30 December 2015

2015 Challenges Successfully Passed!

Hands It is time to look back on yet another prosperous year. 2015 has given us many new subscribers, and new challenges have given us valuable opportunities to hone our skills.

We have been digging deeper into our core competence areas by enhancing our main Outlook and SharePoint products as well as releasing new ones. We also took on some new challenges by releasing a mobile app and successfully managing sponsored product development.

Study Manager
Study Manager for SharePoint logotypeIn March we released a new SharePoint solution for online training. Study Manager was a sponsored Solution, requested by teachers who wanted to add self-correcting exercises and tasks to SharePoint and supervise their students' work with them.

These teachers took a more active part in the testing than sponsors usually do. They were by no means SharePoint experts, so their participation in the development process made us catch several points where we had taken things for granted.

Even if this early user input took some extra time, I was convinced that it was beneficial and would make Study Manager easier to manage for teachers and students. Later this was confirmed in a testimonial: "Also those students who are not used to computers can work with the exercises, as Study Manager is so easy to use."

Templates Manager
Templates Manager logotypeEvery organization wants their documents to have a consistent look and content, and the best way to achieve this is of course to use templates for different kinds of documents.

However, Microsoft has not given a good solution for templates management in SharePoint. In the second half of 2015 the team did something about that: we released Templates Manager.

With Templates Manager administrators and other template creators can publish and update templates to the whole SharePoint farm or tenancy by just pressing a button. We have also made the template search quick and smooth, so that everyone can find the right template to use at each occasion.

TimeCard for SharePoint Mobile
TimeCard for SharePoint logotype In the beginning of the year we hired our own Mobile App Developer, Madhur Trivedi, and his first release was an app that takes the information from the TimeCard for SharePoint calendar and displays it in a mobile friendly user interface. That way, users can tag events with time reporting information in smart devices that synchronize with the TimeCard for SharePoint calendar.

Now Madhur is working on an app that connects to SharePoint tasks lists. The rest of the team is busy with enhancements of existing products, and next to be released are new Outlook versions for Kanban Task Manager and TimeCard.
Married couple at Indian wedding
Team efforts and celebrations
It is fascinating to work with talented colleagues who find solutions when many others would have given up. As our 2015 product challenges has been managed in triumph, it felt wonderful to finish the year with joyful celebrations at a big wedding partyin Indore.

I have written about the marriage between Monika and Vijayant Rimza earlier this month, so here I will just give you one of the official wedding photos.

Now we are looking forward to a new year, and I will soon come back with my thoughts on the future.

Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

28 December 2015

Use SharePoint Search To Navigate Between Site Collections

SharePoint iconIn a new SharePoint Online tutorial in the Tips section I show how you can use SharePoint Search to navigate among site collections.

Multiple site collections instead of big ones
I usually advise customers to create several site collections, for example one for each department, instead of having everything in the same site collection. It will be easier to manage, and you can set different permissions on each site collection.

But for this to work well it is important that the navigation between the site collections is quick and easy to understand.

Scalable navigation
When you start building a SharePoint tenancy you will only have a few site collections, and you might want to put links to them in the global or top navigation of each root site. This works in the beginning, but it is difficult to scale up such a navigation. That is one of the reasons I recommend the Search navigation instead.

Search vertical
People are used to searching, so if you add a search vertical for site collections to the Search Center, users will understand what to do with it. I wrote about search verticals in an earlier blog post, and the Tips section has several articles on search verticals. A Search link in the top navigation can open the Search Center with the site collection vertical active.
Customized Search Center

Promoted links or hotspots image
Direct links to the most important site collections in the Search Results web part are especially useful to new employees who don't know the organization so well and might not know what to search for. You can also add links in the form of promoted link tiles or a hotspots image.

I show more tips on how to enhance the Search navigation in the Tips articles, so welcome to have some inspiration!

Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

23 December 2015

Christmas With Hope Of Light

Yesterday was the shortest day of the year on the northern hemisphere, when the sun at noon is at its lowest altitude above the horizon. In Sweden this time is filled with festivities intended to ease the darkness and bring light into our lives despite the cold and long winter nights.

The country with the polar night
In the northern part of Sweden, above the polar circle, the sun does not raise above the horizon for several weeks in December and January, and also the rest of Sweden is very dark. The office is situated in the southern part of the country, and here we have more daylight. But as the globe angles away from the sun, the rays do not give any warmth and the light is weak.

Swedish snow landscape

Winter solstice celebrations
Nowadays the winter solstice occurs on December 21 or 22 each year, but with earlier calendars it has been on both 12 December and 24 December. These days have been celebrated in Sweden since ancient times.

Midwinter festival The holiday we now call Christmas has its origin in the Yule festival on the darkest day of the year and was celebrated long before the Nordic countries were Christianized. It was a festival intended to disperse darkness and evil forces and celebrate the light that was to come.

As you all know, we still need to get rid of darkness in many forms. Together with my colleagues in the team I wish all blog readers  light in all its senses and a happy Christmas time!

Kate Kalmström
CCO Business Solutions

21 December 2015

Show SharePoint Files From Multiple Site Collections

SharePoint iconEven if you have multiple site collections, each one with its own content, some files are important to many users. Those files should be possible to reach from within several site collections, so that users don't have to navigate to another site collection to read or edit them.

In a new tutorial in the Tips section I show two ways to display files from other site collections. I also discuss how these methods look for users who don't have access to certain files.

Keep files in one place
Common for both methods is that you should keep each document in only one library, even if you share it on many sites. That way you only have to edit in one place. Imagine how many versions there will be after a while, if you copy and paste documents between site collections!

Enterprise Keywords
It is always a good habit to tag files with metadata and keywords, and Enterprise Keywords are centrally stored and easy to add and use. I give a certain keyword to all documents that should be shared between site collections, to make them easy to find in a search – because search is what I recommend you to use when you share files between site collections.
Files in Content Search web part

Content Search
If you gather all documents that are tagged with a certain Enterprise Keyword in a Content Search web part, you can easily add more files to the page by just tagging them, no matter what site collections they are stored in. In the demo below I show how to add such a web part to a page.

Embed files
The tutorial about file sharing among SharePoint site collection has two more demos. In one of them I show how to embed a Word file. This looks good on the page for users who have access to the file, but it takes a lot of space and it only works for Word, PDF and PowerPoint files.

Embedded file in SharePoint

See what you are allowed to see
SharePoint always trim searches after permissions, so users only see what they are allowed to see. In my third demo about documents from multiple site collections I show how the two options, search and embed, look to a user who don't have access to the shared files.

The Content Search web part looks good, because where some users see links this user sees nothing at all. The embed option, on the other hand, looks bad, with a no access message occupying space on the page. Therefore you should only use the embed option for Word files that all users have permission to read.

This was the third blog post about my Search articles in the SharePoint Online from Scratch series, but there is a lot you can do with SharePoint Search so you can look forward to at least one more!

Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

17 December 2015

The Custom SharePoint Support

The basis of our company is of course the Outlook add-ins and SharePoint Solutions, but another part of the business is growing to become more important: our customized SharePoint Support. Custom Solutions
For several years already we have offered custom solutions and services to companies, and various organizations have taken advantage of it. We have for example created a SharePoint Quality Assurance Solution for an investment project where the quality control had to be rigorous and around 34 000 approvals had to be handled and documented in an efficient way.

This was a big project that spanned over long time, but we have also assisted with smaller tasks, down to only four hours of work. SharePoint icon The custom solutions are interesting to work with, as each one of them offers a special kind of challenge that is stimulating and expands our knowledge and experience.

SharePoint implementation support
This last year another part of the services has grown considerably: the SharePoint implementation support. Both big and small companies have requested our assistance when they want to begin using SharePoint. So far I have taken care of most of this support myself.

We can assist from start, from the first discussions on which SharePoint edition to use. I learn what the company needs and give advice on how to configure SharePoint to make it as useful and easy to manage as possible.

Support contracts
Subscription iconThese organizations often need ongoing support on their SharePoint expansion. Once you start getting into SharePoint you discover how much you can do with the platform!

To give best possible assistance, we therefore offer a support contract with a fixed number of hours per month. This way the support customers know that I will not walk out on them but be available when they need me. Furthermore the hourly fee for a contract is lower than my standard fee.

In the team we are always keen on taking on new challenges, and we have worked with SharePoint for many years and have a solid knowledge and experience. Welcome to contact us!

Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

15 December 2015

Create A Custom SharePoint Search Vertical

SharePoint iconMaybe they don't know what the term "search vertical" means, but most people know how to use one. In a new tutorial about SharePoint Search I show how to create your own search vertical in the SharePoint Search Center.

Filter search hits
SharePoint Online has four default search verticals, Everything, People, Conversations and Videos, but search verticals are not only used in SharePoint. They are common in all kinds of search engines, where they give users a possibility to only see hits of a specified type. Thus Google has five search verticals displayed and three more under 'More':
Google Search Verticals

Custom search vertical
You can add your own search vertical to a SharePoint Search Center, and in my Tips article I describe how to do it in step by step instructions and in two demos. The first demo just adds the new search vertical to the Search Center, and the results show up in the default Search Results Web Part.

Custom search results
Instead of using the Search Results Web Part in your search vertical you can replace the it with the Content Search web part, which has some interesting display templates you might find useful. I do that in my second demo about search verticals, and you can see the result in the image below.
SharePoint Search Vertical for Consultants

Search verticals can be used not only to find a certain kind of information. You can also use a search vertical to navigate among site collections, something I will come back to in a future blog post.

Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

11 December 2015

SharePoint Online Permissions - Default Or Custom?

SharePoint iconSharePoint permissions are very easy to use if you accept the default settings. That can work for a small team, but if you want to have more control over what users can see and do, SharePoint permissions get more complicated.

In two demos in a new article about SharePoint permissions in the Tips section, I explain how the permissions work by default and what you can do with them. I hope to warn for problems but also show the possibilities given by a good management of SharePoint permissions.

Permission levels
Microsoft has made it easier to set permissions by grouping connected permissions into permission levels. For example, if you want to give a user the right to view, add, update, and delete list items and documents, but nothing more, you don't have to give these four permissions separately. Instead you can set this user's permission to the pre-defined level 'Contribute'.

If none of the pre-defined levels fit, you can easily create your own permission level, and I show how to do that in one of the demos.

Default Edit permission
In SharePoint Online (and SharePoint 2013 on-premise), the default permission levels for all users is Edit. This means that users by default can not only view, add, update, and delete list items and documents but also add, edit, and delete lists and libraries as well as create, edit and delete columns and public views.

In my opinion this is a high level, but as long as you are aware of it there is no problem and you can decide if you should keep it or change it.
SharePoint hierarchy
Default Inheritance
Another default setting that can create problems is the inheritance. From the site collection and downwards SharePoint is organized in a hierarchy, and sites by default inherits the same permissions as the site collection, the list inherits the site permissions and the item inherits the list permissions.

This means that users who have Edit permission on a site by default also have Edit permission on all lists in that site, and they even have Edit permission on all items in each list.

But it is not difficult to break the inheritance. When you create a new site, you can just select another radio button than the default one in the settings and set new permission levels. Also for existing sites, pages and lists you can break the inheritance in the settings. This can be done down to file or item level.

Permission Groups
In the Tips article about SharePoint permissions I also explain how permission groups work. These groups of users who have the same permission level simplify the permission management a lot. A SharePoint team site has by default the groups Owners, Members and Visitors. You can add new users to these groups, but you can also create your own permission groups.

This Tips article is an introduction to SharePoint permissions that I hope will give SharePoint administrators who are new to the topic a better understanding of the problems and possibilities of SharePoint permissions. Refer to Microsoft for more detailed information on SharePoint permissions.

Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

09 December 2015

Indian Wedding Festivities

Vijayant at wedding procession Indian weddings not only tie a couple together in a relationship. It also establishes a bond between two families and connects relatives of both families. I have described some pre-wedding ceremonies in earlier blog posts about my current visit to Indore, and the main wedding day is also filled with rituals for Lead QA Vijayant Rimza and his bride, Monika. But first, here to the right, is a photo of the groom, at the wedding procession that took place last Friday.

Fun with garlands
Garlands are central in the Varmala ceremony. The wedding venue has a beautifully decorated platform for the bride and groom, and there they exchange garlands while other family members and friends throw flower petals on them.

This is a fun filled ritual, because when the bride tries to put her garland around the groom's neck, his friends often lift him up to make it more difficult for the bride. But he must be careful, so that she does not give the garland to someone else! team at wedding
In the image above the team has gathered around the bride and groom on the platform. As you see the atmosphere was friendly and full of laughter, but it became more solemn when it was time for the Seven Vows ritual.

Saat Phere
The Saat Phere, or Seven Vows, is the main wedding ceremony, and it is performed under the guidance of a priest. The priest and the couple sit around a holy fire while the priest chants Sanskrit hymns. After that the couple walk seven times around the holy fire. Each round has its own significant meaning for both. The Saat Phere ritual is described in more detail by Rituka Rimza, sister of the groom i this wedding, in a blog post about our Office Manager's marriage.

Monika at weddingThe groom and his family are my friends and I know them well, but this was the first time I met the enchanting bride, Monika. She has an M.B.A. with a dual specialization in Human Resource and Finance and works in her father's business, and her new sister-in-law, Rituka, has told me that Monika likes teaching and music and has a helpful nature.

I didn't get to talk much with Monika as the other thousand guests were waiting in line for her attention, but with her education and wits she will surely fit right in with the Rimza family.

It was not the first time I attended an Indian wedding, but it was still a magic experience. It felt wonderful to be at a party with more than 1000 beautiful people, and I really appreciated the absence of meat, alcohol and tobacco!

Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

07 December 2015

SharePoint Search With Authoritative Pages And Managed Properties

SharePoint iconUsed in the way it is intended, your SharePoint Online tenancy will eventually be filled with files and list items, and to find the information you need it is important to have good search tools. Each user's knowledge about search procedures is one such tool, and it is helpful that the SharePoint Search in general works as other known search engines, like Google.

But SharePoint admins can also do a lot to make the search easier and the hits more exact. In the Tips series SharePoint Online from Scratch we have now begun publishing tutorials about the SharePoint Search feature, which is something really powerful.

Search in an index
You might have noticed that changes and new additions to a SharePoint site are not immediately shown in search results, and this is because the search user-interface does not loop through all the contents in SharePoint to find the matches.

Instead it goes through an index, just like in a book. A crawler in the background updates the index when you add/change or remove content from SharePoint, but that crawler takes time to do its work.

A search schema helps the crawler decide what content and metadata to pick up. In Office 365 SharePoint admins have only limited possibilities to control the crawler.

Manage Authoritative Pages
One easy thing that the SharePoint admin can do to tell SharePoint how to display search hits, is to order the site pages after search importance. This is done in the Admin center, under Manage Authoritative Pages, and I show how to make this setting it in the first SharePoint Search demo.

Managed Properties
The first article, that contains the demo above, is an introduction to SharePoint Search. Next tutorial contains no less than tree demos, and two of them deal with managed properties.

Managed properties help you define what users can search for and how. You can use managed properties to restrict search results, and later in this tutorial series I will show how to use them to create custom search verticals.

Until then, please study the first two articles, with step by step instructions and four video demonstrations!

Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

04 December 2015 CEO at Indian Tattoo Ceremony

Last week I wrote a blog post about our Lead QA's upcoming marriage and the first ceremonies before the wedding. At that time I was still in Sweden, but now I am on site in Indore.

Hands with TattoosThe Mehndi ceremony took place yesterday. Mehndi means henna tattoo, and a professional Mehndi artist decorates the bride from the top of the head to the toes with The Sixteen Adornments (Solah Shringar). They are related to the goddess Lakshmi, who is the goddess of beauty, fertility and prosperity.

The groom, Vijayant, and his relatives are also decorated with henna tattoos, but only on hands and feet.

The tattoos used at weddings, and also in other ceremonies, are symbolic representations of the outer and inner sun. The custom is described as long back as in the oldest scriptures of the Hinduism, the Vedas.

Meeting the team
It feels great to see the Indore team again. We meet each other online each day, but we are rather seldom face to face so those moments are precious. I always feel very welcome and privileged when I visit the office in India.
Hands with fitness trackers
In the image above some of the team members are showing off the fitness trackers I brought them. I use one myself and find that it helps me take care of my health, and of course I wish our valuable staff to do the same.

Today is is time for the Procession, Baraat, which is one of the most important and fun filled traditions. The groom,  dressed in traditional attire, rides to a place decided by the bride's family, to meet his bride there. He is attended by all his relatives and friends, who dance to the music of the band accompanying them.
Peter dancing
I will be there among the friends, just like the rest of the team. The office will close early on Friday afternoon, to give everyone the opportunity to join the procession.

Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

01 December 2015

Visualize Key Performance Indicators In SharePoint

SharePoint iconMost of us can grasp information easier  if it is visualized, and even if SharePoint is not primarily built for visualization it has some tools that can be used. You can  also add dynamic images created in other platforms, like Excel, to SharePoint.

Key indicators in list views
The easiest way to show key indicators is probably to base list views on them. If you for example want to see the average of hours worked on items in an Issue Tracking list, you can add such a calculation to the Hours Worked column.
Add list views for different issue categories or assignees, or just filter the items, and you will see the average for each category/assignee. This value is calculated automatically, and once you have created the column you can leave the rest to SharePoint.

Performance key indicators
To have a more visually interesting alert you can add icons. A green icon for a low number of hours worked, a yellow for normal and a red icon for a high number will draw more attention to the average hours worked figure.
SharePoint key performance indicator settings
Such indicators are a bit more complicated to create than views, but it can still be done in a few minutes. In a new article in the Tips section I describe in a demo and in a step by step instruction how to create a Status indicator for average of hours worked and add it to a landing page for an issue tracking list.

Each time you refresh the SharePoint page, the status indicator is  automatically updated to the correct color and value according to the calculation of average hours worked.
SharePoint key performance indicator icon

Auto-update Excel chart
In an earlier blog post I wrote about some Tips articles where I describe how to enhance a SharePoint Issue Tracking list in various ways, for example by adding an Excel chart based in list data to a landing page for the list.

An Excel chart can give more information than a status indicator, but you have to be aware of the update issue. If you create an Excel chart based on list data exported to Excel from SharePoint, the chart must be refreshed manually – or with a script.
SharePoint data in Excel chart
In another new Tips article I show how to make a script update the Excel chart automatically. This solution is the most good looking and therefore also the most impressive! I recommend you to try it, and if you feel uncertain you can always go back to earlier articles in my SharePoint Online series for more information.

Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

25 November 2015

Keep Track of Name Days for 2016

iNameDays has a little cheap app that is updated with new information each year: iNameDays. This app gives you name days in your standard calendar, where you have your other information, so with iNameDays you can delight relatives, friends and colleagues by remembering their name days.

iPod, iPad, iPhone
iNameDays support mobile devices with the iOS operating system, which means iPods, iPads and iPhones. You can buy it from the iTunes App Store for the reasonable cost of 0.99 US dollars.

No extra calendar
There are many name days apps on the market, but unlike the other apps iNameDays gives you the name days in the calendar you normally use. You don't have to open a separate calendar to see the name days.

13 countries
Name days are not celebrated in all countries, but so far iNameDays has the name days for 13 countries. For Swedish users we have also added the Swedish week numbers, which are commonly used when you plan time in Sweden.

App for consideration
iNameDays iconYou cannot build a company on a name days app, but I like iNameDays. The other Solutions make a difference for companies and organizations, while iNameDays reminds each individual of a cause for celebration.

iNameDays gives a reason to be extra kind to another earthling, so I find it a highly sympathetic app.

Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

24 November 2015

SharePoint Tips For Issue Tracking Lists

SharePoint icon SharePoint lists are often used to share tasks and helpdesk tickets. In my tutorial series SharePoint Online from Scratch I have now published some articles on how Tasks and Issue Tracking lists can be enhanced. I call them helpdesk lists, but I think my tutorials are suitable for any SharePoint team site lists.

My intention has not been to give a recipe on the perfect helpdesk list. Instead I wanted to point to various options, so that each team can make the modifications that suit them best.

Tasks or Issues?
SharePoint provides two templates that both can be used as helpdesk lists, so I start with comparing them. Both have their benefits and drawbacks, but I decided to use the Issue Tracking template as a base and modify and enhance it in various ways.

Efficient work
The list design is crucial for work efficiency, so in the following articles I suggest how the basic helpdesk list should be created, how to reach the edit mode as quickly as possible and how to edit multiple items at the same time.

Example data
When you try different solutions it is convenient to have example data that shows how the list behaves in various scenarios. In two tutorials I show how to open the SharePoint list in Microsoft Access to create example data for an Hours Worked column and for Assigned To, Priority, Title and more.

Analyze list data
When you have worked with the list items for a while, you probably want to study the data. What kind of issues takes most time? How many issues have been solved for a certain period? By exporting the list to Excel you can both analyze data and visualize it in charts.
SharePoint landing page with web part
Landing page
When you have many list views you cannot see all of them at the same time. That can be solved with a landing page, and I show how to create such a landing page with the views and an Excel chart to the right and the list items to the left on the page. I also show how to make the list link point to the landing page.

Convert e-mails to list items
HelpDesk OSP logotypeIf your team often gets request, questions or error reports by e-mail I suggest you have a look HelpDesk OSP, and Outlook add-in that converts e-mails into list items. You can connect HelpDesk OSP to any SharePoint list, and with HelpDesk OSP you can also create new list items directly from Outlook. My helpdesk tips are of course also suitable for the SharePoint lists you use with HelpDesk OSP.

Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

23 November 2015 Lead QA Gets Married

Peter and Vijayant Vijayant Rimza, our Lead QA, will marry in the beginning of December. I will attend the wedding, of course, so I will soon be leaving Sweden for India.

Technical expert
Vijayant has been with for nearly five years, and he has a deep knowledge of our products and the Office and SharePoint platforms they build on. Therefore he is not only a skilled tester but also a technical all-round expert who can take care of most tasks at the office. Now he is going to be married to his fiancée Monika, and I am really looking forward to meeting them both.

Vijayant and his future bride are Hindus, and Hindu weddings often have many ceremonies. This past weekend the families celebrated Lagun, which is held 15-20 days before the main wedding day. After the Lagun everyone gives special attention to the bride and groom.

At the Lagun ceremony the bride’s family declares in front of their relatives that their daughter is getting married. A priest writes a beautifully adorned letter confirming the wedding plans, and that letter is then read aloud by a priest at a ceremony in the groom's home. In the photo below, Vijayant is sitting at the priest's side while he is reading.
Lagun ceremony
The second ceremony will take place next week. At this occasion family members apply a paste made of turmeric, sandal wood powder and rose water on the skin of the bride and groom, so that it will look sparkling on their wedding day.

After the Haldi ceremony the couple cannot meet until the wedding day, according to tradition, but I have heard that many couples sneak around and make memories :-)

The ceremonies continue, and I will tell you more when I come to India. Vijayant's sister, Rituka, have helped me with information and the photo for this blog post, and I will rely on her for the future wedding reports also.

Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

20 November 2015

New App Gives SharePoint Tasks In Mobile UI

ShareTask icon Do you often work with SharePoint tasks in a mobile or tablet? Then you know that the SharePoint user interface is not the best for smart devices. Soon you can use our new app ShareTask to manage your tasks while travelling, waiting for the dentist, seeing a boring TV show ‒ you name it! ‒ and have a user interface that is adapted to mobile devices.

Connect to SharePoint list
ShareTask can connect to all SharePoint lists that are built on the Tasks or Issue Tracking templates and also to the Kanban Task Manager default list, KTMTasks. After login, ShareTask takes the information from the SharePoint list and displays it in a mobile friendly user interface.

Edit tasks
With ShareTask you may add, edit and delete SharePoint list items directly in your smartphone or tablet. You can change status, add comments, assign priority and assign tasks to users or groups.
ShareTask will work on the three dominating operating systems for smart devices: Windows Phone, Android and iOS.

For subscribers
HelpDesk for Outlook and SharePoint logotype We hope that current Subscribers will appreciate ShareTask, especially HelpDesk OSP and Kanban Task Manager users.

Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint logotypeHelpDesk OSP converts Outlook e-mails to SharePoint list items, and Kanban Task Manager lets users manage tasks and projects on a color coded kanban board. These two solutions can of course be combined, and we have a subscription level that includes both of them.

For anyone
Even if we were considering what Subscribers might need when we decided to develop the ShareTask app, it is an independent product. It does not require anything more than a smart device, SharePoint and an internet connection.

I am sure many will discover and use this ingenious little app, which gives users an advantage that we so far not have seen on the market.

Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

17 November 2015

SharePoint E-mail Alerts With And Without Workflows

SharePoint iconSharePoint is a platform where several people share and work with the same files and list items, so the possibility to have automatic e-mail notifications when something has been changed or needs attention is a valuable feature. It can be done in various ways, with more or less customization and control, and I show some examples in my new demos in the SharePoint Online from Scratch series.

Alert me
SharePoint Alert iconSharePoint libraries and other lists have an Alert Me button for e-mail notifications on either all items or singular items. These e-mail alerts can be somewhat customized, because you can decide at what time they should be sent and for what changes. The site collection administrator can set alerts to be sent to other users, and each user can also set his/her own alerts.

Tasks and Issues alert
The Alert Me button is easy to use, but SharePoint lists that build on the Tasks and Issue Tracking templates have another option that is even quicker to set. These lists have a radio button for e-mail alert to users when they have been assigned a task.

This notification cannot be customized at all, and once the radio button is selected an e-mail is sent to every user who is assigned a new task. There is no control over when the e-mail is sent out, but normally it is sent within a few minutes after the assignment.

SharePoint Designer 2013 iconWhen you create a workflow in SharePoint Designer, you can customize the e-mail and decide to whom and under what conditions it should be sent. SharePoint Designer 2013 lets you create both SharePoint 2010 and SharePoint 2013 workflows, and I show both options in my demos.

Visio 2013 logoI also show how to use the SharePoint 2013 workflow Visual Designer view, which can be used if you have Microsoft Visio installed. The Visual Designer view gives a picture that explains the workflow's conditions and actions, and you can add your own comments to it. This makes the workflow easy to explain to users and customers.

Open the item in edit mode
The workflow I use to introduce the Visual Designer view and to show the difference between the SharePoint 2010 and SharePoint 2013 workflows is simple and just gives the assignee a link to the list where a new high priority item has been created.

In the last Alert articles I describe how to create more advanced workflows. One of them gives the assigned person a link to the exact item and opens it in edit mode. This saves a few clicks and is of course the most efficient way to receive the alert. I also show how to add a CC to an alert and how to send an e-mail when a task is overdue. HelpDesk for Outlook and SharePoint logotype

Use with SharePoint Solutions
These tips articles are useful for all, but we have especially created them for subscribers to our solutions HelpDesk OSP, which converts Outlook e-mails to SharePoint list items, and Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint logotype Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint.

I use a helpdesk list in most of my demos, and in a later blog post I will come back to this list and show ways to enhance such a list. All these Tips articles and demos are part of the SharePoint Online from Scratch series, which already has 132 articles and will contain more before it is finished. Welcome to browse!

Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

11 November 2015

Diwali - For Enlightenment And Victory Of The Good

Wednesday to Friday our Indian office is closed for the Diwali festival, a holiday that honors peace, enlightenment and the triumph of good over evil.

Universal wishes for a better world
Diwali is also called "The festival of lights". It is celebrated for five days, and each day has its specific ceremonies. It is India's most important holiday, but Diwali is celebrated in Hindu, Jain, Sikh and Zoroastrian communities all over the world.

Also people from other religions join the festivities, and in the U.S. President Obama lit a diya, a lamp, to show his support for the universal hope that marks Diwali: peace on earth and the victory of good forces over evil.

Rangoli and diyas at the office
The Indore staff has celebrated the first day of Diwali at the office, and the image to the right shows two team members, Neha Gupta Kaushal and Rituka Rimza, lighting diyas at a traditional floor painting, a rangoli.

The diyas symbolize the victory of light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance, something we all hope and strive for.

The rangoli is just for decoration, and such paintings can be created in offices, living rooms and courtyards to mark any festivity. Therefore our CEO Peter is met by a new rangoli each time he visits the Indore office. The team members often choose a peacock motif, as here, because the beautiful peacock is India's national bird.

Extra day off
Normally the Indore members of the team will be off for two days, but this year we wanted to give them three days. They have all worked hard during the last year with releases of totally new solutions like Study Manager and Templates Manager for SharePoint and new SharePoint versions of several more products. Now they will have a break for five days including the weekend.

Even if the Indore team gets a well earned break, we will not leave subscribers and evaluators of the Solutions unattended. The Swedish team members, Peter, Sigge and myself, will work as usual while the Indian team is celebrating, and if we need technical assistance our dedicated developers Jayant Rimza and Jitu Patidar will be available. We might not be as quick in answering as usual, but you are not forgotten!

Peter, Sigge and I wish a happy Diwali to our Indian colleagues, to our customers and to the great majority who believe that peace, understanding, kindness and tolerance will give a better world.

Kate Kalmström
CCO Business Solutions

09 November 2015

SharePoint Content Types For Consistent Library Management

SharePoint iconA content type with a document template is the best way to make sure that a SharePoint library will contain the desired content and be managed in a consistent way. To help SharePoint admins to get started with content types, we have now published six Tips articles about content types in the SharePoint Online from Scratch series. These tutorials are also suitable for SharePoint on-premise.

Make similar content look alike
All organizations produce a lot of content, like invoices, quotes, manuals, guidelines and reports, and this content should preferably be created and managed in a consistent way. It should, for example, contain the correct metadata. This is why SharePoint supplies content types.

When each type of content has its own content type, it is easy for users and managers to create and keep track of SharePoint content. A content type is a reusable collection of metadata that describes the shared attributes and behaviors for a specific kind of content. Such content types can be defined for any item type, including documents, list items, media files and folders.
SharePoint content types hierarchy
The SharePoint content types are organized in a hierarchy, and a content type can inherit its characteristics from a higher level content type. Thus core properties can be defined in base content types and inherited by more specific content types. Refer to Microsoft for detailed information about content types.

Quotes library metadata
In my experience the concept of content types requires some learning, so to make it easy to understand I have created some articles on how to enhance a Quotes library with views and metadata columns. In these articles I do not use a content type, because it is not until you understand the basic about views and columns that you can grasp what difference content types make.

Intro shows the problems
In my introduction to the content types tutorials I show that users can create or upload any type of document to a library that does not have a content type. Another big problem is that metadata columns are not visible  if the new document is created in Word Online, and without a content type there is no way to force uses to create new documents i Word, where the columns can be seen and filled out.
SharePoint opens Word
Create and connect content type
I seldom show a problem without giving a solution, so in the two subsequent articles I show how to create a content type for my SharePoint Quotes library and how to connect the content type to the library.

When the content type has been added to the library, I create a new document and show the difference.

Template makes metadata columns printable
Word 2013 iconTo further enhance the library, I continue with creating a Word template to use with the content type. This template has the metadata columns, so this way the metadata is not only added to SharePoint but also becomes printable.

The final step in this little series within the series is to connect the template to the content type. Now we are ready to go! In the updated Quotes library it is only possible to create new documents based on my Word template, and even if I cannot force users to actually fill out the metadata it is very easy to do it as the columns are present in the document itself.

By Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions