For ease of use, it helps to be able to treat a SharePoint document library as a file folder on your laptop, and from a team productivity perspective, it’s very valuable to have these documents stored there instead of on your local hard disk:
SharePoint provides versioning and check-in/check-out capability
It’s accessible from other locations than your machine
Your fellow team members can see your work in progress if they need to.
SharePoint is backed up, so you won’t lose anything if your PC gets run over or dies.
To start this process, the simplest thing to do is to browse to the document library (in this case the BLASS shared documents);
Because this is a SharePoint 2010 site, there is an option to open the library in Windows Explorer on the “Library” tab:
Clicking on the “Open with Explorer” button will launch Explorer on your machine. You may be prompted for your user name and password before this happens, but once you’ve logged in, you’ll see the folder:
From here you can do all the normal things that you’d expect with a local drive or mapped network drive. To make this sticky so that you don’t have to go through browsing the site every time you want to do this, you can map the drive to your computer.
Step 1: Clicking into the address bar will show you the actual URL for the library (hit ctrl-C or right click and choose copy to save it to the clipboard):
Step 2: Click on your computer icon in the Navigation pane, which will add the “Map Network Drive” to the menu:
Step 3: either click the “Map network drive” or right click and choose it from the menu:
Step 4: Click the hyperlink to connect to a web drive:
Step 5: Click next to start the wizard:
Step 6: Use “choose a custom network location” and click Next:
Step 7: Enter or paste the URL from the document library you found above and click Next:
Step 8: Give it a name you’ll recognize (defaults to the server name) and click Next
Step 9: You will be prompted with the following screen that means your web folder has been mapped:
From then on, you should be able to find it in the navigation pane of Explorer: .
I got an email from Microsoft today (Office Insider) that included an article about how to add a calendar to Outlook that would give you the March Madness schedule in Outlook as an example of publicly shared calendars.
Publicly shared calendars are nothing new, they’ve been around for years: Apple created the webcal URI to access iCalendar files using WebDAV (over HTTP) for iCal.
So I figured Microsoft probably wouldn’t have reinvented the wheel here and tried clicking the link in the article to see if it would fire up iCal.
Turns out that the URI in the link was very slightly different than a standard iCalendar, so instead of the normal “webcal://” it starts with “webcals://”, which interestingly enough tried to fire up Outlook (in my Windows virtual machine).
Luckily this URI isn’t yet associated with a particular app, so I was able to click on the “Choose an Application” button and pick the iCal application.
After choosing the iCal application, and clicking “OK”, iCal fires up with a dialog asking you to enter the URL of the calendar you wish to subscribe to, with the URI from the web page showing:
Now clicking “Subscribe” of course doesn’t work, since iCal has no idea what to do with “webcals” as a URL.
So to fix this, you have to modify the URI to be either “webcal://” or “http://” (turns out “https://” works as well).
So even though the URI is not quite the standard webcal one, it is possible to open as a web calendar with iCal, and the same trick works for Google Calendar. Just copy the URI from the link in the page (webcals://calendars.office.microsoft.com/pubcalstorage/9rc05lhz2204226/2011_NCAA_March_Madness_Calendar_Calendar.ics) by right clicking and copying the link:
Going to my Google calendar, I then click the little “Add” button at the bottom of the “Other Calendars” area, and choose “Add by URL”.
This brings up the dialog box that lets me add the calendar, and I paste in the URL I copied before, and just edit the first part to be “https”:
Since it’s already a public calendar, I didn’t check that box, although I’m thinking that makes it a public calendar on Google, which might make it easy to find with Google. At any rate, now the calendar shows up for me both on iCal and Google (obviously it would work in Outlook as well had I followed the original link).
I had a bit of a fire drill the other day when a SharePoint site that I had been using needed to be retired. I have moved content around before, but only lists and small numbers of documents, never an entire site.
After some research, and with help from my colleague James Robertson, I now know how to make a copy of a SharePoint site that includes the content on that site. This is useful if you are archiving a site, or need to create a working copy in order to do development and testing.
First of all, it appears that you must be a “Site Collection Admin” to do this task. If you don’t see the link to save the site to a template, you may need to request permissions from your SharePoint administrator.
Step 1 – Go to “Site Settings” from the “Site Actions” menu:
Step 2 – Click on the link that says “Save site as template”:
Step 3 – Name the template and check the “Include Content” check box:
Click the “OK” button
Step 4 – Use the new template by choosing “Create new Site”:
Step 5 – Name your new site and choose the template you created before from the “Select a Template” list (Click the “Custom” tab to see saved templates):
Step 6 – wait for the site to be created:
Step 7 – You should see the new site once it is created:
DONE – Now you have a complete clone of the site (including content, permissions, etc) as it was when the copy started.
When you get a document to where you’d like to gather feedback, you can fire off a Review workflow by going to the workflows page for the document:
This will take you to a page that displays the available workflows (will also display any that are in progress):
Choose the “Collect feedback” workflow and it will prompt you for who you’d like to review the document and a message that you’d like to send. You have complete control of who you pick, and you can also cc people if you just want to keep somebody in the loop:
Once you pick the people you want to review, assign a due date, and click the “Start” button, the workflow is running. The people you assigned the task to will get a notification that asks them to review the document. It includes your message, and links to both the document and the workflow tasks (I assigned this one to myself):
As the creator of the workflow, you’ll also get a message for each reviewer you assigned that has the link to their task:
Note that the tasks are stored in a SP library called Tasks, and if you click on the “Edit this task” button, you’ll get the form that lets you provide feedback:
This is where you would give feedback that doesn’t need to go into the document. It also allows you to reassign the task if you aren’t the person who should review it (by default it will assign back to the person who assigned the task to you, but you can also use it to reassign to somebody else):
Once the workflow is running, you can see the status at a glance by going to the workflow page again:
If you click on a workflow, it will show you the current status, and you can update individual tasks:
This takes you to the Task in the Sharepoint “Tasks” library (you can get there by clicking the “Tasks” link above) and a web version of what you see when you click the “Edit This Task” from Outlook:
If you want to see all of the outstanding tasks you can go to that library by clicking on the “Tasks” link on the workflows status page (above):
I’m a big fan of making people more productive by sharing data entry. In my current project, the tool we have for collaboration is Sharepoint 2007.One of our team members is really comfortable with Access development, and built a nice database for tracking the status of our document deliverables. The problem with this is that since Access is a local sort of solution, it doesn’t allow for people to make updates as they work, so we end up spending a lot of time with the database owner updating status.
The solution (in this particular environment) is to utilize Sharepoint lists. Access 2007 has a nice wizard driven approach to building Sharepoint lists, as long as the database is built correctly.
So here are the iterations I had to go through to make this work …
First pass: Diving right in, I loaded up the database to see what it looked like (how many tables, what sort of structure was there, etc). The designer did a good job of making a lot of the fields lookups, and had named all of the reference tables with the prefix of “REF” – so far so good:
So, thinking it would all work fine, I simply start the “Move to Sharepoint” button in the “External Data” tab of the Access Ribbon:
This starts the wizard, which walks you through the process of building the lists on Sharepoint. Once the task is finished, you are left with a new Access database that is linked to the newly created Sharepoint lists.
Looking at these lists I noticed something off: it didn’t appear that any of the reference tables were being used. They were there as linked Sharepoint lists, but when you looked at the data in either SP, or Access, there was no drop-down or choice to be made, they were simply text fields.
So digging a bit, and having a discussion with the developer, I found a few issues: Most of the reference tables weren’t actually setup as relationships in Access, and some of the reference tables didn’t have an ID column (an Autonumberprimary key).
The wizard requires the links between tables to be relationships on autonumber primary key fields, in order to build the field as a lookup.
Looking at the base relationships, it turns out that there was only one of the myriad of tables that actually had a relationship:
In order to get the Sharepoint lists to build fields that were lookups to the “REF” tables, I would have to create new fields that linked to the primary keys in those tables. To do that turns out to be relatively simple in this case.
First I open up the design of the main table, and look for the fields that are using lookups (in the case below, Contract_Task):
Then I simply create a lookup field that has the name of the table in question (in this case REF_Contract_Tasks). First step is to insert or append a new column :
Name the new column the same as the table in question:
Choose the table you are interested in (in this case REF_Contract_Tasks):
Pick which fields you want to display (typically this will just be a name field, but you can choose whichever fields you think would be helpful):
Choose the order you want things displayed:
Format the columns for lookup display (it’s recommended not to display the ID column):
Choose a name for the field (if you already typed this in, you don’t need to change it):
The wizard now asks you if you’d like to save the changes, which you should do:
Now if I look at the relationships, and hit “show all relationships”, I see the newly created link:
Right click on the relationship line to edit the relationship:
And I typically just check the “Enforce Referential Integrity” box to make sure it is an identifying relationship:
Once that is done, I can either build an update query, or copy the contents of the original row to the new one in datasheet view. For the purposes of this database, there aren’t that many rows, so a simple cut and paste works fine:
Hit ctrl-C or choose “Copy” from the menu:
Select the new row, and paste the data there:
Repeat for all of the other rows in the table that have some query in the lookup tab …
Now in a couple of cases, I got prompted for which field to use to establish the relationship. These are the tables that didn’t have an autonumber primary key. The fix for this is relatively painless (once you discover which tables have the problem).
Just add a new field to the table that has a Data Type of Autonumber, and make it a primary key.
The trick with this is that the primary key won’t likely have the same numbers as the original ID column, and you can’t create an AutoNumber column with data in it. So in order to get the new field updated, the easiest thing to do is create an update query and edit it to use the old join values.
Do query wizard, and choose the columns in question, in this case Deliverables, and REF_Projects. Since you created a relationship with the new REF_Projects field on the Deliverables table, you should end up with something like this:
In theory you should be able to edit the relationship in the GUI by dragging it around and/or right clicking on it. I’ve actually had limited success with this, so I tend to simply add the column I want to update (REF_Projects) to the query, then hit the button on the Design tab of the ribbon that says “Update”:
Then switch to SQL view in order to modify the join properties more easily:
The query so far will be something like:
UPDATE REF_Projects INNER JOIN Deliverables ON REF_Projects.newID = Deliverables.REF_Projects
SET Deliverables.REF_Projects = [REF_Projects].[newID];
And you want to update it with the old columns from the lookup query that was in the original table, so in this case it becomes:
UPDATE REF_Projects INNER JOIN Deliverables ON REF_Projects.ID = Deliverables.Project_Level
SET Deliverables.REF_Projects = [REF_Projects].[newID];
Then run the query and the values in the two fields should look relatively the same in the datasheet view (since they are now both pointing at the same rows.
Then another one that threw me off was one field that had a different column heading than the field name. When I got to the “Doc_Type” field, I didn’t see it in the Datasheet view. Turns out it had a value in the Caption area of the field definition:
So in the datasheet view it showed as “NDCP Standard”:
This field also has another interesting challenge – the values didn’t all match up with the values in the lookup table (REF_Doc_Type), so when I did my cut-and-paste trick I got the following error:
So looking at the REF_Doc_Type table, I was able to figure out that there is no row that is named “Standard” (likely it had been changed to “Program standard” at some point, and since this column stores the actual value, there is a disconnect).
So in this case, I chose to simply update the current column values to match the one I thought it should be with an update:
After that my cut-and-paste from the “NDCP Standard” field to the “REF_Doc_Type” field went without a flaw.
This same trick needs to be applied to any of the tables that will be worked directly with (typically those that contribute to forms) in order to make sure all of the proper links are built.
Once you have the links built, you want to rename the original table and build a view (in Access this is called a Query) with the same name that has all the joins you need in place. So after you rename the table, just build a simple query with that table in place (I use the wizard and make sure I include all of the fields):
I’ve made a slight change to the way I’m doing meeting minutes for standing meetings that I find helpful.
I am using a feature of OneNote that allows me to check off attendees a bit more easily.
It’s a bit of setup in the beginning, but it really works nicely once you have it done the first time.
Step 1: launch your meeting notes as usual from Outlook (by clicking the OneNote button on the ribbon). If you’ve installed the meeting template you’ll see something like:
Step 2: Now, because we haven’t figured out how to make the fields all flow into the right place in the template, a lot of the meeting information is actually way down at the bottom of the template. So scroll down until you see the meeting information (normally I just delete that). In this example, no attendees show up (I think because it’s not my meeting):
Step 3: Insert the meeting details by choosing “Insert Outlook Meeting Details” from the menu (Do this near the existing text in the notes so that you don’t have to scroll as much):
Step 4: Choose the meeting you want the information for from the list:
Step 5: Now you have a copy of the information for the meeting, including the attendee list (in the order it is in the invite):
Step 6: Copy the list of attendees to the Attendees section of the notes:
Step 7: Highlight the names and choose the “To do” tag from the tags list on the ribbon bar (or hit ctrl-1):
Step 8: Reformat the attendee list in whatever way makes the most sense to you (for long lists I typically split it into multiple columns):
Step 9: use this as the template for your roll call, click the check box for anybody who is in attendance, uncheck if they’re not. If your attendee list doesn’t change much, you can just copy the notes from a prior meeting and go forward with that.
It’s also easier for people receiving the notes to see who was actually there.
I’ve been working with the VA on a large project, where I was recently issued a laptop. Due to security concerns, they only allow VA government furnished equipment to connect to their network.
It’s the first time in a long while where I’ve had a setup where I didn’t have an adminstrative account, and some of the restrictions surprised me. The work I’m doing is for a group in Austin, Texas (located at the AITC), which means the computer was set up in the CST time zone. By default, Microsoft restricts setting the time to the administrator account (I think because it affects all users of the computer, although for a laptop that really shouldn’t matter), so I can’t change the time zone without desktop support.
While trying to see if there was a workaround in Outlook, I learned that you can set up a second time zone there, which helps you see the difference more easily.
Step 1: Go to Tools/Options from the menu:
Step 2: click the Calendar Options button:
Step 4: Add a label to the current windows time zone (CST unless you’ve had desktop change it for you).
Step 5: Check the box that says “Show an additional time zone”, and add the PST zone.
Step 6: click OK, and you’ll see both zones in your calendar.
Note: Some web searches I’ve done have suggested that it is possible to create a policy to allow a restricted user to change the time zone. (Computer ConfigurationPoliciesWindows SettingsSecurity SettingsLocal PoliciesUser Rights AssignmentChange the time zone), but without that you won’t be able to change the time zone as the computer is restricted to only allowing administrators to change the system time (Computer ConfigurationPoliciesWindows SettingsSecurity SettingsLocal PoliciesUser Rights AssignmentChange the system time)
I recently switched from DSL (which I’d had since it first was invented) to Comcast Cable for my Internet connection (and TV and phone). By doing so I saved about a hundred bucks a month over AT&T and DirecTV. Of course as soon as I switched, AT&T started calling me with a bundle that was roughly the same price, but that’s a different story.
One of the things that happened a while back was that Plaxo was bought by Comcast. I have always been a premium Plaxo user, feeling that I wanted to support them since I find the product so incredibly useful. What I learned was that if you are a Comcast subscriber, you are automatically a Plaxo premium user.
Now, being a premium subscriber used to only mean you got VIP support and access to a couple of tools (like the address and calendar deduplication tool). But now Plaxo has announced that the Outlook synch is a premium member only tool. While I worry that this decreases the value of the service (since there will be fewer reasons for people to sign up, therefore fewer members, and decreasing the number of automatic updates I get), what is interesting is that every Comcast subscriber gets access to these premium services.
To activate this, first you have to make sure that you are signed up for Plaxo through your Comcast email account. First, log in to your Comcast email by going to http://www.comcast.net and clicking on the Email link in the “My Comcast” portlet:
If you’re logged in already it will go straight to your email, otherwise you’ll get the login screen, where you need to log in:
Log in with your Comcast email address. This will be something like your last name and street address unless you’ve changed it. Once you have logged in, you’ll be at the Comcast email screen, which uses the Zimbraemail client. From the tabs, you’ll want to choose the address book:
The first time you go to the address book, you’ll be asked to build your address book:
If you click on the “build your address book”, you’ll go to an initial Plaxo setup screen. Since they already have some of your information (name and email), they don’t have to ask you for anything but where you want to populate your address book from:
So now it gets interesting. If you click on Plaxo, you can link an existing Plaxo account to your Comcast email. If you were already a Plaxo user, this will get your current address book and calendar.
If you’re not already a Plaxo subscriber, you can choose one of the other options to build your address book by logging you in and pulling the address book from there:
Note that the GMail synch only works for accounts ending in “gmail.com“, and not GMail accounts that are using Google Apps. I suspect that Yahoo accounts would also be restricted to “yahoo.com“, but I don’t know that for sure.
This one does require you to fill in your name and basic information (or link to your existing Plaxo account by following the link at the bottom right). Either way, once you have the account linked, you are signed up and active as a premium member. Now not only can you set up synch points, but you can also install the Outlook synch tool on any computer you use.
Along the way the steps will ask you to update your address book, and if you want to invite your friends. I always skip that step, since I send my friends enough email already.
At the end, you can validate that you’re a premium member by clicking on “Settings” at the top right of the screen, and then choosing “Premium” from the list at the left:
This shows my account has premium status.
If you use Outlook, there’s a few more steps to get fully set up with the Outlook synch tool. There are multiple ways to get there, but ultimately you want to download the sync tool from http://www.plaxo.com/people/tools?src=tools
Note that you have access to all of these tools, some of which are very cool (like being able to roll back your address book). If you aren’t a Plaxo premium subscriber, you can download and install the tool, but you won’t be able to use it, since the synch verifies the account status when you run it for the first time.
Plaxo has a nice walkthrough of the install process here: http://www.plaxo.com/downloads/outlook?src=pulse_tools_outlook〈=en, so I won’t duplicate that. One thing that I did learn the last time I did this for somebody is that you have to install it with an account that has admin priviledges. The install won’t fail, but you just won’t get the Plaxo tool bar in Outlook.
Once the install completes, and you start Outlook up, it will walk you through a wizard that will sync your Outlook and Plaxo address books. From then on, you should see the Plaxo tool bar at the top of your Outlook screen:
There are lots of other neat things about Plaxo, not the least of which is that you can synch between multiple machines. There’s a version of Plaxo for the Mac, and it seems to do a fair job of interacting with the built-in Mac synch tools (including MobileMe).
I’d definitely recommend you take advantage of this “free” service if you are a Comcast internet subscriber.
I received an post on a group I follow reminding people not to send out documents in the Office 2007 format of Word. Now, I’ve been using the 2007 suite since the first betas (way before 2007), and have learned this lesson more than once (mostly because of lost settings when I’ve had to do a reinstall).
The new format for files in Office was created by Microsoft in an attempt to create an open file structure. Any file you save in a default install of 2007, will have the letter “x’ appended to the file extension, signifying that it is saved in this new format.
There are many ways to deal with this problem, and the most successful strategy is actually to simply configure your 2007 products to default to saving in the older format.
You can also point the person who is using the older version to the Microsoft dowload pages to get the Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack which lets Office 2003 open the new files. The problem with this approach is that many organizations don’t allow their users to do installations (in a lame attempt to keep spyware and viruses out of the company network), so it’s either not possible, or difficult to get done.
You can do a “Save As” to create a copy in Word 97-2003 format, RTF, or even as a PDF (yes, the new product lets you create PDF files). But doing a “Save As”, requires you to remember to do that each time, and you end up with multiple files which could end up with version problems (you start with the docx, save as doc, then make a change – now which one is current?)
So the trick is to go into the options, and set your save format to the “Word 97-2003 (*.doc)” format, and then you don’t have to worry about it.
To change the options in Word (or for that matter any of the Office products), click on the
You will then see the menu pop up, with the “Word Options” button at the bottom:
Click on the button, to get to the options, then click on “Save” in the left hand column to display the save options:
If you haven’t updated yet, you will see “Microsoft Word (.docx)” as the option for the “save files in this format”. Click the drop down and choose “Word 97-2003 (*.doc)” as shown below:
Finally hit the button at the bottom of the dialog that says “OK”, to save your changes. Create a new document, and save it, and you should no longer see the “*.docx” format.
From now on, whenever you save a document, it will save in the old format unless you do a “Save As”.