Office 365 SuiteBar becomes responsive


Quick heads up about some SuiteBar improvements which are worth knowing about.

Microsoft have recently update the Office 365 SuiteBar. As you can see in the image below the Application Launcher got a new visual which resembles the Windows 10 Start experience. You can now resize the tiles as well as drag and drop them into a desired order. The tiles can be small like my Twitter and TinyPng or massive wide ones like my Delve.


Overall the SuiteBar has now become a responsive experience. It changes and adapts depending on the screen width and this removes the need for any clever work around.


SuiteBar at a full 1920 width


SuiteBar a little smaller. Notice how the Application Launcher jumps to the right now.


Between the sizes above their seems to be a tiny glitch in about a ten pixel range where extra buttons appear.


The new buttons don’t do anything at this point though.

Finally we get down into the smaller mobile sizes.


I hope you found this update useful and it gives you chance to remove any customisations you might have made for the responsive SuiteBar.

Office 365 settings gets a major update


The Office 365 settings area has received a major user experience update in the last month.

*note that some images have my personal data smudged, your page will display properly Winking smile

Getting to your settings?

To get to the settings pages an employee chooses the ‘Office 365 settings’ option from the suitebar menu as seen below.


This takes you into the settings area and loads the ‘Settings’ tab explained below.

My Account

The ‘My Account’ tab actually just forms a navigation aid to the other tabs, and is weirdly skipped from the suitebar menu.


Personal info

The ‘personal info’ tab allows you to view and edit contact and address information.



Simply lists everything your organisation has provided for you.


App permissions

This tab lets you see all the applications from your subscription and also more importantly it shows everything you have allowed access to from the Office Store and Azure marketplace.


Install status

This tab gives you the ability to see where you installed software and if necessary deactivate it from that device.



The settings page covers a number of general settings for the employee as seen below.



The theme lets an employee override the default company theme with one they prefer. This might not be something the internal marketing/communications teams like to publicise to heavily.


Start page

This little gem allows you to pick which of the default Office 365 services is your ‘home page’ when you first log in.


There are some nuances around this though. It assumes you login via rather than typing a direct url to somewhere within Office 365. I also haven’t seen any way that an admin can set this for employees centrally.


The notifications panel is also a fairly recent addition and shows up on the suitebar.


Here you can see that I have a new email waiting to be read.


You have the option to tweak which types of notifications show up and also it’s here you can turn off the notification sounds.


This is where you can download and install various software from your tenant. It takes you to a separate screen as below.



This is something worth highlighting to employees as it allows them to change their password in Azure AD. Obviously this is dependant on how IT have configured the identity underpinnings, so worth checking with them.


Contact preferences

A great place to turn off marketing email spam and partner marketing. I’m also a little surprised this is done at a per employee basis, I can’t imagine the average employee wanting to hear from partners. Not sure if this can be set centrally or not.



Pick you language.


Next steps

Here are my thoughts about the impact of this great new experience on the different groups in your organisation.

  • IT and support
    • IT support need to be informed and understand these new screens to handle enquiries correctly. They may need to update training and self-help materials as well.
    • IT will need to check how some of these settings will behave inside their organisation considering things like password change and desktop software installation.
  • Internal communications and marketing
    • With the changes comes an opportunity to rave about the improvements in self-service password changing, the personal settings like themes, notifications and having the ability to install the desktop software from the tenant.
    • Informing the employees about the changes and maybe take advantage of the video portal to post a short 30 second sound bite about the updates. Maybe even push out a new Sway with the changes.
  • Developers
    • Knowing about changes is half the challenge in Office 365. With so much emphasis on dev APIs and new ways to customise it is often forgotten that you need to know your service as well. I bet half the organisations are asking for features to be built in SharePoint pages now available in the settings experience.

I hope you found the article useful.

Awarded Microsoft MVP 2015 for SharePoint Server


I’m happy to announce that I’ve been awarded Microsoft MVP 2015 for SharePoint Server. This is my third year as a MVP and it continues to be an amazing privilege to be recognised for my continued contributions. October 1st is one of the those days like any other until about 3pm UK time when every Hotmail email notification brings with it equal measures of excitement and nervousness Smile. Once the email below arrives it’s time to crack on with even more amazing new things.


The past year has been one of many new opportunities and many great exciting new technologies. Those who have supported me deserve a special mention.

My little boy and girl who don’t quite understand SharePoint yet, but definitely give me all the reasons I need to keep trying.

Steve Smith whose support this year has been invaluable as I embark upon my own business AddIn365. Thanks Steve Smile

Microsoft DX for inviting me to speak at London Technology Week about the Office 365 Unified API. It was a real pleasure presenting on Microsoft’s behalf.

The event organisers for SUGUK, Evolutions London (Steve Smith and Combined Knowledge, Paul, Ben and Nigel) for providing me opportunities to present and be part of the event teams.

Microsoft peeps like Chris Johnson for his invaluable help, Jeremy Thake for his technical input, Dana Wikan for sorting out a number of important things.

I’m looking forward to another great year!

Working with all your OneNote notebooks in Office 365


OneNote is one of my favourite Microsoft products. The digital notebook has been my number one application for years now. With such a great cross-device scenario and combining it with a Surface Pro 3 it really does become a masterful tool. I’ve used it for everything from technical research, note taking in meetings and workshops and even hooked up to a projector with the Surface as a mobile whiteboard.

While I was giving a team an overview of OneNote last week a simple question was posed.

“How do you find all your notebooks in Office 365?”

One the desktop/device top

In the Office 2016 version your opened notebooks can be found listed in the Notebooks listing top left. Like the screen shot below.


This lists the Notebooks I’ve opened and sync’d with the OneNote application.

If you’re using the Windows 10 universal app then you get the same concept from he hamburger menu.


I personally keep a different set of notebooks sync’d between the applications. Mainly keeping the bulk in the full application and those I use on the go in the Windows App version. In Edge (Microsoft’s latest IE replacement) you can snip the page into OneNote directly. I have one notebook i use for these snippets so that’s one i sync.

So the conclusion in the desktop and device world is that you can find them if you knew of/accessed them before and opened them. There is no true ‘discovery’ that’s super obvious to an employee.

Office 365

So what’s the story in Office 365?

OneNote is listed in the App Launcher and the main Office 365 portal page by default. The Office portal looks like this.


The App Launcher looks like this (I’ve ordered my tiles differently to default)


And this is where life become super cool!!!

When you clicked this icon a few months ago you jumped into the OneDrive for Business notebook by default. Well now we get a splash screen with all the notebooks I have access to. VERY COOL Open-mouthed smile

This is how it looks.


Now there are some interesting things to notice about this.

  • It is listing all my notebooks, from OneDrive for Business and my Office 365 Unified Groups and team sites. Which is giving my entire notebook estate.
  • The url is actually pointing out to the consumer services at this point. In this example it was more on that later in the article.

Clicking into a notebook takes you into the WOPI/Office Online version as you are used too. We’re now back inside our tenant by url.


Things get even better for us…. You’ll see the splash screen now moves the ‘Quality’ notebook up the order as we’ve recently interacted with it.


One final thing, when you’re in a notebook you can still quickly skip to another by clicking the ‘Notebooks’ link in the left hand panel. This launches the splash screen again.


Now it’s interesting to see the consumer services and the Office 365 service getting some crossover, we know it’s coming as the API is already ‘unified’ to interact with both.

When you visit you can log in with either Microsoft Account or your Work account and the app will work out what to show you.


Signing in with your Office 365 work account gives us the already familar splash listing.


If we log in with our Microsoft Account we get our personal notebooks (from OneDrive normally).


Wrapping it up

So hopefully this has shown some of the new updates to the OneNote experience that can be shared across the organisation. It also reinforces the value of the web application versions of the Office clients.

OneDrive for Business gets a new user experience


The eagle eyed amongst you will notice that Microsoft have released an update to the web interface of OneDrive for Business. It now looks and functions in a very similar way to the personal consumer version of OneDrive.

OneDrive for Business look and feel.


OneDrive consumer look and feel. (i’ve just redacted the names of my personal stuff, it doesn’t really have the blobs of colour all over it)


To me this feels like a great improvement in the user experience, and probably a good view an Office Fabric use. Microsoft did say that OneDrive for Business was utilising the Office Fabric. One challenge with this unification will be helping your employees to understand the differences, how to identify the UI so they understand where they are. I can already see some tricky consulting conversations ahead with regards the obvious questions around helping an employee differentiate one from the other. We always have to remember those of us living and breathing Office365 24/7 are actually not a ‘typical’ employee Winking smile. The most obvious element is the ‘Office 365’ wording in the suitebar.

A tour of some of the features

Lets take a walk around the new features. While this isn’t an exhaustive list it should help get a footing.

View formats and options

We can switch between viewing formats with the following buttons in the action bar.


Sort is fairly self explanatory and changes the sorting of the main view.

The little block icon next to it toggles the main view from details to icons.

Details view


Icons view


Document details

The ‘hover panel’ is no more. Personally i’m really glad to see the removal of the hover panel idea, it always felt clunky to me and was a really bad experience on a touch enabled device.

Selection of a document is now super easy even with a fingertip.


You can see the action bar become contextual with the common action now available for that file.


You can also invoked the menu from the item ‘…’ option as well.


Opening the details panel now provides an in-depth view of the selected document. The file previewer for an Office Document shows the contents. If you select a folder you get the large folder preview icon and an item count for that folder.


Return to the older UI style

Simply click the bottom left


Which takes the view back to the older one.


Help panel

The new ‘Help’ panel also lights up with new content for this interface. Access it by clicking the ‘?’ icon on the suitebar. This is something that you can encourage employees to click through when they enter an area of Office 365 they are less familiar with. Microsoft are starting to bring some more useful and engaging information in through this mechanism and I’d encourage organisations to begin to highlight this feature as a good way to aid learning.


First item prompt.


Second item shows a small animation in the panel.


Third item prompt.


Fourth item prompt.



As you may be aware Microsoft like to hear from their consumer base about their changes and any ideas they might have via UserVoice. The specific OneDrive for Business is here:

Summing it all up

So these new user experience changes are great, one thing that struck me was no mention of them on the roadmap site

Introducing AddIn365


Office 365 presents an opportunity to meet more business objectives than ever before with an ever expanding set of services. However, out-dated attitudes and practices towards implementation of the Office 365 platform make it difficult for many organisations to realise this potential.

AddIn365 offer a fresh partner perspective on how clients can maximise the return on their investment in Office 365 with a context driven approach to add-in development. This new approach takes advantage of the great new services Office 365 provides and focuses on attaining a high level of employee adoption.

Office 365 presents a unique opportunity to move beyond a fragmented digital estate; it is a platform that brings together email, enterprise search, intranet, collaboration, enterprise social network and instant messenger. Furthermore, Office 365 natively provides the tools to link to other systems with ease via features such as the app launcher. Read more about the app launcher here.

Last year Microsoft released 400+ new features to the Office 365 platform. Many of these new features are complex and make light work of providing organisation’s insights that would have cost clients millions to develop in years gone by. Delve is just one example of this high quality engineering that comes as part and parcel of the Office 365 experience; it uses machine learning to understand who you are, who your network is and to suggest content that might be useful to you that you have not engaged directly with.

Organisations have recognised the opportunity that Office 365 presents in moving away from a disjointed collection of systems to a more integrated one. According to Radicati, growth of the Office 365 market share is expected to be 20% year on year for the next four years.

In order to take advantage of the great new services available with Office 365, organisations are turning to the market which tends to offer custom development or products in response to their business requirements, both of which present challenges.

Custom development tends to be:

  • Very Sites (SharePoint) focused.
  • Bends towards developing capabilities rather than configuring what is already available. This means that organisations tend to face more cost and protracted timescales when trying to deploy Office 365 than they need to.
  • Employee adoption is a secondary consideration to development and is often glossed over altogether.

Organisations that go down the product route tend to suffer three challenges:

  • Adoption is still a problem; employees using the platform will never ‘learn’ what is available so only a portion of the product will be used.
  • Products tend to branch from the Office 365 platform; clients that have invested in off the shelf products end up on the vendor roadmap and inevitably fall behind what Office 365 natively has to offer because Office 365 is evolving at a faster pace. This limits the return on investment an organisation can get from Office 365.
  • Products also tend to be based primarily on the Sites (SharePoint) part of the platform and do not take advantage of the great new services – again limiting the return on investment an organisation can get from Office 365.

We have seen these product challenges materialise recently within the intranet space (not too long ago I counted more than 15 products). Microsoft plan to release Infopedia in early 2016 which will provide all the common requirements an organisation has of an intranet, as Chris O’Brien reports here. With a powerhouse of engineers behind it this Office 365 native intranet capability will quickly become superior to any off the shelf product or custom developed intranet in the market.

Organisations are faced with a conundrum; both custom code and many off the shelf products fail to maximise a return on what is already available in Office 365 and inherit the adoption challenge.

So, how should organisations approach rolling out Office 365, in order to take advantage of the platform’s great new services and take employees on the journey with them?

I took the decision recently to co-found AddIn365. AddIn365 is the first Microsoft partner globally to offer a range of mobile and tablet friendly Workforce Enablement add-ins, for Microsoft Office and Microsoft’s Office 365 platform.

The AddIn365 add-in approach is context driven; tailored to individual employee’s daily tasks to ensure a high level of adoption whilst making use of a cross section of Office 365’s new capabilities.

AddIn365 add-ins increase productivity around common daily tasks and in doing so improve the employee experience of work.

Our two launch add-ins are:

  • AddIn Work Hub for Office 365 which provides staff a fully personalised dashboard to facilitate individual and cross-functional coordination, whether that work is operational, customer facing or delivery orientated.
  • AddIn Document Builder which is a Microsoft Office app that enables the workforce to create high quality documents quickly, through the creation and reuse of assets.

AddIn Work Hub brings together Calendar, Outlook, Delve, Groups, SharePoint team sites, Stories and the Video Portal.

AddIn Document Builder makes the process of document creation fast and accurate in Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

My ethos behind the designs of these new products has been:

  1. Make Office 365 intuitive for staff to use by providing context-led technology, so staff want to use the platform to get their work done faster and to a higher standard.
  2. Help organisations to get even more return on their investment in the Office 365 platform by using the new services Microsoft make available to support usage of the whole platform and not just SharePoint.
  3. Keep organisations on the Office 365 roadmap with a configure over customise development approach.

I’m really excited about the AddIn365 project and will be posting further on how I have led our engineering team to produce these add-ins over the next few months.

In the meanwhile, I would encourage you to check out the AddIn365 website and follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn for regular updates.

Adding Custom Tiles to the Office 365 App Launcher


Microsoft recently released a new feature so that as an Office 365 admin you can add tiles to the App Launcher.


Setting it up

Browse to the Admin dashboard for your tenant, from the left hand menu choose the ‘Company Profile’.



From the ‘Company Profile’ page select ‘Custom Tiles’ from the left hand menu.



The ‘Custom Tiles’ page is now displayed, and on very first load will be empty.



Click the ‘Plus’ to create a new tile.



You’ll notice that the information being requested is a lot simpler than the Azure AD application configuration. So in my opinion you may still want to opt for the Azure AD application root if you wanted to use groups/user assignment for the tile. This new Office 365 custom tile approach really only provides ‘add the icon’ style functionality. So in scenarios where you wanted to use a consistent name and icon for say a HR system where different regions had different urls/systems you’d still want to use the Azure AD root. Relying on this new Office 365 custom tile would need two tiles and both would show for everyone. As it stands today this feature is probably only useful for truly generic links such as the SharePoint root site collection (But why MS ignored that for so long has always baffled me).

Just before setting the tile information we need to make sure we have the logo somewhere, I always use Lego mini figures in this tenant so I uploaded a new picture to the assets library of the root site collection.



Once I have an image somewhere (it could have been located anywhere including externally from the tenant) I can enter the information to create the tile.



The new tile is now listed. Note that you can also edit and remove the tile from this screen.



Browse to your ‘MyApps’ page.



There you can see our newly created tile. From here the employee can decided to pin it the App Launcher.



They can also view details about the app.



We can see the new tile in the App Launcher.



So this is a neat new feature which will satisfy the common request to have a tile for the Intranet home page. While MS could hopefully go further in the future to allow employee and group assignment like the Azure AD apps.

Office 365 Unified API session from Microsoft Recoder 2015


About the event

Recoder 2015 was a free one-day conference for application developers and IT professionals who wanted to get the fast track on Office 365.

My session

Intro to Office 365 Unified API

Over recent years Microsoft has been busy resetting the traditional developer landscape and in this session Wes will be introducing you to the exciting new Office 365 Unified API model and helping you to understand the APIs architecture and what choices or decisions you need to consider when approaching a development project in today’s Microsoft world.

Here are the slides that I presented during my session.

This was part of the introduction sessions so was super high level. During the short live demo I used the following API Explorer site.

This site allows you to prod and try out all the code snippets from the deck. When you first log in you will be asked to trust the app to all your Office 365 services. Then you can begin to call the various endpoints via the REST syntax.

Speaking at Microsoft Recoder 2015


About the event

Recoder 2015 is a free one-day conference for application developers and IT professionals who want to get the fast track on Office 365. Discover how you can work smarter now, and get ready for the big innovations that are on the horizon.

Office 365 has become Microsoft’s fastest growing multi-billion dollar business, with hundreds of millions of users. At Recoder 2015 you will learn how you can build on this success – tapping into the secrets of the O365 APIs. There are very exciting times ahead, as Microsoft transforms the popular O365 productivity suite into an open platform running on all of the major operating systems, including Windows, Apple iOS and Google Android.

Recoder 2015 offers a fascinating day, whether you are an app developer looking to incorporate O365 functionality in your own apps, a developer creating full applications for O365, or an IT Pro responsible for the deployment and management of O365 applications.

See the UK’s first Live Demo of SharePoint Server 2016

In the morning you’ll gain new insights from some exciting keynote speakers including Steve Smith from Combined Knowledge (demoing SharePoint 2016 for the very first time in the UK) and Simon Hill from Wazoku, who will be sharing their views on the future of productivity and collaboration rooted in the reality of today. The afternoon is dedicated to breakout sessions tailored to IT Pro’s who deploy and manage the apps, plus Introductory and Deep Dive technical workshops for Developers, delivered by some of the industry’s most respected MVPs including Chris O’Brien, Spencer Harbar, Waldek Mastykarz and myself.

My session

Intro to Office 365 Unified API

Over recent years Microsoft has been busy resetting the traditional developer landscape and in this session Wes will be introducing you to the exciting new Office 365 Unified API model and helping you to understand the APIs architecture and what choices or decisions you need to consider when approaching a development project in today’s Microsoft world.


It’s free to attend, but registration is mandatory.

You can register at

We have capacity for 300 and we are expecting a sell-out.

SUGUK Yammer Deep Dive presentation

On Thursday April 30th SUGUK held a London session where I presented a session on Yammer deep dive.


Yammer deep dive

Many organisations are considering leveraging Yammer as their Enterprise Social Network (ESN). Office 365 has already taken some steps to integrate the Yammer capabilities by replacing the SharePoint newsfeed and introducing the document conversations. The reality is that these integrations are only the tip of the iceberg with regards the integrations you can achieve with Yammer.
This demo centric session covers in detail the integration options and the steps that a developer or architect can take to bring Yammer into use for a scenario.
We’ll walkthrough:

  • Learn how the Yammer Embed can bring conversations into SharePoint article pages.
  • How to post information into your Yammer network from other systems using OpenGraph.
  • Learn how to use the REST API to discover groups, messages, topics, users and perform advanced searches against the network.
  • Take a look at the cutting edge Azure Logic App and Yammer connector