Teams meetings for non-business users – the meeting

Teamsmeeting-3Right now Teams is being used by many non-business people, and I have had a lot of questions about “how it works” for non-business or external users, as in: “what do they get and what do they have to do in order to participate?”

This time we will look at the meeting experience.

We started with a variety of email programmes, which all give different views and results. But all emails contain the link to the meeting, which is just a link, albeit a long and non-intuitive one. So in the end, everyone uses the same link in a browser or in the app. Let’s see what that brings.

I have the following people in my meeting:

  • Myself, as the organiser and presenter, joining from my own tenant, initially via web (Edge), later through the app on my laptop
  • Gerald Adams, an attendee joining from web (Chrome)
  • Kim, an attendee joining from the Windows 10 app, not signed in
  • Ellen iPhone, an attendee joining from iPhone
  • My work’s account, joining as attendee from the Windows 10 app, signed in.

Prepare for an awesome (or awful if you do not like long posts) amount of screenshots!

1. Organiser/Presenter – web

So, this is what I see when I join the meeting on the web – the latest version of Edge.

Teamsmeeting-enterorgweb
You see that I do not have an option to blur or change background – I must be on the web!

Gerald is already waiting for me in the lobby:

Teamsmeeting-Geraldinlobby
It is very clear that people are waiting in the lobby.

And this is what I see when I start sharing my screen

Teamsmeeting-orgwebshare
What the presenter sees when they start to share screens.

When my presentation is shared I take a look at the options (click on … in the bar)

teamsmeeting-OrganizerEdgescreen
You see that in the browser I do not have the option to blur or change background – please compare that with the app version below.

When I look at the people in the meeting I see that most of my “external attendees” have entered as a Guest, except Ellen van Aken (outside of your organisation) who has joined from another Office365-account. I can also invite other people, and mute all of them.

Teamsmeeting-EllenorgEdgePeople
This is what the organizer/presenter sees when opening the People pane.

The presenter can also manage people individually, this is independent of web or app. I can make either people from other organizations (business users, in this case) or Guests a presenter or an attendee again, or I can mute or remove a person from the meeting.
I can also pin a person, which means I will always see that person when they have their camera on and nobody is sharing a screen, regardless of who’s talking.

2. Organizer/Presenter – app

What do I see when I join via the desktop app and signed in? I have some more options: meeting notes, background effects, the option for Live Captions and End meeting. (I can also check my audio settings before I join)

Teamsmeeting-EllenOrgAppScreen
I have a few more options when I join in the app.

 

Not shown here, because I am sharing a presentation and Kim, Gerald and myself were on the same PC: with the desktop app (and the mobile app) you can see 4 people if you have the camera on, with the web only 1 person. That is where the pinning comes in handy. I can not wait until we will see 9 people!

3. Attendee – web

Gerald is the one attending via Chrome. This is what he sees: a greyed-out Sharing screen, and fewer options in his meeting menu (or whatever that popup behind the … is called)

Teamsmeeting-GeraldChromescreen
This is what an attendee sees when joining through Chrome (which shows the same as Edge, by the way)
Teamsmeeting-GeraldChromepeople
An attendee can only see who is there, but not their role. Nor can they do something.

4. Attendee – app

Kim is using the app without sign-in, as she does not have an Office365 account. What does that look like? She can not share her screen and has one extra option compared to the web attendee. (However, she will see 4 people when there is no screen sharing and people have their webcam on)

Teamsmeeting-KimAppAttendee
Kim’s menu shows background effects options, but otherwise it looks just like the other attendee on the web. She can also not share her screen.
Teamsmeeting-KimAppPeoplescreen
The People popup shows the same as for the attendee on the web.

5. Attendee – iPhone

The meeting experience on the iPhone is different again. Please note the attendee is not signed in to the app. Top right you see chat and people options. There’s no “share” button, not even greyed out.

TeamsmeetingiPhone1
iPhone experience.

When you click the 3 dots in the meeting control bar, you have even fewer options than a regular attendee: just “put me on hold”, “keypad” and “turn off incoming video”.

Teamsmeeting-iPhone2
Translation of these 3 items is above. In any case, very few options with the iPhone, not signed in.

6. Attendee – Business User

It was a bit of a juggle to get this meeting together with all these people (all of them ME) and all these devices and options.  But a second user, with Office365 account and a fully-fledged laptop, was easily available (again: ME at work) so for comparison’s sake: here goes.

Teamsmeeting-EllenwerkAppScreen
Business attendee can not share screen, but has more options than a non-business user: the Live Captions option is available. And everything is in Dutch 🙂

Conclusions

The meeting experience is very similar for all attendees, regardless of how they got there.

There is hardly any difference between a Guest (someone without Office365 account, not logged in) and Someone outside your organization (an external business user with Office365 account, logged in). The only difference is that the organizer/presenter can see who’s what.

The role is the largest differentiator – if you are a presenter, you can simply do much more than when you are an attendee. See the differences here.

There are some differences between web and desktop app. The main advantages of the desktop app are

  • 4 people visible instead of 1 (when you have cameras turned on).
    This has been a BIG issue in my organization, especially for our therapists doing online group therapy sessions. Most of our therapists have an F3-license, which means they can only do web and only see 1 person. We have suggested they also log in with their phone to see 4 more people. We have now installed the desktop app for them as well but we are still looking for another tool that shows more people. I really can not wait until Microsoft finally rolls out the 3 x 3 view!
  • The option to blur or change backgrounds.
  • The option to do a Test call.
  • Live Captions. As these are currently only available in English, this is not relevant for my organization right now, but it may be a big plus for others.

The iPhone experience is sufficient, but sparse.

My suggestion would be to tell your non-business users to use the web version. I would only suggest to download the app when

  • it is important to see 4 people
  • a non-business user is the presenter (so they can adjust their background)
  • when they join on iPhone.

Joining on the web will probably be easiest for them, especially if they are not very savvy. Perhaps you can just send them the link in an email, instead of the official Outlook invitation, and tell them to open the link in Chrome or Edge (new versions).

Agree?

Teams meetings for non-business users – getting into the meeting

Teamsclient-header2Right now Teams is being used by many non-business people, and I have had a lot of questions about “how it works” for non-business or external users, as in: “what do they get and what do they have to do in order to participate?”

In my former post we discussed the email invitation to the Teams meeting for non-business users, and how it can differ depending on device and email client.
This time, we will look at getting to the meeting.

It’s the browser, baby!

In this part of the process the main difference is not in the email programme, but in the browser that people use.  I have added a ton of screenshots so you know what participants can expect.

I use an up-to-date Windows 10 laptop with up-to-date browsers. This may already be different from what your “consumer” users have. I have no Mac, but I have used an iPad and an iPhone.

In the invitation you will see the link to join the meeting.

Teamsclient-joinmeeting
The link. Please note you can copy the link and share it with others.

1. What happens when you click on the link?

a. Firefox and Internet Explorer

If you are using Firefox or Internet Explorer as your browser, you will get the message that those browsers do not support Teams and a nudge to move to Edge OR to download the app.

Teamsclient-JoinfromFirefox
You are pushed to use Microsoft Edge or download the appEnter a caption

b. Edge or Chrome

If you are using Edge (the new one) or Chrome, you will get this nudge to either download the app or to join on the web:

Teams-gmail-chrome
You will have to make a decision: download the app or join on the web.

I have occasionally seen this image, which is the new experience, or so I think:

Teams-yahoo-chrome
I think this is the new experience – it is more obvious you have 3 options

c. Safari on iPad

If you use this, you will get a similar screen as for Internet Explorer or Firefox, except that you will only have “Get the Teams app” as suggestion.

Teamsclient-ipad
Safari does not support this – downloading the app is the only suggestion you get.

d. Safari on iPhone

If you are on an iPhone you will get a warning that Safari does not support it, and a nudge to download the app.

Teamsclient-iphonedownload
It’s in Dutch but I guess you will understand that you are nudged to download the Teams app

2. What happens when you join on the web?

a. Edge or Chrome

When you have decided to open Edge or Chrome (if you are using Chrome as your default browser) you will get to this screen. You are requested to enter your name and click “Join Now”. Look at the bottom, where you are again enticed to sign in (if you have a Microsoft account) or to download the app.

Teamscliententermeeting
Strangely enough the name of the meeting is not shown. Enter name, select camera and phone settings and click “Join Now”.

After clicking “Join Now” you get into the lobby. As you may know, recently Microsoft changed the default settings for all meetings to “People outside your organization will have to wait in the lobby”. While I agree with this setting, especially now that so many new (and often non-business) people are using Teams, it led to a lot of questions in my organization because we had just been telling everyone that by default everyone could get into your meeting immediately. 😤

TeamsClient-lobby
The lobby

In any case, you will enter the meeting as a Guest with the role that the organizer has given you. 

If you have a paid subscription to Microsoft365 it is worth signing in, because you will get the full web experience. The link to the meeting is accessible for everyone, so you can just sign in even if your Microsoft365 account has a different email address than the one that you have been invited with.

3. What happens when you download the app?

a. Laptop (Windows 10)

Downloading and opening the app can take a few minutes, so you may want to warn your newbies to start early or do a test run well before the meeting. 

Once you have the app installed, and you click the meeting link from your email, you can use the “launch it now” button or your browser will ask you to open the link in the app. Internet Explorer just opens the app.

TeamsClient-chromeandapp
Chrome and app
TeamsClient-firefoxandapp
Firefox and app
TeamsClient-edgeandapp
Edge and app

Once the app has opened, you will be requested to add your name and click “Join Now”, like when you join on the web. Please note that the app has two extra features:

  • You can enter the meeting with a blurred or custom background (the toggle between camera and microphone)
  • You can check your microphone by clicking on “PC Mic and Speakers” and then selecting “Test Call”. (Functionality that I know and ❤ from Skype)
Teamsclient-enterwithapp
Some extra functionality when you join a meeting with the Teams app.

You will enter the lobby as usual.

TeamsClient-applobby
Again, you will see the extra options that the app has to offer. While you are waiting, why not select a nice background! 😄

If you download the app and you do not sign in with a Microsoft account, you will enter the meeting as a Guest with the role that the organizer has given you

b. iPhone.

If I download the app on my iPhone, give permission to use the microphone, and click that horrible long link from my email, it will ask me if I want to open the link with Teams and then I get this message (Time to meet):

Teamsclient-iphoneintomeeting
You can enter as a guest or again, sign in.

After entering your name and clicking Participate you will get the lobby message, which looks similar to the ones above.

TeamsClient-lobbyiphone
iPhone lobby message (in Dutch)

c. iPad

On my iPad the “Open in Teams?” message did not happen so I could not make the switch from my email to the app. I was also forced to sign in with an account, which is not the purpose of this exercise. Anyone out here who had more luck?
Copying the link to the meeting and pasting it into the Edge app on my iPad worked. It switched over to the app and I could enter as a guest, with the same image as above for iPhone (but wider).

What have I found so far?

  • Your non-business participants do not need to have a Microsoft account to participate.
  • You do not need to download the app on your PC, as you can participate on the web if you use Microsoft Edge or Google Chrome as your browser.
  • Internet Explorer, Safari and Firefox can not be used for a Teams meeting.
  • If you do not have a Microsoft account (or if you do not sign in with it), you will have to enter a name when you log on, and you will participate as a Guest.
  • The Teams mobile app is a must if you want to take part from an iPhone.
  • Both the mobile and desktop apps may take a few minutes to download and install, so always ask your participants to download and test-drive well in advance, or start at least 10 minutes before the meeting.
  • The desktop app will give you more options such as the custom backgrounds and the option to do a test call.
  • If you have an external presenter or discussion leader, strongly suggest to use a laptop and download the desktop app as the extra options will be very useful especially for them.

Next time, we will look at the meeting experience.

 

Take control of your Teams meeting

Teamstherapy-headerOur health care organization has gone a step further in using Teams.

Our dedicated (non-Microsoft) software for helping our clients online was just (=before COVID-19) being rolled out with various amounts of success. Some people loved it, and saw the benefits for both client and therapist (no need to travel for both parties, client being in their own environment, connection with the client registration systems), others said they needed the face-to-face meetings to be able to provide real help.

Now that we have had to move all therapy online, we found a functionality gap in the software: the option to use this for group sessions, either multiple therapists seeing one client, or sessions with one therapist and several clients.

After discussing various options we agreed to make Teams temporarily available for this purpose, so our therapists can finalise the existing group therapies, and perhaps even start new ones.

Microsoft Teams is a business tool and meant for collaboration in an organisational context. Mental health therapy is something completely different, so we had to create special instructions:

1. Create the invitation

  • Create the invitation from Outlook Online, NOT from Teams.
  • Add the relevant title, attendees, date and time, and message info.
  • Make sure you make this a Teams meeting.
  • Before sending, click the “Response Options” top right and select “Hide attendee list”.
    Optionally, you can also UNselect “Allow forwarding” to avoid uninvited people getting into your group session.
  • As soon as you have made a choice, the popup will go away, so it is a good idea to check if you have made the right selections.
  • Click Send.
Teamstherapy-response options
Make sure to hide the attendee list, so clients do not see eachother’s email addresses.  Also, do not forget to toggle the Teams meeting button!

Alternatively you can add the attendees to the BCC field, but as this field is not visible by default, it means people will have to change their Outlook settings. Using “Hide attendee list” is easier.
Those who use the Outlook desktop (in our case: hardly any therapist has this) can use the BCC field or add the users as a Resource. This is a bit of a weird workaround in my opinion. Just use Outlook Online, it is great!

Now, if the invitation is sent, the attendees will see only their own name in the invitation, which is a privacy requirement in this situation.
If you have also disabled the “Forward invitation” option, this will be displayed on the invitation, depending on the recipient’s email programme.

2. Manage meeting options

By default, everyone can go into the meeting freely, and everyone can present. (Update 15-04-2020: the default is now that externals will have to wait in the lobby. Good idea.) While this is the easiest setting for regular business purposes, it is not always the best option. We have heard about Teams meetings in education, where pupils muted the teacher and/or changed his/her role into attendee or even threw each other out of the meeting altogether!

So, in our situation it may be best to prevent any issues and provide a little more control to the therapist(s). The following can only be done by the person who has organised the meeting.

  • Open the meeting in your Teams calendar
  • Click the Meeting Options, to the right of the time zones OR on the bottom of the invitation underneath the link to the meeting. (see the Outlook screenshot below)
Teamstherapy-meetingoptions
I prefer this button to adjust meeting options.
  • Change the lobby settings to: “People in my organization”  (so you can discuss with your colleague before you allow everyone into the meeting)
  • Change the presenter settings to anything except Everyone. “People in my organization” is a good one.
    This will make all others an attendee, and they can only use audio, video and chat. (Roles description by Microsoft)
  • Click Save.
TeamsControl-meetingoptions
I suggest the settings above if you have non-presenting external users.

This can also be done from the invitation in Outlook:

Teamstherapy-optionsOutlook
At the bottom you will find the meeting options. Please note you are reminded that you have hidden the list of attendees.

3. Change roles during the meeting

During the meeting you can also have some control and change roles.

  • Click on the people icon in the meeting control bar
    Teamstherapy-meetingbar
  • You will now see the list of participants. You can now
    • Mute everyone

      TeamsTherapy-muteall
      As a presenter, you can mute everyone (except yourself) in one go.
  • You can also manage individual attendees by clicking on the … behind their name
    • Mute
    • Make them a presenter (and later an attendee again)
    • Remove someone from the meetingTeamstherapy-presenteroptions

Steven Collier has made a nice video where he explains “Teams-bombing” and the prevention thereof (items 2 and 3) with an example of a rebellious student.

4. Avoid “private viewing” of your presentation

If you are sharing a presentation, by default people are allowed to click through at their own pace. While many people will not know where that option is, it may be a good idea to switch that off, especially if your presentation has a carefully designed build-up.

Click the ellipses in the meeting control bar and click “Show device settings”. A panel with camera and microphone settings will pop up, as well as a toggle to change the presentation flip-through option from On to Off.

TeamsControl-presentation
By default this setting is turned ON (the button will then be green) .

5. End the meeting

If you want to make sure that the conversation stops when the meeting ends, you can “End meeting” which will stop all audio and video. The chat will still be accessible and can still be used.

Teamsclient-endmeeting
Just click the … on the meeting bar and click “End Meeting”.

Conclusion

The default settings of Teams may be a little too “flexible” for non-business purposes. Fortunately there are many options to have more control.

Mind you, you as my regular audience will probably know all of this, but our therapists generally know only the basics of Office365 (oh, I need to say Microsoft365 now, right?) and they need detailed instructions, as they have to schedule these sessions themselves.

Next time, I will discuss the user interface for various email programmes. I have had a ton of questions about what clients see and I want to make sure I can answer that properly.

Some intranet promotion videos – part 4

Intranetvideos4While List.ly is doing their best to get their Vimeo videos displayed properly, I thought I’d share a number of recent finds with you.
Where available, I have added related videos so you do not have 5, but 8 items to look at. In total, this should keep you busy for a little more than 30 minutes! 🙂

Stay indoors and stay safe!

1. Intro to Delve

Quite a good introduction to the capabilities of Delve. It is not very specific to the organization (a University in Melbourne, Australia) so it is very reusable. They also have good videos for Managing permissions in Delve and Managing your Office profile.

The logos are outdated so I guess the video is older than the upload date of February 2020. But as far as I can check in my one-person Delve, the functionality is still correct.

2. Your new intranet (in Portuguese)

Teaser for the upcoming new intranet at Samsonite Brazil. 
Uploaded March 2020. 

 

3. CM3 SharePoint – your first walkthrough

Quite a long demo of this SharePoint intranet for a USA-based building services organization. This demo starts with the log-on process and it starts to get really interesting from 1.40 onwards, when the homepage is shown. I am fascinated by the colour scheme! It has a lot of useful content and other stuff. In their next video, they look a bit more at the homepage and the SharePoint functionalities and invite you to name the intranet (by completing a Form, of course!).
Uploaded March 2020.

4. Mobile app for real estate organization (builder) – in Dutch

Nice overview of the mobile (SharePoint-based) intranet-app for this Dutch real estate organization. They build houses but also own some DIY-shops in the Netherlands.

This mobile app has a ton of good stuff – News of course, colleague search, employee-stuff. It does not look like the native SharePoint app though.
Uploaded March 2020.

 

5. SmartSpace SharePoint intranet

Walkthrough of a SharePoint intranet for a software organization with offices in UK and USA. The look and feel is quite basic (just the company logo, not even their corporate colours) compared to the design of their proposal templates and website. They appear to do almost everything “corporate” in one site.
Having your Mission and Vision statement on the landing page must become boring after some time, but they may want to change that over time into News or something used frequently. I really like the fact they have a list of approved software (with details) as well as their project portfolio also in SharePoint lists.
Uploaded March 2020.

How to demo your telephone to a large audience

Teams-phonedemoheaderAt the very last “Office365/SharePoint Connect” gathering in Haarlem* I was quite impressed when Rick van Rousselt gave us a demo of Kaizala, sharing his telephone on a large screen.

This may come in useful when we want to provide our colleagues with more information about the Office365 mobile apps. So, I thought I’d write out the steps and practice as I am usually quite clumsy when it comes to connecting devices. 😎

The secret ingredient is…a Teams meeting!

March 2020.
As the next weeks will mean “remote working’ for a lot of people, due to the Corona virus, this may also come in useful if you want to demonstrate a cool new app to a colleague, or for helpdesks to support colleagues who have questions about the workings of a smartphone. 

A few days before the demo

  1. Make sure you have the Teams app installed on your presentation laptop and your telephone
  2. Schedule a Teams meeting for the time of the demo
  3. Remove any apps on your mobile that you do not want to show – or move them to a separate page – and check if your phone’s background image is suitable for the audience 😉
  4. Create your demo (what do you want to show and which sequence)
  5. Practice sharing your screen on your phone

The day before the demo

  1. Charge your devices (and a powerbank, to be on the safe side)
  2. Remove screen notifications and sounds to avoid disturbance (or embarrassment – you do not want to know what I have seen during all the years I have been working in multi-location organizations 🙄 ) during your demo
  3. Sign in to both Teams apps with the account you want to use for the demonstration

At the time of the demo

  1. Start well before time, if possible
  2. Connect your laptop to the demonstration screen
  3. Mute the sound on both devices to avoid an irritating reverb
  4. Join the meeting on both devices, without microphone and camera
  5. On your mobile, click the … in the meeting bar and select “Share”

    Teams-phonedemo-start
    Enter a caption
  6. Select “Share screen” (exact words may vary on iOS and Android) and then “Start broadcast”

    Teams-phonedemo-startbroadcast.jpg
    Dutch again! Click on “Start…” to start broadcast.
  7. Wait until your mobile phone is shown on the screen
  8. Go to the content you want to show (on your mobile) and dazzle your audience!

    Teams-phonedemo-both
    It is a bit dark but this is my phone (device left), displayed on my laptop (in the middle),  while showing SharePoint News.

8. When your demo is over, open the Teams app and click “Stop broadcast”.

Teams-phonedemo-endbroadcast.jpg
To end, click “Stop…”.

 

Although my (iOS) app tells me that everything is recorded, (it even shows a timer in the red bar on top) it does not mean that a video is created. I guess they mean everything will be shared.

Conclusion

As usual, this is not rocket science, but I thought it might be helpful for myself and for others to share the detailed steps.

Are you ever demonstrating smartphone (apps) to an audience and are you using Teams or something else?

* Office365 and SharePoint Connect, Haarlem/Amsterdam

I am really sad that Office365 and SharePoint Connect will no longer be around, as it was always VERY useful, in a convenient location, well-visited by many people in my network, and not too expensive. Thank you, Nigel and Irene Clapham, for organizing this great event for so many years!

Using emoji as visual tags in Office365

It all started with this Tweet:

That looked interesting so I spent a most enjoyable day finding out how and where it works in Office365, and if I could find anything remarkable.
By the way, you get the emoji keyboard when you click the Windows-key plus . or ;

Emojikeyboard
You can type and see suggested emoji (on top), or you can search (bottom left) or navigate between various categories. Now shown: recently used.

The Windows 10 emoji work almost universally, including Office365. You can use it in SharePoint document libraries, folders and documents; in Yammer groups, Teams channels, Outlook, To Do, well, everywhere I have tried!
It also works in Twitter and Hootsuite and I guess on many more platforms.

Benefits

In most cases they merely look nice, but I think their biggest benefit is that they can help people identify the most important item(s) in a long list, e.g. OneDrive,  SharePoint or Outlook folders. They act as “visual tags”.

My favourite

My personal favourite usage is in List names of ToDo. I share a lot of lists with my colleague and I like being able to see to which list a task in My Day, Assigned to Me or Planned Tasks belongs. The colour scheme you can apply to a list does not provide sufficient contrast, and if you have more lists than the 5 colours available you still need to look at the list name.
Until now I always thought I had a lot of redundant tasks, because one task can show in different views, but now I can easily see where they belong.

Emoji-ToDo
Now that I have added icons to my lists, it is easier to see which task is for which list. BTW, you also see that the default list icon is being overwritten if I add the emoji to the left. Neat.

Things to know

  1. Not every image has sufficient detail – stay on the safe side and choose images that are clear and unambiguous for your team.
  2. Always use text in combination with your emoji…otherwise you will have to refer to “that folder with the red-and-white striped tshirt” which is a bit silly.
  3. Do not overdo it – adding an emoji to every folder looks cluttered and defies its purpose of making things stand out.
  4. Does adding “little coloured images” fit your organization? I am quite sure that I would have had a serious (and unpleasant) discussion in my former organization, had I suggested to use it there. I think it will be appreciated in my current one, though.
  5. They display nicely in all web and mobile apps (screenshot below, left), but the desktop apps (screenshot below, right) show them only in black-and-white. No problem for me, as I find I am using the web apps more and more, but be aware if your colleagues are all desk(top) jockeys. 🙂
  6. I would suggest to not use this in high level names and URLs, such as SharePoint site names or Teams names. I do not know if you run into issues if you need to access these types of names or URLs with Powershell or in the admin mode. (Please let me know if you have experiences with this)
  7. Although you can use this in document names, I would suggest to pin a document to the top of the library if you want to highlight it. That way the document will always be visible, regardless of sorting, folders, etc.
  8. Speaking of sorting, the sort order can change when you add emoji. In the screenshot below I have made a list of folders in the Ninja Cat library in a SharePoint site. All folders were created in one go, i.e. I added the emoji when creating the folder. You see that a folder with an emoji first, gets shown on top, while an emoji behind the name sorts “normally”. (Look at the “Clothes” folder, which are two different instances)
    If I add the emoji to the left of an existing folder name, it suddenly moves to a different position!

    emoji-sortorderfolders1
    Sort order: name ascending. Depending on the location of the emoji, the folders end up in different locations. Look at the Clothes folder.

    Now let’s see what happens if I add an emoji to the Clothing folder, to the left of the name.

    emoji-sortorderfolders2
    When I add the emoji to the left of the name, it moves up!

    In the above example I could create two folders with the same name – so apparently “👕 Clothes” is NOT the same as “Clothes 👕”. They have different URL’s, where an addition comes either before or after the word “Clothes”. Yet it is impossible to create a third plain “Clothes” folder as “that already exists”. Why?

  9. I tried to copy and paste the different URL’s of both folders in this post, but as soon as I did that, the red-and-white stripes of the emoji in 8. suddenly turned into plain blue! (BTW, this also happened when I switched to the HTML editor writing this post) What sorcery is that? So I have to use a screenshot:

    emoji-folderurl
    Different URL’s for the Clothes folders. But why can I not create a new plain Clothes one?
  10. Yammer groups have a number in their URL, not a name, so you should be able to use them safely in Yammer groups. But if you use Yammer on your phone or tablet, the group icons are already displayed so why add another one?
    I hope Microsoft will address this and make the group icons also show in your list when you work on your PC or laptop. (which would make the emoji redundant)

    Emoji-Yammer group on laptop
    Laptop, where adding an emoji makes sense

    emoji-yammermobile
    Mobile app, which displays the group images anyway, so an extra emoji does not add much
  11. In Teams, the team image is displayed with the name, so adding an emoji in the Teams name only clutters things up. But using an emoji in a Channel name makes sense, both on laptop and on mobile.

    emoji-teamchannels
    Team channels – I admit adding too many images make it a bit cluttered.
  12. Should you add images left or right to the name? To the left gives a more uniform appearance, and in To Do, it nicely overwrites the default icon. But I think it is generally better if they are to the right, as the text should be more important than the image and you are more in control of the sorting. Also, they stand out more when they are not all aligned. Any thoughts? (Since Wedge told us that decorative illustrations of a post should be to the right, unless they are an essential part of the post, I have added illustrations to the right of my post, so that’s why I think to the right is better)

 

Conclusion

Adding an emoji to a folder or Teams channel name can be a nice way to shows its content or purpose, or to make it stand out. However, use with caution as not everyone may like it or understand the image, things may get cluttered and it may even break some things as well.

There’s still a lot to find out, especially in admin and any other occasion where a URL is involved.  If you have any experiences with usage in Office365, especially from the admin side of things, please let me know!

More about Forms

New icon!

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

Comparison of Forms and Forms Pro

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

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

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

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

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

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

And a beauty contest!

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

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

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

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

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

10 things to know as a SharePoint News reader

spnewsreader-headerIn 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:

  1. The site where it has been published
  2. The site overview (click “See all” on the web part after publishing 5 articles)
  3. News digests (Newsletters), consisting of the above, gathered with previews in an email
  4. The SharePoint app
  5. “News from sites” on the SharePoint landing page
  6.  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.

SPNewsreader-comment
Likes and comments are available. If you @mention someone, they will get an email.

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:

  1. At the bottom of the post you will see an option to “Save for later”.

    SPNewsreader-savefrompost
    You can save an article for later by clicking the label at the bottom of the page.
  2. You can also click the label of any News article that you see on the “News from sites” overviews.
  3. In the SharePoint app you can click the … at the right of each article and select “Save for later”

    SPNewsreader-how to save
    From the Newsfeed in the app you can also save for later. Sorry – in Dutch 🙂

There are 3 places to see your saved articles:

  1. 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? 🙂 )

    SPNewsreader-savedfromSPPage
    The highlighted label show that this News article is “saved for later”. You can (un)save on this page by clicking the label.
  2. On your SharePoint landing page, in the left-hand menu under “Saved”

    SPNewsreader-savedSPpage
    You will see “Saved” News articles in the left-hand column on the SharePoint landing page.
  3. In the SharePoint app News, under Filter (on top) you can select the “Saved Items”.

    SPNewsreader-appfilter
    Click the Filter and select “Saved Items”. Sorry for the Dutch! 🙂

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!

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 🙂

SPNewsreader-mobile (2)
Someone I work with has posted one (1) News article.

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.
SPNewsReader-alert1
First Alert you will get – yikes!

 

SPNewsreader-alert2
You get this one minutes later.
  • 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.

LikesNews
I have liked both post and comment, but can only unlike one. 

Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

10 things to know about the SharePoint News digest

After my massive list of things-to-be-aware-of when creating and managing SharePoint News, I though it would be good to share some lessons about the News digest (Newsletter) separately.

The News digest is a Newsletter created from News articles. It looks very nice in all browser and systems:

SPNewsDigest-Newsletteremail
The News digest as an email

This is what it looks like as a page:

SPNewsDigest-Newsletterpage
The News digest page or the “web version”.

So, here’s a few things that are not in the official support article but may be relevant.

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!

SPNEwsDigest-See all
The elusive “See all” link that allows you to send a News digest

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.

SPNewsDigest-moveitems
The yellow-marked icon shows “Move” and allows you to change the order.

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
  • Both the support info and this blog by Juan Carlos Gonzalez Martin show that the site icon is displayed 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!

SPNewsdigest-logoandname
The logo (that I would like to be customizable), and the site name.

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.
  • You will break the permission inheritance in the pages library, so every page will have its own permissions.
  • 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.

SPNewsdigest-linkontop
Easy to reach for giving access.

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.

SPNewsDigest-access
The new access request mail allows you to select role (but not Group) and Approve/Decline, for this specific News article.

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! 🙂

SPNewsDigest-accessrenamed
I renamed that article into “Share your best holiday pix” but the request goes to the old name 😦

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!

Next steps?

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!

15 things to know about creating SharePoint News

SPNews-headerLast 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.

The process of creating and publishing a News article is pretty straightforward, but my Communications colleague had a ton of questions which were not always readily documented.

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! 🙂

SPNews-sphomepage
27 m’s, 100 i’s and 48 letters of my test text on the SharePoint landing page.
SpNews-homepagesidebyside
25 m’s, enough i’s to give you a headache 🙂 , en 43 test letters on the News web part.
SPNews-Mobile
37 m’s, 110 i’s and 59 letters of test text in the SharePoint app (iOS)

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.

SPNews-Blackletterswhennoimage
The regular header has black letters
SPNews-whitelettersiwhtpicture
I have selected the whitest background I could find, but it still appears greyish and with white letters…

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.

SPNews-PromotedState1
How to add the column that shows whether something is a News Article or not.

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”!

SPNews=Promotedstate2
It is the “Promoted State” column that enables you to see the difference between News Article and another page.
SPNews-PromotedState3
“Promoted State” can be 0, 1 or 2

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.

SPNews-Unpublish

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.

SPNews-authorbyline
The Author Byline (yellow mark) is the author name that will be displayed.

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”.

SPNews-changeorder
By default this webpart (side-by-side) orders automatically, but you can change that.

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!

SPNews-reorder webpart
You can drag and drop any item you want to “pin” in a fixed position to the right and move it up or down there. You see that the 3rd item is already appearing in 1st place.
SPNews-afterreorder
After pinning the 3rd item into the 1st position, new articles appear in 2nd place. This item will be in place until you remove it manually.

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!

SPNews-site assets
Your Site Pages library has a dedicated folder in the Site Assets

SPNews-siteassets2
Every News article has a dedicated folder, often with only one image 😦

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.

Tracy van der Schyff: Creating banners for your online SharePoint pages.

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!

What’s next?

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!

Image by kconcha at pixabay.com