29 May 2013 and Microsoft SharePoint

SharePoint 2013 iconMicrosoft SharePoint gives a lot of possibilities to any organization, so the development work has become increasingly aimed at this platform. Also my lecturing and development of custom solutions, as well as the Tips section, mostly involve SharePoint nowadays.

Outlook connection
When I first begun developing my software the brand name was Outlook Solutions, and the main platform was Microsoft Outlook. As business grew ".nu" became ".com", and "Outlook" became "Business".

We are now developing more and more for SharePoint, but we keep up to date with the latest in Outlook and are happy when we find ways to combine Outlook and SharePoint, to take advantage of the best of both platforms.

HelpDesk OSP iconHelpDesk OSP was one of the first applications that connected Outlook and SharePoint, and last year came Kanban Task Manager.

KBase iconVery soon we will release a new version of KBase, the knowledge base. It will have SharePoint as a sharing alternative to a database, and the articles can be read in SharePoint as well as in Outlook.

SharePoint certifications
I love to explore what can be done with the SharePoint platform. I am proud that I have gained all the  Microsoft certifications available for SharePoint 2010, and I hope to take the SharePoint 2013 exams later this year.

Microsoft Certified Professional logotype

Future SharePoint additions
I plan to add a SharePoint connection to all my products. When that is done, TimeCard users will be able to reach their calendars from any smart phone device, so managers can get their time reports without having to worry about what operating system the users have. Resource booking with Calendar Browser will also be easier to do away from the office, and eventually Folder HelpDesk will be merged with HelpDesk OSP.

Custom solutions
After I left my position at Skype the team has taken on more comissions for custom solutions. In these cases I do not just design the applications but also take care of most of the coding. The team helps me with testing and documentation. Most of these solutions build on SharePoint, just like the SharePoint Quality Assurance application I recently created for a Swedish chemical industry.

For SharePoint entirely
Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint solutions may also be used only inside SharePoint, without a connection to another platform, like Outlook. Today we have Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint already on the market. This version of Kanban Task Manager may be used together with the Outlook version, but several big organizations use the SharePoint version alone for their project and task management.

Document Tagger iconDocument Tagger for SharePoint document libraries is still in Beta, but we hope to publish the final version in June. On top of that I have some ideas for new products I hope to release later this year.

I use my knowledge of SharePoint as lecturer on advanced IT courses, and this spring it has been a stimulating task to teach IT professionals from various companies how to create SharePoint 2013 no-code solutions. I also introduced people from the Swedish Armed Forces to their custom version of SharePoint 2010.

The Tips section
The Tips section of the website has become very popular, and we now have many tips for the 2010 and 2013 versions of SharePoint. For some of the tips I have used material from my teaching. The YouTube channel has 15 videos in the SharePoint 2013 playlist, and all these are also shown in the Tips section, together with more information about the exercise in the video. SharePoint usage
The team members have all achieved a good knowledge of SharePoint, by studies and by experience. Not only do we use a SharePoint team site but also three of our own SharePoint products: HelpDesk OSP for the support tickets and for publishing bug reports with embedded images, Kanban Task Manager for the tasks of the different development projects and for website changes and extensions and recently also Document Tagger for better management of our shared documents and presentations.

Apart from that I have created several apps that simplify our workflow, for example a Check e-mail solution that checks downloads and sends evaluator reminders and e-mails to Community Members.

I am always on the look out for new ideas on how to make further use of the SharePoint platform, and rest assured, I have a lot of them myself!

By Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

24 May 2013

Swedish Armed Forces Learn SharePoint

Microsoft Certified Trainer logoBesides designing the software, I like to lecture on advanced IT course. During this first half of 2013 I have had an interesting commission: to teach SharePoint to intranet editors from the Swedish Armed Forces.

Intranet editors
The Swedish Armed Forces uses a SharePoint 2010 intranet, and to get the most out of this platform the organization decided to educate its intranet editors. The courses were organized by Cornerstone, Microsoft Gold Partner and the leading Swedish institution for in-service training courses.

Microsoft SharePoint imageCustom SharePoint 2010 solutions
The Swedish Armed Forces has implemented a custom SharePoint 2010 intranet with many site collections, and my task was to teach the editors how to use it. This intranet has some intresting solutions that I don't think are so common elsewhere.

All 400 editors can edit on any site of this big intranet, but they cannot publish anywhere. This means that it is easy for the editors to add documents or change pages, but the additions and changes do not take effect until an editor with permission to publish on the particular site releases them.

The most common scenario is probably that the editor with publishing rights also makes the changes, but for other scenarios the Swedish Armed Forces has chosen to give editing possibility to all.

Maybe you have watched my video in the Tips section where I show how to create a common navigation in a small site collection? The Swedish Armed Forces have done the same on a bigger scale, because they have one common navigation for all their site collections. This is of course very convenient for the editors, as they have the permission to edit all sites.

Social features
Microsoft SharePoint 2010 Social featuresThe Swedish Armed Forces have expanded the inbuilt social features of SharePoint 2010, to encourage users to comment and be active in other ways. This is a feature that benefits all users, not just the editors.

Stimulating task
For me the teaching is stimulating. I appreciate the interaction with the students, as they often ask interesting questions and give me new ideas.

The classes from The Swedish Armed Forces gave me the idea for a product I have described in the Ideas section. That is why I have used their official documents as an example on how highly structured documents can be managed in a SharePoint list.

Do you need help with SharePoint, Office or Windows education or teaching aids? I can provide it all, so please contact me!

By Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

22 May 2013

Connect Outlook Knowledge Base To SharePoint

KBase logotypeThe knowledge base for Outlook has been with us for many years, both as a stand alone application and used in combination with the issue tracking tool Folder HelpDesk for Outlook. Folder HelpDesk icon

Now we will soon release version 3 of KBase. Even if  current users will still recognize the Outlook add-on it has a new systems design that gives many more options than before. One of them is the possibility to connect KBase to a SharePoint intranet.

Later addition: This version has now been published.

HelpDesk OSP iconThis addition also makes KBase more interesting to in combination with HelpDesk OSP, our issue tracking tool for Outlook and SharePoint.

Sharing options

The earlier KBase versions depended on Exchange and an Outlook public folder or shared mailbox. This was the best when I first created KBase, but today we have more advanced options.

In version 3 my team and I have used another way to share information: a database or a SharePoint site. KBase can create a new Access database for you on a file server, and should you prefer to use an SQL Server database KBase supports all versions, both in-house and hosted.
KBase sharing options dialog
If your organization uses SharePoint 2010, 2013 or Office 365 SharePoint, I recommend SharePoint as sharing option. Then the articles may actually be watched, edited and created directly in SharePoint even if it is easier to add formatting and embed images when you do it from your KBase installation in Outlook.

SharePoint 2013 iconReach articles from anywhere
The SharePoint sharing option has the advantage over the other two alternatives that the articles can be reached directly via the internet. The default view shows all articles grouped by category and type, just like in Outlook, but you can of course create any SharePoint views for the article list.

When you use a database for sharing you can instead publish the articles to web pages and make them reachable from anywhere that way. This feature is also suitable for SharePoint users who want to publish the KBase articles outside the intranet.

Outlook 2013 icon
KBase articles may also be watched in Outlook Web Access and, but due to limitations in these platforms the articles will not appear exactly the same as in Outlook.

Do you think KBase sounds interesting? In the slideshow below we give an introdution to the new KBase. Please watch it and keep an eye on this blog. I will soon come back and tell you that KBase V3 has been released.

By Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

20 May 2013

InfoPath Form Library For SharePoint 2013

InfoPath 2013 iconIn an earlier blog post I explained how to customize a SharePoint form with InfoPath.

In this article I will go into more depth and give some additional comments on InfoPath and SharePoint forms.

The demo below shows how to create an InfoPath Form Library in a SharePoint 2013 site and how to add a form to it.

Fill out forms in any browser
With InfoPath Forms Services, which is part of the Enterprise versions of SharePoint 2010 and 2013, you can manage forms and form templates in a SharePoint site, and users can fill out these forms in any web browser. They don't need to have InfoPath installed, and they don't have to download anything.

Decide where data should be saved
InfoPath forms store data in XML files, so compared to list forms they are more flexible but they also require more knowledge. List forms store the data directly in a SharePoint list, so data can only be saved to that list, but data from an InfoPath form can be saved to various locations.

This means that users can publish their filled out form to any admin specified location by just pressing a submit button. In my demo I also show you how to specify where the data should be stored.
SharePoint InfoPath form
Investment form
In my tutorial I have used a form for investment suggestions as an example. Here users can fill out the name and the cost of the suggested investment and select a proposed start date.  They can also express in free text what goal the investment will help them to achieve.

SharePoint 2013 Modify ViewAll suggestions submitted via this form will be gathered in a document library, where the manager can set an alert for new additions. With a SharePoint library view that displays the relevant columns it is easy to review the suggestions, and in the video below I also show how to create such a view.

Step by step guide
In the Tips section you can find the same demo as below but also a downloadable step by step guide. There everything I do in the video is documented with text and screenshots, so that you can use it as a first exercise.

After that I hope you will able to expand the use of InfoPath forms and libraries to suit the needs of your organization. Good luck!

By Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

16 May 2013 Tips And Ads

The Tips section of the website is becoming increasingly popular, but it also requires some work from our side.  To  avoid  burdening the applications with the costs of maintaining the tips section, we have decided to add advertisements to the Tips pages and tutorial videos. I will also have ads in the blog posts introducing these tips and tutorials.

Special knowledge
I have certified expert knowledge of Microsoft's products, and the Tips section was created to share some of it to Members of the Community.

After a while more people discovered the Tips pages, and nowadays this section of our website has as many visitors as the product pages. The channel on YouTube is also popular and gains more followers each week.

SharePoint 2013 iconSharePoint, Outlook and Excel
Many of my most recent tips are about Microsoft SharePoint 2013, and earlier we published tutorials on SharePoint 2010. I think most organizations will use SharePoint in the future, so I want to spread knowledge about this platform and also adapt the products to it.

Outlook 2013 iconOutlook and Excel will also come with us into the future, so we have a number of tips on these products too. Several other tips are gathered under the heading "Miscellaneous". You are welcome to have a look!

Google ads
The products are of course my first priority, but as so many people find my tips and tutorials useful I would like to expand that side of the business too. One way of doing this is to allow advertisments, and we are now trying a Google ads placement on the Tips pages and in the general video tutorials.

I hope the ads will not be too disturbing. Quite the contrary, I hope visitors will find them interesting and click on them – because that is when we get paid!

By Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

14 May 2013

Kanban Style Task Management in SharePoint – New version Released

Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint logotypeI have many plans for the solution for project and task management in SharePoint, and today   I am happy to announce that some of them have been implemented as version 1.7 of Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint has been released. The slideshow below shows the new version.

SharePoint 2013 support
SharePoint 2013 iconThe most important of the enhancements is that  Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint is now compatible with the 2013 version of SharePoint and Office 365 SharePoint.

Hide what you don't want to see
In version 1.7 of  Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint you can hide phases, projects and responsibles from the kanban board, if you don't want to see them but still want to keep them in the SharePoint lists that store all Kanban Task Manager data.

Among the phases I think many want to hide the last one. In the team site installation we call it "Published", but "Finished" is probably the most common name.  The Hide feature is also useful for finished projects and responsibles that are no longer active in the workgroup. Such projects and responsibles will just clutter the filter dropdowns in the kanban board.
Kanban Task Manager Settings
Delete or Close?
Kanban boardIn the earlier versions of Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint tasks were deleted when users clicked the X icon in the visualized task on the kanban board. They were still kept in the SharePoint recycling basket for a while – normally 30 days – but some users thought it was too easy to delete tasks.

Now we have done something about this issue. The SharePoint admin can let the "delete" icon move the tasks to one of the hidden phases instead of really deleting them. We have also changed the icon so that it no longer shows the delete symbol.

Two task sizes for the kanban board
Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint visualizes tasks on a kanban board in SharePoint, and in the new version the SharePoint administrator can opt to show smaller tasks than the default ones.  With the smaller size more tasks can be seen on the screen without scrolling. The smaller tasks has no "card pin", for better visibility.
Kanban Task Manager Settings
Custom Kanban Task Manager SharePoint list
Maybe some other task parameter than project, responsible and priority is important to your organization? In that case you can make use of the "Extra field".

When this field in the configuration page is given a name,  Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint creates a list where you can add the different values. Then this parameter can be added to all tasks, and you can also filter the tasks by it.

Upgrade or try upgrade iconCommunity Members who are already using Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint are welcome to upgrade their installations to get the new features and the 2013 support. download iconHave you not tried Kanban Task Manager yet? Please download the solution and evaluate it for 30 days. I am looking forward to hearing your comments!

By Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

09 May 2013

Milestone For The Blog

The Blog has now reached more than 100 000 pageviews, which we consider a good result for a specialised blog like this one.
HelpDesk OSP icon
Lazy beginning
We started the Blog in 2009, but during the first years we only posted a few rather short blog articles.

It was not until 2011 we begun posting more often, and I think those articles also had better content than the earlier ones. After a while we saw the result of this improvement in the number of pageviews, and the figures are still increasing for each month – which encourages us to continue posting.
KBase icon
Long shelf life
When a blog post is new we are of course eager to study the statistics to see how many pageviews it gets, but it is even more interesting to look at the statistics of all blog posts and not only of the latest ones, because the blog posts are read long after they were published. We take that as a proof of quality, and it makes us even more motivated to generate good content.

Tecnical blog with some variety
Kanban Task Manager iconThe major aim for the blog is to inform about the solutions that enhance Outlook and SharePoint and the blog is a good marketing channel. The most read blog post ever in this category is the presentation of Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint from October 2012.

Kanban Task Manager iconWe are happy that the great interest for the article has been followed by downloads and then Community Memberships when organizations have decided to use this solution for kanban style task and project management in SharePoint. Also an earlier blog post about the Outlook version of Kanban Task Manager are among the ten most read during all times.

Business news
We want to give blog readers more than marketing, so we often comment technical news and other events in the business. In this group the most read blog post so far has been about the initiative by Microsoft Sweden to proclaim a "Work From Home Day". This event took place in Februari last year and was later followed by a "Telework Day" in Estonia.
TimeCard icon
The Tips section
Our website does not only contain a lot of information about the applications for Outlook and SharePoint. As the team has profound knowledge about these platforms we also give tips and pointers that are not directly related to our products.

Each new tip is introduced in the Blog, and these posts are often popular. The article about adding JavaScript in SharePoint from December 2011 is actually the most read blog post of all.
Folder HelpDesk icon
Had I waited a while with writing this blog post I think another article would have taken the lead, though, because "SharePoint 2013 Document Library Templates" is high on the list even though it was published as late as the end of March this year.

Personal news
Calendar Browser iconAnother kind of blog posts describe important events in the life of the team members. Here I must admit I am a bit disappointed that the most read blog post is from 2009 - a short article about Swedish Christmas celebrations.

I think we have published better blog posts in this category after that. Maybe it is the photo of a red cottage in a snowy landscape that attracts visitors?

Who are the visitors?
Document Tagger iconThe statistics can also show us where the blog readers come from, and we see that the biggest group is the Americans. After the U.S. comes U.K. and then India, China, Sweden and Germany. China is the only surprise here, as we do not yet have any Community Members in China. But it surely looks promising for the future!

While I have been writing this the figures have changed, so that we are a bit more over 100 000 now. Thank you all blog visitors! We are happy that you take your time to read and share the Blog.

By Kate Kalmström
Marketing and Documentation Business Solutions

07 May 2013

Indian Office Closed Because Of Wedding

Hands of Neha and KapilToday is a happy day for the team, and especially for our QA Engineer Neha Gupta. She is getting married today, and all her colleagues at the Indore office have taken the day off to attend the wedding.

Unfortunately no one in the Swedish team could go to India this time, but it means that customers and evaluators of the products will still  get some service. Our thoughts are with Neha and Kapil, and we wish them a wonderful day.

Neha and Kapil

Neha will be away from work for two weeks, and when she comes back I am sure she will have a lot to tell. She has also promised me some photos, so there will be another blog post about the wedding later.

Kate Kalmström
Documentation and Marketing Business Solutions

06 May 2013

Publish E-mail Attachments To SharePoint

SharePoint document libraries have many useful features that enhance document management, and in an earlier article I described various ways to add files to SharePoint.
SharePoint 2013 Document library
Today I want to tell you about yet another way to add files to a SharePoint document library: an Outlook add-on that connects to SharePoint and makes it easy to add files to a SharePoint document library directly from Outlook. This is a product idea, also described in the Ideas section of our website.

E-mail attachments
I would guess that sending an e-mail attachment is the most common method when people want to share a  file. It is convenient to send files as attachments. Often you want to write a few lines to the receiver anyway, so why not send the file in the same process?

However, that it is convenient to add files to e-mails does not mean that sending e-mail attachments is the best method for sharing files. It is certainly not the safest way, and if the file is big it might take time to download it.

Another problem is that files are gathered in mailboxes, where they take up space without giving any of the benefits you will get when using SharePoint document libraries.

Outlook Attach File iconSP Attach publishes "attachments" to SharePoint
I call the add-on I am designing SP Attach. SP is for SharePoint, and Attach is for e-mail attachments, because what this application does is changing the default behavior of the "Attach File" command in Outlook.

With SP Attach installed you click on the "Attach File" button and select a file, as usual, but  the file will not be attached to the e-mail. Instead it will be published to a SharePoint document library, and in the e-mail you will get a link to the document in the library. The same thing will happen when you drag a file into an e-mail.
Link to SharePoint Document Library in Outlook e-mail
Auto or choice
 SP Attach will give several possibilities. You can choose to let the add-on publish all your files to a specified SharePoint document library, and in that case you will never be asked about it. You will just see the link in your e-mail when the file is published.
SP Attach in Outlook
Another option is to let SP Attach ask you what to do with the file.  In this case you can have various document libraries to select for publication, and you can also opt to not publish the file to SharePoint at all but send it as a normal e-mail attachment.

This alternative must of course be used when you send files to people who don't have access to the SharePoint site.

Other cloud platforms
The team will first concentrate on making SP Attach work well with SharePoint, but the same idea can be applied to other cloud platforms for file sharing, like Dropbox, and I hope we can expand the add-on to support more platforms.

Give us your input
As you might have seen in my earlier blog post about document managemen in a SharePoint list, I have decided to publish my product ideas on the website.

I hope we will get valuable comments and questions that can tell us about the interest for my ideas, so you are very welcome to contact us. And please, read more about SP Attach on the website.

Addition 9 December 2014: SP Attach is no longer just and idea. This Solution is now under development and has its home page under >products:

By Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

02 May 2013

Customize A SharePoint Form With InfoPath

InfoPath 2013 iconWith Microsoft Office InfoPath you can manage forms in several different ways. In the tutorial below I describe how to use InfoPath 2013 to design a SharePoint task form.

The demo is also published in the Tips section of the website, where you can also find a step by step guide.

Tasks app
The future of InfoPath has been questioned, but it is still a very useful tool when it comes to handling electronic forms. As an example I use the form of a SharePoint 2013 task app,which I set to be shown in a dialog. SharePoint 2013 task app icon

I also remove some of the fields before I open the form in InfoPath. By removing fields that are not used or needed I can get a smaller dialog that does not need so much scrolling. Also, the Related items field, which is a default field in SharePoint 2013 Task lists, does not go well with InfoPath customizations.

Open in InfoPath
SharePoint 2013 is created to be easy to integrate with other Microsoft platforms, so to open my task form in InfoPath I just have to click the "Customize Form" button in the SharePoint ribbon.

The task form will then open in InfoPath, and I can design it to get it more compact. Later I will also add another field, but before I do that I will publish the compacted form to show it.

If you are used to working with tables in other Microsoft applications InfoPath is easy to understand. You can add, merge and delete cells, columns and rows like you do in Word, and new fields can be dragged to the table in the same way as in an Excel pivot.
InfoPath designed SharePoint task form
Discussion board
When the form is customized in InfoPath I show how to set versioning and create a comment field. In this field I set changes to be appended to existing text, which means that no comment can be changed once the task has been saved. Instead new comments are added to the earlier ones, so that the comment field can be used as a discussion board inside each task.

All must be done in InfoPath too
A disadvantage with using InfoPath is that you cannot add a column to the list after you have designed the form in InfoPath without going back into InfoPath and adding it there too. This is a quick process, though, and I think the benefits of using InfoPath with SharePoint well motivates the extra trouble.

By Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions