Tag Archives: SharePoint Tony

Microsoft Teams for education replacing Microsoft Classroom Preview

Over the last few months, we have received lots of positive feedback about the new Microsoft Classroom Preview product. Today Microsoft announced in the Office 365 message centre that this would be replaced at the end of July 2017 with Microsoft Teams for Education.

Microsoft Teams for Education

No need to panic, MS Classroom functionality will still exist but in the Microsoft Teams app (from what we can see from the screenshots). You can still set assignments, create class notebooks, discuss, share files and quizzes but it will all be accessed through the Microsoft Teams interface rather than through the MS Classroom App. There is no news on the Microsoft Classroom mobile app for iOS and Android but hopefully this will be replaced so that students can still get notifications for new assignments and grades.

More details can be found on Microsoft’s site here.



You may have seen the following message in the Office 365 message centre, notifying you of the change.

On July 31, 2017, we’ll discontinue support for the Microsoft Classroom Preview, as we work to unify our classroom experiences in Microsoft Teams in Office 365 for Education. Since the Microsoft Classroom Preview released, we’ve been very thankful for schools’ feedback from around the world; which has helped us improve benefits and features of the service. Ultimately, we learned to keep it simple and put classroom resources all in one place. We listened and we’re bringing the best of the classroom features (e.g., Assignments and OneNote Class Notebook) to Microsoft Teams in Office 365 for Education.

How does this affect me?

– Microsoft Classroom Preview will continue with current functionality until July 31, 2017. – Teachers will not be able to create new notebooks or assignments after the July 31, 2017. – Current classes and associated content will continue to be available as Office 365 Groups. Teachers can access assignment resources, files, calendars, and conversations, through tools such as Microsoft Outlook and SharePoint Online. If necessary, they can copy Class Notebook content to their personal workspace (e.g. OneDrive for Business). – When the new class experiences become available in Teams, School Data Sync will start creating the new classes for Microsoft Teams. SDS will continue to sync existing Microsoft Classroom Preview classes through July 31, 2017.

What do I need to do to prepare for this change?

We apologise for any inconvenience resulting from this transition. We encourage you to try out Microsoft Teams, and get yourself familiar with the Teams experience. Please click Additional Information to learn more.

Creating a simple Microsoft Flow for a SharePoint list

For anyone using the new style SharePoint lists, there is now a new action for Microsoft Flow integration. It’s a really cool product that integrates all the Office 365 products (and more) into your workflow.

SharePoint Designer workflows still have their place but the Microsoft Flow interface offers rich functionality and is easy to view and structure workflows.

One downside to using Microsoft Flow is the error messages. They come back as error messages from the REST API as headers which can be very confusing for non-technical users. SharePoint Designer errors were much clearer and easy to understand for general users.

In the video below, I go through quickly creating a Microsoft Flow from a new style SharePoint list in an Office 365 group site.



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

Gaining access to OneDrives within your organisation

Below I have created a quick guide to show you how to gain access to a user’s OneDrive within your organisation. This video is for SharePoint administrators and you will need to be at least a SharePoint admin in Office 365 to carry out these steps.

A OneDrive site is effectively a SharePoint site collection with a document library. When a OneDrive is created by the user in Office 365, it grants the user site collection admin rights. It doesn’t add any other administrators or groups to the permissions. You can do this manually using the steps shown in the video below or you could create a script to apply permissions to all of your OneDrive sites using the PowerShell Client Object Model.



Tag people in Office 365 videos

A new feature is available in the Office 365 video portal to tag people in videos. Not quite sure what this will be used for at the moment but I’m guessing that Delve will certainly be impacted by this new functionality. I’ve created a very quick video below to show you how it works.

You may also be interested in some of our other videos on the Office 365 portal:



Managing assignments in Microsoft Classroom

I’ve created a quick video to show the ease of setting and managing assignments in Office 365. My overall impression of assignment setting in Office 365 was good, however as you see in the video there are several random errors and UK MIS integration isn’t available at the moment (so this is only for advanced teachers who setup their own class groups).

Microsoft Classroom allows assignment setting and homework management. It can be used as part of a wider SharePoint portal hosted in Office 365. Please feel free to contact us for a demo of this at Cloud Design Box.



How to setup a class in Microsoft Classroom

In the video below, I go through the simple steps of setting up a class in Microsoft Classroom. It’s straightforward but does require teachers to manually setup and keep class membership up-to-date. Third party integration to MIS databases will be available soon in the UK (hopefully). In the meantime you can use a similar assignment system called Teacher Dashboard which has the option of syncing AD and Office 365 groups.

Microsoft Classroom is a great out-of-the-box product but doesn’t allow much customisation so you may want to think about some custom class and subject sites as part of your portal. Please feel free to contact us for a demo of these at Cloud Design Box.



Issues with the new SharePoint interface for document and picture libraries

Let’s start with the positive aspects of this new interface. It’s responsive and integrates really well into the OneDrive app for mobile devices. However there are currently a number of setbacks for users when switching to the new look interface. Users should consider it carefully before turning the new interface on at tenancy level or on a per user basis.

New Document and Picture Library

No JS Link property

Microsoft have mentioned that there is still some functionality to roll out, however they have not been specific about what that will include. A large number of businesses use JS Link to highlight data in a list or library and to add some custom actions at the item level. This is done using the Microsoft best practices of using client side JavaScript, however we are still awaiting this functionality in the new interface. New features are being added to the new interface such as content types and custom columns so we can only hope that this will also be added before the full implementation of the new interface in 2017.

No JS actions to brand the interface

A while ago I blogged about using JS instead of custom master pages to brand the look and feel. Again this is client side code and was Microsoft best practice, however this doesn’t seem to apply to the new view. The new look interface despite being modern and minimalist is bland and unbranded. Most companies/schools want branded intranets, they are always keen to get away from the “SharePoint” look. Although the new interface is modern and responsive, all of the pages look the same and it is possible that we will fall into the trap of looking like SharePoint again. Theming engines do not offer the bespoke customisation that most users require. The future of SharePoint event and videos did mention a chrome as part of the SharePoint framework so we can only hope that this is exposed to JS developers.

No image link in picture libraries

On occasions users require a link to a document or image inside a library. This used to be easy for users to do, open it up and copy the URL. This is no longer possible for an image library as each image opens up in a lightbox view. There are no options to get a link to the exact image, in fact there is an option called “get a link” but this shares the image and changes the permissions rather than giving a URL link (for users to use on a site or email).

These are the initial issues I have found with the new look interface. It seems to be have been rushed out to tenancies without investigation into how customers use library views within SharePoint. Although there is a benefit having a similar interface to OneDrive and having it work as a single page application, the fact that it is part of a SharePoint site and has that extra SharePoint functionality makes it usable to end users. The new views will run side by side until 2017, hopefully by then Microsoft will have resolved the issues and released the new SharePoint framework for Microsoft partners (due to go live in autumn 2016) to get developing branding and custom JS solutions.

UPDATE: 08/07/2016

Microsoft have released this update confirming that there is still functionality to be added to the new user experience. Looks very positive for JS links and other missing functionality: http://dev.office.com/blogs/update-on-modern-document-libraries-and-extensiblity