Special offer: SharePoint 2007 Gantt workshop

I am still working on my new workshop series that I’ll launch in the beginning of next year. The workshop descriptions will be added under the workshops tab on http://sp2010.pathtosharepoint.com.

Some people have already contacted me several weeks ago about the Gantt solutions for SharePoint 2007. I understand that January 2011 is still far away, so if you are interested in this workshop here is my proposal:
– you register for a one hour one-on-one session
– we set up a meeting, based on our time zone
– I’ll provide my current solutions to address your immediate needs (typically the dynamic timescale)
– you’ll also get a free ticket to the January workshop, where you’ll get all the updated scripts (~10 solutions, for Gantt views and calendar views).

If you are interested, please register on my home page, and I’ll get back to you within 24 hours. Note that the solutions offered in this workshop are for SharePoint 2007 only (wss v3 and MOSS), and don’t apply to SharePoint 2010.

For a live demo of the dynamic Gantt timescale, visit this page:

Don’t take my solutions at face value!

Last week, I stumbled upon this comment on Twitter:

“I have used and love easy tabs, but I do need pretty on my current engagement”

What? Not pretty, my Easy Tabs? Let me set the record straight.

First, let’s make sure we are on the same page. The current version of the Easy Tabs is v5, compatible with both SharePoint 2007 and SharePoint 2010. You can build your own here:

By default, the form offers two styles: one taken from SP 2007, and the other taken from SP 2010. Note that both options work on both SharePoint versions (for example, you can pick the SP 2007 style for your SP 2010 site).

You don’t like the colors? Well, talk to Microsoft! I did not invent the styles, I am reusing the default ones you get when you create a team site. The significant advantage here is that you don’t have any external dependency, just add the Web Part to a page and it ‘ll work.

If you want other colors, feel free to pick your own. Click on the “Modify colors” option, and you’ll be presented with a color picker, allowing you to choose your own background and font colors.

Not satisfied yet? Well, you can take it one step further. Look at the Easy Tabs code, and you’ll see that it is made of two independent parts: the stylesheet (style tag) and the tab builder (script tag). Modify the stylesheet as you please to get the final look. As an example, I have built this demo that has it all (rounded corners, hover effects, gradient):

The purpose of the SharePoint User Toolkit is to open the door to advanced designs. Don’t see these tools as final products, but rather as a startpoint to build your own solutions. The beauty of such “User Managed Solutions” is that you have full control on them, and can tweak them to fit your specific needs. I took the Easy Tabs as example, but I could have chosen the image rotator, or other solutions from the toolkit.

If you are interested, I’ll start offering in a couple weeks a new series of online workshops, where I’ll show how to make the most of these tools. Feel free to contact me now if you have specific needs.

If you are a Web designer, or a SharePoint pro, looking for solutions for your customers, I have many other tools in my drawers. Come talk to me about your requirements, and let’s start a collaboration! We can also discuss this on LinkedIn, in the SharePoint User Managed Solutions group. And if you are in San Diego, or the Bay Area, I’ll be there in a couple weeks and we can meet in person.

“SharePoint User Managed Solutions” group – Quick update

A smooth start for the LinkedIn group I launched on Monday: SharePoint User Managed Solutions (SUMS). We are now 60 people in the room, and have started 3 discussions:
– lightweight charting solution
– how to manage SharePoint recurring meetings from Outlook
– best practices / solutions for wiki navigation

I’d like to see more solution providers join the group, So I have added a bait 🙂 :
The ultimate jQuery call

For more information about the purpose of the SharePoint User Managed Solutions group, see my previous post.

If I could nominate a SharePoint MVP…oh wait, I can!

I am relatively new to the Microsoft world, and the MVP program has always been a mystery to me. Fortunately, Eric Ligman had the good idea to explain it all in a blog post published this week:
How to become a Microsoft MVP, find a Microsoft MVP, nominate a Microsoft MVP, and more

As I just lamented yesterday about the emphasis on IT professionals and .Net developers, this got me thinking. Yes, people who work on “User Managed Solutions” should also be represented in this prestigious circle.

I can think of a couple community members I’d like to see rewarded for their actions in the SharePoint End User community. But as a deep, technical knowledge is required for the MVP program, there is really one person who stands out. So I followed the instructions in this page and did my homework:

Nominee’s name: Marc D Anderson

Country where the nominee lives: U.S.A.

Nominee’s main spoken language: English

One or two Microsoft technologies or products that are the nominee’s area of expertise
SharePoint / SharePoint Designer

Specific examples of online/offline community activities in which the person you are nominating participates
Active participation in multiple SharePoint forums: MSDN SharePoint Design and Customization Forum , SharePointOverflow.com , Stump the Panel
Blog on SharePoint technologies http://sympmarc.com
Active Codeplex project, including regular updates and discussions: http://spservices.codeplex.com/
Speaker at SharePoint events (SharePoint Saturday DC, SharePoint Technology Conference).
Always makes himself available to answer questions via twitter or e-mail.

Marc, maybe I should have contacted you before writing this post, but hey, we have a 12 hour time difference and I didn’t want to wake you up ;-). Thank you for your amazing contribution to the SharePoint community!

SharePoint User Managed Solutions, a new LinkedIn group

I just started a LinkedIn group: SharePoint User Managed Solutions (SUMS). Its purpose is to share best practices, ideas and business opportunities, around the deployment of User Managed Solutions in SharePoint.

What are User Managed Solutions?

What I call User Managed Solutions, in the context of SharePoint, are solutions that can be installed, customized, maintained, upgraded, using only tools that are available to SharePoint users. These tools are mainly the SharePoint user interface and SharePoint Designer, but could also include desktop applications, like the Office suite, or other tools that rely on Web services.

The techniques used to build the solutions include:
– Client side code (JavaScript, jQuery, stylesheets, Web services, etc.)
– Page, list and site templates
– Themes
– Data View Web Parts
– Reusable workflows
– Metadata (Content types, Calculated Columns)
– etc.

A couple notes:
– “User” is not restricted to end user / business user, it means anybody who accesses SharePoint through its user interface.
– the solutions can run either on the client side (e.g. JavaScript) or on the server side (e.g. workflows).

Why a new social network?

In the past few years, several factors have pushed the development of User Managed Solutions:
– SharePoint environments where server side implementations are not possible (BPOS for example), or are prohibited (company policies)
– the evolution of Web design and browsers, making client side options more and more attractive
– Microsoft’ s move to open SharePoint customization to a larger public: SharePoint Designer free since April 2009, Web services and Object model, templates and themes, reusable workflows, etc.
– Increased visibility, thanks to the SharePoint blogging community showcasing more and more advanced solutions, involving in particular Data View Web Parts, scripts and Web services.

Still, these opportunities are not yet used to their full potential. SharePoint remains a world where the emphasis is largely on IT specialists and .NET developers. By creating a dedicated network, I hope to make it easier for those among us, who are interested in User Managed Solutions, to meet their peers.

Who could benefit from this new group?

User Managed Solutions involve different actors, creating a bridge between the business and the technical worlds.

Business users understand the immediate benefits of the solutions, but not necessarily the long term or large scale implications. they need more guidance to deploy the solutions in a sustainable way, and assess their value against other options.

Business analysts and consultants benefit from the versatility of such solutions, allowing them to better answer the business users’ needs.

Solution providers can deliver solutions that are more flexible and better tailored to specific needs. But to make this work, they need closer interaction with analysts and end users.

Why LinkedIn?

There are many ways to build a social network. I already rely on blogs, forums, and twitter. What interested me in LinkedIn was the business dimension.
In particular, there’s one issue I currently see with User Managed Solutions: many potential users are attracted by their versatility,  but are reluctant to pay the full price of a custom development. I hope that by mutualizing the requirements and developments, we can identify more win-win opportunities.
I also hope that by bringing the actors together, we’ll build a more professional approach, where solutions are actually managed and not just copy-pasted (think JavaScript/jQuery). This will increase their credibility and recognition among SharePoint professionals.

To get started, and show what I am expecting from this new group, I have posted a first discussion:
Lightweight, interactive charting solution

My solutions spotted in the blogosphere

My solutions for SharePoint end users are regularly relayed on forums, twitter and SharePoint blogs. The past two months have been particularly active, and I have identified 15 posts that mention Path to SharePoint. I am listing them below, some of them are definitely worth a look.

The SharePoint User Toolkit

The SharePoint User Toolkit: a first step toward advanced SharePoint customization
Get the Point is the official blog of the Microsoft SharePoint End-User Content Team. This article written by me describes the main solutions currently available in the Toolkit, and what’ s special about each. Big thanks to Renée Smith for giving me this opportunity to spread the word!

In Russian, a review of the solutions available in the Toolkit.

The Easy Tabs

The popular Easy Tabs have seen a new release compatible with SP 2010 this Summer.

Easy Tabs Rock – v5 Beta is looking really good
A very well written post, by SharePoint MVP Sean Wallbridge, with lots of screenshots – definitely worth checking out! Note that v5 beta has since become the official v5.

Use Easy Tabs 5.0 to consolidate lists, Web Parts, and calendars
Obviously Renée Smith thinks that Sean’s explanations are better than mine. Oh well, she is right!

SharePoint filtering with web part connections
The Easy Tabs in context: Kerri Abraham shows how to combine Web Part connections and Easy Tabs to make content more accessible. A very useful post!

Using EasyTabs with Filtered DVWPs to Make Data Manageable
Another example from EndUserSharePoint.com, by Jim Bob Howard, where filtering and Easy Tabs combine for better readability. Note that the post is actually part of a long series on the Data View Web Part.

The HTML Calculated Column

KPI’s without SharePoint Enterprise (on a budget)
A review of KPI options for SharePoint if you don’t have MOSS Enterprise.

How to create a Gantt chart in SharePoint
Two years ago, I showed how to build simple Gantt charts using the HTML Calculated Column. Linda Chapman describes a more complete solution in her post.
This week, Ben Schlaepfer left a comment on my blog about another solution using the same method (Ben, we are looking forward to your article!).

HTML in een berekende kolom
The HTML Calculated Column explained in Dutch by Gene Vangampelaere.

Another translation, this time in Thai (?).

Item id in display and edit form

Showing the records id on the view and edit forms
A jQuery script, by Ryan Wheeler, who only discovered afterwards the JavaScript version I wrote 18 months ago.


SharePoint Kaffeetasse
SharePoint MVP Michael Greth regularly mentions my solutions in his daily SharePoint Kaffeetasse. Last time he did was… today, about my Print Preview bookmarklet.

SharePoint 2010: Recopilatorio de enlaces interesantes
Juan Carlos González Martín regularly publishes compilations of interesting SharePoint links.

Gathered by Wes Preston, a list of useful SharePoint links, including the SharePoint User Toolkit.

A mention of my solutions, as workaround when you don’t have server access.

For all SharePoint end users: a Print Preview bookmarklet

Continuing the series started last week, I am releasing today a Print Preview bookmarklet:

The instructions are the same as for the expand/collapse bookmarklet, but instead of +/- buttons you’ll get a Print Preview icon next to each Web Part title. Click on the Print Preview icon , and the Web Part will be displayed alone in the page. Then if you click on the Back icon , you’ll get back to the SharePoint page.

Note that today’s bookmarklet is bigger than the one from last week, and will not work on older browsers like IE 6.

This is work in progress, and I am releasing it as version 0.9. I am interested in your suggestions on how to improve it.

The code is actually derived from the Easy Tabs’ Print Preview tab. I adapted it to work at the Web Part level instead of the Web Part zone level.

For all SharePoint end users: an expand/collapse bookmarklet

In the past two years, I have published multiple solutions for site owners, allowing them to enhance their SharePoint sites without the need for server side deployments.

These solutions, however, can’t be used by the majority of the SharePoint population: end users who only have read or contribute rights. To remedy this, I am going to release in the next months solutions open to all SharePoint users.

How do these solutions work?

All browsers allow you to save URLs. This feature has different names: favorites in Internet Explorer, bookmarks in other browsers like Firefox and Safari. What is less known is that these Favorites/Bookmarks can also include code. In this case they are called bookmarklets (or favelets).

If you select a bookmark, the browser will load the corresponding page. If you select a bookmarklet, the browser will remain on the current page and run the script. It is as simple as that.

Warning! Bookmarklets can contain malicious code. Only use bookmarklets from trusted sources.

The first bookmarklet I am releasing today allows you to add expand/collapse buttons to the Web Parts present on a SharePoint page. It works in both SharePoint 2007 and 2010. I compacted the code to less than 500 characters, to make it compatible with older browsers.

Try it, now!

First, you need to grab your bookmarklet. Go get it on my SharePoint User’s Toolkit:

Once you have your bookmarklet, head out to a SharePoint home page and apply it. Again, you only need read access, so you can try it out on the home page of the Chicago User Group (SP 2007), or the San Diego User Group (SP 2010), as I did:

For site owners, I’ll publish a slightly different and more robust version that can be included in the page ( it won’t have the 500 character limit constraint). Actually there’s already one available on my blog, but, as the code is already two years old, it is time for a new release.

Have fun!