Tutorial: build a simple slideshow with the Easy Tabs

Environments: SharePoint 2007 (wss, MOSS), SharePoint 2010 (Foundation, MSS), Office 365

Audience: Power user.

Permission level: design or full control.

Estimated time: 10 minutes.

Last year, I added to the Easy Tabs an Autoplay feature. It seems that not many people use it, so today let me show you how it can help you build a simple slideshow.

1- Add your images to your SharePoint page

2- Add the Easy Tabs

3- Looking for fancier slides?

4- A warning about performance

1- Add images to your SharePoint page

Adding images to your SharePoint page is easy with Image Web Parts. Each Web Part will become a slide in our slideshow. The Web Part title will become a tab, so if you want to create an index simply use  a number – 1, 2, 3, etc. - as your Web Part title. Make sure you place all your Image Web Parts in the same Web Part zone.

Your images can reside anywhere, not necessarily in the same library, or on the same server, not even on SharePoint. Just make sure that your users have read permissions to the images location.

2- Add the Easy Tabs

The Easy Tabs are added at the bottom of the Web Part zone, following the usual procedure. For detailed instructions, check out the SharePoint User Toolkit. For our slideshow, we’ll check the “Autoplay” option and enter the interval in seconds between two slides.

3- Looking for fancier slides?

Maybe you’d like something more sophisticated than a simple image per slide? In this case, instead of an Image Web Part you can use a Content Editor Web Part or a Form Web Part, and enter your own html code.

For example, to show images with a caption overlay, follow this tutorial. If you need more detailed instructions let me know!

4- A warning about performance

Images can significantly impact the load time of your page.

If your images are stored in a SharePoint picture library, remember to take advantage of the Web friendly formats that SharePoint automatically generates for you.

If you have more than 5-10 images in your slideshow, you should consider using an Image Rotator instead. The image rotator will offer better performance, as the images are loaded on demand, one at a time.

Build Your Own School Site (part IV) -Getting Started

Trudy Hutzler   Guest Author-Trudy Hutzler

Welcome to the fourth installment of the series on my School Site, in the first three posts we walked through the site looking at all the functionality that was built into it and briefly discussed how everything fit together.  Now we get to the fun stuff, I am going to start walking through how I created each part of the school site.  I am going to create a brand new Demo site so you can follow along each step of the way and see exactly what I did to create each part.  Along the way, I will provide you with all the information and formulas you need to recreate these solutions in your own environment.  So let’s get started!
First thing we need to do is create a new site for our demo.  I am using the Team Site template as the foundation for my new School Site.  For the Title I am using “School Site-Demo”.  The URL for the Web Site Address will look something like http://<server name>/<Site name>, so mine will be http://xmas/demo.
Next, we need to add a Picture Library titled “School Pictures”, and a new Document Library called “Formulas”.  This will be where I will place all the formulas and any other files you need to recreate these solutions in your own environment.  When it is all said and done I hope to provide users with a site template they can download, and this document library will be included. Now our site is ready for us to start adding our solutions.

Default Team Site

Create site using default Team site template

For the first solution, I wanted to start with something fun.  Therefore, I decided to start with the Image-Rotator solution which can be found in the SharePoint User’s Toolkit.  The Image-Rotator allows you to display a picture on your page randomly selected from a SharePoint picture library.   The Image-Rotator is a quick and easy way to add interest to your site, catch your users’ attention, and maybe even wow the boss.  But first, we need some pictures.
Now my daughter often downloads pictures for use in reports and such, and I don’t necessarily want those to be displayed by the Image-Rotator so I need to separate the pictures I want to display from the others.   So what I did in this instance is created another Picture Library I called “Rotator Pics”.    However, for this library I chose not to display it on the quick launch.  This way the typical user will even be aware that the library is there.  To further ensure no users try anything funny with the images I used unique permissions for this library restricting everyone, but the Site Collection administrators and owners, to read permissions.  This way if they do find the library they can’t change anything.
Picutre Library Permissions

Now we have a place to store our pictures we need to upload some pictures into the folder.

 On the Action Menu click on “Upload File”.  You can either upload each picture one at a time by selecting Upload file, or you can upload several files at one time by selecting “Upload Multiple Files”.

Now that we have the library and the pictures are uploaded, we need to find the URL for the picture library to use with the Image Rotator.  For the Image Rotator we need to find the edit view URL.

  • To do this first select the view of your picture library you want to use.  The view should not contain any folders.
  • Click on the down arrow of on the View Selector, and select “Modify this View”
  • When the “Picture Library Setting –>Edit View” page opens you will want to copy the URL from the address bar.

Now browse to SharePoint User’s Toolkit, and click on the Image-Rotator link.  The Image-Rotator configuration page will open, and you simply choose the options you want to use as follows:

  • First paste the URL we just copied above into the “Picture Library (Edit View)” text box.  This tells the Image-Rotator where to find the pictures to display.
    Choose a “Picture Format”.  In my case I want the pictures to be bigger than a thumbnail image so I am going with “Optimized for web display”
  • For “Picture Size” I will stay with the default option of “Forced Height” 200 px.
  • For “Alternate Text” the Image-Rotator we can either use the Picture Name from the library, or if you have added a description to each of your pictures when adding it to the library you can choose to use the description column instead.  I am going to stick with the picture name.
  • Under the “Description” section you can choose whether to display the information stored in the Description column or not.  I don’t want to clutter up the view too much so I am choosing not to display the description.
  • The next section is “Hyperlink”.  You options here are to NOT use a hyperlink, which is what I am going to use, you can also link to the full-sized picture, or you can use a link you have specified in a text column in your picture library.

I wanted to take a moment before we continue and talk about some of the neat extras the “Hyperlink” section provides.  Let’s say you are wanting to use the Image-Rotator to attract users to your site, you could allow your users to submit some of their own photos to be displayed, then using the Link to full-sized picture option you could allow users to click on a picture they particularly liked and see it full-sized view.

On the other hand, you might want to use the Image-Rotator as part of your new product announcement plan.  You could display pictures of new products in the Image-Rotator and then by choosing the “Open link specified in the following text column” option users to click on an image and be redirected to a product information page.  To do this create a custom text column in the picture Library where you can enter the URL for the Product information page, then enter the name of the column that holds the link in the text box for this option.

The possibilities are endless once you start thinking about it, and that is why I say this particular option packs a lot of nice extras that can give your site a polished look and feel.

  • The “Refresh Frequency” option allows you to choose how often the picture changes.  You can choose change the picture only once, each time the page uploads or refreshes. This way each time the users views the page the picture will be different, but will stay the same until they leave the page.  Or you can choose to change the picture on a regular set interval.  The default is 120 seconds, but since my Image-Rotator part is only going to be used as eye-candy I want mine to change more often so I am going to set it to 15 seconds.
  • The “Display Order” section is next, and here you can choose to display the images in a random order, or in a sequential order move from one to another on down the list.  I like to mix things up a bit so I am going with random.
  • You can even choose a “Progress Icon”.  This is a small image that displays when a picture is loading to show the progress.  You can use the built-in gears icon, no progress icon at all, or choose your own image by providing a URL where the image is stored.
  • Want to be alerted if there is an error with the Image-Rotator?  Then check the “Debugging” box to get alert messages on errors.
  • Finally you need to accept the license terms by Checking the ” I have read, understood, and I agree to the license terms.” box.  This is a free license folks, so no worries about checking the box.

Now that you have agreed to the terms the code for the Image-Rotator, including all the options you select will be visible in the text box at the bottom of the page.  To save the code to a text file click on the “Save To Disk” button which will save the code in a text file.  The default file name is “ImageRotator-2.0.txt”, but you can clear out the name and give it whatever name you like, such as “KentRotator.txt”.

Now we have our code, so let’s put it to use.  I want to replace the standard picture that comes with the default Team site template with my Image-Rotator so first I need to get rid of that picture.

  • Open up the SharePoint page where you want to display the Image-Rotator.
  • Next click on the “Page” tab of the ribbon and then click on “Edit” which will be the very first icon.
  • Click on the image to select it, then press the delete key

Now your site will look like the figure below.  Notice the large picture is now missing, and in its place, we will deploy our Image-Rotator.

Follow the steps below to deploy your Image-Rotator:

  • Open up the SharePoint page where you want to display the Image-Rotator.
  • Click on Site Actions –> View All Site Content
  • Once the “All Site Content” page opens look for Site Assets under Document Libraries, and click on it.
  • Click on the “Add New Document” link, this will open the Upload document dialog box.
  • Click on the Browse button to browse to the location where you saved your code text file.
  • Once the file has been uploaded click on the file to open it.
  • A message box may open asking you if you want to open the file as “Read Only” or “Edit” choose “Read Only” then click OK
  • This will open the file in a browser window.  Copy the URL form the address bar.
  • Then click the back button until you return to your site page.

The next part of deploying the Image-Rotator is to add a Content Editor Web Part to the page.  To do so follow these steps:

  • Browse to the page where you want to deploy the Image Rotator
  • Next click on the “Page” tab of the ribbon and then click on “Edit” which will be the very first icon.
  • Go to the web part zone where you want to display your images and place you cursor where you want to insert the CEWP
  • On the Ribbon, under the “Editing Tools” tab, click on “Insert”
  • Next on the Insert Ribbon, click on Web Parts which is part of the Web Parts group on the ribbon.
  • Under Categories select the Media and Content folder
  • Then under Web Parts select the Content Editor
  • Then click the Add Button.  This will add the CEWP to the page in the same place that your cursor was placed.

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Now you are back on your page, still in Edit mode.

  • Select the Content Editor you just added and click on the down arrow
  • Select Edit Web Part

  • When the Web Part Editor opens paste the URL for the code text file we copied in the Content Link box.
  • Expand the Title section
  • Add in a title that will display above the images.  I am using “Kent State-You Belong Here!”
  • Leave the Height and Width section set to their default selections.
  • And for a cleaner look on the page I have set the Chrome Type to “None”
  • Then click on the OK button to save your changes.
  • You will now be taken back to the page, still in edit mode.  You will see the CEWP with its new Title but no pictures yet.
  • On the ribbon, click on the “Page” tab
  • Then click on “Save” which will be the very first icon

Once the page is saved and refreshed you should start to see your pictures in our new web part.

So we now have a little WOW factor added to our site, something to attract the users attention and get them looking around.  You can easily change things up by adding, changing, or deleting the pictures stored in the picture library.  You can also make changes to the options you selected by returning to the Image-Rotator page in the SharePoint User’s Toolkit and making different selections.  Then save the file to disk using the same name as you did above.  Finally upload the new text file to the Site Assets library, overwriting the original file.  The changes will take effect as soon as you refresh your page.

As we discussed earlier you can use the Image-Rotator part in a variety of different ways.  You can use it to promote new products, make SharePoint feel more like a community by displaying photos submitted by users, or just display picutres from the last office party.  The possiblities are endless!  How will you use the Image-Rotator?  I would love to hear from readers about the different ways you have put the Image-Rotator to use.  And stay tuned for the next installement ” Tracking the What, When and Where-Customizing Contacts and Calendar”

It’s All About the Grades-Tracking Schedules,Assignments, and Grades on a School Site (Part III)

Trudy HutzlerGuest Author:  Trudy Hutzler

Welcome to the third installment of the series on my School Site and how we put it all together.  In this post we will walk through how we track the grades, because at the end of the day all it is all about the grades.  For tracking grades, the school interface was often inaccurate with some classes included assignments not yet due as zeros until an actual grade was entered; others would be late but not counted until an actual 0% was entered, and so on.  We needed a way to track and calculate her grades so we could monitor her progress.  Not just tracking the grade for the individual assignments, but for the class average, the grades for the grading period and the year overall.  Finally we wanted to make it easy for us, as parents, to get the update on her grades at a glance.Now before we go any further, my daughter has asked me to again state that no actual grades were used in the making of this demo.  All grades and classes have been changed to protect the innocent.

Home Page

The All Grades tab shows the grades for each class in one place.  Any assignment that is past its due date is grouped by Class and the assignment grades for each class are averaged.  Although, since some assignments are weighted heavier than others this is not entirely accurate it does give us an overall idea of how she is doing grade wise.

All Grades Tab on Home Page

All Grades Tab on Home Page

To see the class grade average and individual assignment grades, you know for deciding if she can go out with her friends, or take a mental health day, you click on the Class to expand the node.

The Math, English, History, PE, and Science tabs, on the home page, simply list out all the assignments for that class, for the current quarter.  When my daughter is working in a particular subject she can see everything that was assigned and work on it all at once to save time.

Science Tab on Home Page

Science Tab on the Home Page Displays Current Grades for this Class

I also added a Legend at the bottom of the page to help other users, like my Husband, to know what all the different colors and symbols mean.

Lists

All of the final assignment grades are recorded in the Assignment List.  The problem was we had decided we would only track one quarters worth of assignments at a time to keep the assignment lists from being an overwhelming mess of information.  So I needed a way to track the final grades for each class for each quarter, semester, and the year overall.  To do this I created a new list called Grades.

Grade List
Grades list shows all final grades for the year to date

I explained above that some grades are more heavily weighted than others and so the grade average was not exactly correct, but at some point needed to track the actual final grades.

I enter in her final scores from her report card, and the list calculates the rest averaging the two quarter grades to get the semester grade, and all quarters to get the year overall.  Now you won’t need to track grades in your workplace, but what about other performance indicators, percentage of tasks completed on time, or percentage of returned or defective parts?  You can use your own imagination on how something like this might work for you.

Finally to keep everyone in the loop on where my Daughters grades stand I post an abbreviated view of the grades on the home page for quick reference.

Image Rotator and Grade Summary

The image rotator and grade summary view from the homepage

Now did you notice the picture of the waterfall above the grades summary view for the homepage?  It is a picture of the Kent State University campus.  Kent is one of the colleges my daughter is considering. We also wanted the site to be as attractive in form, and it was useful in function so we added the image rotator solution to the home page.

I created a picture library to hold the pictures I wanted to show in the image rotator web part, and every 5 seconds the image changes to display the next picture in the library.  Now for this demo I used pictures of the Kent State campus, but my daughter can change these and show pictures of friends, cartoons or comics, whatever she wants.  This just gives the page a little visual appeal.  I have been known to place Calvin and Hobbes Snowmen comics in a rotator part during periods of time when we are having a lot of snow storms, or other holiday cartoons, and so on.  This helps to draw users to the page, and gets them clicking around and using the site.  So never underestimate the power of visual appeal.

Well now you have seen our School Site, and seen how we combined individual solutions to make a user-friendly, visually appealing solution.  From here we are going to roll up our sleeves and get down to the nitty-gritty of exactly how we created each part of the solution.

My hope is that something that I have done will help spark your imagination and start you thinking about ways that you can use these solutions in new and exciting ways.

A new location for the SharePoint User’s Toolkit

The SharePoint User’s Toolkit has a new official page:
http://sp2010.pathtosharepoint.com/SharePoint-User-Toolkit/

The old location will remain active but won’t be updated anymore.

The new site is based on SharePoint 2010 and hosted by fpweb.net. Thanks to the support of fpweb.net, I expect the new site to be more reliable and offer a better user experience.

The SharePoint User’s Toolkit is a collection of tools designed to help end users build advanced customizations. It includes for example the Easy Tabs and an Image Rotator. It will continue to grow, with new tools added every month.

Regular users of the Toolkit will notice that several solutions are not in beta anymore. I haven’t actually made any changes to the code, the beta versions are becoming official simply because no issue was reported in the past few months.

Quick update: Image Rotator in SharePoint 2010

Today I decided to test in SharePoint 2010 the Image Rotator I released yesterday. I just followed the instructions and filled out the form:
http://www.pathtosharepoint.com/sharepoint-user-toolkit/Pages/Image-Rotator-Lite.aspx

It worked like a charm, I didn’t notice any difference in behavior between SP 2007 and SP 2010.

Of course, we have to wait until the final SharePoint release in a few weeks to confirm it. But this is pretty good news and I couldn’t wait to share the result!