The MS Ignite Book of News

Looking for the most extensive coverage of Microsoft Ignite? Still hungry for announcements even after reading my previous post and exploring the Power BI reports? (I refreshed mine at noon PST btw)

Microsoft has published the Ignite 2020 Book of News, with the goal to cover all the announcements from the Conference. You’ll wish you hadn’t asked ūüėČ

Thanks to Mark Kashman for bringing this to our attention in his own [always special] way.

MS Ignite: Day One Recap

As expected, Microsoft flooded us with announcements on this first day of the MS Ignite conference. I’ll only cover here my picks, on the collaboration and app building spectrum for desktop. There were a number of improvements on mobile I’ll need to get back to later. For a broader view, for example if you’re more into admin or compliance, I encourage you – just as I did yesterday – to directly browse my Power BI report. I refreshed it at 5pm PST, and won’t change until the refresh for day 2, around noon tomorrow.

I found out that there was another live report available, curated by John White. It offers a different perspective, so you can definitely explore both.

Remember that there are some contests with prizes going on. I already talked about Microsoft Mechanics Sweepstakes yesterday, but my preferred one is the Microsoft Ignite Cloud Skills Challenge which encourages you to learn.

Now to the announcements!

New Power Platform icons: the new look (see above) is more in line with the other products. You can check out the icons for yourself in your own Microsoft 365 waffle.

SharePoint Syntex: part of the broader Project Cortex, this app leverages AI and machine teaching to take on tasks such as document recognition and classification.

Project Oakdale: gives you a Power Platform like experience directly within Microsoft Teams, with the ability to create a table (up to 2 GB of data) and build a Power Apps app on top of it.
A benefit of this low-code approach, compared to a Microsoft list for example, is that it is scalable and can later be enhanced by developers.

Project Nucleus: Microsoft Lists hit back by bringing caching capabilities, promising fast response on large lists (bye bye 5,000 item limit) and the ability to work offline.

SharePoint global navigation: a new vertical bar positioned on the left hand side, similar to the experience you get in Microsoft Teams. You set it up on the Home Site.

SharePoint Framework: it now allows developers to build Microsoft Teams apps, in addition to the already available capabilities to build tabs and personal apps.

Microsoft Stream: videos are becoming first class citizens, benefiting from the same features as other files: external and anonymous sharing, integration with Microsoft Search, enhanced analytics, and new controls for security and compliance.

Microsoft Teams: a bunch of new features, including:

  • Upper limit of 25,000 members per team, instead of 10,000
  • Webinar registration
  • New search experience
  • SharePoint Home site in Teams
  • PowerPoint Presenter Mode
  • integration with github

Some more reading from Microsoft:
A new vision for Microsoft Stream
What’s New in Microsoft Teams | Microsoft Ignite 2020
Microsoft Lists Announcements

And to conclude this post, a selection of tweets with screenshots. Enjoy!
https://twitter.com/mkashman/status/1308424778252861440
https://twitter.com/Flow_Joe_/status/1308460764831784961
https://twitter.com/susanhanley/status/1308438094895603714
https://twitter.com/Path2SharePoint/status/1308495861156986880
https://twitter.com/jeffteper/status/1308429194418765825
https://twitter.com/Path2SharePoint/status/1308451066703302657
https://twitter.com/Path2SharePoint/status/1308429637970608129
https://twitter.com/Path2SharePoint/status/1308314373929091072

Follow the MS Ignite Action Through Power BI

I have set up a Power BI report that tracks tweets related to the MS Ignite conference (September 22-24, 2020). The idea is that rather than me telling you what’s happening, you can select your own favorite hashtags or authors and see what they are up to. Click on the link in the bottom left to open the tweet on twitter.

I’ll refresh the report a couple times a day. It is based on popularity (retweets and likes), so don’t count on it to report on the last minute news. Also, the Power BI “Publish to Web” feature caches the reports, and it might take an hour between my refresh and the Web update.

Incidentally our most popular tweet at the time of refresh happens to be coming from Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella ūüôā Also highlighted in the “decomposition tree”: Karuana Gatimu, Dona Sarkar and Anna Chu.

Other than that, you might also want to check out the Microsoft Mechanics Sweepstakes ūüôā We’ll need to wait until tomorrow for more technical announcements.

If you compare to my previous post, you’ll also notice a different logo in the top left. Let’s see if this one sticks ūüôā

Back to blogging!

It’s been almost 6 years since my last blog post‚Ķ

There are many reasons for the long silence, let me just expand on one.

The period from 2015 to 2017 marked a shift for Office 365, with the move to modern and an explosion of new apps. We found ourselves in a long transition period, with Office 365 promising a lot but not delivering so much initially. Remember the one-column template for modern SharePoint home pages? Surely, because that was the only option ūüôā Remember the shift of SharePoint calendars from classic to modern? Certainly not, because it never happened (we finally got a modern calendar view a few weeks ago, in Microsoft Lists). Loops in Microsoft Flow? Not an option initially. The list goes on.

From a development and customization perspective, there was also some back and forth (who remembers Client Side Rendering?) which left me wondering where to invest next. A side effect of modern + open source was to kill my SPELL initiative. The modern development tools were very different from traditional JavaScript, with the rise of TypeScript. The PnPjs library did exactly what SPELL did – abstract the 365 REST API – except that it was backed by Microsoft and a very strong community. Sure, SPELL had its own strengths and was especially powerful with older SharePoint versions, but who is still on SP 2010 or 2013 today? (oh! The workflows, sure, but that’s a different story).

Fast forward to 2020. Microsoft 365 has come a long way. It reached maturity 2-3 years ago and has become the ubiquitous platform it was meant to be. The past 3 years have been exciting, although they didn’t give me much time to breathe, even less take a week of vacation. Finally I feel I have caught up on (almost) all fronts. That is, until the new wave of announcements next week at the MS Ignite conference

The bright side for me is that both client side development and the “maker”/”citizen developer”/”fusion dev” paths I was promoting 10 years ago, along with a few folks (yes, Marc Anderson was already a community pillar at the time!), those paths have now gone mainstream, and it has become easier to convince people that they just work ūüôā

12 years ago I started this blog to share my SharePoint tricks, such as the “HTML Calculated Column” and the “Easy Tabs”. Today we have new technologies, and I have some new tips that I am ready to share. An upcoming topic will be “Property Pane Portals”, a technique I recently came up with to set up SPFx property panes.

Still on SharePoint 2016 and distant from the 365 buzz? I’d love to hear from you. The SPELL product itself is not relevant anymore on modern cloud, but works on SP 2016. More importantly, now is a good time to bridge the gap between classic and modern before you move to the Cloud. Actually one of my first new posts will be about client side solutions built on SP 2016.

Stay tuned! And as an appetizer, if you haven’t checked it out yet, take a look at the Power BI demo I published to the Microsoft Power BI data stories gallery. I’ll have a similar report ready to track MS Ignite next week!

Proof of Concept: custom layouts for SharePoint forms

One question I get frequently is how to build real world forms with SharePoint. This involves in particular organizing the fields in logical blocks (e.g. Street/City/Zip Code/State) and tweaking the layout to have multiple columns or interactive zones (e.g. tabs).

Until last year,¬†InfoPath was the official go-to application for form design. You can still use it today, however in January 2014¬†Microsoft announced that InfoPath was retired. Some InfoPath fans¬†will tell you that with Microsoft’s deprecation policy you are still safe for 10 years… What they don’t mention is that this is only true¬†if you decide never to upgrade to new¬†SharePoint versions!

Considering the lack of visibility on the future of SharePoint forms, I have decided to explore what could be done with my SPELL library.

SPELL already includes several building blocks to help with forms, in SP 2007, SP 2010, SP 2013 and Office 365. It can parse a default SharePoint form page, identify field types (e.g. text, drop-down choice, multi-lookup), and add behaviors like cascading selects or pre-populated fields. Also, I already have a solution for form layouts, however just limited to tabs. The new solution will expand it, to allow for more custom layouts.

To accommodate the new features, SPELL is going to evolve:

  • the existing Form module will be renamed Form Behaviors: cascading selects, item ID, pre-populated fields, read only fields, color coding, etc.
  • the new module will be called Form Layout¬†and will include Form Tabs.

To get started, I have built a proof of concept. Feel free to play with it, and let me know what you think! Eventually the plan is to release a gratis and a commercial version, just like I already did with Tabs and Cascading Selects.

A quick walk through:

  1. Move the logo to confirm that your browser supports drag and drop
    StartDemo
  2. In the Form Editor, select the target form, the layout and the name of each zone. Then press “Retrieve Form and Render Layout”.
    FormEditor
  3. Drag and drop the fields to add them to the custom form layout. Double click on a field name to switch to a stacked display (example: Task Name in the screenshot below).
    RenderingPreview

What if my browser doesn’t support drag and drop?

The proof of concept is not going to work. You’ll need to switch to a browser that supports the HTML5 standard (yes, HTML5 officially became a standard…today!), or add the feature via a polyfill.

Note that:

  • a¬†fix for older browsers will be included in the final solution
  • only the designer – not the regular end user – needs the drag and drop¬†feature.

Tentative release schedule:

  • End of 2014: alpha version,¬†available to existing SPELL users.
  • Early 2015: the SPELL Form Layout will be offered for¬†on premises environments (SP 2007, SP 2010, SP 2013).
  • For new SPELL users on Office 365, I plan to make the solution available in the second half of 2015.

FAQ: How to Remove “Show All”, “Hide All” and “Full Screen” in the SPELL Tabs Gratis Version

TabsSections

 

 

Haven’t tried out the gratis version of the SPELL Tabs yet?¬†Fill out the contact form¬†with your company information, and you’ll receive the solution within¬†48 hours.

The SPELL Tabs interface includes 3 sections:

  • tabs for inline content (bound to Web Parts, similar to the Easy Tabs)
  • tabs for links (navigate to other pages)
  • controls

When I started sharing samples from the SPELL program, last year, the most frequent question I got was: “How can I remove the link to Path to SharePoint from the tabs?”. That’s right, one of the tabs¬†was a link to this blog (cf. above screenshot), a friendly reminder¬†that¬†I¬†brought the solution to your home.

Not so friendly as it turned out, as seeing that tab systematically in any tabbed interface was more than a user can bear. Lesson learned, when I released the gratis version 1.1 earlier this year, I made sure the Path to SharePoint link was removed.

To date,¬†more than 200 companies have adopted or are evaluating v1.1, and I am not getting questions about links anymore… here’s what¬†I get now: “I don’t need the Show All (+), Hide All (-) and Full Screen ([ ]) controls, how can I remove them?”.

 

Why these controls?

First, let me explain the main reason why I added these controls in the first place: printing. Users sometimes like or need paper or pdf copies of the zone content. In such cases, they usually need to make all the Web Parts visible, and sometimes hide the rest of the page. In some cases, I have implemented custom interfaces where the user can pick which Web Parts he/she wants to print. Such implementations are usually combined with stylesheets that include media types.

So think about it before deciding to remove the controls!

 

How to modify or remove the controls?

In the full version, you can manage the controls via the Tabs editor. In the gratis version however, you need to do it manually:

1. Follow the general instructions in¬†the documentation. You’ll end up with a URL that looks like this:

SPELL1.1.0TabsGratisVersion.aspx

SPELL1.1.0TabsGratisVersion.aspx#css.activeBackground=Orange

2. Append the custom control settings

SPELL1.1.0TabsGratisVersion.aspx#controls.viewAll=;controls.hideAll=;controls.fullScreen=

SPELL1.1.0TabsGratisVersion.aspx#css.activeBackground=Orange;controls.viewAll=;controls.hideAll=;controls.fullScreen=

 

Instead of removing the controls, you can also change their look, for example:

SPELL1.1.0TabsGratisVersion.aspx#controls.viewAll=Expand;controls.hideAll=Collapse

 

How to get your Office 365 version number

Last week, the Office 365 home page of one of my customers suddenly turned blank.

In the past, my first reaction in this situation was to ask the user what they had changed, and fire the developer tools on IE or Chrome. I often work with power users, and as they say, they know enough about SharePoint to be dangerous!

These days however, my first move is to check the Office 365 version number.

In Office 365, Microsoft is now pushing minor updates on a regular basis, without your consent or even letting you know. Result: my customer’s Office 365¬†is different from my own Office 365, and also different from his neighbor’s Office 365.

What happened in my customer’s case¬†is that¬†he was on version¬†16.0.0.3002 while I and others were still on version¬†16.0.0.12xx. The page went back to normal within 24 hours, so I guess there was a bug with the release and Microsoft fixed it.

A similar case happened 3 months ago, when Marc Anderson reported on his blog a change in SharePoint pages that I couldn’t see. It turned out that here too the version he was using was different from¬†mine.

With Office 365 rolling release model, such situations are becoming common, and when you report an issue to your advisor you should expect a¬†“it works on my cloud” reply. So my recommendation, whenever something unexpected happens on your Office 365 pages, is to check the version number as part of the debugging process. How? Simply by appending /_vti_pvt/service.cnf to your SharePoint domain. In my case for example, to get my Office 365 version number, I would type the following url:

https://UserManaged.SharePoint.com/_vti_pvt/service.cnf

If you’d like to have that url handy on your site, simply add a link, for example in the quicklaunch, with¬†/_vti_pvt/service.cnf as URL¬†(no need to include your domain name).

If like me you work across multiple Office 365 sites, you can add a bookmarklet to your usual browser. In Chrome for example, go to the Bookmark Manager, add a page, and the URL field enter:

javascript:window.location.href=”/_vti_pvt/service.cnf”;

Side comment:¬†I’d really like Microsoft to use us advisors, rather than the end users, as guinea pigs, and push Office 365 updates to us first!

Get SPELL Cascading Selects 1.1 from my Office 365 site

Cascading Selects EditorAfter the SPELL Tabs two weeks ago, I am now adding a Cascading Selects package to my Office 365 site.

I already mentioned the Cascading Selects back in November. It was initially created for demo purposes, to showcase the capabilities of SPELL Form, a module designed to enhance SharePoint out of the box forms.

In light of recent events (and in particular this update from the Microsoft Office team), I have repackaged it, and I am making a gratis version available to teams and small businesses.¬†If you are interested, fill out the contact form¬†with your company information, and you’ll receive both gratis versions – Tabs and Cascading Selects.

These packages are end user solutions, and come with an “editor view” (cf. screenshot). The full versions are more sophisticated, with tools for power users and front end developers. SPELL works in SharePoint 2007, 2010, 2013, and Office 365 (version 16).

If you are one of the 100 users who already registered their company to get the Tabs, the link to the Cascading Selects should already be in your mailbox!