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Category Archives: SharePoint

10 ways to make your business secure online in 2022 featured image

Intelligent Decisioning Renew as Microsoft Gold Partner

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Wikipedia describes gold as “a chemical element with the symbol Au (from Latin: aurum) and atomic number 79, making it one of the higher atomic number elements that occur naturally.
It is a bright, slightly orange-yellow, dense, soft, malleable, and ductile metal in a pure form.”

At id, we also think of gold as a level of Microsoft Partner where Microsoft says this about gold partnership

“Attain a gold competency to demonstrate your best-in-class capability within a Microsoft solution area”

We agree wholeheartedly with this. which is why we’re delighted we’ve just renewed as a Microsoft gold partner.

We’ve been a Microsoft partner since first qualifying as a gold partner back in 2008 and our latest renewal demonstrates our ongoing commitment to delivering innovative, cost effective, Microsoft technology based solutions for our customers. It also demonstrates the level of knowledge and skills that our team have as they keep up to date with the latest and greatest Microsoft technology and it’s beneficial uses for organisations of all shapes and sizes.

As a Microsoft gold partner, we will continue to deliver great solutions to business problems with our Mercury Intranet and docCentrum Control products which boost the collaboration, communication and document control within organisations using the Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365) stack.

If you’d like to know more about our gold partner renewal or how our Mercury and / or docCentrum products can help your organisation achieve more for less, then contact us on info@id-live.com.


10 ways to make your business secure online in 2022 featured image

10 ways to make your business secure online in 2022

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Is keeping your business secure online one of your resolutions for the New Year?

1 week into 2022, and we’re all looking for things to get us through the colder months.

It’s a time of resolutions, new challenges, and new goals. However, it’s just as important to reflect on what you should continue to work on from 2021.

Did you know that the first half of 2021 saw 94% of malware distributed in phishing emails? With high numbers of people working remotely and online this year, cybersecurity needs to be a central focus for the new year.

To show our ongoing commitment to information security, id have once again, been recertified with the ISO 27001 accreditation, proving that cyber security is a key focus for us at id. To qualify, id proved that they could not just prevent but defend against potential data system vulnerabilities. The principles of ISO 27001 are:

ISO 27001 registration badge
  • Defining and maintaining a security policy
  • Defining the scope of the Information Security Management System
  • Conducting a risk assessment
  • Managing identified risks
  • Selecting control objectives and controls to implement
  • Preparing a statement of applicability

The certification involves 114 specific security measures, which you can read more about on the QMS website here.

To celebrate are reaccreditation, we’re helping you to keep your business secure online in 2022 with these top 10 tips.

Top 10 tips for keeping your business secure online

Use passphrases rather than passwords

Predictable passwords are the easiest way for hackers to gain access to important files and information. Even worse, reusing passwords can give hackers extensive access to your details in a matter of minutes. Instead of a password, implement the use multiple words to form a pass phrase. Pass phrases are a much more secure mechanism than passwords. If remembering passwords, let alone pass phrases passphrases is a struggle for you, our next tip will help.

Utilise a Secure passphrase/ password sharing software

Keeping track of passphrases / passwords is a nightmare. Numerous accounts as well as both personal and work logins can involve many notes, spreadsheets, and email password reminders. Tools like LastPass allow you to securely store all of your passphrases / passwords in one place. Even better, you can share login details to give access to accounts without exchanging the password itself. It’s also extremely useful for remembering login details and auto-fills out your email and passphrases / password for you – secure and useful!

Install Anti-Virus and Firewall Software

Whilst standard devices come automatically installed with Anti-Virus software, this is rarely enough to keep your business secure online. Firewalls are a more robust method of protection as they act as a gatekeeper between your computer and the internet. Firewalls form a first line of defence, and we recommend outsourcing your cyber security through an IT provider to ensure the highest levels of protection.

As part of our ISO 27001 certification, id ensures we meet the highest level of cyber security internally and for our clients. Our Mercury Intranet solution boasts the highest levels of online security as part of its collaborative platform. If a secure digital transformation is part of your 2022 plan, book a free demo and speak to one of our SharePoint Experts here.

Update physical servers regularly

Cyber Security updates are a key focus for serving companies. Hackers target sites that don’t have the latest software Security updates are a key focus for securing companies hardware. Sites without the latest software aren’t protected against the latest vulnerabilities. These sites are most likely to be targeted by Hackers. You should download the latest version of your server’s security software as soon as possible and protect yourself and your business from a security attack.

Store sensitive data in a private managed cloud account

Making use of a managed private cloud account allows you to store sensitive data in a digital account as a backup. Meanwhile, employees are granted access to this information and data when needed. Passwords are required for access, and data is encrypted, providing multiple layers of security for your business.

Limit access to files for former employees and partners

It is essential that you keep in top of who has access to information within your business. Utilising a cloud system makes it easy to disconnect former employees. If you share information over email or other methods, it is important that you invalidate computer access of people no longer working in your business to prevent misuse of information. A simple system for this is requiring passwords for access, which you can then change as your team and any partners or vendors move on.

Ensure financial transactions are encrypted

This is only relevant to organisations that carry out transactions online. It is a requirement of Credit Card companies that suppliers protect customer data. Keeping your business secure online also includes keeping people who interact with your business online secure. You, or an outsourced IT company, can install encryption software, or you can make use of established payment processing companies, such as PayPal.

Make use of a VPN (Virtual Private Network)

All wireless networks are vulnerable to attacks, and with the increase in remote working, it is now more of a risk than ever as employees are spread across the world and utilising numerous networks. VPNs encrypt your data, and effectively hide your online footprint. This means you can safely exchange information on whichever Wi-Fi network you or your employees are using.

Backup your important data

No matter what size your business is, it is essential that all your important data is backed up so that your business can continue to run following the impact of a flood, fire, physical damage or theft. Moreover, it allows you to respond and recover quickly should you be subject to a cybersecurity attack.

Your website data, CRM/ email list and other essential data and documents can easily be downloaded as a CSV from the platform, or as files on a hard drive, and that should only be available to authorised personnel. You can also make the use of cloud storage, meaning your data is kept physical separate from your computer.

Use two factor authentication where possible

The final, and arguably the easiest tip to increase your business security, is to utilise two factor authentication. Your website, email and document access can easily be setup to require two factor authentication, making it increasingly difficult for hackers to access your data and business information.

Cyber Security should be at the forefront of any businesses plans for 2022, and if keeping your business secure online isn’t something you feel confident in achieving this year, then you can speak to one of our SharePoint experts for free about how you can enhance security in your business.

If you would like to check the validity of our ISO 27001 certification[TP1]  (Certificate Number 288302018) or find out more about the ISO 27001 principles, we follow then please get in touch today as we would be delighted to speak with you.


 [TP1]We need to check this url as it sometimes doesn’t work – we can do this when when we get confirmed

Microsoft Ignite November 2021, latest updates and the highlights from the MVPser 2021 A look from Microsoft MVPs

Microsoft Ignite November 2021: A look from Microsoft MVPs

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Microsoft Ignite November 2021 Logo

Are you all caught up from the latest at Microsoft Ignite November 2021?

Vast improvements are being made across the Microsoft Office 365 platform, and we’ve compiled a list of the most useful updates according to MVPs Neil McLoughlin, Kevin McDonnell, Anoop Tatti, Paul Hunt and Albert Hoitingh, and host of the MS365 User Group Meetup Chirag Patel.

In the 17th edition of the M365 User Group, which you can sign up for on meetup.com, they gave a run down of the latest updates and the most valuable insights into Microsoft’s roadmap.

If you haven’t yet caught up on October’s updates, read our latest blog here.

An MVPS overview of Microsoft Ignite November 2021

Neil Mcloughlin on Azure Virtual Desktop

First up, Neil McLoughlin discussed what caught his eye, highlighting the ‘integration with azure stack HCI’ which enables the azure virtual desktop to be accessed within the azure stack. He highlighted the financial benefit of this update as it is now been opened up to third party vendors, making it accessible on-premises and at a more reasonable cost than before, although still more appropriate for those enterprises with large budgets who are able to make the investment.

Kevin McDonnell on Microsoft Loop and Context IQ

Kevin was keen to emphasise Microsoft Loop and Context IQ in his section of the meetup. Context IQ is a set of integrated AI experiences that ‘predicts, seeks, and suggests information people might need in the flow of their work’. He noted that ‘Context IQ is something that will be a lot more interesting and people will engage with it even if they don’t really notice it that much’

Going on, he mentioned:

Microsoft Ignite November 2021 Microsoft Loop

‘that everyday ai to recommend documents that may be relevant to your email as your typing, not just the bits at the bottom, but to allow you to select those based off what you’re writing, I think that’s where a lot of this power comes through’

Kevin also highlighted Microsoft Loop as another key feature. It is made up of three parts: Loop components, Loop pages and Loop workspaces.

Particularly of interest, Loop Workspaces allows you to group everything to your project within a shared space, all using OneDrive. It is ‘that ability to have that kind of live collaborating senior in one place’ that caught the attention of MVPs in the latest Microsoft Ignite session.

New MVP Anoop Tatti on Viva connections

Anoop Tatti, who became an MVP in the last month, highlighted his interest in the Viva connections dashboard.

With this update, the focus was on strengthening relationships within companies to optimise hybrid working teams. He was also ‘excited about’ the new teams toolkit, with Paul Hunt introducing his segment of the talk with ‘Teams, it was all about Teams for me, I mean my life at the moment is Teams.’ Microsoft well and truly listened to the demand for streamlined Microsoft teams experiences with their latest updates as they further develop their remote and hybrid working capabilities.

Mentioned at this month’s Microsoft Ignite were:

  • Real-Time Call analytics – these allow you to see participants, join and leave times, user and device information such as IP addresses, networks and connectivity.
  • Seeing the order of raised hands and the ability to assign roles from the Teams admin centre.
  • MS Teams connect, which allows you to share with individuals and teams across as many organisations as you need.
  • Teams Mesh – 2D avatars and 3D workspaces that allow you to keep your camera off whilst staying engaged and showing your reactions to the team.
  • Early 2022 – we’ll be seeing virtual meeting and event experiences with a green room to socialise and conduct Q&As in. Organisers will also be able to monitor and manage what attendees see.

Paul Hunt on Microsoft Teams Mesh and accessibility

‘Teams Mesh, if anyone saw it they probably saw this really gimmicky thing about people with 2D avatars and then going into a 3D workspace’,

Microsoft ignite November 2021 mesh avatars

He continued by saying:

we spend 10 hours a day on video calls and you get to that four o’clock call and you think I’ve really had enough you know, I just I don’t want to turn my camera on.’ So ‘The ability to pop up an avatar and have it you know, convey your reactions and convey your emotions to the rest of meeting but not having to have your visible face there, you know, having an off camera day or having a bad hair day.[…] so, we looked at something that looks quite gimmicky, but actually when we talk about things like accessibility and inclusion, it becomes really, really powerful tool.

Beyond accessibility, Microsoft Mesh provides a great opportunity for organisations to begin replicating the physical workspace online far more so than before.

Paul continued:

When ‘we talk about maybe having spatial gatherings where I can maybe onboard the new employees, we can go to that area where you’ve got the table tennis table, and then you can break out into individual rooms. And just by walking into that space, I leave that conversation I joined this conversation, we start to recreate some of what we’ve taken for granted in the physical world.’

‘the focus from Microsoft on accessibility and inclusion and how the technologies helps that that for me has been a really biggie and just making teams so much more accessible’

Albert Hottingh on security and compliance

The final MVP panellist was Albert Hottingh, who highlighted the renaming that has taken place in this Microsoft Ignite session. He says ‘It’s around security. Right now. It’s all about Microsoft defender.[…] But just a couple of examples. Azure Sentinel right now is now the Microsoft Sentinel. […] I even saw someone call it Microsoft defender for defender. So just put Microsoft defender in front of it, and it kind of works because now you’ve got Microsoft Defender cloud, which is basically the developer the security, the Azure Security Center and Azure defender combined. We’ve got a rename for Microsoft Cloud App Security.’

He went on to discuss Microsoft’s Information Protection, discussing the hassle caused by the lack of co-authoring when you use Cloud apps. There was no auto-save due to encryption and that issue has now been resolved.

Interestingly, Albert emphasised Microsoft’s constant surveillance of Mac OS. He highlighted the increased security that is part of Windows 10, which allows you to ‘set limits on … copy pasting information or even saving to a usb drive’

The MVP highlights

The final emphasis from the MVP panelists was the ability to ‘Share channels in teams [which is] the new way of really working with external entities within your organization without the need to switch a tenant from teams without a need to really add guest users to your talent.’

It’s going to be more frictionless, which can only benefit the end users’ – who?

A roundup of Microsoft Ignite November 2021 from Chirag Patel

As a brief overview:

SharePoint and OneDrive

  • It will now be possible to view immediately who already has access to a file through shared links.
  • OneDrive quick access will allow you to pin and reorder your shared libraries
  • Microsoft Teams meetings will now allow for video transcriptions

Security and Compliance

  • There have been updates to the MS authenticator app – you can now change passwords and view recent sign ins.
  • Versions of files shared in a Teams message will be preserved, this also works with outlook attachments.

Office

  • There will be a new addition to the office family with ClipChamp – an in browser video editing and creation experience
  • There is a new recording studio available in PowerPoint. You can now customise your background, and annotate on your slides

See here for the full list of Microsoft Ignite November 2021 updates, and to discuss how these updates may change the way you work, book an Ask the Expert Call with us here.

Microsoft Office 365 Updates October 2021

The latest Microsoft Office 365 Updates, October 2021

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  • What are the latest Microsoft Office 365 updates?
  • What’s new in Microsoft in October 2021?
  • How do I install the latest Microsoft updates?

With monthly Patch Tuesday updates and an extensive Roadmap, it can be difficult to keep track of what Microsoft Office 365 updates are on the way, work out how they will affect you, and what you need to do to make the most of your Microsoft investment.

We’ve pulled together the most important updates from the last few months to ensure you make the most of Microsoft’s ongoing developments.

Remember to follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to be kept right up to date on all the updates and how we can help you make Microsoft work for your business.

Current Microsoft Office 365 updates:


Update: Teams templates to include Power Automate Templates

Current Status: Available

What does this mean for you? When you create a team, recommended flow templates will automatically appear for you to choose from. With Power Automate templates available, you’ll be able to speed up the process of setting up a team by automatically including relevant workflows.

Installation requirements: A selection of curated Power Automate flow templates will be available to you when you go to select Microsoft provided templates. Automation really is the future for Microsoft!


Update: Pilot and deploy Teams for frontline workers with the onboarding wizard

Current Status: Available

What does this mean for you? The FLW (Frontline worker) onboarding wizard speeds up the process of onboarding frontline workers by allowing admins to create teams and assign roles to up to 100 users at a time. Each role then receive a policy package which generates a tailored teams experience.

Installation requirements: Go to the left navigation of the MS 365 admin center, select Setup, Apps and email, and then click View under ‘Get your frontline workers up and running’, then click Get started when you’re ready to go. All it takes is assigning a team name, team owners and adding users to your team.

A sound onboarding process is key for a successful remote working environment. Book a FREE demo of our Mercury Digital Workplace product here.


Update: Present from PowerPoint to Teams and improve presentation capabilities

October 2021 Microsoft Office 365 Updates - Present PowerPoints directly in Teams image

Current Status: Available

Installation requirements: Look for the ‘Present in Teams’ button in PowerPoint when in a Teams call.

What does this mean for you? This stops you from needing to upload PowerPoints in Teams ahead of time or spend unnecessary time screen sharing and alternating between Tabs. It makes the process of preparing and delivering presentations in Teams simpler, faster, and hassle free. Read more about integration and the power of an intranet here.


Update: Left navigation updates in Teams Admin Center

Current Status: Available

What does this mean for you? The Left navigation bar now allows you to access more of the key settings and sections of Teams, making it easier for admins to manage, edit and maintain their Teams channels.

Installation requirements: As with many Microsoft Office 365 updates, this is applied automatically to the latest versions of the Teams app


Update: Share Feedback in mobile app

Current Status: Available

What does this mean for you? This updates means feedback for Microsoft 365 can be sent directly without the need for extra emails (great news seeing as the average employee receives over 120 emails a day!).

Installation requirements: Go to Settings, and select Help & Feedback.


Update: Teams meetings through Apple CarPlay

Current Status: Available

What does this mean for you? With Hybrid working a sign of the times, Microsoft are making it even easier for employees to work on the go by enabling you to join Teams Calls whilst commuting, on the school run, or running errands in the car. In doing so, they make it easier for work and home life to seamlessly merge, but perhaps run the risk of making 24/7 availability an expectation of remote working employees. The feature is available in audio format only and also allows you to use Voice Command to message other Teams contacts.

Installation requirements: Find the Teams icon on your Apple CarPlay Screen


Update: Press “Ctrl Spacebar” to Speak

Microsoft Office 365 updates 2021 Play Teams meetings on Car Play

Current Status: Available

What does this mean for you? It is now easier than ever to begin speaking in a meeting, without the need to use your mouse and unmute your Mic. This comes as Microsoft aim to improve collaboration across their platforms with Hybrid working very much a sign of the future to come.

Installation requirements: Simply press Ctrl + Spacebar and you’re ready to go (best to try it in an internal meeting though. We don’t want anymore embarrassing ‘your mic isn’t on’ mistakes at this stage in the remote working game!)


Update: Time Sensitive Emails in Play My Emails (PME)

Current Status: Available

What does this mean for you? Outlook Mobile will now prioritise emails it believes to be time sensitive by reading these to you first in Play My Emails (PME). This will ensure you don’t miss important opportunities, deadlines, changes etc. and that you’re always on top of the most important elements of your workload. What’s more, you can spend less time scrolling through your inbox and more time getting those important tasks ticked off.

Installation requirements: Ensure you have PME set up by going to Outlook Mobile Settings, Siri Shortcuts, Play my Emails, and then tap the red button to record your siri shortcut. For information on how PME works on Android devices, see here: Microsoft Outlook now supports Play My Emails on Android (androidpolice.com) (integrated link)


Update: Simplified Breakout Room assignment 

Current Status: Available

What does this mean for you? Breakout Rooms provided a great opportunity for including small group collaboration within large group calls when they were introduced in 2020. However, with presenters needing to individually assign participants to rooms, it resulted in a clunky experience on both ends. Now, with the ability to select multiple participants to add or remove from rooms, the process is much quicker and will allow more time to be spent on collaboration.

Installation requirements: Look out for the separate pop up in Teams after selecting ‘Assign Participants’


Update: Pin messages and participants

Microsoft updates pin messages and people in teams

Current Status: Available

What does this mean for you? Whilst the ability to pin specific chat conversations is not new for Teams, all participants can now pin and unpin specific messages to be highlighted at the top of the chat. This supports GIFs and images, but is recommended to be used for text based messages.

Installation requirements: Use the center of the room console to pin up to 9 participants at a time in a Teams meeting, and simple click the three dots next to the message you’d like to pin to see the options.


Update: Improved delivery for Live Events

Current Status: Available

What does this mean for you? Virtual events started with pub quizzes and friendly cocktail nights, but with the worldwide reach and reduced costs, they are a certain reality for the future. Microsoft Office 365 updates their systems in accordance with demand and they have responded to this new demand by allowing you to scale Teams Live Events to 100,000 attendees. You can work with eCDN support, Peer5, to optimise your live events AND you can restart events if you end them earlier than intended – no more panicking as you lose the audience you’ve spent weeks building up. This final feature is only available to the Producer of the Event. It’s safe to say, Microsoft see Virtual live events as a lasting result of the Pandemic that they can make the most of.

Installation requirements: To allow for the increase in attendees, you must engage the Microsoft LEAP team, and to benefit from Microsoft’s Peer5 acquisition you should get in contact with them or Microsoft directly. For Producers restarting a Live Event, simply click and select ‘Restart Event’.


What’s Coming next?

That’s the roundup of the recent Microsoft updates for October 2021, but with constant development and investment, a constant stream of updates will be coming your way throughout Autumn. Keeping up to date is the single best way to make the most of your Microsoft investment and ensure that your business processes are optimised. If you need support figuring out how to make Microsoft work for you, get in contact for a free Ask the Expert Session with one of our Office 365 experts.

Keep an eye on our social media accounts for information regarding the latest Microsoft Office 365 updates, but if you’re anything like us, you’ll want to be ahead of the game, so here’s a sneak preview of what to expect in the next few weeks:

Microsoft Office 365 updates coming soon:

OneDrive and SharePoint: Improved Move or Copy user experience

We’re refreshing the Move/Copy user experience in OneDrive and SharePoint to make it easier for you to choose where to move or copy your files and folders.

October 2021

Microsoft Search: Work Search Shortcut in Edge

To help users stay focused and find work results faster when searching from the Microsoft Edge address bar, Microsoft Search is adding the capability to create customized address bar shortcuts for your organization. With this feature, Edge users can type a shortcut keyword in address bar, then press the Tab key followed by their work query, they will see internal work results on Microsoft Search.

October

Microsoft Viva: Quiet time settings in Teams and Outlook

To help create better boundaries and protect your personal time, later this year Viva Insights will offer the ability to configure quiet time to silence mobile notifications from Outlook and Teams outside your working hours as well as provide personalized insights on how well you are disconnecting. You will also be able to set quiet time directly from Teams and Outlook mobile.


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top 5 advantages of an intranet

Top 5 Advantages of an Intranet

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The workplace has evolved dramatically over the years, with more and more businesses shifting to a work from home type culture. 

In a world where employees now work remotely, it’s important to have a tool to keep your company connected. 

Whether you’re looking for a way to drive productivity or manage important projects, knowing the (many) advantages of an intranet will help you decide whether an intranet such as Mercury or Modern Intranet is the right choice for you business.

In this blog post, we have put together 5 reasons why implementing an intranet would be beneficial to your business.

In this article we cover;

1) Information sharing

2) Document management

3) Employee collaboration

4) Business transparency

5) Mobile optimisation

If you want to find out more about the advantages of an intranet continue reading below.

Top 5 advantages of an intranet

1) Easily share information

Many businesses use email as their primary tool for information sharing. But did you know that an average person sends and receives 126 business emails per day? That’s a lot of information to open and read.

Implementing an intranet can reduce email and provide a platform to share important company information, enabling direct, clear communication between employees and management. 

Through the benefit of your intranet, you can crowdsource information and make better strategic decisions regarding your organisation.

2) Manage documents

No matter where you work, most businesses have a lot of information. This is likely to be accessible across multiple locations including, Dropbox, email, Google Drive etc. making it extremely tedious trying to find information, especially when you’re in a rush! 

An intranet can provide a central location for all of your documents to be stored, making it easier for your employees to find what they need. 

3) Encourage employee collaboration

Intranets like Mercury and Modern Intranet incorporate an instant messaging feature where employees can directly generate easy and immediate conversation. The benefits of this feature can be tenfold; create group chats, share photos and videos, enjoy social features such as emojis and communicate with colleagues in a centralised location. Through quick and collaborative capabilities, the workday can be optimised by eliminating unnecessary meetings and video calls. 

4) Increase transparency

In various studies, employees indicate that company transparency was the number-one factor in determining workplace happiness. 

In order to create transparency, you need to create a space where employees feel comfortable sharing thoughts and opinions. 

Intranets provide valuable tools that improve productivity and communication collaboratively. Direct chat options, blogs, task management, and notifications are some of the features that can be used to increase transparency in the workplace. 

5) Mobile friendly

When you need to quickly access information outside of the office, you will need to be able to access important information and documents on your phone. 

Intranets like Modern Intranet and Mercury are mobile friendly, which means they can be accessed on mobile, desktop and tablet. 

Receive work notifications on your phone and access important information on the go. All that is required is a mobile device and an internet connection.  

Ready to install your new intranet? 

There you have it! 5 reasons why an intranet could benefit your business.

We hope you enjoyed this blog post! If you think an intranet could benefit your organisation get in touch with us to speak to one of our specialists about our range of intranet solutions.

Alternatively, give us a call +44 845 643 9726 or email info@id-live.com.

coloured paper, filing

A User’s Guide to Content Types

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Since SharePoint was first introduced in 2001, content types have been a key feature in the way it is used to managed documents and files. A content type combines important information such as metadata (a summary of the content), how it should behave, it’s workflow and other settings to be applied to a category of items or documents.

As an example, we could define a content type “Invoice”; this could then be applied to all invoice documents within a SharePoint library. Within this content type, we could have the following attributes:

  • The template for the document
  • Columns representing items of metadata – date, client company, billing address, value…
  • A behaviour requirement to automatically display the Document Information Panel when a new file of this content type is created to input the required metadata
  • An Information Management policy detailing the retention policy

SharePoint ships with a number of useful default content types. Many of these contain similar properties to file types that you would store on your own computer, such as the “digital assets” content types – audio, video and image. These content types contain information about the title, publisher, length (for audio and video) and date of creation. There are also document and list content types for basic pages, forms, blog posts and announcements.

Whilst the default content types are sufficient for many SharePoint users, it may be necessary for your organisation to create custom content types. This is useful for company reports, sales proposals, case studies and other specialised content. This is most easily achieved by editing an existing content type from one of the large collection of pre-defined site content types in the Web Designer Gallery. It is also possible to create a custom content type from scratch in the Web Designer Gallery by setting a parent content type, for example, “Digital Asset”.

Content types are defined for a site and will apply within the site and its subsites. However, if you want a particular content type to be used across your organisation you may want to publish it on multiple sites or site collections. Using a Managed Metadata service in SharePoint allows you to publish content type to specified sites, known as “subscriber sites”. For more on content type publishing, read Microsoft’s guide here.

3 Ways Businesses can ready themselves for flexible working

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Flexible work arrangements have long been a feature in the workplace, but as more collaboration technologies move to the cloud, it’s becoming increasingly common for workers to work from home. A recent report by the TUC shows that the number of employees choosing to ditch the office continues to soar, with a 20% increase in home-workers in the last decade. According to Phil Flaxton, Chief Executive of WorkWiseUK and the organiser of National Work from Home Day:

“Increasing mobility and technology is shifting the acceptance or need for traditional office based, 9-5 work patterns, to be replaced by more home-based, flexible ways and periods of work”

Not only has this shift increased the options available to workers, but according to data published by Gallop, the added flexibility has dramatically impacted employee engagement, with the most productive workers reported to be spending just one day a week in the office.


Source: Gallup State of the American Workplace Report 2013

So it’s clear that the ability to spend time working outside of the office environment is not only desirable for employees, it brings numerous benefits for organisations. But companies need to consider their readiness to adopt such working practices. With this in mind, how can employers adapt their work practices to suit the growing trend of flexibility?

  1. Integration
    Within every organisation, there are a variety of ways departments communicate with each other. Whether it’s with instant messaging, teleconferencing, email or carrier pigeon, when you throw long distance in the mix, it can be overwhelming. Despite the number of tools claiming to be able to cover all the niche requirements of collaboration between teams, they usually end up just adding one more source of information to the already overcrowded collection. Instead of trying to cover all bases with one solution, it’s becoming more desirable and realistic to use tools that integrate into a single platform. Microsoft’s offerings in productivity software are ever-growing, and their ability to work with each other is unrivalled. For applications with less cross-compatibility, apps such as Flow allow processes to be linked together; for example, you can use Flow to get a push notification when you receive an email from your boss.
  2. Centralise Information
    As the amount of data storage required by businesses increases exponentially, it’s more important than ever to have files stored in one central location, accessible from anywhere. It’s no longer enough to hold information on a physical hard drive – it’s expensive, insecure and it relies on the user being in the same location as the storage device.  For maximum productivity, your employees need to be able to find the information they need in one place, without laborious searching of archives and trawling through dead links. A digital workplace allows information storing, sharing and collaborative working in a centralised location, and can also act as a training platform with access to internal resources and how-to guides.
  3. Security
    With the ability to access sensitive data from any location, companies have reduced control over the security measures in place when staff work from home. Risks vary from the loss of files that have not been backed up, the theft of passwords or the computer itself being compromised. For these reasons, it’s essential that there is a protocol in place that establishes the rules for working from home or outside the office. Using cloud-based platforms – such as Microsoft Office 365 – allows users to access Office applications, email, calendars and file sharing via a secure connection, with no data being stored on the employee’s own computer.

With the trend of working from home looking set to last, it’s vital that businesses invest in the technology that allows their workers to enjoy the benefits of flexible working. For more information on strategies to improve your businesses ability to allow working from home, check out our webinar on the top ten benefits an Intranet can bring to your business.

Start and Stop SharePoint Search Crawls with PowerShell

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Quite often you may wish to start a SharePoint Search content crawl on demand, without waiting for the next scheduled crawl to start. You may still be running SharePoint Server 2010, or not able (or willing) to run a continuous crawl of your content.

To make your job that little bit quicker when it comes to starting a Search Crawl, you can easily start either Incremental or Full Crawls via PowerShell.

Simply retrieve the Content Source that you want to crawl, then invoke the appropriate method.

$cs = Get-SPEnterpriseSearchCrawlContentSource -SearchApplication "Search Service Application" -Identity "Local SharePoint Sites"

# This method starts a full crawl
$cs.StartFullCrawl()

# This method starts an incremental crawl
$cs.StartIncrementalCrawl()

# Do this to stop any currently running crawls
$cs.StopCrawl()

# This property returns the status of your crawl
$cs.CrawlStatus

 

Obviously, change the SearchApplication parameter to match the name of your search application, and the “Identity” parameter to match the name of the specific Content Source you want to crawl.

You can wrap up all of the PowerShell lines that you need to kick off the crawl you want into a text file with the extension of “.ps1” and invoke from a SharePoint Administration Shell prompt whenever you need to!

 

Enable Stack Traces to find C# Disposal Issues

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If you look through your SharePoint ULS logs during the development of server-side code and you spot the warning:

An SPRequest object was not disposed before the end of this thread.  To avoid wasting system resources, dispose of this object or its parent (such as an SPSite or SPWeb) as soon as you are done using it.

Then there’s a chance you haven’t followed Microsoft’s best practices around disposal of unmanaged resources in the C# SharePoint Server Side Object Model.

Going solely by the information in ULS doesn’t immediately show you where your SPSite or SPWeb was instantiated.  As the warning states, you need to enable SPReqest Allocation Callstacks to see full stack traces of your code to see where you need to fix SPRequest issues.

The following PowerShell snippet will do just that:

$cs = [Microsoft.SharePoint.Administration.SPWebService]::ContentService

$cs.CollectSPRequestAllocationCallStacks = $true
$cs.Update()

 

Of course, as you develop you can use static analysis tools such as SPCAF from Rencore to make sure you’re following the best practice for object disposal as you code.

Please note that this is only beneficial if you develop C# code using the SharePoint Server Side Object Model that runs on the SharePoint servers. If you are developing using any of the remote APIs (such as JavaScript Object Model, Client Object Model or REST) then this setting has no real benefit.

You may also notice that sometimes you will see this error when performing valid API tasks where you do not necessarily create the SPWeb or SPSite objects yourself. I’ve noticed this in particular with the Taxonomy API. I found these to be acceptable exceptions when analysing the ULS log for these warnings, as the code that raises the warning is deep within assemblies that are maintained by Microsoft, and the warnings may disappear over time with service pack releases.

How to create an exportable Script Editor web part in Office 365

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The Script Editor web part is one of my favourite tools in my SharePoint development kit as it enables developers and designers to be able to inject HTML, JavaScript and CSS into any SharePoint page without having to open SharePoint Designer.

Great, but… there is a drawback, and a quite annoying one at that… you cannot export a default Script Editor web part.

No way, no export!
No way, no export!

Why is that annoying? Exporting web parts is the easiest way to replicate the functionality configured inside them in SharePoint. You can take your exported web part, store it in your Site Collection Web Part Gallery and reuse it using the Add Web Part button on the SharePoint Ribbon.

However, there is a very simple update you can make to change this and create your own version of the Script Editor that you can export by default.

Add a Script Editor to a web part zone and click the Edit Web Part command from the web part menu. This will open the Web Part Properties pane.

On the properties pane, expand the Advanced section. You will see that there is a field to set the Export Mode of the web part, change this to Export All. This will enable the Export command on the web part menu, which will allow you to save the web part locally to your desktop.

advancedproperties
Export All the things!

After saving the web part locally, rename the file to “ExportableMSScriptEditor.webpart”. You can save this back to you SharePoint site for it be reused by uploading it to your Web Part Gallery.

Go to your site and click the Settings cog to access the Site Settings page, from here you can access the Web Part Gallery under the Web Designer Galleries heading.

Upload your new web part file into the Web Part Gallery using the Ribbon, on the Files tab click the Upload Document button and select the file when promoted by the “Add a web part” dialog box.

Once uploaded, you will be asked to confirm or alter the file name, title, description and group of the web part.

Once that is complete and your new web part is showing in the Web Part Gallery, you can now add this to your page via the Ribbon.

Edit the page, got to the Ribbon and select the Insert tab, click the Web Part button to open the Web Part Picker to find and select your web part to then add to the page.

View the web part in the Web Part Picker
View the web part in the Web Part Picker

It lives!!
It lives!!

You will now be able to Export the web part from the web part menu.

Now that you can use your own version of the Script Editor web part you can create web part functionality and easily export them for further reuse or simply for a quick backup, just in case someone changes and breaks it.

Here is an example of a web part that used the Exportable Script Editor web part as a starting point to display a simple list of links.

usefullinks

 

 

 

I hope you’ve found this little trick helpful and thank you for reading 😀

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