31 July 2013

TimeCard For Outlook Updated

TimeCard logotypeToday we have released an update to solve an issue in the Outlook add-on for time-reporting: the compatibility with the combination of Windows 8 and Office 2013. More enhancements of TimeCard is under development, but we have decided to publish this smaller update first.

Report time and expenses from the Outlook calendar
When you use TimeCard you don't need a separate tool for time reporting. Plan your time in the Outlook calendar as usual but also tag each appointment with one, two or three metadata, like Project, Customer or Company. You can also add your expenses in the appointment.

When it is time to report, click a button in the TimeCard toolbar in Outlook. A dialog opens where you can review your hours before you click another button to report them. You may also export the time report to an Excel datasheet from this dialog.

Workgroup and Single versions
TimeCard is useful for organizations with hundreds of employees as well as for people who only need to keep track of their own time. Therefore TimeCard has both a Workgroup version – with reporting to a central database and most of the configuration made for all users by the administrator – and a Single version with local reporting and configuration.

Windows 8 + Office 2013
Windows 8 logotypeThe earlier version of TimeCard was compatible with Windows 8 and Office 2013 as long as your system had just one of them. Windows 7 + Office 2013 worked fine, just like Windows 8 + Office 2010, but when users installed both Windows 8 and Office 2013 they got problems with TimeCard.

Office 2013 logoTherefore we decided to make a smaller release to solve this issue and not wait until the development of version 5 is finished. Both the Single version and the Workgroup version updates to solve the Win8 + Office 2013 issue have been published today.

SharePoint option in V5
Today's release was just a first step. TimeCard is our main development project right now, when we are working on TimeCard V5.

SharePoint 2013 iconThe addition of SharePoint as an alternative to the current Access or SQL Server database is among the most important enhancements in version 5. If you use
TimeCard with the Office 365 Outlook and report to a SharePoint site you can reach your calendar and report from anywhere, as long as you are connected to the internet.

64-bit support for V5
To add support for the 64-bit version of Office is a complicated process that many application developers refrain from, but we have added this support to most of our products now. TimeCard still only supports the 32-bit version, though, but the next major update will be compatible with 64 bits too. For more info about our plans, please refer to the TimeCard Plans page.

I will of course come back with more info about TimeCard V5 as work proceeds. Until then, if want to use TimeCard with Windows 8 + Office 2013 (32-bit) you are welcome to download TimeCard Single or TimeCard Workgroup or  – if you are a Community Member or Support Customer  – to upgrade your current installation.

By Peter Kalmstrom
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

28 July 2013

Connect Outlook to SharePoint with HelpDesk OSP V4

HelpDesk OSP iconToday I am proud to announce the release of HelpDesk OSP V4. The new version of our add-on has been given additional features and extended support for Microsoft products, and we have also added our new Excel reports feature to HelpDesk OSP. Thank you, team! As usual you have done a great job.

Convert incoming e-mails
HelpDesk OSP can be used for all kinds of publishing from Outlook to SharePoint lists. The team uses HelpDesk OSP to automatically convert incoming support e-mails to SharePoint list items.
We also use HelpDesk OSP to easily get images into our bug and enhancement list on the team site. Instead of adding data to a new list item we post an e-mail with a code in the subject, so that Outlook will place it in a folder that is monitored by HelpDesk OSP. To embed an image in an e-mail is easy, and images are often needed to explain problems and ideas. To embed the image directly in a SharePoint list item is more complicated, so you often use an attachment instead  which has to be opened.

Support for 64-bit Office
Office 2013 logoAn important new enhancement is that HelpDesk OSP V4 works with the 64-bit versions of Office 2010 and 3013. For most users the 32-bit version is enough, but some organizations that use HelpDesk OSP need the 64-bit version as they work with huge recordsets and spreadsheets. Most applications only support the 32-bit versions, but I want to give Community Members as much as I can achieve.

Many users don't know if they have a 32- or 64-bit Office installed, but HelpDesk OSP will detect it and select the correct executable when different files are necessary. So for the users nothing will be more complicated when we introduce support for the 64-bit Office. Most will never even notice it!

Win8 + Outlook 2013
Version 4 of HelpDesk OSP of course also supports Windows 8 and Outlook 2013. Even version 3 did that – but not both the new Microsoft platforms together! I am happy that the developer group has managed to solved that issue now. The new HelpDesk OSP logo has the 2013 style, to give further emphasis to the compatibility.
HelpDesk OSP logotype
Excel reports
Excel iconIn version 4 of HelpDesk OSP we have discarded the earlier statistics tool, which was good when you had learned it but still had several disadvantages. Instead we now use Excel for the statistics reports. Excel is a well known platform, and you can manipulate the reports with standard Excel tools.

Upgrade or try upgrade iconOrganizations who are already subscribing to HelpDesk OSP are welcome to upgrade their installations. Upgrades are always included in the subscription, just like the support. Please see all the enhancements on the HelpDesk OSP Revisions page. download iconDoes HelpDesk OSP sound interesting to our company? Then you are welcome to download HelpDesk OSP for Outlook and SharePoint and evaluate it for 30 days. Please study the manual, and remember that the support team will be happy to assist you if needed.

By Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

24 July 2013

Archive SharePoint List Items In SP 2013

One of my most popular Tips tutorials and one of my most read blog posts explain how to archive SharePoint list items. The demo is now published in a new version for SharePoint 2013.

HelpDesk OSP logotypeThe archiving tutorial was first created for the add-on HelpDesk OSP, that connects Outlook to SharePoint. However, when we saw the big interest for the demo we decided to put it in the Tips section also. It is useful for all that manage SharePoint lists, not only for HelpDesk OSP users.

When you work with issue tracking in SharePoint your list of cases will eventually be very long, so I wanted to show what could be done with them. You can just delete the closed items, but then you will get problems if they should some day be needed. And if you keep them in the list, it will reach its limit so that you will have to create a new list.

A better option is to use a workflow that automatically copies a list item that has been closed to an archive list and then deletes it from the first list. Of course also the archive list will reach its limit, so it is suitable to for example use one archive list per year  or ten years, depending on how many items you have.

In the Tips section we have 14 tutorials for SharePoint 2013 and 11 for SharePoint 2010. There are also tips and pointers on Outlook, Excel and more. Each tip has its own web page, most often with an introduction, step by step instructions and a demo. You are very welcome to visit!

By Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

Addition, Nov. 2014: For customized archiving to an Access or SQL Server database, use the new Solution SP Archive!

17 July 2013

Helpdesk For Outlook And SharePoint Converts E-mails To List Items

HelpDesk OSP logotypeWith HelpDesk OSP you can convert incoming e-mails to SharePoint list items, and you can also create new list items directly from Outlook.

Soon this issue tracking tool will come in a new version, and below you can see the updated slideshow for HelpDesk OSP V4.

Cooperation platform
SharePoint is an excellent platform for cooperation within a geographically dispersed workgroup – like the team – and Outlook is great for e-mail management. With HelpDesk OSP installed in Outlook you can connect these two Microsoft products and get more out of both of them.

Flexibel tool
HelpDesk OSP is useful whenever you need to publish something from Outlook to SharePoint. In an earlier article I described how the team uses HelpDesk OSP for support e-mails, bug reports and enhancement suggestions, and to us it is important that HelpDesk OSP easily transfers embedded images from Outlook to SharePoint.
It is much easier to embedd images in Outlook than in SharePoint, but we need the SharePoint features for structured and efficient work. HelpDesk OSP helps us to quickly get screenshots and other images into SharePoint list items, and SharePoint helps us share, sort and filter them.

New logo and compatibility
With version 4 the HelpDesk OSP logotype has been updated to the 2013 look of Outlook and SharePoint, to show that these versions are supported.  The new HelpDesk OSP can be used with both the 32- and the 64-bit versions of Outlook 2010 and 2013, but we have also decided to keep the support for Outlook 2007.

Excel reports
Excel iconHelpDesk OSP V4 uses Excel for statistics reports. You can create any report by selecting the SharePoint list and which list columns that should be included in the report. Then HelpDesk OSP will give the relevant data in an Excel sheet, where you can manipulate it with the standard Excel tools.

For users who want to learn more about Excel I am currently recording a series of tutorials that we will soon start publishing. Each of them will be introduced in this blog.

Please have a look at the slideshow while waiting for the release of HelpDesk OSP V4!

By Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

12 July 2013

2013 Style In Kanban Task Management Add-on For Outlook

Kanban Task Manager logotypeThe new features in today's update of the Kanban Task Manager Outlook version have already been added to the SharePoint version. But the Outlook version is first with the new style, adapted to the Microsoft 2013 style. I hope you like the new logo as much as I do!

A kanban board in Outlook
Kanban Task Manager uses the traditional kanban board idea and adapts it to modern technologies. With a kanban board in Outlook or SharePoint you will achieve many advantages that a physical board cannot give, and you get rid of the disadvantages of using cards.
Kanban Task Manager in Outlook
The Kanban Task Manager "cards" are never dropped on the floor or lost because someone took them away to make a note. They stay on the board for as long as you want them to, and you can easily drag them from one phase to another.

Visualized tasks in two sizes
In the new version of Kanban Task Manager for Outlook you can get the visualized tasks in two sizes. Groups with many tasks may prefer smaller "cards" to get room for more of them on the "board" - the computer screen - without scrolling. Other groups may prefer the bigger size, that lets you see a bit more of the task information without opening the task.
Kanban Task Manager task sizes
More filter options
In earlier versions of Kanban Task Manager you could filter tasks by project or responsible, which of course was a big step forward compared to the physical board. However, Community Members have asked for a third filter option, priority, so now this alternative has been added to Kanban Task Manager.

You can combine the three filtering options project, responsible and priority as you wish. You can for example select to show only high priority tasks for all responsibles on one project or to show one project only but all responsibles and priorities.

Show priority on task
The update Kanban Task Manager also gives the option to display the priority value on the visualized tasks. Just check a box in the settings and you will see the priority on the task "card".
Kanban Task Manager task
Win 8 style
Performance and features are most important, but we also want the applications to look good and fit well into the Microsoft products we build on. Therefore we have now left the shadows and rounded corners of earlier versions and given the tasks the Windows 8 style you see in the images above.

New colors
With version 2013 Microsoft has left the yellow color that has distinguished Outlook for such a long time and replaced it with blue, so we wanted to change the Kanban Task Manager icon accordingly. We also changed the red letters in the logo into blue, which gave us the clean an nice logotype you see in the beginning of this blog post. We will update all product graphics to the 2013 style, so this is just the first.

Upgrade or try upgrade iconCommunity Members who are already using Kanban Task Manager are welcome to upgrade their installations. Upgrades are always included in the subscription, just like the support. download iconHave you not tried Kanban Task Manager yet? Please download Kanban Task Manager for Outlook and evaluate it for 30 days. Please study the manual, and remember that the support team will be happy to assist you if you have questions.

By Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

05 July 2013

Outlook Resource Booking Tool Gives Extra Meeting Information

Calendar Browser logoToday Business Solutions has released an update of Calendar Browser, our resource booking tool for the Outlook calendar. The most important change from a user point of view is the enhancement of the Extra Booking Info feature.

Book corporate resources in Outlook
All kinds of resources and supplies can be booked with Calendar Browser, and organizations may group the bookable resources after what kind of resource it is. You may for example have one group for rooms, another for cars, a third for people and a fourth for tablet computers.  The Extra Booking Information is probably most used by organizations who have meeting rooms among the resources bookable with Calendar Browser.

Make an appointment in the resource calendar
With Calendar Browser each resource has its own calendar, and it is as easy for users to book a resource as it is to make an appointment in the Outlook calendar. Users can search for free resorces at a specific time, see descriptions of them and then book by making an appointment in the calendar of the desired resource.
Who will attend?
Sometimes it is necessary to give information about participants of a meeting, and then the Extra Booking Info feature of Calendar Browser comes handy. Of course you can write the participants info in the appointment body, but the Extra Booking Info feature gives you dropdowns for selection of host and attendees in the appointmenant. Additional information for each person, like e-mail or department will be shown automatically when a name is selected in the appointment dropdown.

Write info about new people
In the new version of Calendar Browser it is possible not only to select names but also to write them in the Attendees fields, in case they are not among the people entered by the administrator in the settings. Additional information about attendees may also be written.

Extra Overview tab
The Calendar Browser Overview shows different reports on future bookings. When the Extra Booking Info feature is used, an additional Booking Summaries report with all bookings and their participants for the selected day will be shown in the Overview.
Calendar Resource booking icon
Don't want it?
When the Extra Booking Info is enabled users will get extra dropdowns in the appointments, but maybe you have no reason to register participants? Don't worry, then you will not have to burden users with it. The Extra Booking Info feature has to be enabled in the Calendar Browser administrator settings, so even if it is a useful feature for those who need it, other organizations can just forget about it!

In my opinion this is how a good application should be created. Administrators should be given a lot of options, to be able to customize the tool to suit the organization. But users should not be overwhelmed by a mishmash of features. They should only have to see the features they really need to use.

By Peter Kalmstrom
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

02 July 2013

Long term solutions from

Quick fix imageNow and then I am asked if the developers can give a quick fix to a problem, and my answer is most often no. That is not how I want to work, and in this post I will explain why.

The well done quick-fix
When a fix is created in a good way, so that it works and solves the problem, there is a high risk that the fix will stay there and not be replaced with a more permanent solution. But as no long-term planning and life-cycle management has been involved in the design and development of the fix, it will eventually crash.

Due to the quick-fix nature of the solution there is often no organized support on the temporary solution, so when the crash happens the customer comes back to the developer again and asks for yet another quick-fix to solve an urgent problem.

The bad fix
When the fix is badly done it does not even solve the problem. Instead it creates new issues and seriously undermines the credibility of both buyer and seller. This can happen if there is no time to test the solution properly before it is implemented.

Learned from experience
I cannot remember that I have ever created a fix that the customer could not use, but I have developed  a few well-functioning quick-fixes that have eventually crashed. Therefore I try to stay away from them.

Instead I am doing my utmost to build my company based on products that will keep all stakeholders happy for the entire lifetime of the product. This long term strategy has proved successful for the products as well as for the custom solutions we develop.

Community iconThe Community
The subscription system for the applications is in line with my long term strategy. Support and upgrades are always included in the subscription fee, so there are no discussions about valid support contracts or payments for upgrades. Users can always have the latest and best version of their product.

Stable product instead of quick solution
Kanban Task Manager logotypeKanban Task Manager is a good example on my long term reasoning. This application for kanban style project and task management in Outlook and SharePoint was first requested by a Community Member as a simple Outlook addon for dragging and dropping Outlook tasks in a few colors between fixed phases  new, working, done.

We decided to let the customer pay for the simple solution but give something much better. Now we have Kanban Task Manager for both Outlook and SharePoint. Users can decide colors, number of phases and their names, and there are many more good features. Thanks to this decision has a new popular product that will benefit Communtity Members for many years to come.

So – you are very welcome to contact me with your problem, but it is not likely I will give you a quick fix for it. I will give you something with a much higher value!

By Peter Kalmstrom
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions