25 July 2017

India Beats Record To Fight Climate Change

Today, our new Executive Assistant, Dipti Francis, will tell you about an historic tree planting campaign that was held this month in India:

Planting a tree is a looking-forward action, because if we plant a tree today, we are saving the nature and the environment for future generations. It is a social responsibility anyone can take to save the earth. As said by John Keats: “A thing of beauty is a joy forever”, and such beauty are trees. That is why we must grow more and more trees, so that the beauty of our nature lasts forever.

Initiative to save Mother Earth
An environmental campaign was driven on Sunday 3rd July 2017 by more than 1.5 million Indian volunteers. They planted over 66.3 million saplings in 12 hours along the Narmada River in the central state of Madhya Pradesh.

The campaign was organized by the Madhya Pradesh government. The 24 best planting sites of the Narmada River basin were chosen to increase the chances of saplings’ survival, and the volunteers planted 20 different species of trees.
Indian tree planting record
Historic Day for India 
According to Guinness World Records, this was the second record set by India in planting trees. Volunteers from children to elders participated in the Sunday campaign. State Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan described the efforts as “Historic Day”.

The motive of the campaign was not only to preserve the state or country but the world at large, because everything we have comes from nature. Plants give us fresh air and water, so without trees we cannot survive.

The team congratulates the Indian volunteers for taking such a beautiful initiative and showing extraordinary efforts to save our earth. We wish all of them, best of luck for their future campaigns.

Dipti FrancisI want to conclude this post with a very simple request: let each one of us understand our responsibility to preserve the beauty of nature and start this from our personal level. Let us try to plant at least one tree whenever and wherever we can, so that our coming generations can experience the beauty and benefits of our Mother Earth. It is a small thing that makes a difference.
Dipti Francis
Executive Assistant Business Solutions

20 July 2017

10,000 Subscribers To The YouTube Channel!

YouTube iconYesterday the YouTube Channel reached 10,000 subscribers, which is very good for a specialized learning channel like ours. It centers around SharePoint and Outlook tips and products and has no music, no cute animals and very few funny jokes!

One million Solutions
TimeCard for Outlook We have found YouTube demos to be a good way of introducing and explaining our Outlook and SharePoint products. The manuals have an abundance of screenshots and give all details, but with video demonstrations SP Attach icon we can actually show how to do things.

Many users of our products are of course subscribing to the channel, but they are not the only ones.
Study Manager for SharePoint icon
Tips articles
Another group of YouTube demonstrations are tutorials about Microsoft Excel, Office 365 and SharePoint. Each of these demos Calendar Browser for SharePoint icon has a Tips article on the website, where you can get a description of the demonstration and more information about the subject.

KBase icon The Tips section started as an assistance to subscribers but has now grown to an important marketing channel. People who contact us for the first time often refer to the online tutorials.

Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint icon Books
I have written several books on my specialties: SharePoint, Office 365 and Excel. These books have links to the Tips articles with the YouTube demos, to give readers another angle HelpDesk OSP icon on what I describe in more detail in the books.

My books are popular, and they of course contribute to the high number of views for the channel: 2.5 million views right now. Templates Manager for SharePoint iconThe numerous comments to the demonstrations also show that people have actually studied and learned from them.

Team work
Folder HelpDesk icon Obviously the demos cover subjects that many need to know more about, and as SharePoint and Office are my special competencies I am happy to share my knowledge. Being an experienced lecturer, I also know how to organize the information in a good way so that it becomes easy to understand.
SP Archive icon
But I am not alone in the creation. My colleagues Bhupendra, Kate and Rituka have recorded some of the demos, and they also edit my demos before we publish them. Their work is very important for the result you see on YouTube.

ShareTask icon We will continue to publish demos and write Tips articles for the website. Welcome to have a look! Hopefully you will find a product you need or a tip you can make use of.

By Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

18 July 2017

SharePoint In The Mobile 3 - Office And Custom Solutions

SharePoint iconIt is secure and flexible to store and share information in SharePoint, and there are many ways to use SharePoint in smart phones and tablets.  In two earlier blog posts I have talked about mobile options that are inbuilt in SharePoint and about Microsoft apps that are suitable to use with SharePoint and mobile devices.

In this last post, I will mention some other ways to use SharePoint in the mobile. Microsoft Office gives a few possibilities, and you can of course always have a custom solution, created by yourself or by the team.

Office apps
Microsoft Excel iconExporting to Excel is the simplest way of getting data in a mobile format. It works well on SharePoint lists, but it is a one way communication. You cannot change the data in Excel and have it updated in SharePoint.

SharePoint document libraries with the classic experience interface, have a Microsoft Outlook icon “Connect To Outlook” button, which allows you to synchronize the library with Outlook. When you do that, you can view, edit, delete and create files in Outlook even if you are offline. Whenever you do a Send and Receive, the SharePoint files will also be synchronized. This method handles conflicts as well as check-in/check-out.

Custom solutions
ShareTask logotypeIt is possible to create customized mobile web pages in SharePoint, with full touch, drag and drop etc. The ShareTask app is built in this way. All data, as well as the code, is stored in SharePoint, but for the users it looks like a dedicated app.

Another option is to host the app on your own server. When you do that, you can use server-side code and interact with non-SharePoint services, and you can develop in C#, Python, Java or whatever server-side language you want, really! The possibilities are endless, but there is also the added complexity of authentication and doing all SharePoint-integration through REST calls.

Need assistance?
In three blog posts I have given a summary of useful options when you want to use SharePoint in the mobile, but maybe you need advice on which solution is best for users in your organization? I would be happy to assist you. Services icon We offer services on several levels, from workshops to discuss your goals and how to reach them to very advanced custom solutions. Currently we have ongoing custom projects for organizations in Egypt, Sweden and USA. Welcome to contact us, you too!

By Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

13 July 2017

Nature As Inspiration For Problem Solving

“If there is a problem, there must be a solution.” These words could be my own, but I am actually quoting another problem solver: Senior Developer Kapil Patel, who joined the team at the beginning of this year. Here he will tell you more about himself and what inspires him.

I read my first program flow chart when I was 12 years old, and it took me 12 more years to write production level code. That happened when I started my software engineer journey in 2013, in an IT start-up in Indore. Senior Developer Kapil Patel
Technical background
I am an engineering graduate in computer science stream from MIT, Indore. During my studies I learned basic logics and got hands on experience of software development. Among other things, I created a calculator application in VB.Net, and it helped me understand the complex coding that is hidden even behind a simple calculator app.

Before joining the team, I worked on different technologies, for example ASP.NET MVC, Win forms, JavaScript and some other open source technologies.

India is a big, beautiful country, and when possible I like to visit its various parts. The image above is from India Gate in Delhi, a memorial to the 82 000 Indian soldiers who died in the First World War. The image below is from Dona Paula Beach in Goa. Senior Developer Kapil Patel

Mother Nature
I always search for ways to be in the lap of Mother Nature. Therefore I am an active member of a group that makes day and night treks to dense forests. Recently I went on an adventurous night trek, and I enjoyed watching the midnight moon and walking alone in the forest to overcome my fear. Senior Developer Kapil Patel at camp fire

Hard work always pays!
Instead of just avoiding problems, I love to solve them. My attitude is “If there is a problem, there must be a solution”. I am thankful that I have had to face scary challenges. Even if I feel scared sometimes, I accept them and in the end they make me stronger.

When I have optimized a web based application used by thousands of people at the same time so that it works faster, I feel really proud. For such a task I have to make changes in the whole technology stack: JavaScript, SQL queries, database and database server.

SharePoint programming
Kanban TaskManager for SharePoint iconIn the team I got the opportunity to work with several interesting tasks. I added a few features to the SharePoint editions of Kanban Task Manager, where we recently released major updates.

I have also worked with a custom shopping cart for a US construction company. Here we used jQuery Mobile, SharePoint services and PowerShell scripts.

It’s a very good experience to be a developer. I get job satisfaction here, and I hope that I am performing as expected.

Kapil Patel
Sr. Software Engineer Business Solutions

11 July 2017

Customize And Share The SharePoint Kanban Board

Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint logotypeOur two SharePoint editions of Kanban Task Manager are used by organizations in many countries, and with all these users we of course get valuable input and enhancement suggestions. In the next version, we will implement a few good ideas that were first given to us by customers.

Rename Project and Lane
Kanban Task Manager is a solution for task management. As the work proceeds, the tasks are moved from the first phase, where the task is planned, to the actual work phases and then into the completed phase.

Often the tasks belong to a project, and in all earlier versions we have had a Project column where admins can enter the different projects that the team works with. But even if this is the most common user case, the term "Project" does not suit all organizations. Now it will be possible to change this caption in the Kanban Task Manager tasks list.

The tasks can be arranged in groups, which are shown on the kanban board as horizontal strips. So far these groups have been called "Lanes". With the new versions, organizations can choose the caption that is most suitable for each installation of Kanban Task Manager.

Keep the filter
The kanban board can be filtered by "project", responsible and/or priority. The filtering is done by each user, just like other SharePoint filtering, and currently it disappears when you refresh or restart the browser.

However, many users have a favorite filter, so in the next version of Kanban Task Manager we will make it easier for them and preserve the filter. This way, users no longer need to set the filter again when they have refreshed or restarted the browser.

Filtered view URL
Now when the kanban board filter is kept, you can also bookmark the filtered view and share its URL with other users who have access to the same Kanban Task Manager installation.

Every user can, for example, send a manager the path to a filtered view that shows only his/her own tasks. If this is done regularly, it is easy for the manager to track each team member's progress.

These are the three most important new features in next Kanban Task Manager update, and I hope to come back soon and tell you about the release!

By Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

04 July 2017

SharePoint In The Mobile 2 - Microsoft Tools

SharePoint iconStoring and sharing information in SharePoint gives many benefits when it comes to security, flexibility and version control. But how do we best use SharePoint in mobile devices? We want to keep the functionality, but with less complexity and more touch ability and usability.

There are various options when you want to use SharePoint in a smartphone or tablet, more or less advanced and suitable for different needs. When we develop custom SharePoint solutions, we of course discuss the alternatives with the customer and find the best option together.

Here I have instead started a series of blog posts about the options as I see them. In an earlier post I summarized the mobile possibilities given by SharePoint itself. Today I will continue with a list of Microsoft apps and tools that are helpful when you want to use SharePoint in the mobile.
  • Microsoft FlowFlows can be used in several ways.The most important thing you can do with a flow is to connect your information and events to any other service. If the service has a mobile app or interface, you can get your SharePoint information in that mobile context. Furthermore, it is possible to create, trigger and modify flows in the Microsoft Flow app, allowing for true mobile SharePoint automation. We are finding it useful, although not 100% stable yet, to call a REST service from a Flow and then run PowerShell scripts based on that in an Azure Function. Combining mobile usability of Flow with enterprise scalability in Azure opens a lot of interesting possibilities.

  • SharePoint Designer icon2010 and 2013 Workflows may be used from a mobile device. The workflow can either distribute selected information to users via e-mail or be triggered from a mobile device to have interesting things happen on the SharePoint side. A 2013 workflow can interact with web services and a 2010 workflow could be used to set item level security per business rules.

  • Office 365 Teams iconTeams is a rather new collaborative app built on top of SharePoint. The mobile app allows sharing of documents, a calendar and also a range of third party apps.

  • The OneDrive App for mobiles allows browsing of documents and folders on SharePoint sites and on the personal OneDrive for Business. With this app you can also upload documents from your mobile, including images from your device camera. The app does not synchronize your files to your device,Microsoft OneDrive icon but you can select individual files that should be available offline.

  • The OneDrive for Business desktop app is not really a mobile app, but it is certainly relevant for being “on the run”. If you find yourself totally offline, most of the other apps in this list will not work. You need something that keeps the files on your computer in sync with the files on SharePoint. I have encountered some major problems with this app, so I am hesitant to recommend it. However, Microsoft has been promising rewrites, performance-improvements and better cache-handling so I will certainly give the new version another chance to prove itself. The desktop app only works with libraries and does not handle metadata at all, just folders.

  • Office 365 Delve iconThe Delve mobile app is intended for keeping track of the latest changes in personal or shared content stored on SharePoint sites of all types as well as files stored in OneDrive for Business.

  • Microsoft PowerApps iconWith PowerApps you can build customized mobile apps that connect to SharePoint, Flow and other services. Such an app can be deployed within the organization or Office 365 tenant and also shows up as a semi-view when using a desktop browser. There is both a Windows app and a browser-based development environment. Unfortunately there is no possibility to code behind PowerApps. Instead all customization is done by selecting options in the development environment. For me as a developer, this PowerApps environment feels limited and constraining, but I hope that I will learn to love it soon ;-)

  • Microsoft Office 365 VideoThe Office 365 Video App is a very basic little app that allows browsing existing videos and channels as well as uploading videos to a channel from a device.
There are even more alternatives, because you can use Office apps and create custom solutions. Those are the options I will point to in my next blog post about SharePoint in the mobile.

By Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions