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?

352 ways to show Quick Links in SharePoint

As my organization is slowly getting used to the look of modern SharePoint sites that go with a Team site, I am getting more and more questions about how to create those “buttons” that some of our pioneers added to their site.

For Classic sites I once made an overview of the options for Summary Links, which is a web part to store lists of links, with styling options. The equivalent in Modern sites is the Quick Links web part.

Now we can have a debate on the “Quick” aspect of Quick Links, but let’s not go into that and let’s focus on the ways you can make them look. (But if you are curious, you may want to read this article by the Nielsen Norman Group)

How did I prepare?

  • In one of my SharePoint sites, I created a new page and added a header from the new Stock Images (πŸ‘ nice!)
  • I added a one-column section
  • I added a Quick Links web part to the section
  • I added some individual links with either an image (Web search), an image from the new Stock Images option (again: nice!) or an icon (also much-appreciated functionality).
  • To some links I added a description.

This is the result:

Starting point for my experiments

Now you have a number of options for how those 8 links are shown.
Of course in a real-life situation you would not want to mix images and icons but for demonstration purposes it makes sense.

6 Web part layout options

When your page is in edit mode, and you click the edit icon for the web part, you get 6 options for layout. Each option can have sub-options.

6 options for different displays of your links

“Compact” is the default option, as shown in the screenshots above. If I uncheck “Show image in layout” the images and icons are removed.
2 options.

No images – a bit plain, right?

Filmstrip” gives a large emphasis on the image. You can move from left to right with arrows, and on the bottom you will see an indication that there’s more than these 4.
1 option.

The “Filmstrip” layout emphasizes the images …
… but it appears NOT to show any default icons (in this case, from a document library)

Grid” shows the links in tiles with large images, again not displaying default icons.
1 option.

Grid – large images, but no default icon

Buttons” has a ton of options:

Description yes/no, image yes/no, appearance, alignment and number of lines: buttons has many options.

Let’s show a few:

With description, icon on left, button outline, centered and two lines of text
No description, icon on top, no outline, top aligned and one line of text (which makes it slightly more compact)

And the option that is very popular in my organization:

No description, no icon, fill colour, center alignment and two lines. If you only use icons, and no images, with your links, this is a good option too.

So the Buttons option alone has 72 display options!

The “List” layout has 4 options: with or without icon, and with or without description. It looks like the Buttons option with the icon on the left, but it is slightly different when you toggle between the two.
4 options.

The List option with icon and description

And finally there is the “Tiles” option, which shows your links in squares. There are 5 sizes, and for the smallest 3 you can decide whether you want to show just the icon, or only the image. I am sharing the two most extreme options.
8 options.

Small tiles with title
The largest image where there is no room for the title

So, all in all you have 88 options to choose from!

But wait, there’s more: 4 section background colours

When you edit the section, you can determine the columns, but also select one of 4 colour options for the section background from left to right: none (as shown in the screenshot), neutral, soft and strong. The exact colours depend on the theme of the site.
So, multiply the 88 options of the web part with the 4 background options and you get…352 options!

These are the options:

You can select 4 different hues

This is the default Compact option with images with 3 backgrounds:

The neutral background
Soft background-the screenshot shows hardly any difference with white
The strong background – that is VERY visible

When you have selected a Link option with a fill-in colour, such as the Button (fill colour) or the Tiles, and you use the strong background, the colour of the buttons will revert to white, for maximum contrast.

The Button with fill colour – now white with strong background.
Tiles with strong background – the icon tiles change to white.

Conclusion

There’s 352 ways to make a nice list of links on your SharePoint page.
It is easy to switch from one style to the other so you can play around until you have found the best style for your purposes.

I would not quickly select one without a title – I have clicked too many image-only buttons that led to something I had not expected or wanted. Tell people what they can expect or do and do not leave them guessing. Nielsen-Norman group have many suggestions for link names with good “information scent”.

What’s your favourite Quick Link style?

Note: I have recently switched to the WordPress’s Block Editor. This has changed the way image captions are being displayed.

8 steps to retrieve a lost SharePoint document

SPdocgone-header2We frequently get calls from colleagues whose documents have “disappeared” from their SharePoint site. Over time, we have come up with a few steps to investigate and (often) find them.

They are comparable with the steps taken when you misplace a OneDrive document, but finding lost documents in SharePoint is a bit more complicated than finding them in OneDrive:

  • Other people can edit or delete documents
  • You only have 1 OneDrive (which is one document library), but you probably work in multiple document libraries in multiple SharePoint sites
  • Permissions can vary within and across sites

On the plus side, there is a Site Owner and a SharePoint admin who may be able to help you out!

What could have happened?

These are the most frequent “disappearing acts” of documents:

  • Deleted (deleting a synced folder without disconnecting it first also deletes the documents from SharePoint!)
  • Renamed
  • Moved to another folder in the same document library
  • Moved to another library in the site
  • Moved to another site. This means the original document has been deleted.
  • Moved to your OneDrive
  • Permissions have changed and you no longer have access
  • Metadata have changed so it appears in a different view than usual

Which tools are available?

  • Search
  • Recycle bin
  • The document details pane
  • The site owner or your SharePoint admin

Where to start?

Just like my post about the disappeared web parts and lost documents on OneDrive, I have thought about the best possible order to use the available tools. It may appear to be fastest if you go to the Recycle Bin first, but that may be quite a chore if your site is active, your document has been deleted some time ago and/or document name, the author or the suspected deleter starts with M or N. Sadly you can only Sort, and not Search, in the Recycle bin.

My suggestion would be to first try and find the document in the original library. But please, feel free to disagree! It also depends…:)

1. Search in the Document Library where it used to live

Found it? Open it to see whether this is the document you are looking for. It has most likely been moved from one folder to another, or metadata has changed so it appears in a different view. Take step 2 to find the location if you do not see it straight away and/or confirm with step 7 to see what exactly has happened if you are curious.

SPdocgone-searchlibrary
There are two documents in this library. You can click to open them from there or click “Show more results”

No luck? Move on!

2. Search in the SharePoint site

You can easily do this by clicking “Expand search to all items in this site” on the bottom of the Search results page from step 1.

SPdocgone-searchlibrary2
You do not get any more results in this case, nor the exact location of your documents, but this view allows you to expand search and that will give you more info.

SPdocgone-searchlibrary3
So there is another result if you search in the site. If you get too many results, you may want to use the Files tab and/or the Filters to narrow down. And…this view will show you the path of the document!

Found it? Note down the path and navigate to it to confirm this is the correct document. The document has been moved to another library. Confirm with step 7 if you feel the need.

No luck? Move on!

After this, you can do what is most easy for you.

3. Search from the SharePoint landing page

Found it? Well you are lucky! Unless your document has a very unique name, it will be hard to find between all the other documents in your organization. (Of course, using the Files tab and the Filters should help a little). So, it has been moved to another site. Note down the path and confirm it is the correct document. Confirm with step 7.

SPdocgone-spsearch
Results from SharePoint search. In this case you get results from all of SharePoint, so it will be necessary to narrow down the results by using the Files tab and the Filters. You see there is also a result from OneDrive.

Results from OneDrive are also shown in SharePoint search, so if you have accidentally moved the document to OneDrive, you will find it there as well. Unless you want to know WHEN you did this, there’s no need to confirm with step 7 as you are the only one who could have done this. πŸ™‚

No luck? It has probably been deleted, renamed or had its permissions changed (with or without moving). Take any of the next steps to find out.

4. Search in Office365

Frankly, chances are slim that you will find it here but you can try! If it is not in OneDrive and not in SharePoint (including Teams) it may be in Outlook or Yammer but would you not remember if you have done that? But, just to be on the safe side, give it a try.

Found it? Congratulations! Now move it back to where it belongs!

No luck? Well, you really did not expect to find it after all your other trials, right? Time to look in the Recycle bin.

5. Check the Recycle bin

Found it? Restore it.

No luck? Move on!

6. Ask the site owner if they know, or to search in Library or Site

Found it? It has probably moved to a place to where you do not have access, or you have actively been removed from the access group. Discuss with the site owner to give you access again, if possible.

No luck? Move on.

7. Check the Document Library’s details pane

In some cases you may want to do this earlier, but especially in a busy SharePoint site you need to scroll a lot! If someone knows a good way to export the data into a nice Excel file or something, please let me know.

The details pane is context-sensitive and will display different details depending whether you are on the document library landing page or in a folder.

DisappearedDocs-infopane
Nice icons, clear descriptions and clickable links for documents that are still in this folder or library. Deleted documents are not clickable.

Found it? Confirm it is the correct document and note down the path and/or new name.

No luck? There is one last option…to be done when all else fails.

8. Ask your SharePoint administrator

Your SharePoint admin will likely have permissions to everything so if they can not find the document in Office365 search, it will not exist in its original shape anymore.
Additionally, they can also check the 2nd stage Recycle bin to see if it has been deleted.

Found it in Office365 Search? Confirm it is the document, note down the path and ask the site owner to give you permissions again.
Found it in the 2nd Stage Recycle bin? Ask your SharePoint admin to restore it.
Confirm what has happened with step 7 and give your SharePoint admin a compliment on Yammer or Teams for everyone to see! πŸ™‚

No luck? Sorry….

Any other thoughts?

Did I miss something? Do you think there is a better order? Any other tricks to share? Please let me know!

Image courtesy of ronnieb on Morguefile.com

And even more about Forms

Forms appears to be top of my mind these days. It’s near the end of the year and lots of evaluations need to be done πŸ™‚ so I am searching the organization for opportunities to make the switch from other tools or processes to Forms.

GlurenbijdeburenAnother “win”

Every year my organization has a week where you can spend (half) a day with another department. This has mutual benefits as you can well imagine. This process involves:

  1. Making an inventory of which departments are open for receiving visitors that week
  2. Asking employees which one of the “open” departments they are interested to visit and when

When I joined the organization last year, I had seen the Google form for item 2. and I made a resolution to try and help the organizer move that to Microsoft Forms this year. So recently we sat together toΒ  create the Form and it turned out she had some doubts about the inventory. Last year she had sent out emails to various departments with some questions, and it was a lot of hassle to collect the data and get the overview. So I suggested she create a Form instead in order to

  • make sure that everyone replies to all questions
  • get everything collated into a tidy Excel sheet without having to copy it all manually

So, we created a Form and she sent an email with the request to complete the Form.Β  (Which is additional advertising and awareness for Forms, I hope!)

Then we set about to create the Form where employees can specify their interest and preferred date. As this had already been set up as an online form, this was rather simple. We could even shorten the form because we decided to collect people’s name and email address automatically.
When the inventory is completed, she just needs to add the dates and departments to the Form and the announcement can be posted on the intranet with a link to the Form.

So, unexpectedly we could move two processes to Forms! Yay! (Those little wins always put a big smile on my face)

Handing over ownership of a Form before it has been distributed

According to Microsoft, you need to add a Form to an Office365 Group if you want to hand over ownership. This will make sure that the data will be handed over as well.
If you do not have a Group for this purpose, and the Form has not been distributed yet, the original owner can Share the form with the new one, and the new Owner can then Copy it to make it his/her own.
This may come in useful when someone is leaving the organization (and whose account and content will be deleted) has created a Form that still needs to be introduced to the organization.

Share-ShareOne
Step 1: As the current owner, use “Share to Collaborate” if you want to share or handover Form ownership

Forms-Copy
Step 2. As the new owner, on the “Shared with Me” tab, click the 3 little dots top right of the Form to be copied, and click Copy

Top 3 differences between Forms and Forms Pro

In my earlier post I mentioned I did not quite get the benefits of Forms Pro, but then Doug Allen wrote a post that made things clearer to me. Especially the options for sharing of the survey, and the analysis and follow-up of survey results are much better than regular Forms. Those examples were quite an eye-opener for me.

Be a quiz-master!

I have done some experiments with the Quiz option but I was not overly impressed. It only works well for multiple-choice questions. I think it needs some more work, either from Microsoft or from myself πŸ™‚

However, Rebecca Jackson has dug a bit deeper and she says you can be quite a quizmaster, so I guess the “more work” is on MY ToDo list πŸ™‚

So, what have you found out regarding quizzes?

Photo by Gigi on Unsplash