29 January 2016

Kanban Task Manager Support For Project Tasks Lists

Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint logotypeThis week Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint has been updated to support lists that build on the SharePoint 2010 Project Tasks template.

Drag and drop color coded task cards
In Kanban Task Manager tasks are visualized on a kanban board, where tasks can be dragged and dropped between phases and lanes as work proceeds. If you have a touch screen you can also move the tasks with a finger.

Use any task list
Kanban Task Manager has a custom tasks list that is used by default, but it is easy to switch to another list. All lists that build on the SharePoint Tasks template can be used with Kanban Task Manager.

SharePoint 2010 has a list template called Project Tasks, and from now Kanban Task Manager supports lists built on that template too. We had a request for this support from a subscriber, and as many organizations still use SharePoint 2010 we wanted to meet it.

The Gantt view
In SharePoint 2013 there is no Project Tasks list template. Instead the regular Tasks template has a Gantt view, which was supported by Kanban Task Manager also before this week's update.

Sandboxed and Add-in
Kanban Task Manager comes in two SharePoint versions: a sandboxed solution and an Add-in. Only the sandboxed solution supports SharePoint 2010 and thus the Project Tasks list template. Both versions can be used with SharePoint on-premise as well as SharePoint Online.

Upgrade upgrade Subscribers have free upgrades, and we recommend current users to upgrade their installations. Even if you don't want to use the Project Tasks list there are some bug fixes that you will appreciate, and it is always best to use the latest version.

Try it download iconIf you have not yet tried Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint, you are welcome to evaluate the solution. There is plenty of documentation on our website, and should you still have questions I hope you will contact us. We are here to assist you!

Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

28 January 2016

Auto-Create Docs With SharePoint Document Sets

SharePoint icon When you work with projects within an organization, you often create different kinds of documents built on templates. With a SharePoint Document Set you can have such documents created automatically from your specified templates when a new project item is created, and the documents are stored together in one single item.

If you plan to use folders for project documents or similar, I recommend you to study the Document Sets option first. Document Sets is a better option in many ways. In two tutorials in the Tips section I explain how to create and use Document Sets in SharePoint Online.

All docs created in one item
One of the advantages with SharePoint Document Sets is that you get all documents connected to the same project in one item. Create a new library item, and the documents you have specified will be created and named automatically.
SharePoint document set
In the image above the specified documents are an Excel cost break-down, a PowerPoint executive overview and a Word specification. By default the auto-created documents are named with the name of the project item (here ‘Support system’) + the name of the template.

The content writer can just open each document and start writing, instead of creating and naming three new documents, and all documents connected to that project are gathered inside the project item.

Content Type
To use Document Sets in a SharePoint library, you must connect the library to a Document Sets content type. Create a content type that builds on the Document Sets parent and specify which templates you want to use with this content type.

You can of course have several Document Sets content types and use them in different libraries. My Tips articles about SharePoint Document Sets have the demos above as well as step by step instructions, so I hope they will be easy to follow. Give it a try!

Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

25 January 2016

Kanban Task Manager for Outlook V4 released

Kanban Task Manager for Outlook logotype I am proud to announce that we have released a update of the workgroup version of Kanban Task Manager for Outlook. The responsible developer, Jitu Patidar, will tell you about the development and the new features.

Task Management in Outlook and SharePoint
Jitu Patidar imageWith Kanban Task Manager workgroups can share and cooperate on tasks on a kanban board in Outlook or SharePoint, where the tasks are visualized as cards. The cards are color coded by project or responsible, and they are dragged between phases as work proceeds.

Status = phase
In version 4 the Status values of the tasks can be used as phases, and this is default for new installations. Current users may keep their custom phases or switch to the task status values.

WIP limits
In version 4 we have given a possibility to set Work In Progress limits on phases and lanes. The WIP feature does not stop more tasks from being added, as this might be a hindrance in the work process, but it adds red color to the number of tasks in the phase or lane to give users a warning.

SharePoint sharing
Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint logotypeThe Outlook version of Kanban Task Manager stores its settings in a database or in SharePoint. When SharePoint is used, the settings are found in the same SharePoint lists as the SharePoint version of Kanban Task Manager.  Many subscribers use both versions, as they synchronize.

We have now added a possibility to use the SharePoint built in "Assigned To" for the Kanban Task Manager Responsible, and from version 4 Kanban Task Manager can work with any SharePoint task list. These new features were first implemented in the SharePoint version, but from today they are present in the Outlook version too.

Major code changes
The development of version 4 has involved the most extensive changes in the  Kanban Task Manager for Outlook design ever, so it was a great challenge to manage it. To start from scratch with a new product or feature is always easier than making changes in existing functionalities. There are so many dependencies to consider and so many things that can go wrong.

However, just like my mates in the team I enjoy being confronted with difficulties. They teach me a lot, and bug fixing always gives a good knowledge about the code/working flow of the product.

In the image below I am discussing a tricky problem with Peter Kalmström, the systems designer of Kanban Task Manager and my developer colleague Arpeet Gujarathi. I also had good assistance from developer Ankit Rughavanshi and of course from our lead developer Jayant Rimza. team members

After the release of Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint V4 we have given highest priority to today's major update of Kanban Task Manager for Outlook, because organizations who use both versions have not been able to upgrade their SharePoint installations to V4. The Outlook version was not compatible, but now it is. An e-mail with upgrade instructions has been sent to all current Medium and Premium subscribers.

Try Kanban Task Manager for Outlook download icon We allow 30 days free trial of Kanban Task Manager, so if your organization needs a way to visualize the tasks in a work process you are welcome to download the Kanban Task Manager Outlook add-in. During the evaluation period my colleagues and I will give the same high level of support service as when you subscribe to one of our products. Please contact us if you have questions!

By Jitu Patidar
Senior Developer and Support Lead Business Solutions

19 January 2016

SharePoint Meetings Management - A Suggestion

SharePoint iconSharePoint may well be used to automate taking meeting notes and handling meeting decisions. In no less than 12 articles in the SharePoint Online from Scratch series I suggest how a meeting management system in SharePoint can be built. I start with a simple solution, which I then expand with various enhancements.

Meeting Notes list
I create one list for Meeting Notes, and each meeting is entered as a list item. For this to work I must of course customize the list, and I do that with a content type, which I create in the Content Type Hub. That way the same kind of list design can be used in the whole SharePoint tenancy.

Action Points lists
The aim of a meeting is often to decide what actions should be taken, and I choose to not add these actions to the Meeting Notes list. Instead I create one Action Points list for each meeting. The Action Points lists should of course also be built on a content type.

List templates
SharePoint list tempateThe Action Points list, which will be created at each meeting, must be very easy to create.
The responsible person should not have to do anything more than add an app, select a template and write a list name.

Therefore I create an Action Points list template that will show up among the other app templates in that site collection. I also create a template for the Meeting Notes list, and then I upload both templates to more site collections.

Meetings overview and search vertical
Meetings concern many users, so it might be useful to display all meetings in the organization on one central SharePoint page. Such a collection of meetings can be created with the Content Search web part. Another way to make it easy to find meetings is to create a Meetings search vertical in the SharePoint Search Center.
Meetings search vertical in Search Center
My Tasks
When several people are responsible for the action points decided on a meeting, it is convenient to let each user see his/her tasks in a web part. This can also be done with the Content Search web part, and you can select to either show only the Action Points task or items in all lists built on the same parent content type.

I hope you have found this interesting! You are welcome to take my suggestion as it is or adapt parts of it for your organization.

Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

15 January 2016

Swedish Grammar For Windows Phone, Android and iOS

Learn Swedish on the bus, in the park, in the waiting room or whenever you have a few minutes. That is possible if you use Svensk grammatik, the grammar app that gives extensive guidelines for Swedish grammar, pronunciation and word formation, with examples and sound. The author, Kate Kalmström, will tell you more about it.  (Summary in Swedish below)

Kate Kalmstrom imageWhen I was a teacher for immigrants in Sweden I often made my own teaching aids for the students, and that eventually led to the publishing of several books. The work was an interesting and rewarding, and I got to know some admirable people among my students.

I am happy to continue supporting Swedish language education through the website Svensk grammatik och ordbildning and through our smartphone apps with rules for Swedish grammar. Now we have a new app for Windows Phone, and the apps for iOS and Android have been updated.

Svensk grammatik
The name of the app is Svensk grammatik, which means "Swedish grammar", but even if the focus is on the grammar this app also gives rules for Swedish word formation and pronunciation. The Swedish grammar is closely connected with Swedish pronunciation and word formation, so it comes naturally to give rules for all three in the same app.
Swedish Grammar App

When you understand the Swedish language rules you will also know how to use the words you have learned. The grammar rules tell you how to put them together, and the word formation rules help you understand and remember new words.

Grammar terms explained 
All the typical grammar terms are explained in detail in separate articles, but when used in other articles they are explained in pop-ups. This means that the explanations do not disturb students who are used to grammar terms, but if you don't understand a word like "noun", "subject" or "vowel" you can just press it to get a short sentence and some examples to help you remember.

Examples with sound
Loud speaker iconThe Swedish grammar rules are illustrated with examples, often with recorded sound. This way students will get a better understanding of how the rule works in Swedish sentences and phrases, and I hope they will listen to the recordings many times to acquire a set of "templates" for their own language building.

For students and teachers
Svensk grammatik includes the very basics of Swedish grammar, but as I wanted it to cover as much as possible of the Swedish language I also included advanced grammar rules and guidelines. This has obviously been appreciated not only by students but also by teachers, because Svensk grammatik is used by teachers and in the training of teachers.

The app is in Swedish, so you will find it most useful if you already know some Swedish. You can buy Svensk grammatik at Windows Store (Windows Phone), App Store (iPhone, iPad och iPod) or Google Play (Android). I hope you will find it useful!

Swedish flag
Swedish summary:
Tallstugans förlag har skapat en app som bygger på mina böcker och webbsajten Svensk grammatik och ordbildning. Här finns alla artiklarna och exemplen lätt tillgängliga i din smarta mobiltelefon eller surfplatta. Köp den här: Windows Store (Windows Phone), App Store (iPhone, iPad och iPod) Google Play (Android). Mer info om Svensk grammatik.

Kate Kalmström
CCO Business Solutions

12 January 2016

SharePoint Forms Customization - Best Method?

SharePoint iconWhich is the best method to customize SharePoint list forms? There is no general answer to that question, because each organization has its own prerequisites and requirements. Instead you have to look at the options and find out what is best in each case. In a series of Tips articles on SharePoint forms I hope to give some ideas on what can be done.

Better use of space
So why customize list forms at all, in the first place? Isn't it enough that you can add and remove or hide columns and put them in any order you want? Yes, that is certainly useful, and we should absolutely take advantage of it, but that does not solve all forms issues.

One of the reasons is to avoid unnecessary scrolling. In most SharePoint forms the fields are just put below each other, even if the entry only requires a number or a choice of yes and no. These fields can very well be put side by side instead. Or you  might want to have more space in the description field, to avoid scrolling there.

InfoPath 2013 iconIn my opinion the best way to customize SharePoint list forms is to use InfoPath. It is easy and smooth, and you can just click on a button in the ribbon to open the form in InfoPath.

However, InfoPath has a serious drawback: Microsoft has announced that  InfoPath will be deprecated. Therefore InfoPath is not included in Office 2016, so your current installation will be wiped out in the Office upgrade and you have to download and install InfoPath 2013 again.

The client application will be supported until April 2023, and InfoPath Forms Services will be fully supported in Office 365 "until further notice". InfoPath will eventually be replaced by a more cross-platform solution, but so far we don't know much about that product.

Other methods
If you don't want to use InfoPath because of the risque that you have to do everything all over again, there are other methods to customize SharePoint list forms:
  • Add a web part to a form. The forms are contained in web part pages, and you cannot customize the existing web parts at all. But you can add another web part, for example a Content Editor web part, and embed code and add tables, links, pictures, videos or even another web part to it. This is the only no-code way to show for example an instruction or a video above the form.
  • Create a content type form. In a tips article I show how to create a content type for a task entry form. I hide several of the form fields so that only the fields important at task creation are displayed. When the work on the task starts, the full form can be selected in a dropdown or opened automatically with a workflow.
  • Access iconOpen the list in Access and customize the form there. In this case the information is stored in SharePoint, but the form itself is displayed in Access. SharePoint workflows and settings will work as if the form was shown in SharePoint.
I hope this was inspiring. Good luck with your own SharePoint forms customization!

Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

06 January 2016

Peace And Positive Energy In Anand Sagar

Jitu and son in Anand Sagar If you subscribe to a product, you have probably met our Support Lead Jitu Patidar in a chat or e-mail.

Today you will meet Jitu in another role: as a travel guide. He will tell us about his visit to Anand Sagar in the Indian city of Shegaon. Anand Sagar is a spiritual place with a meditation centre, temples and play grounds, and everything is decorated with artefacts and carvings.
Sai-Baba statue in Anand Sagar
Here is Jitu’s story:
I first heard about Anand Sagar a couple of years ago from one of my relatives, who had visited this Siddh Kshetra, (gateway to the state of enlightenment). Jitu's wife at Anand Sagar I believe in meditation and spirituality from when I was 12-15 years old, so I was excited at my visit to Shegaon. Meditation is the methodology of the science of awareness.

I went to Anand Sagar with my wife Rashmi and our son Jashith. Rashmi’s younger sister and her family also joined us for this holiday trip, and we all stayed in Anand Vihar, which belongs to the same trust, Gajanan Maharaj Sansthan, as Anand Sagar.
Buildings in Anand Sagar
Anand Vihar is a large residential place divided into several similar blocks. It is very clean and a great place to stay, and there are several volunteers who take very well care of all devotees. Even if there are several rooms in a single block, you can feel a great silence at the campus.
Indian peacock statue
From Anand Vihar we had just a short way to Anand Sagar, which surrounds a big lake and has extensive gardens with statues of Hindu Gods. We found the artworks really stunning and creative, and we also enjoyed the lovely the nature in Anand Sagar.

Jitu and son in Anand SagarWhile we grown-ups revelled in the serenity and beauty of Anand Sagar, Jashith especially liked the kids’ zone, where he had fun with his cousin.

As we had to walk a lot to see the whole Anand Sagar, the children appreciated that we also could travel in a small train. It took us to a forest with very realistic animal statues that the boys found thrilling to watch.

Finally we walked for around two kilometers around the lake to reach a meditation centre situated on an island in the lake. Now, after feeling the real nature beauty outside, it was time to feel the inner beauty. There is a great silence inside the meditation centre. You can feel a real positive energy there, and we felt revived and reverent.
The Anand Sagar meditation centre
The journey to Anand Sagar was a fascinating experience, and the memories and photos will brighten everyday life for a long time to come. I hope I also brought some of that positive energy I felt back to Indore and the office. Maybe it will even come across in support e-mails and chats?

By Jitu Patidar
Senior Developer and Support Lead Business Solutions

01 January 2016

2016 Cloud And Mobile Functionality Business Solutions goes to a higher level A new year is born, and I am eager to learn what it will mean to the products. My intention is that we should use this year for consolidation and concentrate on our existing products, as we worked a lot with new development in 2015. Now it is time to let our older products take advantage of what we learned in that process.

More in the cloud
The trend towards providing more and more functionality in the cloud will continue in 2016. We are looking forward to seeing more BI features in Office 365, something that we can take advantage of to enhance the reporting features of the products.

We also want to improve the use of touch to interact with our products, as well as extending them to mobile devices. These enhancements will probably come later in 2016, but in the first quarter we hope to release other product updates.

Shared code
As I wrote in my blog post about challenges for the team in 2015, several new products were developed last year, and everyone in the team honed their skills. Thus the new development was very rewarding, and as we use shared code as much as possible we now hope to enhance existing products with new features. In addition we want to make them faster, simpler to use and more in line with the Office 365 experience.

Kanban Task Manager
Kanban Task Manager for Outlook logotypeOur first release in the new year will be version 4 of Kanban Task Manager for Outlook, which will come very soon. It will have WIP limits for the phases and lanes on the kanban board, and it will be possible to use the Status values of the Outlook tasks as phases instead of custom phases.

There are also extra enhancements for those organizations who use the Outlook version together with the SharePoint versions of Kanban Task Manager. You will soon have more info in the release blog post!
Kanban Task Manager kanban card
Later in 2016 all Kanban Task Manager versions will have a completed graph on each task card on the kanban board.There will also be a timeline for open tasks, where users will have an overview of when tasks are planned to start and end. It will be easy to drag and drop tasks to change the start and end dates.

TimeCard for Outlook logoThe Outlook version of TimeCard will be updated to support synchronization with the SharePoint version, and thereby also with TimeCard Mobile.

We will add SharePoint as an alternative to a database for sharing and storage of settings and time reports, and when this option is selected TimeCard Workgroup may be used with TimeCard for SharePoint. Each user's SharePoint calendar will then synchronize with his or her Outlook calendar. This is useful for distributed teams, as the shared data can be reached from everywhere via the internet.

Folder HelpDesk
Folder HelpDesk logoVersion 14 of Folder HelpDesk for Outlook will have functionality similar to the one found in Kanban Task Manager, as we will add a kanban view to the already existing ticket views.

When you select the Folder HelpDesk kanban view, all issue tracking tickets will be shown as cards on a kanban board in Outlook. The cards can be dragged and dropped between or within the status phases as work proceeds.

Tallstugan iOS iconSwedish Grammar app
Our smartphone app with grammar rules for the Swedish language was released in 2013, and now it is time for an update. Not because the grammar rules have changed, but we want to give the app a better design and make it work with Windows Phone, in addition to the current iOS and Android operating systems.

These were just some of our update plans for 2016. If you are more interested in our plans for another product, please look at the Plans page for that solution or contact us. We are always open for suggestions from subscribers!

Together with my colleagues in the team I wish all subscribers, evaluators and other blog readers a prosperous and peaceful 2016.

Peter Kalmstrom
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions