28 September 2015

Office 2016 - a small step for humanity

The newest version of Microsoft’s productivity suite is finally released. I have been using the beta versions extensively for many months, and I must say Office 2016 is a small but good step forward compared to the 2013 version. The good things stay the same, and Microsoft has just added some useful features.

Backwards compatible
The default file format is still the same xml and zip based .docx, .xlsx etc.that we are used to, so there is no need to worry about people not being able to read your files. In fact, the Office file formats have been the same for more than a decade now, which is a good thing of course.
Office 2016 logo
Intuitive help
The ribbon works in the same way it has since Office 2007 but with the welcome change of a very intuitive help. It does not only describe what to do but actually takes you to the appropriate button, dialog or wizard. Thus, if you type “table” in the help search box you will be sent to the Insert Table dialog directly, not to a text describing how to do it yourself. Very helpful!

Collaborative Office
Office 2016 will work perfectly well without Office 365, but it is 100% clear that Microsoft is putting their main efforts into making the Office suite more collaborative, and Office 365 is the platform for doing that.

Among the features that allow you to collaborate easier in Office 365 is a much improved co-editing feature, which now allows several people to simultaneously work on the same document, workbook or presentation. You can see what the other editors are doing as they do it, and you can also have a chat-like comments system right inside the document.

InfoPath removed
If you choose to do an in-place upgrade of your Office 2013 installation, you should be aware that both InfoPath Filler 2013 and InfoPath Designer 2013 will be removed during the installation. Therefore you will probably want to stay on Office 2013 if you are using InfoPath. As you probably know there will not be any new versions of InfoPath, and support for InfoPath will end in 2023.

SharePoint Designer
Another application that gets removed during an in-place upgrade is SharePoint Designer 2013. It is available as a separate installation, so if you want to continue using SharePoint Designer 2013, you will need to download and re-install it after the upgrade.

Attach Recent File
Outlook iconFinally I want to mention the new Attach Recent File feature in Outlook 2016. It makes it easier to attach files you have recently worked with, a very common use case. I don’t recommend sending files as attachments, but if it is necessary this is a good way to do it.

Send links, not attachments
The Attach Recent File feature makes it very easy to attach files from your online storage (OneDrive, OneDrive for Business or a SharePoint site). If you select such a file, it will actually not send the file itself but a link to its online storage.

SP Attach logoThis is interesting and almost the same functionality as our own Outlook add-in SP Attach, even though our solution gives more control over the process! supports 2016
We have been testing the products with Office 2016 without problems, but we will still release updates of our Outlook add-ins shortly, with some minor updates in one of the 3rd party components we use.

Learn more
Microsoft of course has more information on Office 2016, and you can learn a lot about Excel 2016 in the Excel 2016 from Scratch online tutorials and in my books about Excel 2016

The easiest way to acquire Office 2016 is with an Office 365-subscription, but it is also possible to buy a stand-alone version of the suite, as before. Enjoy the new Office!

By Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

23 September 2015

SharePoint Hotspots Images In New Tutorials

SharePoint iconA couple of weeks ago I wrote about various ways to add images to SharePoint. Today I want to introduce some more picture tutorials in the 'SharePoint from Scratch' series, where I show how to create so called hotspots images and add them to SharePoint. The same methods can be used for SharePoint 2013 and 2010 on-premise.

Invisible links
An area of a picture can be linked, and if you use an image where several areas are linked to different pages, images or actions we talk about a hotspots image. Such links on an image are also called invisible hyperlinks or buttons, as you cannot see that it is a link until you hover the mouse over it. If you want to show that it is a link, add underlined text to the picture.

Hotspots images cannot easily be created directly in SharePoint. Instead the best way is to create the image first and then add it to SharePoint.

PowerPoint picture in SharePoint

PowerPoint iconThe easiest way is to create a hotspots image for SharePoint in PowerPoint. When the picture looks good, save the presentation to the SharePoint site where you want to add it. Then you can copy its embed code and add it to a page.

With this method you only have to copy and paste. The drawback is that you get a frame that you might not like, as in the image above. To avoid the frame, you can instead create your hotspot image in Visio or SharePoint Designer 2010.

Visio 2013 logoWhen you create a hotspots image in Visio, you save it to the SharePoint site in the same way as with the PowerPoint presentation. To add the Visio drawing to a page, insert the web part 'Visio Web Access' in the page and add a link to the drawing in the web part properties.

SharePoint Designer added picture in SharePoint

SharePoint Designer 2010
SharePoint Designer 2010 iconAnother option, that also gives a picture without a frame, is to create a hotspots image in SharePoint Designer 2010. The possibility to create hotspots images has been removed in SharePoint Designer 2013, but if you have a SharePoint Designer 2010 without updates, you can open a SharePoint Online or SharePoint 2013 page in SharePoint Designer 2010.

When you use SharePoint Designer 2010, you create a new SharePoint page in SharePoint Designer, insert an image and add the hotspots image. Then you can simply copy the image code and paste it into the page you prefer.

By Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

14 September 2015

SharePoint 2016 Preview Trial Set Up

SharePoint 2016 is the new version of SharePoint that is intended to be installed on your servers, on-premise. In a series of Tips articles with video demonstrations we are showing how to set up a good trial environment of the Preview version.
Microsoft SharePoint 2016 logo
SharePoint 2016 and SharePoint Online
Office 365 SharePoint Online is easy to reach and maintain, but there are reasons to select an on-premise version too. Some features work better or are only included in the on-premise version, and your organization might have decided not to use cloud-services. No matter the reason, if you run your own servers, SharePoint 2016 will be the version for you once it is released.

The release of SharePoint 2016 has been postponed, and now Microsoft plan to release it Q2 2016. In the meantime we have the SharePoint 2016 Preview version, and it gives a good indication of things to come. It is obvious that Microsoft's goal with SharePoint 2016 is to create a bridge between Office 365 and on-premises installations for those who can’t put everything in the cloud.

Virtual servers
In the SharePoint 2016 Trial series I show how to set up a virtual evaluation environment. I use Microsoft Azure, but most of the principles and steps described are just the same if you are running the test on your own virtual or physical servers.

You will need a network, a Domain Controller, an SQL server and the actual SharePoint server. It is possible to run all three roles on one machine, but I like to keep them apart. That gives me an increased performance, and I can re-use the Domain Controller and the SQL server for other purposes, for example a SP 2013 or SP 2010 environment.
Microsoft Azure logo
Azure templates
Two of the virtual machines I create are based on specific Azure templates that contain the SP 2016 beta and the latest beta version of SQL Server. The third machine is a Windows Server 2012. This server is promoted to Domain Controller, and when that is done I join the other two machines to my new domain.

Remote Desktop Connection Manager
Before I continue with the installation and configuration of the SQL and SharePoint servers, I add the virtual machines to Microsoft's Remote Desktop Connection Manager.
Microsoft Remote Desktop Connection Manager logo
You may of course also connect to the virtual machines by using the Azure Connect button, but if you use the Remote Desktop Connection Manager you will be able to copy and paste between your virtual machines. It is also much easier to switch between the VMs when you use the Remote Desktop Connection Manager.

SharePoint 2016 walkthrough
When SharePoint 2016 has been installed I make a quick walkthrough of the new look and point out some of the new features, especially the hybrid features that allow you to connect an on-premise and an online SharePoint. SharePoint Solutions
Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint has seven (soon eight!) solutions for SharePoint, so my colleagues and I are eager to test the new SharePoint features and to try our products with the new version. We have solutions for resource booking, project management, time reporting, issue tracking, online studies and more.
Calendar Browser for SharePoint icon
So far we don't see any problems in the support for SharePoint 2016. Should we find any issues in our testing, they will be solved in good time before the SharePoint 2016 release!

Are you curious about SharePoint 2016 and want to evaluate the Preview? In that case I hope my step by step instructions and video demonstrations will be helpful in the setup!

By Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

11 September 2015

E-mail Conversion Button in New Kanban Task Manager For Outlook

Kanban Task Manager for Outlook logotypeThe workgroup version of Kanban Task Manager for Outlook has been updated with a new button for e-mail conversion and support for inline images in the task body. The responsible developer, Jitu Patidar, will tell you more about it.

Convert e-mails into tasksJitu Patidar image
With the new version of Kanban Task Manager you can convert e-mails into tasks by pressing a button. This gives a better conversion result than the earlier drag and drop, which does not convert inline images and also can distort characters.

HTML issues
In the workgroup version of Kanban Task Manager the tasks are shared, and the task information is stored in an SQL or Access database table or a SharePoint list, which synchronizes with the Kanban Task Manager Outlook folder.

The Outlook task item only supports Rich and plain text, while the database/SharePoint list only supports HTML and plain text. This creates a problem when you drag an HTML e-mail to the Kanban Task Manager folder to convert it into a task.

HelpDesk OSP iconConversion experience
To solve this problem we had to find a way to convert the Rich text formatted task body to HTML when saving it to the database or SharePoint list and then convert it back from HTML to Rich text in the synchronization process.

Luckily we have two other Outlook add-ons which convert e-mails with all formatting kept: Folder HelpDesk icon HelpDesk OSP converts e-mails into SharePoint list items, and Folder HelpDesk
converts them into issue tracking tickets in an Outlook folder. The design of these products helped us find a solution to the Kanban Task Manager issue.

Convert button
We decided to add a Convert button to the Kanban Task Manager ribbon group in the Outlook mail view. Now you just have to select the e-mail you want to create a task from and press the Convert button.
Kanban Task Manager Ribbon Group

In the Kanban Task Manager settings the admin can decide what to do after conversion: always open the task, never open it or ask. When you open each task after conversion, you can select Project, Phase and Responsible (and your custom tag) directly.

If you choose to not open the tasks, they will be placed in the first phase on the kanban board, where you can easily find them and tag them with your Kanban Task Manager parameters. You may even call that phase "Not Assigned".

Open button
When you select an already converted e-mail in the e-mail view, an Open button will be displayed. Click on the button, and the corresponding task will open in a new window.

Inline images
Another piece of news is that Kanban Task Manager now supports embedded images, and bold and italic text. The formatting and images are shown when you open the task.
Kanban Task Manager task body
You cannot see the images or formatting on the kanban card. We have chosen to only show plain text on the cards, to give the kanban board a clean look and make it easy to overview.
Kanban Task Manager task card

Single version
In the Single version of Kanban Task Manager you can drag e-mails to the Kanban Task Manager Outlook folder and convert them into tasks that way. Here we have no synchronization issue, because each Single version installation is used by only one person. We will still update the Single version too, because a Convert button is easier to use, and we want to give the Single users the possibility to have inline images.

Upgrade upgrade iconI recommend current users to upgrade their installations. We give Subscribers free upgrades, and the upgrade is quick. Each user should download the .msi file and run it. Then the installer will find the earlier installation and upgrade it automatically. Refer to the Revisions page for a full list of enhancements and bug fixes.

Try it download iconDo you need to share Outlook tasks in a workgroup and want to use the kanban  method to visualize the work process? In that case you are welcome to try Kanban Task Manager for Outlook. There is plenty of documentation on our website, and should you still have questions I hope you will contact us. As Support Lead I will make sure you get quick and adequate assistance!

Jitu Patidar
Senior Developer, Support Lead Business Solutions

10 September 2015

5 Ways To Add Images To SharePoint

SharePoint icon When you add images to a SharePoint page it looks more attractive, and the users will have an enhanced experience of working with SharePoint.

In a few articles in our new SharePoint Online from Scratch series, we describe different ways to add images to a SharePoint page. The most common way is to use the Picture button in the SharePoint ribbon, but you may also add images into dedicated picture web parts.

Picture button with three options
Picture Button The SharePoint Picture button has three options: “From Computer”, “From Address” and “From SharePoint”.To insert an image “From Computer” works as when you upload images to Facebook or other social media.

Everything on the web has an address, so you can add images from websites through a link via the “From Address” option. You can also insert an image from the site collection itself by using the “From SharePoint” option.

No Control with URL
In the second and third options the images will not be copied to your SharePoint site collection. Instead they are just linked to the SharePoint page. This may be an advantage but also a problem, as you have no control over your image if you don’t also control the original place.

However, if the image is deleted from the original place, no image will be shown on your SharePoint page. On the other hand, you will have an updated image if the original image is updated, and that might be beneficial.

Image Viewer Web Part
In SharePoint versions before 2010 the only way to add a picture to a SharePoint page was to use the Image Viewer Web Part. Nowadays there are more and easier methods to add images, but the Image Viewer Web Part is still there and can be used.
Picture Button
Picture Library Slideshow
When you upload pictures to the Picture Library Slideshow Web Part you will get a nice thumbnail view. You can also create a slideshow with the images available in the Picture Library Slideshow Web Part. The only restriction is that the Picture Library Slideshow Web Part should be in the same site and not in the same site collection.

Links can be added to images in various ways, and in my next blog post about SharePoint pictures I will tell you how it can be done.

By Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

09 September 2015

TimeCard for SharePoint With Summary Web Part

TimeCard for SharePoint logotypeTimeCard for SharePoint V1.5 has been released! Compared to the Outlook version, which has 15 years on the market, the SharePoint version is still young.

But young is not the same as powerless! By taking advantage of SharePoint features we can give TimeCard for SharePoint possibilities that are much more difficult to develop in Outlook.

Tag calendar events with time reporting info
With TimeCard for SharePoint users tag their calendar events with centrally defined time reporting values that are present in dropdowns in each event. When it is time to report the work hours, they can use these calendar events and report time directly from their SharePoint calendars. There are no double entries, and the calendars can be reached from everywhere over the internet.
The TimeCard for SharePoint event tab

Statistics iconThe reported time can be studied in Excel reports. Administrators can see data from all users, while each user only can see his or her own data. The Excel reports are useful for different kinds of calculations, and by using Excel we make it easy to both calculate and visualize the reported data. time tracking
We of course try to use our own products as much as possible, and as the team is geographically distributed between Sweden, India and sometimes Spain, we especially like our SharePoint Solutions. Therefore we report time with TimeCard for SharePoint.

Quick overview of time usage
The TimeCard statistics is excellent for Business Intelligence, but we also wanted some way to quickly see what people had done during the day and what was planned for tomorrow. This is not what TimeCard is intended for in the first place, but thanks to SharePoint Web Parts, we could expand TimeCard to fill this overview function too.
The TimeCard for SharePoint event tab

TimeCard Summary Web Part
Today's update of TimeCard for SharePoint includes the new Web Part we created to have our overview feature, and I hope more organizations will find it useful. The TimeCard Summary Web Part can be inserted in any page in the site collection where TimeCard has been installed.

The team members report every day, and with the TimeCard Summary I can easily keep track of what everyone is doing. Should I want more info than what is given in the summary, I have links to all calendars in the Quick Launch.

Upgrade upgrade icon Upgrades are always included in the Subscriptions, so current users of TimeCard for SharePoint are welcome to upgrade their installations.

Try TimeCard! download icon You are welcome to download TimeCard for SharePoint and try it for 30 days. If you don't want to create your own tag values and events, you can use our example data for an easier evaluation.

Mobile App
I will soon come back with more TimeCard for SharePoint news, as its mobile app will be released any day now. It will be free for subscribers and will work with version 1.5 and later.

By Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

08 September 2015

SharePoint Study Manager Updated

Study Manager for SharePoint logotypeOur youngest solution, Study Manager for SharePoint, has been on the market for nearly six months now. Today the first update has been released, and its two enhancements were inspired by current users.

Study Manager
Study Manager helps teachers to create and manage self study material – texts, sound, images, videos, links – in SharePoint. Their students work online with exercises that contain various tasks to solve. When one task is solved, they click on a Next button to reach the next task of that exercise.
Study Manager exercise

Suggestions after practical use
When Subscribers suggest enhancements we always listen carefully, because people who use our products often have good ideas on how to make them work even better.

Today's update has come after a teacher contacted us about a problem in Study Manager: when students stop their work in the middle of an exercise, they have to start from scratch next time and do the first tasks again. Teachers decide how many tasks they want to add to each exercise, and this teacher had created exercises with many tasks.

Elegant solution
The teacher wanted a way for the students to save their work when they had to break an exercise, but the developers found a better solution. Now the work is saved to the statistics automatically each time a student clicks on the Next button to reach next task, so Study Manager will know that these tasks are already done and not show them again.

With this solution the students do not have to take any extra steps to save their work, in case they need to stop before the exercise has been finished.
SharePoint icon
Handles long URLs
The other enhancement in the new version is that Study Manager now handles very long URLs. When the link is more than 255 characters Study Manager will shorten it in the same way as you might have seen on Twitter.

Upgrade Study Manager
Free upgrades are always included in the download iconSubscriptions, and we recommend current users to upgrade. Your students will have a better experience with the new Next button auto-save.

Try Study Manager
Do you want to create a SharePoint learning center? Do your students want to study from home, or are they in another location? Study Manager is suitable for schools, businesses, yes, any organization that uses SharePoint and needs to educate students or employees. download icon You are welcome to try Study Manager for 30 days without any costs or obligations. Install Study Manager in a new SharePoint site collection, and it will become a center for learning, cooperation and discussion.

By Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

04 September 2015

Teachers – Gurus and Role Models

I am glad that I once again get a chance to write a few words in respect of Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam and also have the honor to write about other great personalities and Indian culture.

Here in India we have a tradition of celebrating Teacher’s Day. This day is celebrated on the birthday of Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, an Indian philosopher and statesman who was the first Vice President and the second President of India. He was born on 5 September 1888, and since 1962 Indians celebrate his birthday as a Teacher’s Day.

Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was a professor Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan of philosophy and appointed to the most important philosophy chair in India, King George V Chair of Mental and Moral Science at the University of Calcutta. He represented the University of Calcutta at the Congress of the Universities of the British Empire and the International Congress of Philosophy at Harvard University.

Another important Indian teacher was Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam. He was the 11th President of India, and after his presidency, he dedicated the rest of his life to teaching. Abdul Kalam was a professor at various universities in India, and he passed away during a lecture at IIM, Shillong. He became an inspiration for all teachers, and his passion towards teaching will always be saluted.
Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam
In India we call our teachers ‘Guru’, and we used to worship them. We have grown up with the belief of that our teachers are God, because they teach us to identify with God. I want to share a shloka (couplet of Sanskrit verse) from our Sanskrit study book, which we were taught from childhood and which represents our emotion.

We believe that the Deities Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh are the creators of this world.

 गुरुर्ब्रह्मा गुरुर्विष्णुर्गुरुर्देवो महेश्वरः 
गुरुरेव परं ब्रह्म तस्मै श्रीगुरवे नमः

This means: “The Guru (teacher) is the representative of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Guru is verily Para Brahma (Supreme Brahman), salutations to that Guru.”
Ancient Gurukul
Nowadays this is not very true, but in our old stories and mythology teachers are at the place of God. However, it is still true that we respect our teachers highly.

Being a teacher is not easy, it is like a philosophical puzzle. Teachers have the responsibility to groom students and guide them towards the right path to enlighten their future. Teachers are a significant part of our life, and if we are successful today, credit goes to our teachers everywhere.

On the day of celebration teachers allow students to take classes instead of them, and the students go school in dress up like teachers. I remember that I imitated my favorite teacher and tried to teach like she did. The Teacher’s Day is filled with fun and laughter.

Today we have an occasion to express our gratitude towards teachers and role models, so I won’t hesitate to thank my teachers. There have been lots of teachers in my life who developed my bookish knowledge, which is very important.

Kate Kalmstrom image However, I especially want to thank Mrs. Kate Kalmstrom, who has taught me how to make practical use of that bookish knowledge. She helped me to see what I could be, so I want to thank Kate from the bottom of my heart for her precious time and her patience. Because of her generosity, I have seen a huge positive change in my life.

Rituka Rimza image I wish all my teachers and readers a Happy Teacher’s Day!

Rituka Rimza
Sales and Marketing Assistant Business Solutions 

03 September 2015

Free Excel 2016 E-Book

Excel 2016 from Scratch coverIn July I told you about the e-book Excel 2016 from Scratch, which builds on the Tips series with the same name. Today we offer the e-book for free, to celebrate that Excel 2016 from Scratch is now also available in a print edition.

Books + demos + exercises
The e-book Excel 2016 from Scratch has links to Excel 2016 Tips articles with video demonstrations and downloadable exercises.

Clickable links in paper books is something that does not exist – yet – but I have chosen to keep the links in the printed version of Excel 2016 from Scratch. The paths to the articles are logical and easy to type in, and of course book readers too will benefit from the downloadable exercises.

For new beginners and experienced users
The first section of Excel 2016 from Scratch is very basic, but later chapters are more advanced and is interesting for more experienced users too. Excel is mostly used for calculation and visualization, but I also show examples on other areas where Excel might be beneficial.

Release later this year
Excel is included in Microsoft Office, and version 2016 will not be released until later this year. I used a preview version when I created the books and the demos, because I wanted to use the very latest. However, you can study Excel 2016 from Scratch even if you have an earlier version of Excel. There have been only minor changes in the user interface.

Free today!
If you buy Excel 2016 from Scratch today, you don't have to pay anything for it! As we are using Amazon, the offer is valid from midnight to midnight PST, which is UTC -8. This means that the campaign started today at nine o'clock CEST.

Take the chance to be an Excel Master at no investment at all – except for your own time and energy, of course! But believe me, Excel is fascinating! Once you have realized the possibilities of Excel, you will be eager to learn more, and the studies will be a joy!

By Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions