Save emails and documents to SharePoint in the background

Recently, myself and the dev team at OnePlace Solutions completed a challenging yet very rewarding project.

We are all about user productivity and SharePoint adoption and the results of this project are significant gains in both of these areas.

Please check out my blog on our company website which details the new background save of emails and documents to SharePoint:

https://www.oneplacesolutions.com/news/increase-user-productivity-by-saving-documents-and-emails-to-sharepoint-while-working-on-other-tasks.html

Advertisements

Deploy SharePoint Site Columns with One PowerShell command

Recently, I had to come up with a new way to deploy our email site columns for our OnePlaceMail product as the old way (sandboxed solutions) were no longer supported.

I had to make it simple for users and come up with a way that would allow me to easily modify/add site columns in the future.

I decided to use the SharePoint PnP PowerShell Cmdlets and GitHub to host the solution so users could simply run 1 PowerShell command, enter a site collection url and the site columns would be deployed to their site collection.

The process is as follows:

  • Execute PowerShell command to run PowerShell script (ps1) hosted in GitHub.
  • User is prompted for the Site Collection Url, enter url and hit return
  • Provisioning Xml template which details all the Site Columns settings is downloaded to the user’s temp folder on their machine.
  • PnP provisioning command is executed to apply provisioning template to the Site Collection and therefore provisioning the Site Columns.

If in the future if I need to remove/add/modify any Site Columns I simply edit the provisioning xml:

provisioningxml

Below details the full PowerShell script and the GitHub repo can be found here: https://github.com/OnePlaceSolutions/EmailColumnsPnP

<#
        This script prompts you to install the SharePoint PnP commands. Hit enter for SharePoint Online,
        6 for SharePoint 2016,3 for SharePoint 2013
        The script then prompts for the site collectiuon url you wish to install the Email Columns to
        and then applies the email columns template to this site collection        
#>

try {    
    Set-ExecutionPolicy Bypass -Scope Process 
    #Prompt for SharePoint Url     
    $SharePointUrl = Read-Host -Prompt 'Enter your SharePoint Site Collection Url to install OnePlace Solutions Email Columns to'
    Connect-pnpOnline -url $SharePointUrl
    #Download xml provisioning template
    $WebClient = New-Object System.Net.WebClient   
    $Url = "https://raw.githubusercontent.com/OnePlaceSolutions/EmailColumnsPnP/master/email-columns.xml"    
    $Path = "$env:temp\email-columns.xml"

    Write-Host "Downloading provisioning xml template:" $Path -ForegroundColor Green 
    $WebClient.DownloadFile( $Url, $Path )   
    #Apply xml provisioning template to SharePoint
    Write-Host "Applying email columns template to SharePoint:" $SharePointUrl -ForegroundColor Green 
    Apply-PnPProvisioningTemplate -path $Path
   
}
catch {
    Write-Host $error[0].Message
}

Open pdfs in Office 2013 Web Apps

Great to see that Office web apps 2013 support opening pdfs: http://blogs.office.com/b/officewebapps/archive/2013/07/03/pdfs-in-the-word-web-app.aspx

Pdfs have always been a special case to deal with in SharePoint, setting their custom icon for display in libraries and indexing them for search etc. It’s good to see Microsoft acknowledging them and now allowing you to open them up in in the Word Web app.

Here is a good technical article on configuring it on-premise (Office 365 should have it all pre-configured for you):

http://melcher.it/2013/05/install-office-web-apps-2013-for-sharepoint-2013-with-pdf-preview/

Harness the power of SharePoint Office 2013 Web Apps in Outlook

SharePoint 2013 Web Apps are a substantial leap forward from the SharePoint 2010 offering. They offer rich editing capabilities so now you can truly survive without having Office installed on your machine.

One of the other nice features is the preview of Office documents in SharePoint 2013 when selecting an item in a document library (.docx, .xlsx, .pptx).

image

The latest update to Office 2013 web apps now supports pdf files which can be previewed by Word 2013 web apps :

http://blogs.office.com/b/officewebapps/archive/2013/07/03/pdfs-in-the-word-web-app.aspx.

You can also benefit from this preview capability in SharePoint 2013 search results allowing you to make quick decisions as to whether it is the correct document or not. This is just one of the many nice search enhancements out-of-the-box in SharePoint 2013:

image

With all this investment been made in Office 2013 web apps by Microsoft, it would be nice if we could tap into some of this action from users desktop applications.

With the latest offering of OnePlaceMail (6.5 http://www.scinaptic.com/news/sharepoint-access-within-a-familiar-microsoft-outlook-style-interface.html) this is exactly what we have done. Users can navigate to or search for content while still in Outlook and quickly execute a real-time preview of that content. A real focus has been on adoption and with that we now provide a rich embedded Outlook style interface for viewing SharePoint content in Outlook. We have tapped into the Office 2013 web app preview for showing document previews embedded in Outlook as if a user were previewing any Outlook item.

Benefits of web app preview in Outlook:

  • Instant access to content embedded in Outlook – no need to jump out to the browser to open SharePoint documents.
  • Quick, efficient access – no need to download the entire file locally to view content.
  • Can quickly launch document in native office application for full rich editing capabilities.
  • Intuitive to users – familiar Outlook style interface.
  • Perform a SharePoint search and preview results all within Outlook.

Document preview in Outlook:

image

Search result preview in Outlook:

image

As we are leveraging the SharePoint 2013 Web Apps preview we will also benefit from any enhancements and any support for new file formats going forward. If you are a SharePoint Online (Office 365) company the web app server is already provisioned for you so there is no additional setup/installation required in order to start benefiting from the 2013 web apps either in SharePoint via the browser or in Outlook with OnePlaceMail installed.

If you are on-premise and do not have Office 2013 web apps up and running here is a good place to start: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj219455.aspx.

By providing the preview in Outlook we are bringing SharePoint content to the user where they work throughout the day. Before you know it your users will be accessing the SharePoint platform without them realising it, helping with the adoption problem and  maximizing your investment in SharePoint.