Blog

Mar 15
Extending SharePoint with BCS

What is extensibility and how can we leverage this in SharePoint?  I think it's important to think about how this is possible as we continue to forge ahead in our diverse roles of supporting platforms such as SharePoint On-Premises or Office 365.

Wikipedia states -  "Extensibility is a software design principle defined as a system’s ability to have new functionality extended, in which the system’s internal structure and data flow are minimally or not affected, particularly that recompiling or changing the original source code is unnecessary when changing a system’s behavior, either by the creator or other programmers."

From where I'm standing, I like the fact that I can have a platform that can provide solution and have a business impact "without" impacting other systems!  Maybe it's time to see what Business Connectivity Services (BCS) has the potential to do in our SharePoint environments!   

Microsoft TechNet states -  "Business Connectivity Services is a centralized infrastructure in SharePoint 2013 & Office 2013 that supports integrated data solutions."

I'd like to think companies are taking advantage of these OOTB data integration tools and understanding what potential business problems it might solve.  This also aids in our roles in business to help support the company and provide ways to make them productive and profitable.  Win-Win! 

In working through BCS recently to solve a business problem, it has occurred to me the importance of thinking out-of-the-box, looking at what's possible with the tools at hand and why its important to find hybrid solutions for our customers.  In doing so, you can become more extensible by working with a database administrator, learning more about SQL and how the data interacts with SharePoint.  You learn more about authentication, permissions and understanding how this all connects in Central Administration.

This solution has the capability of  surfacing up external LOB data in a multitude of ways such as a database, web services or an OData source.  It occurred to me that this might be useful for data that has been archived or just needed for Read only purposes.  I picture an old dusty server sitting somewhere being untapped just waiting for it's new debut.

What is helpful to know is that it can be designed for CRUDQ (Create, Read, Update, Delete, Query) operations.  These are questions you need to ask ahead of time to help establish if this is being designed for Read only purposes.  If in the event you are looking Write capabilities you are in luck as it is possible with SQL to have the data automatically synchronize back to the external data source.   What are you gaining?  Your data is in SQL and still can be surfaced using in a nice SharePoint interface.  What else might you ask?  There are dedicated SharePoint BCS web parts and the ability to use an external site columns to pull in data into a single field.  The great part about this is that you can use additional tools such as pages and promoted links to create attractive tiles and have a clean presentation layer.

 Could this help avoid costly consultants or complicated custom applications that could do the same thing?  That is for you to decide!    More importantly, take a moment to evaluate how  (BCS) can utilize the use of extensibility and it just might give surprise you what great results you will get in return.  Check out this TechNet resource to give you a large scope of what all is entailed: 
Overview of Business Connectivity Services in SharePoint 2013



Dec 15
Audience Targeting

Magic Trick Approach

If you like magic tricks, you might enjoy this!

Audience Targeting is available on both SharePoint On Premise and Office365.  The bottom-line as to what the excitement is about is that you can target who can see what on your site/app/item.

I've been implementing this and applying it since 2010, but recently heard yet an example of how to apply this in the Channel 9 recording, "Tips and Tricks to make the most out of your SharePoint site and maximize adoption" that was given at the SharePoint 2014 conference. 

Quick Example To Try:

If you are creating a new subsite or revamping one perhaps, you can use the new app "Promoted Links" and use Audience Targeting on the tile.  This would help aid in targeting who can and can not see a specific tile.  I plan to try this method so that in building solutions for people I don't have to add the words ~ "Restricted Access" inside the desciption.

Stay Tuned:

I will produce a step by step and publish! 

 

Dec 15
Mass Ascension | Quick Matting Techniques

Looking for Quick Matting Techniques?

The border on this image was added using Adobe Photoshop.  Note that you can quickly add your own borders to an image and then print off not only the image, but a matted look and feel.

In order to do this decide what the ultimate size of the picture needs to be.  If you want an 5" x 7", you crop the image to a 4" x 6" then add to layers at .5" each.  To get started to to  Image/Cavas Size.

MassBirds_0138_4x6.jpg

Additionally, I love the fact that you can pick up the colors in the image to add to the borders.

Hope this is helpful!

Quick Tips by Cynthia

 

Nov 11
Run Command & Quick Wins With Office365 Customers!

​The Run Command can be a useful tool in many ways when thinking about how to use Office365. 

How so you might wonder!  You can be dealing with a varied group of folks using SharePoint 2013 that have a wide range of skill sets.  In many cases this situation that might require you to quickly train or pull up an application on someone's "device". 

Assuming in this example we are talking about infamous "Jane Doe" and she's on her desktop/tablet, insisting that she wants to start a word document on her computer, before she'll place it in SharePoint.  Our job is to help her with this quickly! We want to show her how to quickly pull up a word document without having to find it on her computer. 

How To Windows 7:

Step 1 = Windows Logo Key + R WindowCommand.JPG

Step 2 = Enter in the Command Cell - winword

Automagically Microsoft Word application opens for them.

How To Windows:

http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/what-happened-run-command#1TC=windows-7

Feb 04
InfoPath Clash

​InfoPath Clash

As we all patiently wait for the newest unveiling of forms at the 2014 SharePoint Conference, SPC348, it reminds me of the song from the Clash "Should I Stay Or Should I Go Now".  More importantly, "...if I stay there will be trouble'.

Thus far I've been drifting back to the following two items I've stumbled across in my research on this hot topic that has the #Infopath followers in limbo;

1. Patrick Halstead
This comment is taken from an article that Andrew Connell wrote on April 11, 2013.  It has a lot of truth to it my opinion:

Seriously, guys, where do you expect SharePoint or even Microsoft to be in 10 years? Microsoft Software Assurance guarantees 10 years of support so we have InfoPath 2013 and 2014 until 2023 or 2024. Do you really want it to last longer than that? All technology waxes and wanes and the cycle is speeding up. I don't expect you to be using SharePoint in 10 years much less InfoPath, so get over it.

2. Jennifer Mason
This article provides a nice layout on; Direction, While We Wait, Future.  The End of the InfoPath Era

All in all I am still leaning toward the fact that it's a way that we can manage forms for short term projects.     

 

Dec 01
Promoted Links

Promoted Links is a new app that is part of SharePoint 2013.  This nifty app allows you to create a new app, then place it anywhere in SharePoint that supports an app and then appears as a linkable tile bar.

In this example, I am going show how I wanted to promote my graphics that I've placed inside a Site Assets library​. 

 

Promoted LinksAccess the app by selecting Setting icon in the upper right-hand side of the site.
promoted linksYou can enter "promoted" in the search box if you want to located quickly.  Name the app and select Okay.

 The objective is to create "new items" so they will appear in the tiles. 
Provide short names in the title as they will appear directly on the tile.

Assuming you want to display images that are on your site, please note that these images must be preloaded into SharePoint before you can use the Background Image Location.  You can locate the path to the image and place in the cell.  In my case, I want to display all the graphics that are in my SharePoint library, so I can putting a path to the Graphics library in the Link Location cell.

Your Promoted Links list is now accessible inside of your site.  By using the ribbon and selecting the Web Part icon, you can quickly place this app into any site or page on your site.  Notice that I located this by using Apps - cdvisions-pl.  You can see that the [cdvisions-pl] is a SharePoint list by looking at the icon affliated with it. 


Once you've inserted the web part, the Tile view is what you want showing. 
If you get the All Promoted Links view, you can use Edit Web Part and change the view back to Tile.
Closing Remarks:  ​I hope this helpful in getting you started in using Promoted Links!

 

Nov 28
SmugMug

​What are the benefits of using SmugMug?  This is something that I am willing to get to the bottom of and I have 10 more preview days on my cdvisions account to do it. 

As a avid photographer, I have found that I'm truly not utlizing resources that are available to me in order to publish my works and possibly get paid for outside of my day job.

One key thing that I'm investing is the ability to do canvas wraps.  This somehow fascinates me.  I am researching who does it, how much it costs, etc.

I'm hopeful that I will get to the bottom of this and attempt to publish my results and comments on what this might provide.

Update:  December 4, 2013
Took the plug and bought the Pro subscription for a year.  Will dive into the help and technical support to read more about what I'm in for!

Here's my final site address:
http://cdvisions.smugmug.com/

Nov 28
InfoPath

As I started diving into InfoPath recently, I had no idea what I was in for. There are so many ways to use this product that it can be a tad daunting.   What I find most interesting is that the product is somewhat the same from its migration from 2010 to 2013.   This is great news in that I finally didn't have to buy a new book!InfoPath2010.JPG 

So far my greatest success has been the following two publishing features:

  • SharePoint Lists
  • Blank Form | Content Type

 

 

What I love so far about using the content type feature is that once the form is published, it can be resused throughout your site collection.

A consideration for this might be if you have a form that you want reused by a division or department.  You could provide a link to the form and have the results go back to either a single form library or various libraries.  To date, I have this publishing to a forms library.

 

Apr 25
Grass Roots

A friend of mine is always referring to "grass roots" initiatives, and I suppose I haven't wrapped my head around all that it entails.  I recently came across this site that mentions grass roots and thought I'd share.

VoterVoice:
https://www.votervoice.net/marketingwp/

Apr 18
Welcome to my blog!

This is where I'll be sharing my thoughts on topics that matter to me. Who knows... I might even share pictures, videos and links to other interesting stuff.

If I catch your interest, let me hear from you.