Tag Archives: neugs

NEUGS Part 11: Workflows, AKA Lifesavers for the Lazy

Not going to lie, guys, I’ve been putting this post off for a while. (Ironic, as procrastination is exactly what Workflows aim to prevent.) To me, the term connotates TPS reports and dingy cubicles and unsheathed florescent overhead lights and perpetually sweaty officeworkers in greasy button-downs and Bluetooth headsets. Also, blandly enthusiastic sales execs talking about connection and knowledge share and  koi ponds, though I’m not sure where that last image comes from. Butttt, here’s the thing: workflows provide a pretty useful method for keeping individuals and teams on track, through a series of automated steps triggered by the initialization or completion of a designated action.

Eg let’s say, completely hypothetically, that I am a fairly low-ranking business analyst at Kibble ‘n’ Krunchy Bits Corp. Let’s also say, again completely hypothetically, that I have this habit of uploading my weekly sales report to the sales team site, then wandering off to gchat for hours. So the reports just sit there without anyone looking at them for like, weeks at a time, and then at the end of the quarter everyone is surprised by how much sales of KrunchExtreme Lite with Passionfruit Extract ™ have grown. (Even though, hello, they should have known this because the factory workers and delivery men have all been putting in on average 13 hours of overtime a week for the past four months, figures which someone in a different department really should be keeping a better eye on.) A Workflow – in this case a modified Approval Workflow – provides me and my managers with an easy solution to this lack-of-awareness problem. Continue reading NEUGS Part 11: Workflows, AKA Lifesavers for the Lazy

NEUGS Part 9: Dress Your SharePoint Site in Corduroy and Denim

[Image via Vogue.com]

Up until third grade, my mother called all my sartorial shots, meaning that my wardrobe consisted almost exclusively of striped Hanna Anderson dresses, navy headbands that made my temples ache, patterned tights and mary janes. (And tutus. I loved tutus with an ardent fervor that was never reciprocated.) It was a life of rigid sameness whose boundaries I suddenly became aware of the day my friend Abby’s mom took us to the nearby shopping mall. In the span of maybe ten minutes, I recognized, located and broke those boundaries with the help of a bumblebee yellow pleather vest from Limited Too.

Today, I’m going to begin to show you how find your bumblebee yellow pleather vest in SharePoint. Like my mom-curated wardrobe, an out-of-the-box  SharePoint site is barebones, and its bones are even more boring than Hanna Anderson dresses. There are three main routes through which we can give it a varying amount of pizzazz: the browser route, the supported-tools route and the custom code route. We’re going to start out with an examination of route 1. Continue reading NEUGS Part 9: Dress Your SharePoint Site in Corduroy and Denim

NEUGS Part 8: SharePoint 2010 My Sites, or So Much Depends upon a Possessive Pronoun


Microsoft has this sporadic obsession with co-opting generic words. Sometimes they pick words so general they obscure their entities’ functions, and sometimes they pick words that are already incredibly common in our vernacular. The poor My Site exemplifies the latter technique, made even more inane by its possessive pronoun.  You could argue that the pronoun works as an indicator of the My Site’s purpose, but I will counter that argument with: my My Site is so much cooler than your My Site, but less cool than her My Site.


Anyways, behind the silly name lives a pretty useful product: a space that houses your personal effects, makes searchable your abilities and interests and notifies you of colleagues’ relevant activities. My Sites have a private side made up of your newsfeed and personal documents, and a public side made up of your blog, shared documents and profile. Your newsfeed and profile are stored on the My Site Host site collection and your content is stored on your individual My Site site collection, but you access them all from the same place.

Your My Network

When you navigate to your MS, you’ll be dumped on your Newsfeed, which tracks the public SharePoint activities of any colleagues you’re following, kind of like a Facebook wall. You add/remove colleagues to follow by clicking “My Colleagues” from your Newsfeed. You edit your other Newsfeed settings (interests, email notifications, types of activities followed) within your “Edit Profile” settings.

Your My Content

All of the documents and images you upload and blog posts you write are kept here. Documents can be uploaded to a private library (“Personal Documents” or a public library “Shared Documents.” If you haven’t set up your blog yet, you can create it within My Content. You can also add other web parts to this page—I added a links web part with links to some of my colleagues’ mysites, the marketing team site and the companywide portal.

Your My Profile

If you work for a big organization, this is the My Site’s most useful component. By default, it has space for your job title, status updates, contact information, topics you’d like to be asked about, recent activities, where you fall in your team’s organization chart, and things you have in common with a given viewer (eg you and Barnum Smith are both members of the StarCraft All-Stars Club). Each field’s contents is indexed by SharePoint’s search engine, so if I need to find a colleague who knows Tagalong, I can just search “tagalong” and the relevant employee(s) will pop up.  Different people within your company will see different portions of your profile; you can see what is visible to whom by choosing from the list of options under “View My Profile as seen by.”

NEUGS Part 7: (SharePoint) Listomania

An all-purpose definition of a list is: a collection of items that have a common theme. Hallelujah, it’s a definition that stands in SharePoint. The purpose of a SharePoint list is to store and display actionable information in a way such that it can be analyzed, exported, sliced and diced, shared and acted upon. By information, I mean everything from birthday announcements to bugs to project stati. You presumably have a better idea than I do of what information you need, and as long as it can be referenced in a visible way, you can make it the subject of your sharepoint list.

Creating Your SharePoint List:
Okay, have that information ready? Good, because whatever it is will dictate the the type of list you’ll be creating to house it. In my case, the information is marketing tasks for the new line of vegan ice cream my company is launching. So I’m going to great a task list, and I’m going to create it within the product’s dedicated meeting workspace. Luckily for me, Tasks is one of the pre-configured list templates for the meeting workspace, but if your list type is not pre-configured in your site type, you can just go to “Lists,” and then click “create” and either find the appropriate template or choose “custom list” and design your own. As you can see, there are lots of ready-made options, grouped into function-based categories like “Collaboration,” “Communication,” “Search” and “Web Databases.”

Viewing Your SharePoint List:
After you create a list, SharePoint will display it to you in a list view, though you can shift it to a “Datasheet View,” which looks like an Excel spreadsheet. You can also add or subtract fields from your list by clicking “create column” in the ribbon or going to List Settings and adding/deleting columns.

Sharing the Contents of Your SharePoint List:
If I want to assign tasks to my fellow project members, the task list will send them an email notification once I’ve specificed their names. Workflow functionality like approval and dependency can be added to pertinent lists. Additionally, you can export lists to Excel using SharePoint’s out-of-the-box button if you just need to view the raw data or OfficeWriter if you need one-click reports in Excel and Word.

Lists vs Libraries:
A library is a type of list devoted exlusively to the storage of files and display of file information. And it’s such an important type that it gets equal billing with its progenitor.

NEUGS Part 6: SharePoint Libraries or Between the Stacks

When I was eight, I got blacklisted from my elementary school’s library because I’d lost too many books (I think my check-out : return ratio was 1:9.) In those days, I really could have used a library more like SharePoint’s, where nothing checked out is lost unless I delete it. Not that inadvertent deletion is an impossibility, but I’d like to think it’s an improbabality.

Annnnyways. “Library” is one of MSFT’s better terms, in that it accurately describes the component’s functionality, which is: store content. “But a list stores content too,” you say. Yep. I didn’t say: “distinguishing, boundary-laying term.” Basically, the way I think of it is that a library holds content created outside SharePoint, like Word docs and pictures, and a list holds content created inside SharePoint, like tasks and meeting attendees. Continue reading NEUGS Part 6: SharePoint Libraries or Between the Stacks

NEUGS Part 5: A SharePoint Page Is Like the Box Holding the Chocolates


[Image via Steve Ottenad]

In SharePoint as in life, a page is a place that stores information in a visible format. In life, you might use ultra glossy paper for your photography opus and parchment for your diplomas. The same holds true for SharePoint, minus the parchment paper, which is hopefully coming in Office 2015. Anyways, there are two primary types of pages: site pages and application pages.

The Site Page:

There are three types of site pages: the publishing page, the wiki page and the web part page.

NEUGS Part 2: Whatcha Gonna Do with All That Junk

In Part 1, I introduced you to the main capabilities of SharePoint, and the parts through which these capabilities are manifested. Now, as promised, I’m going to walk you through some of the basic end-user tasks: creating new sites, uploading documents to a library and editing them, and adding items to a list.  Why these tasks? Because, essentially, they are the gist of what you will need to do on SharePoint.

1.      How to create a new site

SharePoint, like honeybees and the British, operates on a hierarchical system. At the top of this hierarchy is the portal, which is the container that houses all your organizations’ sites, subsites, pages, mysites etc… Assuming you have a portal, please navigate to it (http://portal). Good. Now across the top navigation bar you’ll see links to whatever sites your org already has going. These are team sites. Click on one of them (in my case, it’s “Marketing”).  Now, see that button in the top lefthand corner that says “site actions?” Click it and from the drop-down, select “create new site.” Now you’ll get a pop-up menu with all the different site templates you have at your disposal. Decide which one you need, and give it a title and url, then click create. I’m going to go with “document workspace.”







2.       How to upload a document/spreadsheet/ppt etc to a SharePoint library

In case I forgot to mention this, documents are stored in libraries. All files are stored in libraries. Navigate over to your new site or any other site of your choosing that has a document library or the ability to have a document library. Click on the lefthand link that says “libraries.” It will be empty save for “Shared Documents.” “Shared Documents” is your default library, so that is where we’re going to upload to today. Click the link and then click “add document.” You’ll be guided through a routine doc upload process.









3.       How to edit a document in SharePoint

If you want to edit a document in SharePoint, just click it and change the prompt toggle form “read only” to edit. If you want to make sure nobody else makes edits while you have it, check out the document first. You do this by clicking the check box next to your document and then choosing “check out” from the ribbon options above. After you’re done editing the doc, save it and it will ask you if you want to check it back in, which you do.






4.       How to add an item to a list

Again, in your new site or any other site with lists, click “lists” and then select one of the available lists. I’m going with “tasks.” Because I’ve just created this new site, there are no tasks yet. Click “add new item.” A dialog box will come up asking you to at the very least give your task a name. Do so, and then assign it to someone. You can also give it a priority level, a predecessor (eg a task that needs to be completed first), a due date, a status and a % complete. When you assign the task to someone else, they’ll get an email in outlook, or they should if your SharePoint has been properly configured by someone other than yourself.

Done? Congratulations! You now know the nuts of your SharePoint bolts. Stay tuned for Part 3, wherein we’ll take on customization.