30 October 2014

Kalmström Attendance At World’s Children’s Prize Ceremony

World’s Children’s Prize iconMy daughter Elsa has strong feelings for all children's right to an education and a safe childhood environment, so she felt both proud and happy when she was selected to represent her school at the World's Children's Prize ceremony the other day. This is her story about the event.

Worldwide educational program
The World’s Children’s Prize Foundation is a Swedish independent, non-profit organization that manages a worldwide educational program to teach children about their rights and also about democracy, environment and global friendship. So far 59 748 Global Friend schools in 110 countries have joined the program, and my school is one of them.
World’s Children’s Prize ceremony
World's Children's Prize
As part of the program we voted on who should receive the World’s Children’s Prize. This prize is given as an encouragement for the winners to continue their good work for children's rights.

Three candidates were selected among many more nominated by a jury of 15 young people who have their own experience on violations of children's rights. At the end of the program we could give our votes to one of the candidates.

Malala Yousafzai won the World’s Children’s Prize, this year. She has recently been awarded a shared Nobel Peace Prize, and she is the only person ever who has received the Nobel Peace Prize and the World's Children's Prize in the same year. Nelson Mandela has also been awarded both Prizes, but not in the same year.
Malala Yousafzai
Malala is well known to everyone for her fight for girls’ right to go to school, but even if she is an admirable person she did not get my vote. She already gets so much media attention, and  I wanted the prize to go to someone who deserves the same attention but does not get it.

The two other candidates were John Wood, who has built 1 700 schools and 15 000 school libraries in some of the poorest countries in the world, and Indira Ranamagar, who was nominated for her 20 years of fighting for the rights of prisoners' children in Nepal.
Indira Ranamagar and Elsa Lonngren-Kalmstrom
I decided to vote for Indira Ranamagar, because she had taken the children she rescued from prison into her home and raised them as if they were her own children. It was an honor for me to meet her and get a chance to tell her in person how much I admire her work.

Audition for the ceremony
When my school decided to send three representatives to the prize ceremony in the Gripsholm Castle near Stockholm I wanted to be one of them. There was an audition, where I was asked about children's rights and why I thought I would be a good representative.

two friendsI pointed to my good English skills, which I have practiced not only in school but also during visits to relatives in the U.S. and to the team in India.
This image is from Indore and shows me with one of the team members, Neha Gupta Kaushal, who I know is also interested in children's rights.

Ceremony and dinner
I was selected to go to Gripsholm, and it was a fantastic experience. All the children in the jury were there, and Queen Silvia of Sweden helped them present the winner. Before the ceremoni the Swedish prime minister Stefan Löven held a speech where he greeted us all.

After the ceremony there was a dinner, and I could meet not only Indira and John Wood (Malala could not be present) but also the Swedish singer Loreen, who won the Eurovision Song Contest in 2012. Loreen is a patron of the World's Children 's Prize and supports the construction of schools in Afghanistan.
   Elsa and Loreen    Elsa and John Wood
Being present at the World’s Children’s Prize Ceremony was an experience I will never forget. The whole program has been very interesting and I have learned a lot!

Elsa Kate Lönngren-Kalmström

28 October 2014

Study Manager for SharePoint – New Solution

Study Manager for SharePoint logotypeLet students study in their own pace with the help of SharePoint and material especially adapted for them by their teachers. This will be possible with a new Solution under development.

We are often asked to develop customized products for certain companies or organizations, and when we see that the requested software can be useful to many, we normally suggest development of a standard product instead. The company that requested the product will then sponsor the development.

A sponsorship will be less costly than a customized product, but a standard Solution also has benefits when it comes to future development and upgrades. A Solution will be kept alive and adapted to future versions of the platforms we build on.
Tallstugan icon
Swedish for immigrants
A sponsorship was the obvious choice when teachers in a Swedish town asked me for help. They use a SharePoint intranet, and they wanted immigrants who study Swedish to have a possibility to work with exercises on that intranet as a complement to their lessons.

We of course already have our Swedish grammar site, but these teachers wish to be able to add and administer the content themselves.

I decided to build a solution that is easy to manage and use and that works for any subject – not just language learning. We have now delivered the first parts to the teachers, who are very engaged in the project and eager to start filling Study Manager with their content.

Teacher admins
Study Manager will have example data for evaluation, but its success for each organization will depend on the real content it is filled with. The teachers are the experts on that content, and therefore they should be the ones who add it to Study Manager.

We have made an effort to make the content addition quick and logical, so that all teachers can contribute. We will also facilitate exchange of files between teachers in different schools or towns. This way Study Manager will be administered by the teachers, not dependent on a SharePoint administrator, who might not know much about the subject at hand.
Study Manager hierarchy
The content of Study Manager is arranged in a hierarchy. The top level is the course, which has several parts. Each part has chapters, and each chapter has exercises. There is no limit to the number of items on each level – they can be as many or few as needed.

An exercise might be an image or a text. At the bottom level there are different kinds of tasks: multiple choice, drag to column, select correct alternatives and more. Each exercise can have any number of task connected to it.
SharePoint logo
SharePoint features
Study Manager makes use of SharePoint standard features as much as possible, so it will be easy to learn. The installation of Study Manager only adds the specific Study Manager features to SharePoint.

More than self-studies
We will integrate the inbuilt SharePoint functions for cooperation in Study Manager, so that teachers and students can have discussion fora online. There will also be a "write text" part, where the Microsoft Word features for text editing and review will be used, and parts where students can listen to sound.

Study Manager is a big project, and it will not be finished until next year, but I feel so excited about it I had to tell you. Only our imagination sets limits to the possibilities of this new Solution!

Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

21 October 2014

Archive SharePoint List Items With New Solution

SP Archive for SharePoint logotypeSharePoint lists cannot contain an unlimited number of items, so for a sustainable data management, organizations need to archive old or unused data that cannot be deleted.  To help organizations handle the archiving in an efficient way, is developing a new solution SP Archive. Today the documentation work has come so far that I can show a demo on how SP Archive works.

Customized archiving to database
The best storage option for archived SharePoint list items is a database, and SP Archive supports both the Access and SQL Server database. Often all fields and items don't have to be archived, and with SP Archive you can select exactly which items and fields should be archived at each occasion.

Kanban Task Manager
Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint logotypeThe SharePoint version of Kanban Task Manager allows teams to work with projects and tasks on a kanban board in SharePoint. Color coded tasks are dragged between phases as work on a project proceeds.

When Kanban Task Manager has been used for a while many of the tasks have been finished. Kanban Task Manager can hide any phase from the kanban board, and many teams choose to hide the finished phase. These tasks can still be used in the Kanban Task Manager Excel reports.

Eventually, when there are many finished tasks and projects, most organizations want to archive them. However, an ordinary workflow cannot be used with the Kanban Task Manager task list, so that was the original reason for developing SP Archive. We soon decided to create a powerful tool for all SharePoint users. SharePoint Solutions HelpDesk OSP icon Business Solutions has more products for SharePoint. The first one was HelpDesk OSP, an add-on that connects Outlook and SharePoint and makes it possible to create SharePoint list items directly from Outlook. TimeCard icon
Recently we published TimeCard for SharePoint, a time tracking solution for SharePoint calendars. Two more SharePoint solutions are under development, but I will save them for later blog posts.

SP Archive can of course be used with all these products, and we have decided to let it be free for subscribers to a SharePoint Solution. Organizations who are not subscribers can subscribe to SP Archive separately.

Released soon
The development of SP Archive is finished, and the solution is now in the testing, bug fixing and documentation phase. We hope to release it by the end of this month or in the beginning of November. In the meantime you are welcome to watch the demo!

Peter Kalmstrom
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

16 October 2014

SharePoint Apps or Sandboxed Solutions?

SharePoint logoMicrosoft has deprecated the use of custom managed code in SharePoint Sandboxed Solutions, a decision that of course affects the future of the SharePoint Solutions.

Choices for SharePoint development
At we are constantly evaluating new technologies and trying to make the best choices for our product development. When it comes to SharePoint development one such choice is the type of product to build. Currently there are three major choices, each with its own pros and cons.

Technology Pros Cons Apps
Server-side code in C# - also called custom code. Easy to build, fast and we are able to protect our IP. Very good developer tools. Deprecated, subject to resource points and server-side timeouts.No
Server-side code off SharePoint Same as above, but harder to build All of our customers would need to be connected to the internet, which some are not.Yes
Client-side code in JavaScript Slow development process. Hard to protect our IP, cross-browser problems, poorly documented.Yes

HelpDesk OSP icon
Client-side development
In addition to the above choices, another option is to do client-side development, which allows us to integrate Kanban Task Manager for Outlook icon SharePoint with Outlook or write to a local database. This
is what we do in HelpDesk OSP, Kanban Task Manager 
for Outlook and the upcoming SP Archive, and we plan to
continue doing so in future products.
SP Archive icon
To use both SharePoint and Outlook in the same solution gives many advantages, and our customers also like to be able to choose between SharePoint lists and databases for sharing and storage.

Kanban Task Manager iconSandboxed gives support for 2010
So far we have selected to package our only-SharePoint solutions, TimeCard for SharePoint and Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint, as Sandboxed Solutions, not Apps, because of the backward compatibility.Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint icon

Apps are not compatible with SharePoint 2010, while our sandboxed solutions work fine on both 2010 and 2013.

No-code Sandboxed
Thus we are not fully following Microsoft’s recommendations. However, most of our functionality is already in JavaScript and we are moving off server-side code fast.

This means that we are making our products nearly 100% no-code sandboxed solutions, NCSSs, which is not included in the Microsoft deprecation. It only applies to custom managed code within the sandboxed solution.

"While developing sandboxed solutions that contain only declarative markup and JavaScript -- which we call no-code sandboxed solutions (NCSS) -- is still viable, we have deprecated the use of custom managed code within the sandboxed solution.", says Brian Jones in Microsoft's official blog for SharePoint Developers

We will continue to discuss the future development in the developer group as well as with subscribers to our SharePoint Solutions. However, our aim is to start building Apps as soon as our Subscribers are ready and we can drop the support for SharePoint 2010.

Note: Since this blog post was written, we have moved all products off server-side code.

Peter Kalmstrom
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

14 October 2014

SharePoint Navigation Among Site Collections

SharePoint logoMany organizations prefer site collections to sites and subsites, and this is often wise if you have a well functioning navigation between the top-level sites of each collection.

In a new Tips article in my SharePoint Links series I give three suggestions on how to solve the navigation between SharePoint site collections.

Sites and subsites or site collections and sites?
To achieve a hierarchy in sites, it is quite possible to use sites and subsites instead of site collections and sites (and subsites). Navigation is easier with sites and subsites, as subsites can inherit the top-site navigation. However, the SharePoint site limitations make it difficult to expand sites.

For site collections the limit is much more generous. In Office 365 the limit has recently been raised from 10 000 to 500 000 site collections, and that should give enough space for sharing and storage even for large organizations.SharePoint Create Site Collection Button

Another advantage of site collections compared to sites is the possibility to set different permissions on different collections. That is more complicated to achieve when you are using sites and subsites.

Use Search!
In the demo below I am first showing a navigation for small companies with only a few site collections. It works in the same way as the global navigation between sites, which I also showed in the introduction to the SharePoint Links demonstrations.

When the number of site collections grow it is more practical to use the SharePoint Search feature to navigate between the top sites, and with a few adaptions that works very well.

The SharePoint Search is virtually unlimited and can handle any number of sites collections and sites, so I recommend it as the main solution for all organizations.
SharePoint Global Navigation Search Link

How do I know what to search for?
Soon after the demo and Tips article about site collection navigation were published I got a good question: "What about new employees with little knowledge of company structure? How would they know what to search for?"

To help these new people I suggest an overview  in the form of a clickable image of all available top sites. This solution would work well up to a rather large number of site collections. I have demonstrated how to create such a hotspot image in another SharePoint Links tutorial in the Tips section.

Step by step
In the Tips articles we often have step by step instructions as a complement to a video demonstration. In the article about navigation between site collections I show how to use:
  • Links to other top sites in the global navigation of each top site.
  • A Search link in the global navigation of each top site.
  • A Search center for all site collections. This is the default solution in Office 365, where users can reach the center by selecting "Search everything" in the search box dropdown in the top right corner.
There is also a step by step instruction on how to create a search vertical that shows only top-level sites. Such a search vertical makes it easier to find the correct site when the SharePoint farm or tenancy has many site collections.

Everything is also shown in the demo above, but for more info I recommend a visit to the Tips section.

Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

09 October 2014

Calendar Browser for Outlook Updated

Calendar Browser logoThe Solution for resource booking in Outlook has been updated today. This is only a minor update, to correct problems with Cached Exchange Mode.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the HelpDesk OSP update that made it possible to use our issue tracking add-on for Outlook and SharePoint in a shared mailbox with Cached Exchange Mode enabled. Now when we have a solution to the cached mode issues, we have also updated Calendar Browser.

Export to PDF
PDF export in Outlook In Calendar Browser each bookable resource has a calendar, and users reserv a resource by making an appointment in its calendar. Supplies may be added to the booking, and it is also possible to auto-book one resource with another.

When you use Calendar Browser in a reception or similar, where rooms, cars or other resources can be booked, you want to give a confirmation of the reservation.

PDF iconA PDF file is the best option if you want a proof of the booking, because the Calendar Browser specific terms in the appointment are removed when you export it to PDF. The file can be printed, sent by e-mail or uploaded to a place where it may be downloaded.

Unfortunately the Cached Exchange Mode created some issues here too, but today's update has solved them.

Multiple installations
Calendar Browser is installed in a server folder and in an Outlook shared mailbox or public folder. Several installations can be shown in the same Outlook, so you can easily group resources in various ways. That makes it easier for users to find just the resource they need.

A few organizations with multiple installations of Calendar Browser experienced a problem when they upgraded the solution. We always recommend Subscribers to take advantage of the free upgrades that are included in the subscription, but when we do that we must also make sure the upgrades are smooth. Therefore this issue has also been solved in the new version.

Upgrade Calendar Browser upgrade icon
If you have experienced problems with the Calendar Browser PDF export, we recommend you to upgrade your installation or installations.

Calendar Browser evaluation icon Does your organization need a resorce booking system that is efficient and easy to learn and use? If the answer is yes, I advise you to evaluate Calendar Browser. It is a mature product that has been on the market for 14 years, so it has many features and is highly customizable.

By Peter Kalmstrom
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

06 October 2014

TimeCard for SharePoint Reporting

TimeCard for SharePoint logotype Last week we were happy to release the SharePoint version of TimeCard, which means that now we have three different versions of the time tracking solution. The reporting of hours and expenses is done in the same efficient way in all versions, and below Kate Kalmström explains how to do it.

Kate Kalmstrom imageTimeCard for many reasons
Time sheets, or time cards, were first developed to determine how much employees should be paid, but today the time card information is utilized in more ways. In the time reports managers can see the duration and other details of different tasks and also gather other data, like costs and expenses.

Nowadays the time reporting info is not only used for payrolls but also for customer charging and estimations, to follow up and administer work and more. For all that you need a reliable time tracking solution.

Tag calendar events with time reporting data
The TimeCard solution is built on top of  the Outlook or Share Point calendar, where you can enter the hours as usual when you plan your time. Nothing has to be entered twice, as you select time reporting data directly in the event. The tagged events are thus changed into time sheets.

Report from the calendar
When you are using TimeCard, there is no need to leave the calendar to report hours, because tagging the events in the SharePoint or Outlook calendar transforms them into time sheets.

Click on the Report button in the TimeCard ribbon group when it is time to report. This opens a report dialog where you can select the time period of your report and also make any necessary changes.
TimeCard Reporting dialog
Review before reporting
In case you have missed tagging an event or an event is partially tagged, you can change it in the reporting dialog. You may also add hours to your existing appointments or change the number of hours. All the changes made in the reporting dialog box will be reflected back to your calendar. Now your report is ready.

Export to Excel Excel icon
If you want to go through the data again, or need approval from a manager before you report, you can export the report to Excel or print it by clicking buttons in the dialog box.

Step by step
There are three versions of TimeCard: TimeCard Single for Outlook, TimeCard Workgroup for Outlook and TimeCard for SharePoint, which of course also is intended for workgroups. The demo below is from the SharePoint version, but the steps to report time and expenses are the same in all three versions.

  1. Click on the report button in the TimeCard ribbon group in your SharePoint or Outlook calendar.

  2. A reporting dialog box will be displayed. Here you will find your calendar events of the past week.

  3. Change the reporting period as required. The default period is one week, but you can select any period for your report.

  4. Tag events here if you have missed it. The ‘Not tagged appointments’ view will show you all events that are not tagged.

  5. To add another event, click the ‘Grid’ check box and then click on ‘Add’. In the grid you can also change the hours of your existing appointments.

  6. Click ‘Save’, and all changes will be saved to your calendar.

  7. You can print the report summary with the ‘Print’ button or export it to an Excel sheet with the ‘Export’ button.

  8. Click ‘OK’ if you are done to report the time for the selected period. You will be asked if you want to report for another period. If you click ‘No’ the dialog box will be closed.
Kate Kalmström
Sales and Marketing Manager Business Solutions