Category Archives: Outlook

Bug in Outlook add-in commands showing command label instead of the add-in title on first use in a session

It seems there is a bug with the Outlook add-in commands when using the add-in from Outlook Web Access.

When using the add-in command (ribbon button) to open a task pane to show your add-in the label of the command button is shown at the top of the add-in where the add-in title should be. If you close the add-in and use the command button subsequent times in a session, then the add-ins title is correctly displayed.

Refreshing the browser window and again trying to use the add-in with show the command button label again (but just the first time the add-in is used).

I have been able to reproduce this issue with the Command Demo add-in from the Office Dev site:

1. Clone from GitHub https://github.com/jasonjoh/command-demo

2. Run locally using gulp serve-static (as per instructions in the GitHub repo)

3. Deploy the add-in manifest (as per instructions in the GitHub repo)

On first use of the add-in in a session (or after refreshing the browser window) the add-in title uses the label of the command button. In the case below the button label of “Display all properties” is shown.

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If you close the add-in and then click on the same command button subsequent times then the correct add-in title of “Add-in Command Demo” is displayed.

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This bug only seems to affect OWA, Desktop Outlook 2016 consistently displays the correct add-in title as shown below.

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It would also be nice if the header we displayed in Desktop Outlook was consistent with OWA. As you can see from the screenshots above OWA shows the add-in icon in the header whereas Desktop Outlook just has the title without an icon.

I’ve logged this bug on UserVoice, if it’s causing pain for you please vote it up!

Issues launching Outlook add-ins directly to a SPA route using fragment URLs

Modern Single Page Applications (SPAs) run in the browser as a single HTML page and use JavaScript to dynamically load content and provide the functionality of the application without having to reload the entire browser window as the user is interacting with the application. To support navigating SPAs, a commonly used technique is to perform navigation (or routing as it is called in the Angular world) based on URL fragments.

The basic premise of how this works is that the URL that you see in the browser window always refers to the same HTML page hosting your SPA e.g. http://myserver/spa-app/index.html

As the user navigates around the application this is done using URL fragments (the bit after the #) e.g. http://myserver/spa-app/index.html#configurationpage or http://myserver/spa-app/index.html#customerspage

This allows the browser to not go back to the server to request a page refresh (because we are always on the same page http://myserver/spa-app/index.html) but the SPA can react to the change of URL by reading the Fragment of the URL and route the user to the correct area of the app. The browser history also keeps track of the Fragment URL so this can provide a nice navigation experience.

That was a very basic explanation and I suggest reading this good primer on Fragment URLs (or hashbangs as they are sometimes referred).

So this leads us to Outlook add-ins and the problem I’ve encountered. Lets illustrate this with an example so that the use case becomes clear.

Imagine we have a simple SPA that shows a To Do list. The main screen of the app (http://myserver/spa-app/index.html) just shows the To Do list. There is also a second screen in the app for creating new To Do items(http://myserver/spa-app/index.html#newitem).

In the Outlook add-in manifest you provide a URL to your page that Outlook will load up in response to the user activating your app. The Microsoft preferred way of triggering this in Outlook is via Commands that appear as buttons in the Outlook Ribbon (in the desktop version of Outlook). If we create such a Ribbon button and specify the URL of the main screen of the app (http://myserver/spa-app/index.html) everything works just fine. Within the app itself, it can navigate off to http://myserver/spa-app/index.html#newitem to show the screen to create a new item. But what if we want to provide Outlook Ribbon buttons that streamline the process and let the user go straight to creating a new to do item rather than first having to open the app, then navigate within the app to create the item? Having the main functions of you app accessible as Ribbon buttons in Outlook is a huge time saver for users.

So what happens when we try to use the new item URL Fragment behind a Ribbon button?

If we specify a URL of http://myserver/spa-app/index.html#newitem in the add-in manifest, the following is the URL that Outlook actually launches the add-in with:

http://myserver/spa-app/index.html?et=&_host_Info=Outlook|Web|1…_1480636166782|ocii1|https://outlook.office.com/owa/?realm=XYZ.com#&_serializer_version=1newitem&_xdm_Info=-133b2041_-3d735892_1480636166782|ocii1|https://outlook.office.com/owa/?realm=XYZ.com

 

Obviously this is going to wreak havoc with your SPA. The original URL Fragment #newitem looks to be encoded in the resulting URL as “&_serializer_version=1newitem” although how to reliably detect and extract this and then do the correct routing within your SPA is challenging!

Microsoft Ignite 2016 – Ready, Set, Connect

we-love-sharepoint - CopyOnePlace Solutions is proud to be an exhibitor and sponsor again this year at the Microsoft Ignite conference in Atlanta. Ignite is Microsoft’s premier conference this year for Office 365, SharePoint, Exchange, Azure, Windows and related technologies.

I’ll be on the OnePlace Solution booth (#563) during the conference talking about our suite of products that bring SharePoint and Office 365 to where you work such as Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Adobe Acrobat, and Windows Desktop.

CROSS_PLATFOMI’m very excited to be unveiling our latest product OnePlaceConnect at the conference. OnePlaceConnect is focused on bringing cloud based solutions such as Office 365 and SharePoint directly into the applications you use, on whatever device you use them (yes that means on your iPad/Android tablets, phones, Mac and of course your Windows devices).

 

Registration is now open to participate in the OnePlaceConnect Preview and be one of the first to get your hands on the new product.

 

The following are some really useful resources that I often refer people to at conferences.

OnePlaceMail – Intro video

OnePlaceDocs – Intro video

OnePlaceLive – Scenarios Unleashed (Project Management, Legal Matter Management)

OnePlaceLive – Email Tracking video

 

It’s always fun meeting new people at conferences and hearing of successes, challenges and battle wounds you’ve had with technology. It’s also awesome to catch up with existing customers and partners while I’m in the US as well, so please drop by the OnePlace Solutions booth if you get a chance.

We will have some swag at the booth, and we have new and improved hacky sacks/footbags/juggling balls to give away this conference. I’m more excited than I probably should be about those!

microsoft-band2We will also be giving away a Microsoft Band 2, so make sure you drop by for your chance to win.

Have a great conference and hope to see you at the booth or one of the many events.

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Reach out to me @CameronDwyer on Twitter during the conference.

 

 

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Light up your Outlook Mailboxes with advanced Email Tracking features

I’m preparing to head down to Melbourne for the The Digital Workplace Conference (the new Australian SharePoint Conference). This will be the first conference since the 7.3 release of OnePlaceMail and OnePlaceLive. I’m pretty excited about the new Email Tracking features which goes well beyond simply allowing users to transfer email and attachment from Outlook to SharePoint. This goes to a whole new level. Save an email to SharePoint (or Office 365) and all other recipients of the email can see in real time that you have file it to SharePoint and can open up the location in SharePoint. No more having multiple people trying the file the same email to SharePoint to find that someone has already save it there. Or worse, people saving it to different locations in SharePoint and having the files duplicated.

If you haven’t checked out the OnePlace Solutions suite in the last few months you may have also missed the suggested and predictive email filing capabilities that analyze the filing patterns of users and will suggest or predict locations in SharePoint that are likely locations you would want to save the email. If you’re not going to make it to see us at the Melbourne conference (or simply can’t wait that long to see what I’m talking about) here’s a short video on the Email Tracking feature. See for yourself how just one feature can make the Digital Workplace so much easier for a user, then imagine a whole suite of products packed with features like this, then come and see me at the conference!

 

 

Outlook Add-in Ribbon Commands: Resolution to Manifest XML Schema Errors

While taking a look at the new Outlook Addin Ribbon Commands I came across these schema validation errors trying to deploy the addin once I added the VersionOverrides element. In particular I was getting this error message:

Failed to deploy the manifest file to the Exchange server.  This app can’t be installed. The manifest file doesn’t conform to the schema definition. The element ‘Resources’ in namespace ‘http://schemas.microsoft.com/office/mailappversionoverrides’ has invalid child element ‘Images’ in namespace ‘http://schemas.microsoft.com/office/officeappbasictypes/1.0′. List of possible elements expected: ‘ShortStrings, LongStrings’ in namespace ‘http://schemas.microsoft.com/office/officeappbasictypes/1.0′... The element ‘Resources’ in namespace ‘http://schemas.microsoft.com/office/mailappversionoverrides’ has invalid child element ‘Images’ in namespace ‘http://schemas.microsoft.com/office/officeappbasictypes/1.0′. List of possible elements expected: ‘ShortStrings, LongStrings’ in namespace ‘http://schemas.microsoft.com/office/officeappbasictypes/1.0′.

 

After a bit of trial and error I discovered that the issue was to do with the order of child elements within the Resources element. It appears that there is a strict order that must be adhered to.

Here’s the code that was causing the error. Notice that I was defining Urls before Images.

 

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I simply swapped this around to define Images first, then Urls and the xml then passed the validation check and I was on my way. Here’s the working code:

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Photos from Microsoft Ignite Australia (Gold Coast)

Outlook 2016 – Use Case of Saving a File and Attaching to a new Email

This may just be the smallest and yet most appreciated new features of Outlook 2016. The attach file ribbon button has a dropdown that lets you select recent files saved from any other application. Sounds ridiculously simple, but in practice it is a real time saver.

Here’s the use case. I’m working on a file or I’m reading a file I’ve just downloaded from the internet and I want to send it to someone on an email.

Simply compose a new email and on the Attach File button dropdown the file will be the most recent file in the list. No need to even think about where it is saved, very slick.

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Office Lens: The simple and free way to create an Outlook Contact from a business card

I’ve found Office Lens to be an awesome app for Windows Phone. Recently the app was enhanced to allow for the specific task of scanning business cards.

So how does it work? Simply fire up the free Office Lens app on your Windows Phone and tell it you want to scan a business card. Take the photo (scan) and save it to OneNote. Here’s what I ended up with when I scanned my own business card.

office-lense-scan-business-cards-cameron-dwyer-01-onenote

In OneNote (either directly on the phone or back on your PC – once OneNote syncs) you get the full picture of the business card at the bottom of the OneNote page, but it creates a section of formatted text above the image which extracts the main details from the business card and creates hyperlinks to call, email or open website addresses. Pretty cool.

The awesomeness doesn’t stop there. Embedded in the OneNote page is a .vcf file “BizCard”.

office-lense-scan-business-cards-cameron-dwyer-01-open-business-card

Click on the “BizCard” file and a full Outlook Contact profile is composed with all the details filled out ready to save.

office-lense-scan-business-cards-cameron-dwyer-03-create-new-outlook-contact-from-business-card

The screenshots above are from OneNote Desktop on my PC, but you get similar functionality directly on your phone. You can see the “BizCard” link and pressing it composes a new contact directly on your phone with all the details filled out which you can then edit/change before saving. Now that is really cool.

I’m looking forward to the next SharePoint Conference when I come home at the end of the day with a wad of business cards in my pocket.

Here’s an official article about the feature

http://blogs.office.com/2014/12/08/office-lens-gets-networking-scan-business-cards-onenote-contacts-outlook

You can download the Office Lens Windows Phone app for free from the Windows Phone Store.

More out-of-the-box ways to get Email into SharePoint (2013 and Office 365)

This is a continuation of an article I wrote back at the beginning of 2012 Five out-of-the-box ways to get Email into SharePoint. Since then we have seen the launch of SharePoint 2013 and also more widespread adoption of Office 365 (SharePoint Online). These more recent versions of SharePoint have introduced new ways of getting email into SharePoint and that’s what we will explore in the article.

Option 6 – Site Mailboxes

The Site Mailbox concept introduced in SharePoint 2013 promised a lot and sounded like it could be the primary option to go for when trying to integrate email and SharePoint. Rather than reproduce existing content here’s an article I wrote dedicated to SharePoint 2013 Site Mailboxes.

Pros

  • 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

Cons

  • 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

 

Further reading

https://camerondwyer.wordpress.com/2013/03/20/guide-to-setting-up-sharepoint-site-mailboxes-on-sharepoint-2013-and-exchange-2013/

https://camerondwyer.wordpress.com/2013/02/13/white-paper-sharepoint-2013-site-mailboxes/

http://blogs.technet.com/b/exchange/archive/2012/08/22/site-mailboxes-in-the-new-office.aspx

http://office.microsoft.com/en-001/sharepoint-help/overview-use-a-site-mailbox-to-collaborate-with-your-team-HA103927690.aspx

http://office.microsoft.com/en-001/office365-suite-help/prepare-for-using-site-mailboxes-in-office-365-HA103834109.aspx

 

Option 7 – Drag/Drop to SharePoint via Desktop

SharePoint 2013 provided the new capability of being able to drag and drop files from your computer directly into a SharePoint document library open in a browser window. Combine this with the ability to turn Outlook messages into msg files by dragging them of of Outlook onto the desktop and we have a fairly simple 2 step process.

Step 1: Drag email from Outlook and drop to the desktop

drag-drop-email-outlook-to-sharepoint-office365-drag-to-desktop-cameron-dwyer

Step 2: Drag email from the desktop and drop into SharePoint

drag-drop-email-outlook-to-sharepoint-office365-drag-to-sharepoint-cameron-dwyer

Thanks goes to Liz who posted a comment on this blog letting me know of this technique.

Pros

  • The email is stored in msg format so it can be opened back up in Outlook without loss of data or email integrity.
  • Once your windows are setup for source (Outlook) and destination (SharePoint) the drag drop is quite simple
  • No configuration or setup required and will work with any SharePoint 2013 document library
  • Can move multiple email at once
  • Can move attachments off email to SharePoint using same technique
  • Can save the the root of the SharePoint library or to a subfolder (just have the library open to the folder before the drag drop)
  • Will work with older versions of Outlook
  • Transfer happens in the background (SharePoint web browser provides progress bar)

Cons

  • Getting the Outlook and SharePoint windows accessible and seeing the desktop behind them to be able to execute the drag drop can be a bit fiddly so lends itself more to doing the transfers in batches rather than just ad-hoc when new email arrives.
  • No email attributes get captured/promoted to SharePoint columns

 

Further Reading

http://www.dotnetmafia.com/blogs/dotnettipoftheday/archive/2012/07/16/how-to-drag-and-drop-files-into-sharepoint-2013-document-libraries.aspx

http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/office365-sharepoint-online-enterprise-help/upload-files-to-a-library-HA102803549.aspx

 

Option 8 – Save or Drag/Drop to a OneDrive Synced Location

OneDrive for Business is essentially a synchronization tool that lets you take a copy of a SharePoint library locally onto your machine. The document library appears in Windows Explorer as a folder with the documents appearing as files within the folder. Subfolders within a library are also supported. The nice thing about OneDrive is that it’s a 2 way sync. Any additional files you add to the local sync folder will get transferred up to SharePoint.

Step 1: Browse to your library in SharePoint and click on the sync button to have the SharePoint library sync’d via OneDrive to your local machine.

bulk-upload-folder-structure-sharepoint-cameron-dwyer-onedrive-sync-button

After the sync has completed the SharePoint library (and it’s content including any folder structure) is now represented as a folder structure that you can easily get to through Windows Explorer.

bulk-upload-folder-structure-sharepoint-cameron-dwyer-onedrive-local-library

Step 2: You can now open an Email in Outlook and choose to Save As and choose the OneDrive local folder as the save location. Alternatively you can open the OneDrive folder in Windows Explorer and drag/drop multiple emails directly from Outlook to the OneDrive folder. OneDrive will automatically upload these emails to SharePoint in the background.

Pros

    • The email is stored in msg format so it can be opened back up in Outlook without loss of data or email integrity.
      • Can move multiple email at once
      • Can move attachments off email to SharePoint using same technique
      • Can save the the root of the SharePoint library or to a subfolder (just have the library open to the folder before the drag drop)
      • Transfer happens in the background

Cons

  • Whole library must be synced locally which may mean a lot of files/data on the local machine that you don’t need or want
  • Using email Save As is tedious, drag and drop to OneDrive open in Explorer window is much nicer but it’s fiddly to get the windows visible to achieve the drag/drop so probably works better transferring in batches rather than as new email arrives.
  • No email attributes get captured/promoted to SharePoint columns

 

Further Reading

http://office.microsoft.com/en-001/sharepoint-help/sync-libraries-using-onedrive-for-business-HA103425074.aspx

https://camerondwyer.wordpress.com/2014/06/04/how-to-bulk-uploadcopy-a-folder-structure-and-files-to-sharepoint/

Where and why to find me at the SharePoint Conference in Las Vegas (SPC14)

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Cameron-Dwyer-Microsoft-SharePoint-Conference-2014-Las-Vegas-OnePlaceMail


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SPC is THE largest SharePoint Conference on earth, nowhere else will you find so many subject matter experts and people willing to talk SharePoint.

I encourage you to be brave and speak to the myriad of Exhibitors and Microsoft people at conference. The Exhibition Hall is a lot quieter outside of the peak lunch/break periods so if you’re in a session that’s not delivering what you hoped, head out and get an expert to yourself.

Why talk to me?
There’s only so many conversations you can squeeze in, my areas of interest include:

  • Overcoming user adoption issues with SharePoint deployments
  • Techniques for making SharePoint quicker and easier to work with from your desktop
  • Extending solutions you build on SharePoint to make them accessible from existing desktop applications without writing code!
  • Anything SharePoint and Mail related
  • SharePoint Site Mailboxes

Where to find me?
I’ll be presenting OnePlaceMail alongside 2 new products (OnePlaceEnterprise and OnePlaceLive) being launched at the conference. I’ll be spending most of the conference at the OnePlaceMail booth #2131 so please come up and say ‘Hi’.

Have a great conference and I hope to see you there.

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