Cleaning up my inbox!

I had been meaning to implement my RunRulesNow macro for several weeks now and just hadn’t gotten around to it. Today I said, enough is enough! Let’s get this thing implemented.

Thanks to the great folks at VBOffice.net there wasn’t a lot that I had to do, except modify each of my rules to have the exception of “when flagged for Any action”.

So to give a bit of context: I like a clean inbox, and I don’t particularly enjoy filing, so what I had done in the past, is have a bunch of rules, and then I had this cool macro, and it would file all my read emails into various folders. It worked superbly well, and unfortunately I had not saved the macro anywhere so I had to look for it again. I found it at http://www.vboffice.net/en/developers/run-rules-now

Because I want my rules to run against read emails only, and leave unread emails in my inbox, I had to disable most of my rules. Some rules I kept on, such as those for newsletters and whatnot, because I don’t need them cluttering up my inbox from the get go.

This macro allows me to run the rules against the inbox (or other folders if I so choose), keeps all my flagged items in the inbox (that’s set in the individual rules), and leaves all my unread emails in the inbox as well. It allows me to keep all my open loops in the inbox and remove the clutter from prior emails without having to manually check each box. If you want to know more about this, just add a comment in the reply section and I’ll try to help. Thanks again to the folks on VBOffice.net for doing all the hard work for me. I appreciate it!

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Beware the changing page title

When you change the title of a page, a couple of things happen. As noted in yesterday’s post, the title of the page is the same as the file name, which means that changing the title of a page also changes the file name.

Links to your page could break

Since SharePoint is a database, changing the name of the file often results in SharePoint correcting the address for you, since it doesn’t care what you call a page; it knows it as 00ZKJSD9A8E09JKD9D01 or something like that, and it will change its internal pointer accordingly.

Where it does matter, is if anyone inserts a link to a page and keeps the https://######.sharepoint.com in front of the URL because then it’s not a link within the database, but an actual address. Changing the title of the page may then in fact break the links in other places, so think carefully before you do that. Also think about links from the outside. I recently had this happen where someone changed the title of a page, but had not realized that the link was active from a non-SharePoint site.

Images can get lost

Images uploaded to a page, live within a folder by the same name as the page name. Changing the page name doesn’t move existing images to a new folder, but if you add another image to the page after you have changed the page name, then SharePoint will create a new folder with the new page name, and now you have two folders supporting the same page. Just something to think about as you plan out your site.

Team Sites, Project Sites, Community Sites & Blog Sites

SharePoint Online offers a number of different options when you create a new site. I used 3 different ones when I set up my various SharePoint-related sites as they each have a different purpose.

The different types of sites listed below fall under the “collaboration” type sites. There are other types of sites you can create with SharePoint that I may cover these in a future post as I learn more about them. For now though, these are the most common ones you will see when you create subsites.

Note: italicized content below came from our source at TechNet.

Team Site

This is the one most people default to. At work, the Team Site is the default template chosen for departmental and committee sites. Quite simply, a team site is a place to work together with a group of people.

Project Site

A site for managing and collaborating on a project. This site template brings all status, communication, and artifacts relevant to the project into one place.

Do we have any examples?

I use a project site for my SharePoint Admin site.

What’s different about it?

For one, it seems to focus on tasks and projects, and the home page includes a gantt chart and an overview of upcoming tasks. Other than that, not too different from a team site. A good use for this type of site is for one-off committee work.

Community Site

A place where community members discuss topics of common interest. Members can browse and discover relevant content by exploring categories, sorting discussions, by popularity or by viewing only posts that have a best reply. Members gain reputation points by participating in the community, such as starting discussions and replying to them, liking posts, and specifying best replies.

Do we have any examples?

Within DSA we use the community site in two places so far… the DSA Home site, and the SharePoint Online & Office 365 Learning Resources site.

What’s different about it?

What’s different about it is that its main function is as a discussion board. It comes with pre-configured templates for

  • all categories (with thumbnails),
  • a specific category with the posts for that category
  • a members page showing all members
  • a topic page that’s pre-configured to a certain layout

While its primary function is discussions, other features can be added, just like with team sites or project sites.

Blog Site

A site for a person or team to post ideas, observations, and expertise that site visitors can comment on.

Do we have any examples?

The It’s All Greek blog I have at work is an example of a blog site.

What’s different about it?

It doesn’t have a lot of built-in features except for all the features required to have a blog: the ability to create and manage posts, categories. Any other features would need to be manually added.

Unlike the community site, it does not have the out of the box capability to attach images to categories – it just lists the categories on the left. It has the spot for a photo (where the monkey is on this blog site). You can invite more than one person to blog, and you will see going forward that I will invite other people to post a blog post about something they find useful.

Source: TechNet

Wiki Pages in SharePoint Online

Wiki Pages allow you to create web pages within your SharePoint sites. You can place web parts on them, or you can use them as I do for tutorial writing.

But, as with other OOTB (out of the box) features, SharePoint Online’s Wiki Pages app has a slight glitch. Surprise!

Here’s the glitch:

The file name of the page, is also the title of the page.

In older versions of SharePoint, you could set the title of the page to be different from the file name, e.g. file name aspire.html could be used to show title of “Aspirations of Student Learning.” In this version of SharePoint Online, the name of the file is the same as the title on the page.

Why do we care?

We care because generally titles have spaces. In the example of “Aspirations for Student Learning,” there are three spaces.  Those same spaces will end up in the file name, and the Internet doesn’t do well with spaces in a file name. In fact, they will replace that space with %20, which means “Aspirations for Student Learning” becomes Aspirations%20for%20Student%20Learning.aspx.

What can we do?

Well, to solve the issue of the %20s we in the web world place underscores between words so that we get a file name that looks like Aspirations_for_Student_Learning.aspx, which, I hope you agree looks cleaner.

But, didn’t you just say that the file name of the page, is also the title of the page?

Yes, I did… While we just fixed the file name issue, we now have a title of the page (and links) that look like this:

Aspirations_for_Student_Learning

and that is where our friend Joe comes in. Joe is a magical programmer and he whipped up a magical script that takes those underscores, and replaces them with spaces. This now lets us have a file name called  Aspirations_for_Student_Learning.aspx while preserving the title (and link) Aspirations for Student Learning.

Integrating Outlook and OneNote for task & project management

I started employing David Allen’s Getting Things Done methods many years ago, and I have had much success with it – when I stick to it.

My challenge has always been keeping things easily accessible. I find I have a task list, and then I have a project notebook. Well, how do they talk to each other?

I had been using EverNote to capture everything I wanted to keep, from recipes to Christmas lists and beyond.

I had OneNote before, but I never quite knew what to do with it. I am not sure why, but it didn’t seem to fit into my plans. I kept it more as a reference system – for things I might need to hold onto for a long time, but not as a working file. In the end, I just think I never really learned much about it, and therefore missed out on some cool features.

I got reintroduced to OneNote when I went through a SharePoint/Office365 course at the University. Then I took a full day class just on OneNote, and I learned how I could integrate Outlook. I filed that knowledge away because I wasn’t using the Office Suite for my work – I was on a Mac and using Gmail.

Now that I am back “home” in my Office Suite (can we get a heavenly chorus sound?) I can fully leverage everything Office has to offer, and organize everything according to project and task.

One peeve of mine is that the Outlook App doesn’t have a task list. I was looking at how I could get my task list onto my phone, and then I saw OneNote. I am just starting to learn how to do this again, so bear with me, but here is a starter video of how to go about “Getting Things Done” in Outlook and OneNote.

At first I thought, “Wow, that’s a lot of steps to go through to add a task, wouldn’t it be much faster to just create tasks in outlook from that email and categorize them?” But then I thought about what they were doing in a greater context, and it’s really quite ingenious. They have their projects in OneNote, and then have their actual todos in Outlook. But the beauty about putting them in OneNote first, meant that now they have all their tasks included in their project notes. GTD on the fly! So they don’t have to cross reference – they have everything together for their project in OneNote, including all the tasks they assigned themselves, and then they also have the actual todos in their task management system within Outlook. Brilliant!

I have just begun making contact with all of my departments and committees, and I can see using sections for my clients, having all the pages together, and then connecting my task list for that. Now I just need to figure out how to then get those tasks into my SP list rather than my computer task list, but that might just be a matter of clicking and dragging. We’ll see. Definitely going to do something with this though! Definitely!

Videos: changing Visio and Color Palettes

I created two instructional videos today for our internal audiences. I used SnagIT version 12. The first video was on swapping out Visio files within a Visio Web Part.

The second video covers changing a site’s color palette. We reference a specific color palette we called DSA Hokie, but any color palette can be substituted.

GTD using Outlook and SharePoint

For those who don’t know, GTD is following David Allen’s model for “Getting Things Done.” I have been using his systems for years with varying degrees of success. When I capture everything the GTD way, it makes it easier to figure out where you should spend your time.

Being on Gmail for so long at work I had gotten away from the habit of GTD. I know there are a number of online services and apps out there to manage tasks, but none of them quite got me so far as using Outlook to manage my tasks, because I could move things from emails to tasks, to calendar, etc. One complete system.

When I was due to come back to PC, I must say I sighed a quiet sigh of relief, and I looked forward to getting it. Since I used to use SharePoint for task management at my previous work, I decided to incorporate my task list on my Admin site with my Outlook.

Only thing was, I wanted to have my GTD categories in both systems. How to do that when SharePoint’s custom fields don’t cross over? Modify a field that does.

The two fields that appeared to come over were “Custom Priority” and “Custom Status”. Because SP’s status field is tied into other functions, I couldn’t use it, but Priority was wide open, so I replaced the choices within the Priority list with my GTD categories of Project, Task, Next Actions, etc. It syncs beautifully, and on both systems I can set up a view that groups them by GTD categories. Score!