A new location for the SharePoint User Toolkit

This week, the SharePoint User Toolkit has officially moved to its new home:

http://usermanagedsolutions.com/SharePoint-User-Toolkit/

It is now located in my company site. The site is still under construction, but you’re welcome to visit the home page to read about our upcoming offering: solutions, coaching, Web design and SharePoint hosting. As you would expect, the home page right hand menu is a variation of the Easy Tabs.

In a future post, I’ll explain how I redirected the pages from my old SP 2007 to the new place in a snap!

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.

Office 365: some frustration with public websites

In the past few months, like many SharePoint consultants, I have spent some time playing with Office 365, Microsoft’s own SharePoint hosting offer.

Having read on many blogs how great Office 365 is, once again I’ll go against the grain to express some frustration I had with public websites (plan E3).

On the paper, the SharePoint architecture offered in plan E3 looks very attractive:

  • On the one side, a collaborative site collection with secure access (https). Anonymous users are not allowed here.
  • On the other side a public site collection with pre-built pages (Home, Contact Us, etc.). Business users can easily do simple customization  – add a logo, move the navigation, etc. In addition, Microsoft offers a set of “gadgets” that can be added to the pages to insert a contact form, a map, etc.

I really like the clear separation between public and private sites. I also like the gadgets set, which makes it easy to add functionalities that are not available in SharePoint out of the box, like contact forms (several bloggers have claimed that they could build secure contact forms with SharePoint OOTB… but none has proved it!).

So, what’s my problem? Here is the catch: the usual content management features, that make SharePoint such a powerful application, are not available on the pages designed for the public site. You cannot, for example, manage your public announcements in an Announcements list, and have these announcements displayed on the Home page via a Web Part.

You can read about my discovery path in this thread from the Office 365 forum (obviously I was not in a good mood when I stumbled upon this):
http://community.office365.com/en-us/f/153/p/4533/17358.aspx

I also wrote about it and my current workaround on LinkedIn.

To conclude on a bright note, I really appreciate Microsoft’s recent efforts to get more involved in the community and provide proactive support. Special thanks to Jason Hennis for getting back to me and investigating the issue.