my world of work and user experiences

December 31, 2012

Happy 2013

Filed under: SharePoint — Tags: — frederique @ 14:35

I wish you all a very happy 2013!

First of all I mean the new year 2013 that is about to start with a bang – actually a lot of bangs, of fireworks and popping champagne corks. I wish you lots of fun, good health and generally all the best.

Secondly, I also wish you lots of fun and all the best with the new SharePoint 2013. We’ve already seen quite a bit of it, but this will be its official year and I hope I will see it in production in my client’s workplace.

Of course I do not expect the new SharePoint to be all fireworks and champagne. But I do think it will make us happy, by making our lives easier. And maybe even healthier, if we can stop pulling our hair out over limitations in the SharePoint 2010 cloud that we are working with now. I think the following will make me happy:

  • Manageable managed metadata with a quick edit option to edit the managed metadata of multiple list or library items in a bulk operation.
    Now we can only edit fields like choice fields in the datasheet. The centrally defined managed metadata have to be set one by one, with some possibilities to set smart defaults so that you have a head start when you upload multiple files for instance. Third party tools like Colligo’s Contributor  can handle bulk editing, but the bulk of our users does not have that tool at their disposal. Really annoying, so we look forward to the new ‘quick edit’.
  • Follow functionality that gives users quick access to the team sites they use a lot and keep an eye on people and places of interest. Now we use alerts to keep track of content and have a non-standard implementation of the old My Links for my favorite team sites. That is a bit clunky, so bring on the follow options.
  • Sharing with external users seems smoother, more integrated with “normal” sharing.
    Right now, we are struggling with external users. They are supposed to participate in some serious business solutions. But the interface for inviting them confuses the site owners. And once they are on the site, it is not easy to assign tasks to them. Can you make that better? Yes please!
  • Records management functionality that will allow us to keep our environment clean, by setting policies that help owners to clean up old content.
    Now we have prepared for this by including an expiry data field in all content, but we’ll wait for 2013 to take action in content life cycle management.
  • Configurable search results that include custom properties, so that we can roll up information across site collections and present the result nicely.
    At the moment we are stuck with search results with standard properties, as the Content Query Web part does not look across the boundaries of site collections and the search result cannot include the custom properties that enrich our libraries.
  • Advanced workflows that work, using Nintex Workflow Online. I have seen in my playground that I can add the Nintex preview “app” from the store. Definitely a new toy that I want to play with, as soon as I have a moment.
    The last month or so, this has been one of the key issue that made me pull my hair out. We only have SharePoint Designer at our disposal to build the custom workflows we need to support several of our business processes. And that is  not only slow and unfriendly, but it is also limited to about five steps. Any more steps, and you simply cannot publish your workflow anymory – it is caused by some time-out that you are supposed to circumvent by changing your webconfig, which of course is not available to us in the cloud. By stripping out everything that was not crucial I managed to squeeze in almost all required steps. And I’ve told the users that we will try again as soon as SharePoint 2013 has arrived in our workplace.

And in the mean time: happy new year!!

Happy New Year

Happy New Year!

November 30, 2012

What happened to the Title?

Filed under: SharePoint,Usability — Tags: , — frederique @ 22:24

SharePoint document libraries have separate fields for the file name (Name) and for a Title. That makes perfect sense to me, because they have different requirements:

  • The Name needs to be a unique file name, so that you do not overwrite a previous document.
    So for libraries with many documents and especially libraries with many contributors, we recommend a naming convention such as including your initials and the date. This is the ‘system field’
  • The Title need to be clear for people who try to find the file and to determine if this is the file they want to open.
    So you should enter a clear and clean title that does not contain codes and additions that make it less readable. This is the ‘people field’.

In “old” SharePoint, the Title field was clickable
We used the Title field in all views. The reader could click on the Title to read the file, the contributor could open the item menu from the Title to edit it in MS Office. The unique but unwieldly Name was invisible to normal users.

In “new” SharePoint, it is the Name field that is clickable
You have no option but using the .Name field in all your view, because otherwise nobody can read or use the file in any way… The only use I see for the Title field, is for the search engine.
This is the case in SharePoint 2010 but also in SharePoint 2013. I do hope that it is a temporary mistake in the trial cloud that I am looking at.

The file Name and Title

The Title is visible, but it is the Name that is clickable

In the SharePoint 2010 Online version that we are working in now, the Title field often is mandatory, because it is important for the search. But users are getting rather annoyed, having to fill in a field that has no immediate use in the site itself.

I know that there are scripts and workarounds to get a clickable Title field. But I would rather stick with out-of-the-box functionality than risk inconsistency and unstability from some band-aid.
What I don’t know why it is now the Name rather than the Title that is the active field.

What happened to the title? Why did it lose its clickability and – basically – its usefulness?

September 30, 2012

SharePoint 2013: Working on it…

Filed under: SharePoint — Tags: — frederique @ 21:20

Hey, that’s my line! But the 2013 version of SharePoint also tells me that it is working on it, when it is loading a page or processing a change.

Working on it...

Working on it...

It is good to know that my team site is working on it. And it is even better that the team site allows me to be working on the content that I come here for.

One of my gripes with the team sites we now have in SharePoint 2010 (Online) is that my working area is too small.The Quick Launch menu is very useful, but it is in the way when I have list and libary views with many columns.
In the new SharePoint 2013, you can click on the icon Focus on content. That moves the menu out of the way, so can use the full width of the screen as a working area:

Team Site with context

Team Site with context

Focus on content

Focus on content

The interface for working on your documents has changed a bit as well. Instead of that menu that you can pull from the arrow that appears when you hover over the title or filename, we now have these dots… that indicate that you can do something… working on it…

July 31, 2012

SharePoint 2013: looking forward to it

Filed under: Office365,SharePoint — Tags: — frederique @ 22:54

I do not get excited by new tools just because of their gleaming newness. But I have to say that I am definitely interested by the new SharePoint 2013. I was able to get my own playground via Microsoft’s Office 365 Enterprise Preview and Jasper showed us around in a O365UG session last week. And within just a few clicks I saw functionality that we had just been discussing that very day and that required serious work on our current SharePoint Online based on SharePoint 2010:

  • Sites you’re following gives me shortcuts to the site that I actually use a lot. The sites that I created were automatically listed here, I can indicate for a site that I want to follow it, and apparently I get suggestions for sites that I may want to follow. I haven’t seen on what basis these suggestions are made. We were just looking for a way to flag sites as favorites that I want to access easily and from which I want to roll up content.

    Following sites

    Following sites in SharePoint 2013

  • Quick Edit for bulk editing managed metadata: We just had to manually change the properties of over three hundred items one by one, accompanied by a constant stream of “you’ve got to be kidding me…”, because you cannot edit managed metadata in the datasheet. But lo and behold, the new sharepoint has ‘Quick Edit’ (Thanks for pointing this out Jeroen!)
  • Embed code, like youtube videos and other snippets. Our current SharePoint Online strips out embedded code. In the new one, there is a button in the ribbon for it. Now we just need to figure out how to include non-secure content into our secure page…

    Embed code

    Embedding code in SharePoint 2013

I am looking forward to getting these and other extra tools in our toolbox. Hmmm, when will we get it? We’re on SharePoint Online, where we hope we get upgrades without too much of a hassle…

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