Have you noticed that Forms has a new icon? I have been unable to get a good large file but here’s a screenshot from my tenant.
Planner and To Do have new icons as well.
Comparison of Forms and Forms Pro
Megan V. Walker has recently created an excellent comparison of Forms vs. Forms Pro. Apart from more options in the typeface part, you have more options to integrate data from other Office365 applications.
However, the licensing cost for Forms Pro is quite high in my opinion, so I will try to guide people to the regular Forms as much as possible. A few colleagues had the Forms Pro Free Trial and they experienced issues when their trial expired. Once I removed the Pro Free license from their accounts, all worked well again, except that your Forms created in Pro are no longer accessible. Any results you captured, are still available. Be aware!
Check out Megan’s blog as she has tons more info on Forms and Forms Pro.
I do not think anyone will ever create a SharePoint survey any more 😦 , but if you are still interested, or want to know how if Forms is a good replacement for SurveyMonkey or GoogleForms, here’s my earlier comparison of survey tools:
Some months ago I shared an invitation to a farewell party in our Yammer group, as an example of Forms. It was to invite internal and external attendees and ask them for their attendance and dietary preferences. I had helped the organizer create it, and he got it immediately and included some lovely pictures.
This was the start of an informal “contest” in my organization on who can create the best-looking form. 🙂
One of my colleagues no longer sends Outlook invitations for large meetings, but creates a nice-looking Form, which means she gets fewer emails and has all responses in a tidy Excel sheet. I guess the receivers are pleasantly surprised by a nice-looking invite rather than a plain Outlook one.
Another colleague is carefully matching images and colours in her themes, and has even added a link to a hexcode website to her browser favourites!
I wonder if they are now thinking up new events just to be able to create a great-looking Form for it! 🙂
I freqently get calls where people mention “this person has created a beautiful survey and now I want one as well – how do I do that”.
And if all goes well we may replace a third-party application with a simple Form in the next few months. Fingers crossed!
This all delights me as I am working in a health care organization and most colleagues have different priorities than sitting at a desk at a computer.
(Something similar is happening with the SharePoint modern pages by the way, which is another pleasant surprise. More about that later)
So, invitations for larger meetings appear to be THE Forms application in my organization. What’s your number one scenario for Forms?
In earlier posts we have looked at SharePoint News and the News digest from the sender’s perspective. It is time to look at it from a reader’s point of view!
1. You can find SharePoint News in the following places:
The site where it has been published
The site overview (click “See all” on the web part after publishing 5 articles)
News digests (Newsletters), consisting of the above, gathered with previews in an email
The SharePoint app
“News from sites” on the SharePoint landing page
All “News from sites” if you click the “See all” on the SharePoint landing page
To avoid a very long post, I have compiled some screenshots in this deck. You may want to watch it full-screen:
2. You will only see News articles to which you have access.
The News digest is an exception – it can be sent to you and you may not have access to one or more of the articles.
3. The SharePoint web part on the landing page can not be configured or removed.
So if anyone is posting News articles and you have access, you will see them there, whether you want it or not.
Our project was a first and we did not want to show the News to everyone just yet. That is why we made the News site and the News digest available to a limited group of people only, even thought the content was not confidential. We simply did not want to confront people with something new which may be there only once. (In theory 🙂 )
We received some comments of people in the target audience because it “obscured their view of the Frequent Sites”.
4. You can like a page and/or comment on it.
You will find the options at the bottom of the page. The author will receive an email now and then with the likes and comments. If you @mention someone, they will receive an email immediately. This is great for urgent remarks to the author, and also to inform a colleague about this article.
5. You can save a news article for later.
This will come in useful when you do not have time to read it now, or in case you will want to keep it. There are 3 ways to do that:
At the bottom of the post you will see an option to “Save for later”.
You can also click the label of any News article that you see on the “News from sites” overviews.
In the SharePoint app you can click the … at the right of each article and select “Save for later”
There are 3 places to see your saved articles:
On the News cards in “News from sites”, saved articles will show with a “filled” label as opposed to have the outline only (Is this proper English? 🙂 )
On your SharePoint landing page, in the left-hand menu under “Saved”
In the SharePoint app News, under Filter (on top) you can select the “Saved Items”.
I would have expected this to be on Delve, together with bookmarks. But no.
6 a. The SharePoint app (iOS and Android) is excellent for reading News.
The Newsfeed (in order of First Published Date) looks great and your saved items are available in a separate place. (Click the filter on top to see only the “Saved Items”)
You can easily read the News in public transport or in the evening on the sofa!
News in the app. The third item is “saved for later”. You can see all saved items nby changing the filter on top.
This items is “saved for later”.
I often hear that people “do not have time to read the news during the day”.
I also heard a story from a bank that made the News available on smartphones (this was pre-SharePoint News and app) and they saw a massive spike in views around 8 pm, when people were ready to settle in for the evening. Apparently employees do not mind spending private time on work-related News, as long as they can consume it at a time that suits them.
6 b. The Android app is very sticky when it comes to post-publication changes.
Both iOS and Android are fast to show freshly published News articles. But while the iOS app is fast to respond to post-publication changes (e.g. items being renamed, edited, depublished or removed) the Android app is very slow and can take several hours to change. Some unpublished or deleted items never even go away, providing you with a 404 (not found) message when you click them.
Android phones and fast-moving news such as IT outages and their fixes are therefore not a good combination.
7. Make it a habit to click on the title to open a News article.
Clicking on the image in the News Digest will only show you the image. Everywhere else you can also click on the image. Weird.
8. You will get notifications of new News articles in the app.
This happens when someone you work with frequently posts a new article. This is determined by the Microsoft Graph (the machine that also provides you with suggestions of documents, sites and people) based on your interactions, so there is not much you can do about it 🙂
9. Alerts suck big time.
If you do not like to wait until you get a News digest or an app notification, you may think about setting an Alert. Please don’t – Alerts do not work.
Here’s what happens:
If you set an Alert based on “All changes” you will get two Alerts – one with the raw URL and one with the title, content and metadata. After that, you will get notified of all changes, of course.
If you set an Alert for “When new items are added” you get…nothing!
I also tried a Flow but the “Send email when new file is added” did not work (404 error) as it links to that “raw” URL which gets overwritten. Only once did I receive the correct URL and I have no clue why.
If someone has found a Flow that works for this scenario, please share!
Using a filtered view (Published items, “version contains .0”) did not solve the issue with Alerts or Flow. Besides, would any reader know that?
10. You can unlike a comment, but not news post.
Be careful with your likes on news posts: they stay there.
However, you can unlike a comment to a news post.
1. You need 5 published News articles before you can send a News digest.
Frankly, this one drove me nuts. I knew I had seen Jasper Oosterveld and other people demo this functionality, so why did I not see the “See all” link on the homepage? Well, because I had only posted 4 items. Duh!
2. The order is by selecting – the first article you select is on top.
This is independent of the creating or publishing order. You can change the order of items after selecting them and clicking “Next”. Using the arrows you can then drag and drop the items into the desired order. The “x” will remove the item from the selection.
3. You can only send this to an Office Group, Distribution List or individuals.
It looks like you can send this only to items which appear in the Global Address List.
I would have expected you could also use a SharePoint site user group (from this site) or a personal Group of Contact Persons from your Outlook, but no. In this case, it meant that our project manager had to add all people to a Distribution List. (We are not using Office Groups yet)
4. It is unclear (to me) what determines the logo.
If you do nothing the logo displayed will be the new SharePoint logo
If you replace the site icon by another image, the logo displayed will be the old SharePoint logo
Your organizational logo (the one in the Office365 top bar) does not show in the News digest
I would like to know how this works, as I would prefer to distinguish the various News digests from one another by using a custom image. On suggestion of Juan Carlos I tested this with a modern team site (instead of a Communication site), but it did not work there either. That said, if there is one site template I would expect to allow more branding, it would be the Communication site!
There is already a number of User Voice requests out there for more options to manage the News digest look-and-feel.
At this moment Microsoft says in their support article that “It is not yet possible to make changes to the appearance of images, header area, or summary area of the email.” That gives hope for the future!
5. Your News digest will display the site’s name.
So make sure your site has a meaningful name.
This is of course another good way to tell the difference between this digest and another, but I still would like to have an image, too!
6. Access requests will be sent for the News article, not for the site.
If someone has been forwarded the News digest, clicks on the first item and then finds out they need access, they will send an access request to the News article.
You can click “Approve”, but
You will only give access to this specific article, so they will have to request access for the next article and the next, etc.
They will not see the header image because that lives in the Site Assets library, to which they do not have access.
I would suggest to treat the access requests as a general request for access to the complete SITE.
In our case, I have added a link to the Visitors group on the top of the site, so the project manager can quickly open the list and add new people.
He grumbled a bit but is IS a sign of success when people forward the News digest 🙂
By the way, the access request email looks really nice these days. Sadly you can only Approve from the email if you are an Owner (not if you use a custom role, like we do) AND you can not give permissions for the complete site from this mail, only to the link requested.
7. Access requests will go to the original name of the article.
Have you changed the title of your News article after publishing? When you get an access request, the original name will be shown. If you have forgotten what it was, never mind – another reason to give access to the complete site! 🙂
8. You can send this to external users.
The email and the articles will look just as nice for your external partners as for your internal colleagues, including all logos and pictures. Of course your external partners can only read the full articles when your site allows external sharing AND they have access.
9. Your News digest may end up in the Spam box.
I have had to dig my beautiful News digest out of several spam boxes, for different email addresses 😦
So if your first News digests do not get the attention they deserve, you may want to ask around if people have received the emails. (and help them mark it as Not Spam)
10. Place-holder for something that I do not know yet.
I am quite positive that something will turn up. If you have found something, please let me know!
Overall, our audience was positive about the News digest and we have already received inquiries from another team.
My next post will be about experiencing SharePoint News as a reader. Stay tuned!
Last week we distributed our first SharePoint News digest! One of our project teams wants to keep their audience informed with a Newsletter, and we decided to give the standard SharePoint News option a try.
So here are a few real-life things that your Communications colleague may want to know:
1. You can add max. 110 characters in the title, but will they all be shown?
A different number of characters will be displayed in any of the other places where the article is shown:
SharePoint homepage and News overview: 48
SharePoint site, 2 side-by-side: 43
SharePoint app: 59
News Digest email: 110
Please note this is based on my screen with my test text. The “i” is a very thin letter and you will get more in the same space if you only use that one (for instance 100 on the SharePoint homepage and overview) the “m” and “w” are wide letters and you will get fewer in that space (for instance 27 on the SharePoint homepage and overview.) So…it all depends…on your title!
And then I am not even talking about the body text!
These things can drive you nuts if you are trying to provide guidance! 🙂
2. When you have no background image, the title is black. With a background image, even a light one, the title goes white.
Seriously, I would never notice these things but my colleague did! It is a tad annoying as I think black would provide more contrast in many cases.
3 a. Every News article is a site page and lives in the Site Pages library.
In my organization we use SharePoint sites mainly for document management (well, until I came along 🙂 ). Every site has a homepage and that’s it. So working with the Site Pages library was a new thing for my colleagues.
Unfortunately all News article pages live in the same Site Pages library, including your site’s homepage and any other page not related to News. Make sure you do not accidentally delete those while cleaning up old News articles.
3 b. A News digest (Newsletter) is another page in that Site Pages library.
If you create a News digest, you create another page in that library. That makes it easy to make it available for everyone who is not in the distribution list for your News digest, but it can make it difficult to know what is what.
Microsoft suggests to add the date to the title, to identify it better, but…
4. There IS a way to know if a certain page is a News article or another page.
A big applause to Elio Struyf who figured this out first, as far as I know.
In your Site Pages library, click on “Add Column” and then “Show/hide columns” at the bottom of the popup.
Then select the “Promoted State” column to add to the view. Be aware that this column is only available on the page itself; NOT via the Library Settings. (trust me, I tried 🙂 ) And also remember to click “Apply”!
Promoted State: (Thanks to Susan Hanley)
0 = News digest or regular page
1 = News article page, not yet published
2 = News article page, published or unpublished
Please note that the default view (Grouped by Author) does not keep the column, so if you edit the view or log out it disappears. If you really want to make it “stick”, use it in a non-grouped view. Here’s an interesting thread about this topic.
5. You can unpublish an article.
This will keep the article in the Site Pages library, but will remove it from any views. Deleting the page has the same effect, but the article will be gone, of course.
You can unpublish as follows: Go to the Site Pages library, hover over the article and click the 3 vertical dots. Click “More” from the popup and then “Unpublish”. You can publish it again.
Please note this is not available everywhere – it may have to do with the site/web part type. I could not find it in some older posts in different site types, for instance.
6. The Version tells you whether a News article is published or unpublished.
I have been looking all over the place to find how to see the difference between a published and an unpublished News article, and guess what? It is the Version, which has a x.0 for a published article and a x.1 for an unpublished article.
Thank you, Susan Hanley!
7. The author mentioned is the person mentioned in Author Byline or Created By (if Author Byline is empty).
My Communications colleague helped the project team out with their first efforts, but she did not want to appear as the author. We tried to leave the header empty, the project manager edited the item, but everywhere her name showed up.
However, Marc Anderson came to the rescue here. If we replace the name of my colleague in the article header (this is called the Author Byline) by the project manager’s name, HIS name will appear in all places. As I have only one user in my tenant I can not show it in a screenshot, but I have tested it at work and yes, that is the solution.
8. News articles are shown sorted on First Published date.
This can be different from the Created date! Thanks to Christopher Webb for pointing that out. As we published the articles as soon as they were written, we had not noticed.
It makes therefore no difference for the order of appearance if you change the article after a few days. It does not suddenly show on top.
The order of appearance/moving for the side-by-side webpart is top left > top right > bottom left > bottom right > off page.
(WordPress, I would appreciate an “insert table” option!)
9. You can change the order of appearance on the News web part manually.
This will be useful if you want to keep one (or more) important News article visible for some time, without it being pushed off the page by more recent articles.
Edit the page and click “Edit webpart” next to the News web part. Scroll down in the menu on the right-hand side and click on “Select news to organize”.
Drag and drop the News Article(s) you want to keep in the same place, to the desired place(s) and click the x top right. Remember to remove it when it has outlived its purpose, as it will stay there otherwise. And please note that this order goes for this web part only!
10. All images that you upload will be added to the Site Assets library.
You will get a folder for Site Pages and then one folder per page.
In most cases you will end up with one folder per page with one image. What a waste of folders and clicks!
11. Images should ideally be 16:9 with a good focal point that is not too close to the edges.
Another “vague” specification that is a big change from the “images should be square, in .jpg or .gif format, max. 1600 pixels wide and max. 2 GB in size” spec that we used to work with before Modern SharePoint came along. In real life it means that you generally get a decent result without being able to predict it. Keep in mind that the header image is wide and low, but in other places the images are displayed as a “normal landscape image”‘.
A deep bow for two ladies who have figured out picture behaviour extensively, so you do not have to:
Beth Hall: How SharePoint handles images.
It is a long and thorough post, and a little bit beyond me at times, but my Communications colleague, who is an expert photographer and editor, understood it very well.
12. If you delete a News article, the associated folder and images will stay in the Site Assets library.
Not sure if this is a good or a bad thing, but just so you are aware!
13. Changing the title of the News article after publication will not change the URL, the name of the Site page or the name of the image folder.
So this means links will keep working, which is good. On the other hand, you will lose track of that new title once the item has disappeared from the overviews and from the mind.
14. The News web part is not very stable.
When I was creating screenshots for item 7, I kept getting an empty web part when returning from the web part menu. Reverting to an earlier version helped now and then, but as soon as I hit the “Edit” or “Select news to organize” buttons, an empty page glared at me. I removed the web part and added it again, which helped, but it may be wise to not touch it too often! Microsoft help for the News web part.
John Sanders of Microsoft has kindly offered to look into that!
15. Edits take some time to update.
When you edit and republish an article after publication, the changes will be immediately visible in the article, the News web part and the overview in the site that the News lives in.
On the SharePoint landing page, the all-News overview page and the mobile app the changes take some time (in my test about an hour) to show up. This is probably due to the lag time in Search indexing.
16. Give access before publishing News.
Darn, a number 16! The other day I was given access to a site where a few News items had already been published. It took until the next day before the News was shown on my SharePoint landing page. Not a very big deal, but again something to be aware of!
I really enjoyed this project with my Communications colleague and the project manager. I appreciated their inquisitiveness and it was fun to research all their questions, find new blogs and support pages, see User Voice items, etc.
And…creating the News digest also generated some questions and insights. That will be my next blog as this one is quite long already!
In my current role I have a slightly wider scope than “just” SharePoint and Yammer. I am now troubleshooting and advising about the other Office 365 tools as well, so I need to expand my skills and knowledge rapidly to stay a few steps ahead of my audience 🙂 .
The other day one of my colleagues asked if there is an easier way to create the photo albums he needs to make as part of his role. The organization I work for occasionally rents out parts of their buildings or hires space from others. In those cases, my colleague takes pictures of the buildings to document their current state. The pictures are collated into an album which has to be signed off by both parties at the start of the rental agreement.
What is the current method?
Take pictures with smartphone
Send pictures to work email (in batches to avoid too large attachments)
File pictures from each email in OneDrive on laptop (Attachments folder)
Create project folder in OneDrive
Transfer pictures to project folder
Remove pictures from phone
Creating the album
Open a new PowerPoint presentation
Make cover slide
Insert pictures from OneDrive into PowerPoint
Arrange pictures on slides
Add end slide (usually, with the dates, names and signatures)
Save PowerPoint as PDF
Well, I thought that I (or rather, Office 365) could make things easier for him. I confirmed he had the OneDrive app on his phone, so I came up with…
The new method
Getting pictures with the OneDrive app
Create project folder in the OneDrive app
Open the folder
3. Take pictures with the + button top right or the diaphragm button at the bottom (make sure you set it to “Photo”) 4. Pictures will be saved in the folder
Creating the album in the OneDrive Client
Create a picture of the cover and end slides
Add to project folder of pictures, making sure that cover and end slide are the first and last items (generally, adding an A and a Z in front of the respective names will do the trick)
Select all images in the folder, click “Share” > “Print”
4. In the screen that pops up, select “Microsoft Print to PDF” as the printer and determine a layout (generally 2 or 4 to a page)
You can only create the album in the OneDrive Client – the Online and App versions do not have this functionality. In fact, this is Windows functionality and not limited to OneDrive.
You can use a “blank image” just before the last image to make the number even and have a better print result.
You can change the orientation of the pictures/album by clicking “Options” in the pop up screen and then “Printer Properties”.
Unfortunately you can only use one display for the whole series. It would have been nice if you could decide to make theboth cover and end slides a full page in the series, and provide the pictures in e.g. 4 on a page. This is clearly a limitation of this way of working.
My colleague was especially happy with the camera options of the OneDrive app, which he was not aware of before. Just after taking a few pictures he realized that this will be a big time-saver. The second part, creating the album with the OneDrive Client instead of PowerPoint, felt like a bigger change in practice, but he was willing to try it.
As usual, this is nothing fancy. It is just trying to match a need with existing functionality. And it makes me happy when I succeed. 🙂
My OneNote conference workflow is now to have the same notebook open in phone and on PC, and to use the built-in OfficeLens tooling to capture slides on the phone while I take notes on the PC: images appear inline as they are taken.
I really liked that idea but I could not very well imagine how it worked exactly. And as this is another way I can make work easier for my colleagues, who generally do not have the time or the interest to find out these things, I decided to try it and write it all down. The Office 365 and SharePoint Connect conference in Haarlem was a good moment to test it all, using a tablet, but it works the same on a PC.
The day before the conference
Make sure you have the OneNote app installed on your tablet/PC and smartphone, and that you are logged in on both devices with the same account.
If you have never used the camera option of OneNote on your phone, make sure you know where to find it, and practice by photographing something, e.g. your PC screen, with the automatic edge detection and cropping.
Create a notebook for conferences.
Create a section for the next conference. From there you can create a page for each session.
Charge your devices and a power bank if you have one. It may be my iPad but it devoured battery. A charger may be useful as well, to use during breaks.
Clean the camera lens on your phone 🙂
Before each session
Make sure your devices are connected to the conference wifi
Create a page for the next session
Open tablet/PC and phone on the session’s page
During the session
Make notes on your tablet/PC
Whenever you want to capture a slide, take a picture with your phone while both phone and tablet/PC are on the session page with the cursor below the current notes. Take the picture when the purple lines are around the slide. The “Document” picture option appears to give the best results.
The picture captured in the purple lines will be added to the page at the place where your cursor is, on both devices.
After the conference
Process your notes like you are used to.
Remove the original pictures from your phone’s photo gallery to free up space. Your slide pictures will still stay in OneNote.
I really like this option. I love the fact that the cropped image automagically appears in your notes 🙂 . I also like the fact that you have the slides immediately; of course you can also wait until the organization makes the decks available, but by that time I generally no longer have the time and patience to cut and paste all this.
I am not the most frequent user of the SharePoint app for iOS. Nonetheless, I am currently test-driving the new SharePoint app.
I saw the request for testers for the new app mentioned on Twitter a few weeks ago, emailed my interest, and last week I was invited to download it.
I downloaded the app via Test Flight and replaced my current app with the new one, which was pretty seamless without another sign-in.
If you are curious…the SharePoint app in the regular App store is still the current one.
The current app has 5 navigation items; the new one has 3.
The items “Links”, “Sites” and “Persons” have been incorporated into a new item called “Find” which is an overview of your content and activity.
So, let’s discuss those 3 new items, shall we? Unfortunately everything is in Dutch and I have not found a way to change the language in the app, but I will explain.
This is the landing page and it is an overview of content, sites, persons etc.
The chapters are:
Search – for the search box
Quick access – these are recently visited items
Frequently visited sites – clicking on “More sites” shows you all sites in Card setup – unlike the current app which shows only an icon
Persons that you work with – which makes it painfully clear I am all alone in my tenant 🙂
Recent documents – documents I have recently created or modified
Links (not shown here, you need to scroll down) – which merely links to my no-longer-supported external website and my main team site. I do not see much added value in this chapter in my tenant, but I think this should be comparable to the Featured Links on the SharePoint landing page in the browser.
The new Sites page (with tabs on top: Frequent sites, Followed sites, Suggested sites) displays cards, just like the browser:
The old Sites page (with tabs Frequent sites and Followed sites) looks rather dull in comparison:
The News overview comes from the Modern pages and is taken from the SharePoint landing page.
If you open a News item in the app, you will see this:
This is the same as the News page in the current app.
I expected to be able to swipe or scroll through all News items, but you can only view the next item when you click the back arrow and go back to the News landing page.
The third navigation item is Me
This has two tabs:
Recent – content I have recently viewed, created or modified)
Saved – everything I have bookmarked.
From this page I can go to My Profile, which shows some more recent files and emails
There is also a Gear Wheel at the Me-page which leads to personal and app settings.
Of course I am very interested to know what is behind the Site cards. So I opened the Summary Links site:
This is the same as the current app. By default you see latest news and activity.
Clicking Home in the menu leads you to the Homepage as you see it in the browser, so the Homepage is not the first page you see when opening a site in the app. Weird…unless Microsoft thinks that the site Homepage is losing relevance – which would save site owners a lot of hassle in “designing a homepage”. (My Homepages are still Classic btw – does it make a difference if you use this with Modern Sites?)
Viewing documents in sites is easy, but you will need the OneDrive app.
If you want to edit a document, you will also need the Word, Excel and PowerPoint apps.
What do I think?
I like the fact that the app has become slightly more compact. That “Find” page is quite useful as it gives you a quick overview of relevant content. It is a mix of the Office365 landing page (which I would appreciate as my browser homepage any day) and the Delve “Me” page.
I would have liked to scroll or swipe through all News, to catch up with everything in one go. The home sofa is an excellent place to do that; I know from peers that making company news available “at home” has resulted in peak views in the evening as people prefer, or have more time, to read news at home.
I can imagine that the News tab alone is enough reason why people would want to use the SharePoint app.
For the rest, I can imagine this is a useful app but I am a bit surprised that this needs to be tested. It does not differ that much from the current one. Are all Microsoft apps being tested this way? Or have I missed something in the functionality?