Collaboration, Technology, and New York

The blog for SharePoint, InfoPath, and Designer, along with business and technology insight….. plus a little NYC

So you want to learn Sharepoint?

Written by Peter Ward on April 25, 2016 – 12:52 am -

I often get have conversations with people, who are looking for a collaborative technical solution to a problem, don’t know SharePoint and think SharePoint should be a good fit.

The first question they often ask is “Can you show me what SharePoint is?”

This is a problem, as it’s a large product.

But these videos help.

SharePoint in Plain English

What is SharePoint and Why We Use It

What is SharePoint | lynda.com

 

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Thoughts in AgilePoint

Written by Peter Ward on March 7, 2016 – 12:05 am -

With the death nail on InfoPath, there’s a lot of talk on workflow and forms engines in SharePoint….We choose AgilePoint

Formotus is another option and they have a completely independent white paper that you can download from their web site.  Oh course it’ll be totally independent, given that it’s from their web site.  :)

The Good:- What’s really cool about the product

  1. 1.      UI:

-        User friendly development.

-        Easy to deploy and use.

-        Neat Mobile friendly forms available

-        Parallel process of two applications possible using sub process using no code.

-        SharePoint workflows in Agilepoint solve most purposes for which event receivers are needed.

-        Wide variety of controls available for various functionalities.

-        Different process models available for different uses. I.e. E-forms, Sharepoint Forms, System  Integration etc.

-        Can add Jquery/ CSS to controls easily through shared/ individual files.

  1. 2.      Runtime:

-        Detailed information about variables/fields used available at runtime.

-        Multiple data sources can be used at various events.

-        Running applications will continue to run when a new change is published, as a result of which the system doesn’t have to be brought down to deploy changes.

-        Can use APIs to access any kind of data from other resources.

  1. 3.      Product features:

-        SharePoint version independent will work with future versions.

-        Easy to be integrated into different systems because SharePoint, Sales force have AgilePoint Dashboards available.

-        Log in using various Authorization method possible. (OAuth2 covers a lot of authorization methods)

-        Very easy to export applications to other tenants and reuse them.

-        Globally reusable tokens can be created and exported to multiple application increasing reusability.

-        Individual forms also can be exported and re-used across multiple applications and tenants.

 

  1. 4.      On Premise /Private Cloud

-        Multiple tenants possible on a private cloud

-        Can access data stored in xml and create various reports based on the data

 

 

The Bad:

  1. UI:

-        Canvas designed in a way that plain text cannot be placed on a form. It has to be in controls.

-        Controls take up a specific size which cannot be changed in height. This does give a neater look but desired look is difficult (I may be biased as this is easily possible in MS word/ Infopath).

-        Nesting controls is difficult except put in subforms which in turn do not support a lot of controls

-        Custom HTML controls rendering is difficult.

-        Autosave doesn’t happen and the UI becomes unresponsive at time causing loss of data

  1. Runtime:

-        Lookups take a while to load.

-        Page submit actions can’t be modified.

-        Poor integration with IE

-        Offline modification of forms not possible

  1. Product Features:

-        Look and feel can’t be modified to look like SharePoint to maintain consistency

-        Difficult to integrate in SP if not using Agilepoint dashboards as a physical location of forms/tasks is not available

 

 

The Ugly:- What totally sucks

  1. UI:

-        Very poor support for multiple controls in design time and runtime. Hence not suitable for larger forms.

  1. Runtime:

-        Cant access forms from a physical location as forms are available as tasks. This is usually a major requirement by the client.

-        Cant access data on the forms anywhere hence can’t be put in reports easily.

 

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SharePoint Professionals Must Embrace Modern APIs

Written by Peter Ward on February 28, 2016 – 11:14 am -

An extract from an article I wrote for Redmond Magazine.

For the straight hardcore SharePoint developer who only knows SQL, ASP.NET and MVC, the rapid shift by enterprises to SaaS-based Office 365 SharePoint Online is sure to reduce your work hours at the very least and quite possibly eliminate the need for your job at some point. This transition has been going on for some time as GitHub libraries for JavaScript, HTML5, and CSS are now in the mix when it comes to building SharePoint apps.

Click here to read full article

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Microsoft SharePoint 2013 Disaster Recovery Guide- Special Offer

Written by Peter Ward on February 14, 2016 – 9:00 pm -

With this code:  MSPDRG50      before March 5th

 

Click here

 

 

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Will SaaS Kill the SharePoint Server Team?

Written by Peter Ward on February 4, 2016 – 4:40 am -

This is an article I wrote for Redmond Magazine.  Why SharePoint professionals need to embrace SharePoint’s new API model of development and deployment.

SharePoint is often touted as the Swiss Army knife of enterprise collaboration and productivity. But like most blades on a Swiss Army knife, each separate tool isn’t always that sharp or practical as the user would like them to be. For that reason, I predict that SharePoint developers, like other developers, will become mostly APIs or API plumbers.

See full article- Part I

 

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Sharepoint branding.. No quick fix

Written by Peter Ward on January 24, 2016 – 11:39 am -

I’ve looking at the product bindtuning for a straight forward approach to SharePoint branding.

One of the biggest complaints with customers on branding is that it’s always a science project to get anything done that makes the site pop out.  The Bindtuning approach gives the user a WordPress feel of point, click and color, ‘Without the let me get back to you in 2 days’ SharePoint consultant’s response.

Solutions like this do heavy customization and uses master to customize the look and feel of the site…. All good….  Well not quite.

The guidelines of SharePoint online branding suggested in below reference links recommends you should not customize the master page otherwise it would require more maintenance to apply upgrades

https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/office/dn985871.aspx

Use the SharePoint page model and composed looks, the SharePoint 2013 theming engine, and CSS to brand your SharePoint site and pages.

http://www.degdigital.com/blog/dos-and-donts-for-custom-sharepoint-online-designs

http://www.microsofttrends.com/2015/05/07/latest-advice-on-office-365-branding/

So it’s back to the manual approach.

  1. Use SharePoint Themes to change color throughout the sites
  2. Use JavaScript to inject UI components
  3. Use alternate CSS file to give responsive look and feel to the site

In the end there is no substitute for UI design capabilities on a team, the only question is how do you attract, and retain the talent.

One observation of Bindtuning, is that they aren’t exclusively SharePoint, which is unusual as a SharePoint vendor, so this would suggest they that SharePoint can only provide them breakfast, rather than lunch and dinner.

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Happy halloween

Written by Peter Ward on November 2, 2015 – 10:41 am -

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SharePoint designer workflow in Office 365.

Written by Peter Ward on October 4, 2015 – 1:05 am -

One thing I’ve discovered with O365, is that you can’t send an email to a non-SharePoint user.   This is different than an on premise SharePoint designer workflow engine where you can send emails to anyone, inside or outside the company..

So how do you send emails to non SP users?

One way to do this is to create a contact in AD and have this forwarding to users the non-SharePoint users.

 

 

 

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7 Ways to make a SharePoint demo rock

Written by Peter Ward on June 24, 2015 – 11:37 am -

 

SharePoint is not only a beast of a product, it’s a confusing one to non-techy mortals to understand, so before you even show the Site Actions menu tab, think about What, Who and How to demo the product.

1.    Define a clear goal of the demo:

-What you are going to show and what you are not

-Why you are showing them-”Based on previous conversations with XYZ”

-Business value

You really how 30 mins to show them, then the attention span starts to wonder.

 

2.    During the demo, make it bite size

Remember most folks have got the attention span of a tangerine, so state what you are going to show them and then show them the functionality. Do this each time.

3.    Understand the customer

Yeap a standard consulting speak from the big 4. But really understand the customer. So if the client uses Macs, you really need to demo SharePoint on an Mac, rather than the high end torbo charged PC laptop that allows you to do 18 different things at once. People see through the demo software.

This also include Ipads and iphones.

Nothing gets the engagement levels off the charts they see the demo running on all 3 Apple products.

Even the browser. If you demo on Chrome, you’ll get the attention of the Generation Z and millenialls.

You’ll also answear their unasked question… “So SharePoint works on a non Microsoft technology?”

 

4.    Make it prosumer (proactive consumers).

People want a system that is easy to use, doesn’t require training, offers immediate beneift and self service. Often SharePoint is not this tool, particurally if it’s been deployed by the Exchange administror.

 

 

 

 

 

5.    Make the interface consitent to what folks use every day and like. That’s not the Ribbon.

On the discover call I always ask what web sites do people use the most? And of cause the answear is Google. So we made the homepage like……. Google. This immediaely terminates the preassumptions that SharePoint is complicated.

 

6.    Show the sizzle, not the stake

Mention the cool out osss box features- the document preview, search results.

 

Notice in the image below, the document preview has a good eye candy image.

 

Remember: Millennials are extremely team-oriented and enjoy collaborating and building friendships with colleagues. So the document on line editing is a win, and Lync or whatever MS is calling it these days.

During the demo, mention the technology provides plenty of opportunities for collaboration and team projects.

 

7.    Small details make a BIG difference.

 

Not just talking about the making the site logo the company logo.

When we demo on a Mac, we have a demo user called Steve Jobs with his photo.

 

Nice simple touch.

 

 

 

 

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The last of the snow in NYC

Written by Peter Ward on March 23, 2015 – 1:22 am -

 

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