templates to SharePoint document libraries.

Content Types with templates
When you want to use templates for documents created from a SharePoint library you cannot just add them to the library. Instead you will have to create SharePoint Content Types for the kind of documents you need and then add a document to each Content Type.

The document you add to the Content Type should have the theme – background, header and footer, font, colors – you wish to use, but you actually don't have to add a real template. Any document that looks as you wish will do, as SharePoint does not create  a new document based on a template but instead just copies the file added to the Content Type when a new document is created.

These are the main steps in my demo:
  • Create three new Site Content Types, one for Word, one for Excel and one for PowerPoint
  • Upload a Word document, a spreadsheet and a presentation to their separate Content Types
  • Add all the three Content Types to the Document Library
When I am finished I have three kinds of document templates to choose from when I create a new document directly from the SharePoint Library:
SharePoint Document Library templates
In the Tips page "Use Content Types to add Document Library templates to SharePoint 2013" you can find the same demo as below and also a detailed Step by Step guide.

Add your own templates to SharePoint Document Libraries
In my demonstration I create the templates for Word documents, Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations, but you probably already have templates you can use. What you need to do then is to create SharePoint Content types for the different document types and then upload your templates to them. After that you just have to add the Content Types to a SharePoint Document library.

Save Library app as template
In the future you might want to create another Document Library with the same Content Types, so therefore I finish my tutorial by showing how to create a template from the Library app.

I have used the Office 365 version of SharePoint 2013 for my demonstration, but the principle is the same for other versions.

Use metadata and keywords to find and organize documents

For a SharePoint Document Library to be really useful it must be organized in a way that makes it easy for users to quickly find documents and information. I therefore recommend you to start tagging your files with keywords and metadata right from the beginning.

Document Tagger logotypeTagging documents manually is a tedious and time consuming task, but Business Solutions has developed a tool that analyzes  the documents and presentations in your SharePoint Document Library with the help of a language processing service and suggests tags for them.

And not only that – Document Tagger for SharePoint also makes it easier to use the tags to find the files you need among all those you will have stored after a while.

 Document Tagger is currently only available in a Beta version for SharePoint 2010, but later this year we will release a full version that supports SharePoint 2013 too.

You are welcome to learn more about this new solution for SharePoint Document Libraries on the website!

By Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions
Microsoft certified SharePoint specialist and Trainer

22 March 2013

Embedded Images in SharePoint List Items

HelpDesk OSP logotypeThe Outlook add-on that connects Outlook to SharePoint is mostly used as a helpdesk application. But HelpDesk OSP can be used for anything you want to add to a SharePoint list via Outlook, and the team makes use of it for both support e-mails and bug reports.

Microsoft SharePoint imageConvert incoming e-mails into SharePoint list items
What HelpDesk OSP does is basically to transfer all information from an incoming e-mail, including formatting, attachments and embedded images, to a SharePoint list item.

Each organzation can decide how the e-mail information should be transferred to different columns in the SharePoint list, but usually the sender's name and e-mail address goes into two separate fields and the body of the e-mail is placed in a description column. Beside these, any other SharePoint columns may be used with HelpDesk OSP.

Bug search and enhancement ideas
The search for bugs and for ways to enhance the Office and SharePoint applications is an ever going process where all team members are included – and many of the users too!

For the QA engineers this is a full time job, but in our different roles the rest of us are also looking out for things that can be improved in the software.

The findings and suggestions have to be reported in a consistent way that gives a good overview and basis for continued development, and for several years we have used SharePoint for that.

As the team is geographically distributed, we rely heavily on our SharePoint intranet for sharing documents and information. We call the list a bug list, even if many of the entries are about product enhancements and not about bugs.

SharePoint list onlySharePoint list item
At first we used only a SharePoint list that was customized for what we needed to include in each report. This list has columns for everything we need to register, so when it comes to text the list works well.

The problem was the images. Images are often needed to give a better explanation to the problem or suggestion, but you cannot paste images into a SharePoint list item field. Images have to be uploaded, which takes more time.

SharePoint list + Outlook add-on
When you take a screenshot to use with a text, it is quicker to just copy it and paste it in an e-mail than to save it and upload it to a SharePoint item. Therefore we decided to use our own Outlook add-on HelpDesk OSP (where OSP stands for Outlook and SharePoint) with our SharePoint bug list.

Images can be pasted into Outlook e-mails, and HelpDesk OSP can convert those e-mails into SharePoint list items – with the images maintained right where they were placed in the e-mail text! This way we can add and reach the images much more easily that when we used only the SharePoint list.
HelpDesk OSP gives images embedded in SharePoint list items

Use the list in both ways

Now we can all add bugs and enhancement suggestions in two ways: either we add them directly in the SharePoint list, or we send an e-mail to and add a certain code in the subject. Then our support mailbox knows that this e-mail should be placed in a folder monitored by HelpDesk OSP, where it will be immediately and automatically converted into a new item in our SharePoint bug list.

Link to list item
When the e-mail has been converted into a SharePoint list item it is automatically placed in a separate folder under the Sent Items, and a link to the list item is added to the e-mail. Therefore it is a quick process for developers and QAs to open the ticket and add their comments. They always have the support mailbox open anyway, to keep an eye on incoming issues and suggestions.

Microsoft SharePoint imageUser e-mails
As I said many users of our products have a keen interest in our development plans and come with their own input. These suggestions as well as reports about problems, should of course also go into the bug list.

That is managed directly from the support mailbox. The responsible team member just makes a change in the subject and forwards the e-mail to the support, and then HelpDesk OSP takes care of it. No more pasting of e-mail text into SharePoint lists!

Support too
We also use HelpDesk OSP for our support e-mails, but that is another installation that does not give links to the tickets in the converted e-mail. Access to the intranet is of course strictly limited.

With HelpDesk OSP we can work with the support cases in a structured way that ensures that all who contact the support will get a proper and timely answer.

So, as you see, just within our company we have found two different ways of making use of this Outlook add-on. Maybe your organization uses HelpDesk OSP in yet another way? In that case I would greatly appreciate if you were to send me a few lines and tell me about it!

Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

18 March 2013

Show Connected SharePoint 2013 App Parts In One Page

Wouldn't it be convenient to be able to click on a country on a SharePoint site and at once get all the customers in that country displayed on the same page? This and much more can be done by connecting two SharePoint 2013 app parts.

SharePoint 2013 tutorials
I have now published another demo in my series of SharePoint 2013 tutorials. This time I talk about SharePoint app parts and show how to connect them, and as an example I use the countries and customers I mention above.
I use the Office 365 version of SharePoint 2013 for my demo, but the principle is the same for other versions of SharePoint 2013.
SharePoint 2013 app part button
SharePoint lists with Excel data
I start with exporting an Excel worksheet with customers and countries data to my SharePoint site. Then I create a new SharePoint page where I add two app parts: one that displays the countries and one that shows the customers.

Here I have clicked on Argentina to the left, and the three customers from that country have immediately shown up to the right. In the demo below you can see better how it works.
SharePoint page with connected app parts
The Tips section
A couple of years ago we begun publishing tips and pointers that did not directly involve the Outlook and SharePoint applications but that still could be interesting to our customers.  We used a homepage with a content and one page for each tip.

These tips have become very popular, and today the Tips section of the website has grown so much that we have considered it necessary to separate the content page into two and create one content page for  SharePoint and one for Outlook, Excel and Miscellaneous.

Step by step
Another piece of news on the SharePoint tutorial is the downloadable PDF files with step by step instructions. They should be seen as complements to the video demonstrations, and I intend to publish them for all my SharePoint 2013 tutorials.

So far the step by step instructions are added to three Tips pages on the website: How to build a small business SharePoint intranet, How to build a simple resource booking system in SharePoint 2013 and How to build a SharePoint tracker for phone messages – and now to the tip on how to connect SharePoint app parts.

You are very welcome to have a look and to share my SharePoint tutorials!

Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

15 March 2013

Release Of Calendar Browser For Outlook V8.1

Calendar Resource booking iconThe new version of the resource booking application could be released even sooner than I expected when I wrote about the upcoming new Calendar Browser for Outlook last week.

Yesterday we published Calendar Browser V8.1, and subscribers are welcome to upgrade their installations. But first, read this blog about the added features and take a look at the configuration video. Administrators will find some interesting options that were not there before!

Make an appointment = book a resource
In Calendar Browser each resource has its own calendar, so it is easy for everyone in an organization to book a resouce by making an appointment in the suitable resource calendar for the required date and time.

Calendar Browser iconWith Calendar Browser you may also place a supply order, like catering service, conference material or IT equipment, with each booking. You can search for free resources and see a description of each resource, and there is also an Overview with various reports on the bookings.

Team work
It never stops amazing me how people with different skills – and in our case from different cultures – can work together towards the same goal and achive such good results as the team. I know that the developers, QAs and designers feel as content as I do when our combined efforts have once again led to a release of a useful application.

Thank you for your good work, team, and for helping me document all the news! Here are some of them:
  • Register hosts and attendees
    Now administrators can let uses select the host and attendees for a meeting from extra dropdowns in the booking appointment. This extra information is also shown in the Calendar Browser Overview and in the statistics reports.

  • Reserv two resouces in one booking
    When you always need to book a second resource after you have booked the first one it would be good if the second resource could be booked automatically. This can now be done with Calendar Browser V8.1.

    The administrator can easily select what reources should be booked together and if needed comment on it in the resource description, so the users will never have to bother with it.

Autobooking dialog
  • Supplies order e-mail notifications
    For this much requested feature, see my blog post from last week

  • Search the Overview
    Now you can search for reservations in the Calendar Browser Overview. Select any time period, and you may also filter these bookings by host.

  • Change log
    From version 8.1 Calendar Browser has a log file, where the administrator can see when bookings have been changed, by whom and what changes have been made.

  •  Highlights on bookings changed with short notice
    When a resource has been booked or a reservation has been changed close to the day when the resource is needed, the booking can be automatically marked with an hourglass in the Calendar Browser Overview.
In the new demo below Peter Kalmstrom, the Calendar Browser systems designer, shows how you can configure Calendar Browser to suit your organization. You will find more Calendar Browser demos on the website, and the slideshow and the manuals are also updated.

Do you want to try Calendar Browser? You are welcome to test the application for 30 days without any obligations, and remember that the support team is here to assist both registered users and evaluators.

We would appreciate any comments on the new version of Calendar Browser!

11 March 2013

Why Office Store Has No Apps

When I first heard that Microsoft would open an Office Store for apps and that it would be possible to reach it from inside the Office applications I was delighted over the new possibilities this opened for Business Solutions.
The Office Store button in Excel
With Office applications in Office Store, users could download and install them directly into their Office, and Microsoft would check all apps and guarantee their quality. Unfortunately Office Store has not turned out as well as I had hoped. To explain why I will first give some background information.

API means Application Programming Interface, and it is a protocol  used to make software components communicate with each other. An API may either be protected or released for all. When it is protected  the organization holding the copyright selects developers who may license the API. These organizations get licensing revenues and can also control the app development.

APIMicrosoft has chosen another way and publishes the APIs for Windows, SharePoint and Office for free and for anyone to use. This way anyone interested can develop applications that build on the Microsoft platforms.

Users get many products to choose from, and even if some tools are less than useful there are a lot of good ones on the market. too To me as a developer it has been important that I could start small and grow with the revenues without loosing my independence.

Office development models
When you want many to develop add-ons to your products you have to give something more than good APIs, and Microsoft thought about that nearly from the beginning. First came Visual Basic for Applications (VBA), which is meant for the programming language Visual Basic 6. COM Add-in

VBA is still widely used, but it has its disadvantages and Microsoft no longer invests in improving it. Instead they have given us the COM Add-ins.

The Office applications are such COM Add-ins. A COM Add-in runs considerably faster than a VBA application, and the security is much better. COM Add-ins can be written in several programming languages, so they give developers many more possibilites than VBA.

Store for cloud techniques
The latest trend is to develop for the cloud using techniques like HTML, JavaScript, & CSS, and to support this Microsoft has created a way to embed HTML IFrames into Excel, Word, Outlook, PowerPoint, and Project.

They also created the Office Store, to make it easy for users to download and install apps that leverage their Office applications – and to compete with Apple, for sure. I was happy about all this until I realized how limited my possibilities are with the new development model.

Too many "cannot"
With the current situation I see no possibility to sell the apps over Office Store. Our Office applications are not simple enough. The idea behind the Office Store API is to leave control to the user, but that means that there is not much I can do as a developer. 

A COM Add-in can create Outlook items, scan incoming e-mails and automate a great number of business processes, but the apps in the Office Store cannot do any of that. My aim has always been to develop products that give users as much functionality as possible, and I am not going to back down on that!

Empty shelves
Empty shelves in the Office StoreIt seems that many developers feel like I do about Office Store, because today the total number of apps is only around 200, and for Outlook I have only found 17  –  all of them free, simple apps that cannot be compared to the Outlook add-ins.

This is not good for neither Microsoft nor Office users, and I certainly hope that Microsoft reconsiders what can be marketed in the Office Store.

One important reason for maintaining and expanding the Office Store is that all apps are checked by Microsoft before they are published. This way users get protection against unreliable vendors, and serious vendors get a quality stamp. Business Solutions is a Microsoft Silver partner, and that is a good guarantee for customers. Our SharePoint and Office applications are also presented at the prestigious Microsoft website Pinpoint.

Still, we would welcome a possibility to be present in the Office Store also – without compromising our quality!

Some links to other blog posts about the Office Store problem:
4 February:
21 February:
4 March:

Peter Kalmström
CEO, Business Solutions

07 March 2013

New Technology Protects Indian Women

In December I wrote an article about the protests against the terrible gang rape in New Dehli. Today, on the International Women's Day, I will tell you about some innovations aiming to give Indian women more security.

Neha Gupta imageCrime against humanity
"It’s a very big crime, not only against women but against humanity", the QA Engineer Neha Gupta said to me when it was first known what had happened in New Dehli. And she is right.

I think many men felt the same when they joined the women in demonstrations all over India, first in rage over the cruelty of the rape and then in sorrow of the young woman's death.  "Real men don't rape" was a common message on signs and banners.

Unfortunately the rape in New Dehli was not a single incident but rather a symptom of the insecure situation many Indian women live with and the lack of interest from the authorities to do anything about it. Therefore the massive protests in December have been followed by further actions and demonstrations, and now we can see some results from them.

Security from smartphone apps
India is well known for the high standard of its IT industry, so it is not surprising that some of the good news is in the form of technical inventions that should be interesting to many outside India also.

Vipul Dindulkar, Office Manager at the Indore office, told me that two companies have developed similar smartphone apps. Those new apps let women and others who fear for their security allow people follow their travels via GPS, and in case of an emergency they can press a button to send an SMS, e-mail or call to these people.

In January Kritilabs launched SafeTrac, a free e-tracking app that tracks the user’s movements on a GPS-based grid and displays them via the web to the people designated by the user. In case there is an emergency, the software will also send out alerts to a list of phone numbers and e-mails registered by the user.

NASSCOM (National Association of Software and Services Companies) is an Indian non-profit organization for business, trade and research in software technology. This year's winner of the Nasscom Social Innovation Honours in the "Social Innovation by Individual/ Group" category was Stipator, a smartphone app developed by a young woman employed by Microsoft in Hyderabad and three of her collegues.

"I would be travelling for work in the evening hours and my mother would constantly call me, asking where have I reached, and if I was doing fine," says Richa Yadav to The Indian Express. "It set me thinking that there should be some mechanism wherein my parents are automatically informed of my location, and in case of an emergency, they should get an alarm too."

Need for simpler solutions
Of course these apps can only help those who own a smart phone. SafeTrac is currently available for Android mobile handsets and some basic phones that run on Java, and Stipator only supports Windows Phone 7.5. Therefore both companies are researching to find a solution that will be available for everyone.

I wish we lived in world where noone - woman or man - had to fear for their security, but as that is far from reality I welcome all initiatives that can improve the situation. They will also make people more aware of the problem and hopefully help to achive the change of attitudes that is the only way to make the world a better place for everyone in the long run.

Kate Kalmström Business Solutions

06 March 2013

Book Resources And Supplies In The Outlook Calendar

Calendar Browser iconThe resource booking application for Outlook will soon come in a new version. Last time Calendar Browser was updated we concentrated on the architecture and added support for the latest Microsoft updates.

This time we will add some useful functionality instead, sponsored by a member of the Community. One of the new features is an automatic e-mail notification to the person who is responsible for getting the booked supplies in place.

Supplies may be anything
In the Calendar Browser example data for evaluators the resources are rooms and the supplies are coffee, tea and equipment suitable for a meeting in a room. However, Calendar Browser can be used for any bookable resources within an organization, like cars, iPads or even people, and the extras will vary depending on what kind of resources may be booked.

All supplies are listed in the Calendar Browser settings, with rate and e-mail address to the responsible person, so people who are booking only need to specify the number of each of the items they want to order with their resource booking.
The Calendar Browser Appointment Toolbar
Book in the Outlook calendar
Calendar Browser uses Outlook calendars, one for each resource, and when you want to book a resource you just make an appointment in the calendar of that resource.

 Each resource calendar appointment has two extra features: a dropdown where the project (or whatever the administrator chooses to call this parameter) can be selected and a button that opens the supply booking dialog. Here the list of items from the settings is shown togethere with the rates. Comments, place settings and cost center may also be added.
The Calendar Browser Supplies Booking Dialog
As the Outlook calendar is so welll known, Calendar Browser is very easy to learn, and the application can be used in organizations where several hundreds of people need to book resources.

Coming soon
The new version of Calendar Browser will be sent to the sponsor this week, and we hope to be able to release it for all before the end of March.

While waiting for next version of the resource booking application you are welcome to read more about it on the Calendar Browser Plans page.

Also, please have a look at the demo below, intended for the Calendar Browser administrator. It shows what you must do to get the automatic notifications about supply bookings sent out and how you can decide how these e-mails should look.

Kate Kalmström
Marketing and Documentation Business Solutions