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.

Installing Office 2016 Preview from your tenant

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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.

Creating a simple redirect app for the App Launcher

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As we saw from the previous article Adding GitHub to the App Launcher the Office 365 user experience now incorporates the App Launcher as a persistent navigation element across the whole suite. Combine this with the Access Panel in Azure and you have two simple ways to provide a user with a navigation item. As you can see from the screen shot below, including last articles addition of GitHub.

Imagine an organisation wants to take advantage of the App Launcher to provide a link to their users for the company public website. On the surface this isn’t such a bonkers request. Many organisations have some elements of their internal intranet hosted within Office 365 and often they require a link to the public facing sites as well. It makes sense then as the App Launcher provides a globally available menu system that the intranet owner might ask for this link to be provisioned. Ok so far, a sensible request by the stakeholder….

Well if we cast our minds back to the types of application that can be displayed:

  • Office 365 applications – If you are using Office 365 such as Exchange and SharePoint and the logged in user is assigned a license then these will appear. The user will be automatically signed in when they click any of the Office 365 apps.
  • Microsoft or Third Party apps configured with Federation based SSO – If an Azure admin has configured the app with single sign-on mode set to ‘Azure AD Single Sign-On’ then when a user clicks the app they will be automatically logged in assuming they have been explicitly granted access to that application.
  • Password based SSO without identity provisioning – These are applications the Azure admin has added with the single sign-on mode set to ‘Password based Single Sign-on’. It is important to realise that all users authenticated to the Azure AD will see these applications. The first time a user clicks one of these apps they will be asked to install a lightweight browser plugin for IE or Chrome. Once they restart the browser the next time they navigate to that app they will be asked to enter the username and password combination for that app. This is then securely stored in Azure AD and linked to their organisation account. The next time the user clicks that app they will be automatically signed in with the credentials they provided. Updating credentials in the third party app needs the user to update their Azure AD stored credentials from the context menu on the app tile.
  • Password based SSO with identity provisioning – These are applications the Azure admin has added with the single sign-on mode set to ‘Password based Single Sign-on’ as well as identity provisioning. The first time a user clicks one of these apps they will be asked to install a lightweight browser plugin for IE or Chrome. Once they restart the browser the next time they will be automatically signed in to the application.
  • Application with existing SSO solutions – These applications are configured with the sign-on mode set to ‘Existing Single Sign-on’. This options supports the existing methods of SSO such as ADFS 2.0 or whatever the third party application is using.

None of these sound like a ‘simple’ type of hyperlink navigation item do they? They all assume the need for some kind of sign-on or application.

So at the time of writing this article there is no way to add a simple static url into the icons. Microsoft might pull this feature in at some point in the future, but for now we need something sensible to help us implement it.

NB: When researching this challenge I did stumble upon one blog article which was suggesting using jQuery to inject items in the html of the App Launcher. While in reality the author had it working it would be something I’d steer well clear of for the following reasons:

  • Microsoft ‘own’ the UI/UX for the App Launcher which means they can make breaking changes any time they like leaving you with a broken implementation at best
  • The article could only get this to work across SharePoint Online as the author could inject the required script. This meant that users outside of SharePoint lost this set of icons in things like Exchange.

So where does that leave us? Simple really we need an application registered with our Azure Active Directory which can redirect the user.

Creating our redirection app

So we have two options for this, manually craft an Application and register it with our Azure AD Applications or use the Visual Studio tools to help. For this article we’ll opt for the Visual Studio root and rather explain what’s happening behind the scenes as we go.

So lets get going by cracking open Visual Studio 2013.

Lets create a new MVC Web Application called ‘SimpleRedirectorApp’ and click OK.

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Lets be good citizens and change our app to use SSL. Change the Project property to SSL Enabled to true.

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Then copy that URL into the properties page on the Web tab.

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Save the project and run it.

At this point you should see the normal templated MVC page running on your localhost under SSL.

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So at this stage we have a basic MVC web application up and running. Now lets switch into our Azure portal and take a look at the applications listing.

This is all the applications I have configured in the Azure Active Directory. You’ll notice from the screen shot below our new app is not yet listed in the applications and thus Azure and the App Launcher no nothing about it.

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If we were doing this manually we would go through the steps to ‘Add’ the application here. For this run through we’re going to jump back to Visual Studio.

We are going to use the Office365 Tools to add a connected service which wire up our app the associated Azure AD for us.

So from the context menu of the project chose ‘Connected Service’.

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Click ‘Register your app’.

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Sign in with a user who is an Azure AD admin / Tenant admin which is normally one and the same.

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This will then show you information about your application.

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Click ‘App Properties’ and make any changes from single to multi tenant if you require.

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Note that the URLs are being displayed which match where our App will run from at the moment. When you choose to publish these elsewhere for Production you update these values.

Now when this wizard finishes it has done a few things. Firstly its added a set of things to the web.config file to store the Client Id etc.

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Next if we switch back to our Azure Portal you’ll see the App is now being listed.

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Clicking in we can view the settings that have been made.

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One of the things we can’t do from the Visual Studio tools is set the Logo for the App. This is important to do as it’s the visual icon in the App Launcher. So click the ‘Upload Logo’ from the menu bar.

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Choose an image which matches the specifics in the dialog box. I’m going to be linking to my companies website so created a quick icon based on our logo.

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Scrolling down you can see the URLs listed and the permissions the App needs to run. Notice at the moment we don’t ask for anything other than delegated permissions on the Azure AD to enable SSO and read the profile of the user. That’s all we need.

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Once the App is configured we need to assign users to it so it shows up for them. So click the ‘Users’ tab and find the user you need to assign. As you can see from the screenshot I’m just going to assign myself it for now. Once highlighted click ‘Assign’ from the menu bar.

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Now when you browse to your Office 365 tenant and open the ‘My Apps’ page you can see our new App listed. As you can see from the screen shot below.

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At the moment we have to manually ‘pin’ this new app ourselves Sad smile hope Microsoft add features to do this from the portal at some point.

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So now it shows up in the App Launcher. Hooray you say… click it and what happens… we get the boring old MVC default page in a new tab. (assuming you still left the app in debug, remember its localhost at the moment).

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So only one more step to go. Lets make our App go where it should, to the all important public website.

Open the HomeController.cs and find the Index method.

Change it from this

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To this

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We changed the result object to the RedirectResult type and provide it the url of our public site.

Now rerun our localhost app and it should redirect straight to the website.

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Now when we click the App from the App Launcher we get a new tab and the App handles the redirection to the specified site.

Happy stakeholder Smile

As I mentioned earlier one of the best things about this approach is that it is truly suite wide as you can see from the screen shot of the users Calendar below.

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In a more detailed scenario you might want to add more features to the redirection app and make it configurable without hard coding, but this was the basic how to Smile.

Adding GitHub to the App Launcher

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Lets start with a little background

One of the latest features released to Office 365 and Azure was the ‘App Launcher’. This feature (Microsoft Announcement) provided a consistent menu of applications that can be launched by the user. Azure Active Directory now provides an easy way to integrate to many SaaS platforms. It provides identity and access management features through the Azure portal and the Access Panel for users to discover apps they have access too. The App Launcher leverages the same underpinnings within Azure to provide the suite wide UX within Office 365.

Azure Access Panel

Information about setting up Application Access in Azure Active Directory can be found here: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/azure/dn308590.aspx Another feature we won’t go through but is worth mentioning is the ‘Change Password’ feature on the profile tab.

This is a screen shot of my tenant Access Panel. You can browse to yours using: https://myapps.microsoft.com

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The Access Panel can serve several different types of application:

  • Office 365 applications – If you are using Office 365 such as Exchange and SharePoint and the logged in user is assigned a license then these will appear. The user will be automatically signed in when they click any of the Office 365 apps.
  • Microsoft or Third Party apps configured with Federation based SSO – If an Azure admin has configured the app with single sign-on mode set to ‘Azure AD Single Sign-On’ then when a user clicks the app they will be automatically logged in assuming they have been explicitly granted access to that application.
  • Password based SSO without identity provisioning – These are applications the Azure admin has added with the single sign-on mode set to ‘Password based Single Sign-on’. It is important to realise that all users authenticated to the Azure AD will see these applications. The first time a user clicks one of these apps they will be asked to install a lightweight browser plugin for IE or Chrome. Once they restart the browser the next time they navigate to that app they will be asked to enter the username and password combination for that app. This is then securely stored in Azure AD and linked to their organisation account. The next time the user clicks that app they will be automatically signed in with the credentials they provided. Updating credentials in the third party app needs the user to update their Azure AD stored credentials from the context menu on the app tile.
  • Password based SSO with identity provisioning – These are applications the Azure admin has added with the single sign-on mode set to ‘Password based Single Sign-on’ as well as identity provisioning. The first time a user clicks one of these apps they will be asked to install a lightweight browser plugin for IE or Chrome. Once they restart the browser the next time they will be automatically signed in to the application.
  • Application with existing SSO solutions – These applications are configured with the sign-on mode set to ‘Existing Single Sign-on’. This options supports the existing methods of SSO such as ADFS 2.0 or whatever the third party application is using.

Full details about the Access Panel can be found here: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/azure/dn308586.aspx

App Launcher

The App Launcher is the name for the UX within the Office 365 suite. The screen shot below shows the fly out menu active on my tenant. You can see all the apps that this user is assigned licenses for are visible, also admin as this user is a tenant admin.

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You’ll also see the ‘My Apps’ option in the bottom right corner. This takes you to a fully immersive experience listing all your apps. As you can see from the screen shot below.

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This page lists all the applications from Azure AD applications as well as anything you have installed within your OneDrive for Business site on SharePoint online.

Configuring GitHub through the App Launcher

So we’ve taken a whistle stop tour around the Azure AD Access Panel and App Launcher lets now look at how to add an application to it. For this article we’re going to look at providing our users SSO for GitHub. The Azure AD links above show how to connect up to all sorts like SalesForce, DropBox etc, but Microsoft’s latest code repository choice isn’t listed. As all the  Office Dev Code Samples these days live in GitHub it makes sense to provide a SSO implementation for your dev teams. Here’s how.

First thing to do is log into the Azure portal. You’ll see the connected Azure Active Directories listed. You might have several or just your Office 365 directory. You pick the one you want the application to show up in. In my example I’ll pick my main tenant.

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When you click the required AD row it will switch into the dashboard for that AD service. As you can see by the screenshot below there are lots of different things you could do here, but we are going to focus on the ‘Applications’ tab only.

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Clicking the ‘Applications’ tab shows the connected applications. In the screen shot you can see I’ve been busy with the Office 365 APIs Smile. Also note that this AD is connected to my Office 365 subscriptions so both Exchange and SharePoint are listed. These don’t have the same degree of settings available as other applications though.

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So to add a new application click the ‘Add’ from the menu bar. This pops a light box as you can see below. There are two options, first is to add a custom application (a topic for a further article) which you are developing, the second to connect a service from the gallery. At the time of writing there are about 4500 services and applications available in the gallery so it’s worth having a peek through. GitHub is an existing service so we need to click ‘Add an application from the gallery’.

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Rather than browse it will be easier to type ‘GitHub’ in the search box. You’ll see the below. So click the ‘tick’ button to confirm.

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Now GitHub is connected to your Azure AD as an application. We now need to configure the SSO settings and assign some users.

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Click the ‘Configure single sign-on’ button to setup the SSO for GitHub. The light box that pops up has two options, first is the Password Single Sign-on, the second is for existing Single Sign-on. Both are explained in more detail above. We are going to choose the ‘Password Single Sign-on’ to connect as we don’t already have anything else configured for SSO with GitHub. Click the ‘tick’ to confirm.

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We have now configured our chosen method of SSO. It’s time to assign some users. So click the ‘Users’ tab. From here all the users in your AD are going to be listed so you probably want to search using the slightly hidden search feature on the table header far right to narrow down the view to users you want.

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Once you have your desired user select them by clicking the row. And then choose ‘Assign’ from the menu bar.

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The light box that pops up allows us to confirm that user is about to be assigned access via SSO to this application. The checkbox feature we’ll come back to later in the article, for now leave it unchecked. Click the ‘Tick’ to confirm.

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So there we have it, in some fairly simple steps we have configured SSO with GitHub via our Azure Active Directory. Lets now take a look at the implications for the end user experience in both the Access Panel and App Launcher.

Access Panel user experience

Now GitHub will show up for the assigned user. In the screen shot you can see the new GitHub tile has appeared. It can sometimes take a few minutes to update and the page may display a refresh message when changes have happened that need to reload.

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As mentioned earlier a user can maintain their stored credentials via the Access Panel. As you can see from the screen shot this option is available from the tile on the Access Panel.

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Clicking for the GitHub App very first time from the Access Panel invokes the browser plugin installer as you can see from the screen shot below.

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In this example I was using Chrome, so here are the pop ups which trigger the install.

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Confirm the installation dialog.

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Next time you click the GitHub App you will be asked to enter your credentials as Azure AD does not yet have any stored. Enter the desired credentials and click ‘Sign In’.

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Now when you click it the Azure SSO will kick in via the browser extension and log you in with the stored credential. Blink and you’ll miss it though, took me five attempts to screen grab the login step.

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And there you have it, signed in to GitHub with the SSO password.

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App Launcher user experience

The Office 365 App Launcher MyApps page now sports the same GitHub icon under ‘My Apps’.

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Clicking for the GitHub App very first time from the My Apps page invokes the browser plugin installer as you can see from the screen shot below.

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The next time you click the GitHub App the same SSO process as above is invoked and you get signed in.

One feature of the App Launcher which the Access Panel can’t do is allow the user to pin the App to the flyout menu. To do this navigate to the ‘My Apps’ page and from the context menu of the app click ‘Pin to app launcher’ as you can see in the screen shot below.

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As you can see this then pins that app to your App Launcher menu.

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Other stuff worthy of a mention

App Launcher where a user has no App assignment

Below is a screen shot of a different user within the same tenant and Azure AD who doesn’t have GitHub assigned as an App. As you can see their ‘My Apps’ page doesn’t list it.

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Assigning a credential on behalf of a user in the Azure Portal

We mentioned the checkbox earlier. If you wanted to set the username and password during assignment check the checkbox and you get the option to enter the credentials on behalf of the user.

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So why is this important? Well consider situations where you don’t want a user knowing or setting the credential. For example a situation where the organisation has a marketing twitter account. You can now provide SSO for the marketing team by setting up their credential on their behalf. They can still obviously change it in Twitter but it removes the need to email everyone the password.

Removing a user app assignment

Removing the user assignment is as easy as selecting them and clicking ‘Remove’ from the menu bar.

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App dashboard

Another thing work mentioning is the App dashboard. Here you can see the login activity and some basic information about the app. What is really useful though is the Single Sign-on url. This is a unique url for this SSO’d app and pasting it in effectly jumps the Access Panel or App Launcher steps and navigates directly through the sign-on process. This would be useful if you are considering email or Yammer posts with links directly to the application.

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Conclusion

Hopefully you’ve found this useful Smile and seen how easy it is to take advantage of the SSO features to improve your user experience.

So we now have GitHub easily available to all the assigned users, probably starting with the dev team.

SP Connect 2014 Presentation

SPConnect

Tuesday 18th and Wednesday 19th saw this years SP Connect 2014 take place at the Meervaart Theatre, Amsterdam. It was a great event organised with so many quality speakers and companies in attendance. It was a privilege to be invited to speak Smile

I presented a session on the new Office 365 APIs with Chris O’Brien, the slides from our session can be seen below. I hope everyone found the session useful Smile I certainly enjoyed presenting to such an interactive audience.

Our session demonstrated the latest release of the Office 365 APIs which recently GA’d. We used the samples available on GitHub, The Web Client library used https://github.com/OfficeDev/Office-365-APIs-Starter-Project-for-ASPNETMVC the MVC5 starter example. This is a single tenancy app which uses the three elements of the Outlook Client library and the Auth models. It’s a great place to start as it shows a good spread of the API. The second demo showed the preview File Handler which shows how to extend Office 365 with a file extension capability. The pictures below give a sneak peek to how it looks when its working. The sample can be found here https://github.com/OfficeDev/GPX-FileHandler.

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Thanks to everyone who attended the session, hopefully I’ll be back at next years event. Special thanks to Daniel Laskewitz for allowing me to use his session picture in this article Smile

Delve YamJam summary

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This week people who had their Office365 tenants setup with ‘First Release’ started to see the long anticipated Delve (formally Codename Oslo) arriving on the tenants.

Microsoft organised a YamJam for Delve in the Office365 Technical Yammer network here: https://www.yammer.com/itpronetwork/#/threads/inGroup?type=in_group&feedId=4386440

This article is a summary of the information which is correct at the time of writing.

Is Delve coming to on-prem?

A hybrid approach is more appropriate due to the complexity and processing power required to drive the OfficeGraph engine. There will be APIs to allow connection to other data sources for the signals driving the OfficeGraph.

Microsoft are planning a hybrid connector that can integrate signals and content from on-premises. They have no current timeline. This is probably going to feature for the scenarios where Lync and/or Exchange have an on-premises installation.

Privacy concerns

Some users concerns around privacy topics. The example cited was that a company Delve was showing trending documents for certain HR documents for example, psychological assistance and domestic partner coverage and maternity benefits. The question was around being able to exclude certain content from producing signals.

The documents could be excluded through the normal SharePoint permissions capabilities. Delve relies on the search index, so excluding a file or folder will exclude it from Delve as well.

Currently there is no feature to exclude documents from Delve but have them available to everyone via SharePoint/Search.

Side note about storing documents from HR in Yammer and the fact that ‘viewing’ it shows up in the activity feed in the top right. This gives people visibility on what other users are looking at, so someone looking at HR docs around maternity is kind of announcing that interest to the whole organisation. Not so good.

Delve does not show ‘who’ viewed a document ever. Trending is invoked when multiple people who have a relationship with you have accessed the doc. The author is the named entity. This is slightly confusing in the UI. At a glance the name appears to be the user who viewed the document. Careful communications would need to be done for this on rollout.

Delve only shows if someone modifies a document (this is available through SharePoint anyway). Delve doesn’t show who viewed the document, where many people have viewed the document Delve says several of your colleagues have viewed this document, but never divulges the names.

‘Trending’ does not mean a person viewed it, only that your colleagues are generating activity around it. (no information on the definition of activity).

CSOM / JSOM API availability

OfficeGraph will have an API. Current information is available here: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/office/dn783218(v=office.15).aspx

Could OfficeGraph be consumed in PowerBI?

In theory this should be possible as its got an API.

Restricting the rollout to specific users

Like an ESN Delve thrives on a wide and deep network of users. By restricting to s subset an organisation would fall into the ‘doomed social pilot’ trap of not enough signals to add the absolute value. Obviously this is an ESN success perspective. Organisations will have reasons for this request, regulation, change mangement and security were all cited.

Also it was noted that you can disable Delve at tenant level, it was unclear as to whether this is the Delve UI alone or included the OfficeGraph underpinnings.

When will I get it?

Currently this is being rolled out to ‘First Release’ tenants first.

What is the Delve UI item display limit?

Answer: 36 documents before adding filters by using search. Microsoft said 36 was chosen as the starting point through internal MS trail data. Their data showed that click rates dropped to zero at a certain point in the page.

Microsoft’s choice of name Delve

Mixed feelings, those who aren’t English speaking said that Delve doesn’t always have a real meaning in some languages. Others just preferred Oslo, and thought Delve didn’t really jump out. As with most questions like this, nothing really bad comes of the name. Lets just hope it doesn’t get a rebrand in 6 months 😉

How will Delve handle existing content and groups?

Being search based it can pick up everything in the tenant today.

Which plans get Delve?

Office365 E1-E4 and corresponding Gov and Academic plans.

At first release Delve gets signals from Exchange, OneDrive for Business, SharePoint Online and Yammer. Primary content surfaced from OneDrive for Business and SharePoint Online team sites.

What determines the people list?

This is the top five people you interact with.

Useful links

Delve documentation: https://support.office.com/Article/Who-can-see-my-documents-f5f409a2-37ed-4452-8f61-681e5e1836f3

Delve for Office365 admins here: https://support.office.com/Article/Delve-for-Office-365-admins-54f87a42-15a4-44b4-9df0-d36287d9531b

OfficeGraph API documentation http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/office/dn783218(v=office.15).aspx

SharePoint Evolution Roadshow 2014 session If apps are the answer what was the solution

SP Evo Conf

Wednesday June 11th saw the SharePoint Evolution roadshow roll into Cambridge. Bringing with it the weather Smile and a collection of SharePoint experts from around the globe.

The full days agenda can be seen here: https://www.sharepointevolutionconference.com/abstracts.html#camt1

My session kicked off the days ‘Technical’ track. The session described the evolution in thinking required when you move from the traditional SharePoint full trust solution model towards the SharePoint App model. Having been working with SharePoint apps since the pre-release program of SharePoint 2013 the session aimed to share my experiences and lessons learnt around the solution design approaches. The slides from the session are below.

 

SP.RequestExecutor cross domain calls using REST gotcha

CrossDomain

Recently I was building a prototype SharePoint hosted app to add items into the Host web. The basic operation of the app is that it queries the Host web for specific list types, then allows a user to add a collection of new items to the selected list. So read and write operations.

When dealing with the Host web it is important to remember that you are then subject to ‘cross domain’ calls and the restrictions in place for them. The browser protects users from cross site scripting and specifies that the client code can only access information within the same URL domain.

Thankfully SharePoint comes with some inbuilt options for these calls. The Cross Domain library is the primary option in either JSOM or REST forms.

I’ve been leaning towards REST mainly at the moment primarily as a focus for learning so I could get used to this method of data interactions.

So the first code sample is to get the host web task lists:

NB: This is a cut down extract of the function just to highlight the core request.

var executor;

// Initialize the RequestExecutor with the app web URL.
executor = new SP.RequestExecutor(appWebUrl);

//Get all the available task lists from the host web
executor.executeAsync(
{
url:
appWebUrl +
“/_api/SP.AppContextSite(@target)/web/lists/?$filter=BaseTemplate eq 171&$select=ID,Title,ImageUrl,ItemCount,ListItemEntityTypeFullName&@target='” + hostWebUrl + “‘”,

method: “GET”,

headers: {  “Accept”: “application/json; odata=verbose” },
success: successHandler,
error: errorHandler
}
);

Note from this sample how the host and app web urls are used within the url combined with the SP.AppContextSite. This is the key to invoking a cross domain call in REST using the SP.RequestExecutor

The second snippet of code is the one which adds the new item to the host web list:

NB: This is a cut down extract of the function just to highlight the core request.

var executor;

// Initialize the RequestExecutor with the app web URL.

executor = new SP.RequestExecutor(appWebUrl);

var url = appWebUrl +
“/_api/SP.AppContextSite(@target)/web/lists(guid'” + hostWebTaskList.Id + “‘)/items?@target='” + hostWebUrl + “‘”;

//Metadata to update.
var item = {
“__metadata”: { “type”: hostWebTaskList.ListItemEntityTypeFullName },
“Title”: item.title,
“Priority”: item.priority,
“Status”: item.status,
“Body”: item.body,
“PercentComplete”: item.percentComplete
};

var requestBody = JSON.stringify(item);

var requestHeaders = {
“accept”: “application/json;odata=verbose”,
“X-RequestDigest”: jQuery(“#__REQUESTDIGEST”).val(),
“X-HTTP-Method”: “POST”,
“content-length”: requestBody.length,
“content-type”: “application/json;odata=verbose”,
“If-Match”: “*”
}

executor.executeAsync({
url: url,
method: “POST”,
contentType: “application/json;odata=verbose”,
headers: requestHeaders,
body: requestBody,
success: addPrimeTasksToHostTaskListSuccessHandler,
error: addPrimeTasksToHostTaskListErrorHandler
});

Ok so at this point you’re probably wondering what is the gotcha mentioned in the title. Well here it comes and it’s one of those cut and paste horror stories which costs developers all over the land huge amounts of wasted effort.

So if you take a look at the following block of code

var url = appWebUrl +
“/_api/SP.AppContextSite(@target)/web/lists(guid'” + hostWebTaskList.Id + “‘)/items?@target='” + hostWebUrl + “‘”;

 

//TODO: find out why this works but the below fails with not actually performing the update
//$.ajax({
executor.executeAsync({
url: url,
type: “POST”,
contentType: “application/json;odata=verbose”,
headers: requestHeaders,
data: requestBody,
success: addPrimeTasksToHostTaskListSuccessHandler,
error: addPrimeTasksToHostTaskListErrorHandler
});

You’ll notice i copied over the structure of the method from a normal $.ajax call. THIS IS MY MISTAKE!!!!

As with many things the devil is in the details. By using this ajax snippet I’d introduced a bug which took nearly 4 hours to work out (very little found on the popular search engines about this). The worst part is that the call fires and comes back with a 200 success and even enters the success handler, BUT the action is not performed.

So what is the cause? Well basically there are subtle differences in signature.

  • The ajax call ‘type’ should be ‘method’ in the SP.RequestExecutor
  • The ajax call ‘data’ should be ‘body’ in the SP.RequestExecutor

So there you have it, two word typo’s which throw no errors but cause a logical failure in the code.

I hope this helps someone else avoid the pain Open-mouthed smile

Some really useful information about this capability can be read at:

Chris’ app series covers using this library in anger – http://www.sharepointnutsandbolts.com/2012/11/access-end-user-data-in-host-web-from.html

Apps for Office and SharePoint blog article discussing the inner workings and options for cross domain versus cross site collection – http://blogs.msdn.com/b/officeapps/archive/2012/11/29/solving-cross-domain-problems-in-apps-for-sharepoint.aspx

Using REST in SharePoint apps – http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/office/jj164022.aspx

One final comment, MSDN Code has this sample: http://code.msdn.microsoft.com/SharePoint-2013-Get-items-7c27024f/sourcecode?fileId=101390&pathId=1361160678 which doesn’t really demo cross domain at the time of writing as it isn’t using the code correctly against the host web in my opinion.

Yammer SharePoint App Installation Error

YammerError

Yammer and Microsoft released a new SharePoint app available in the Office Store here: Yammer App details

This is a great first step towards better Yammer and SharePoint integration Smile

However on installing it on some sites I encountered an error:

image

If this was an on-prem installation I’m sure the ULS would be giving some huge clues as to what is up, but I was lucky enough to be using Office365 (I love the fact bugs are Microsoft’s problem to diagnose Smile). So the only way forward was to raise Service Request. So after some problem investigation with the Support guy we got to the answer.

The key reason this App fails to install is the supported locales from Microsoft. As you can see from the screenshot below, only US English is a supported locale.

image

Ok so nothing massively unusual there? Nope in SP2010 this is the only English available, but with SP2013 Microsoft finally worked out the UK uses ‘proper’ English with all it’s quirky spellings for things like ‘colour’. So with this in mind all of our tenant site collections are set to UK English as the locale, as you can see in the screenshot below.

image

So when you add the app you think everything would be fine…. oh how wrong you’d be… So the add new app pops the ‘trust’ dialog. My first comment here is that it also includes the language options, so not really only about ‘trust’ is it.

image

Second bad user experience here is that the languages selection is hidden by default. So being a typical user I didn’t read the information and clicked ‘trust it’. And that’s when the install error happens.

So what should you be doing?

image

So the killer ‘feature’ is that the ‘Trust it’ dialog is picking up the current sites default locale (in this case English UK) and installing the app with that locale. Now if you remember the Yammer App only supports English US locale, so you need to select this locale from the dropdown.

image

So now the app is installing with its supported English US locale into our English UK sites. So our users get the language they want in most of SharePoint and Yammer works in it’s supported language.

image

image

I think this is pretty bad that it defaults to install in a locale it doesn’t support and provides no feedback to the user. So this experience is littered with badly designed UX and errors which would be very easy to avoid, and thus wasting the time of both the user and MS Support. Sad smile Lets hope someone fixes this in some later releases.

Further fixes and information can be found here: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/ragnarh/archive/2013/07/02/yammer-app-for-sharepoint-amp-office-365-tips-amp-tricks.aspx

I hope this saves someone the hassle of raising a ticket for something so simple.