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!

http://sbelskiy.spaces.live.com/blog/cns!BB6AC8CA5EB9828E!4455.entry?wa=wsignin1.0&sa=88791362
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.

http://vipnetty.wordpress.com/2010/09/03/sharepoint_list_color/
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.

Other

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.

http://idubbs.com/blog/?p=241
Gathered by Wes Preston, a list of useful SharePoint links, including the SharePoint User Toolkit.

http://www.janecerdenola.com/?p=86
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:
http://sp2010.pathtosharepoint.com/SharePoint-User-Toolkit/Pages/Bookmarklet-Print-Preview-Web-Parts.aspx

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:
http://sp2010.pathtosharepoint.com/SharePoint-User-Toolkit/Pages/Bookmarklet-Expand-Collapse-Web-Parts.aspx

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!

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.

Tutorial: add color coding to your SharePoint 2007 calendar in 15 minutes

May 2010

Environment: SharePoint 2007 – wss or MOSS (no SharePoint Designer or third party application required).
Audience: confirmed end user, power user.
Permission level: design or full control.
Estimated time: 15 minutes.

0- Before you start
1- Select your colors (5 minutes)
2- Create your calculated columns (3 minutes)
3- Set up your calendar view (2 minutes)
4- Render the colors (5 minutes)
5- If you want to undo your changes
6- A note for SharePoint 2010 users

0- Before you start

To follow this tutorial, you need a calendar created in SharePoint 2007 (wss or MOSS).

 In my example, taken from Mark Miller’s community calendar, items are organized in categories:
– Online Event
– Online Workshop
– Training
– Conference
– User Group
– SharePoint Saturday
– Other 

I have created a choice column, called “Category”, to store these choices. Note that for this tutorial seven is the maximum number of choices. If your choice column has more options, only the first seven will be color coded.

A choice column is the natural option to organize items in categories. You can also use any column type that contains text or numbers, like content type, text column, calculated column. Note that columns of type Lookup will not work for this tutorial. 

Usability tip: People can distinguish up to ten different colors that are assigned to different categories, but it may be safer to use no more than five different colors for category coding. (source: rightpoint))

If your choice list includes more than seven choices, this follow up article will show you how to proceed.

Ready? Let’s see if we can get our color coded calendar in less than 15 minutes…

1- Select your colors (5 minutes)

To choose your colors, simply fill out this online form. In my example:
– choice column: Category
– choices: paste here the choices from the choice column
– display: Title (the event title will be displayed on the calendar)
– keep the default value for the other options (except if you are on a non-English SharePoint farm)
– Use the color pickers to select your colors for each choice

Note: the semi-transparent background will not be rendered in older browsers (like IE 6). 

After selecting your options, scroll down to the bottom of the form. You’ll see two formulas (pale-green text areas). Leave this page open or save your two formulas, we’ll use them in the next step. 

Note: you can choose to group the two formulas into one by unchecking the “Separate Color Column” checkbox.

While we are on this page, let’s grab the script that we’ll use later for the rendering:
– click on the Download tab.
– right-click on the last file name TextToHTMLlite-v2.1.1.txt, and select “save target as…” to save it to your computer.
– upload the file to a SharePoint library in your site or site collection. The location doesn’t matter, as long as your users have read access to the file.

Note! the download section displays 4 files; pick the last one for this tutorial.

2- Create your calculated columns

On your calendar page, select:
List > List Settings

On the List Settings page, create two calculated columns (use the “Create column” option for this):
– First column, named “Color”: paste the first formula.
– Second column: named “Display”: paste the second formula.

3- Set up your calendar view

Staying on the settings page, under Views, click on your calendar view. In the settings page, choose to display the “Display” column. Save your changes.

  

Now, go back to your calendar view, and you should get an ugly result like this:

Don’t worry, we are going to fix this in step 4.

4- Render the colors

We can now use the script we grabbed in step 1:
– go to your calendar view, and switch the Web page to edit mode:
Site Actions > Edit Page
– Click on “Add a Web Part”, and add a Content Editor Web Part to the page
– drag and drop the calendar view above the Content Editor Web Part (the order is important)
– in the Content Editor Web Part, click on “open the tool pane”
– under content link, paste the URL of your TextToHTMLlite-v2.1.1.txt file (remember, you stored it in a document library in step 1). 

If you now exit the edit mode, you should see your calendar in color.

5- If you want to undo your changes 

A key advantage of this technique is that all our customizations were made through the SharePoint UI and can easily be undone. If later you want to revert to the initial view:
– remove the Content Editor Web Part from the page
– go to the view settings page and replace Display with Title as the displayed column.
– delete the two calculated columns.

6- A note for SharePoint 2010 users

In SharePoint 2010, the script from step 4 will not work because calendars are rendered asynchronously. Alternate options can be found in this post.

Updates [09/08/2010]:
– Links now point to the new location for the SharePoint User’s Toolkit
– Link to follow up article for more than seven choices
– Note for SP 2010 users

Update [12/06/2010]:
Brendan Newell published an article based on this tutorial, with a couple additional tips. For example, here is the style in SharePoint 2010 to remove the default background from the event:

<style type="text/css">
.ms-acal-selected, .ms-acal-item {
  background:none;border:0px;
}
</style>

The article also mentions a resizing issue, which AFAIK is linked to the default calendar, not to color coding.
Check out Brendan’s article for more information!