Photos and Forms

fotoform-header

You can create really good looking surveys with Microsoft Forms these days, just by using colours and images.

There are 4 places to add an image:

1. Background

You can use a standard theme, which will add a predetermined background image (optional) and colour scheme to your Form.
If you want to use your own theme, click Theme and then the +. This will open a screen allowing you to upload an image and/or set a background colour for texts and buttons.

Formfoto-theme
You can upload a picture and change the colour here. Try #ff0000 and see what happens!

2. Forms title

You can add a small image to the title and introduction text of your form.

3. Question

You can add an image to a question. You can choose between small and large.

4. Section

If you want to create a new page for a new question or set of questions, you can use a section. A section header can also contain an image, large or small. It behaves like an image in a question.

Size requirements for images – a test

I recently received a question from one of my users, who wanted to know the size requirements for images in Forms. The background image she used turned out to be a bit blurry. Of course, and fortunately, you no longer have to use exact dimensions in Office 365, but not every size works well in every application, so I did some tests.

  • I photographed a few scenes with my iPhone, using square, landscape and portrait orientation. (4:3 aspect ratio except for the square of course)
  • I resized them using good old Paint, making a 50, 38, 25, 10 and 5% of the original. All images were 72 dpi.
  • Then I created a Form with 2 questions and one section.
  • I started with the 5% size and uploaded this image as background, as title, as question (large and small) and as section image.
  • Whenever the image displayed blurry, I repeated the exercise with the 10% and so on, until I had a good idea of what worked.

Results

  1. The background needs an image of at least 750 pixels wide, but 1000 is better.
    The orientation of the image (square, landscape or portrait) does not matter. The background focuses on the center of the picture.

    Formfoto-backgrooundportrait5
    With an image of 152 pixels wide, the background is extremely blurry.
    Formfoto-squarebackground.png
    With an image of 756 pixels wide, this background is acceptable.

    Formsfoto-landscapebackground
    A 1008-pixel wide background is really nice.
  2. In the title you can use an image as small as 150 pixels wide. It does not display a lot of detail, so you can get away with a small image.
    The height of the image display is fixed, and the orientation of the image does not matter much.
    Formfoto-squareheaderFormfoto-landscape header

    Formfoto-portrait-header
    3 examples of pictures in the title – the orientation (square, portrait, landscape) shows more variety than the picture quality.
  3.  If you use a small picture in your question or section, go for at least 150 px wide.
    Use landscape where possible, as it will keep your form shorter. Check out the differences in the screenshots with the background, above.
  4. For a large picture in a question or section, at least 400 pixels wide is best.
    Please note that landscape pictures cover the whole width of the forms, and the question is shown on top. This makes for a very nice image, but as it is blown up a lot compared to the other formats, you really need to make sure the image is sharp.
    If you use the same image in every section, you can create a nicely consistent experience. (But do not go overboard, every new section is a click!)

    Formfoto-diffsmallandlarge.png
    This is 152 pixels. The small picture  is OK but the large one is not.
    formfoto-squaresmallvslarge.png
    Again, 303 x 303 pixels is acceptable for a small picture but for a large one it is just not enough. And it is not even displayed on the whole width!

    Formfoto-landscapelarge
    The image in Question 2 is 404 x 303 pixels. It makes an acceptable picture, even in full width of the form. 

Suggestions:

  • Use landscape imagery where possible – it just displays nicer
  • Keep in mind that different purposes need different image sizes. If your image is too small, do not use it as background or the large image.
  • 150-400-750 is just a guideline – with a different aspect ratio in your photos and pictures, more dpi and different viewing screen size, you may find that other sizes work better for you. And perhaps you WANT the background to be a bit blurry!
  • More info about working with images in Forms

Header image by Peachpink on Pixabay.
“Photos and Forms” reminds me of “Diamonds and Pearls” by the late great Prince. 

Advertisements

7 ways to re-use texts in Office 365

Template headerDo you have to write the same text time and time again? For instance, an email confirming an appointment, a work instruction or an in-company invoice?

There are a few ways to do that.

1. Re-use and existing mail or document

I guess this feels as the easiest way. But how often have you forgotten to remove the “FW” when you forwarded that email, or forgot to change the salutation? And have you ever overwritten and saved a document that you wanted to keep intact?

Yeah, thought so 🙂

2. Store the text in Word or OneNote and copy-paste

You will have fewer accidents with this option, but now you may suffer from extensive but invisible make-up. This may cause your texts to have weird indents or line spacing when you have pasted them. The best way to strip off the code is to copy-paste to Notepad and then into the final message, but this is often forgotten and also not 100% guaranteed.
Besides, you will have to store that document or note and look for it whenever you need it.

3. Email template – text only

An easy way to manage your email texts is with an email template. That lives in Outlook so it is easily available when you need it – no need to search!
You can create as many templates as you want. You can store about 2100 characters in a template.

Outlook Client/Desktop:

  1. Open new email
  2. In the ribbon, top right, click the … and select “View Templates” from the popup

    Templates-OfficeClient
    Find your email templates in the Outlook Client
  3. You will see a few standard templates

    Templates-MyTemplates
    Standard email templates in the Outlook Client and the place to add a new one
  4. To create a new template, click on +Template
  5. Give your template a title (e.g. “Appointment confirmation”), add text and/or images and click “Save”

    Template-newtemplate
    Give your template a good name and add the text (and any embellishments)
  6. To use a template, click on the title and the text will be added to the email.

    Templates-Applied
    Adding the text to your email is very easy! 

Outlook Online – Current Outlook

  1. Open new email
  2. Bottom right, click the Templates icon
  3. Proceed with 3 as above

    Templates-OnlineOld
    The Templates icon is bottom right in Outlook Online – it’s highlighted in yellow! 

Outlook Online – The new Outlook

  1. Open new email
  2. Click the … at the bottom of the mail and select “My Templates” from the popup
  3. Proceed with 3 as above

    Templates-OnlineNew
    When you are using the New Outlook Online, you will need to click the …

4. Email template – text and make-up (Outlook Client)

If you need to use a template that contains both text and make-up, for instance for an email newsletter or other format, you can do this in Outlook Client/Desktop. It is a much more complicated process, so I would suggest to use this only if the look-and-feel is important and needs to be consistent.
BTW, you get a free email Newsletter when you use SharePoint News, of course, but for all those other occasions this option will be useful.

Microsoft has good instructions on how to create and save a template. It includes sending an email using the template as well.

5. Email signature

Before I discovered the templates, I used to store repetitive texts in an email signature. I have shared dial-in information for my personal Live Meeting (I think that was what web conferencing was called in those days 🙂 ), and shared help and support information in that way. Although I only use templates now, there may be cases where you prefer an email signature.

Outlook Client/Desktop

Microsoft has good instructions for creating signatures.  However the screenshots are a tad outdated. Now, you either use “Tell me what you want to do” or open a new email and click the Insert tab > Signature” to get to the signatures location.

You can have multiple signatures in the Outlook Client, but please be aware you can only add one per email, so always make sure your name and other information is included.

Templates-Clientsignature
How to add a signature in the Outlook Client

Outlook Online – current Outlook

  1. To add a signature, click the Gear Wheel in Outlook
  2. On the bottom of the popup, under “Your app settings” click “Mail”
  3. Under “Mail > Layout” on the left of the screen, click “Email signature”
  4. Add text and optional image, check the desired box if applicable, and click “Save”

    Template-signatureoldoutlook
    In current Outlook Online, this is where you add your signature
  5. To add a signature manually, open a new email, click … on top of the message and select “Insert signature”

Outlook Online – the New Outlook

  1. To add a signature, click the Gear Wheel in Outlook
  2. Click “View all Outlook Settings” on the bottom of the popup
  3. Select “Compose and Reply”

    Templates-NewOutlook-Signature
    In the new Outlook Online, this is where you add your signature 
  4. Add text and optional image, check the desired box if applicable, and click “Save”

Please note you can only have one signature in Outlook Online.

6.  Document template in SharePoint – general

You can add a template to a SharePoint document library for your team’s recurring documents. Think about reports or work instructions. You can do this for all Microsoft documents and you can have multiple templates in one library.
Anyone who can manage the document library can do this, so you will need at least Edit permissions.

I use and suggest this very often right now and wish it was also available in OneDrive!

  1. Create the document you want to use as a template and save it with a meaningful name – it may help to add “template” to the name
  2. Open the document library in question, click “New” and then “Add Template”

    template-SPNew
    Where to add the template
  3. Upload the template
  4. Check that it displays correctly.

    Templates-SPAdded
    Giving a good name is important – you will want to notice the template easily
  5. To create a new document in the template, click “New” in the Document Library and select the template. A new instance of the template will open.
  6. To move position of the template, or to make changes to the template itself, click “New” > “Edit New menu”. A popup will appear on the right-hand side of the page.
    Hover over the document to be removed, repositioned or edited, click the three dots that appear to the right of the name and you will get a popup with options.

    Template-SPeditmenu
    Editing, deleting or changing the position of the template is very easily done 

7. Document template in SharePoint – custom

It is also possible to add a custom template document as the default document. I can imagine this may have its uses when you want to use it for very formal documents, such as contracts or financial reporting. Those documents will have a strict format that needs to be adhered to.
In that case you can do that via the Library Settings > Advanced Settings. Microsoft describes the steps here. Although they mention SharePoint Online, they talk about “email-enabling” the library, which has been deprecated for several years by now, so I wonder when this has been last reviewed. (Of course I gave feedback to this article)

This needs Site Owner permissions but may also be done by an admin or IT.

Have I forgotten an option? Please let me know!

Image by Cohdra on Morguefile.com

 

Save Outlook Online emails as document

outlook folders-357514“I want to save emails from customers in our customer folders on SharePoint”, a colleague told me the other day.

I have not really done that a lot, so I could not help her immediately, but the request made sense so I promised her I would let her know. So I set about finding info and found a great post by my friend Gregory Zelfond and some others, including Microsoft themselves.

However, these options are all done with the Outlook Client, while the majority of my colleagues has an E1 license, which means they only have the online versions of Office 365. And trust me, Outlook Online works differently from the Client! There is no “Save as” in Outlook Online!

What did not work?

  • I could not find a consistent URL of an email. There were too many differences in URL between browsers and between current and new Outlook online. If that would work, I could have added the URL to a document library in SharePoint.
  • I could not find a Flow to convert emails into documents and move them into OneDrive or SharePoint.

Eventually, with lots of trials and internet search, I have been able to come up with two ways, depending if a PDF is good enough or if you really need the .eml format (which is still an email).

Experiments were done with IE, Edge, Chrome and Firefox browsers, and with the current and the new Outlook Online. Phew! 🙂

The easy way – print to PDF

  1. Open the email
  2. Click the … top right
  3. Select “Print” from the popup menu
  4. You will get a preview
  5. Select “Print” top left
  6. In the next screen, select “Print to PDF” or  “Microsoft Print to PDF”as the printer and hit Print
  7. Give the file a good name and save it to PC (The E1 license does not provide a OneDrive Client)
  8. Upload to OneDrive and copy/move to SharePoint

I have made a basic video, using Edge as browser.

Remarks:

  •  This is the best option if you have one or two files you want to save.
  •  The screen to create or print to PDF differs per browser.
  •  Google Chrome adds a title to the PDF before upload – but with “Mail-Ellen van Aken-Outlook” this is pretty generic. 
  •  Internet Explorer and Google Chrome present the option to share the mail after you have uploaded it to OneDrive – when you click “Share Link” it shows the usual document sharing options. This is relatively new functionality in OneDrive and SharePoint.
OutlookOnlineSaving-shareafterupload
After you upload a document you can share the link with others.

The complicated way – attach emails as eml

  1. Group the emails you want to save into a folder – this is optional but will make things easier
  2. Open 2 windows with Outlook Online and resize them so you can see them both on your screen
  3. Open a new email in window 1
  4. Open the folder in window 2
  5. Select the emails you want to save in window 2 and drag and drop them to the new email in window 1
  6. They will be added as attachments (in .eml format)
  7. Send the email to yourself
  8. Open the email and save attachments to OneDrive – they will be added to the Attachments folder automagically (although I often wish I could determine where they go)
  9. Copy/move to SharePoint

And another basic video, with Edge.

Remarks:

  • This is the best option if you have a large number of emails you want to save.
  • This works in Edge, Chrome and Firefox browser, but copying the emails to the new email does NOT work in Internet Explorer.
  •  In all cases, the subject title of the email is the file name.
  • You may want to use a Flow to move the attachments to OneDrive or SharePoint instead of taking step 8 / 9.
  • I tried drag & drop from email to OneDrive but that did not work – I have seen some promising stuff for the new Microsoft browser though!

Somehow this feels awkward. I understand that Online stuff is not always meant to be converted into a document, but emails are also a record and may need to be treated as such. I would have expected more and easier options. Have I overlooked something?

Image courtesy of Pixabay on Pexels

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

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

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

Current navigation / Quick Launch (vertical)

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

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

    char-ModernQuickLaunchsublink
    A sublink will display 16 characters.

Global navigation (horizontal)

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

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

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

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

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

But…it depends…

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

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

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

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

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

Tips for navigation item titles

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

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

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

Photo by Mike Bird from Pexels.

Create a photo album with OneDrive app and client

OneDrive-photo-album-631084_640In 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?

Getting pictures

  1. Take pictures with smartphone
  2. Send pictures to work email (in batches to avoid too large attachments)
  3. File pictures from each email in OneDrive on laptop (Attachments folder)
  4. Create project folder in OneDrive
  5. Transfer pictures to project folder
  6. Remove pictures from phone

Creating the album

  1. Open a new PowerPoint presentation
  2. Make cover slide
  3. Insert pictures from OneDrive into PowerPoint
  4. Arrange pictures on slides
  5. Add end slide (usually, with the dates, names and signatures)
  6. 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

  1. Create project folder in the OneDrive app
  2. Open the folder

    OneDrive-Empty
    Two ways to take a picture: The + button top right and the diaphragm button on the bottom.

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

OneDrive-savedinfolder
If you keep the folder open, the pictures will be saved here by default.


Creating the album in the OneDrive Client

  1. Create a picture of the cover and end slides
  2. 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)
    OneDrive-all pictures
    Example of an album – cover image, the pictures taken, and the end images. (with a blank image to make the number even and have a better result) 
  3. Select all images in the folder, click “Share” > “Print”

    OneDrive - SharePrint
    You will find the Share > Print option on top of your screen

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)

OneDrive-popup
In this screen, please make sure you select “Microsoft Print to PDF” as the printer. You can  change orientation by clicking “Options” . 

5. Click “Print” and save the resulting PDF. You can view it here

Remarks:

  • 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 the both 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.

The result

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. 🙂 

Image by Congerdesign on Pixabay.

Document your deviations

Documentation-Dude

When we were designing the new SharePoint intranet, some things needed (?) to be customized. And you know I am a big fan of custom functionality. (NOT)

  • Formal Publishing sites needed to resemble our internet site (I have always wondered why people think that is a good idea)
  • Collaboration Team sites home pages showed the security classification of the content, the audience and the site owner. (Useful! If applied correctly…)
  • We added another permissions level to avoid site owners creating subsites.
  • The document content types had 20 fields of hidden metadata in them, as per our term store. This was to improve the search experience – after all, in a 40.000 employee company with many locations, a few metadata would be most helpful to find the document from the correct business, function or location.

Dude, where’s my documentation?

So, when the intranet was ready to launch, and support was handed over to the regular support team, the Support team manager asked the developers for all the documentation.
It was not there and they had not planned for it. Against the advice of Veronique Palmer, he accepted this as a fact and support was handed over to the support team. After all, one of the developers was in-house so we could always turn to him.

Or so we thought, as he left the organization shortly after launch of the intranet…

Support

Support mostly went OK as the majority of issues had to do with permissions.
But when the content types started to show issues we had no clue where to go for help, so we ended up installing the regular content types. Nobody wanted to complete 20 metadata fields for each document!
And when the organization changed structure, the metadata changed as well and nobody knew where to make the changes in the content types.

What to document?

So, while I agree with everyone that too much documentation is a waste of time and effort, it DOES make sense to document:

  • Any custom functionality. What is the customization supposed to do? What are the specific settings? Is this set by tenant, site collection, or site? Where are the settings to install and implement it? What can go wrong? What NOT to do (for the admins and the users)? Where to go when support people or architects need to look, change or troubleshoot? Etc.
  • Anything that is on the roadmap to be improved after the MVP-state. What does it do now? Into which direction will improvements most likely go? Where and how to make those changes? What to look out for? What will break and will need to be fixed when you make those improvements?
  • Anything that can be expected to need adjustments with organizational change. And trust me, organizational change will happen! The company’s name, the company’s logo, the businesses, there may even be splits, mergers or acquisitions on the horizon. So, make clear where your intranet logo and images live, what effect changing terms in the term store will do to your customizations, and where you need to make the necessary changes to make sure the organizational changes are reflected correctly.

This post was created after reading Gregory Zelfond’s recent post about implementing SharePoint in large organizations, which made me chuckle with recognition 🙂
Then Veronique Palmer commented with things you should document, so I thought I would give a real-life example.

Any other experiences or suggestions for documentation?

Developer image courtesy of lemonade at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Using OneNote during a conference

It all started out with a tweet by Simon Bisson:

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.

    OneNote-booksetup
    I have created a Section for the Connect conference, and have one page per 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.

    OneNoteinpage
    I took the picture, focusing on the slide, and this was added to the page. See below for the original photo.

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.

    OneNote-original image
    This is the original picture which stays on your phone and takes up space.

Conclusion

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.