SharePoint Framework Context Explorer web part

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The new SharePoint Framework developer preview is available now and you can check out how to get started over in the Microsoft GitHub repo here: https://github.com/SharePoint/sp-dev-docs/wiki

Follow through the setup and tutorials if you’re new to the SPFx and how it all hangs together.

With the new SPFx we get given a context object as part of the core which provides properties we can leverage inside our web part. This example is super simple and is aimed just to provide an easy to consume view of the context.

The full technical document is found  here

We can run the web part in the WorkBench hosted on localhost to see something like this

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When we run the same web part within a SharePoint online hosted WorkBench it updates to show something like this

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Extend the render

We inject some additional code into the render method to display the various properties.

Helper functions

There are a couple of additional functions to help deal with the objects and enums.

Clone and extend

Hopefully this will help you get familiar with some of the properties you have access to. Feel free to clone the code from my repo SPFx Context Explorer Repo.

Smile

Driving engagement with your organisation through the Office 365 Video Portal

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Back in November 2014 Microsoft announced the release of the Office 365 Video Portal. This was the first of the so named NextGen portals Microsoft aims to release. We gained an internal Video portal within each Office 365 tenant backed by the power of the Azure Media services platform. This was also the first time we had received a service at MVP (minimum viable product) stage. So the community and customers alike began to watch the Office 365 teams roadmap closely and provide feedback via their UserVoice channel.

Introduction to the Video Portal

I won’t spend a huge amount of time explaining every detail about the Video Portal, but if you’re new to Office 365 here is a little more about the Video Portal services.

Video Portal

The Video Portal is the main ‘Hub’ experience, it is the entry point when you navigate to the Video Portal from the application launcher tile. It displays a spotlight of selected videos, trending video aggregation, upto three video channel video aggregations and a channel directory. Video Portal admins can make various settings changes such as the spotlight video selections and the permissions for the portal.

Video Channel

The Video Channels are logical collections of videos. They feature a spotlight, trending aggregations and actually store the videos (for the technical amongst us it’s a little more complex than that). Each channel has settings like the spotlight video selections, Yammer group selection and colour for the header, plus permission.

Video playback page

The playback page is where you can watch the video, discuss it on Yammer, see suggested videos.

Microsoft published a good overview…

Read about the service from the Office 365 site.

To find the indepth help and instructions for the Office 365 Video Portal visit the https://support.office.com site.

Office Mix

At the same time that the Video Portal was announced a little known app called Office Mix also gained the ability to publish directly to the portal. Office Mix is an awesome addition to PowerPoint which helps employees to create interactive video presentations, you can read more about the features over in the tutorial section of their site. Combining both Office Mix and the Office 365 Video Portal opens up many new opportunities to leverage the powerful Office Mix capabilities and still use them within Office 365.

So where can Office Mix help your organisation?

You can use Office Mix when:

  • You need to prepare a presentation for your team, customer or partners and have read-only mode with the animations and transitions
  • You need to improve knowledge sharing, adding voice, video and digital ink to your slides
  • You need to understand who watched which portions of your content, and survey your audience to gain feedback and insights
  • You need to support e-Learning scenarios, turn PowerPoint into a tool which saves time and money allowing experts to produce and publish their content
  • Share pre-recorded mixes for the meeting presentation prior to the meeting, freeing up the meeting time for discussion and actions

You can find out more about Office Mix for business here.

So you can see the this collaboration between Office Mix and Office 365 Video Portal will allow your employees to produce content in a more interactive fashion. This is an area of your Office 365 rollout which really supports employees during their working processes. Publishing these videos into the Video Portal then makes them easier to discover via Delve and other sites.

Where do you use the videos?

So hopefully your organisation has made use of the Video Portal and has a vibrant collection of channels. It’s always better to bring those videos into other information contexts.

You can embed a video anywhere across your SharePoint Online, and with hybrid on-prem SharePoint. Microsoft have a great article on their support site which details the steps. This will help your employees make use of video to support other content. Examples like a mobile phone video uploaded with a site visit, then embedded on a best practices team site for discussion.

Delve is a great way to discover video content being produced across your teams and departments. Using Delve you can add those to Boards or Favourites so you can find them later.

The videos can also be embedded into the Delve modern blog articles, again helping to make those articles much more media and context rich.

Understanding the stats

Just released are the video statistics. You can find all the details here.

The most exciting part of the new stats is the ability to see inside the viewing stats. Video is such a rich media that simple view counts don’t really cut it. The new stats (from Feb 19th 2016 onwards) will begin to show a breakdown of the viewer engagement.

An example from the launch article:

Office 365 Video Viewer Engagement

Why is this cool?

Well lets imagine you have a month all hands meeting in which your CEO talks about the business strategy, sales wins and various reward announcements. These meetings are often recorded and published by the internal communications teams. The comms team will already be promoting the video via existing channels like Yammer/Slack and email. Now they can also understand the true engagement with the video and act accordingly. Imagine that at 48 minutes into the video the CEO made the most significant announcement which the comms team wanted people to see. From the graph above they can quickly see that less than half the viewers made it to that time in the video. This gives them opportunity to tailor new messaging about the missed communication.

Wrap up

Hopefully this has shown you a few options, features or tid-bits about the Video Portal that you can dove tail into your engagement and communication strategy within your organisation. Making better and deeper use of your existing Office 365 investments.

Office 365 Unified API session from Microsoft Recoder 2015

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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.

https://graphexplorer2.azurewebsites.net/

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

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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.

Registration

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

You can register at http://aka.ms/Recoder2015

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

 

Office Online UI updates

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There have been some subtle changes to the Office Online user experience in the past week or so. Office Online are the office applications such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint, they render a web based version which allows you to edit and read content directly within the browser.

The image below shows the reading view of a Word document. Note how the application bar now has a new layout and different options

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The link back to the document library location is now within the grey area rather than on the header bar. In the image below you can see the library title ‘operations’.

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The other options now appear on the right-hand end. As you can see from the image below some of the common options are now available without opening the file.

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The ‘Edit Document’ menu provides us the links to edit online or in the desktop application.

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The ‘Print’ menu item prints off the document as a PDF

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The ‘Share’ menu item launches the Sharing dialog.

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The ‘Comments’ menu item opens up the commenting functionality.

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The ‘…’ menu brings up some other useful features.

The ‘Find’ menu brings up an in-document search box. Personally I’d like to see this as one of the primary options as it is a training challenge to educate people that it exists.

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Other options allow for the in place translation using the ‘Translate’ menu option. The ‘Download’ does exactly as you’d expect and downloads the file, as does ‘Download as PDF’.

The final option which is worth mentioning is the ‘Embed’ option. As you can see from the image below it has some pretty neat features.

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We can set the dimensions and some of the interactions available such as enabling print and the start page.

While they sneaked in under the radar these changes have made Office Online even more capable within Office 365.

Naming a document in Office Online

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Office Online is the web based versions of the common Office application like Word, Excel and PowerPoint. These are great productivity boasters in Office365 allowing most common document editing experiences to be performed within the browser without the need to download the actual document locally.

As a user you can create a new file directly within the browser from the ‘New’ menu item shortcuts on every document library.

In OneDrive for Business it looks like this.

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In a team site it looks like this.

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Lets look at an example when we click the ‘Word document’ from the OneDrive new menu.

It opens our new document in Word Online.

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As we can see when we return to the OneDrive library our new document has been created but it has been called ‘Document1’.

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So how can we rename it to something sensible?

We can do it via the Edit Properties menu

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Change the file name in the edit form and click save.

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This now shows the file updated.

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There is an easier way.

Lets repeat the action from the new menu to get a new document. This gives us another ‘Document1’ Word document. So we should be able to switch into backstage to update the file info right…. By choosing ‘Save As’ and picking a filename.

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Well no actually this doesn’t work in Office Online as it is clever enough to be already saving directly into the online library.

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Clicking ‘Save’ tells you as much.

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So how can we change the file name? Well its actually so simple when you know how.

Click the ‘Document1’ name in the header bar while editing the document. And simply overtype your desired name.

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When you change it you can see the change back in the main library view.

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OneDrive for Business site folders page

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Recently Microsoft updated OneDrive for Business on Office 365 with some new features. Full details can be read in their blog: https://blog.onedrive.com/onedrive-for-business-updates-web-user-experience/

As you can see below a new left navigation item has appeared called ‘Site Folders’.

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This takes you to a new screen which shows all the sites which you have followed as shown below.

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Hovering over an item allows you to click into it.

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Clicking in shows the libraries within the that site.

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One final observation is that the page itself lives off the ‘Social’ list in the users ‘personal site’ (For the techies out there the MySite Personal site equivalent). So in theory it could be manipulated, although this is of course risky.

Thoughts on the UX and Features for this update

So looking at the implementation as it stands I think there are still some possible enhancements that could be made.

UI Design and considerations for your branding

As you can see from the screen grabs, the site logo is being brought into the UI for the page. So this page suffers the same issue as the ‘Sites’ page when the client branding implementation uses the same site logo for every site. This information becomes repetitive and adds little value. So if you are considering a global branding implementation maybe it would be worth considering a more statically defined ‘logo’ image and allowing the individual sites to use their own logo. This would help this page pop more visually. This global logo in the suite bar is also on Microsoft’s public roadmap for implementation.

Site naming

Site naming is brought even more to the fore for this page (It was already evident on the ‘sites’ page). Many sites are not being named with these features in mine, so when presented with a list like this and the ‘sites’ page the sites are actually hard to differentiate. So when thinking about a site naming scheme it will be important to think about this capability at the same time. How you can message this to end users, especially once the new ‘Group’ features come along and end users have the potential to be creating new site collections associated to mailbox and Yammer groups. Maybe a good method is to provision sites with names to give appropriate length urls then retro fit a more descriptive site title.

Information presented

So there is a very basic collection of information presented, Name and site logo and a followed or modified date depending which level of the hierarchy you are on. In my opinion this isn’t really as useful as it could be. It also causes some confusion with the dates where it switches from date followed to modified. It doesn’t make it clear what was modified, it also doesn’t seem to add value to the experience as you can not filter or sort by either date.

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.

 

Office 365 new profile page

Microsoft recently announced improvements to the ‘Profile’ page in Office365

The image below shows what the new page looks like.

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And when viewing someone else

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Some observations from this update:

  • The page url has changed to ‘PersonImmersive.aspx’ which is interesting and my gut feel is this might start to help with the unification of Office365 ‘product’ stack into one platform. Think about how Yammer profiles might fit in the future, as we’ve already seen some hints that the Yammer UI will drop inside the Office365 suite bar (the blue strip at the top).
  • Documents in common is pretty awesome, more of that in another post.
  • You no longer get skills and org chart information listed. So again wild speculation time…. I would have a punt that Microsoft are beginning to recognise skills via the Social and Oslo search algorithms and will be pushing this as the way to create skills searches rather than traditional attribute driven profile searching. For me there is a balance between these approaches that needs to remain, most organisations still need formally recognised attributes as well as activity driven information about these people dimensions.
  • The profile fields in ‘edit’ have remained the same as always, in fact we have seen customisations to the native list being reverted to OOTB (ie descriptions going AWOL).
  • This change has altered the view on other ‘MySite’ host pages like OneDrive as the profile picture has been removed. To me this has made it even harder to directly navigate to your profile page unless you search.
  • The master page being used has a 16 major version.
  • For me the presence bar next to the photo is being lost in the visuals.

So that’s a quick brain dump of some random thoughts about this update.