Tag Archives: Mobile

New SharePoint apps for education and business

We are releasing several apps for SharePoint (on-premises and Office 365) I’ve included some information below, please feel free to drop me an email or give me a call if you want an online demonstration of the Apps. More information on the apps can be found here

Parents evening booking system

Parent evening booking SharePoint App

This app allows parents to view available days/times and book online. This app was designed to reduce the administrative time taken to book slots on behalf of parents based on their preferences.

Parent evening booking SharePoint App

Some of the features include:

  • Parents view available slots
  • Parents book online
  • Parents can make changes to the booking
  • Teachers can see who has booked to see them
  • Admins can upload session data via spreadsheet
  • Supports multiple children at the school
  • Updated several times a year as part of the subscription

Internal helpdesk

The Cloud Design Box internal helpdesk app manages all your support tickets in an easy-to-use list. Users can view and update their own tickets while the helpdesk team have access to manage all the support tickets.

Parent evening booking SharePoint App

Leave requests

Leave and holiday requests tend to create a burden on admin, managers and human resources. Streamlining requests to just a few clicks and automating the processes by sending notification emails saves everyone time.

Parent evening booking SharePoint App

Using the Cloud Design Box dashboard, employees can view all approved holidays for their team, allowing them to make an informed decision on when to request leave. Employees fill in a simple form on the site which is them emailed to their manager for approval. In just a few clicks the manager can approve or reject with some feedback.

Employee onboarding dashboard

Over the years Cloud Design Box developed several workflows and processes for new employees. When making this web part, we took the core requirements made added them to an easy-to-use interface.

Parent evening booking SharePoint App

A clean dashboard shows instantly the onboarding status and progress of each employee. Each task list assigned to individual departments can be viewed in more detail.

Parent evening booking SharePoint App

The HR department have full control over the lists so they can check the current status and chase up any outstanding tasks. Departments are alerted by email when a new employee joins and have access to update their own task list. The app is mobile friendly and can be used on any device.

KPI and appraisal tracker

This dashboard was designed to make it easier and clearer for managers to track the progress of their team. Setting a KPI is easy and the employee can view their own goals and see a graphical representation of the progress made towards meeting their targets.

Parent evening booking SharePoint App

Appraisal documentation can also be attached to the employee making appraisal meetings easy to track.
It’s been really exciting developing these new apps and dashboards. Our enthusiastic customers have helped define the core functions and we look forward to developing these further as time goes on.

Other Apps

Our other apps include:

  • PO Tracker
  • Timesheets

And can be found on the Cloud Design Box website

For more information or to arrange a demonstration please drop me an email or give me a call.

Thanks,
Tony

Creating a new SharePoint framework project using NodeJS

It’s finally been released as a preview! Please note that backwards compatibility will not be supported so don’t start any production work yet, this is for testing and feedback only!



It can be downloaded from GitHub now, I go through the process below but the official instructions are here (and really straightforward): https://github.com/SharePoint/sp-dev-docs/wiki/Setup-your-machine

Getting familiar with the new environment

It takes some practice and learning to understand how the node package manager works along with Gulp and Yeoman. It can be a steep learning curve but there are some great Angular tutorials to help get familiar with the setup and technologies.

Error messages and path limitations

Even creating a new project can generate a large amount of errors. It’s important to get familiar with these errors and how to resolve them.

One important item to consider when creating a new project is the project path. The project folder structure can get very large and reach the limit allowed on windows machines. Try creating all the projects in a short path such as “C:\dev” to avoid hitting that limitation when generating projects.

Node Package Manager

Before starting, install NodeJS.

Install Yeoman and Gulp

All the other pre-requisites are installed via the NodeJS command line. It is very easy to add frameworks and components using this method.

Yeoman is a generator which will gather all the frameworks required and pull them down into the project. It is marketed as a scaffolding tool for modern WebApps. SharePoint has a Yeoman generator, this creates the project and downloads any dependencies.

Gulp is a JavaScript task runner. It provides a workflow to build, compile and optimise libraries and stylesheets. It also refreshes the browser as changes are made. Gulp will load the SharePoint workbench and refresh any changes made to the code live.

Yeoman and Gulp are installed from the NodeJS command line using the following line:

npm i -g yo gulp

Install the Yeoman SharePoint generator

The Yeoman generator for SharePoint is very similar to the old Visual Studio templates. Download the Microsoft SharePoint generator using the following line:

npm i -g @microsoft/generator-sharepoint

Creating a new project

Open up the NodeJS command line and navigate to your project folder (remember to keep the path short). Run the following line to create the new SharePoint web part project template:

yo @microsoft/sharepoint

Follow the instructions for entering the project details. Errors may appear on the screen which will need to be resolved at some point. This process takes around 20 to 30 minutes.

Running the SharePoint workbench

Test the new project template by running this command:

gulp serve

SharePoint workbench

The SharePoint workbench runs locally (so there isn’t a dependency to have a SharePoint farm or tenancy setup in the development environment).

Editing the code

Any text editor can be used to make changes to the code but it’s worth looking at Visual Studio Code. It is free!

These open source solutions are platform dependant so these projects don’t have to be created on a windows PC.

More resources

There are some detailed blog posts on all of the items skimmed above. Please read them and get up to speed with NodeJS before diving straight in with SharePoint.

Stefan Bauer’s blog posts on NodeJS and the SharePoint Framework
Chris O’Brien’s SharePoint Framework blog posts
Setup your environment
Official Microsoft starter tutorials

How to stop using custom master pages when branding SharePoint



With the rise of Office 365 and SharePoint online, the ancient practice of using a custom master page to brand a SharePoint site is coming to an end. SharePoint online has many incremental changes, bug fixes and improvements to the Seattle master page meaning that if you have taken a copy of this Master Page to apply your branding, you could be missing out on the constant evolution of SharePoint online.

Custom Master Pages can still be used but Microsoft recommend against this now. The good news is that we can make exactly the same branding changes without having to use a custom master page.

I will briefly mention that you can create themes for SharePoint very quickly using Microsoft’s free tool which can be downloaded from here. Great for quick colour palettes and background images but not great if you want a responsive or more custom design.

Custom master pages (for branding purposes) tended to have a small number of adjustments such as:

  • Custom HTML (maybe for a menu container)
  • Links to CSS files (for responsive styling and branding)
  • Links to JavaScript files (for use of jQuery and additional libraries)

Link to custom CSS file

A link to a custom CSS file is recommended for advanced branding changes. This won’t affect any improvements to the default Seattle master page however you may need to update the CSS from time to time to reflect any interface changes. The alternative CSS link can be set via the GUI on a publishing site or by CSOM on any site.

As a designer, you will be aware that you can’t do everything in CSS such as placeholders for menus or other interactive content or run JavaScript.

Inject JavaScript

JavaScript and HTML plays a big role in most branding exercises. It could be DOM manipulation, a responsive menu, sliding effects or responsive background slideshows and JavaScript tends to be a requirement on most projects. Luckily there is some more good news, JavaScript can be added to a site without editing the Master Page by adding custom actions.

You should already be storing JavaScript in external files (in the Style Library) rather than embedding on the master page. So the only change is to inject these JavaScript files rather than reference them on the MasterPage. This can be done via CSOM (I use the PowerShell method).

#Run all of your lines to load the context of the site collection
$context.Load($site)

#add custom js injection action
$customJSAction = $site.UsercustomJSActions.Add();
$customJSAction.Location = “ScriptLink”;
#reference to JS file
$customJSAction.ScriptSrc = “~SiteCollection/Style Library/JS Display Templates/test.js”;
#load it last
$customJSAction.Sequence = 1000;
#make the changes
$customJSAction.Update();
$context.ExecuteQuery();

You can use the same objects to remove all the custom actions and list them. You can find out more information and the C# examples here.

Conclusion

Although this is a different way of thinking about branding, in the long run, it’s cleaner and more reusable than custom master pages. Your customers will have a better experience in Office 365 but even CSS and DOM manipulation may need updating as SharePoint evolves.

Some really useful examples and more detailed explanations can be found on Vesa Juvonen’s Ignite talk. In Vesa’s example he uses Visual Studio and Apps to deploy the CSS and JS.

In the video at the top of the post, I quickly go through the process of setting alternative CSS and JavaScript custom actions.

SharePoint Master Page for iPhone HTML 5 Web App

iPhone Web AppIn my last post, I showed how to create an iPhone web app using HTML5. Recently I have been working on constructing a HTML5 SharePoint Master Page that also works as an iPhone web app.
I managed to do this by downloading Randy Drisgill’s Starter Master Pages Download Here
I then removed as many tags as possible without breaking the publishing Master Page. Changed the doc type, added the meta and link tags (see previous post). This allowed me to create a HTML5 compliant SharePoint Master page which also worked as an iPhone web app. Further customisation is needed to convert the TMG/ISA login form to a mobile friendly smart phone page if you are using an authenticated SharePoint 2010 site.

Creating a HTML5 iPhone Web App!

iPhone App Icon

First create two images which will be vital in creating the iPhone web application. The first image is for the app’s icon. This is the icon you will see when you add it to your home screen. Make sure your image is 57px by 57px and save it as a JPEG or PNG file.

iPhone icon

Startup Screen

The second image is for the app’s loading screen. When the icon is selected, the app will start in full screen mode and display a loading screen while it loads the HTML page in the background. This image should be 320px wide and 460px high.
Startup Screen

HTML 5 page

HTML5 does not yet work in any desktop browser fully yet but more mobile web broswers are supporting it.

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">
	<head>
		<meta charset=utf-8>
		<meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0, maximum-scale=1.0, user-scalable=0"/>
		<meta name="apple-mobile-web-app-capable" content="yes">
		<title>tony is here iPhone web app</title>
		<link rel="stylesheet" href="html5css.css">
		<link rel="apple-touch-icon" href="images/tony-icon.jpg" />
		<link rel="apple-touch-startup-image" href="images/tonystartup.png" />
		<!-- Prompt user to install on iphone if accessed through mobile safari -->
		<script type="text/javascript">
			if (window.navigator.standalone) {
				// fullscreen mode
			} else{
				alert('Install on iPhone by pressing Add to Home Screen')
			}
	</script>
	</head>
	<body>
		<section id="wrapper">
			<header>
				<h1>Tony Phillips SharePoint and Web Design Blog</h1>
			</header>

			<article>
				<section>
					<button type="button" name="Blog" class="css3button" onclick="parent.location='blog.html'">Blog</button>
					<button type="button" name="Linked In" class="css3button" onclick="parent.location='linkedin.html'">Linked In</button>
					<button type="button" name="Facebook" class="css3button" onclick="parent.location='facebook.html'">Facebook</button>
					<button type="button" name="Twitter" class="css3button" onclick="parent.location='twitter.html'">Twitter</button>
					<button type="button" name="Email" class="css3button" onclick="parent.location='email.html'">Email</button>
				</section>
			</article>
		</section>
	</body>
</html>

You may notice a few differences in the example above from a standard HTML page. There are two link tags to provide the iPhone with the icon and loading screen location. These are the two graphics created in the first section of this post.

<link rel="apple-touch-icon" href="images/tony-icon.jpg" />
<link rel="apple-touch-startup-image" href="images/tonystartup.png" />

The two meta tags below scale the site to the mobile device’s screen and enable adding as a web app on the iPhone.

<meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0, maximum-scale=1.0, user-scalable=0"/>
<meta name="apple-mobile-web-app-capable" content="yes">

The only new tags in this example are the section, header, article and button tags which all make it much easier to create websites in HTML5. HTML5 is worth a google!

JavaScript

You can also detect if the site is being accessed through the web browser or if it has been loaded from the home screen. If it has been opened in the browser, we can notify the user that they can add this site as a web app. All you need to do is add the following JavaScript in the HEAD section of the HTML.

// Prompt user to install on iphone if accessed through mobile safari
if (window.navigator.standalone) {
// fullscreen mode
} else{
alert('Install on iPhone by pressing Add to Home Screen')
}

Make sure you take full advantage of CSS3 when styling your site. Rounded corners and shadows look great on buttons without the need for background images or jQuery!

To see this example working go to the following URL on your iPhone and add it to your home screen. In my next post I will explain how this could also be a SharePoint MasterPage!

http://www.tonyishere.co.uk/mobile