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Category Archives: SharePoint
As OnePlaceMail 6.4 Preview hits the streets I wanted to speak about why we believe 6.4 is such a pivotal release. Last year in the lead up to the release of Exchange 2013, Office 2013 and SharePoint 2013 we immersed ourselves in the new technologies and the features, functions, and integration points that they brought to the table. We didn’t just want to deliver a OnePlaceMail release that worked the way it always had and ignored the architectural changes that had been made in the 2013 Microsoft stack. So we invested the time, we put down the tools, and really took a step back to look at the new options; How could this benefit the way people are working today and tomorrow? What new business cases could be solved? How could this technology be best applied to solve the issues we are currently solving with OnePlaceMail today? This really forced us to re-evaluate the position that OnePlaceMail has under the new technologies (Outlook 2013, SharePoint 2013, Exchange 2013).
One of the most interesting new features of Outlook 2013/SharePoint 2013 was the concept of SharePoint Site Mailboxes. Microsoft has taken a great step forward (finally) with Site Mailboxes in an attempt to address the integration problem that has always existed between Outlook and SharePoint. Please see this blog post for more details on SharePoint 2013 Site Mailboxes.
After spending quite a bit of time with SharePoint Site Mailboxes we found they satisfied some use cases really well, and others not so well. While Site Mailboxes provided some great out-of-the-box benefits, there were always going to be some limitations as well. If you want to find out more about the benefits and limitations I suggest taking a look at the free whitepaper we published SharePoint 2013 Site Mailboxes – Overcome the limitations.
It came to decision time, and we had a couple of options:
· Option 1 – We could continue enhancing OnePlaceMail as an industry leading product directly integrating Outlook and SharePoint without any dependency on the new Site Mailbox framework. This broadly equated to ignoring Site Mailboxes due to their limitations and positioning OnePlaceMail as an alternate (competitive) solution – you would either use Site Mailboxes or you would use OnePlaceMail
· Option 2 – We could re-architect OnePlaceMail to use Site Mailboxes as a framework and build enhanced functionality on top to overcome the limitations
We concluded that there would be use cases where Site Mailboxes were the logical solution, and other use cases where Site Mailboxes would not work at all, so rather than committing to option 1 or option 2 we decided we needed to do both! We wanted to provide enterprises with a solution that would be consistent and work for them across all their business cases, both those using Site Mailboxes and those that don’t.
This strategic decision gave us focus for the OnePlaceMail 6.4 Preview release. We wanted to deliver the robust enterprise class OnePlaceMail with all its bells and whistles that you know and love, and if you happen to be using Site Mailboxes (now or in future) then we will ‘light up’ a whole set of Site Mailbox specific features and enhancements designed to overcome the limitations that exist with Site Mailboxes out of the box. Even more than that, we also wanted to deliver a seamless and consistent user experience, to the user it shouldn’t matter if they are dragging and dropping an email (or attachment) to a Site Mailbox or another SharePoint location via OnePlaceMail. The decision where and when to use Site Mailboxes will often be an architectural decision, but to the end user (through the Outlook interface) they really just want to capture, classify and access information in SharePoint and don’t care too much whether that is done via an enhanced Site Mailbox framework or OnePlaceMail without Site Mailboxes – we needed to deliver a user interface where both scenarios used the same metaphors, same workflow, same behaviors so that the user intuitively knows how to use it without need for training.
The results of all the hard work are ready for you now. The OnePlaceMail 6.4 Preview release is a free download which we made publically available last week.
There is also a series of short videos showing the new OnePlaceMail Site Mailbox features in action, so if you want to quickly check out what it looks like I’d suggest taking 5 minutes to go through these.
What are SharePoint Site Mailboxes?
The SharePoint Site Mailbox concept is aimed at bringing Exchange emails and SharePoint documents together. So how does it do this?
The SharePoint Interface
A site mailbox can be created at a site level (maximum of 1 mailbox per site). From a navigation point of view the mailbox appears just as though it is another list or library in the SharePoint site.
When you click on the Mailbox link things aren’t as nice and integrated as you would hope. Instead of showing the content of the mailbox within the SharePoint site, as you would the content from a Document Library or List, rather the link simply opens the Site Mailbox in Outlook Web Access. You are taken away from SharePoint to see the content of the Site Mailbox.
This now starts to give you an understanding of what’s happening under the covers. When you add a Site Mailbox to a SharePoint site, you are effectively creating a mailbox on the Exchange server and then your site gets a link placed on it.
What is nice, is that the security of the mailbox is tied to the security permissions of your SharePoint site. So if you add or remove a user from your SharePoint site, the appropriate permissions are granted/revoked from the mailbox in Exchange as well.
Unfortunately this is about the extent of the integration of email and documents that you get through the SharePoint user interface, fortunately things will get a lot nicer when we look at things from the Outlook client…
The Outlook Interface
Outlook 2013 has been enhanced to support SharePoint Site Mailboxes. A really nice integration point is the automated rollout of Site Mailboxes directly to your Outlook profile based on your permissions to the SharePoint site. What this means is that if you are an owner or member of a SharePoint site and a Site Mailbox is created, that Site Mailbox will automatically get added to Outlook (even while Outlook is running). If your membership to the site is removed then the mailbox is automatically removed from Outlook as well. The Site Mailbox is represented in Outlook as a new store per site. All this talk of Site Mailboxes is a bit misleading though, because what you are actually getting in Outlook is the Document Libraries from the SharePoint site, not just the mailbox. What do I mean? lets have a look graphically at what you are getting:
When viewing the content of a Site Mailbox, the view presented is the same format and appearance as any other mail folder as shown below:
When viewing SharePoint Document Libraries you see an Outlook view of all the items in the document library as shown below:
This is pretty cool. Exchange and SharePoint perform a synchronization to make this possible and stubs (not the actual file content) is stored in Exchange to make this view possible. Clicking on these items in the Outlook view to open them up then communicates directly to SharePoint to download and open the file.
Subfolders, both within the mailbox and within document libraries are supported.
Read more about what Microsoft has to say on SharePoint Site Mailboxes.
Pros and Cons
So now you have a basic grounding in what this integration looks like, what are the benefits and limitations of Site Mailboxes.
- Site Mailboxes provide a consolidated view of site content stored within SharePoint and Exchange from within Microsoft Outlook
- Minimal change with a familiar drag & drop process to the left navigation of Outlook. Allowing the capture of emails or email attachments into SharePoint and Exchange
- Convenient access to SharePoint content from within Microsoft Outlook using a familiar metaphor of folders on the left navigation of Outlook.
- Ability to include a Site Mailbox as an email recipient (e.g. cc’d) for saving emails into a Site Mailbox – Inbox
- Ability to ‘Forward’ a link to a document within a Site Mailbox or drag/drop multiple documents into an email message.
- Lifecycle Retention policies can be applied at a Site Mailbox level behind the scenes
Management and Compliance: Site Mailboxes can be part of eDiscovery Search Scopes.
- Minimal change for the end users and therefore greater user adoption and promotion of enterprise content management best practices
- Less reliance on the IT Department once the SharePoint and Exchange environment have been configured for Site Mailboxes
- More efficient means to support the business with records management initiatives
- Streamlined provisioning and deployment of Site Mailboxes to end users based on security permissions within a SharePoint Site
- Email content is retained within Microsoft Exchange while documents are retained within SharePoint
- Setting up the environment to support Site Mailboxes involves installing and configuring software on both the Exchange and SharePoint servers and setting up trust relationships and having all communication over SSL.
- Probably the biggest drawback is that you are not actually getting email into SharePoint. The email is stored in Exchange. This means you can’t treat it as a SharePoint object and include it as part of a business process. E.g. include it a part of a workflow, add metadata columns to email and build a SharePoint business process around it. I will add quickly that you can drag/drop email directly to a Document Library and this will get the email into SharePoint as an msg file.
- You must be running SharePoint 2013, Exchange 2013 and Outlook 2013 to get access to Site Mailbox functionality
- Very limited features on drag/drop of attachments to SharePoint document libraries – basically no support for metadata of any kind (no content type selection, no columns to complete, no validation of mandatory column, can’t rename files on upload, no support for versioning)
- Viewing of SharePoint content is very limited. You are provided more with a file type view of content rather than a SharePoint view. You can’t show SharePoint columns in the Outlook view, you just get the filename, last modified, size, and checkout status.
- Maximum of 10 Site Mailboxes can be added to Outlook
For a more in-depth look at SharePoint Site Mailboxes, and how to overcome some of the limitations I suggest reading the article White Paper – SharePoint 2013 Site Mailboxes
Site Mailboxes Aren’t for You – Need a Different Option?
For alternate methods of getting email into SharePoint please refer to my article (written based on SharePoint 2010 options) Five out-of-the-box ways to get Email into SharePoint.
SharePoint Site Mailboxes provide many benefits and also have their limitations. This White Paper: SharePoint 2013 Site Mailboxes – Overcome their Limitations looks at Site Mailboxes and how they can be extended to implement broader solutions on the SharePoint platform.
The White Paper addresses how to enhance Site Mailboxes to:
- Capture email attributes when saving to Site Mailboxes
- Tag Content with custom metadata
- Save to Site Mailboxes from Windows Explorer & Office applications
- Access SharePoint capabilities from Site Mailboxes
- Manage email attachments with Site Mailboxes
In a recent blog post Dan Theobald (Business Analyst, HP Information Management team) details the use case of OnePlaceMail in a SharePoint/HP TRIM environment for achieving records management of email records.
Dan continues to explain in detail how HP are internally using OnePlaceMail in a collaborative Help Desk solution built on SharePoint. In this solution OnePlaceMail delivers the front line interface to Help Desk personnel for capturing initial Help Desk tickets, follow up correspondence and also provides access to the information stored in the Help Desk system (SharePoint) directly from within Outlook.
It’s great to hear of these real world scenarios where OnePlaceMail is adding real value, and users are compelled enough to blog about their great experiences with the product! It drives us to make it even better.
US based SharePoint Solution provider Techsol (MS Gold Certified Partner) has made a series of SharePoint 2010 templates available for free download. These templates are focused on the Government and Health industries.
In their own words:
These templates are provided “as is”. The templates demonstrate the application building power of SharePoint as a potential starting point for larger, more robust applications. Although these templates are fully functional and usable out-of-the-box, we expect that you will tailor them to suit your particular needs.
From this positioning I view these free templates in a similar vein to the Fab 40 Templates that Microsoft provided for WSS3.0/MOSS 2007. They give you some starting point and good ideas for building a solution in SharePoint but they will probably need some customizing and tweaking to fit your exact requirements.
The Case Management application template helps case managers track the status and tasks required to complete their work. When a case is created, standard tasks and documents are created which are modified based on the work each case manager has completed..
Clinical Trial Initiation and Management
For those who work in Academic Medical Centers, the Clinical Trial Initiation and Management application template helps teams manage the process of tracking clinical trial protocols, objective setting, subject selection and budget activities.
HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT
Employee Activities Site
The Employee Activities Site application template helps departments, such as HR and Marketing, manage the creation and attendance of events for employees.
Employee Training Scheduling and Materials
The Employee Training Scheduling and Materials application template helps Instructors add new courses and organize course materials. Employees use the site to schedule attendance at a course, track courses they’ve attended and to provide feedback.
Absence Request and Vacation Schedule Management
The Absence Request and Vacation Schedule Management application template helps provider departments manage requests for out of office days and provides dashboards showing which users are signed up for a set of responsibilities
The Event Planning application template helps teams organize events efficiently through the use online registration, schedules, communication and feedback.
The Discussion Database application template provides a location where team members can create and reply to discussion topics.
Team Work Site
The Team Work Site application template provides a place where clinical and business teams, can upload background documents, track scheduled calendar events and submit action items that result from team meetings.
Document Library and Review
The Document Library and Review application template helps people to manage the review cycle common to processes like publication, knowledge management and project plan development.
The Knowledgebase application template helps teams manage the information that is resident within their organization. The template enables team members to upload/create documents using Web-based tools and tag them with relevant identifying information.
Policies and Procedures Solution Accelerator
The Policies and Procedures Solution Accelerator assists healthcare organizations create, maintain, publish and easily access policy and procedure information. It also provides the ability to upload documents, maintain a version history and manage tasks.
MANAGEMENT AND FINANCE
Board of Directors
The Board of Directors application template provides a single location for an external group of members to store and locate common documents such as quarterly reviews, shareholder meeting notes and annual strategy documents.
Business Performance Reporting
The Business Performance Reporting application template helps health organization managers track the satisfaction of internal customers/patients through a combination of surveys and discussions.
Request for Proposal
The Request for Proposal application template helps manage the process of creating and releasing an initial RFP, collecting submissions of proposals and formally accepting the selected proposal from amongst those submitted.
Compliance Process Support Site
The Compliance Process Support Site application template helps both teams and executive sponsors to manage compliance implementation endeavors, such as HIPAA.
Expense Reimbursement and Approval
The Expense Reimbursement and Approval application template helps manage elements of the expense approval process, including creation and approval. Users can monitor the status of their reimbursement request through a filtered view listing.
Scorecards Solution Accelerator
The Scorecards solution accelerator acts as a template for configuring a management dashboard to track organizational metrics. It contains four example dashboards ranging from a primary care practice to a healthcare organization’s CEO dashboard.
The Call Center application template helps departments manage the process of handling customer service requests. The application template helps teams manage service requests from issue identification to cause analysis and resolution.
The Help Desk application template helps departments manage the process of handling service requests. Team members use the application template to identify a service request, manage identification of the root cause and track solution status.
Physical Asset Tracking and Management
The Physical Asset Tracking and Management application template helps departments, such as Facilities, BioMedical, Surgery, etc. manage requests and the tracking of physical assets.
The Inventory Tracking application template helps organizations track elements associated with inventory, including creation of inventory. Users are notified when each part reaches the reorder quantity and helps manage customer and supplier information.
Cafeteria Menu Management
The Cafeteria Menu Management application template helps hospital Food & Nutrition staff easily communicate daily menu choices to hospital staff and visitors. It allows staff to develop/schedule menus and provide related nutritional information.
Budgeting and Tracking Multiple Projects
The Budgeting and Tracking Multiple Projects application template helps project teams track and budget multiple, interrelated sets of activities. Management tools such as assignment of new tasks, Gantt Charts and common status designators.
Change Request Management
The Change Request Management application template helps users track risks associated with a design change. Team members can submit a change request, notifying stakeholders of the risks involved with the change.
IT Team Workspace
The IT Team Workspace application template helps teams manage the development, deployment and support of software projects. It also includes help desk functionality, allowing team members to guide service requests from initiation to resolution.
Project Tracking Workspace
The Project Tracking Workspace application template helps small team projects manage project information in a single location. The application template provides a place where a team can list and view project issues and tasks.
The worldwide SharePoint Conference for 2012 (SPC12) is almost upon us. We are expecting this years conference to be massive with the new Wave 15 of technology having now having been release to manufacture by Microsoft. So we go into this conference with SharePoint 2013, Office 2013, Exchange 2013, Windows 8 all ready for production. Expect plenty of awesome sessions showcasing the power and opportunities that the new wave of technology brings with it.
The OnePlaceMail Team have been incredibly busy in preparation for this event with the new OnePlaceMail product ready to go straight into SharePoint 2013 / Office 2013 / Exchange 2013 production environments. This is welcome news to our early adoptors, those of you who have been using OnePlaceMail against the Preview software and in TAP environments, and are looking to go straight into production with 2013.
You will find the OnePlaceMail Team at booth #1046 in the Exhibition Hall where we will be running live demos of OnePlaceMail on the new technology. Of course we will have giveaways and competitions so you don’t leave the conference empty handed.
I look forward to meeting new friends, talking SharePoint and enjoying a SharePint or two.
Hope to see you there.
I’ve recently run into performance issues with my new SharePoint 2013 Preview development environment. A quick investigation in Task Manager highlight Memory usage as my issue. The culprit processes are Microsoft Office 2013 component. I see SharePoint 2013 is somehow behind my issue.
What are these Microsoft Office 2013 components and why are they consuming so much memory?
Switching to the details tab, these Microsoft Office 2013 components show up as noderunner.exe
Now having a bit more to search on I quickly uncovered the TechNet article SharePoint 2013 Preview – Hungry search service
This article attributes the issue to a memory leak in the SharePoint 2013 Preview Search Service.
To apply the fix from this article on the SharePoint 2013 server start the SharePoint 2013 Management Shell and and enter the following command:
Set-SPEnterpriseSearchService –PerformanceLevel Reduced
To ensure the setting has been changed enter the following command:
Then you need to edit the noderunner.exe.config file located at:
C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office Servers\15.0\Search\Runtime\1.0\noderunner.exe.config
Edit this file (I used Notepad), and locate the line <nodeRunnerSettings memoryLimitMegabytes=”0” />
Provide a memory limit for the noderunner process, I set the limit at 250 as shown below.
After making these changes I recommend you restart your server. Although I have had no problem with just killing the noderunner.exe processes in Task Manager; SharePoint creates them again almost immediately.
Keep in mind this fix is suggested for SharePoint 2013 Preview only, I’m hoping the bug will be fixed for RTM.
Scinaptic OnePlaceMail Release 6.3 has been launched this week with both the Enterprise Edition and free Express Edition now available to download.
The focus of this release has been delivering greater performance, and improved usability and tighter integration with business workflows and line of business systems.
New features include;
- Performance: increase of up to 95% when saving emails and email attachments to SharePoint
- Business Connectivity Services: Line of business data surfaced directly within Microsoft Outlook, Office and File Explorer with no additional configuration required
- People and Groups: Significant enhancements for SharePoint People/Groups columns support
- Launch: A new capability to launch actions and applications from within Microsoft Outlook
- Support for SharePoint 2013 Preview
We are really happy with the rich level of functionality that we have been able to provide in integrating OnePlaceMail with existing SharePoint 2010 Business Connectivity Services (BCS). The OnePlaceMail solution is a ‘zero configuration’ option which simply just works with your existing BCS setup.
We have concentrated our efforts on providing the most useable interface possible, delivering high performance over large datasets. Seeing is believing so please take 5 minutes to watch it in action in the How to use SharePoint Business Connectivity Services from within Microsoft Outlook video.
External content types are defined through XML files referred to as “BDC metadata models”. These BDC metadata models can be created in both SharePoint Designer and Visual Studio. The technique used to create the BDC metadata models determines the technique used to export it.
- Models created using Visual Studio can be exported directly through the SharePoint UI in a browser (via the BDC service application).
- Models created using SharePoint Designer must be exported using SharePoint Designer
How to Export BDC Metadata Model using the BDC Service Application
Open SharePoint Central Administration | Application Management | Manage Service Applications
Select the Business Data Connectivity Service
Change the view drop-down to BDC Models
From the context menu on the BDC Model choose Export BDC Model
Ensure the file type is set to Model to Export
Select the save location. The exported file is an xml file saved with a .bdcm file extension (Visual Studio SharePoint BDC Designer File)
How to Export BDC Metadata Model using SharePoint Designer
Open the SharePoint site in SharePoint Designer and select External Content Types
Select the External Content Type and choose the Export BDC Model ribbon button
Provide a name for the exported model and the settings profile to export.
The settings refer to the Default and Client settings profiles under on the Connection Properties.
Select save location. The exported file is an xml file saved with a .bdcm file extension (Visual Studio SharePoint BDC Designer File)