Tag Archives: UK

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 picture library slideshow using jQuery Cycle2 and the SharePoint framework

In this post, I wanted to show how you can modify the SharePoint framework Hello World web part and add other custom JavaScript libraries to create a simple slideshow.

spfx

Prerequisites

I’m going to start my tutorial after following these steps:

Setup SharePoint Tenant
Setup your machine
HelloWorld WebPart
HelloWorld, Talking to SharePoint

Once that is all working fine, you should have something that looks like this:

spfx-slideshow01

Note: In the solution below, I have removed some of the HTML rendered in the SolutionNameWebPart.ts file (optional):

this.domElement.innerHTML = `
<div class="${styles.solutionName}">
  <div class="${styles.container}">
    <div id="spListContainer" />
  </div>
</div>`;

Pull in images from SharePoint picture library

Create a picture library in your SharePoint site called “Slideshow”. Upload a couple of images into this library for testing purposes.

Inside your project, open up SolutionNameWebPart.ts (found inside your WebPart folder). Change the REST API call so that the picture library item URLs are fetched. Currently the REST query (found in the _getListData function) is pulling list and library names, change it to:

this.context.pageContext.web.absoluteUrl + "/_api/web/lists/GetByTitle('slideshow')/Items?$select=EncodedAbsUrl"

This will return the picture library item URLs.

Add the EncodedAbsUrl as a string to the ISPList object:

export interface ISPList {
  Title: string;
  Id: string;
  EncodedAbsUrl: string;
}

In the “_renderList” function, change the item loop to this:

items.forEach((item: ISPList) => {
   html += `<img src="${item.EncodedAbsUrl}" alt="image" />`;
});

This will now use the EncodedAbsUrl as the image location. Running this using gulp serve should now show the images from the picture library. You may want to add in some mock data for local tests.

spfx-slideshow02

Making it responsive

The images are rendered at their actual size. Some CSS is required to make the images responsive. Add the class ${styles.cdbImage} to the image tag.

html += `<img src="${item.EncodedAbsUrl}" class="${styles.cdbImage}" alt="image" />`;

Open the SolutionName.module.scss file and add the following code inside the last brace.

.cdbImage{width:100%;height:auto;}

Serve the files again and the images will now be responsive.

spfx-slideshow03

Adding jQuery and Cycle2

Download using Node Package Manager

When adding common JavaScript libraries to projects, Node Package Manager is an excellent tool to quickly bundle items. Run the following nodeJS package manager commands:

npm install jquery

npm install jquery-cycle-2

Two extra folders are now created under “node_modules”.

Install TypeScript definitions

In order to use these libraries in TypeScript, a definition file is required for IntelliSense and compilation. jQuery can be added via the TypeScript definition tool in the nodeJS command line:

tsd install jquery –save

jQuery Cycle2 is not available via this command line but can be downloaded from here:

Github jQuery TypeScript

Download it and add it to a new folder called jquerycycle under the “typings” folder. The typings folder contains all the TypeScript definition files. jQuery has automatically been added here. However we need to manually add the Cycle2 definition.

In the root of the typings folder, open the file named tsd.d.ts. This file controls all the definitions which are used in the project. jQuery has already been added, manually add a new line for jQuery Cycle2.

/// <reference path="jquery/jquery.d.ts" />
/// <reference path="jquerycycle/jquery.cycle.d.ts" />

Add libraries to project

Open the config.json file (under the config folder) in the project. This lists all the external references. jQuery and Cycle2 need to be added here so they can be used in the project. In the “externals” section, add:

 "jquery": "node_modules/jquery/dist/jquery.js",
 "jquery-cycle": "node_modules/jquery-cycle-2/src/jquery.cycle.all.js"
 

The libraries can now be included in the project. Go back to the solutionNameWebPart.ts file and add:

import * as myjQuery from 'jquery';
require('jquery-cycle');
 

The object myjQuery should be a unique name for your project to avoid conflicts. jQuery cycle is added using require as it has a dependency on jQuery.

At the end of the _renderList function in the web part class, add the following code to initialise the slideshow:

myjQuery( document ).ready(function() {
    myjQuery('#spListContainer').cycle();
});
 

Refreshing the page, should now give you a responsive slideshow.

spfx

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

The future of SharePoint

The future of SharePoint event took place last night live from San Francisco. It was a live online event open to all which was watched by thousands of SharePoint fans across the globe. Microsoft renewed its commitment to SharePoint and the SharePoint brand by announcing the renaming of the sites tile in Office 365 to SharePoint and the release of a new SharePoint mobile app.

SP2016mobileteamsite

It was a very exciting glimpse into the future of SharePoint (both on-premises and online). A completely new revamped UI for team and publishing sites and a slick editing experience. One of the flaws with the current SharePoint experience is the inheritance of older SharePoint site templates and libraries which has only incrementally improved over time. Frustratingly this has left users with a poor mobile experience and a clunky, more complex editing process. Even the current SharePoint 2013 mobile site looks more like an ancient WAP site designed for a Nokia 7110. Below is a sneak peak as to what the new team site may look like. Above is a preview of the new SharePoint app.

SP2016teamsite

New document library experience

This has already rolled out to some tenancies. It gives a fresh look to document libraries which puts them in-line with the OneDrive experience and the SharePoint mobile view. The classic view will still be supported if you are using JS client side rendering, workflows or specific custom views. One downside to the new experience is the loss of any branding, however you could add document libraries to pages if you wanted to keep this. Users can pin files to the top of the page and get really nice previews of documents. Administrators can override end users to choose either the classic or new view of document libraries (see details here).

Design and development

The new improvements in the interface mean not only a fully responsive design but also a mobile app experience on iOS, Android and Windows. SharePoint is also moving away from the iframe app part model allowing more fluid and responsive web parts. For designers and developers there is now a new SharePoint framework (to be released later this year) which doesn’t depend on Visual Studio or any server-side development. Using JavaScript open source libraries we will soon be able to create design experiences which apply to both the browser and mobile apps.

There was several indications that design was moving this way over the last few years. Check out my earlier posts on moving from custom master pages to JS actions and client side rendering. Using these client side technologies was the first step in preparing ourselves for the new client side rendering experience for the next generation of SharePoint portals. I’m very excited to get stuck into the new SharePoint framework technologies (please release it soon Microsoft!). If you can’t wait to get started, you can start by learning the new technologies which will be used to develop against the SharePoint framework such as nodejs, Yeoman, Gruntjs and all the open source JavaScript frameworks which interest you. There is a good post on how to get hold of all these applications and packages on this blog post by Stefan Bauer. You can also view the full development lifecycle processes that Microsoft recommend in their latest video previewing the new framework below.



Microsoft Flow

Microsoft Flow is a new tool in the SharePoint toolbox. It’s a new way to get data into SharePoint and perform workflows using custom logic. It doesn’t replace InfoPath or SharePoint Designer but I can see many uses for it in a business process environment and sales. It extends workflow functionality out of SharePoint using templates or custom written apps. For examples you can have a flow which picks up tweets from Twitter and puts them into a SharePoint list. Very interesting to see how this product develops with SharePoint. You can find out more on the flow website.

Microsoft PowerApps

Create your own mobile apps in a few simple steps from lists and libraries in SharePoint without having to write any code. This could be a mobile app or just a web app. In fact you can do this from the browser from any list in a few simple steps. This could be a SharePoint list view or a web part. The PowerApps will be available from within the SharePoint app. I’m assuming you will be able to pin these apps to your start screen like you can with OneNote notebooks and pages. You can find out more about Power Apps on the website.

More updates to come…

Adding SharePoint Online navigation from XML using PowerShell CSOM

The following PowerShell scripts were created to enable me to deploy a custom navigation across multiple site collections. You can use managed metadata navigation as mentioned in my previous post. Unfortunately this method doesn’t allow the user to reuse managed metadata navigation across multiple site collections (no idea why, I thought that was one of the advantages of managed metadata navigation!).

So a new and clean way of doing this is to use the CSOM for PowerShell. The code below deletes every navigation node using the first function and then adds each item added to an XML file. A strength of using this method is it can be manipulated to add additional logic for adding links to particular site collections depending on the variables in the XML file. Hope you find this useful.

For SharePoint design, workflows, automation, training and support please visit my SharePoint consultancy site www.clouddesignbox.co.uk. We offer education and business SharePoint solutions and services.

Deleting all navigation nodes using CSOM PowerShell

It’s fairly straightforward to enumerate nodes in an array, in this example I’m deleting all the top navigation menu nodes in a SharePoint site. This is how I would normally loop through the top navigation menu:

$topNav = $context.Web.Navigation.TopNavigationBar;
$context.Load($topNav);
foreach ($topNavItem in $topNav)
{
	Write-Host $topNavItem.Title
}

However if I want to loop through the menu and delete all the nodes, the above function errors as the array has changed each time it loops, the method below works but doesn’t catch all the menu items.

for ($ii = 0; $ii -lt $topNodes.Count; $ii++)
{
	Write-Host $topNodes[$ii].Title 
	$topNodes[$ii].deleteObject();
	$context.ExecuteQuery();
}

As we are enumerating the nodes, we are removing nodes from the start and changing the position of the other nodes in the array. As the loop continues to run, it can skip positions of some of the nodes.

A solution which works better is looping through the array backwards. As you loop through the array backwards, it doesn’t change the position of items still in the array.

for ($ii = $topNodes.Count - 1; $ii -ge 0; $ii--)
{
	Write-Host $topNodes[$ii].Title 
	$topNodes[$ii].deleteObject();
	$context.ExecuteQuery();
}

Hope you may find this useful, it can be difficult to find why the loop misses some random items and hopefully looping backwards will avoid any issues like this.

Using the SharePoint recycle bin

I’m often asked about restoring deleted documents, where the recycle bins are and how long they are kept there for. Hope this post will be of use to some of you.

SharePoint’s powerful document management features provide the end user and administrator ways of recovering deleted items. Items can be deleted accidentally (sometimes without the end user even knowing). Luckily we can go into SharePoint and recover the document before it is lost forever.

Two stage recovery

When a document is first deleted, it goes into the end user recycle bin on the site. The user deleting the item has several days (93 days by default in SharePoint Online) to recover the item themselves.

After that period (or if the item is deleted from the site recycle bin) it then goes into the second-stage recycle bin. The second-stage recycle bin is only accessible by the site collection administrator. There is then another 93 days to recover the item before it is deleted forever! Items in the second-stage recycle bin don’t count towards your site collection quota but items will automatically be deleted if you exceed 200% of your site collection quota (which is unlikely if you make sure your site collection has 1TB of storage).

I’ve created the video below to explain the recovery process from both recycle bins. A great way to find those missing documents which were accidentally deleted by the end user.



More information can be found here on the Microsoft website.