Monday, 25 January 2016

Nintex Workflow - How To Set a DateTime field to Current Date AND Time

What: Surprisingly had some trouble with this simple task, so here's how you can avoid wasting 20 minutes of your life.  If you have a list column that is of type Date AND Time, it can be difficult to set it to the current date and time inside a workflow.

Why:  You might like to do this if you were logging changes to items to a separate list for reporting on later.

How (quick): Create a string variable called 'CurrentDateTime', set the string variable to equal 'CurrentDate[space]CurrentTime'.  Set your DateTime list column to equal the workflow variable CurrentDateTime.

How (detailed):
  • Create a Workflow Variable called 'CurrentDateTime' of type 'Single line of text'
  • Create a 'Set Variable' step and set CurrentDateTime to equal value: Current Date[space]Current Time
    (these two values can be found under common variables tab).

  • Update the field on the list item to equal the Workflow variable you just set.  In my case, I was updating my DateTime field called End Time to equal CurrentDateTime variable.

Monday, 11 January 2016

How To Set Up a Personalised Shortcuts List on a SharePoint Site

What is this?  A tutorial on how to set up a cool list on SharePoint where staff can manage their favourite links, ideally on the homepage of your intranet.

This keeps all their commonly accessed web-stuff 1 click away, and it means you do not have to fill up your SharePoint navigation with 100's of useless links that only 5-10 people use.

Woah that sounds sweet, how is that even possible!?  Well I'm going to show you how, in this tutorial we are using SharePoint Online, because then this post will be relevant for more than a year.

Step 1:  Create a Custom List called 'Personal Shortcuts' by clicking Settings > Add an app, and selecting 'Custom List'.

Step 2: Create a new column in your new list by clicking the List Tab > Create Column.  Call the new column 'Shortcut', Set the Type as 'Hyperlink or Picture' & make sure the column requires a value.

Step 3: Now we need to remove the Title column from this list.

  • Navigate to List Tab > List Settings

  • Set Advanced Settings > Allow management of content types: Yes
  • In List Settings, you should now see a Content Types section.  Click on the 'Item' link

  • Click on the Title Column, set to Hidden (Will not appear in forms)

Step 4: Create a Personalised View of the list

  • Go back to your list & click List Tab > Create View > Standard View & set it up as follows
    • View Name: My Shortcuts
    • Only display the 'Shortcut' Column
    • Sort by: Shortcut
    • Filter: Where 'Created By' is equal to [Me]
    • Click OK
Now it's time to put the personalised list on a page.  So navigate to your homepage and follow these steps ;)

Step 5: Edit page & add an App Part

  • Click Settings Cog > Edit Page

  • Click inside one of the squares on the page and click Insert Tab > App Part > Personal Shortcuts  and then Add

Step 6:  Remove App Part toolbar & header
  • In the top right hand corner of the App Part, there is a little down-arrow.  Click it, then click Edit Web Part

  • Choose the following settings then Apply & OK
    • Selected View: My Shortcuts
    • Toolbar Type: Summary Toolbar
    • Appearance > Chrome Type: None
  • Save Page.

Step 7: Using the list.  You should now have a cool Personalised Shortcuts Web Part on your homepage where people can create their own shortcuts and no one else can see them!!  Don't forget to make sure Everyone has Contribute permissions on the list.

This was initially developed to help with people trying to manage their global navigation, if you haven't read it yet, take a look at my previous post: What Should be Allowed to go in Global Navigation

How did you go?  All good?  Got some additional tips?

Friday, 8 January 2016

SharePoint - What Should Be Allowed to go in Global Navigation?

I'll make this real easy.  IF EVERY SINGLE USER NEEDS IT, then it can go on global navigation.

Otherwise, you're wasting precious navigation space for links nobody wants.

Still really need a selection of staff to have one-click access to something?  That's fine, you should look at implementing a personalised list of shortcuts on the homepage that each user can manage themselves.  That way that specialised safety system they access everyday takes up their screen space and no one else's.

This is almost a golden rule for me, what're your thoughts?

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

The Best OOTB Cross-Site Collection Navigation Solution for SharePoint Online

I will start by saying:  This solution sucks, but I've done my fair share of research/testing/swearing so you don't have to.  This is the best option you can currently achieve with OOTB (Out-of-the-box) functionality.

Problem:  Many large companies moving to SharePoint Online have the same problem.  They have enough data that it needs to be spread out across multiple site collections.  How the data should be split up is a different story .  The fact is, they would like to have consistent Global Navigation across all site collections.

Reasons why you would want the same global navigation across all site collections: 

  • Visibility of everything that exists within the SharePoint Online Tenant
  • Consistent navigation simplifies the User Experience, allowing them to be comfortable in any Site Collection without having to remember a new navigation
  • Everyone knows everything that is on SharePoint, not just the admins managing the tenant, which in turns reduces duplication of content
  • One less thing for Site Collection Admins to manage

Rebuttal:  Some argue that there is no need to have the same navigation across all site collections because Search & Content Search Web Parts can surface all the content across the tenant anyway.  Yes that is true, but I would argue that being presented with content, and knowing where content is located are two very different things.

Finding content quickly allows you to get what you need and get on with your day which is great for short-term productivity & efficiency.  However, knowing where content is located helps users keep content up to date, allows easier management of access to the content & makes sense to people when they ask 'so where is this actually sitting?'.

The Solution:  Utilise the SharePoint Term Store to manage your global navigation & set all your site collections to use Managed Navigation.

How it works:  You create one main navigation Term Set and set up all the terms (navigation options/dropdowns) you would like to have in your global navigation.  This Term set will be used by your Root Site Collection (

You then create one additional term set for each site collection you manage.  Each of these term sets will use 'pinned terms with children', which replicate all the settings from the main navigation Term Set without you having to recreate them all manually.

This means if you ever need to edit things like, location of term in navigation, or name of term, then it will automatically roll out that change to all your pinned term sets.

Disadvantages to this solution:  here's where the sucky part comes in.

  • Initial setup takes a long time.  lets say you have 20 site collections and 20 items in your global navigation, this means you would need to create 20 terms, then pin each of those 20 terms to 20 site collections (400 terms all up).  That's a shitload of work (1 day for a pro like myself).
  • If you change a URL to a root term, it doesn't roll out that change to all of your term sets, you would need to manually update the URL in each of the term sets
  • If you need to add a new term, same URL rules apply I'm afraid.

Still on my side and want to implement this bad boy?  Move on to my next blog post for 'SharePoint Online - Setting up Cross-Site Collection Navigation Using Term Sets [work in progress]'

I'm always looking for better ways to manage SharePoint environments, so if you've got anything to add on global navigation, please comment below!