Posts Tagged ‘WebPart’

SharePoint Staff Vacation Planner – DIY Guide part 2 – set up a “Wall Chart” Dashboard

Date:August 3rd, 2010 Author: Tags: , ,
Category: General, SharePoint Ideas, SharePoint Planner Comments:1 ;

This is Part 2 of the SharePoint Staff Vacation Planner – DIY Guide

So having set up our Vacation and Absence list yesterday, we can now apply Planner webpart, to create a vacation and absence dashboard like this:

So staff and managers can easily see who is off when, and when it will be possible to request leave.


SharePoint Staff Vacation Planner – DIY Guide – Part 1

Date:August 2nd, 2010 Author: Tags: , , ,
Category: General, SharePoint Ideas, SharePoint Planner, SharePoint Reminder Comments:10 ;

SharePoint offers a great foundation for non-programming business people to build applications around our business processes, just the way we want them.  This guide will show you how to build your own SharePoint staff vacation and absence planning system.

Staff vacation and absence planning can cause trouble and strife in any organization.  The good old wall planner can work for staff who are all in the same physical locations . . .

. . . . until you approve an absence then forget to enter it on to the planner, and then allow someone else to book vacation at the same time, leaving your department under staffed.

. . . . .or until you forget that Sam has booked a week’s vacation and call him up furious on Monday morning asking why he isn’t in work.

. . . . . .or authorize Jenny’s week off in the Caribbean only to get a thorough ticking off from HR because you have allowed Jenny to exceed her annual leave entitlement.

I’ve been guilty of all these crimes in my time. So I was pleased to find that with SharePoint we can make things a little more organized, and using our PivotPoint, Reminder and Planner web parts together we can set up a slick little Vacation Planning system in just a few minutes.

So, what we are aiming for here is:

  • A dashboard “Absence Planner” display, which will be accessible to all staff via SharePoint.
  • A personal and managers “Absences to Date” dashboards.
  • An automated Absence Request approval system
  • An email reminder to line managers of imminent staff absence.

To be clear: this is not a ready made “Vacation Planning” template or application, its a guide showing how you could build your own system, using some of SharePoints built in features and then add a little pizazz with our web parts. Its going to take a little work to set this up for your organisation but then it should be a better fit than a packaged solution.

Setting up the Vacation Planner should take you about an hour if you have our webparts already, a little more if you need to download them.  So we have broken this guide up into 4 parts, which we will be publishing over the next 5 days:

Today – set up your Staff Vacation and Absences list and filtered views

Part 2 – set up a Staff Vacation Planner dashboard with SharePoint Planner webpart

Part 3 – Set up Absences to date dashboard with SharePoint PivotPoint Webpart

Part 4 – Set up a absence request and approvals workflow with SharePoint Reminder Webpart

Part 5 – see the system in action, and see how much of this you could achieve with SharePoint out of the box.

For those of you who can’t wait that long, you can download the full PDF guide and a 30 day free trial of the webparts here.

First set up your List

We are going to use a Calendar List, add some extra columns, and switch on Approvals.

So, from which ever section of your site you want choose select Site Actions from the top right of the page, then from the dropdown, select Create then from the Tracking tab, select Tasks.

Call your list whatever you want – Staff Absence Planner works for me, decide whether you want it to display in the quick launch menu  – probably no need as few people will need to access the list that way once we have our system set up.  Then select no in the Alerts option.  Click OK and you list is set up.

Now go to the Settings tab in your list and first of all choose Create Column. We are going to add a few extra columns to the list. Add the columns Requested By and Authorized By, the column type for both of these is “Person or Group” and you want them both to display in the default view. Make these mandatory fields by clicking Yes for Require that this column contains information. Now we are going to add a column to show the reason for the absence – annual leave, maternity leave, training, sabbatical, whatever.  The column type for this column is going to be Choice and again we are going to made completion of this field mandatory, and show the field in the default view. Finally a column for the number of days of each absence, we want this to be a number column, I have set the minimum value to 0.5 days and the maximum to 30 days, and again we want it to be a mandatory field.

Next let’s switch on Approvals.  Back in the Settings tab of your list choose List Settings and from the General tab choose Versioning Settings. In Content Approval click Yes and we are done with the list set up.

Set up Filtered Views

Now for the filters.  If you haven’t made much use of filters before it may be worth having a look at these resources:

SharePoint filter techniques articles

Filters can really enhance the power of SharePoint lists, and we are going to use 3 here in our vacation planner.

#1 – Approved and Pending Absences for Planner

We want our Planner to provide a dashboard display for all staff, showing absences requested and approved.  So that staff can see when it will be possible to book an absence and managers can decide whether they wish to approve a staff absence request.

Our list actually contains 3 approval status’s “Pending”, “Approved” and “Rejected” we don’t need to display absence requests that have been rejected on our Planner, so we are going to set up a list view to show just “Pending” and “Approved” requests.

Go back to Site Settings and choose Create View.  From the menu here choose Standard View. N.B.  This choice is very important – Planner only works on Standard views. In the Create View Page add a name for your view, we have used Staff Absences – Approved and Pending. In the Audience section be sure you have checked Create Public View this again is an essential for Planner to work.  In the column section choose the columns that you wish to display to people who are creating or entering a list item.  This will not impact of the Planner display.

We are then going to skip over the “Sort” section and from the Filter section choose Show Items only when the following is true.

Column Approval Status is equal to Pending OR column Approval Status is equal to Approved.  Click OK and we are done with the filter.

#2 – Approved absences for managers “Absences to Date” Dashboard

Set up of this is exactly the same as the last one, except we are going to call it “Absences to Date” and just show items where column approval status is equal to approved.

#3  – The Magical [Me] Filter, for “My Absences” Dashboard.

If you haven’t used this filter before you are going to love it!  It shows whoever is logged in just the list items relating to them, so its ideal for our “My Absences” dashboard view, but also has a whole host of other uses.

We need a Standard, public view again – yes even though it’s “My Absences” it’s still a public view or other people won’t be able to use it.  Call it My Absences then head down to the filter section and choose to show items where column Requested By, is equal to [Me].

So, now we have laid the foundations for our system by setting up the basic list and filters.

In Part 2 we will create a “wall chart” dashboard, using SharePoint Planner webpart.

5 Things you never knew you couldn’t do with SharePoint Alerts

Date:July 19th, 2010 Author: Tags: , , ,
Category: General, SharePoint Alert, SharePoint Ideas, SharePoint Reminder Comments:1 ;

We often hear that communication is key to the success of any enterprise or organization. Making people aware of “what’s going on” is an essential.  So for a collaboration platform like SharePoint tools for telling people what’s happening are a central part of the setup.

SharePoint has it’s built in “Alert Me” feature.  New users seeing this often expect it to deliver functionality similar to that which comes as standard in MS Outlook.  But that isn’t what SharePoint Alerts do.  They tell you when something is added or changed.  This is great for document or content management, but not so good for managing calendars or tasks or projects – when you might prefer to be alerted when something is about to happen, or is overdue – or you might actually want to alert someone else, not yourself.

So here’s a little look at some of the things you might expect to be able to do with SharePoint Alerts but can’t.  And some suggestions as to how you might get round these shortcomings.


SharePoint Archive Round-up

Date:June 17th, 2010 Author: Tags: , , ,
Category: General, SharePoint Ideas Comments:0 ;

As you’ve probably noticed we have had a few changes on our SharePoint blog in recent weeks.  We’ve been doing some work on making it a little more user friendly and a bit nicer to look at (hope we haven’t spoiled it with the photos!)

Whilst I was working on the blog I noticed that we have quite a few little gems hidden away in the archives. Old posts – things that were written maybe a couple of years ago, that those of you who are new to the blog might not be aware of, but might find useful.  The useful ones fall into a few categories – general SharePoint tricks, tips and ideas, and ideas and tips for users of our web parts.  So here they are, I hope you find them useful.

SharePoint tricks tips and ideas

Extend and customise SharePoint Task lists

Task Lists are one of the best loved and most used features of SharePoint and this post shows you how to better tailor them to meet your particular needs.

Advanced SharePoint View and Filter techniques

This article explores some of the uses of SharePoint Views and Filters.

Working Days, Weekdays and Holidays in SharePoint Calculated Columns

SharePoint Out of the box doesn’t automatically distinguish between working days and weekends but if you are setting things like job duration or due dates you may need to – this article shows you how.

The Truth about using [Today] in SharePoint Calculated Columns

This article explains why the often repeated trick for using [Today] in SharePoint calculated columns does not work, and suggests workarounds.

The … ehem… Truth about using [Today] in SharePoint Filters

This one looks at the differences between SharePoint 2003 and 2007 when using [Today] in filters.

Setting a default duration for new SharePoint Calender Events

So you might be a medical receptionist scheduling appointments for doctors, appointments are always 45 minutes long unless the doctor tells you differently, how much easier would it be to just have SharePoint create an end time 45 minutes after the start time automatically?

How To Use Filters in SharePoint to show items in the current Calendar Month

It’s easy to think of occasions when you might want to filter a SharePoint list to show items falling in the current calendar month: “sales this month” springs to mind, or “subscriptions due for renewal this month”. This post shows you have to achieve this using calculated columns.

SharePoint Reminder Webpart Ideas

SharePoint Reminder Webpart – Setting a variable Due In or Overdue By time

Lots of people use Reminder to send an alert when a message is due soon or overdue.  Usually its fine for the message to go out at a fixed time before or after the event, for all list items, but there are occasions where you might want to vary the times at which you send your alerts.  For example, sending alerts for overdue helpdesk items: for high priority items you might want to send an alert when an item is 1 hour overdue, whereas for low priority an alert for items 1 day overdue might be fine.  This article shows you how.

Customize SharePoint Reminder Emails with Merge Data

Whilst SharePoint’s out of the box alert emails come in a standard format, with Reminder its possible to customize the alert emails you send by merging data from your list items.

Tip – don’t send SharePoint email alerts for old items.

There are some situations where, when you are setting up a Reminder for the first time, you could end up sending out alerts for a lot of very old list items, this post shows you how to avoid doing that.

Tip – Sending an SharePoint email Alert when a Task is completed

If you are using Reminder to drive simple workflow you may very well want to send an email when a task is completed – maybe when a holiday request form has been filled in for example.  This post shows you how.

SharePoint Planner Webpart Ideas

Tip – Showing multiple columns in SharePoint Planner Webpart

There may be times when you want to display timeline or category information from more than one list column in a gantt chart. For example in the chart below we have taken information from the “priority” and “title” columns of a list to populate the category labels.

5 things you never knew you couldn’t do with SharePoint Gantt Charts

Shows you a few of the things that aren’t possible with SharePoint OOTB gantt charts, but can be done with Planner.

SharePoint Reminder Webpart – version 1.7.8 now available

Date:June 14th, 2010 Author: Tags: , , ,
Category: General, SharePoint Reminder, SharePoint webparts Comments:0 ;

How annoying is it when you get reminded about something you have already done?  A little email saying:

“Can you please submit your expenses claim form by 12.00 noon today”

is just sooo annoying when actually you have been a good girl and done your expenses yesterday.

We get lots of support calls from SharePoint Reminder webpart users who have annoyed their team members in just this way – by sending our Reminder emails for tasks that have already been completed.

This is easy enough to do.  Reminder will look at the whole of a list unless you tell it to do something else.  So if you ask Reminder to send out an email for everyone who is tasked to complete their expenses claim form by 12.00 today that is exactly what it will do, regardless of whether the status of that task is “Active” or “Completed”.


The Truth about Tech Support

Date:May 24th, 2010 Author: Tags: ,
Category: General Comments:2 ;

You know how satisfying it is when you read something, instinctively know it’s right, then have something happen that gives you concrete proof?  Well we had one of those moments this week – and I wanted to share.

We read quite a few business blogs and for down to earth, quality advice Jason Cohen is our man – Joel Spolsky sometimes comes up with the goods, but he can be a bit full of himself, we don’t get Seth Godin at all – seems to have made a great career out of stating the blindingly obvious – but Jason; on the money, pretty much every time.

So this week’s post from Jason was on the importance of good tech support – and the prevalence of tech support which is anything but good.  Done right, Jason says, tech support is sales. We read the post, nodding sagely in agreement.


SharePoint 2010 Ready – PHEW!

Date:May 4th, 2010 Author: Tags: , , ,
Category: General, SharePoint webparts Comments:1 ;

Well, OK so it probably hasn’t been quite as much effort as climbing Everest – but sometimes it’s felt that way!

Last week Microsoft made the “final” release version of SharePoint 2010 available to developers and large corporates.  So we have been able to get on with our “final” set of compatibility tests and we can now announce that all of our products are SharePoint 2010 Compatible.


When you make software that works on a particular platform – whether it’s Windows, SharePoint, or the iPhone – the introduction of a major new version is really exciting, but it can also be very stressful. The introduction of a new feature might open up lots of new possibilities, but it could equally well present new problems for the way your own software works with the platform, or even make your application completely redundant.


And the Winner Is . . . !

Date:March 10th, 2010 Author: Tags: , ,
Category: General, SharePoint Reminder, SharePoint webparts Comments:0 ;
red carpet

No, it’s not more about the Oscars, it’s our Case Study Competition – just as important to us, but maybe Jeff Bridges wouldn’t share our view.

Random aside: Did you know that this is (allegedly) the first year in over 20 years that award presenters at the Oscar’s have used the phrase “and the winner is”?  “And the winner is” was banned at the 60th Oscars, for fear of offending the “non-winners” (didn’t they used to be called losers??).  Presenters have been saying “and the Oscar goes to . . .” ever since; until this year, when, presumably due to popular demand, the traditional phrase is back in place.

Anyway, enough of all this.  Our winner is Adam Venn of Bridges Engineering in Bath, England.  Adam wins something far more useful than a little gold-plate statue.  He gets a swanky new Flip video camera, which he tells us will come in very handy for filming the first baby that he and his wife and expecting any time now.

So thank you to Adam. Bridges have been using Reminder since 2007 and Adam has sent some really interesting information on how they use it.  As we expected they are doing things over there that we never even thought of.  We will be publishing a full case study in a couple of weeks.

Thanks also to everyone else who sent in case studies. We will be publishing them all over the next few months.  If you have a case study that you would like to share with us it’s not too late, just email me with brief details and I will get in touch to get the full story from you.  There are no prizes in it now – but we would still love to hear from you.


2010: SharePoint New Year’s Resolutions

Date:January 18th, 2010 Author: Tags: , , , , ,
Category: General, SharePoint webparts Comments:0 ;

A happy New Year to you – and 2010 looks like being an exciting one in the wonderful world of SharePoint

Here at Pentalogic we have a good crop of SharePoint New Years Resolutions.  We thought we would share them with you now – so that you can hold us to them if our resolve waivers down the line.

So here they are:

  1. Join a gym.
  2. Give up chocolate.
  3. Read “War and Peace”.

OK, so we’re never going to stick to those, lets focus on something realistic.


What’s In a Name?

Date:January 7th, 2010 Author: Tags: , ,
Category: General, PivotPoint Web Part, SharePoint webparts Comments:0 ;

Some of you may have noticed that with the introduction or our new website we also seen to have lost a product – CrossTab.

Don’t Panic!  It’s still there, we just changed the name.

And why have we done that?  Well with the exception of us here at Pentalogic, and a few hard core number crunchers out there no one seemed to understand the old name.

Not that many people seemed to know what a Cross Tab is. And if you Google it this is what you get:

“A Cross Tabulation – often abbreviated to “crosstab” is a statistical technique that establishes an interdependent relationship between two tables of values, but does not identify a causal relationship between the values.”


Phew, sounds like hard work!

Actually it’s pretty simple – it’s just what an Excel Pivot Table does – which is why we have changed the name to “PivotPoint” – which we hope will make sense to a lot more people.

Like a Pivot Table, Pivot Point is one of the handiest little data analysis tools you could wish for.  Use it to get a quick a quick and easy to interpret summary of the numerical data in your SharePoint lists.

Since we were somewhat lacking in inspiration when it came to finding a new name we picked the brains of lots of SharePoint users and experts.  The suggestions for PivotPoint came from Kirill Kirg in the MOSS group on LinkedIn.  So many thanks to Kirill!

And as always, if you have any comments or suggestions please do get in touch.

SharePoint PivotPoint Free Trial Download