Posted on:
Categories: SharePoint;Office 365
Description: Explains how to create custom search refiners in SharePoint 2010
​Recently I was tasked with creating an application in SharePoint 2010, that should be used to manage important documents for a call center. For staff working at a call center, it is crucial to be able to retrieve information very quickly while on a call. To meet this requirement, I took this approach Create an intuitive Document Library structure Use content types Create a local search center Define a custom search scope to limit search results Usually, members of the call center are accessing the important documents by directly navigating to the Document Library where the documents are saved. Most of the staff worked for this call center for many months or years. The basic Document Library structure has been created based on their input, and that's the reason why they got familiar with the implemented library structure very quickly. To access rarely requested information in an efficient manner, I created a local search center and configured it to use search refiners. Unfortunately, there is a problem with search refiners in SharePoint 2010 and with this blog post, I would like to explain how to overcome this problem. To understand the problem, let's first have a look at a standard (out-of-the-box) search center in SharePoint 2010. To illustrate the problem, I created a basic SharePoint generic list and attached a basic content type to this list. The name of this list is 'Refiner Demo List' and the name of the content type that this list is using is 'Refiner Demo'. The content type I'm using in this demo is a very basic content type with just one additional site column called Colour which is linked to a term set As a next step to prepare my demo environment, I created four different items and saved them to my 'Refiner Demo List' The problem becomes visible when I search for an item of this list. Let's assume I'm searching for "Item 1". The following screenshot shows the result set and the refiners list Although "Item 1" has been found and the list of refiners also got updated, I was expecting to see 'Colour' as the headline above the refiners. Instead, SharePoint 2010 is showing 'Tags'. Why that? To understand this, we need to take a look at the configuration of the refiners web part. To get access to the configuration data of the refiners list, I need to open the “Filter Category Definition”. SharePoint is opening a very basic text editor to display the refiners configuration data. As you can see, search refiners are configured by using a XML syntax Each refiner configuration is encapsulated within a <Category> tag. If I look for 'Tags' (as this is the headline of the out-of-the-box refiner), I will find this <Category Title="Tags" Description="All managed metadata of the documents and social tags" Type="Microsoft.Office.Server.Search.WebControls.TaxonomyFilterGenerator" MetadataThreshold="3" NumberOfFiltersToDisplay="3" MaxNumberOfFilters="20" ShowMoreLink="True" MappedProperty="ows_MetadataFacetInfo,popularsocialtags" MoreLinkText="show more" LessLinkText="show fewer" /> This configuration is a kind of default configuration which is used to display all search refiners which are based on a term set. As long as there is at least one term set based site column in the list of search results, this default configuration ensures, that this site column is available as a search refiner. Usually this is helpful, because it creates valid search refiners almost automatically. In other words You don't need to edit the refiner's configuration manually to display refiners based on taxonomy items. In my case, the requirements have been different. I was using a local search center with a dedicated search scope, and the refiners list should be built of the site columns which have been defined for this application only. I don't want to have a list of tags – instead, the site columns names should be displayed as the headline for each group of refiners. In this blog post, I would like to show how to do that. First, a new managed metadata needs to be created. In my demo I have created a site column named 'Colour' and that's why SharePoint 2010 has created a few crawled properties upon crawling the content automatically To be able to use this crawled property as a search refiner, I need to create a managed property based on this crawled property first After I have done that, a full crawl is required. As soon as the full crawl is finished, I can use this managed property to create a custom search refiner. To create a custom search refiner, the following configuration item needs to be added to the search refiners XML <Category Title="Colour" Description="All available colours" Type="Microsoft.Office.Server.Search.WebControls.ManagedPropertyFilterGenerator" MetadataThreshold="1" NumberOfFiltersToDisplay="4" MaxNumberOfFilters="20" SortBy="Frequency" SortByForMoreFilters="Name" SortDirection="Descending" SortDirectionForMoreFilters="Ascending" ShowMoreLink="True" MappedProperty="Colour" MoreLinkText="show more" LessLinkText="show fewer" /> Before I add this additional configuration to the search refiners web part, let's have a look at the category's properties first "Title" is the headline text that is displayed above the refiners. "Description" is a textual explanation of this refiner. "Type" describes the type of refiner. Because my additional search refiner is based on taxonomy, I need to use this predefined type (literally this type points to a SharePoint assembly which contains the code needed to handle the corresponding taxonomy items). "MetadataThreshold" describes how many items using this refiner need to be part of the search result set before this refiner is displayed. As I want all custom refiners to be visible as soon as there is at least one item in the search results, I have set this to 1. Having too many refiners with this property set to 1 may cause performance issues. "NumberOfFiltersToDisplay" and "MaxNumberOfFilters" are pretty self explanatory. Same is true for "SortBy", "SortByForMoreFilters", "SortDirection", "SortDirectionForMoreFilters". "MappedProperty" is the name of the managed property to be used. "ShowMoreLink" defines if the "Show more" link should be visible and with "MoreLinkText" and "LessLinkText" you can change the text of that link. Let's see if this additional configuration is working. To proof that it is working as expected, I have added the above XML to the web part's Filter Category Definition and I have unchecked "Use default configuration" (don't forget to uncheck this - otherwise your custom configuration will be overwritten by a default configuration built into the web part). The refiners now look like this As you can see the out-of-the-box 'Tags' refiner is still shown and below our new 'Colour' refiner is displayed. By simply adding an additional Category tag in the Filter Category Definition configuration, custom search refiners can be created and these custom refiners provide an improved usability and an enhanced user experience.




Posted on:
Categories: Azure;Business;Office 365;Skype for Business
Description: With the announcement of Microsoft's Canadian datacenters opening, the conversation piece of how, when and why public and private companies should move to the cloud is on the rise. Here are the top 10 things you need to know about the Canadian public cloud.
​Fantastic things have been happening within the cloud space for a while now - however, it wasn't until two weeks ago when Microsoft announced the opening of their two datacenters within Canada that Canadian businesses could finally harness the benefits of accelerating their business in the public cloud. The public cloud is​ a significant growth tool for both public and private sector businesses and organizations within Canada. For public sector industries such as banks, government and non-profit organizations, the Canadian Datacenter offers an unprecedented solution for cost savings, efficiency, productivity and reliability. For the private sector, the public cloud offers an agile, flexible and always available solution for companies to switch to an operational "pay-as-you-go" model. The benefits of the Microsoft Cloud Datacenter extend past these two examples, here at Softlanding we've aggregated the top 10 things you need to know about the Canadian Cloud before you make the leap.​ Data residency in Canada Canada, much like Russia and Germany, are under strict data residency and sovereignty laws to ensure the privacy and protection of their citizen's personal information. Now, with the availability of Canadian datacenters, highly regulated sectors such as healthcare, government, education and legal now have direct access to a myriad of business benefits that Microsoft Office 365 and Azure have to offer.Enterprise-grade reliability Data is the new currency of business functionality. With that, enterprises have to be sure that their data is fully backed-up, secure and accessible when needed. Microsoft's geo-redundant storage (GRS) is the main data replication agent that maintains six copies of your data. With GRS, data is replicated three times in both the Canada East and Central regions for complete business continuity. Enterprises can also boast the benefits the Canadian Cloud with a financially-backed SLA of 99.9% availability.Secure, private, compliant, transparent The Microsoft Cloud in Canada features the same industry-leading levels of security, privacy, control, compliance and transparency that define the Microsoft-trusted cloud globally. Microsoft has been building and managing datacenters for over 25 years and is recognized by Gartner as the only leader across six of their Magic Quadrants for enterprise cloud workloads in Azure.Operational cost savings Public clouds offer greater elasticity and keep infrastructure costs low for new projects. With private clouds or physical servers, unplanned projects can often pile up on scarce on-site resources. Now with the public cloud, companies can consume resources on an as needed basis. Data expansion is readily available at any time you need it with a simple "pay-as-you-go" model.Integrates with your existing IT environment The public cloud can handle any type of workload – there is no glass ceiling nor minimum spend. For businesses that wish to retain a hybrid approach to their business, the public cloud can accommodate the workloads you'd like to put in the cloud with the ability to increase/decrease it when needed.Business Agility With Microsoft now offering Office 365 and Azure hosted in Canada, Canadian companies can realize the benefits of switching from on-premises to the cloud. Office 365 is one of the main tools that enterprises are using to jumpstart their journey into the cloud. With access to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, SharePoint and other Microsoft tools through Office 365, users can access their digital workspace and data anywhere they go, on any device.Building your skills and capabilities for Azure, Office 365 and/or CRM Online on a hyper-scale public cloud Microsoft's slew of products within Office 365 and Azure are easily Integrated with everyday business functions. As the capabilities of Office 365 and Azure grow, the productivity of your organization will follow.Seamless transfer of tenants hosted in US Microsoft datacenters to Canadian datacenters If your business is already in the cloud within Microsoft's US datacenters, the choice to migrate your workloads to the Canadian cloud are readily available. Softlanding is able to assist the migration of your data back onto Canadian lands as a Cloud Accelerate Microsoft Partner.A Cloud Partner you can trust – Softlanding Softlanding is one of Microsoft's trusted cloud-solution providers with three gold cloud competencies in Cloud Platform, Cloud Productivity and Datacenter. We have been assisting industries of all sizes and focuses in migrating from on-premises to the cloud. Whether your data is currently within US Microsoft datacenters or you would like to jumpstart your move to the cloud, Softlanding offers 30-90 day trial tenants, hands-on workshops and demos to showcase the abilities of the cloud with Office 365 and Azure. Our specialties include Enterprise Mobility Suite, Azure Site Recovery, SharePoint Online with our intranet framework, Agile Intranet, and Skype for Business (Cloud PBX). ​* Table taken from Cisco Global Cloud Index Forecast and Methodology, 2014-2019 White Paper ​Endless possibilities within the cloud to improve your business As companies begin to increase their adoption of the cloud, the cloud data footprint is expected to grow to 8.6 zettabytes by the end of 2019. With that, the trend to move to the cloud is ever-growing as companies are adopting and accommodating a BYOD workforce - changing the perception of "work" as a physical location. Now more than ever, the conversation of business decision-makers trends towards the goal of the cloud … but the question is, when? With the Canadian Microsoft datacenters now available, the time to move to the cloud is now. The cloud opens endless possibilities for organizations looking to grow and advance into a more scalable approach to business. Softlanding is recognized by Microsoft as a Cloud Accelerate Partner and we would be more than happy to provide a trial tenant of Office 365 and Azure for your business to test out the possibilities of a mobile, online workforce and help you plan a strategy on how to start taking advantage of these new technologies.​ ​​To receive a free 90-day Office 365/Azure trial tenant or book a complimentary Microsoft Customer Immersion Experience (CIE) in Vancouver for your team, please reach out to myself at blau@softlanding.ca. ​




Posted on:
Categories: Office 365;SharePoint
Description: ​For the last while now, when anyone would ask me the question "What's happening with SharePoint?" I would have to respond with a politically inspired answer along the lines of "The whole digital workplace is evolving right now, what the end will look like, only time will tell…". With Microsoft's The Future of SharePoint event, things became a lot clearer for the SharePoint community.
​For the last while now, when anyone would ask me the question "What's happening with SharePoint?" I would have to respond with a politically inspired answer along the lines of "The whole digital workplace is evolving right now, what the end will look like, only time will tell…". With Microsoft's The Future of SharePoint event, things became a lot clearer for the SharePoint community. The “Future of SharePoint” event unveiled Microsoft’s vision for SharePoint and introduced copious amounts of updates and new features. This wasn't just a small announcement, this event answered many questions and solidified direction for the SharePoint platform. Here are a few items that got us excited The M Word Metadata We heard something in this event which hasn't been talked about in a while metadata. With the introduction of several new tools Office Videos, Office Groups and OneDrive, metadata has always been put on the back-burner. Yes, with the continued focus on machine learning, and with powerful tools like Delve, a lot of the power of metadata has been automated. . However, different people work in different ways. It would be naive to assume that users no longer use metadata to filter, sort, categorize and search. Thus, it was a thrill to hear Microsoft give metadata its well-deserved attention, announcing features like a renewed interface for updating metadata, the ability to add columns to a list or library in a simplified way and the ability to drag documents into categories to automatically change the associated metadata. Unification of Tools Microsoft has done great work at creating increasingly powerful Office 365 tools, releasing Office Groups, Planner, OneDrive, and Sway within the last while. However, rapid innovation comes at its own price. Rather than harnessing a unified digital workplace ecosystem, the lack of connections between these tools were increasing silos of information. For example, Office Groups acted as their own container of information – resulting in a non-user-friendly way of saving a document onto a team site or SharePoint site. Luckily for us, these walls seem to be coming down. The integration has started, Office Groups now automatically have a corresponding team site, users now have the ability to save from OneDrive to SharePoint and eventually from SharePoint into OneDrive and just a couple of months ago, Office 365 now allows embedding videos from Office Videos directly into a SharePoint site from the ribbon. This is an exciting direction for SharePoint end-users! The unification of these tools means a much better user experience, where your end-users can use these tools in a more fluid way with fewer technical boundaries and limitations. Supporting the Document Lifecycle Documents typically go through various stages during their lifetime. From being initially created to maybe collaborated on by a team, to sharing a finished/published copy with a larger audience or sending to an external party. In the past, this has meant clunky methods of moving documents around. With the unification of tools and the growing power of the compliance features in Office 365, being able to centrally manage, move and share content is now easier than ever. Why does this matter? It matters because each one of the tools in Office 365 are intended for specific scenarios. Being able to use any tool when it makes sense for your scenario without being bound to a singular tool allows for better usability. Enhanced Methods of Business Process Automation With Microsoft PowerApps and Flow on the horizon, we are seeing a major upgrade in tackling business process automation. Before, users relied heavily on third-party vendors to provide easy to use, robust methods of building apps or workflows. With today’s Office 365 tools, we are now seeing a world where power users can do a lot more with out-of-the-box features. One of those being, Flow, a brand new way of creating automated workflows to do things such as collect data or send notifications. The real power with Flow is in the way you create these workflows, with a similar interface to a drag and drop wizard. PowerApps, another enhancement for business process automation, is a method of rapidly building apps that are platform agnostic and giving power users the ability to create them. These simplified descriptions of PowerApps and Flow may not give the power of these tools the justice they deserve, but as these tools mature, I am excited to see how these new solutions address real business problems in less time. This is an evolution. Evolution of a solution that helps people connect and work together. A growing number of effective non-Microsoft tools out there means Microsoft is constantly looking at ways to improve and innovate, and that’s a great thing for everyone. We got a great glimpse of innovation at this event, and both implementers and consumers of Office 365/SharePoint have a lot to be excited about!