Category Archives: SharePoint in Education

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

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.



Statistics in Office 365 Video

Another new feature in Office 365 video is the usage statistics. There are two graphs currently available for the last 14 days or 36 months showing the views, visitors and viewer engagement. Check out my video review of the new features below.



Adding subtitles and captions to Office 365 video

I’ve created a quick video guide on how to add subtitles in Office 365 video. It consists of first creating a VTT file containing the subtitles data and then uploading it into the video settings inside Office 365. Please find the video below and hope you find it useful!



Editing Office Documents Collaboratively in Office 365

If you are new to office 365 or are not aware of this, editing documents simultaneously is a great feature and surprisingly easy to use. You may be used to collaborating on documents using Office on your desktop with the files stored on shares but one of the problems in the older versions of Office was documents being locked for editing by other users. Of course if you require documents to be locked for editing, you can enable checking in and checking out of documents to get the same effect in office 365, however working collaboratively on documents now doesn’t mean you accidently save over the other persons work. Parts of the document lock to allow you to see what the other collaborators are doing in the document. This feature is available in Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote files.

It’s a really exciting way to collaborate and makes working in groups much quicker than having to edit the document one by one. As a teacher you could be working on a documents together as a department rather than passing around marksheets or assessment data for each teacher to enter one at a time. It’s also great for businesses having to work on long documents which require collaboration such as proposals.

My video below demonstrates the functionality.



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.

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.

Setting up Azure Connect (DirSync) for Office 365

I’ve made a quick video guide on how to set-up Azure Connect (DirSync) to sync with Office 365. It’s done using a simple demo environment and I suspect that you may find complications and other errors when trying this out in a production live environment. Hopefully this is of use to you (even if it just makes it seem less scary!). I will try to get chance to write up this blog post in more detail rather than just the video at some point in the future.