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. 

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Show some character! (in your #SharePoint site navigation)

Char-headerThe other day I was helping someone design their SharePoint site. It struck me that the labels she wanted to use in the navigation were very long, and although they could technically be added, they displayed badly. They used more than one line and it was not clear which text belonged to which navigation item.

I could not tell her how many characters she could use, and I could also not find it described anywhere, so I had to check it out myself.
So, here’s a few numbers for navigation items on a site’s Homepage (and I wish WordPress had a nice table for this):

Current navigation / Quick Launch (vertical)

  1. In Classic sites you can add 256 characters and they will all be displayed – breaking off at 24 characters, without indent.
    With indent, 22 characters are shown per line.

    Char-Classic-QuickLaunch
    Left: Classic Quick Launch with 24 chars per line; Right: Classic Quick Launch with indent and 22 chars per line.
  2. In Modern sites you can add 256 characters but only 19 will be displayed – when you hover over the item 50 characters will be shown. When making this a sub-link, 16 chars are shown.
    Char-Modern-QuickLaunch
    Modern Quick Launch with the displayed link in yellow, and the extended link when you hover over it, in blue.

    char-ModernQuickLaunchsublink
    A sublink will display 16 characters.

Global navigation (horizontal)

  1. In Classic sites you can add 256 characters and they will all be displayed on top of the site – looking absolutely horrible and causing a horizontal scroll bar.

    Chars-ClassicHorizontal
    All 256 characters displayed in this link – wish they weren’t!
  2.  In Modern sites (Communication sites only) you can also add 256 characters but none of them will be displayed, instead you can click on the … and you will see the link title.
    When you have a shorter link (In this case Site Contents) to the left of the long one, the shorter one will be displayed, but if you position the shorter one to the right of the long one, it will be hidden and I could not find a way to make it appear.

    Char-ModernHorizontalsitecontents
    The link can only be shown when you click the …
    Char-ModernHorizontal
    In this case I have moved the Site Contents to the right of the long link. It does not show up, and even when I click the … I do not see Site Contents, although the height of the hover-over indicates there should be another menu item on the left.

    It turns out that 118 characters can be added until the link disappears.

    Char-ModernHorizontaldisplayed
    When you enter no more than 118 characters, the title will be displayed.

But…it depends…

The display of the Quick Launch (vertical) navigation is not depending on browser or computer settings.

In Modern sites horizontal navigation however, the display is depending on settings:

  • When I change the text and app settings (Scaling) to 100 instead of the recommended and used 125, hidden items becomes visible.
  • When I change to a lower resolution than my current 1920 * 1080, less is displayed and my long title hides behind the ellipses.
  • When I lower my browser zoom to 75% (Edge) hidden items becomes visible again and when I increase it to 125%,  the long title is hidden again.

This will make it fun to support Communication sites. “Look, there is an item in the horizontal navigation but my colleague does not see it”.
SharePoint Holmes is rubbing his hands already 🙂

The exact number of characters displayed may also vary when you use a non-default font, of course.

Tips for navigation item titles

With this in mind, I have to mention a few things about the navigation titles you use.

  • Keep titles short, try to keep below 16 characters if you want to have one line per navigation item (which keeps navigation short and readable).
  • Make sure that the most important words are in the beginning of your title.
  • Do not use your company name if your labeling is for internal content only.
    If you are storing competitive information, or contracts, or customer information, using company names is essential, but in general, your intranet will only be hosting content for your company.
  • Do not use your department name if your site is for/from that department only.  Do not use “HR request forms”, “HR policies” if your site has HR written all over it. Just use  “Request forms” and “Policies”.
  • Do not write your titles in ALL-CAPS. It makes words harder to read as capitals are more square and uniform. They miss the ascenders and descenders that give extra information about the letter.

Well, this was fun. I may do this for other elements as well!

Photo by Mike Bird from Pexels.

SharePoint Holmes and the Invisible Image

SH-invisible-man-154567_1280The case

“It is possible to show the person’s picture in a list, next to the name?”  the user asked me. “Of course”, I said, but it depends on the list and the definition of the column. Let’s have a look.”

The user did a screenshare with me and showed me the list. It contained a number of “People or Group” columns.

We checked the settings of the columns and it turned out he had used the default option, “Name (with presence)”.

SH-InvisibleImage-Default
The default option when you create a “Group or Person” column.

So I showed him there were more options and that he’d better select “Name (with picture and details)”.

SH-InvisibleImage-Namepicdetails
I suggested this option to make the picture show in the list

So he did, and he went back to the list. But no image was shown.

SH-InvisibleImage-ListModern
No image next to the name 😦

The investigation

  1. I checked the column again, as this was unexpected behaviour. Yes, that was the right setting.
  2. I also tried the other options, “Picture only” in various formats. But the image would not show.
  3. I was flabbergasted. Microsoft Office, especially in the Modern fashion, has such an obsession about pictures, images, icons and other visuals that I could not understand why the picture would not show up. I mean, I have to look at myself all day but SharePoint would refuse this?
  4. But then I thought, what about Classic View?

The solution

I switched to Classic View and there it was:

SH-InvisibleImage-Listclassic
This was what the user was looking for!

The user was happy and changed the Advanced Settings to make sure this list would always open in Classic View for all the site’s users.

I am not so happy, however. This was a modern site with a modern list and a perfectly legit column setting. Why is the picture not displayed in the Modern View, knowing the emphasis Microsoft places on visuals?
Please note it is the same with Styles and Totals – they only display in Classic View 😦
I have already added a warning to my SharePoint Style Counsel blog…

Additionally, over time I have grown an aversion to the Classic view as I think it looks cluttered.

So, does anyone know when can we expect these display options to be available in the Modern view?

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.

Image courtesy of OpenClipArtVectors on Pixabay

SharePoint Holmes and the Gone Gallery

800px-Northwestern_High_School_Student_Art_GalleryWhile all consultants are writing about Modern Sites, Hub Sites and Communication sites, I am quite certain that a lot of us practitioners are still working with the Classic sites. Looking at “my own” environment this will not change overnight.

(One of the joys of being a practitioner is that you can watch an intranet grow old…and not always gracefully 🙂 )

So here’s another case of Classic SharePoint Investigation.

The case

“I can only add app parts to the page,” the user said. “I am the owner of the site and I would like to add Summary Links, but I can only see the web parts for the document libraries and lists in my site.”

And indeed, when I looked at her page in Edit mode, it looked like this:

SH-GG-WebParts
Although the user had selected the Web Part Gallery, she only saw the App Parts.

 

SH-GG-AppParts
This is what she saw when she selected the App Parts – exactly the same!

 

The investigation

  1. The site permissions were OK – she indeed had the correct permissions to manage the site.
  2. I checked the permissions for the Pages library and Pages – all were inheriting from the parent so that was not the issue.
  3. I logged in as admin (that account has Administrator permissions on all site collections in the tenant) and I saw all web parts. So it looked like another permissions issue.

    SH-GG-CorrectWP
    Same page, different user: I could see the web parts
  4. I asked the owner to which business she belonged. That was Business B. This gave me the clue that I needed.
  5. I checked the site collection – this was a site collection for Business A.
  6. So I checked her permissions on the site collection level – none, as only employees of Business A had access.
  7. To confirm, I checked her permissions for the Web Part Gallery.  Bingo!

The solution

As we are divesting Business B, we have removed all permissions of the Business B people from all site collections of Business A, and vice versa. This means that the Galleries in the Business A site collections are not accessible to employees of Business B. It is an exceptional case that a Business B owner is an owner of a Business A site, but there was a reason for that.

Fortunately the Web Part Gallery had unique permissions, so I added her to the Gallery and then she could do what she needed to do. I did not have to worry about maintenance as her account will be removed in a few months automatically as the system separation takes place. (I may write about that later.)
Frankly, I do not know which permissions a Web Part Gallery should have by default, as I have seen both “inherited” and “unique” while checking some site collections.

This case is probably not very common, but if you ever get incidents where people can not see the web parts when editing a page, please check permissions of the Web Part Gallery at the site collection level. I remember once accidentally removing all permissions at site collection level, and after I had added the groups back, several Galleries were inaccessible as due to unique permissions the groups had not been added back automatically…

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.

Photo courtesy of Maryland Pride on Wikimedia.

Beware the SharePoint MVP!

 

No, I am not going to bash the SharePoint Most Valuable Professionals! I have received help, feedback and support from many MVP’s including Veronique Palmer, Jasper Oosterveld and Gregory Zelfond, and I have read and used the posts and presentations of many others.

But I am glad this title caught your attention 🙂

The Minimum Viable Product

This blog will be about another MVP – the Minimum Viable Product, a common word in Agile development, meaning you will launch a product that meets the basic requirements (as defined at the start of the project) and will be improved incrementally over time.

I think I have been woking somewhat agile  when I was configuring solutions, and met with my business counterparts on a very regular basis to discuss the proof of concept/prototype and checked if this met their expectations.
I only created a very small list of requirements, as I knew that many business partners only had a vague idea of what they were really looking for, and when confronted with my interpretation of their requirements all kinds of unexpected, or in any case, unspoken, things came up.

  • Is there an option to leave this field blank?
    Yes, but that means that we either leave this non-mandatory (which may lead to more blanks than you want) or we add a dummy value such as “please select”. What do you think is best?
  • Can we have a multiple choice for this field?
    Ofcourse, but that means you will be unable to group on this in the views, so we will have to resort to a connection for filtering. Oh and then it is better to make this field a look-up field instead of a choice field. Let me rework that.
  • What if someone forgets to act on the email?
    We may want to create a view that allows the business process owner to see quickly which items are awaiting action.

And more of those things. I generally met with my business partner once every fortnight, if not more often.

So I am all in favour of especially the short development cycles of Agile.

“Users” does not mean “end users”, exclusively!

I also think that “user stories” are much more realistic and human than “requirements”, although they sometimes look a little artificial.
By the way, I would recommend any team to think not only of “end user stories” but also of “tenant owner” stories or “support user stories” as other people involved have their own needs or requirements.

Rapid improvements

I also like the idea of launching a Minimum Viable Product and doing small, rapid improvements on that, based on feedback and experiences, because

  • You can show users that you are listening to them
  • You can show that you are not neglecting your intranet after launch
  • It gives you something new to communicate on a regular basis
MVP-DevelopmenttoLaunch
During development, you work towards the Minimum Viable Product

So, when we were launching our intranet I was quite interested to be part of the project and to work towards an MVP.

When we finally launched our MVP we also published the roadmap with intended improvements, and shared the process of adding items to the roadmap.  That way users could see that we had plans to improve and that we would be able to spend time and attention on meeting the needs of the business.

Vulnerabilities

When launching an MVP with a promise to make ongoing improvements you are more vulnerable than when you do a Big Bang Launch & Leave introduction. What about the following events?

  • Cuts in the improvement budget.
    Those can be a blessing or a curse, but they may happen.
  • People who leave before they have documented what they have created.
    I have never liked the extensive Requirements Documents and Product Descriptions that go with traditional development, but if you are handing over your product to the Support organization, you really need documentation of what you are handing over. End users can have the weirdest questions and issues! 🙂
  • Reorganizations which turn your product team or even your company upside down.
  • Microsoft changes that mess up your customizations. We have a webpart that shows your Followed Sites – it suddenly and without warning changed from displaying the first 5 sites you had followed to the last 5 sites. Most annoying!

So before you know it, you end up with a below-minimum viable product. ☹

MVP-Developmentfromlaunch
While in a normal development cycle you would slowly and steadily improve upon the MVP, unexpected events can leave you with something less than MVP.

What can be done?

So before you start singing the praises of Agile development and put on your rose-tinted glasses

  1. Make sure you have a safe development budget that can not be taken away from you.
  2. Ensure you have an alternative no-cost optimization plan, such as webinars, Q&A sessions, surveys, configuration support, content changes etc. to make the most of the launch of your MVP and to get feedback for improvements for when better times arrive.
  3. Insist that everyone documents their configurations, codes, processes, work instructions etc. as quickly as possible. It is not sexy but will save you a lot of hassle in case your team changes.
    If you are in need of extracting knowledge from leaving experts, here are some tips for handing over to a successor, and some tips for when there is no successor in place yet.
  4. Be prepared for changes in processes, data or organization. You do not have to have a ready-made plan, but it is wise to think about possible implications for your product or process if the Comms team is being reorganized, someone wants to rename all business units, or you need to accomodate an acquired company in your setup.
  5. Keep customizations to a minimum. Use existing templates and simple configurations.
    Personally I would be totally content without a customized homepage. The SharePoint landing page or, even better, the Office365 landing page as the start page to my day would work perfectly well for me, but I have learned not many people share that feeling.

Any experiences to share?

Have you had similar experiences? Have you found a good way to handle budget cuts, a way to develop budget-neutrally, how to deal with people changes or another way to deal with unexpected events that endanger your MVP? I am sure there are many people (including myself) who would like to learn from your stories!

Images are from Simon Koay’s totally gorgeous Superbet. Look at that B!
M=Mystique, V=Venom, P=Poison Ivy

SharePoint Holmes and the elusive Link

HH-header

“Users can not access links”.
What a boring title, I thought when this incident was assigned to me. But, as usual, there was a twist to it.

The case

Several users of a local site received a “you do not have access” when they clicked a link that was added to a news item on the homepage. This link directed to a pdf-document.  According to the site owner, they should have access.

So I put my SharePoint Holmes Admin Hat on, and dove into the site.

The investigation

The homepage contained an Announcement list in Newsletter Style. The text “read more” (I know, not the best way to name a link) led to a pdf in a document library in the same site, called News Documents.

HH-Local News
The Local News list. “Read More” should take you to a document.

The News Documents library contained 2 items.

HH-NewsDocuments
The News Documents library
HH-NewsDocumentsLibrary
The 2 documents

The document library inherited permissions from the site.
The audience included myself, so I decided to take a look as my “normal” self.

Yes, I could access the page. But when I clicked on the link “Read more” I got a “Sorry, you don’t have access to this page”.

I looked into Site Contents and saw that the library contained 2 items, but when I opened the library, I saw no documents. Hmmm.

HH-Library-user
As a normal user, I can see the News Documents library contains 2 documents.
HH-emptylibrary
As a normal user, I do not see any documents in this library.

I went back into admin mode, and checked again.

  1. I checked the link on the homepage – was it perhaps a broken link? No, it looked solid and led to the pdf without further ado.
  2. Did the documents open in browser by default, which might hamper the opening of a pdf? I checked the Advanced Settings but it opened by default in the client.
  3. Had the documents been checked out? No, I did not see the green tell-tale mark.
  4. I wanted to take a better look at the views, to see if those could tell me more.  There were rather a lot of columns in the default view, so I had to do some horizontal scrolling to get to the Views link.
    “Draft” I suddenly noticed in the right-hand column.
    “0.1” I saw in the column next to it. That column was called Version.
HH-FullDocumentLibrary
I had not seen the “Version” and “Approval Status” columns in my earlier investigation…

AHA.

The solution

In the Versioning settings I noticed that content approval was enabled, and only people with approve permissions and the author could see drafts.

HH-ContentApproval
The Content Approval settings

Both documents had never been approved and were therefore visible for only a few users.  Everyone else got a “you do not have access” as for the majority of users, these documents were not yet accessible.

That explained why I could see it as an admin, but not as a normal user.

The site owner was not aware of the versioning as he had inherited the site. When I explained, he decided to turn of the content approval as that was not really needed for these documents.

Another issue solved! Now would you classify this as a document management issue or a permissions issue?

Image courtesy of vectorolie at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

91 ways to display Summary Links

SL-headerYou can use Summary Links to display links on a SharePoint page.
It appears to be a forgotten web part. Microsoft has written support information about it for SharePoint 2007 which is still mostly correct today, so it appears not to have changed since launch.  I have not found many blogs about it; even Greg Zelfond did not mention it recently when he explained the various Links options in SharePoint.

I have always preferred the Links List, since that allows all the flexibility of a list AND you keep the data if you remove the web part from your page or mess up the view. Additionally, if you remove a link it will go to the Recycle Bin.
My main concern with Summary Links is that it only exists on the page, so if you accidentally delete a link or the web part you have to start all over again from scratch. However, it has its uses:

  • When you want to add icons or pictures to your links
  • When you need multiple columns, e.g. as a footer on your site
  • When you want the links list to make a visual difference to your page

Adding the web part

Click the Gear wheel and select Edit Page from the menu.
Click the zone where you want to add the web part. This will often be the Right zone or a Bottom zone if you want to use it as a footer, but it can be anywhere you want.
Click “Content Rollup” in the web part gallery and you will see Summary Links.

SL-webpart gallery
The Summary Links web part can be found under Content Rollup

You can edit the title of the web part, hide it, and do the usual things via the web part menu. Adding links and groups and changing style are done in the web part itself.

SL-Webpart config
All “work” on the content is done in this Edit view

Adding links

If you want to group your links, it is best to create your groups first so you can add any new link to an existing group immediately. You can select a style later.
Adding a link gives you the following screen:

SL-New Link
The New Link screen.

You can either browse for pictures or for the items you want to link to (e.g. pages or documents that live in your site or site collection) or you can paste the URL’s.

How to change the styles for links and groups

Now, suppose you have some links added to your web part and you are curious to see how they display on the page. Click “Stop editing” and see what your page looks like. The default setting is quite good, but there are other options.

To change the style, put your page in Edit mode again, go to the web part and select “Configure Styles and Layout”.
You then get the screen below which allows you to select one of 13 Links styles and one of 7 group styles. That’s 91 combinations to choose from!

SL-configurestyles
You can change the default style of newly added links, but also change all existing links in one go.

To save you time, I have created a Summary Links web part and tried all styles and groups. They are in the file below so you can easily scroll through them to see

  1. What the web part itself looks like (left)
  2. How the page looks with this style (right). The size of the web part will vary greatly depending on the style chosen and the rest of the information on the page, so this is a factor to reckon with.

Please view in full size!

Save a copy!

Once you have added all your links, and you are happy with the end result, it is wise to create a copy in case you need a restore. You can do that via Edit page > Open the web part menu > Export. You can then save a copy to your PC and/or in your site.

Enjoy the variety! What is your favorite style?

Image courtesy of atibodyphoto at FreeDigitalPhotos.net