Wednesday, July 22, 2015

A Little Misguided...

I was recently at the Independence Day (4th of July) fireworks in my local community and began talking with an acquaintance who attends my place of worship with his family (our wives know each other pretty well, I got to know him a little better that evening). He works for a local non-profit and explained to me that the non-profit had just recently started using Office 365. I naturally congratulated him on the move and showed him some of my SharePoint-hosted app development work. The president of the non-profit organization also attends our place of worship, and, upon seeing him the following Sunday, I advised him to give me a call if he ever needed any assistance with Office 365 and SharePoint Online in particular. I explained to him that I had several years of experience with the Office 365 platform and have been developing custom solutions for SharePoint.

What he said next absolutely floored me. It went something to the effect of "yeah, we got Office 365 and SharePoint hoping to reduce the need for a developer..."

What???? Huh?

I'm just speculating here, but it appears that no one had informed the organization head (who happens to be a lawyer by trade) that SharePoint ebbs and flows with additions and deprecations of features and needs a steady support system in place in the organization to make SharePoint a viable solution for long-term use. What is offered out-of-the-box changes with every new version of SharePoint and customizations are occasionally required to keep SharePoint on par with the needs of the business. One key deprecation that is a case-in-point is Microsoft's announcement of the removal of the SharePoint Online public facing website from the Office 365 offerings. Not being a very quick-witted individual, I knew he was misguided in his thinking about SharePoint but didn't know at the time how to politely convey this to him, so I said nothing more on the subject other than a friendly reminder to call me if he ever ran into any trouble.

What's the moral?

When you implement SharePoint, implement it with the mindset that SharePoint is a complex tool that can do many, many things for your organization but it does not eliminate the need for one of your biggest organizational assets - your web developer - your prized Swiss Army knife that solves many of your most complex business challenges with thoughtful solutions. To get the most out of SharePoint, some critical skills - like HTML and even some JavaScript - that only your web developer can provide are still required.

Monday, July 20, 2015

New Add-in Available for SharePoint Online / SharePoint 2013

Now available in the Office 365 App Store, Course Scheduler provides an easy-to-use way of scheduling courses or webinars in your SharePoint 2013 site and allowing site users (with at least contribute permissions to the host web (parent site) to enroll in those courses. Admin users must have at least Manage and preferably Full Control permissions on the host web to add course catalog items as well as courses and announcements (news).

The store listing can be found here.

This add-in follows the spirit of the SharePoint 2007 "Fab-40" template called Event Registration and is now available for purchase. I used CAML queries and JavaScript along with the JS libraries JQuery and Moment.js. Before you get too excited, this is NOT a full learning management system (LMS). There is a very good LMS add-in available through LMS365 ( This add-in is a simple, low-cost means of scheduling training and allowing users to sign up for those courses.

This is the first Office 365 Store Add-in that I've released. Here's to hoping for many more to come!