(3/16/2011 by Vladi Gubler)
(3/13/2011 by Shani Gubler)
(3/10/2011 by Vladi Gubler)
(3/9/2011 by Genady Vaisman)
(3/8/2011 by Vladi Gubler)
Alerts have been one of SharePoint's main selling points since the very beginning (at least since 2003 version, I don't even remember what 2001 had). Whenever you wanted updates to be pushed directly to your mailbox, you used alerts. No need to manually check for updates, let the server do it for you.
SharePoint itself evolved greatly over the years, but the basic functionality of the alerts has not changed that much. Anyone familiar with the process in SharePoint 2003, will feel right at home even in 2010. Just click on Alert Me, fill out a couple of settings (all optional) and you are good to go.
Alas it is not that simple in the real life. Adding an alert on a frequently updated list (or document library) will often cause a tsunami of useless notifications with just a few of them really of any value. The alert mechanism does not allow you to specify conditions what and when to send, so every item will generate an alert. Moreover, the email that you get is a generic one, you still need to go to the item itself to find out what you are supposed to do with it.
These are just some of the problems we considered when we began to design Smart Alert Pro. our alternative alert mechanism. We wanted to create a tool that would allow you to get just the alerts you want, in the format you want. The following brief list describes some of the main advantages of Smart Alert Pro:
- Send alerts to whoever you need - SharePoint users/groups, distribution lists, users in User/Group column, addresses in Contacts list and manually typed addresses. You also get To, CC and BCC recipients and even a "Do not send" list.
- Manage you alerts - you can manage all your alerts from a single location (and an administrator can manage alerts for everyone).
- Interface integration - unlike some of the competing products, Smart Alert Pro is not a web part, it integrates into the user interface, just like the built-in alerts mechanism.
- Alerts and notifications - you can send alerts when items are added, updated and deleted, but also according to a Date column, before or after the entered date, with repeating.
- Conditions - you can define conditions when to send the alert. You can use a combination of any column values. Check out the great integration with Smart List Pro, where you can hook up tab conditions. This way you can send alerts when the item moves from one stage in the process to another.
- Templates - you can define rich message templates to use in your alerts. You can include any column value as well as links to item/list/site. You can even ask for the document (or list attachments) to be sent as attachments. Templates are saved and may be reused. Administrators can create templates to be used by all users. So next time you send an alert, you can include in it explanations, instructions or even images, exactly as you want them.
As you can see, we offer you a wealth of features that will make the alerts so much more meaningful. Now you can make sure you will only get the alerts you truely want. Get your free 30-day trial version now!
As you already know we offer a bundle of 7 of our forms –oriented products, the Ultimate Forms Bundle. With Ultimate Forms Bundle you can create an easy and simple data-driven system directly from your browser, which can be ideal for various business processes.
The Ultimate Forms Bundle is your solution if you need to implement workflows involving stages, conditions and various users.
Here is an example of a Scholarship Application process ,which has three main funds: Assistance Fund, Excellence Fund and Glenn Miller Fund. Each fund has its own criteria and scholarship amount, when the Assistance Fund gives the biggest scholarship, then Excellence Fund and finally Glenn Miller Fund. Assistance Fund approves scholarships based on socioeconomic background, Excellence Fund based on academic achievements and Glenn Miller based on academic major.
First the students fill out the scholarship application form with all personal and academic details as follows:
Then, the form application transferred to one of the three funds.
Our data-driven system works in a way that the student will receive the most valuable scholarship, for example if he/she doesn't meet Assistance Fund criteria and has high grades he/she will be transferred directly to Excellence Fund for approval, if he/she is rejected by an Excellence Fund and his/her major is Art, Music or Animation his/her application will submitted to Glenn Miller Fund.
How we did it ? Here is the answer: We build a list containing all the necessary columns for all stages of the process. With the help of Smart List Pro we divided all the list columns into five different tabs: Application Form, three Funds and Supervisor Approval, for each tab we defined criteria to approve/reject the application.
Application Form Tab:
Now we need to add conditions that will control the visibility and editability of the tab.
Application Form Conditions:
Assistance Tab Conditions:
Now you ask me how does it work?
Here is an application of Caroll who is eligible for both Assistance and Excellence Funds, with the help of Smart List Pro product her application is first routed to the higher scholarship approval, if it's approved, the process ends, if not, her request is submitted automatically to Excellence Fund. Each manager can edit the request only within his/her responsibility.
To streamline the procedure we used our Electronic Signature Field, the manager signs in the proper fields using user name and password and ends the process, as simple as this.
Furthermore, using Smart ID Pro product we manage the master status of applications submitted to us. Whenever the apllication is updated Smart ID Pro changes the status due to its conditions.
Smart ID Pro Conditions:
So after the form application has been filled out and routed to a certain fund according to its criteria and been approved/rejected by a relevant manager, we want to see a list of all our scholarship applications, only not just to see them but identify them by their approval status, for this particular task we used our Color Choice Field and its looks like this:
View enhanced by Color Choice Field:
In order to create this view you need to include the Color Choice Field column in a view. We added the status column with three different values: Approved (red), Rejected (green) and In Process (white).
Color Choice Field:
As you can see we manage to create a pretty complex process using just our browser.
Our Ultimate Forms Bundle provides you the means to do the hard work in a simple and fluent way.
How many times did you need to create a SharePoint list item or document that was almost identical to an existing item/document and you had to copy everything manually? Wouldn't it be great to create a copy with a click of a button and just make small changes to it?
Now you can! Introducing Infowise Item Copier Field, a custom field that can do all that. It copies items, documents, attachments, event item-level security, and all that with a touch of a button!
Look how easy it is:
- Download and install the product. You can get it here.
- Add the field as you would any regular field. Name it "Copy" (or anything else, it does not matter)
- Now specify which fields you want to copy, you can copy all or some of the fields.
- Specify whether or not you want the item level security settings copied as well.
- This is it, now open the list view.
- You will see the new field displayed there.
- Click on it and you will be transferred to the New form with all the columns already filled out, all you need is to click OK.
- If your item contains attachments, there is an additional step of specifying which attachments, if any, you want copied with the item.
This is it, an easy-to-use solution for the everyday need.
Do you need to hide specific columns based on user identity and column values? Smart List Pro will help you achieve that in no time, no code required.
This convenient control has been around since the old good MOSS days, but was never given enough attention..
So i would like to explain what it is good for and how you can use it in your site.
SPSecurityTrimmedControl will basically hide all its content from users that won't meet a given security definition.
Unlike the previous solutions (style.display='none'...), the content will be hidden on the server side!
For Example: recently i was asked to show the top ribbon only to users with Manage rights.
What i did, was:
Open the site's Master Page in SharePoint Designer
Find a div with id= s4-ribbonrow, its content is actually the top ribbon
Wrap this div with a SPSecurityTrimmedControl, like this:
Useful attributes of the control:
- PermissionContext - against which user permissions will be tested
(possible values: CurrentSite, CurrentList, CurrentFolder, CurrentItem or RootSite)
- PemissionMode - does the user have to meet all role definitions or just one of them
(possible values: All or Any)
- PermissionsString - what permissions does the user need to see the content - can enter some values separated by comma
(possible values are from the enumeration SPBasePermissions:
- AuthenticationRestrictions - allows to differ between authenticated and anonymous users
(possible values: AllUsers, AuthenticatedUsersOnly, AnonymousUsersOnly)
save, check-in, publish and there you go!
UPDATE: you can now download a self-installing site template here. The package will install trial versions of all the required Infowise products automatically.
If you keep track of our product line, you are probably aware that we offer a bundle of 7 of our forms-oriented products, called the Ultimate Forms bundle. The bundle allows you to build complex business processes in SharePoint using just your browser. Such features as different tabs for different stages of the process, simplified data entry and relationships between items, to name but a few, turn any regular SharePoint list into a complete data management system.
We've created a business process for demo purposes, called Vehicle Reservation Form. In this process, an employee can reserve one of the company cars, the manager approves the reservation and the vehicle supervisor handles the order, you can even administer special requests within you reservation, such as preparing a gift basket for an important guest or supplying winter tires. Watch the video now to see how it works:
As you can see, this is a pretty powerful capability, but it took us just over an hour to build, using nothing but the browser!
Let me show you how it is done:
- Install the products included in the Ultimate Forms bundle. You can get a full-featured 30-day trial version here
- Create a blank site.
- Create a custom list named Vehicle Types. It will hold the types of vehicles you can order. You do not need to add any columns, the built-in Title column will suffice.
- Create a custom list named Vehicles. Add a lookup column, named Class, pointing to the Vehicle Types list. You can use the regular lookup field or our Connected Field, which will give you the option of adding new vehicle types directly from the Vehicles list, in the midst of adding a new vehicle. This is really cool, as if your vehicle type is not in the list, you do not need to leave your entry form in the middle to go and add it to another list.
- Create a list for reservation-related tasks. We will use the Associated Tasks template and call the list Tasks, no need to change any of the default settings.
- Create a document library for related documents. Call it Attachments, there is no need to change any of the settings.
- Now we come to the main list of our system, the one that will store and manage the reservations themselves. Create a custom list called Vehicle Reservations.
- These are the columns we need to include in the list. I will explain the settings for our custom fields in more details.
- Vehicle column is a Connected Field master-detail column, meaning that the vehicle list in the column is filtered according to the value selected in the Vehicle Type column. First we tell the column what list to take the values from and which column to show, so far it is almost identical to how the regular lookup field works. Now we tell it to link to parent, specifying the parent lookup column in the current list AND the link column, which is the lookup column in the Vehicles list pointing to the Vehicle Types list, we called it Class, remember?
- Our Pick-up Location column is also responsible for color-coding the reservations, we are using our Color Choice Field, which is similar to the regular choice field, but also allows you to specify a different color for each option. When included in a view, it paints the whole row in the color of the selected value.
- We permit the employee to enter multiple tasks for each reservation for including and tracking specific requests pertaining to that reservation. We are using our Associated Tasks Field, which can create and manage related tasks. We've already created a list for storing the associated tasks. Now we add the field that will allow users to enter and track the tasks in the context of a reservation. Once we've added the field, most of the settings are defined automatically, once you select Tasks as your source list. Note that the Source view selector specifies what view to use as a template for the view in the field, that is how you specify which fields to show.
- The employee's manager is filled out automatically using the information managed in SharePoint profiles. Using our User Property Field, we can defined what information to extract from the current user's profile and what template to use for presenting that information. You can use multiple profile properties and regular text. In our sample form we simply include the Manager property. Find the property in the right box, select it and click on Add to formula.
- We need to make sure manager and supervisor approvals are not being changed by someone else. Obviously we can enable versionning on the list and see who made the change in the version history. But this is not convenient and prone to errors. Our Electronic Signature Field allows you to instantly know when field values have been changed, as the signature will be broken and you will see it clearly in views. Just add the signature field and specify which columns are to be signed. The manager will then sign the values using username/password combination, ensuring that any change will be noticable straight away.
- Document Link Field allows you to attach documents to a specific location in the form, as a field. The documents themselves are stored in a regular document library, so you can use check-out, versionning and approval.
- The Supervisor needs to allocate a car for the reservation. The cars are managed in an SQL database, external to SharePoint. Using our LOB Item Link Fieldwe can pull the car information from the database by specifying the key, which in our case is the license plate number. We need to provide the field with a connection string for MS SQL or Oracle database. Then we can select from a list of tables and views. After that we can specify which fields we want to use and even give user-friendly names to some or all of the fields. Finally, we can either select the key value or type it in, depending on the requirements.
- We are now done defining the columns. Next we want to give each reservation a unique identifier using our Smart ID Pro. The identifier will be generated automatically and entered into the Title field of the item. We start by selecting the Title field, then we specify the ID template using text, column value placeholders and functions. As the same ID type is applied to all items, we do not need conditions. Our template takes in vehicle make, pick-up date and a numerator (for uniqueness).
- Now we define the different tabs that will make up the process. Smart List Pro is the product responsible for that. Generally, each stage of the process gets a separate tab and we define permissions based on those tabs, which is the fastest way. First, we enter the tab name, then we select the columns and their order. After that we need to specify the permissions. For instance, the first, Reservation Details, tab, is in Write mode in the New form (when the item is created) and in Read mode in all the other forms, so that the reservation details are not changed by the manager and supervisor.
- We also want to add a validation rule, stating the Hondas cannot be picked up at the airport. That is pretty straightforward. The rule is that the Pick-up location does not equal Airport under the condition that the Vehicle contains the word Honda. Otherwise, an error message is shown and the form cannot be saved.
- The last thing we want to do is to add some view permissions, so that each person is automatically shown his or her own default view, while other, restricted, views are hidden. First we create a view for each stage, filtering out items currently not at that stage. After that, we specify which users, depending on their role in the process, see which view.
This is basically it, the process is ready for testing. We used no custom development, we did not even open up SharePoint Designer. The whole thing can be done in both 2007 and 2010 version, using the same tools. One last thing you might want to do is to define a dashboard as the system's Welcome page, using OOTB list view web parts. Isn't it really easy and fun?
See you next time!