31 March 2015

Excel 2016 In New Tips Series

Excel 2016 iconThe Excel 2016 Preview is out, so I chose to use it for a new Excel course in the Tips section. As there are only minor changes compared to earlier Excel versions, this course is suitable for everyone who wants to learn more about Excel.

Popular Tips section
We already have many demos and articles in the Tips section, but they are not arranged in a study order. Instead they have often been created after requests from subscribers to the Solutions, to help them solve a problem.

Now I have decided to make some more structured tutorial series on Microsoft's new 2016 platforms, and first out is Excel 2016. I use the IT Pro and Developer version of Office 2016 for the video demonstrations. The tutorials are however suitable for everyone who wants to understand Excel better, as the differences between Excel 2016 and 2013 or even 2010 are negligible. banner
Excel 2016 from Scratch
I call the series "Excel 2016 from Scratch", because I begin with the very basics: workbook, sheet, columns, rows, cell names. But after that I start using Excel in the way it should be used to really shine - I calculate, in this case on the costs for owning a house.

There are in total 51 tutorials so far, so beside formulas for calculation I have time to cover charts, cell formatting and much more. I hope that the more advanced parts will be useful not only to new beginners who have studied the earlier tutorials but also to people who already use Excel but want to learn more.

Tips articles and extras
Each one of the video demonstrations will have its own article in the Tips section, where the content of the video is listed and described. Some of these articles will also have extra material in the form of downloadable Excel files to practice on.

next iconSo far ten of the video demonstrations have been edited and published, and ten Tips articles have been written. Each article has a direct link to the previous and next articles in the series, so it is easy to navigate among them.

I have added the first demo to this blog post but I recommend you to instead watch the Excel 2016 from Scratch introduction demo in the first Tips article. Then you can follow the series from there.

New articles will be released each day, and we hope to get another ten ready for you this week. Welcome to learn about the wonders of Excel!

By Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

23 March 2015

WIP Limits In Updated SharePoint Kanban Board

Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint logotypeI am happy to announce the release of a new version of Kanban Task Manager – again! If you follow this blog you know that the SharePoint version had a major update in January and the two Outlook versions as late as earlier this month.

In spite of the recent releases we have decided to give users one more enhancement: WIP limits. Today the SharePoint version has been updated with this new feature that reveals bottlenecks and helps the team achieve a steady work flow.

Visualize work process
Kanban style task and project management means visualizing the work process by moving cards between different phases or stages. Originally the cards were pinned to a physical board, but the kanban boards are virtual and use the latest technology of Outlook or SharePoint. The color coded tasks are moved within or between phases and lanes by drag and drop, Ctrl + arrow keys or with a finger on touch screens.
Kanban board in SharePoint

Limit work in progress
When the different tasks of a project are visualized on a kanban board, it is easy to discover bottlenecks in the process. A warning when there are too many tasks in a phase or lane is a clear signal that something is wrong and action has to be taken, so the new possibility to set WIP (work in progress) limits is an important time saver.

Limit per phase or lane
In the new version of Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint WIP limits can be set for all phases and lanes, and when the limit has been exceeded the name of that phase or lane will turn red. Also the number of tasks in the phase or lane will be shown in red.
Kanban Task Manager WIP limit warning

When setting WIP limits I recommend you to start with limits on just a few phases or lanes. You probably need to test what is the optimal number of tasks and be prepared to make changes. Note that the WIP limits does not prevent users from adding more tasks, so a level that is set too low will not stop the work process.

Upgrade upgrade iconFree upgrades are always included in Subscriptions, so current users of Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint are welcome to upgrade their installations.

Try download iconDoes your organization use SharePoint? Do your work teams need a way to visualize and cooperate on projects and tasks? Do managers need a way to quickly get an overview over different projects? If the answer to these questions is Yes, I think you would find Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint useful.

The Kanban Task Manager subscription covers an unlimited number of installations within the subscribing organization, so it can be utilized by many teams. Why not try it? We allow a 30 days trial of the full version of Kanban Task Manager, and I am sure you will like it!

By Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

19 March 2015

Bilateral Cooperation Gives New SharePoint Learning Management System

Study Manager for SharePoint logotypeAfter six months of development and testing we have now released our new SharePoint Solution for online training: Study Manager. The Swedish sponsor is happy with the result, and I hope more organizations will find Study Manager useful.

Teacher controlled self-studies
It all begun last summer, when teachers from two small Swedish towns with a shared IT department approached me with a request for a learning platform in Office 365. The teachers wanted to give their "Swedish for immigrants" students a possibility to study online at their own pace.

There is already study material online, for example our own Swedish grammar, but you cannot control or modify it. These teachers wanted to use their own exercises and tasks, that suited their students best, and they wanted statistics on the progress of each student.

SharePoint iconMake SharePoint a learning platform
The two towns, Tierp and Älvkarleby, use SharePoint for sharing and cooperation, so if we could find a way to take advantage of the inbuilt SharePoint features and only add what was needed for the learning system, we would be able to give a smart and comparably cheap solution.

After some research we found that this was possible. We could develop a standard SharePoint Solution that would work for any subject, and this product would give the Swedish teachers exactly what they wanted. Therefore I suggested a sponsorship of a standard product instead of a custom solution.

Close sponsor – developer cooperation
When I presented my idea the teachers were delighted, and they took active part during the whole development process. Normally we don't include the sponsor in the development process. SharePoint icon We have already agreed on how the finished product will work, so we wait with any modifications until we have a Beta version that the sponsor can test and comment.

In this case the teachers wanted to add their study material to Study Manager as soon as possible, so we gave them parts of the solution very early. After that we made their Study Manager installation more and more complex, and in the process the teachers tested the solution and gave us valuable input. I especially want to thank Medina Becirovicemkic and Kristina Järvback-Hillbom for their suggestions.

Easy to use
You don't have to be a SharePoint expert to administer Study Manager. I wanted to make Study Manager easy to use for any teacher, so that the SharePoint administrator needs to be included as little as possible. Teachers add study material, study groups and students and can also customize the site collection homepage and the virtual classrooms that Study Manager creates for each study group.

Therefore the Study Manager manual includes general SharePoint information and not only instructions on how to use our product. I hope it will be helpful, and teachers who are used to working with SharePoint can simply skip those parts.

Try Study Manager and create a SharePoint learning center! download iconYou are welcome to try Study Manager for 30 days without any costs or obligations. Install Study Manager in a new SharePoint site collection that will become a center for learning, cooperation and discussion of a subject.

You can either add your own material directly or use the example data to evaluate  Study Manager for SharePoint. There is plenty of documentation on the website, but please contact us if you have questions. We are looking forward to hearing your comments about Study Manager! Community icon
The development of Study Manager has been an interesting journey together with skilled and dedicated people in Sweden and India. A warm thank you to the team members and to the teachers and IT team in Tierp and Älvkarleby who put their confidence in us!

By Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

18 March 2015

Office 2016 Lync - Skype for Business

Office 2016 icon A first IT Pro and Developer version of Office 2016 was published Monday, and we have begun testing it with the Solutions. There are no changes for add-ins and macros compared to Office 2013, so we expect all our products to work just fine on Office 2016 too.

While testing we are of course exploring the new features of Office 2016, and here is one of them.

Lync becomes Skype
Microsoft bought Skype in 2011, and now they are strengthening the brand name by taking it into the Office package and giving the name "Skype for Business" to the communication platform that was earlier called Lync. On the whole, Skype for Business is the same as Lync, and as you'll see in the demo below we even have the Lynch name in the Start menu of the preview version I have been testing!

Aimed for business
Lync was developed as communications platform for businesses, while Skype first was created for individuals. By giving the name Skype for Business to the more advanced product, Microsoft continues in the same way as with their file hosting service SkyDrive. The personal cloud storage SkyDrive became OneDrive, and the business storage SkyDrive Pro was renamed into OneDrive for Business.

Skype Product Manager
Skype logoI was one of the first hundred when I began working at Skype as responsible for the Skype toolbars in 2005, and when I left the company after five fascinating years it was world leading.

Organizationally I was part of the department "Skype for Business", so that term brings many good memories and I feel satisfied when Microsoft now continues to expand the Skype brand name. I am well aware of the Lynch benefits, and by connecting them with the more well-known Skype name Microsoft will have a marketing advantage.

I use a preview version of Windows 10 for this demo, and you can learn more about Microsoft's new operating system in a recently published blog post about Windows 10. There will be more comments on both Windows 10 and Office 2016 in this blog, so keep visiting!

By Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

12 March 2015

Hide SharePoint 2013 "See also"

SharePoint logoIf you find the SharePoint document suggestions for tasks irrelevant or annoying, it is possible to hide them. It is not difficult once you know the process, but it can be tricky to find the correct information on how it should be done. Therefore I am showing step by step in a new article in the Tips section how to remove the "See also" panel for a  SharePoint tasks list.

SharePoint recommendations panelDisplay:none
It is rather easy to inspect the "See also" panel and add a tag to the code, but even if the document suggestions actually disappear when you enter "display:none" in the style of the recommendations panel it will not remain hidden. You also have to add a web part with the style to the page where you want to hide the suggestions. Then it will stay away until you remove the web part with the display tag.

SharePoint tasks in kanban style
Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint logotypeWhen your team uses SharePoint tasks a lot, I am sure you would like to work with them more efficiently than you can do with the standard tasks. I recommend you to have a look at the Solution Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint.

Kanban Task Manager color codes the SharePoint tasks and visualizes them on a kanban board. Vertical phases represent the various steps in the work process, and horizontal lanes can be used for grouping the tasks. You can drag and drop the tasks within or between phases and lanes, and you can also filter and search them. The whole kanban board can be zoomed in and out to let you see details or have an overview.
Kanban Task Manager in SharePoint
When each workgroup has its own Kanban Task Manager site in a site collection with a common top navigation, managers can quickly move between the different installations and see how work proceeds.

Does it sound interesting? In that case you are welcome to try Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint without any obligations for 30 days. I am looking forward to hearing from you!

By Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

10 March 2015

Kanban Task Manager for Outlook V3, A Major Update

Kanban Task Manager bannerToday we have released version 3 of Kanban Task Manager for Outlook, the add-on for kanban style management of Outlook tasks. Both the workgroup version and the single version have been updated.

Last week I wrote about the new features in Kanban Task Manager V3, and now the responsible developer, Jitu Patidar, will tell you more about the development:

From SharePoint to Outlook
Jitu Patidar imageDeveloping version 3 of Kanban Task Manager for Outlook has been an interesting task. The new features were already present in the SharePoint version of Kanban Task Manager, so I knew very well how they should look and work on the surface.

The Outlook way
However, it was not as clear how the features we saw in SharePoint should be implemented in Outlook. SharePoint and Outlook are different platforms, and for the Outlook versions of Kanban Task Manager we could not use the same methods as in SharePoint.

I was happy to take on the challenge, and I knew that we had so much re-usable code and methods in the JavaScript code that it should be possible to implement the new features in the Outlook versions in a rather short time.

With the help of other team members I managed to get version 3 of Kanban Task Manager for Outlook ready for release only six weeks after the update of the SharePoint version.
Outlook and SharePoint icons
Use both workgroup versions
The short development time is especially important for organizations who use the Outlook and the SharePoint versions of Kanban Task Manager together. Most of them waited with upgrading the SharePoint version, but now they can upgrade both versions and get the same features whether they use Outlook or SharePoint.

Upgrade! upgrade icon Subscribers have free upgrades, and I recommend all who use the workgroup version as well as the single version of Kanban Task Manager for Outlook to take advantage of the new features.

New features
Peter mentioned swim lanes, instant search and more possibilities to move tasks in his earlier blog post about Kanban Task Manager for Outlook V3. He also mentioned the responsive web design, and this is something I am especially satisfied with.

Responsive web design benefits
By using fluid layouts, media queries and scripts that can reformat HTML pages, we can let users work with Kanban Task Manager and other Solutions on any device, and they will still get a good user interface.
Responsive Web Design
It is also thanks to the responsive design that we have been able to add a zoom bar to the Outlook kanban board. Drag it to the left and you will see more tasks and lanes, and if you drag it to the right you zoom in on fewer tasks that will be more clearly visible.

When you use Ctrl + the plus or minus key you will get an even wider range for the zoom than the zoom bar gives you. If you want to return to the default size of the kanban board, hit Ctrl + zero, just like you do with web pages.

Try Kanban Task Manager download iconWe allow a 30 days free trial of Kanban Task Manager, so you are welcome to download the version you are interested in from the website. During the evaluation period we give nearly the same high level of support services as when you subscribe, so please contact us if you have questions. I will make sure you get good assistance!

By Jitu Patidar
Senior Developer
Technical Support Lead Business Solutions

05 March 2015

Windows 10 – A Fresh Start

The QA team has begun testing our solutions with Windows 10, and so far everything works fine. We don’t expect any problems with Windows 10 and the Outlook and SharePoint Solutions, but if we find any issues they will be solved in good time before Microsoft makes the public release.

Shahnawaz Khan photo The developers are of course also following Windows 10 closely, and today Senior Developer Shahnawaz Khan will share his thoughts on next Windows version.

10, not 9
Microsoft announced the next version of Windows at the Build conference in April 2014, and strangely enough it will be called Windows 10, not Windows 9. We don’t know the reasons behind that, but what’s in a name?

With Windows 10 Microsoft tries to make desktop and laptop/tablet users happier than ever. Here are some great Windows 10 features that would make it popular and more commendable.
Windows 10 start

Start menu back with a bang
The first change you will see in Windows 10 is the start menu. Yes, it’s true! Microsoft brings back the start menu. Its left side will look like the standard start menu of Windows 7, but the right side will allow you to have some of those nice live tiles that were introduced in Windows 8. The start menu will automatically be shown in full screen view if you are using a tablet.

Modern/Metro apps behave like regular desktop apps
In Windows 8 all the Modern apps open in full screen mode, and you can’t resize them to fit on the desktop. In the later update of Windows 8, called Windows 8.1, Modern apps can be minimized or pinned to the task bar, which is convenient to most users.
Windows 10 Modern app
In Windows 10 all Modern apps run on the desktop in a windowed mode, and they will work as you would expect, with a mouse and keyboard. This feature may trigger developers to build quality apps with HTML/JavaScript, which in turn will enable Windows Store apps to run in a windowed environment on the desktop and perform better on a wider range of hardware.

New command prompt with many hotkeys
There’s a lot of goodies coming in the Windows 10 Command console. The command prompt now accepts keyboard shortcuts. Not interesting? Well it will be very helpful for those who use the console a lot. You can now copy and paste text into the console with the keyboard, and with text selection key combinations you can select text in the console. You can also open the ‘Find’ dialog by pressing CTRL + F, and ALT + F4 will close the console window.

Multiple/Virtual Desktop and better Task View
With Windows 10 Microsoft provides a new Task View, where you can glimpse all your open windows at once. There is also a possibility to create and manage multiple desktops so that users can switch between virtual desktops. You can for example use them to separate related tasks into their own workspace. This is not new in the Windows era, because some apps did this before, but Microsoft now gives us a virtual desktop out of the box with simplicity.
Windows 10 Multiple Desktops

Windows Universal apps run everywhere
In mid-2014 Microsoft introduced universal Windows apps, a way for developers to create one single app that works across Windows PCs, tablets, Windows phones and the Xbox One. We will get the same app experiences across all devices.

It is not easy and straight forward to create apps that work across all form factors, but through Universal apps Microsoft tries to streamline development. Microsoft says that universal apps should be easy for developers to implement, as much of the code can be reused across the different platforms. That is probably true, but the biggest benefit may be the simplicity for users, as they don't have to buy a different app for the phone and the PC.

Microsoft will also have one app Store for all devices, making it easier for developers to reach customers in a consistent and compelling way, no matter what type of device they are using. The new Universal Office apps for Windows 10 include Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and OneNote, which all can be installed on PCs, tablets and phones.

Continuum Mode on its way
“On 2in1 devices, Windows 10 will move easily between keyboard/mouse and touch/tablet as it detects the transition and conveniently switches to the new mode.” This is according to Microsoft, but what does it actually mean?
Windows 10 Continuum Mode
Here is the answer: Continuum is an on-the-fly mode for 2 in 1 devices [devices with detachable keyboard] that can automatically change mode if it detects that there is no keyboard docked. For instance, if you own a Surface Pro 3 with the keyboard docked, the experience will be very similar to Windows 7.

All apps are now windowed, whether they are the new touch-friendly or legacy one. But if you are using an app like Music or Photos, and you want to undock your Surface and use it as a tablet, just do that, and it will automatically expand the app into full screen mode, making it easier to use the app with your fingers.

Hey Cortana
Microsoft’s personal digital assistant, Cortana, was introduced for Windows phone 8. With Windows 10 Microsoft’s answer to Siri and Google Now comes to PC and tablet. Cortana learns from your daily activity and preferences to provide relevant recommendations, fast access to information, and important reminders. Interaction is natural and easy via talking or typing.

Cortana for PCs and tablets will provide better flexibility, as it will plug into the Windows search platform and give you results from your computer as well as from OneDrive when you ask particular questions.
Windows 10 Notifications Center
Notifications Center
Microsoft will add a notifications center like the one in Windows Phone to Windows 10. It will allow you to view and manage accumulated notifications and give you quick access to commonly customized settings. Notifications Center has completely replaced Charms, which was introduced in Windows 8.

At the bottom right in the picture above are some toggles for switching to tablet mode, on/off Wi-Fi and other settings. Windows 10 will be offered freely to Windows 7 to Windows 8.1 owners sometime later in 2015, and it is certainly something to look forward to!

By Shahnawaz Khan
Senior Developer Business Solutions

03 March 2015

Enhance SharePoint Landing Page With Tips

SharePoint iconIn SharePoint 2013 the default view pages only show three links. To reach more links you have to click on an ellipsis. If you have several links on a page, you can create your own landing page that gives a better overview over the links. In a new tutorial I show how to create such a SharePoint landing page.

Combine Tips
The Tips section now has 58 SharePoint tutorials. Most of them are short and uncomplicated and show how to do one or a few things in SharePoint, so if you are new to SharePoint you will find it useful to watch several of them and combine the tips you get.

The new tutorial is of the short and simple kind. I show how to add a new page to SharePoint, how to add links to it and how to change the Quick Launch link so that it points to the new landing page instead of the old page with only three visible links. The result is fully functional – but plain.

However, if you combine this article with other tips, you can make the landing page look more appealing. In my SharePoint Links series I don't only explain different kinds of SharePoint links. I also show how to create and link different kinds of images, for example promotional tiles like the one on the default SharePoint team sites or images with clickable regions. Such images can be very catching on a landing page.

Combine SolutionsKBase icon
Just like you can combine Tips, you can combine our products. Several of them are even created to be combined, even if all can be used separately.

Folder HelpDesk for Outlook
 should be used with KBase for Outlook;to reach its full potential, SP Archive for SharePoint iconand we have created SP Archive for use with the SharePoint Solutions HelpDesk OSPKanban Task Manager for SharePoint and TimeCard for SharePoint.

The combinations are popular among subscribers, and we license them on favorable terms with our Medium subscription. For just a small extra amount compared to the Minimum subscription, organizations can use several Solutions instead of just one.

We will continue to produce Tips articles that can be combined into a source of knowledge and to develop software that will make work more efficient in many companies and organizations. I will soon come back to you with news of releases!
By Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions