Newsletter – 03/14/2017

It’s been too long since we sent out a Sympraxis newsletter! Of course, the reasons for not sending one are good things: we’ve been very busy with client work, family fun, and learning new things.

First off, I (Marc) want to extend some seriously hearty congratulations to Julie for getting the Microsoft MVP Award on March 1. I wanted to work with Julie when I met her and got to know her precisely because she’s just the type of person who demonstrates what an MVP should be. When Julie joined Sympraxis, our MVP ratio halved – it’s nice to have it back at 100% again – and she truly deserves it!

If this is news to you, please drop her a line and let her know your thoughts.

Useful SharePoint Tools

Over the last few months, we’ve asked quite a few of our friends in the community what tools, whether third party or something they have built – they find the most useful when they are trying to get work done with SharePoint. We’ve gathered up a list for you which hopefully can help make your lives easier as well. We’re not familiar with all these tools, but we’ve got a few comments, and at least a link to each of them. In no particular order…

  • SPAutoInstaller
  • SharePoint Online Search Toolbox by Puzzlepart – Our pal Mikael Swenson (@MikaelSwenson) wrote this little goody, and it can be incredibly helpful if you are doing work with search on Office 365. It’s well worth the monthly charge. Marc was the first customer – on behalf of a client!
  • SP|CAF by Rencore – Writing good code is not an easy task, and SP|CAF can help you know – or prove – that your code is, in fact, good.
  • SPDocKit by Acceleratio
  • U2U CAML Query Builder by U2U – Yeah, people still write CAML. If you need to, this tool is invaluable.
  • SharePoint Dispose Checker Tool (SPDisposeCheck)
  • SharePoint Manager
  • SharePoint Search Query Tool – I use this one frequently. It’s a great way to “step out of your code” and see what your search queries are returning without wading through XML or JSON. And yup, Mikael Swenson has his hands in this one, too.
  • Aspirin – Yes, someone did suggest this on Twitter. Be sure not to exceed the recommended dosage!

Blogs

This is a tough category to even think about coming up with a complete list. There are a number of aggregation sites out there that can be useful (like Office 365 MVPs), but the best thing you can do is become familiar with the people who seem to know what they are doing. Anyone can toss up a blog and start posting things – and frankly a lot of what is out there is total garbage. Just because someone wrote something up, it doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.

Sympraxis Partners

We’re partners with a couple of software vendors we love working with – primarily because we think their tools are fantastic and we use them regularly. We wanted to set these two tools off separately because – yes, we do have a vested interest if you choose to use them.

Sharegate

Based on the number of mentions Sharegate got as we asked around, it should be at the top of the list above. If you work with SharePoint, you need Sharegate: it’s really that simple. It’s not just a migration tool – it’s an “Everything tool” for SharePoint. We use Sharegate on almost a daily basis to move content around, replicate sites, lists, and libraries, etc.

Hyperfish

Hyperfish is another one of our favorites. With all the work Microsoft is doing to help the product suite revolve around people and what they need to accomplish (rather than around content), having good, valid Active Directory data is critical. If you don’t know what department someone is in, who their manager is, etc., few of the great new experiences on Office 365 work very well. Think about things that utilize the Office Graph underneath, like Delve, the Delve Profile, SharePoint home, and more. Those things only worhttps://www.hyperfish.com/k well if you have good data about people. Take the Hyperfish Analyzer challenge and see where your data stands – we bet it isn’t as good as you think.

Support Options

What about useful support locations? Unfortunately, today software vendors themselves often aren’t the best place to find answers. Things simply move too fast, and people use software products in ways vendors sometimes don’t expect. There are times when a vendor’s support site is a good place to go, but lots of times, you’ll want to look for other options. Here are some of the best.

SharePoint UserVoice

Microsoft has fully embraced the UserVoice platform as the place to gather feedback and suggestions about their software. It’s not a support site, per se, but it can be very helpful to find out that the problem isn’t just you. You might find that something you’ve been struggling with already has been identified https://sharepoint.uservoice.com/as a bug or requested as a feature.

There’s a site on the UserVoice property specifically about SharePoint, and there are several other sites which could be useful, too. It’s often hard to know exactly where to put something, but you might want to check out the UserVoice sites for OfficeOffice 365Office Developer Platform, and others. It would be great if Microsoft had a directory of all these sites. If they do, we aren’t aware of it.

If you have a product suggestion yourself, this is the right place to plant it. Many people seem to believe that griping on Twitter or ranting on Facebook will get them satisfaction, but that’s not realistic. There are too many places for people at Microsoft to watch. UserVoice is the primary location to get your ideas heard, and the Product Group really does read what’s posted.

If you do post, don’t make it a complaint; make a solid, detailed suggestion. The more evidence of the impact and details about the issue or request you can give, the more likely others will agree with you and it will get onto the Product Group’s hit list.

Don’t get frustrated if you don’t see any response to your suggestions, though. We’ve made quite a few ourselves, and they can sit there for a good, long time before anyone else votes them up, and even longer for someone at Microsoft to say it’s in the works, if ever.

StackExchange

StackExchange is a broad platform, offering support for everything from Cryptography to Cognitive Sciences; from Buddhism to Bicycles; from Geographic Information Systems to Game Development.

We’re most interested in the general Stack Overflow site and specifically the SharePoint site, though.

Stack Overflow is great for general technical questions, especially those around code and software development.

The SharePoint site is supposed to be – not everyone behaves – specifically targeted to SharePoint. Marc was one of the early “answerers” on the site, and he’s still proud of the points he’s earned there by answering questions. he’s still on the first page of top answerers, though sliding slowly down the page.

Microsoft Technical Community

This is sort of the New Kid on the Block (#NKOTB #FTW!) these days. Last fall, Microsoft shut down the Yammer group focused on SharePoint – it originally focused on SharePoint Admin for IT Pros – and moved us all over to this new property. Response to it has been mixed, but it’s the best place to find the Product Team these days.

It’s confusing, but this is one of the places the Product Group posts what seem like “blog posts” about the platform. Also, check out the Office Blogs; why things end up in one place or another is a mystery to many of us.

As with Yammer, you’ll want to create an account, but only if you want to like posts or add your own. Don’t just be a lurker – get involved with the community here as you’re looking for your own answers.

There’s a giant page with shows the alphabetical directory of communities on the site. Odds are you’ll want to head to the SharePoint or Office 365 communities, but you might want to check out the full range of options.

Mark Kashman (@mkashman) from Microsoft did a great post a while back which gives his tips on Keeping up with SharePoint announcements, changes, community and the SharePoint of Things #SPoT – check it out.

Vetting Answers

So, you’ve found a support site with an answer that seem to cover what you want to do.
But how can you vet that answer? Back in the old days of SharePoint 2007, we were starved for information. Now it’s probably too easy to find answers to SharePoint questions on the Web. As we mentioned earlier, you can easily find an answer that is a Hairy Bad Idea (#HBI). But how can you tell? How can you vet something you find to ensure it doesn’t lead you on a wild goose chase – or worse, break everything?

Well, try applying some simple tests:

  • Have you heard of the author of the answer?
  • Does the answer have a bunch of upvotes or “this fixed my problem” comments?
  • If the answer is on a blog, has the blog been around a while, with many useful posts?
  • Is the post recent?

If you can’t get a read on the veracity of the content with these tests, try asking about the answer on Twitter with the #SPHelp hash tag. People may be able to give you a suggestion about the validity based on their experience. At the very least, you’ll probably get an opinion or two. SharePoint people have opinions!

Conclusion

Well, that’s about it for this issue of the Sympraxis newsletter. We hope you’ve found a few useful things here. If you have, please let your friends in the community know they should sign up for our next one. You can also read our archives on the Sympraxis Web site.

And don’t forget – it’s PI day! Have a slice for us.

Julie and Marc

New at Sympraxis
Community Highlights

Granite State SharePoint Users Group

April 6, 2017 @ 6pm- Jonathan RaltonSenior Information Architect at BlueMetal, Microsoft Certified Professional is presenting “We Need to Talk: How to Converse with Regular People About Managing their Content in SharePoint”

Click HERE to register!

Boston Area SharePoint User Group

April 12, 2017 @ 7pm – Jared Matfess, Solution Principal, Technology Enablement at Slalom Consulting is presenting “Enhancing Your SharePoint Business Solutions using JavaScript & REST”

Click HERE to register!

Coming Up…
Both Marc and Julie will be doing some speaking this spring.You can find Julie at:Boston Code Camp: March 25, 2017 – “Leveraging Microsoft Graph API through Client Side SharePoint Web Parts
Currently the event is solid out, but you can get on a waiting list here.

SPFest Denver, CO: May 30 – June 2, 2017.  She’ll be doing a half-day pre-conference session “Getting Started with JavaScript Development in SharePoint“, and then two other presentations “Leveraging Microsoft Graph API through Client Side Web Parts” and “BI for the Cobbler’s Children: JavaScript Charting and Graphing“.  You can register for the event here!

You can find Marc at:

SPTechCon Austin, TX: April 2-5, 2017.  He’ll be doing three sessions “Content Types: Love Them or Lose It“, “Creating a Great User Experience in SharePoint“, and “Lions and Tigers and Teams, Oh My! – Sorting through the options to connect and collaborate in Office 365“.  Click here to register!

European Collaboration Summit 2017, Zagreb, Croatia: May 29-31, 2017.  He’ll be sharing his insights in the now famous “Content Types: Love Them or Lose It” presentation.  You can register by going here.

SPS Monaco 2017, Monte Carlo, Monaco: June 3, 2017.

ConnectDo you have any ideas for things you’d like to see us cover? Please reach out to info@sympraxisconsulting.com and let us know! We’re always interested in hearing your stories; help us to shape ours.

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