List Alerts Rule

When the Microsoft Lists app was introduced I was a bit apprehensive, as I did not really know what all the fuss was about. But now that I have worked with Lists, I am starting to see the light! A few things that I like:

  • You can create personal Lists, which appear to live on OneDrive (as the URL for a list starts similarly, but I have no clue where to access them on OneDrive)
  • The options for colour and icons (trivial, but nice)
  • The ability to create a list from an Excel file, see my earlier post
  • The templates with content
  • Rules. You can create Rules to send yourself an email when something happens in your list.

But…you can also set an oldfashioned Alert. So, guess what I am going to do in this post? Ah, you know me by now. πŸ™‚

Setup:

I used an Issue Tracker list in a personal and a SharePoint version. (In SharePoint, you can use “Add an app” from the gear wheel menu, or “New > List” or “New > App” from the Site Contents page)

I have set one Alert (for new items) as I know how that works

I have also set all the Rules, as I am curious what I will see, two in the Personal version and two in SharePoint.

How does the Alert work?

  • You can do this from the Lists app and from SharePoint
  • You can do this on a personal list (πŸ‘) and on SharePoint
  • Microsoft information
  • In the top bar, click “Alert Me” or the … at the right of the other commands and select “Alert Me”
Setting an Alert in SharePoint. This can also be done from the Lists app and in personal Lists.
  • Adjust the popup to your purpose and click “Save”
  • You will receive an email confirmation
  • When the desired change happens in the list, you will get an email
  • The sender will be yourself if the Alert is from a personal list, or the site name if it is from a SharePoint list.
The familiar Alerts functionality
This is the email body from the Alert

How do Rules work?

  • You can do this from the Lists app and from SharePoint
  • You can do this on a personal list and on SharePoint
  • You can find the Rule option in the top bar under “Automate”
Creating a rule in SharePoint (this can also be done from the Lists app, and for personal Lists)

You have 4 options:

  • A column changes
  • A column value changes
  • A new item is created
  • An item is deleted
The available options for a rule

Creating the rule is pretty easy – click on the desired change and in most cases you just select the column and/or enter the email adress of the person(s) you want to send the change to (including a Me option).

The most complicated one is “a column value changes” as this will ask you the column, e.g. “Status”, the condition (“is” or “is not”) and the value, e.g. “Completed”, and then the email address.

Setting the Rule for when a column value changes
  • You do not get a confirmation email
  • The sender is SharePoint Online
  • When the conditions are met, you will get the following emails:
The notifications from Rules; for Personal Lists they are in Dutch
The email body from this Rule; please note that it uses the known document management icons
Another mail, deleted this time.

But wait, there’s more!

The Reminder, of course! That is a long-desired option that has always been missing in Alerts.

The long-awaited reminder function!

This reminder option will send a notification x days before a certain date. This date needs to be a Time and Date field and can not be a calculated field, so any calculated Due Dates can not be done.
In this case, a reminder before the Data reported is also quite silly, as this is an Issue tracker and the Date Reported is at best Today and sometimes even in the past.

The reminders are Power Automate, and you can find them under My Flows.

The reminders are based on Power Automate

I have set a reminder for 1 day before the Estimated Close date on May 4. So I expected the mail on May 3, but it only arrived on May 4, 01.00 hours. So you have to select the interval carefully.

The Reminders
And this is the reminder mail, the other one is similar. Note the time sent!

What do I think?

  • πŸ‘ You can set Alerts and Rules in personal Lists. It can be useful when you are sharing a List with someone.
  • πŸ‘ Rules are easy to set up – you can use “Me” to send an email to yourself
  • πŸ‘ Rules use a familiar look and feel for emails – it looks like sharing emails and uses the regular document management icons
  • πŸ‘‰ The Reminder option can be useful, but it only works on dates in the future that you pick yourself. An option to work on calculated dates would be nice!
  • πŸ‘‰ The Reminder option works, but you have to test whether your reminder arrives on the desired time. In this experiment, 1 day turned out to be “on the day itself”.
  • πŸ‘Ž Rules do not take a change of list name into account. I changed the personal list to “Issue tracker Personal” but the email from the Rule did not adjust. The email from the Alert did, so did the mail from the Reminder.
  • πŸ‘Ž I miss a Rule for: “any changes in the List”. Quite often more than one column is changed, so that would mean you will need to set more Rules in order to be informed properly. You can set 15 rules on any List.
  • πŸ‘Ž The information in the email from Rules is minimal – you have to go to the List to see what has changed. This makes Alerts more useful for any changes except Deletions
  • πŸ‘Ž The emails could benefit from more visual (typographic or otherwise) distinction between the actions and values, e.g. ” Ellen van Aken changed Assigned To to Ellen van Aken for SharePoint News does not show the latest items
  • πŸ‘Ž The sender of a Rule notification is always SharePoint Online – that gives less information than the sender of Alerts, which is yourself (for a personal list) or the SharePoint site name (for a SharePoint list). Especially when you have created many Rules, it may be hard to see what’s what.

Conclusion

I think this is very promising functionality, but I think it can be improved, especially on “information scent”. For the time being I prefer the good old fashioned Alert. It does not look as nice, but it gives you more information!

What are your thoughts/experiences?

SharePoint Holmes and the No-show News

The case

One of our Communication sites has changed hands recently. The former owner was very active in her site and we often referred people to that site as a showcase for Communication sites.
She left and someone else took over. The new owner attended one of our Webinars and told us she felt confident managing the site. Last week she asked for help – she had published a News item for the first time and although it showed on the SharePoint start page she could not find it in her site.

On the SharePoint start page, news item are displayed in chronological (First published) order. The item on the left is the most recent.
The homepage of the site in question. The latest item is nowhere to be seen.

The investigation

I remember seeing the post on my SharePoint start page and thinking “Ah, she did it! Good to see that that site is active again”. But I had not looked at the site.

  • I went to the site and there was the homepage, seemingly untouched since the last owner left. (see screenshot above)
  • I created a new page with the News web part and noticed that the new item was displayed in first position.
A new page with the News web part as is – the new item is in first position.
  • I checked the web part settings of the News web part on the home page.
  • After checking the web part layout and settings, I checked the bottom of the web part menu. And yes, what I suspected was true: ALL news items had been fixed on the page, blocking display of all new News items.
All 4 News items are pinned in a fixed position. This means that new items will be displayed below these.

The solution

That was relatively simple:

In web part editing mode, I clicked on each x after the News item’s title. The chronological order revealed itself, and the latest News became visible.

“Native web part” (in chronological order).

I think pinning all News items is not a good idea. I can imagine that you will want to keep one or (at the very most) two things visible for some time, but to fix them all in their place is defying the purpose of having a News functionality. Default is best, because it is news and it is supposed to change! Also, it can really puzzle your successor πŸ˜‰
And I personally keep forgetting how it is done; the functionality is a bit weird.

More on creating SharePoint News in my earlier post:

16 things to know about creating SharePoint News

And by the way…

I noticed that the web part picker no longer has an expand option. That means you can no longer have a large overview of available web parts. You can now choose between a grid and a list view, and you can search, or scroll.

About SharePoint Holmes:
Part of my role is solving user issues. Sometimes they are so common that I have a standard response, but sometimes I need to do some sleuthing to understand and solve it.
As many of my readers are in a similar position, I thought I’d introduceΒ SharePoint Holmes, SharePointΒ investigator, who will go through a few cases while working out loud.

New! The SharePoint app bar

“Hey, that’s weird, there’s only five News items on my SharePoint start page, not six,” I noticed the other day. When I looked a bit better at the page, I saw that something had been added on the left side of the page: the SharePoint app bar. At that moment, the only item that worked was the Home button, which led me to the SharePoint start page. Which, seeing that I already was on that page, was not a real advantage 😁. The other options showed an empty popup.

So, after asking around on Twitter, it turned out that more people had it and that they also saw empty popups, but Melissa Torres, the developer of this functionality at Microsoft, was so kind to confirm that it was populating, and indeed, the next day everything worked as it should.

Thank you, everyone who responded to my Tweet! πŸ‘‡

Many people responded to my Tweet, including Melissa Torres from Microsoft.

What does it do?

Here’s a nice explainer video from Melissa Torres. (Thank you, Phil Worrell, for sharing that)

  • This is the Microsoft documentation.
  • The app bar is displayed on the SharePoint start page and all sites with modern pages. We have some “classic” sites at work (well…modern but with a classic homepage) and it does not show on the home page but when you navigate to a document library you see it.
  • The app bar allows you to quickly move between content and sites, so when you in one site and need to go to another, you do not necessarily have to go via the SharePoint start page.
  • There are 4 buttons, see Tweet above, top to bottom:
    • 🏠 Home, which takes you back to the SharePoint start page, or, if your organization has a Home site specified, to the global navigation.
    • 🌍 My Sites, which shows your frequently visited sites and your followed sites
    • πŸ“° My News, which shows you about 8 recent News items
    • πŸ“„ My Files, which are recent documents you opened or worked on

Is the SharePoint app bar something to celebrate?

🌍 I was especially interested in My Sites. We do not have a SharePoint-based intranet yet, and we currently use SharePoint mainly for document management, generally in sites with limited permissions. We are slowly starting with communication sites and News, but the majority is “closed” sites. We have a custom web part showing “My Sites”, showing all sites you have access to, and I recently got some feedback that this was no longer displaying all sites. I wondered if this would solve that problem.

There is a Microsoft User Voice (what are these rumours I hear about closing that down?) asking for an out-of-the-box functionality that shows all sites you have access to, but that has been on the waiting list since 2017. Microsoft indicates that with a SharePoint intranet, there will be many sites everyone will have access to, so a list like that will be confusing rather than helpful. They suggest to use Following and looking at Recently visited sites, in order to create your own list. I will have some convincing to do, as the “All my Sites” is apparently popular functionality and now I need to tell people to “DIY”.
I know “Do It Yourself” is a Microsoft thing, but that does not necessarily resonate with everyone. πŸ˜‰

So, in that way My Sites is a bit of a disappointment, as it does not show “All My Sites” but rather “Recently/Frequently visited” and “Followed sites”. I think this is definitely useful but we will have to help people to make this useful for them. I can see the benefits of a quick switch between sites.

🏠 The Home button is at present not really useful, as there is a SharePoint button in every site to take you back to the SharePoint start page. When we have a Home site, and a global navigation, this button will be more interesting.

Every site has a link that takes you back to the SharePoint homepage

πŸ“° The My News option is nice, but to be honest, News is not THAT important that I need to be able to switch to it quickly when doing something else.

πŸ“„ My documents can be useful. I may need to find a certain document when working in a SharePoint site.

And this…

❓ I also wonder about what happened to plans for the SharePoint start page – about a year ago we were told that the left column would go away, but that never happened. I then thought that every “application landing page” would get the full list of Microsoft 365 apps, as we currently see on the Forms homepage, but that may also not be true.
So, perhaps the app bar will replace the left column? Oh well, we will see.

πŸ‘ All this may be a reason to get rid of classic pages!

πŸ‘Ž I am less happy with the fact that I can only see 5 news items on the start page.

What do you think?

Create a List based on Forms responses – 2

In last week’s episode, we learned that you can use the Excel spreadsheet you get as a result from your Form, to create a Microsoft List. In this case I needed the easy data entry in Forms, but wanted to move the data (using a workflow) into a corresponding SharePoint list in order to facilitate a process.

This time I checked what happens if I use the other answer types (Date, Ranking, Likert, File Upload and Net Promotor Score) as a basis for a new List. I set up a Form with those fields, entered one response, downloaded the Excel and imported that into Microsoft Lists.

Let me share the full “Translation” here, so you have everything in one place.

Field type in FormsSuggested Column in Lists
IDDo not import
Start TimeTitle
Completion TimeNumber
Choice Single line of text
Text shortSingle line of text
Text longSingle line of text
Text numberNumber
RatingNumber
DateNumber
RankingSingle line of text
LikertSingle line of text (one per statement)
File UploadSingle line of text
Net Promotor ScoreNumber

Please note that the “Number” columns have more options to select from than the columns identified as “Single line of text”.

A number column and its options
A Single Line of Text column and its options

More findings:

  • By default, the Date answer from Forms is translated into a Number column in the List. If you want a proper date in your List, make sure you change these during import, as you can not change into a Date and Time column after import.
  • A Likert scale answer will provide you with one column for every statement (=row). I have never liked these question types, as they are a lot of work, but they also provide a ton of clutter in your list 😁
  • The NPS gives you just a number, not the calculation of course.
  • The File Upload option in Forms gives you an ugly URL. Sadly there is no option to change this column into a Hyperlink column.
Yikes (The link to the file that has been uploaded in Forms and now lives in my OneDrive)

Suggestions

I will repeat my suggestions from last time, and have added some new ones, so you have them in one place.

Forms design suggestions:

  • Collect requesters’ email addresses (and names) by default in the Form. Those will be captured in the Excel automatically and can be pushed to the List, saving your users time in entering this info manually.
  • Try to think of a unique identifier in your Form that you can use to fill the Title field in the List.

Import suggestions:

  • When you enter your first item to create the Excel, use short dummy text to avoid scrolling when importing the Excel. (How do I know that, you ask? πŸ˜‰)
  • Select β€œDo not import” for the Excel columns β€œID”, β€œStart Time” and β€œCompletion Time” unless you really need those. (see next item)
  • Make sure you map the Title column first when you create your List, or Lists will keep making suggestions until that field is mapped.
  • If you have a Date column in your Form, other than the Start and Completion time, change that into a Date and Time column during import, as you will be unable to change it later.
  • The Net Promotor Score will only return the number of each response, so think carefully if you really want to import this column into the list. The complete calculation, and the graphic, is nicely done in Forms and it may be easier to check that.
The NPS is a calculation based on all responses – you can not capture this in a Calculated Column.

List suggestions:

  • Is the Start Time of the Form entry important, e.g. if these are requests and you need to sort those in order of entry, or calculate a response time? Use the default β€œCreated” date/time of the item in the List. The workflow may have a few seconds delay, but it is usually the date that is important, not the exact time. This allows you to skip the date columns from the Forms/Excel during import.
  • If you have Choice fields in your Form, it makes sense to configure the corresponding columns in the List as Choice fields and add the values. This will allow you to make use of List column formatting, such as displaying each value as a β€œcoloured choice pill” for easy recognition. You can do this after import.

Conclusion:

Yes, it is certainly possible to use the Excel spreadsheet that is produced from your Form, as a basis for a Microsoft List. However, the import is pretty basic (Numbers and Single Line of Text fields by default), so you will need to think carefully about how to import each answer, because you can not change all of them afterwards.

If your Form is very long it can certainly help, but if your Form only has a few questions, I think you can just as quickly make a list from scratch and make sure that all columns are correct from the start. But of course one wonders if a scenario like this was in scope when developing all this functionality.

Do you have any experience with this kind of set-up, and if yes, do you have any tips or tricks to share?

Create a List based on Forms responses – 1

A colleague asked if we could make his process easier by collecting requests through Forms instead of completing a Word document and then emailing it.
After discussing his process it appeared that the regular Forms output (the graphs and the Excel file) was not sufficient for his ongoing process. So we decided on a different approach:

  • use Forms to collect the requests from colleagues across the organization.
  • use Power Automate to send the responses into a List in a (restricted) SharePoint site. We will not go into details about the workflow itself, but please be aware it is part of the process.
  • the team can process the requests from their SharePoint site.

This has advantages and some risks:

  • πŸ‘ Forms has nice interface for the requester
  • πŸ‘ Requests can be made from phone if desired
  • πŸ‘ Form can be accessed by QR code if needed
  • πŸ‘ Branching in Forms (skipping questions based on earlier answers) is possible, making the workload for the requester as small as possible
  • πŸ‘ As the workflow is user-based, there is no need to manage extra permissions to the SharePoint list (the requests can be entered by more people than currently have access to the SharePoint site)
  • πŸ‘ Many options to slice and dice the requests into reports: open and completed, most popular request types, how many requests in a year, etc.
  • πŸ‘Ž The workflow can break
  • πŸ‘Ž Workflow and list need to be adjusted when the Form changes

Using the Excel file to create the List

I wanted to see whether I could use the Excel file from the Form as the basis for the List, as I was curious if this would save time.

  1. I created a Form, using a sample of each question/response option in Choice, Text, Rating. (In my next post I will use the other response options)
  2. I completed one request to create the Excel
  3. I downloaded the Excel file to my PC – you can also save it to OneDrive
  4. I then went to the Lists homepage, clicked on “New List” and then “From Excel”
  5. I uploaded the Excel (or select from OneDrive)
  6. For each column I had the option to “Do not import” or check and adjust the column type
  7. As any List needs a Title field, the system proposed to use the “Start time” (which is unique, so although not very informative, I used it). I can imagine for a real life situation, you will need to think about this.
  8. When I was done adjusting column types, I clicked “Next” and then I could adjust the title, add a list description, select colour and icon, and determine whether it will “live” in my OneDrive (personal list) or in a SharePoint site.
  9. I then checked the result
The import screen. For each field you get a proposed column type that you can change. “Do not import” is also an option.
You scroll to the right to map each field to a column.

Findings:

πŸ‘‰ The columns proposed were moderately adequate. The Ratings were all Number columns (good), but the Multiple Lines of Text and the Choice columns were all proposed as Single Line of Text.

If you do not adjust column types, this is what you will get. The blue columns have not been set correctly.

πŸ‘Ž The “Start Time” and “Completion Time” are in a regular date/time format in the Excel, but if you do nothing they turn into a sort of strange calculated number during import. It is a Number column that you can not change after creating the list. I am sure it is extremely unique to the millisecond, but not usable for real humans, so I would suggest to “Do not import” this column unless absolutely necessary. In that case, make sure you turn it into a Date/Time column while importing your Excel file.

The title field, which is a single-line-of-text column with a weird start time notation. Completion time is a number column.

πŸ‘‰ Changing the Choice fields into Choice columns during import made the columns into default choice columns, with dropdown and no values.

Suggestions:

  • Collect requesters’ email addresses (and names) by default in the Form. Those will be captured in the Excel and can be pushed to the List, saving time in entering this info manually.
  • Try to think of a unique identifier in your Form that you can use to fill the Title field in the List.
  • When you enter your first item to create the Excel, use short dummy text to avoid scrolling when importing the Excel. (I entered a ton of text into the Multiple Line of Text field, but that was not a good idea πŸ₯΄)
  • Is the date of the request important, e.g. if you need to sort the requests in order of entry, or calculate a response time? Use the default “Created” date/time of the item in the List. The workflow may have a few seconds delay, but it is usually the date that is important, not the exact time. This allows you to skip the date columns from the Forms/Excel.
  • Make sure you select the Title column first when you create your List, or Lists will keep making suggestions until that field is mapped.
  • Select “Do not import” for the Excel columns “ID”, “Start Time” and “Completion Time” unless you really need those
  • If you have Choice fields in your Form, it makes sense to configure the corresponding columns in the List as Choice fields and add the values. This will allow you to make use of List column formatting, such as displaying each value as a “coloured choice pill” for easy recognition.
If you configure your Choice values as Choice columns and enter the values, you can give the options a different colour each, using Column formatting.

Conclusion

I am not so sure if using the Excel file as the basis for the list saves much time. You need to carefully select and adjust the column type during and after import. I am sure that practice will make perfect, and I will test that in my next experiment with the other Forms-options, but if you are a practiced List creator (and I am one) you may be faster when you create your list from scratch in your SharePoint site.
It was one of my first experiences with the Lists app, however, and I have seen a few things that I like! 😍

Recent updates of my posts

With all those rapid changes in the Microsoft 365 suite, some posts age quickly. I have recently updated a number of my most-read posts to keep up with the current situation.

Office Home

Did you know I keep screenshots of all the varieties of Office Homepage since 2016? It is great to see subtle and not so subtle changes. And since there is a new Homepage being rolled out right now, featuring some more filter options and with new Tabs for your files, I updated The New Microsoft365/Office365 Homepage.

Teams

Most changes occur within Teams at the moment, so I have updated the following articles:

The importance of being Organizer, with an Excel spreadsheet (download if you like) of what each role can do in a Teams meeting. I have updated this for breakout rooms and the option to turn off chat.

Take control of your Teams meeting, where I added the options to allow attendees to unmute and the option to control the chat. I also updated some screenshots.

Forms

I just found out that you can create a QR code from Microsoft Edge so I added that to Long live the QR Code or you can read this:

SharePoint

In my most recent post I noticed that the elusive “See all” info, that allows you to create a lovely SharePoint News Digest, does not always appear on your web part even if you have posted the required 5 items.
I wrote 10 things to know about the SharePoint News Digest in 2019 and I am shocked that it took me until 2021 to find the quirk to fill item #10! πŸ˜‰

Delve

With the new Office homepage, the tab “Discover” has gone and with it the option for F3-licensed users, who have no Delve icon, to see suggested documents. So I also had to update An alternative way to dive into Delve.

SharePoint Holmes and the Disappearing Digest link

It has been some time that SharePoint Holmes’ skills were required to deal with a strange issue. But here he is again – this time with a mysterious issue with SharePoint News!

The case

Last time I mentioned a colleague who had started a new site, and who is very happy with the SharePoint News and the News digest. I had given her a short demo of creating both and emphasized that she needed to have at least 5 News articles before the link “See all” would appear on her News web part.

She called me some time after to ask why she did not see the “See all”. She had 5 news items but the link did not show.

No “See all” link on top of the News web part (left)

The investigation

I counted the News articles but yes, she had 6, so the link should be visible.

Perhaps it had to do with the page, one way or the other? So I checked:

  • Section colour – a wide shot but as she had used the dark section background perhaps there was a contrast issue?
  • The web part settings – you have a number of layouts for News items, such as a list or a Hub, and there are also some options per layout.
  • Number of columns – did perhaps a narrow column hide the link?

I just played around, changing the layouts and fiddling with the various options. Current SharePoint pages are so easy to change, that it is really not a lot of work, compared to the old pages!

The solution

Of course I should have trusted Microsoft that they know how to make sufficient contrast – the background colour had no negative influence.
A narrow column made no difference either – there is always room for “See all”. You see it in other web parts as well.
The web part itself was the culprit. There are actually TWO situations in the Layout when the “See all” does not appear:

  1. You use the Hub News layout – for one reason or another this NEVER shows the “See all”
  2. You deselect “Show title and commands“.
If you switch off “Show title and commands” you will not get the “See all” link

The latter was the problem in this case. My colleague did not like the extra space that the title took, so she had decided not to show that when she configured the page. When she hit 5 articles, she expected the link to show, as she did not realize that she had turned it off.
I can’t blame her, I only found out after she had called me!

The desired end result. You see it takes more space.

The tip

So, if you like the Hub News layout, or you want to hide the web part title, and you still want to create a News digest, you may want to do either of this:

  • Change the web part layout temporarily into another style, and go back to it when you have created your Newsletter
  • Create an additional page with a layout that supports See all, to create your Newsletters from.

I knew something would turn up as my 10th “Things to know about the SharePoint News digest“, so I have added it just now! 😁

About SharePoint Holmes:
Part of my role is solving user issues. Sometimes they are so common that I have a standard response, but sometimes I need to do some sleuthing to understand and solve it.
As many of my readers are in a similar position, I thought I’d introduce SharePoint Holmes, SharePoint investigator, who will go through a few cases while working out loud.

SharePoint News or List?

One of my colleagues asked me to help her with setting up a “news functionality” in a communications site. She had the following requirements:

  • nice and inviting looking, with images
  • easy to add news for two or three publishers
  • readers have the option to set an email notification

SharePoint News?

SharePoint News is excellent of course, but it does not lend itself well to notifications, as we have seen before.

Sending a News digest then? No, because the site owner does not know whom to send it to. The content is not confidential and the site is accessible for all employees. The content is not of interest for all employees, so sending it to “All Employees” is not a good option either. Any other option would need her to maintain users – but she has kept the site open so she does not have to maintain anything more than some publishers.

Same issue with a Power Automate action – although that works better than a notification, she does not know whom to send it to. And asking all interested people to create a workflow themselves would create a ton of support questions. “Low-code” is still “too much code” for someone who is not interested in creating workflows.
BTW, I have used the “Send a customized email when a new file is added” template for some time, which sends a link to a recently published News item.

A list, then?

So I decided to check something else. Whatever happened to the good old Announcement list, that I have used so often in earlier roles? And had I not recently seen a new list template with a large image on display?
I decided to check if one of these could meet all requirements. Besides, it would provide a good reason to play with the new Lists app πŸ™‚

Announcement list?

πŸ‘Ž There is no Announcement list template in a Communication site. I knew that the Communication site has fewer options, but I just forgot that this was also not available.

πŸ‘ When I started to work from a Custom List, I found that I could add a column to upload a picture. That must be new – I only remember the unpleasant option for “hyperlink or picture” that needs a link and a properly formatted image.

πŸ‘ The Custom List now also has a Gallery View option, which I used to create a News view, consisting of

  • Image (upload)
  • Title (single line of text)
  • Body (multiple lines of text)
  • Created (system)

πŸ‘‰ You will need to have the picture stored on your PC when you create a news item in this way. This means you can not use those lovely Stock Photo, Search on Web and Organizational Assets options you have when creating a News item, but I guess that for some people this may not be a problem.

πŸ‘ Looks nice when added to a page.

πŸ‘ When you click on an item from the page, you can read the item in full.

πŸ‘Ž Notifications work as expected, but instead of a thumbnail of the image, you see an unpleasant URL.

This is a notification email. The image does not display. The title (highlighted) is clickable and leads to the item.

Asset Manager list?

So, I decided to investigate that Asset Manager list template that I saw displayed in the new Lists app.
After a few tests, I removed all columns except:

  • Device Photo (which I renamed to Image)
  • Asset Tag (which in the List settings is called Title and cannot be renamed, single line of text)
  • Condition Notes (which is the only Multiple line of text field in the list). I renamed that to “Body” to be in line with the Announcements list.
  • I created a News view based on the Asset Gallery View and added that to the page

Well, it looked as if I just recreated that Custom List πŸ™‚ It behaved in exactly the same way as the other one.

Other observations about Lists

When you click “Create an app” from the Site menu, it leads you to the old page with the different list templates. When you click “New List” from the Site Contents page you go to the new List apps creation page. You can also select “New App” which will lead you to the “old” lists.
I hope this will get streamlined over time as it can be a bit confusing.

The “oldfashioned” apps when you click the gear wheel.
Clicking “List” will give you the new Lists options, and using “App” will give you the “oldfashioned” lists.

You will see a bit of the body text if you use “Plain Text” in the body. If you use “Rich Text” or “Enhanced Rich Text”, it will not display. I personally like the Rich Text, as it gives you just a few more options, but I guess you will need to decide what is most important.

The body text in the Announcements list is Rich Text, while the body text in the Asset list is Plain Text.

When you click on an item from the page, you see a reasonably nice page to read the full news item.
If you click from the list, you get a much more unpleasant view, huddled to the right with a “Show more” link for the body text, even if the text is not that long.

If you click on the title of the item from the web part on the page, you will get this.
When you click on the item from the list itself, you get this. You have to click on “See more” even though there is not THAT much text.

Conclusion

All three options can facilitate creating news items easily, once someone has set up those lists and web parts.

All options together on one page.

SharePoint News is superior in options for making great pages, and also has more display options for the web part, but the other lists provide better options for notifications, although the notification email is very plain.

Owner’s decision

When the site owner saw the SharePoint News, and the News digest, she fell in love instantly and decided that maintaining a Distribution List (yikes, but one of the few options to send a News digest quickly to a large audience) for her “core audience” was worth the extra work. The “core audience” can then distribute it to others.

Case completed πŸ™‚

VR image by Florian Pircher on Pixabay

Computer image by Sora ShimazakiΒ on Pexels

Chairs image by Skitterphoto on Pexels

See Microsoft365 live – at Digital Workplace 24 Live!

On September 30/October 1 it is time again for Digital Workplace 24 Live, a free 24-hour online #intranet and #digitalworkplace (and much more) event organized by Digital Workplace Group.

It has been going on from 2008 and it was the first event of its kind. Over the years I have enjoyed every single event, as there are many live tours of intranets, and you get to hear from many interesting people in the field. Actually, one interview inspired me to work six weeks from Spain some years ago, as my work can be done from any place. By now all of us know that, but at that time I still had to convince my then manager that working from another location would not make any difference to my contacts in China, the USA, Sweden or Brazil. πŸ™‚

Why am I telling you this?

Because there will be a lot of real-life Microsoft365 in Digital Workplace 24 Live, whether it is SharePoint, Teams, Yammer or all of them. And you will see it from the business perspective, not “just” from the functionality perspective that we Microsoft365 geeks usually focus on. πŸ™‚

Which tours to expect?

I do not have the full details for each tour, but you can expect Microsoft365 aspects in at least the following:

  • Oxfam
  • Velux who have an Office365 digital workplace. They have a lovely over the top introduction video!
  • Fidelity
  • KBC group
  • UPMC
  • Duke Energy
  • HAVI, who had a nice intranet introduction video in my collection, but that has been removed 😦
  • St. John Ambulance
  • ING
  • ZSL – Zoological Society of London

And I expect there will be more but those have not been published on the schedule yet.

Besides, Microsoft folks Morten Dal and Brad Grissom will also be studio guests. And if you need more reasons, this post lists twelve reasons to attend. Why not organize a viewing party for your team or be a Tweeter-in-residence?
So, what’s keeping you? You can register here – and did I mention it is free?

Please note: I do freelance work for Digital Workplace Group. I have written this post because I genuinely love the event and would like to spread the word. I have not been been asked to do it, nor am I paid for it.

10 things about protecting documents from being overwritten

Did you know you can Protect a document in SharePoint and OneDrive from being accidentally altered or overwritten? If that has been enabled you will need to take conscious action to edit the document. Very useful for Excel files, especially when “auto-save” is on! This has been around for a few months.
Review mode is a relatively new option in SharePoint, allowing people to only make Comments in your documents, and not change the original text. Together they can be a good way to prevent accidents.

I guess you know me by now: I had to find out how these things work, also related to the permissions you have in the site.

How to protect a document

If you protect a document, you protect it against accidental changes.
Go to the document, click File > Info and then you can select “Protect document”

This is where you protect a document. The yellow bar signifies it is protected.

When you open a protected document, you see this:

When you open the document, you will get a message.

When you want to add comments or edit the file, click on OK and then “Viewing” and you will see these options:

Now you can add comments or edit

How to share a document in review mode

When you want to allow people to give feedback, but as comments only, you can share in review mode. Select the document, click Share and then click on the “People you specify can edit” link on top. This will give you the advanced sharing options. Make sure the “Open in review mode only” is toggled (as in screenshot) and click “Apply”.

Here’s how you allow comments only

This option is only available if you allow editing.
Recipients can only add comments, and can not edit the text itself, so this will keep your original text intact. This is especially helpful when many people may want to add feedback. If everyone is allowed to edit the original text, you may end up with something incomprehensible.
When you write the message to the recipient, the sharing popup will show a little icon next to the “People you specify can edit” link.

This little icon will tell you that you share as “review only”

Test programme

In one SharePoint document library I created 4 new documents from the New button:

  • Plain document as is, shared as is
  • Document with protection, shared as is
  • Plain document, shared in Review mode
  • Document with protection and Review mode

I did that for each of the following apps, both online and desktop:

  • Word
  • Excel
  • PowerPoint
  • OneNote

I shared the documents with each of the following permissions:

  • Owner
  • Member (can edit)
  • Visitor (can read)
  • Someone with no access to the site

Afterwards, I repeated relevant experiments with documents in my OneDrive.

What do you need to know?

  1. You can only protect individual documents, not a complete document library.
  2. You can not protect OneNote documents, in desktop nor online nor that half-baked OneNote for Windows 10.
  3. In the desktop apps you can protect Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents against overwriting.
    (You can also use other ways of protection, but that is out-of-scope for now)
  4. In the online apps you can only protect Word and Excel, but not PowerPoint.
  5. You can protect Word and Excel files in SharePoint and OneDrive.
  6. You can only send with “review-only” in Word, not in Excel, PowerPoint or OneNote (I hope that will change).
  7. You can only send with “review-only” when you share with “people you specify” or “people in [tenant] with the link”.
  8. You can use “review-only” in Word in SharePoint and OneDrive.
  9. When you share the document from SharePoint with an external person who has no access to the site, they receive a code via mail as soon as they try to open the document. Not sure if that is a tenant setting, but I thought I’d mention it.
  10. How does a Word-document open, and which options do you have when you share the document with or without protection, with our without “review-only” and with people with various roles in your SharePoint site? See the table below. The first word is the option that the document opens with.
Full Control Edit ReadNo access
Plain documentEditing EditingEditingEditing
Protected documentViewingViewingViewingViewing
Plain document “review-only”EditingEditingReviewing,
can view,
editing greyed out
Reviewing,
can view,
editing greyed out
Protected document “review-only”ViewingViewingViewing,
can review,
editing greyed out
Viewing,
can review,
editing greyed out
Various sharing options – the first word in the cells shows the “landing” option.

What do I think?

Protecting a document can be a good way to avoid accidental changes, as it opens the document consistently in “Viewing” mode, regardless of your own role in a SharePoint site. πŸ‘
It also works on OneDrive. πŸ‘
It is not available for PowerPoint Online. πŸ‘Ž
It is per document only, while per document library might be nice as well.

The “Review Only” mode is disappointing as you can only use it on Word files. πŸ‘Ž
Additionally it allows site users with Full Control and Edit permissions to edit the original text, even if you ask for comments only. πŸ‘Ž
However, this is a useful option for sharing with people who have no access or who can only Read in your site, as they will have no permissions to Edit the original text. πŸ‘
It is also useful for sharing files on your OneDrive as everyone will be unable to edit the original text. πŸ‘

I hope there will be some developments in both functionalities, so it can be used with more file types and “people with existing access”.

Are you using this in your organization? Do you have any additional tips or lessons to share?