Using SharePoint and Video? It’s Possible.

By | SharePoint, Video Capability | No Comments

Companies are trying to find platforms or software’s that can do it all. Enter SharePoint. SharePoint has become the go-to infrastructure for moving critical bits of information within a company in a timely way. It’s set up in a way that makes is easier for non-technical users to get the information they need when they need it. Most of that information is text, graphics, charts, and photos. And now it can include video with a little help.

SharePoint integrates with video

You can stream videos or watch on-demand videos on SharePoint.

Why Go Video?

First, let’s look at why video is a good communication medium within a business and why SharePoint is a good vehicle to convey a message. Communication has become more visual and less cerebral. People can read text and look at a chart, but video, either streaming live or in video-on-demand format, captures and retains attention. Video conveys messages without distraction, keeps employees involved in the message, and provides upper management a way to be more engaged with their employees. Plus, video provides upper management an avenue for talking directly to employees on important company issues. SharePoint video could be interactive in ways the current stream of information is not.

How Does it Work?

Second, let’s look at how video can work on SharePoint. In the past SharePoint’s design, with its user-friendly Windows look and feel carried its text and images along the bandwidth without hitting any road blocks. Adding video, with its need for larger bandwidth, caused information traffic to slowdown and even stop.

That was yesterday. Today, there are enhancements available that make it possible for SharePoint to carry video messages without causing network traffic jams and the subsequent headaches. SharePoint videos will drive commenting to a personal, interactive level. Recipients can leave written comments, as they would with any text or image that they see, or create video comments. This not only brings a personal touch to the shared information, but creates a visual community of like minded participants. With the proper enhancements, SharePoint’s infrastructure can carry video communications creating a company community that is dynamic and fully engaged.

Want to take advantage of SharePoint as a video platform? Our SharePoint Consultants can help you with that. Contact us today to let us help you unleash the power of SharePoint.

Garnish More Site Storage through SharePoint Online

By | Office 365, SharePoint | No Comments

Microsoft has unveiled several changes to their Office 365 software system. Two of the changes will help SharePoint Consultants and administrators with storage capacities, a problem that’s been plaguing many of our TechField consultanshare_pointts. With changes coming to SharePoint Online, administrators are allowed more flexibility to SharePoint websites and within Microsoft Office 365. So what are some of the new improvements that you can expect?

What you can expect

Administrators can now allocate more space throughout SharePoint sites without having to worry about slowing down bandwidth. By having more storage space, administrators can now distribute the storage space throughout the SharePoint network through a “push-button” feature that allows them to change from a manual to automatic management system. With the manual feature on, administrators will be able to set a pre-defined amount of storage. The auto feature allows the SharePoint sites to manage themselves, and add or subtract from the storage space amount left on your Office 365 domain.

Lastly, you are now able to create more SharePoint sites within your 365 domain, increasing from 10,000 to 500,000.

Who Does this Effect?

Changes are effective for Office 365 Enterprise E1, E3 and E4; Education A2, A3 and A4; Government G1, G3 and G4 as well as Midsize Businesses.

Don’t stress about these changes, contact us today and let our SharePoint Specialists help your company adjust to these updates.

SharePoint 2013 Workflow 101: Integration & Development

By | SharePoint, Uncategorized | No Comments

As most SharePoint developers can attest to, Workflows in older versions of SP used to be tedious and slow at best. Microsoft has acknowledged these lingering concerns, and SharePoint 2013 has a lot of exciting improvements to showcase. Let’s take a look at what our SharePoint developers are most excited about with Workflows.

What’s New in SharePoint 2013?

SharePoint 2013 embraces innovative features specifically for Workflow including fully declarative authoring, REST and Service Bus messaging, elastic scalability, and managed service reliability. SharePoint 2013 Workflow is using a new service as Workflow Manager which will be a vital service in an Enterprise to accommodate business processes. Essentially, this means Workflows not only perform quickly, but they also offer scalability. 

New features include:

  • Workflow development that uses a Visio 2013 add-in
  • New Dictionary type
  • More actions for creating a task and starting a task process
  • Coordination actions that let you start a workflow built on the SharePoint 2010 Workflow platform from a workflow built on the SharePoint 2013 Workflow platform
  • No-code web service calls from within a workflow
  • Workflow building blocks such as Stage, Loop, and App Step

Part 1- Installation and Configuration

Download Microsoft Web Platform Installer 4.6

SP Workflow 1

SP workflow 2

SP Workflow 3

  • Select “Install”

SP Workflow 4

  • Click “I accept” to accept the option
  • Click “Continue” to proceed to the next screen
  • Click “Finish” and wait for the installation to complete
  • Launch the Workflow configuration wizard
  • Select “Configure Workflow Manager with Default Settings”

SP Workflow 5

In the next screen, add the SQL server and click Test Connection. Database names will be set to default names here for the Workflow, instance and resource management databases. Clicking on the Test Connection will ensure that the database names are not already in use. For the custom database names, Click “Configure Workflow Manager with Custom Settings”

SP Workflow 6

  • Because this is a development environment, check the “Allow Workflow management over HTTP on this computer”. Note: It is not recommended per TechNet to allow workflow management over HTTP in a Production environment
  • Click the forward arrow to move to the next screen

SP Workflow 7

  • Review the summary and ensure you selected what was required and click the \/ to install Workflow Manager 1.0

SP Workflow 8

  • Click \/ to finish the installation with all the green circles
  • Now we need to register the Workflow for our site.
  • Open “SharePoint Management Shell” as “administrator”, run the following commands:
Register-SPWorkflowService –SPSite http://intranet.usilabs.com –WorkflowHostUri
http://sp-usi-labs:12291 -AllowOauthHttp

After this command runs successfully, we will be ready to develop SharePoint 2013 Workflows.

Part 2: Create SharePoint Designer 2013 Workflow

  1. Open “SharePoint Designer 2013”
  2. Click “Open Site”
  3. For site name, type http://intranet.usilabs.com
  4. Click “Open”
  5. Click “Open” again
  6. In the ribbon, select “Workflows”
  7. In the ribbon, click “Site Workflow”, you should see the “SharePoint 2013 Workflow” option:

SP Workflow 9

Summary

Important Reminder: The SharePoint 2013 Workflow platform is only available to you, subsequently, you need to download and install the new Workflow Manager Service and configure it to communicate with your SharePoint Server 2013 farm as detailed in Part 1.

SharePoint Server 2010 Workflow will continue to work in SharePoint Server 2013. Formerly, with SharePoint Server 2010, the Workflow engine installed automatically with the installation of product. This still holds true in SharePoint Server 2013. If you just install SharePoint Server 2013 and do not install and configure Workflow, then you will have almost the same experience building Workflows as you did in SharePoint Server 2010.

Need additional resources? Check out this TechNet Workflow Manager article. What do you think of the new improvements Microsoft has invested in Workflows for SharePoint 2013? Feel free to comment below!

SharePoint’s Yammer Embedded in Office 365 with Document Conversations

By | Office 365, SharePoint, Yammer | No Comments

Microsoft announced an impressive enterprise social media integration at the 2014 SharePoint Conference that should serve to enhance productivity for Office 365 users. Microsoft is calling this feature “Document Conversations”.

Document Conversations leverages the power of Yammer to allow users to share ideas and input on a document without leaving the application. Of course,482236845 since this is powered by Yammer, users can join a conversation via anywhere a Yammer feed is embedded.

This is how Microsoft describes it on their Office Blog:

Here’s how document conversations work. When you open a file in your browser from your cloud store, you see the file on the left with a contextual Yammer conversation in a pane on the right. You can collapse and expand the Yammer pane as needed.

You can do more than join in a conversation from the Yammer pane. You can also post a message, @mention your coworkers, and publish to a Yammer group—either public or private.

Document conversations are easy to join in Yammer as well. If you’re working in Yammer, you’ll see a threaded conversation in the group the post was published in with an icon that enables you to open the file from the cloud location where it lives. The Yammer conversations about files are visible to users in the group but only users who have permission to view or edit the file can open it.

To get a better feel for what this will look like in practice, you may wish to view this short video:

So what do you think? Will this help or hurt productivity? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

Mobile Support in SharePoint 2013

By | SharePoint | No Comments

It’s a mobile world and we’ve become accustomed to the ability to access the world at our fingertips. This increase in mobile demand has allowed business and professionals to boost productivity and efficiency alike. Companies are wondering how to effectively position themselves so that they can capitalize on this growing trend. After all, employees need more than just their email on the go — they need to be able to quickly access and edit documents, various applications and even software at a moment’s notice. Enter SharePoint, the ultimate tool in collaboration.

If you’re using SharePoint at your organization, you’ve likely received queries from your staff about using mobile devices to access SharePoint while on the go.  Fortunately, Microsoft saw this coming and added a lot of enhanced, mobile-focused features into SharePoint 2013.  Let’s take a look at what our TechField consultants are most excited about.

Device Channels

Device Channels allow SharePoint administrators and developers to display the same content that’s found on a computer, only with different master pages, page layouts, and CSS targeted to specific mobile devices. This delivers optimized layouts to be created for different devices (think tablets vs. phones).

Mobile Views

SharePoint 2013 now includes a new “Contemporary View” available for mobile devices. This is a straight-forward improvement to SharePoint 2010’s mobile view – which is now referred as “Classic View” in 2013.  Contemporary view offers some mobile optimizations using HTML5 and is available in most mobile browsers supporting HTML5.

SharePoint 2013 Mobile x2

Geolocation

Microsoft added a Geolocation field type, which allows developers and power users to leverage this out-of-the-box field to store latitude and longitude GPS coordinates. This integrates with Bing Maps, creating mobile-centric SharePoint solutions.

So who would benefit from this feature?  Let’s say that you have a team of field-based employees who need to visit with clients or customers onsite.  At the end of each visit, they need to submit some information back to the main office.  With Geolocation, supervisors can verify that an employee was physically at the site.

Push Notifications

Despite remaining a standard in the mobile area, Push Notifications are a new feature for SharePoint 2013. Using the Microsoft Push Notification Services, notifications can be delivered to registered mobile devices running the Windows Phone operating system.  This is a great solution to the less than 5% of the population not using Android or iOS devices.

For Push Notifications to be truly useful, Microsoft will need to embrace Android and iOS as well as Windows Phone.  We get that Microsoft has a vested interest in Windows Phone, but we’d also suggest that they offer some option for the majority of the mobile market shareholders.

Office Web Apps

The Office Web Apps Server allows users to interact with Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents on their mobile phone. With SharePoint 2013, this application has been separated from SharePoint Server and is established as a separate product altogether.  This provides additional flexibility in farm architecture,  benefiting SharePoint environments that see a large amount of mobile device use.

So what about you?  Are your SharePoint users taking advantage of any of the mobile functionality provided by SharePoint 2013?  Is the limited support for non-Windows Phones a deal breaker for you, or do you have a work around?  Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

SharePoint 2013 Hosting: Choose On-Premises

By | SharePoint | No Comments

Hosting is the act of storing some element of the SharePoint environment. Sounds pretty straightforward, right?  For SharePoint 2013, there are different methods of hosting and different aspects of the environment that can be hosted.  The two major components that can be hosting include the various servers and the new kids on the block, the applications.  The combination of server hosting and application hosting details the type of environment you have.  The valid options for hosting a server are On-Premises, hosting in your own private cloud, 119562054hosting in a dedicated cloud run by another organization, or hosting in a public cloud owned by another organization. Our TechField consultants recommend On-Premises and here’s why:

SharePoint On-Premises, more affectionately known as On-Prem, is housing servers for a SharePoint environment in a physical datacenter that you control.  The infrastructure can be a mixture of physical hardware and virtualized servers.  The hosting of the servers will define the type of SharePoint 2013 utilized.  By making this decision, it will also dictate the types of technologies and programming languages at your disposal.  So what are the advantages to this?

Central Admin Control

One big advantage On-Prem gives is a full fledge Central Administration for governing SharePoint 2013.   When it comes down to making customizations, On-Prem provides the ability to develop using either server-side code or client-side.  As a matter of fact, if the aim is for server-side developing, On-Prem is the only option.  On-Prem offers the most feature-full serving in the SharePoint 2013 field. That said, it’s not faultless — any updates that need to be made, On-Prem will be the last to get those improvements.

Scalability

As the organization grows, so will the abilities of On-Prem.  It scales extremely well for most services.  That’s good news for any organization with a need for a flexible foundation to support an elastic user base or one that’s anticipating growth.  The biggest advantage here comes in the form of the architecture itself.  Not only is full access to the web application layer and farm level permitted, but the size of the site collection can exceed 100GB (the limit in shared cloud offering).  The offsetting factor is cost association.  Being responsible to acquire the resources (buying servers, replacing servers on average every 5 years), operational costs (think utilities, administrators, cooling) and physical devices can add up quickly.

What’s the consensus?

Is your desire to use the familiar server-side code? Do you have a large organization with an extensive user base or data in excess of 100 GB? Are you looking to have the most full featured version or full control at the farm level? If you answered yes to any one of these questions, then SharePoint 2013 On-Premises is the way to go. The number of positives certainly outweigh any negatives associated. Choose On-Premises and your organization will get the most out of SharePoint.

What does your organization use for SharePoint hosting and why? Leave a message in the comments section below!

Turbocharge your business processes – with SharePoint

By | SharePoint | No Comments

Many companies and organizations are using Microsoft SharePoint for its intended purpose – collaboration.  The idea that teams can work collectively on documents, share data and reduce repetitive or redundant tasks was always at the core of the product.

But as TechField SharePoint Consultants will be happy to tell you, SharePoint is a foundation upon which you can build some unique and powerful solutions.  We came across a great case in point on the CMS Wire website: RackSpace, developed a solution to leverage SharePoint to streamline its onboarding process of new employees.

Even better, since Rackspace uses SharePoint across all aspects of its business, it is a fantastic opportunity to not only highlight elements like Human Resources policies, company history, culture and the like, but it also exposes these new employees to SharePoint from day one.

By the end of their week of orientation, the new Rackspace troops will not only know what each department does and how they interface with each other, they will also be ready to leverage SharePoint as productive employees as soon as they wrap orientation.

So, how does your organization leverage your SharePoint investment?  If it is just to share documents maybe it is time to look at your operations and determine where you can better leverage SharePoint.

Let us know what you are thinking – we’d love to get your feedback below.