Office 365 Issues!

I’ve noticed some serious glitches in Office 365. Here is just a partial list off the top of my head:

  • In page edit mode, webpart dropdown arrow in upper right corner of webpart is missing. You can still click the area where it is normally located and get the dropdown menu.
  • When you click the arrow to get to the dropdown arrow, it often causes the page to hop to the top of the page. The second time it doesn’t do that. Weird.
  • Sometimes when I click “Edit” to edit the page, it seems as though a style sheet falls out and a bunch of strange symbols show where the webparts should be.

Is this a browser issue? I know that many functions don’t work without without IE, but I discovered some time ago that in IE the top banner had issues and drop downs didn’t work occasionally either. So I switched to Chrome and Opera. I’ve come to like Opera quite a lot since. Anyone else come across these issues? Anyone have other issues with Office 365? How did you overcome them? Homeland Security says not to use IE, and I always follow their instructions. So what is a SharePoint professional to do?

The Six Gears of Your SharePoint Ferrari


If you’ve followed this blog at all you know that I love cars and prefer to make analogies
to SharePoint with them. In a previous post I compared SharePoint to a Ferrari. Most
Ferraris have 6 speed transmissions. The 6 speed gated shifter in the Ferrari is iconic,
and makes a satisfying clicking sound as you precisely maneuver through the gears. Shifting through
the gears in a Ferrari takes a bit of practice before you get it down. Likewise it takes
awhile for an organization to implement a great SharePoint site. The six speeds of
SharePoint might be different for every organization (and every SharePoint Pro for that
matter). This list will at least get you out of neutral and out on the track.

First Gear – Metadata

Metadata is a very powerful concept, and I feel that many SharePoint professionals assume
that business decision makers and end users understand it. Failure to understand how
metadata works can end up with your organization recreating public drive folder structures
on SharePoint. That is what causes traffic jams and multi-car pile-ups on your SharePoint
highway. That said, metadata is simply information you attach to documents or list items to
organize and sort information. For instance, a department column can be created to sort
Admin docs from Finance Docs. Simple concept, yet extremely useful!

Second Gear – Views

In order to create views you must first establish good metadata to organize information. A
view is simply a subset of information from a list. Once you have some views created, we
can move on to third gear!

Third Gear – Webparts

Webparts allow you to change the look and feel of a website. You can add content and change
it around to look however you like. Displaying views are one of the most common uses of webparts. SP2007 used to have a set of content arranged out of the box. I personally believe that since SP2010 they purposely made it ugly out of the box so that you were forced to change it. So go ahead and do it!

Fourth Gear – Workflow

When you reach redline in third gear you can pretty much go to any gear from there
depending on current needs, but I had to put them in some order. So let’s call workflow
fourth gear. Workflow allow you to accomplish a vast number of things like notify
appropriate users of status changes and to take action, update list items, create list
items, tasks, etc. You can access limited workflows in the UI front end, and much more extensive ones in SharePoint Designer.

Fifth Gear – External Data Integration

With Business Connectivity Services you can connect to offline data. You can connect to
pretty much any database with this feature. It opens up a whole new world once you pull
this data into SharePoint.

Sixth Gear – Dashboards

Ah, the top gear right? Not really, as I already explained that gears 4-6 could be
done in any order based on needs. Still, dashboards provide some eye candy for executives
and users to see trends and be able to make good decisions based on good current data.
Also, it is often the end goal for implementing a SharePoint solution in the first place.

I’m quite sure that someone will come along and ask what reverse is used for. Backup and
restore of course. And while a Ferrari will backup just fine, restoring after a crash can
be painful. There are however (third party) tools that can make it easier.

As I said, your gears might have different names. You might even have more gears (oooh fancy!) The point of this post is just to get you out of neutral and moving. If you have a better set of gears, please post it in the comments. Or post it on twitter @SharePointRoger. Happy motoring!

Need a Repository? Don’t Use SharePoint! (with video)

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this phrase: “We use SharePoint as a document repository.” And I’m pretty fed up with it! If all you need is a place to store document use Dropbox or Google Docs. Anything but SharePoint. Please use anything other than SharePoint for this. For one thing, you are wasting money. I realize you can spend your organization’s money however you want. But when you promote SharePoint as a “repository” it cheapens the brand. Using SharePoint as a “repository” is like buying a Ferrari to deliver newspapers. Sure it will do it, but it’s capable of SO much more. So if all you need is a repository, use something else. However, if you want to take the Ferrari for a few laps around the Nurburgring find a SharePoint professional to be your pit crew chief.

And here is a gratuitous video of a Ferrari going round the ‘Ring. What, your SharePoint site doesn’t sound like that?!? 🙂

This Will Change Your Views on SharePoint

Often when I am creating views in SharePoint the properties of the view will change, yet the name stays the same. I figure the name is not that important, since it’s sort of under the hood. Technically it’s not, since users can pretty easily find it. Most users will not though. If our clients set up document libraries the way we ask them to there will be a great amount of data, neatly organized by smart metadata right? Except for alerts that is. If I am in the IT department I’m probably not interested in docs for HR and Finance. So for me to create a meaningful alert on the slice of data that I want updates for the view names need to be useful and accurate! Just something to keep in mind now that we can create view alerts in SP2013 and O365. And now I suppose I should go and check all my view names.

Care and Feeding of Your SharePoint Sapling

This article by Wendy Neal illustrates what I try to communicate to businesses about their SharePoint investment. Most companies install the product and point users to the URL. That’s like planting a sapling, and then walking away from it! Don’t blame the sapling that doesn’t grow because you don’t provide care for and feed it. No wonder people don’t like saplings!

Microsoft’s Newest Product – Fuse!

Microsoft’s newest product – Fuse – will revolutionize your life. It is a smart home solution that will let you control all appliances and systems within the home. You can track usage patterns to increase efficiency and spot trends with your family’s utilities usage. In addition, this product will allow you to track all manner of information like grocery inventory – automatically updated by the shopping list feature, budget info, birthday and anniversary reminders, auto maintenance tracker, Christmas wish list, ability to turn on reminders for any aspect of any bit of information, and more. This piece of software is available as an app for the XBox One, and all this information is available from the also brand new Microsoft smartphone (cool new name yet to come!). Imagine having all this information at your fingertips at any time! The information is secure and invisible to even the NSA due to double secret encryption techniques and some other tech I can’t divulge at this time. Don’t tell anyone, but this product is really a scaled down version of SharePoint. Naturally it has been re-branded into a consumer version with lots of content types geared toward the homeowner. A re-branding of the product has been a long time coming don’t you think? Obviously, this is not a real product from Microsoft. At least not yet! I could see it all coming together though with the recent moves the company has made.

Cloudy With a Chance of Mobiles?

Nadella’s new mantra for Microsoft is “mobile first, cloud first.” While the company has been in the cloud for some time, the mobile first seems to be a shift. And a needed one at that. I feel that this new CEO can bring an excitement to the software maker similar to what Jobs did for Apple. In my mind I can already see him on stage in that blue hoodie promoting the newest mobile device. Nadella ought to drive hard toward a groundbreaking new mobile device, be it a smartphone or tablet. It should be an advance over the Apple/Google products currently on the market and finally give the Microsoft crowd a reason to not own an iOS or Android product. I’m not talking about a shot across the bow of its competitors, but a kill shot aimed at pulling customers back to a device with Windows OS. Oh yeah, time the rollout of this device with the rollout of Windows 9 as well. And let this device be customizable by its owner. They paid for it after all, and they should be able to replace a broken screen or old battery themselves. Am I setting my sights too high? For the first time in years I’m excited about the future of Microsoft!

Does Nadella Love SharePoint?

As a SharePoint professional, I have watched with anticipation as Microsoft searched for a new CEO. Now that Nadella has been named for the post, I find myself wondering what this means for SharePoint. As former head of the cloud and enterprise group he knows the profitability and importance of the product within the company. I wonder if he will aim SharePoint more toward the mobile platform and away from desktops. Mobile SharePoint has been available for several versions now, but the mobile component always seemed to me like an afterthought. Since that is the direction computing is headed it would make sense to drive SharePoint there too. I think the hiring of Nadella is a very good thing for Microsoft. He looks to add some youthful exuberance to what has historically been seen as a stodgy, slow-moving behemoth. Exciting days ahead!

I Don’t Wanna Go – My SP2010 Tantrum

I don’t want to upgrade beyond SharePoint 2010, at least not right now. I’ve seen 2013, and it’s got some pretty cool features. It also lacks some things that made it easy to customize. I know that 2013 was built so that we the developers couldn’t play around with things that Microsoft feels you shouldn’t have access to unless you have a Little Orphan Annie SharePoint decoder ring or something. And I’m still a bit resentful about that. 2010 is a good solution, and provides a scalable customizable platform upon which you can do a great many things. There are lots of free solutions that extend it further, and virtually limitless aftermarket bolt-ons if you want to go that route. It’s not that I don’t want to learn about the new version, I just don’t think the new version is good enough (yet) to make the jump. I suppose that eventually I will have to. Probably right after I upgrade my home PC from Windows XP.

SharePoint Supercharger?

I love cars. I like to work on them, watch shows about them, and occasionally buy and sell them. I dream of one day owning a classic car that I restore with my son. I can imagine Saturday mornings with him leaning over the fender and pointing out different parts of a motor and how to fix what is broken. One day I envision him and I running a speed shop where we take classic cars like 57 Chevys and Porsche 911s, and restore and modify them to go faster. Most of the time though I find myself fixing my broke down (non-classic) car in my disorganized garage. Where are the vintage automotive signs on the walls and the pegboard neatly organizing my tools? I don’t have a nice clean workbench to do precision work, just a random box to lay tools and parts on. While I fancy myself one day an owner and restorer of classic cars, it seems a far cry from the shadetree mechanic I am today. Working with SharePoint often seems like that to me. I dream of one day building the perfect app or plug-in to “supercharge” SharePoint, but most days I end up fiddling with what is broken or finding workarounds to what doesn’t quite work.