The Future of SharePoint paradigm series – Using Visual Studio 2015 to build a SharePoint Framework client web part

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Microsoft announced the new SharePoint Framework at the Future of SharePoint event on May 4th 2016. You can read about the full announcement here: https://blogs.office.com/2016/05/04/the-sharepoint-framework-an-open-and-connected-platform/

Dan Kogan, principal group program manager, covers the SPFx in his video from the event. Watch this if you haven’t already as it details all the cool new things that the SPFx will bring.

Most of the demo’s and blogs have focused on using Visual Studio Code. You can still develop using Visual Studio 2015 if you choose. This article will explain how to hook up the SPFx solution and use Visual Studio 2015.

This article is based on the SharePoint Framework preview and is subject o change for the GA. Any information is correct at the time of publication, but you should check with the latest Microsoft information.

Getting Visual Studio 2015 ready

The SPFx experience is normally used from VS Code so we have to add a few things to Visual Studio 2015 to enable it to use the node and npm tech.

First step is to install the Visual Studio 2015 update 3 (https://www.visualstudio.com/news/releasenotes/vs2015-update3-vs), this takes about 20 minutes and requires a restart.

Once the update is installed the Node.js tools for Visual Studio (https://www.visualstudio.com/en-us/features/node-js-vs.aspx) need to be installed.

Creating your solution

Create a new folder which will contain the generator output. I’ll call mine WebPartExample1

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Run the SPFx Yeoman Generator

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For the preview I need to add the next step of an alias

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This will then pull in the node modules and begin running the generator

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For this example we’ll choose the client side webpart

 

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Give the web part a name

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Add the description

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Choose your Framework of choice. I personally prefer other frameworks than React so i’ll choose Vanilla.

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And the generator is done.

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If we check our file system we can see the new files

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Importing this Yeoman output into Visual Studio

From Visual Studio 2015 create a new project.

From the TypeScript list choose Node.js and then select ‘From Existing Node.js code’.

It is important to select the folder your Yeoman output was in.

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Then you need to name the project the same as your SPFx client side project.

If you need to find it check the package.json

{
“name”: “web-part-example-1”,
“version”: “0.0.2”,
“private”: true,

“engines”: {
“node”: “>=0.10.0”
},

“dependencies”: {
“@ms/sp-client-platform”: “0.0.20”,
“load-styles”: “^2.0.0”
},

“devDependencies”: {
“@ms/ms-core-build”: “0.3.23”,
“gulp”: “^3.9.0”
}

}

It will be listed in there.

Now click OK to run the wizard.

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Again select the right folder and click next.

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If you have the right folder you should see the gulpfile.js.

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Click finish to complete the project import.

The project

Let’s take a look through the new project and solution.

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We can see that there is an npm node which allows us to explore the node modules. There are also plenty of regular files like tsd.json, tslint.json, package.json etc. These should be fairly recognisable from common web dev projects. Remember that SPFx is expecting you to have working knowledge of modern web dev like TypeScript and gulp.

Fixing gulpfile.js for Visual Studio 2015

We need to just change the gulpfile.js to use var instead of let.

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Setting up for F5 running

We need to modify the project settings to include the node module gulp and argument serve.

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Once you make those changes F5 will build and run the server files and open the SharePoint Workbench

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As I stated earlier these are steps based on the DevKitchen pre-release SPFx bits and will almost certainly change for GA. It hopefully shows how you can still make use of Visual Studio 2015 and don’t have to move to using VSCode if you’d prefer VS2015.

I hope you found this info useful and onwards to the Future of SharePoint

The Future of SharePoint paradigm series – First look at the SharePoint Home

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On May 4th we got an insight into the Future of SharePoint from Jeff Teper and team, you can read my event summary here: http://weshackett.com/2016/05/whats-new-with-sharepoint-microsofts-future-of-sharepoint-event-round-up/ In this article I outlined three areas of this series, this article falls within:

User Experience

Exploring the implications for organisations of the new UI and experiences being pushed into service.

During the Future of SharePoint event we saw the announcement of the new SharePoint Home experience. You can read more about the wider announcement about the ‘mobile, intelligent intranet’ from the Office Blogs. In the video Adam Harmetz, Group Program Manager, SharePoint experiences, talks about all the amazing new user experiences coming to SharePoint and Office 365. About 40 seconds into Adam’s video we get the first glimpse of the new SharePoint Home experience.

A little history

Since the launch of the SharePoint 2013 visuals on Office 365 back in 2013 we’ve had a page called ‘Sites’. This is a first level navigation item which appears in the Application Launcher. As you can see in the image below the ‘Sites’ page forms a key element of the SharePoint navigation experience. It provides a strip of corporate links along the top, your personally followed sites, recent sites you have visited, and finally sites that are recommended. The Office 365 version is slightly more advanced than the on premises version.

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The Future

Today Microsoft began the rollout of the new SharePoint Home. First Release tenants will begin to get the new experience as it rolls out across the service globally.

Lets take a closer look.

The welcoming experience.

You employees are guided into their first use with the key elements being highlighted. As you can see in the image your employee is introduced to the ‘frequent’ strip of sites and groups.

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Next up your employee is shown the value of ‘following’ and ‘recent’ sites and groups.

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Next is explanation of the ‘links’ section.

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The final section is the ‘suggested’ sites and groups.

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After the intro you’re in and the new SharePoint page is there in all its new shiny glory. You can see in the image below the main content areas match the replaced ‘sites’ page. This is good from one aspect as employees will be familiar with the sites and groups listed within each area.

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Cards

Let’s take a closer look at each of the visible card types.

The site card:

The site card is picking up the site logo or name abbreviation if the logo was the default SharePoint logo. It has the ability to be followed via the star in the header strip. The site title is also being displayed. There are also three items of activity being listed. This is giving you insights into activity within that site.

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The blog card:

Delve blogs you write for or read are listed. Notice the lack of following ability on blogs, it’ll be really great if this feature gets added in at some point.

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Video channel card:

Video channel displays the video activity in that channel. You can follow that channel from the card.

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Now a couple of interesting observations. First this card colour matches the video channel selection which is a good thing. Second is that you can follow the channel on the SharePoint Home, but not from within the channel itself. This scenario needs to get closed within the Video portal, I think the user experience should be consistent between the pages. This would reinforce the value of following the content through both experiences. Seeing a page experience within the Video portal which is the ‘followed channels’ would be a good extension to an already good experience. Many customers use the Video portal channels to group videos into a context for employees, such as technical walkthroughs, news, community and product information. Allowing an employee to follow a channel and see that from both SharePoint Home and the Video portal consistently.

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While we look at the cards, you’ll notice that they have colours that are seemingly random. The team site above is using the default blue and white SharePoint theme, yet appears green in the SharePoint Home. This will hopefully become joined up as the new Team Site user experiences and branding rolls out later this year. I’d certainly like to see consistency between the two. Often themes on collaboration sites are set by business unit or type of function and having this visual cue consistent between both would again be a cool addition.

With all the cards the clicking/tap launches the site/group/channel into a new tab. The activity line items provide a link to each document or video which launches into a new window. I think I’d still use Delve to get to my documents based in activity scenarios.

Seeing all your Following and Recent

So in a normal enterprise you will be following and visiting a largish number of sites and groups. It’s not unusual to have 20+ in your personal following. In the SharePoint Home you can view them all by clicking the ‘see all’ link in the left hand menu.

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The discoverability of this was not as clear as I think it could be. For me the ‘see all’ is visually associated to the ‘recent’ section so it took a few clicks to discover that it also showed all my ‘followed’ sites. Personally I’d like to see either the headings become clickable or a better information scent for each section, even if it just links to a bookmark of the section in the unified listing experience. As you can see from the image below this page from the ‘see all’ link lists all the sites I’m following.

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The ‘recent’ section appears below the ‘followed’ section as you can see in this image.

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This page doesn’t list out the activity within each site. I’m guessing there would be a pretty huge performance implication if every card was to display the activity list. Is this missing some of the value though? Should this be a place you can see activity across every site you follow. The Office Graph is driving a lot underneath, maybe there will be some exploration by Microsoft in bringing an activity addition to these cards as well. Although does this begin to clash with and dilute the value of Delve as an experience? I know customers are already asking about the search in the SharePoint Home they’ve seen in the videos and how Delve fits into this story. Delve is already an awesome experience and in many peoples opinion solves that ‘Goggle like’ search experience that we’ve been asked for for years. The way it can predict what you might be looking for before you search is proving to be of huge value in high performance organisation cultures for many customers. Is SharePoint now competing with Delve? The SharePoint Mobile app is also gaining document and site searching, the Delve app can do the same. Where and when will this become clear? Lets hope this gets addressed soon.

There also is no obvious back link on this page so I’m relying on the browser back to navigate.

Search

The existing ‘sites’ page provides search, the new SharePoint Home also allows a search experience.

The search box has a type-ahead feature as you can see below.

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Typing something in like ‘exec’ in this example and you get this.

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Clicking on ‘see all’ gives us an extended page.

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At the time of writing my tenants weren’t showing the full experience Microsoft published via their support article. I’m assuming this is still rolling out behind the scenes.

SharePoint Home Search Results

You can switch back into the SharePoint search center clicking the link to ‘go to classic results page’. This auto switch isn’t remembered and has to be invoked each time. Another consideration here is that if you’ve invested in configuring and tuning your SharePoint search experience this new page is getting in the way between your initial search and the configured one. Possibly something to consider and feedback to Microsoft on.

Just for comparison lets look at the same ‘exec’ search in Delve.

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Personally I would stick to using Delve for my initial search as it just provides a more useful experience for my working patterns. Board and Yammer features just add the value I need during a discovery scenario.

Links

The links are managed in the same way as before through the page if you are an admin or via the SharePoint Profile service in tenant admin.

Putting the links into edit mode

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Adding a new link is simple

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New site

Finally there is the ‘new site’ link, which still launches the existing SharePoint create new experience. We’ll see the new provisioning interface later when the new team sites arrive I guess. Still plenty of value to be had from your PnP provisioning investments, but plan for how this change will impact you.

Summing it up

So it’s a big improvement to the ‘sites’ experience. As with everything first release it’s not perfect, or complete, but jumping into User Voice https://sharepoint.uservoice.com/ and sharing ideas, improvements and new features will help the team get more from the service.

You can read the official support information here: https://support.office.com/en-us/article/Find-sites-and-portals-in-Office-365-6b85097a-87e0-4611-a29a-dfd49b1a1220?ui=en-US&rs=en-US&ad=US which is a good place to start to understand the mechanics of how to configure the page and the information available.

Dealing with this change inside your organisation also needs some considerations. Start to prepare you internal communications team to publise these features. Key highlights should include:

  • Reassuring employees that existing data reminds the same and that the experience is additive
  • Explaining the features and how they support working scenarios
  • Explaining the options with Office 365 for searching and which is appropriate in certain scenarios

I hope you found this info useful and onwards to the Future of SharePoint

What’s new with SharePoint? Microsoft’s Future of SharePoint event round-up

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Today Microsoft hosted a Future of SharePoint event, sharing publically for the first time what the SharePoint roadmap has to offer in 2016 and beyond.

It did not disappoint. The event placed SharePoint and OneDrive’s soon-to-be-released simple user experience and rich mobile capability front and centre of Microsoft’s Office 365 offering. Another point of emphasis was the huge leap Microsoft have in empowering employees to be more productive, with significant investments having been made in the document lifecycle experience.

What does this mean for Office 365 customers? Let’s take a closer look.

Improving SharePoint Online’s user experience

There has been a proliferation of intranet-in-a-box products built on SharePoint Online over the past 5 years that aimed to make the SharePoint Online experience more intuitive to employees. Their popularity in the market did not go un-noticed by Microsoft, who have listened and responded to customer demand, with heavy investment being made in SharePoint as a “mobile and intelligent intranet,” as Adam Harmetz, Principal Group Program Manager at Microsoft, informed us today. In 2016 some fantastic new Graph powered enhancements will be introduced to deliver a personalised intranet experience to employees, including a recent activity capability and a recommended sites tool, driven by the actions of those you work with day to day. Team sites will also enjoy a series of updates, in my opinion, making them virtually feature complete from a collaboration standpoint. Favourites, KPI monitors, members, files and spotlights will make up the core team site offering before the year is out.

Microsoft have taken the bold step to reintroduce the SharePoint name into the Office 365 experience and will be swapping out the ‘Sites’ tile for a ‘SharePoint’ tile which comes through to your home experience. This modern and responsive user experience puts all the important sites and groups at your fingertips across your organisation.

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Team sites have a huge overhaul and now provide a crisp and mobile ready experience. Your team can now highlight news, documents and announcement updates right on the home page experience.

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Within these Team sites pages gain the beautiful canvas editing experience from the Delve blogs. This will help teams share those important contextual articles about their work and outputs.

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The improvements to SharePoint Online’s user experience has been supported with a new SharePoint mobile app experience which delivers an “intranet in your pocket” experience.

SharePoint app users will have on-the-go access to their sites and portals, files, search and people discovery as well as their work stored and managed in SharePoint. What’s more, the new app will also leverage office graph to highlight sites, content and people that are most relevant to the individual.

The SharePoint mobile app comes first to iOS, followed by versions for Windows and Android in the second half of 2016.

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Empowering employees to be more productive

Document collaboration has long been the cornerstone use case for SharePoint Online and One Drive for Business. Microsoft are upgrading this experience so that when employees need to bring in files from OneDrive for Business or publish files between document libraries, users can click Move to or Copy to move or copy files to other locations across Office 365, without generating unnecessary versions of the same files. As such, moving a document from One Drive that you may have been working on in isolation, to a team site for wider consumption, will become a quick and easy process.

The Future of SharePoint paradigm series

I’ve been aware of the roadmap announced today for SharePoint Online for a number of months as I was lucky enough to be invited to attended the Developer Kitchen in Redmond at the start of February to play with some of the new tech talked about today. This has kept my company, AddIn365, ahead  in developing products for Office 365 that deliver value over and above what the platform has to offer and the direction of travel for services like SharePoint Online we heard about today. Today’s announcements will exert some much needed pressure on the wider Microsoft SharePoint eco-system to bring harder working value-add solutions to market.

Over the next couple of weeks I’ll be publishing articles on three key areas:

Mobile

How the Microsoft mobile offering has transformed the use cases for SharePoint, OneDrive and Office 365 for organisations.

User Experience

Exploring the implications for organisations of the new UI and experiences being pushed into service.

SharePoint Framework

A personal favourite, we’ll explore the implications for design, build and tech approaches in readiness for it’s release later this year. Whispers…. TypeScript and Framework wars enter the SharePoint dev conscious (React against AngularJS)

The full Microsoft roundup

For the full details check out the Microsoft blogs:

Vision & Overview Blog

The Future of SharePoint – https://blogs.office.com/2016/05/04/the-future-of-sharepoint

SharePoint Server GA & Feature Packs

SharePoint Server 2016—your foundation for the future – https://blogs.office.com/2016/05/04/sharepoint-server-2016-your-foundation-for-the-future/

SharePoint mobile app, SharePoint home, team sites, Microsoft Flow & PowerApps integration

SharePoint—the mobile and intelligent intranet – https://blogs.office.com/2016/05/04/sharepoint-the-mobile-and-intelligent-intranet/

SharePoint Framework

The SharePoint Framework—an open and connected platform – https://blogs.office.com/2016/05/04/the-sharepoint-framework-an-open-and-connected-platform/

It’s great to see that Microsoft are being pro-active in claiming the intranet space as part of their SharePoint Online offering. This will add a lot of value to the Office 365 service for subscribing organisations and will provide one more reason to those thinking about a move to Office 365, for doing so. The new user experiences, fantastic new SharePoint app and enhancements to the document experience fill some feature gaps and benefit from being both simple and intuitive.

Office 365 SuiteBar becomes responsive

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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.

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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.

Examples:

SuiteBar at a full 1920 width

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

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

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

Finally we get down into the smaller mobile sizes.

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

Awarded Microsoft MVP 2015 for SharePoint Server

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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.

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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!

OneDrive for Business gets a new user experience

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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.

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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)

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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.

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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

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Icons view

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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.

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

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

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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.

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Return to the older UI style

Simply click the bottom left

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Which takes the view back to the older one.

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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.

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First item prompt.

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Second item shows a small animation in the panel.

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Third item prompt.

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Fourth item prompt.

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UserVoice

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: https://onedrive.uservoice.com/forums/262982-onedrive/category/86090-onedrive-for-business

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 http://success.office.com/en-us/roadmap.

Introducing AddIn365

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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

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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’.

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

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

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Click the ‘Plus’ to create a new tile.

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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.

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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.

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

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Browse to your ‘MyApps’ page.

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

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They can also view details about the app.

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We can see the new tile in the App Launcher.

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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.

SharePoint Evolutions 2015 presentations

April 20th – 22nd 2015 saw London play host to SharePoint Evolutions conference. It was a great event organised with so many quality speakers and companies in attendance. It was a privilege to be invited to speak again. This year I had two sessions as you can see below.

 

Introducing App Launcher

Delivered by: Wes Hackett

Audience: Office 365, Information Worker, Developer
A new feature of Office 365 is the ‘app launcher’ and ‘my apps’ features. These new features provide a new style of navigation experience where all your apps are available from the Office 365 suite bar and the ability for a user to pin their preferred apps. This session introduces the features and the extensibility approaches to have your own apps interact with it.

 

Yammer development deep dive

Delivered by: Wes Hackett

Audience: Office 365, Developer
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

 

If you were an attendee you can also watch the DVD of the sessions.

Installing Office 2016 Preview from your tenant

OfficeOnline

Microsoft announced the Office 2016 Preview Public Preview today during the Ignite Keynote.

You can install the Office 2016 Preview from your Office 365 tenant.

Browse to your Office 365 Settings from the context menu on the Suitebar like the screenshot below.

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From your Office 365 settings page choose ‘Software’

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Your software page will load, it lists all the machines you have installed Office on.

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Scroll down to the foot of the page.

If you have your tenant enabled for ‘First Release’ Office 2016 installation will be listed.

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Select your language and then click ‘Install’.

After about 5-10 minutes Office 2016 Preview is installed.

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NOTE: Office 2016 Preview is not being supported, so you are trying this at your own risk.