More about Forms

New icon!

FormsHave you noticed that Forms has a new icon? I have been unable to get a good large file but here’s a screenshot from my tenant.
Planner and To Do have new icons as well.

Comparison of Forms and Forms Pro

Megan V. Walker has recently created an excellent comparison of Forms vs. Forms Pro.  Apart from more options in the typeface part, you have more options to integrate data from other Office365 applications.
However, the licensing cost for Forms Pro is quite high in my opinion, so I will try to guide people to the regular Forms as much as possible.
A few colleagues had the Forms Pro Free Trial and they experienced issues when their trial expired. Once I removed the Pro Free license from their accounts, all worked well again, except that your Forms created in Pro are no longer accessible. Any results you captured, are still available. Be aware!

Check out Megan’s blog as she has tons more info on Forms and Forms Pro.

I do not think anyone will ever create a SharePoint survey any more 😦 , but if you are still interested, or want to know how if Forms is a good replacement for SurveyMonkey or GoogleForms, here’s my earlier comparison of survey tools:

Forms or survey – that’s the question (on the question/answer types)

Forms or survey – what are the settings? (on the general settings)

Forms or survey – responses and results (on the way responses are shown and general opinion)

And a beauty contest!

Some months ago I shared an invitation to a farewell party in our Yammer group, as an example of Forms. It was to invite internal and external attendees and ask them for their attendance and dietary preferences. I had helped the organizer create it, and he got it immediately and included some lovely pictures.

This was the start of an informal “contest” in my organization on who can create the best-looking form. 🙂
One of my colleagues no longer sends Outlook invitations for large meetings, but creates a nice-looking Form, which means she gets fewer emails and has all responses in a tidy Excel sheet.  I guess the receivers are pleasantly surprised by a nice-looking invite rather than a plain Outlook one.
Another colleague is carefully matching images and colours in her themes, and has even added a link to a hexcode website to her browser favourites!
I wonder if they are now thinking up new events just to be able to create a great-looking Form for it! 🙂
I freqently get calls where people mention “this person has created a beautiful survey and now I want one as well – how do I do that”.
And if all goes well we may replace a third-party application with a simple Form in the next few months. Fingers crossed!

This all delights me as I am working in a health care organization and most colleagues have different priorities than sitting at a desk at a computer.

(Something similar is happening with the SharePoint modern pages by the way, which is another pleasant surprise. More about that later)

So, invitations for larger meetings appear to be THE Forms application in my organization. What’s your number one scenario for Forms?

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An alternative way to dive into Delve

Delve-headerDelve is an interesting part of Office365.

In my previous organization I often received complaints about what was shown in Delve. Exactly like the results you see in Search, what you see is what you have access to, and for many people this was hard to understand. Every time the Search or Delve results got questioned (“Search is broken!”) I could prove that this person saw this search result or this document card on Delve because they had access to it, whether that was desired or not. I loved this demonstration of the importance of proper permissions management 🙂
In Search, any mismanagement of permissions only becomes apparent when you are actively searching, but in Delve “content finds YOU” so it is ruthlessly in-your-face.

Joanne Klein has written a great post on Delve and how to disable it – entirely or partially.

In my current organization we have not promoted it very much yet, so when we recently changed a number of licenses from E1 to F1, we did not consider the fact that the Delve app would no longer be visible for the F1-users, a big risk.
However, we received a question from someone who uses the people-part for looking up managers and direct reports, so I found three alternative options.

1. Via “My Office Profile”

After all, the Delve “Me” page is your profile page, so that should be available for every user. Just click on your picture top right and select “My Office profile”.

Delve-myprofile
“My Office profile” leads to your Delve “Me” page

 

2. Via the URL

Delve is available for users if they are logged in to Office365 and use the following URL: https://<datacenterlocation&gt;.delve.office.com.
For our organization and my own tenant this is https://eur.delve.office.com and for a tenant in the UK this would be https://gbr.delve.office.com
I do not have access to any other tenants so I can not give you the “code” for other data centers but please take a look at your Delve to see what it is. It may come in useful one day.

Delve-Mepage
My Delve page. The URL will resolve itself to yours as soon as you enter the URL.

3. Via Outlook (people data only)

Like Delve, Outlook also uses Active Directory so all people data is also in Outlook.
Users with an F1-license use the Outlook On The Web experience and they can see people’s managers and direct reports in the people card.
When you hover over a person’s name (searched or from an email) you will first see the small card, which expands into a larger card. When you click “Show more” you will see a ton of info, including the “Organisation” which will allow you to see a person’s manager and direct reports. In my case the tab is greyed-out because I am the only one in my tenant and have not set up AD.

Delve-Mepage2
Lots of info available if you click “Show more” on the extended hover card. The “Organization” tab will show you direct reports and managers.

4. “Discover” on the Office 365 start page (documents only)

The Home page in Delve shows a mix of documents that are popular or have been edited recently by people you work with.
The Office365 homepage has a tab called “Discover” which shows you a mix of recent documents from others.

Delve-discover
The “Discover” tab, showing you a mix of documents from your “circle”.

When I compared the two I found these were very similar except for

  • Content: the “Discover” tab on the Office365 homepage only shows documents from OneDrive and SharePoint, while the Delve page shows documents from OneDrive, SharePoint and Outlook
  • Display: Delve shows cards, the “Discover” tab can show tiles or list items
Delve-documentcard
A Delve card, which shows modified date, preview, views, and allows adding to favorites and boards
Delve-documenttile
A tile in the Office365 homepage, showing much less info than the card

Sadly I can not share any comparative screenshots as I can only see this in my work tenant. I am the only user in my tenant so there is nothing to share from others.
But trust me, the Discover tab is an alternative, albeit not a full one, for the Delve Home page.

What’s next for Delve?

My colleague was happy with the alternatives provided.

But when I found this all out I wondered if Delve may be going away as a separate workload as the functionality is now embedded in other, more frequently used, tools. It also has not been included in the recent icon redesign, which may be a clue as well. Would anyone know?
Just as I was writing this post, I found this post from John Liu (in response to a Tweet about Delve from Joanne Klein) who is also wondering about the future of Delve – he has a good idea for its development.

So let’s wait and see if Delve keeps being a separate app, but with added functionality, or will be absorbed into relevant other workloads in Office365…

Photo by Matthew T Rader from Pexels 

Photos and Forms

fotoform-header

You can create really good looking surveys with Microsoft Forms these days, just by using colours and images.

There are 4 places to add an image:

1. Background

You can use a standard theme, which will add a predetermined background image (optional) and colour scheme to your Form.
If you want to use your own theme, click Theme and then the +. This will open a screen allowing you to upload an image and/or set a background colour for texts and buttons.

Formfoto-theme
You can upload a picture and change the colour here. Try #ff0000 and see what happens!

2. Forms title

You can add a small image to the title and introduction text of your form.

3. Question

You can add an image to a question. You can choose between small and large.

4. Section

If you want to create a new page for a new question or set of questions, you can use a section. A section header can also contain an image, large or small. It behaves like an image in a question.

Size requirements for images – a test

I recently received a question from one of my users, who wanted to know the size requirements for images in Forms. The background image she used turned out to be a bit blurry. Of course, and fortunately, you no longer have to use exact dimensions in Office 365, but not every size works well in every application, so I did some tests.

  • I photographed a few scenes with my iPhone, using square, landscape and portrait orientation. (4:3 aspect ratio except for the square of course)
  • I resized them using good old Paint, making a 50, 38, 25, 10 and 5% of the original. All images were 72 dpi.
  • Then I created a Form with 2 questions and one section.
  • I started with the 5% size and uploaded this image as background, as title, as question (large and small) and as section image.
  • Whenever the image displayed blurry, I repeated the exercise with the 10% and so on, until I had a good idea of what worked.

Results

  1. The background needs an image of at least 750 pixels wide, but 1000 is better.
    The orientation of the image (square, landscape or portrait) does not matter. The background focuses on the center of the picture.

    Formfoto-backgrooundportrait5
    With an image of 152 pixels wide, the background is extremely blurry.
    Formfoto-squarebackground.png
    With an image of 756 pixels wide, this background is acceptable.

    Formsfoto-landscapebackground
    A 1008-pixel wide background is really nice.
  2. In the title you can use an image as small as 150 pixels wide. It does not display a lot of detail, so you can get away with a small image.
    The height of the image display is fixed, and the orientation of the image does not matter much.
    Formfoto-squareheaderFormfoto-landscape header

    Formfoto-portrait-header
    3 examples of pictures in the title – the orientation (square, portrait, landscape) shows more variety than the picture quality.
  3.  If you use a small picture in your question or section, go for at least 150 px wide.
    Use landscape where possible, as it will keep your form shorter. Check out the differences in the screenshots with the background, above.
  4. For a large picture in a question or section, at least 400 pixels wide is best.
    Please note that landscape pictures cover the whole width of the forms, and the question is shown on top. This makes for a very nice image, but as it is blown up a lot compared to the other formats, you really need to make sure the image is sharp.
    If you use the same image in every section, you can create a nicely consistent experience. (But do not go overboard, every new section is a click!)

    Formfoto-diffsmallandlarge.png
    This is 152 pixels. The small picture  is OK but the large one is not.
    formfoto-squaresmallvslarge.png
    Again, 303 x 303 pixels is acceptable for a small picture but for a large one it is just not enough. And it is not even displayed on the whole width!

    Formfoto-landscapelarge
    The image in Question 2 is 404 x 303 pixels. It makes an acceptable picture, even in full width of the form. 

Suggestions:

  • Use landscape imagery where possible – it just displays nicer
  • Keep in mind that different purposes need different image sizes. If your image is too small, do not use it as background or the large image.
  • 150-400-750 is just a guideline – with a different aspect ratio in your photos and pictures, more dpi and different viewing screen size, you may find that other sizes work better for you. And perhaps you WANT the background to be a bit blurry!
  • More info about working with images in Forms

Header image by Peachpink on Pixabay.
“Photos and Forms” reminds me of “Diamonds and Pearls” by the late great Prince. 

7 ways to re-use texts in Office 365

Template headerDo you have to write the same text time and time again? For instance, an email confirming an appointment, a work instruction or an in-company invoice?

There are a few ways to do that.

1. Re-use and existing mail or document

I guess this feels as the easiest way. But how often have you forgotten to remove the “FW” when you forwarded that email, or forgot to change the salutation? And have you ever overwritten and saved a document that you wanted to keep intact?

Yeah, thought so 🙂

2. Store the text in Word or OneNote and copy-paste

You will have fewer accidents with this option, but now you may suffer from extensive but invisible make-up. This may cause your texts to have weird indents or line spacing when you have pasted them. The best way to strip off the code is to copy-paste to Notepad and then into the final message, but this is often forgotten and also not 100% guaranteed.
Besides, you will have to store that document or note and look for it whenever you need it.

3. Email template – text only

An easy way to manage your email texts is with an email template. That lives in Outlook so it is easily available when you need it – no need to search!
You can create as many templates as you want. You can store about 2100 characters in a template.

Outlook Client/Desktop:

  1. Open new email
  2. In the ribbon, top right, click the … and select “View Templates” from the popup
    Templates-OfficeClient
    Find your email templates in the Outlook Client
  3. You will see a few standard templates
    Templates-MyTemplates
    Standard email templates in the Outlook Client and the place to add a new one
  4. To create a new template, click on +Template
  5. Give your template a title (e.g. “Appointment confirmation”), add text and/or images and click “Save”
    Template-newtemplate
    Give your template a good name and add the text (and any embellishments)
  6. To use a template, click on the title and the text will be added to the email.
    Templates-Applied
    Adding the text to your email is very easy! 

Outlook Online – Current Outlook

  1. Open new email
  2. Bottom right, click the Templates icon
  3. Proceed with 3 as above
    Templates-OnlineOld
    The Templates icon is bottom right in Outlook Online – it’s highlighted in yellow! 

Outlook Online – The new Outlook

  1. Open new email
  2. Click the … at the bottom of the mail and select “My Templates” from the popup
  3. Proceed with 3 as above
    Templates-OnlineNew
    When you are using the New Outlook Online, you will need to click the …

4. Email template – text and make-up (Outlook Client)

If you need to use a template that contains both text and make-up, for instance for an email newsletter or other format, you can do this in Outlook Client/Desktop. It is a much more complicated process, so I would suggest to use this only if the look-and-feel is important and needs to be consistent.
BTW, you get a free email Newsletter when you use SharePoint News, of course, but for all those other occasions this option will be useful.

Microsoft has good instructions on how to create and save a template. It includes sending an email using the template as well.

5. Email signature

Before I discovered the templates, I used to store repetitive texts in an email signature. I have shared dial-in information for my personal Live Meeting (I think that was what web conferencing was called in those days 🙂 ), and shared help and support information in that way. Although I only use templates now, there may be cases where you prefer an email signature.

Outlook Client/Desktop

Microsoft has good instructions for creating signatures.  However the screenshots are a tad outdated. Now, you either use “Tell me what you want to do” or open a new email and click the Insert tab > Signature” to get to the signatures location.

You can have multiple signatures in the Outlook Client, but please be aware you can only add one per email, so always make sure your name and other information is included.

Templates-Clientsignature
How to add a signature in the Outlook Client

Outlook Online – current Outlook

  1. To add a signature, click the Gear Wheel in Outlook
  2. On the bottom of the popup, under “Your app settings” click “Mail”
  3. Under “Mail > Layout” on the left of the screen, click “Email signature”
  4. Add text and optional image, check the desired box if applicable, and click “Save”
    Template-signatureoldoutlook
    In current Outlook Online, this is where you add your signature
  5. To add a signature manually, open a new email, click … on top of the message and select “Insert signature”

Outlook Online – the New Outlook

  1. To add a signature, click the Gear Wheel in Outlook
  2. Click “View all Outlook Settings” on the bottom of the popup
  3. Select “Compose and Reply”
    Templates-NewOutlook-Signature
    In the new Outlook Online, this is where you add your signature 
  4. Add text and optional image, check the desired box if applicable, and click “Save”

Please note you can only have one signature in Outlook Online.

6.  Document template in SharePoint – general

You can add a template to a SharePoint document library for your team’s recurring documents. Think about reports or work instructions. You can do this for all Microsoft documents and you can have multiple templates in one library.
Anyone who can manage the document library can do this, so you will need at least Edit permissions.

I use and suggest this very often right now and wish it was also available in OneDrive!

  1. Create the document you want to use as a template and save it with a meaningful name – it may help to add “template” to the name
  2. Open the document library in question, click “New” and then “Add Template”
    template-SPNew
    Where to add the template
  3. Upload the template
  4. Check that it displays correctly.
    Templates-SPAdded
    Giving a good name is important – you will want to notice the template easily
  5. To create a new document in the template, click “New” in the Document Library and select the template. A new instance of the template will open.
  6. To move position of the template, or to make changes to the template itself, click “New” > “Edit New menu”. A popup will appear on the right-hand side of the page.
    Hover over the document to be removed, repositioned or edited, click the three dots that appear to the right of the name and you will get a popup with options.

    Template-SPeditmenu
    Editing, deleting or changing the position of the template is very easily done 

7. Document template in SharePoint – custom

It is also possible to add a custom template document as the default document. I can imagine this may have its uses when you want to use it for very formal documents, such as contracts or financial reporting. Those documents will have a strict format that needs to be adhered to.
In that case you can do that via the Library Settings > Advanced Settings. Microsoft describes the steps here. Although they mention SharePoint Online, they talk about “email-enabling” the library, which has been deprecated for several years by now, so I wonder when this has been last reviewed. (Of course I gave feedback to this article)

This needs Site Owner permissions but may also be done by an admin or IT.

Have I forgotten an option? Please let me know!

Image by Cohdra on Morguefile.com

 

Save Outlook Online emails as document

outlook folders-357514“I want to save emails from customers in our customer folders on SharePoint”, a colleague told me the other day.

I have not really done that a lot, so I could not help her immediately, but the request made sense so I promised her I would let her know. So I set about finding info and found a great post by my friend Gregory Zelfond and some others, including Microsoft themselves.

However, these options are all done with the Outlook Client, while the majority of my colleagues has an E1 license, which means they only have the online versions of Office 365. And trust me, Outlook Online works differently from the Client! There is no “Save as” in Outlook Online!

What did not work?

  • I could not find a consistent URL of an email. There were too many differences in URL between browsers and between current and new Outlook online. If that would work, I could have added the URL to a document library in SharePoint.
  • I could not find a Flow to convert emails into documents and move them into OneDrive or SharePoint.

Eventually, with lots of trials and internet search, I have been able to come up with two ways, depending if a PDF is good enough or if you really need the .eml format (which is still an email).

Experiments were done with IE, Edge, Chrome and Firefox browsers, and with the current and the new Outlook Online. Phew! 🙂

The easy way – print to PDF

  1. Open the email
  2. Click the … top right
  3. Select “Print” from the popup menu
  4. You will get a preview
  5. Select “Print” top left
  6. In the next screen, select “Print to PDF” or  “Microsoft Print to PDF”as the printer and hit Print
  7. Give the file a good name and save it to PC (The E1 license does not provide a OneDrive Client)
  8. Upload to OneDrive and copy/move to SharePoint

I have made a basic video, using Edge as browser.

Remarks:

  •  This is the best option if you have one or two files you want to save.
  •  The screen to create or print to PDF differs per browser.
  •  Google Chrome adds a title to the PDF before upload – but with “Mail-Ellen van Aken-Outlook” this is pretty generic. 
  •  Internet Explorer and Google Chrome present the option to share the mail after you have uploaded it to OneDrive – when you click “Share Link” it shows the usual document sharing options. This is relatively new functionality in OneDrive and SharePoint.
OutlookOnlineSaving-shareafterupload
After you upload a document you can share the link with others.

The complicated way – attach emails as eml

  1. Group the emails you want to save into a folder – this is optional but will make things easier
  2. Open 2 windows with Outlook Online and resize them so you can see them both on your screen
  3. Open a new email in window 1
  4. Open the folder in window 2
  5. Select the emails you want to save in window 2 and drag and drop them to the new email in window 1
  6. They will be added as attachments (in .eml format)
  7. Send the email to yourself
  8. Open the email and save attachments to OneDrive – they will be added to the Attachments folder automagically (although I often wish I could determine where they go)
  9. Copy/move to SharePoint

And another basic video, with Edge.

Remarks:

  • This is the best option if you have a large number of emails you want to save.
  • This works in Edge, Chrome and Firefox browser, but copying the emails to the new email does NOT work in Internet Explorer.
  •  In all cases, the subject title of the email is the file name.
  • You may want to use a Flow to move the attachments to OneDrive or SharePoint instead of taking step 8 / 9.
  • I tried drag & drop from email to OneDrive but that did not work – I have seen some promising stuff for the new Microsoft browser though!

Somehow this feels awkward. I understand that Online stuff is not always meant to be converted into a document, but emails are also a record and may need to be treated as such. I would have expected more and easier options. Have I overlooked something?

Image courtesy of Pixabay on Pexels

Create a photo album with OneDrive app and client

OneDrive-photo-album-631084_640In my current role I have a slightly wider scope than “just” SharePoint and Yammer. I am now troubleshooting and advising about the other Office 365 tools as well, so I need to expand my skills and knowledge rapidly to stay a few steps ahead of my audience 🙂 .  

The other day one of my colleagues asked if there is an easier way to create the photo albums he needs to make as part of his role. 
The organization I work for occasionally rents out parts of their buildings or hires space from others.  In those cases, my colleague takes pictures of the buildings to document their current state. The pictures are collated into an album which has to be signed off by both parties at the start of the rental agreement. 

What is the current method?

Getting pictures

  1. Take pictures with smartphone
  2. Send pictures to work email (in batches to avoid too large attachments)
  3. File pictures from each email in OneDrive on laptop (Attachments folder)
  4. Create project folder in OneDrive
  5. Transfer pictures to project folder
  6. Remove pictures from phone

Creating the album

  1. Open a new PowerPoint presentation
  2. Make cover slide
  3. Insert pictures from OneDrive into PowerPoint
  4. Arrange pictures on slides
  5. Add end slide (usually, with the dates, names and signatures)
  6. Save PowerPoint as PDF

Well, I thought that I (or rather, Office 365) could make things easier for him. I confirmed he had the OneDrive app on his phone, so I came up with…

The new method

Getting pictures with the OneDrive app

  1. Create project folder in the OneDrive app
  2. Open the folder

    OneDrive-Empty
    Two ways to take a picture: The + button top right and the diaphragm button on the bottom.

3. Take pictures with the + button top right or the diaphragm button at the bottom (make sure you set it to “Photo”) 
4. Pictures will be saved in the folder

OneDrive-savedinfolder
If you keep the folder open, the pictures will be saved here by default.


Creating the album in the OneDrive Client

  1. Create a picture of the cover and end slides
  2. Add to project folder of pictures, making sure that cover and end slide are the first and last items (generally, adding an A and a Z in front of the respective names will do the trick)
    OneDrive-all pictures
    Example of an album – cover image, the pictures taken, and the end images. (with a blank image to make the number even and have a better result) 
  3. Select all images in the folder, click “Share” > “Print”

    OneDrive - SharePrint
    You will find the Share > Print option on top of your screen

4. In the screen that pops up,  select “Microsoft Print to PDF” as the printer and determine a layout (generally 2 or 4 to a page)

OneDrive-popup
In this screen, please make sure you select “Microsoft Print to PDF” as the printer. You can  change orientation by clicking “Options” . 

5. Click “Print” and save the resulting PDF. You can view it here

Remarks:

  • You can only create the album in the OneDrive Client – the Online and App versions do not have this functionality. In fact, this is Windows functionality and not limited to OneDrive. 
  • You can use a “blank image” just before the last image to make the number even and have a better print result. 
  • You can change the orientation of the pictures/album by clicking “Options” in the pop up screen and then “Printer Properties”.
  • Unfortunately you can only use one display for the whole series. It would have been nice if you could decide to make the both cover and end slides a full page in the series, and provide the pictures in e.g. 4 on a page. This is clearly a limitation of this way of working.

The result

My colleague was especially happy with the camera options of the OneDrive app, which he was not aware of before. Just after taking a few pictures he realized that this will be a big time-saver. 
The second part, creating the album with the OneDrive Client instead of PowerPoint, felt like a bigger change in practice, but he was willing to try it. 

As usual, this is nothing fancy. It is just trying to match a need with existing functionality. And it makes me happy when I succeed. 🙂 

Image by Congerdesign on Pixabay.

Using OneNote during a conference

It all started out with a tweet by Simon Bisson:

I really liked that idea but I could not very well imagine how it worked exactly. And as this is another way I can make work easier for my colleagues, who generally do not have the time or the interest to find out these things, I decided to try it and write it all down. The Office 365 and SharePoint Connect conference in Haarlem was a good moment to test it all, using a tablet, but it works the same on a PC.

The day before the conference

  • Make sure you have the OneNote app installed on your tablet/PC and smartphone, and that you are logged in on both devices with the same account.
  • If you have never used the camera option of OneNote on your phone, make sure you know where to find it, and practice by photographing something, e.g. your PC screen, with the automatic edge detection and cropping.
  • Create a notebook for conferences.
  • Create a section for the next conference. From there you can create a page for each session.

    OneNote-booksetup
    I have created a Section for the Connect conference, and have one page per session.
  • Charge your devices and a power bank if you have one. It may be my iPad but it devoured battery. A charger may be useful as well, to use during breaks.
  • Clean the camera lens on your phone 🙂

Before each session

  • Make sure your devices are connected to the conference wifi
  • Create a page for the next session
  • Open tablet/PC and phone on the session’s page

During the session

  • Make notes on your tablet/PC
  • Whenever you want to capture a slide, take a picture with your phone while both phone and tablet/PC are on the session page with the cursor below the current notes. Take the picture when the purple lines are around the slide. The “Document” picture option appears to give the best results.
  • The picture captured in the purple lines will be added to the page at the place where your cursor is, on both devices.

    OneNoteinpage
    I took the picture, focusing on the slide, and this was added to the page. See below for the original photo.

After the conference

  • Process your notes like you are used to.
  • Remove the original pictures from your phone’s photo gallery to free up space. Your slide pictures will still stay in OneNote.

    OneNote-original image
    This is the original picture which stays on your phone and takes up space.

Conclusion

I really like this option. I love the fact that the cropped image automagically appears in your notes 🙂 . I also like the fact that you have the slides immediately; of course you can also wait until the organization makes the decks available, but by that time I generally no longer have the time and patience to cut and paste all this.