JS Link – Add Ellipsis to a Column

Ran across a random request the other day to see the ellipsis menu added to a column other than the Title column. Turns out it’s a pretty simple change similar to how we change the column header text in a SharePoint view.

listItemMenu = “TRUE”

See the full code HERE.

Note: To remove the ellipsis from the Title column in the view, change the column from “Title (linked to item with edit menu)” to “Title” field in the view Columns.

References

Note and Disclaimer: JS Link currently works in SharePoint 2013, 2016, and SharePoint Online. JS Link does NOT work with the ‘Modern Experience’ interface – only Classic Mode. See ‘Choose Your Path Forward’ for more information.

JS Link – No More HTML in Calculated Field Change

Didn’t see that coming.

More than a few times I’ve had folks bring up solutions using calculated fields to do some of the same things we do with Client-side rendering (CSR) and JS Link in SharePoint. That was fine at the time. Just another way to get to the solution using creative out of the box capabilities – until now.

Microsoft implemented a change yesterday (June 13, 2017) that HTML or script elements in calculated fields would be turned off. Apparently this was an ‘undocumented use’ of the feature. The system is now escaping special characters and replacing the column with a blank in the list view.

Now What?

The short answers – in no particular order:

  1. Client-side rendering via JS Link property of web parts. This only works for Classic mode. If you are using Classic mode, this is likely the ‘best’ short term answer to broken interfaces until a longer-term solution is implemented
  2. Third party products
  3. SPFx Extensions or customization
  4. PowerApps

CSR and JS Link: There are multiple ways to implement JS Link, some via the browser (how I use JS Link) and via deployed coded solutions (Dev only). As mentioned in other responses JS Link does NOT work in the modern experience. It will only work in the Classic mode (as long as it is around). There have been NO dates announced for getting rid of Classic mode at this time. If you choose this direction it’s worth noting that if you’re comfortable writing script in the calculated field you’ll likely be comfortable writing the code needed to get CSR to work. I’ve got plenty of examples in the link included here.

Third party products. I’ve seen folks mention something called Skybow but I’ve never seen or used it. Only mentioning because it was mentioned by someone in the community I trust.

SPFx Extensions and customizations: This is the ‘approved’ development path for deployed solutions. If you are a developer and/or are creating solutions that are used across a broader scope this is likely the path you should go down.

PowerApps: This is likely the long-term replacement for solutions you used HTML or other scripting in your calculated field for (hand slap from English teacher). Embedded integration with SharePoint isn’t there yet (well, it kind of is…), but has been announced. You can start building the views/solutions you need, but they won’t be ‘really’ embedded in SharePoint yet – web parts and/or other tools are coming soon (they’ve been announced).

Note: Much of the attention to PowerApps has been in the area of forms, but views will be a part of the capabilities as well. They’ve already made improvements with introduction of controls like the Data Table control. Check out my posts on PowerApps for SharePoint users, specifically things like ‘List View’ Layouts.

Update

Migration Note: Do not forget to take this into consideration now as something to look at when migrating from an environment where special characters (HTML and scripting) work into an environment (O365, etc.) where they do not. You’ll need a plan to replace or update your field customizations.

Summary

Unfortunately this seems like a pretty sudden change. I certainly had no idea it was coming. For folks that were using this approach there’s a lot of scrambling going on right now dealing with blank columns that weren’t blank a few days ago. Depending on how complex the scripting was, some fixes might be as easy as stripping the HTML and script out and displaying a simple value. More complex solutions are going to take some effort to redo, either with a new approach, new code, or 3rd party software to get the business functionality back.

For simple HTML replacement, JS Link could be an easy switch. If you’ve never used it before check out the Hello World post and then the KPI post. Those will cover a lot and introduce you to the JS Link concept if you need to dig deeper for more complex solutions.

Good luck!

References

PowerApps – No Items to Show

In a previous JS Link / CSR post we covered how to handle what is displayed in a web part when there are no items to show. SharePoint’s default message is an ambiguous:
“There are no items to show in this view of the [listname] list”

Not an awesome user experience. Something a little more contextually relevant might be more helpful to users – either in a simple list view, or in a more complicated solution.

A PowerApps Gallery control isn’t any better – merely showing a blank record. The Data Table control, on the other hand, has a handy ‘NoDataText’ property that can be configured to display a message when the control is empty. 

So, what do we do when using Gallery controls – until a ‘NoDataText’ property is added and/or the Data Table control allows for more configuration options? As is the answer with many things in PowerApps: We use a formula.

Using an appropriate text field control within a Gallery control, we can replace the Text property with a formula like the following:

If(CountRows([_List Name_])=0,”[_Put your message here_]”, ThisItem.Title)

For a SharePoint list named: DefaultList you get the following:

If(CountRows(DefaultList)=0,”Nothing to see here”, ThisItem.Title)

The ‘CountRows’ function as you might guess returns the number of rows in the list.

The ‘If’ function tells the control to set the displayed value of the control to “Nothing to see here” if the condition (there are 0 rows) evaluates to ‘true’. If not, the value of the control is ThisItem.Title – the normal field value we would expect in the control. The text is only displayed when there are no items in the list. 

That’s it. Smile 

References

JS Link – Creating Custom Links

I’ve spoken about this topic so many times I keep forgetting that I haven’t put together a decent post on the subject even though I’ve had sample code posted for quite some time (see References below). Smile with tongue out In my opinion, after conditional formatting this is a sweet spot for JS Link use cases and functionally WAY more useful.

Disclaimer: For those of you using SharePoint 2013, this is still relevant content. If you are using SharePoint 2016 or O365 and have PowerApps available and/or are only using ‘modern’ pages and views there are other potential solutions for you.

Business-wise, what makes custom links useful is the ability for users to build solutions – ‘stitching’ together SharePoint functionality into productive business solutions – beyond what the out of box lists and libraries provide.

What makes custom links with JS Link in SharePoint so useful is the crossing of a few core bits of functionality in SharePoint – that we’ll cover in more detail in this article:

  • Most everything in SharePoint is available via a URL – so we can ‘decode’ the links SharePoint uses to build our own links to the data we want our users to get to
  • ‘Source’ data passed through the querystring allows us to control where the user is taken after a form is used (assuming the link destination was a form – it doesn’t have to be)
  • Creating a HTML link tag is super easy

User Experience Tweaking

You can use CSR to build ‘web-user-friendly’ vs. ‘SharePoint-user-friendly’ user interfaces. If all your users are familiar with SharePoint this isn’t a compelling reason. However, for environments where non-office workers (warehouse, production, etc.) are using SharePoint sites and solutions, making the interface intuitive – making it more ‘web-friendly’ – is a compelling reason to look at enhancements like this. For example:

Non-SharePoint users don’t know what the ellipses (…) are. They don’t know they need to click on the ‘…’ to get a menu for more details, etc.
image

By adding a column with web links to forms, it makes the interface easier to navigate – the useful links are displayed prominently instead of inside of a menu that needs to be opened first. If you had custom forms this same approach could be used to get the user to those forms instead of the default forms. SharePoint only enables linking to the default forms in the interface.
image

This also gives the solution owner more control over the interface by only displaying the controls they want made available to users.

How-To

If you use the SharePoint menu to navigate to the Edit page and look at the URL you will see something like this:

https://forgegroup.sharepoint.com/TeamSite/CSR/Lists/DemoList/EditForm.aspx?ID=1&Source=https%3A%2F%2Fforgegroup%2Esharepoint%2Ecom%2FTeamsite%2FCSR%2FSitePages%2FDemo%2520-%2520Link%2520to%2520Pages%2520and%2520Forms%2Easpx&ContentTypeId=0x01004578E7B0B3F1BE41A0EE6CF023F4518D

If we break the URL down we get the following:

  • https://forgegroup.sharepoint.com/TeamSite/CSR/Lists/DemoList/EditForm.aspx
    This is the URL for the form page
  • ?ID=1
    This is the parameter passed in that tells the form which item ID in the list to display
  • &Source=https%3A%2F%2Fforgegroup%2Esharepoint%2Ecom%2FTeamsite%2FCSR%2FSitePages%2FDemo%2520-%2520Link%2520to%2520Pages%2520and%2520Forms%2Easpx
    This tells SharePoint where to navigate when the form is submitted or cancelled – essentially where the user ends up next. This can be VERY useful when building your own solution.
  • &ContentTypeId=0x01004578E7B0B3F1BE41A0EE6CF023F4518D
    Finally, this is the content type for the item in the list. We aren’t using this information for our example.

What we’re doing with the CSR code is creating our own link that will be displayed in an overridden column. The complete sample code can be found in the CSR_CustomLinks.js file. We’ll just look at the key lines here:

image

  • The link is going to ‘../Lists/DemoList/EditForm.aspx’ where ‘DemoList’ is the name of my list and ‘EditForm.aspx’ is the default edit form created for the list. If you’ve created a new form (with SharePoint Designer, etc.) and want to use it, this is where you’d put the name of the file. You could even leave the default ‘edit’ form as default but use this link to get to a separate edit form.
  • ‘ID’ is the name of the parameter we’re sending to the form. We’re getting the data from the list as ctx.CurrentItem.ID
  • Then comes our own ‘Source’ value to tell SharePoint where to navigate after the form has been used. This can be helpful if you want to direct users to a specific place other than where they came from.
  • Finally, ‘Edit’ is the text that will displayed as the link. You can use whatever verbiage makes sense to your users here OR replace the text with a graphic or icon.

In the sample code I’m actually building two links – ‘Edit’ and ‘Details’ in the same column override.

Get creative with this. The link doesn’t have to be to a form for the current list. It could be a view for another list with a reference back to the current list. For example you might have a document library where you’re keeping reference documents for a list and use a reference ID field in the document library to connect back to the current list. You could use this CSR approach to build the URL string to a view of the document library and filter it by the reference ID… Then a user could be looking at the current list and click on a simple link to all the related documents for that item.

Notes

  • Using graphics: Choose a location for any graphics you want to use as part of your solution. A good place might be the SiteAssets library. Then use code that looks something like this:
    image
    Replacing the ‘Edit’ text with an HTML image tag linking to your image file.
  • Combine this link with conditional formatting and potentially display different actions or icons depending on the content of your list item.
  • Filtering on a lookup column is another post using a similar custom link approach.
  • PowerApps: Moving forward solutions like described in this post will be accomplished using PowerApps. If you’re already using SharePoint Online, the capabilities are already available by building not only a list view from a SharePoint list, but being able to customize each column and build custom forms that you can link to within your PowerApp.

References

PowerApps – Data Table Control

PowerApps takes another step in the direction of SharePoint lists. This isn’t intended to be a knock on anything, just an effort to put it into perspective for SharePoint user. With a data table (grid) control PowerApps is able to look a lot like a SharePoint list view.  Smile  PowerApps users now have a control to more rapidly replicate SharePoint view-looking solutions. True, it’s not just SharePoint… but that’s where many users are coming from… and the table/grid layout will be a nice comfort zone for ‘SharePointers’.

If users want to display items from a data source, they have a variety of options in PowerApps – initially centered on the gallery control. The gallery has a LOT of flexibility, allowing users to select gallery templates or build layouts from scratch. Layouts might look like a grid layout, or like a ‘card’ with fields arranged more like the old announcement web part in SharePoint. With this flexibility, however, comes more effort. Not a bad option, just a trade-off. 

The Data Table control has fewer configuration options, but is a big time-saver in that it drops a complete control on the PowerApps screen and allows for a quick configuration to a data source. Fewer options (for now), but quick and easy creation.

Once on a screen, the Data table can be found in the Insert tab: image

Once inserted on a screen, the control needs to connect to data. Clicking on ‘Connect to data’ will allow the user to use existing connections or add a new one. image

In the properties column before connecting to data:
image

Connecting to the SharePoint site, you need to enter the URL of your *site*, not the *list* directly. Once connected to the site you’ll be able to select the list you want.

Once a list is selected, the fields available are displayed. Fields are selected in the order they are to be displayed from left to right. They can be reordered by dragging the columns up and down in the property pane shown here:
image

The screen view and property page with fields selected:
image

As the fields are selected, they show up on the control itself. Boom. That’s it for starters.

The control has a standard collection of basic properties available for configuration, though I expect the options to expand over time. 

Notes

  • CSR – In SharePoint there was no option to configure the text displayed when a web part was empty without getting into some Client-Side Rendering or JS Link customizations. With the Data Grid control there is a “NoDataText” property that takes care of this capability out of the box. Yea!
  • Filtering and Sorting – These aren’t the only other properties of a SharePoint view, but they are the next pieces after choosing the fields to display. See how to use formulas in PowerApps to control the ‘view’ sort and filter options.  
  • Connected controls – The Data table can be connected to another control, like a form where record data can be displayed and edited. Definitely check this one out in the data table control documentation (listed in references below).

Top Wants

This is a great start so I don’t want to appear too negative. I’m a fan of Microsoft’s newish approach to getting new features out and then moving forward with steady improvements over time. With that, here are the top things that came to mind when initially trying the new control:

  • Column widths, row heights, and word wrap – The ability to control the cells a bit more. You can see in the images above how the field widths aren’t acting like you’d hope or assume. The Title field should be bigger and the Priority field should be smaller. It’ll get there.
  • Column formatting, Conditional formatting – Right now the font controls are limited to the headers and the rest of the cells. It will be nice to have column/field level formatting and conditional formatting – one of the most requested and customized features in SharePoint views. 
  • A supported / best practices method for embedding these PowerApps into the SharePoint interface. THAT is how we’ll be able to replace and extend the current SharePoint list view with a PowerApp.

References

PowerApps Community Plan

Now, this is just awesome. In another move to increase user onboarding, Microsoft announced the PowerApps Community plan – free for users to get ramped up on building solutions with PowerApps, Microsoft Flow, and the Common Data Service.

Why is this particularly cool? Users have always been able to sign up for a free trial with their own tenant but that has time limitations. Literally millions of O365 users potentially have access to PowerApps via their organizations, but many of these organizations are hesitant to enable PowerApps in their environments. Regardless of your individual situation, you now have access to a free development environment to not just check out, but dig in and learn one of the most promising tools out there for business solutions.

From a SharePoint user perspective, this is a great way to check out the tool that will both replace InfoPath and extend SharePoint out of box capabilities previously covered by SharePoint Designer, Client-Side Rendering (CSR) and JS Link, and other power user tools. Ramp up on your own and be ready for when your administrator turns PowerApps on in your tenant – OR be the reason they turn it on when you understand it’s capabilities and can demonstrate both your skill and solutions ready for your particular business cases. While SharePoint is, and will continue to be a data source for PowerApps – also check out the Common Data Service. Not all apps should be in SharePoint (really, its not the only tool out there. Smile ).

Be sure to check out the FAQ at the end of the blog post for good info as well. You will be able to transfer apps from your individual environment to another tenant… It’s not a dead-end tenant.

References

  • Sign up for the PowerApps Community Plan
  • Check out the blog post for more details.

Update

Seems worth noting that you create your community account as a part of a business account – which many folks will already have. But not to fear, PowerApps keeps your community account separate from your actual work account by using the same account and password, but creating a new environment. Well done PowerApps Team!

image

  • ‘TrecStone (default)’ is, yep – the default PowerApps environment for my account.
  • ‘Demo Area’ is a separate environment created to try out environment functionality
  • ‘Wes Preston’s Environment’ is my new personal PowerApps Community Plan environment

SharePoint, PowerApps, and List View Permissions

While discussing SharePoint list views during a recent SharePoint 101 session at our local SharePoint User group, the inevitable question about permissions on columns and views came up. Standard answer: ‘No’. Permissions in SharePoint are set at the list level, or the item level. Nothing is available at the column or view level. However

Here are the facts (today – this stuff changes so fast…):

  • Permissions on SharePoint lists are set at the list or item level. There are no SharePoint settings for permissions on a specific view.
  • PowerApps are surfaced in the views dropdown.
  • PowerApps permissions are set at the App level.

Are you there yet? Did you make the connection? Yep. You can have an item in the view dropdown with permissions different than the list itself. You can now have a ‘view’ with its own permissions. PowerApps are even integrated enough to *not* show up in the dropdown if you are a user that doesn’t have permissions to the App.

image

Now, PowerApps are not as simple to create as a SharePoint view, but it is possible. Currently two facts hamper users a little bit here.

  1. The current SharePoint to PowerApps ‘wizard’ only creates a phone layout App. Not something that easily replicates a traditional SharePoint view.
    image
    Don’t get me wrong, this template (wizard) is awesome. it just doesn’t do what we’re talking about (replicate a list view) in this scenario.
  2. PowerApps are not yet embedded in the SharePoint interface – so the user experience is not as smooth as we’d like it to be.

I have to believe that both of these issues are on the roadmap for the PowerApps and SharePoint teams. We’ll just need to wait and see if and when they work their way up the list. Smile

Until these are addressed, you have a few things you can do manually with SharePoint and PowerApps. I’m walking through some of the options and steps with this blog series (References listed below – still have more posts to come…).

As with anything you’re working on in SharePoint or PowerApps, you need to pay attention to permissions levels. Extending SharePoint with PowerApps – while awesome – adds to the details you need to pay attention to. #governance. You might run into something like this:
image

You can also use the ever popular ‘security by obscurity’ approach and remove the PowerApps listing from SharePoint:
image
Although, you don’t actually have to do the ‘obscurity’ approach though since we have the capability of setting appropriate permissions at both the SharePoint and PowerApps levels.

You have options to switch the visibility, permissions, and integration experience in the SharePoint list menu:
image

These are a few of the configuration options. Check them out to see if the integration between SharePoint and PowerApps can meet your particular needs. If it doesn’t now, by bet would be that it will eventually… soon even.

References

Top X Things Needed To Make PowerApps Awesome for SharePoint

While chatting about PowerApps recently, someone told me that I should always know my ‘top x’ things I want fixed, added, changed, etc. I can see where that might be handy to talk about with Microsoft, with other implementers, etc. It’s a quickly changing community and product and hey, they *are* listening. For PowerApps my current focus is on how it integrates with SharePoint. With that in mind, here’s my top 2. I’ll come up with more later. These are the ones I think are *really* important. 

  1. Embedded
  2. Embedded

PowerApps has great potential and already has a running start. But it has to nail the embedded story. If the integration of SharePoint and PowerApps is going to be *really* successful and gain the love of SharePoint users it needs to be easy and seamless. That means when a user selects a PowerApp in SharePoint it’s not going to jump to another application. It needs to run within the SharePoint interface.

So why do I list ‘embedded’ twice? Not because I really, really want it (I do) – but because there are (at least) two distinct embedded use cases:

Embedded Forms

EVERYONE has been talking about forms – which is well and good. They should be talking. They should (and have) been yelling. The gap is obvious and a solution is WAY overdue. With the scheduled end of InfoPath and the rudely unscheduled end of SharePoint Designer’s (SPD) visual designer, users have been left with one of the community’s longest and most obvious gaps. Thanks to third-party offerings (K2, Nintex, etc.) and community-efforts (Stratus Forms, etc.) certain needs have been met, but there are still gaps and it’s been far too long for a Microsoft-sponsored solution for business and power users.

Note: I don’t want this coming off as an anti-Microsoft rant. That is definitely not my intent. There were plenty of reasons for the delay. What they want to do and need to do is not trivial and the standards are extremely high. The integration we’re talking about also requires collaboration (see what I did there?) between two separate, complex, and rapidly changing products and teams. The PowerApps and SharePoint teams are also in different reporting structures within Microsoft. Fortunately both teams understand how important it is to get this particular integration done. The good thing is that there are many indications that this time around they’re going to make it – and maybe even exceed your expectations.

PowerApps needs to be able to replace existing SharePoint forms – the standard New, Edit, and Display forms – as well as add additional forms to a list or library. Form editing needs to be easy and intuitive in terms of which fields are displayed, how fields are laid out and formatted. Beyond that, there are plenty of other features we’d love to see, but the ones listed here are the core. Talk to anyone that’s used InfoPath or SPD and you’ll quickly get a list of wanted features.

We have every indication that Forms and the embedded experience will be addressed. Microsoft has gone as far as announcing that PowerApps IS the replacement for InfoPath. It is important to remember however that the features are coming iteratively, little by little, but continuously. So be patient.

Embedded Views

The embedded story that folks aren’t talking about as much is for Views. SharePoint views have historically been a powerful tool for business users. And while they are powerful out of the box, power users continue to find that they’d like to extend views beyond the out of box capabilities, and extend without involving developers when they are able.

Again, power users were once able to do some limited, yet still extremely useful, view customizations with SPD, but lost that power with the deprecation of the designer view. For the last few years, some customizations were again available using Client-Side Rendering (CSR) and the JS Link property of web parts. While extremely flexible, this approach was beyond most typical business users as it crept into a grey area between out of the box and ‘real’ customization and development. The approach never gained mainstream support or adoption. Now, as O365 continues to mature and lock down features that have the capability to jeopardize platform stability, CSR and JS Link are also going away from fringe power users and exclusively back into the hands of developers (good for the platform, unfortunate for those that were using it). 

Users need a way to get the benefit of SharePoint views, specifically choosing a list of fields, the order of the fields in a grid or spreadsheet format, the filter for the list of items, and how they are sorted. Once those core features are available they’re going to want the ability to customize that view using PowerApps’ ability to change field formats, apply conditional formatting, and other rules.

PowerApps today are surfaced in O365 SharePoint Online via the view dropdown.

image

Selecting one of them initiates the loading of a PowerApp, but only give the user a button to open the PowerApp – opening the client application.

image

Embedding the PowerApp would (hopefully) spin up a PowerApp right in the SharePoint window – just like any other view – rather than having to launch a client application – which is a fairly jarring experience for users.

I think there’s some interest in this use-case in the community, but it’s definitely less discussed than the forms example. I’m not sure what the interest level is, but I imagine anyone that was doing CSR and JS Link work would be interested in it. We’ll just have to wait and see.

#3 – A View Template

OK. So I did think of a third item on my list.

The current SharePoint template for PowerApps starts with a SharePoint list and creates a series of three forms in PowerApps. It would be great is there was a PowerApps template that took the selection a step further – into the current views for a list (or library) – and had a default layout that looks more like a traditional SharePoint view – a table/grid layout. This feature alone would allow SharePoint users to leverage their existing investment in views straight into extending them in the PowerApps interface. 

Summary

PowerApps is a powerful addition to the suite of tools Microsoft is making available for power users – many of which are currently using SharePoint. The PowerApps team wants to see user adoption grow and has a large group of potential users in the existing SharePoint user base – and SharePoint folks are an eager bunch. We’re already intrigued by the potential PowerApps brings to the table. If Microsoft is able to smoothly embed PowerApps into SharePoint (and Teams!) pages, users will be chomping at the bit to use PowerApps (and Flow) even faster than they already are.

PowerApps – ‘List View’ Layouts For SharePoint Data (part 2)

In the last post we created a PowerApp app from scratch and connected to SharePoint list data. This post will talk about different ways of laying out the data on a PowerApps form (screen). This is EASY stuff. Hopefully you’ll think so too after seeing it.

Coming from SharePoint into PowerApps, the default method is to use the ‘Create an app’ menu item (Microsoft loves to demo this) in the SharePoint modern view that automatically creates a 3-form phone app connected to the list you started from. Yes, this is indeed awesome. However, that’s not what we want in this case – so we’re talking about a different approach. In this article we’re creating a tablet app – one that might look more like a PowerApp embedded in SharePoint (crossing our fingers here) would look. More like a traditional SharePoint view.

image

So, back to the tablet app approach…

By default when adding a Gallery control and selected the Vertical Text Gallery, we get a control that included 3 fields and ended up looking like this:

image

Coming from the SharePoint world, this looks like the default view for the Announcements web part or the ‘Newsletter’ view layout. While this is very useful, sometimes I’d like to see the data like we do in SharePoint, in more of a grid/table format. You could even do a hybrid of the two. Either way, it requires moving fields around a bit. Thankfully, this is super easy.

A few notes about the gallery control. You can select the entire control, a single item, or each field on the first item. All customizations to items and fields is done in a single item and will be replicated for all items. To select the item, select the round edit icon in the upper left of the control. This will allow you to resize the item within the gallery. Editing the item (rather than the whole gallery control or an individual field control) allows you to resize the item within the gallery. In our case once we’ve resized field controls and aligned them how we want them we’ll reduce the size of the item to look more like a grid. To go back to selecting the grid, select any item other than the first one.

image

The plan

I’m going for something similar to an All Items view minus the Description field. That’s 4-5 fields with room for future controls – probably something to view details of an individual item or kick of a Flow, or some other interesting option (future posts).

Resizing, reassigning, and moving field controls

We start with three fields, two of which are larger fonts used as a title and subtitle. There are plenty of ways to go about getting the right fields on the page. I’m going to do the following:

  • Delete the title and subtitle fields.
  • Reduce the size of the remaining ‘description’ field
  • Change the Wrap property from ‘true’ to ‘false’. This cleans up the field a bit if there is enough text to wrap and doesn’t show up along the bottom of the field.
  • Make any other formatting changes to the field control. (before we copy it…)
  • Copy and paste the fields to get the number of fields needed
  • Move the fields around – I’m putting them in what looks like a row of fields, aligned along the top of the ‘item’ space.
  • Select the item and reduce it’s vertical space to just enough to contain the row of field controls. This compresses the items into what looks a lot more like the grid format we’re used to with a SharePoint view.
  • Reassign the data assigned to each field to match how you want your view to display
    Remember: For some field types you may need to use the Advanced tab or the formula box
  • As needed, reformat or resize the fields to make the best use of space

Now, the screen looks a bit more like this:
image

Probably a good idea to add some text controls across the top as field headers. Now we have:
image

Easy! Hopefully you think so too…

Thoughts

There are a lot of directions you could go from here:

  • Add some navigation to the screen in the header or footer
  • Change the column headers to more interesting controls
  • Add some conditional formatting to the fields
  • What feature would you like to see added?

The stuff we’ve done is still pretty straight-forward, but if we eventually have the option of embedded PowerApps as views in SharePoint, it would be nice (especially for less-techy folks) to have a wizard or template that can take an existing view and convert it to a PowerApp. The more features we add to a page like this, the nicer it would be to have it automated. Smile

References

SharePoint Online Public WebSites – Replace with WordPress

Before, and Now

Earlier iterations of SharePoint Online / Office365 included a public site. This was a simplified version of a site collection, a simple content management solution that produced a ‘brochure-ware’ type site. Microsoft announced that these sites would be going away and in March ‘15 new public sites could no longer be created. Existing sites could continue for the time being.

The latest information on these changes can be found here:
https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/3027254/information-about-changes-to-the-sharepoint-online-public-website-feature-in-office-365 

Pay particular note of the important dates listed in this article. Public sites can be extended, but will eventually be deleted.

The original public SharePoint site was intended to be a ‘brochure-ware’ type solution: Still based in SharePoint and easy to update, but really just a few static pages. As with anything in SharePoint, users figured out how to hack and pick it apart into something more. IMO something beyond what Microsoft intended. For whatever reason, public sites were officially deprecated. So, time to find an alternative.

Moving forward

Microsoft does have info for migrating to partners and hosts:
https://support.office.com/en-us/article/Migrate-your-SharePoint-Online-Public-Website-to-a-partner-website-cd0b5af5-d23f-4195-801e-145ec62604b3?ui=en-US&rs=en-US&ad=US 

For my particular needs, I’m going to replace my SharePoint public website with WordPress. I’m already using it for my blog and you can easily create static pages. The management of pages is very easy. The platform is extensively used – both as a hosted option from WordPress itself, and through many hosting providers as a service. Once WordPress is set up it’s extremely easy to update. I can also use the blog capabilities later if needed. Because of the popularity of the platform, there are also a plethora of plugins that offer additional functionality – like embedding other blogs.

WordPress Basics

I don’t want to get into too much “how do you use WordPress” as there are plenty of great resources out there. For this use case I’m going to point out details that were useful to migrate from SharePoint public website to a WordPress solution.

Setup and hosting

First, you need to find a place to host your WordPress site. The easiest is probably WordPress.com, but there are plenty of third party web hosts that are set up specifically to host sites as well. https://wordpress.org/hosting/ You can also install WordPress yourself. Or, you can host WordPress on Azure.
https://channel9.msdn.com/blogs/Azure-in-Information-Systems/How-To-Create-A-WordPress-BlogSite-on-Microsoft-Azure 

If you’ve got an existing site, you’ll likely get your site set up on a temporary address – an Azure address, a WordPress address, or something specific from your host – before configuring your actual domain name to point to it. More on that later.

Plugins

Once you’ve got the main platform installed, you can take a look at plugins. I’ve got three main plugins activated on my site: Akismet, Jetpack, Hide Title, and WPtouch.

Akismet is primarily for spam protection. If you have comments enabled, you’ll want to use Akismet to keep spam comments in line. It’ll block many automatically and flag others for review. If you’re only using the brochure-ware features – static pages – of WordPress and not using the blog, I’d just turn comments off. This also makes Akismet not needed.

Jetpack is a plugin from WordPress.com that extends features usually only available on WordPress.com hosted sites. I like to use the site statistics, but Jetpack also brings a contact form as well.

Hide Title was used to clean up the static home page by hiding the default page title. As a blog it’s nice to have the page title displayed, but as a home page you want to see the name of the blog.

WPtouch Mobile enables a mobile-friendly version of your site without having to do anything else.

Migration of content

Next, you will be bringing your content over or creating new content. In my case it had been more than long enough to review and update my content at the same time. Regardless of the status of your existing content, it’s likely best to start by inventorying pages, content, and any functionality.

Create pages and navigation links in WordPress. (plenty of info on this out there…)

By default, a WordPress site is set up for blogging. You can easily switch the configuration to look more like a non-blog site with a static home page. Follow the directions here for creating a static homepage rather than the normal blog home page.
https://codex.wordpress.org/Creating_a_Static_Front_Page

If you were using a contact form as part of that SharePoint public website, you can easily replace it with a Jetpack contact form: Create a Contact Form
https://jetpack.com/support/contact-form/ 

Be cautious of cutting and pasting content as odd HTML can be brought across. I ended up switching back and forth between the Visual editor and ‘Text’ editor (where you can see HTML) to clean up the tagging. The main issues I saw were with <div> tags causing weird spacing. Once I cleared those out things went much easier.

Themes. Depending on the theme you choose, you might end up splitting content across a few more pages. I found that the theme I used took up more space – so looked at logical ways to split text up into additional pages. I’m using ‘Twenty Sixteen’ for the moment – mostly because that’s what I have for my blog. I may change it out to get a slightly different look.

Flipping the switch

Now that the site is up and configured and content has been migrated, updated, or created – it’s time to get the domain switched from O365 to the new site.

IMPORTANT – if you’re going to continue using O365 for everything else – including email – you are ONLY switching the domain configuration for the public website, not the entire domain. This requires a little more configuration.

Network configuration is NOT my forte… but the documentation is pretty good and the support folks I spoke with were very helpful. The players here include: O365 administration, your web host, and your DNS host. I found the following to be helpful.

https://support.office.com/en-us/article/Update-DNS-records-to-keep-your-website-with-your-current-hosting-provider-2c4cf347-b897-45c1-a71f-210bdc8f1061

https://support.office.com/en-us/article/Add-or-edit-custom-DNS-records-in-Office-365-af00a516-dd39-4eda-af3e-1eaf686c8dc9?ui=en-US&rs=en-US&ad=US#cantedit

https://support.office.com/en-us/article/Create-DNS-records-for-Office-365-at-any-DNS-hosting-provider-7B7B075D-79F9-4E37-8A9E-FB60C1D95166?ui=en-US&rs=en-US&ad=US#bkmk_add_cname

What I don’t like about these settings is needing to wait for them to propagate out through the web. Some settings will appear to be implemented immediately while others might take up to a day to kick in. Not fun for troubleshooting. Be sure to stay on top of the changes though as they can easily affect email as well.

What’s next?

Themes. There are TONS of these available. You can spend all kinds of time looking for and testing WordPress themes on your site.

With all the fun stuff coming from Microsoft along the lines of PowerApps and Flow, are there any cool scenarios that might work with the WordPress site? There IS a connector… Move content from your internal SharePoint site to WordPress? Automate emails from your contact form?

Things to look into. Smile 

Notes

Depending on the details of your public site, you might require more robust content management capabilities or custom functionality. WordPress is only one of many options available. A custom site may be a better fit as well. Having started playing with PHP, Bootstrap, and other standard web tools they could easily spin up a simple site that fits the needs of the site. ‘It depends’ extends beyond SharePoint. Winking smile 

References