Sunday, September 27, 2015

I have deactivated my Facebook account...

First I would like to thank the people who liked my SharePointBabe Facebook page! But I have decided to leave Facebook on which I have had an account since 2008, because I think it has turned into a real spam place and it feels like such a waste of valuable life time to scroll through the endless noise that is on the facebook news wall. And I must say, it feels like I've left a cult or something :) I have really thought long about this decision, do I dare to leave the biggest social area online and will I loose contact with my friends if I leave?? Will other people think I am weird if I leave, and will I be left out of Events and Groups and what someone ate the other day or if their cat did a cute thing? And I thought that I can really live without all that noise! The only thing that is hard to separate from is Messenger. That is just a brilliant app! But of course you must be a Facebook user (at least yet, in other countries you can add your mobile number and use it) and that is so sad, because I used that app a LOT. So why not just use Messenger you might think, well the thing is that if you go in there you will also visit Facebook at the same time, it just works like that. So I made the choice to sacrifice Messenger, buhuu :)

How do I keep in contact with my friends now then? Well, I think that 50% of my "friends" on Facebook are "connections" like on LinkedIn. That means, that I don't really hang out with these people like I do with my friends, they are more acquaintances like old collegues, someone I met in a bar, someone in the SharePoint business, and these people I have on other social media like Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn so I will still have them somewhere in my life. Which is good, my point with leaving Facebook is not to loose my friends or connections!! It is to get out of the constant scrolling of the Facebook news feed that doesn't give me any satisfaction! I'd rather scroll Twitter where there actually are real news and interesting users and hashtags that I can follow. On Facebook I have to scroll through all other peoples hobbies or activities, of which I might have no interest. On Twitter I can choose what I want to follow, and it's just so easy to click Follow or Unfollow - you will not offend anyone by unfollowing people (like when you unfriend on Facebook, that is a total different thing...) and you don't have to confirm if someone wants to follow you. So simple and brilliant.

But I started with small steps, I must admit, I did not DELETE my Facebook account, I only DEACTIVCATED :) Cult, like I said, a bit brainwashed thinking that I might loose a whole part of my personality or life if I leave... ;) So who knows when I can take the next step? Maybe I will regret this and crawl back with the tail between my legs and give in to Facebook later but right now it just feels good. I think I have saved at least 1,5 hours just today by not having Facebook! Something to think about. Instead, I took a long powerwalk, listening to an interesting podcast that talks about something that I like and that was a better invested 1,5 hours for me.

So, if you want to follow me now, and I hope you want to, just type in @SharePointBabe on Twitter or Instagram instead and click on Follow. Or subscribe to my YouTube channel, I will post more there shortly. And of course, you can follow me on this blog (and I was about to write Google+ but I actually don't know if anyone uses that?).

Best regards from a happy SharePointBabe who still loves social media :)

Friday, September 25, 2015

NAPA dev tool on Office 365

Create Office Add-ins/SharePoint Add-ins (it's not called Apps anymore) by using Napa with an Office 365 Developer Site

This is a cool tool, and easy for us who hasn't a developer background. It's very straight forward.

To get started, you need the proper O365 license, for example I have the E3. You need to have any of these:
Office 365 Midsize Business
Office 365 Enterprise E1, E3, E4, or K1
Office 365 Education A2, A3, or A4
Office 365 Government G1, G3, G4, or K1

Then open the Office365 Admin center and create a new Private Site collection using the template "Development Site".

Wait for your Developer Site to finish setting up. After provisioning is complete, refresh the admin center page in your browser and there will be a link to the site or just open the URL you just created. You should see a site that contains the "Get Started" web part with buttons to "Build an app" "Publish" and "Samples":

(I added this site to the Tiles, to have quick access to it. See how you can do that here.)

Click on the "Build an app" icon and select what type of App, sorry Add-in, you want to create and give it a name.

Click OK and you are in code mode :)

The left side task bar contains buttons for Run, Retract, Open in VS, Share, Publish and Quick Open (if you need to search in the project)

The code editor of course has intellisense, and you can right click! Not so common when it comes to SharePoint sites! You can right click to create new files, upload files, etc. Sweet.

For me, as a non .NET developer, this tool is very useful because even I could quickly build a small app that displays all pictures tagged with "sharepointbabe" from Instagram. Cool right? Not many lines of code to get that. And then you can put CSS on it to make it look nicer, and so many more things to make it look good. And make it a web part so the user can add their own values.

I will try to import my blog posts from this blog now. 

To Publish, you have to create an App Catalog site first in the O365 Admin center:

Next step:

But I am missing something: the option to build InfoPath apps, add-ins, but I don't think it is supported which is sad. It supports the common Office family of course like Excel, Word, PPT, Outlook, you can build task panes and contents and mail forms. You think you have found a perfect way to do something and it is like 90% satisfaction, but the last bit missing. Maybe it's because Microsoft had planned to stop supporting InfoPath (and then changed their minds), but I think a LOT of companies uses InfoPath. And it is a brilliant, from-easy-to-super-complex, software, I love it! As you can tell from my many post blogs about InfoPath :) But it's just so smart with the Rules, you can add code, lookup info from SharePoint lists or other media, and you can design it to look really good. And you can import/export data. I mean, how useful isn't InfoPath!! I have a few forms that I would like to package as add-ins but maybe I am thinking wrong, maybe that should be done in another way rather than from the app store. But for me, it would make most sense. 

Anyway, this tool is probably super old for many of you, and I have not had the need to use any development tool like this before but it's never too late to change! :)

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Thoughts on branding in Office 365/SharePoint

Sometimes I wish that there was just one way to brand SharePoint and it would be fast and easy. Well I can dream on, right? There are so many ways to do this, and I have tried to sort out what the best way would be to brand a site with least amount of work and to avoid user interaction on new sites. You who have branded sites using Master Pages knows what I am talking about: yes, you create a fancy looking master page and add a css file but when the user goes ahead and create a new Team Site - boom it's back to the baby blue interface. And for some users this is way too complicated to learn how to enable the publishing features. And yes I know I can code this like a feature, but I don't know if people do that anymore? Anyway, Microsoft has now decided that they do not recommend using custom master pages in Office 365 because then you can miss out on new features. So I thought: what alternatives do I have to add custom branding then? Because every customer wants that, to take away the "SharePoint look".

To clarify: I am looking at this from a no code perspective, and with code I mean .NET or JavaScript or any other code language for doing this. Office 365 is used as an example here, but most of it should be doable in SP prem also.

There are so many options in SharePoint, but many of them leads to the same things. You have:

- Design Manager
- Master Page
- Alternate CSS
- Themes/Composed looks/Change the look
- Custom theme in Office 365 Admin
- Then of course all the tools that you can use like SPD, html software, SharePoint Color Palette etc

I mean.... it's all too much. And I don't want my users to be able to change any theme or need to enable features. Here is a short description and pro/cons of each method, and these are just my personal opinions! Please feel free to add more or let me know if I am wrong/right about these methods :)

Design Manager

This is just an entry for the branding options. Here you can upload the custom master page, add custom page layouts, import design themes, change the theme and colors, edit display templates, pick a pre-installed look and create your own design package.

Custom Master Pages/Alternate CSS

This has always been my favorite, because they are so easy and powerful. And I have branded a lot of sites by just adding my own custom css file to the master page and overriding existing classes or create my own. This has worked so fine, also in upgrades with a little bit of refreshing. Well since Microsoft has decided to not support this in the cloud in future, I have to skip this now. Only downside to using this is if you allow your users to create new sites, then you have to teach them how to enable the Publishing feature.

Pros: Fast, easy, powerful, no risk of being overwritten in upgrade (if you do it right), upgradable
Cons: Publishing feature needed, not supported/recommended in O365

Themes/Composed Look/Change the look 

These alternatives belongs together if you want to create your own custom theme. When you create a .spcolor file using the SharePoint Color Palette tool, you upload the files into the 15-folder in Themes.

After you have uploaded your theme files you go into Composed Look to create the new Theme template. Add the url to the spcolor file and name it.

After the theme files are uploaded, the theme is created you will find your own custom theme in the "Change the look" or in "Design Manager". Always several roads into the same target :)

Pros: Easy to setup but maybe not so fast due to so many classes to put your branding on
Cons: Will not be applied to Team sites... And even if the user can click on "Change the look" your custom theme will not show up here unless you enable the publishing feature.

Custom themes in O365 Admin

There is a branding option in the Office365 Admin pages, that might actually be enough for many companies out there. You may add your own header picture, and that will be applied to Delve, OneDrive, etc which is very nice. You can add your own logo and make it a hyperlink. Then you can set it to not allow users to override the theme, which is also good.
Very simple, just do this:
Open Admin in Office 365
Click on "Company Profile"
Click on "Custom theming"
Make your changes, the only annoying part is to use a picture that is smaller than 15 KB and still make it look nice. But I used a desert picture, good for repeating patterns :)

Pros: super easy, will be applied to all sites, users cannot override if you set it like that, sure it will be supported in future, this might be enough "branding" actually for many companies that don't want to put too much money and time on branding a site. This does not require any activation of any features.
Cons: only applies to the header part of a site, not any content pages, I think there will be more things added here further on but right now it is quite limited.


There is no really easy way to go around the fact that you need to have the Publishing Feature enabled on a Team Site to get your custom branding. If you have control of the site creation, then it is no big problem, but if you want to let the users create sites like in a project portal, then you must teach them to go in and apply the Master Page to all subsites now and then, or when they create the site. Because I have tried to create templates from a branded site and that will not work either, unless you code a feature and I don't even know if that is supported anylonger?

I googled and found a cool tip from Sonja Madsen on how to do a trick and save a site template with a custom master page, but unfortunately this did not work, at least not for me. I ended up with the OOB look anyway, and if I looked at what master page it chose I could see that the site was set to inherit, as she writes in the article, but the custom master was still not applied :(

So I don't know, maybe I will still use the master pages and take the pain and the potential loss of new features but if you keep an eye on what is new in Office 365 I think this is the best and most powerful way to brand a site.

Please let me hear what you think or how you usually brand SharePoint, and prove me wrong ;)

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

How to create cascading dropdown boxes in InfoPath

Learn how to use SharePoint lists as data connections in InfoPath and how to use that as cascading drop down lists in InfoPath. Often when I build forms I find it very useful to have SharePoint lists as lookup information, both because it is easy to setup and also the users can change the information without having to design the form in InfoPath and also because it is the easiest way to create cascading drop down list boxes. This video shows how to achieve this. Thanks for watching!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

QuickTip: Add a custom tile to the App Launcher

This is very useful since I have missed a link to the Intranet site on the App launcher, since I started using Office365. Now you can add your own links and apps to the App launcher.

You need to have access to the "Admin" menu in Office 365 to do this
Make sure you have your intranet logo ready, maybe upload it into the Site Collection Images and then copy the URL
Go to the "Admin" in the App launcher
Click on "Company Profile" and then on "Custom tiles" and the + sign

All fields are mandatory, and fill in accordingly
Paste the URL to your intranet logo picture

Now this tile ends up in the "My apps" in the App launcher

But I want it also in the App launcher, so hover your new tile and click on the 3 dots
Select "Pin to App launcher"
And now there is a direct link to your intranet. Very nice!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Connect InfoPath to the AD

This is an instruction on how to connect an InfoPath form with the user profile web service to query the AD and get user information into the form using Claims authentication. Applies to SharePoint 2013.