Tuesday, July 31, 2012

SharePoint Discussion Board List

One of the first questions that many of our customers ask is “What is SharePoint?” Followed by “What can I do with SharePoint”. We have started a series of blog articles that discuss the different lists/libraries/web parts that are available in SharePoint Online (Office 365). My first installment on this relates to the SharePoint List Discussion Board.

What is a discussion board? A simple definition is an online bulletin board. Basically an area where questions and comments can be posted and other users can respond with comments and solutions related to these topics. Microsoft has a built in Discussion Board available via SharePoint.

To create a new discussion board, open your SharePoint Office 365 site, and select All Site Content (typically on the lower section of the left hand navigation). Please note on most sites there already exists
a discussion board appropriately titled “Discussion Board”
At the top of the page, select Create:

On the left hand side, select Lists and then select Discussion Board – on the right hand side give the Discussion Board a name (example: Discussion Board) and then select Create:

There are several options available for the Discussion Board. To access these, go to the Discussion Board and select List on the Ribbon Toolbar at the top:

On the far right hand side, select List Settings:

There are numerous settings that can be modified but for the purpose of this blog, I wish to highlight the
Advanced Settings features, so under the General Settings header select Advanced Settings:

The Item Level Permissions section has some very important settings. First the Read Access settings allows for users to only see the items they create in the discussion board or all of the items in the discussion board. The second option, Create and Edit access, allows items to only be created and edited by a particular user or all items. In addition, this can be set to none so that users are unable to Create or Edit items in the discussion board.


A few things to point out in relation to discussion boards. First, keep in mind that it is intended to be a public discussion board – so things published there should be treated as if anyone can see it. Also, Discussion Boards do NOT work on mobile phones – by default anyway. There are programs that can be purchased and downloaded on mobile phones to allow the discussion board to be displayed on those devices.

Great news - in SharePoint 2013 this functionality is taken to a whole new level. There will be a new feature called a Community Site. A Community Site will allow for discussions to be open to a larger audience within the organization. Discussions can be setup in different categories and users can then join the different discussions that are of interest to them. The best part is that Moderators will get expanded capabilities including the ability to assign gift badges to users based on their contributions. Also Community Features will be available for activation on sites. Great things are in store for user collaboration in SharePoint 2013 and the next version of Office 365.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Pardon Our Dust

I am moving into a new Blog template, so please pardon the dust as I work on getting the new template setup.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Email Signatures

Smart phones have changed everything - even the importance of email signatures. Case in point, I recently had a meeting scheduled with a business acquaintance. This acquaintance was running late for the meeting and need to contact me by phone. He opened up the email I had sent to him expecting to find my phone number in my email signature. However, I had not added that information to signature. This led to a series of phone calls on his side trying to track me down. If I had included the information on my signature, it would have been a simple click and call situation.

My blog today does not discuss the technicality of setting up an email signature but rather recommendations on the information to include. For information on setting up a signature for all users, this is a great post by Loryan Strant here. Here is my recommendation of necessary information to add to an email signature:
  • First Name
  • Last Name
  • Job Title
  • Company/Organization
  • Phone Number(s): This may include an office number, mobile number and even a fax number
  • Email address
There are a number of ways to format a signature but having the necessary information is the most important part. In today's world, email signatures have gone from passive to active information allowing users to act on it from within their phone for quicker communication options.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

5000 Item Document Library Limit Office 365 Adventures Continued

Some time ago, I had written about my adventures in dealing with the 5,000 item limit in an Office 365 SharePoint Document Library. In troubleshooting and working through this issue, I ended up with a SharePoint Document Library folder with more than 5,000 items in it.

The only option to clean up this library was to reduce the number of items to below 5,000. To accomplish this, I created a Non-Folder view and individually selected and remove documents. Given the number of documents, this was a slow and time consuming process - a true effort in futility. Yet, I could not delete the Document Library, so I was just stuck with it.

Enter ShareGate. I was able to utilize the ShareGate tool to Move my documents from one Document Library to another within Office 365. This saved me a ton of time and allows me to be able to once again work with my site on another possible solution.

There are other tools that do the same thing. However, I wanted to submit this alternative for getting a Document Library back to working order. If you do not wish to purchase software, my company as well as other companies that participate in the Office 365 Grid are available to assist in migrating data.   

Monday, July 09, 2012

Add Email Disclaimer Office 365

Most organizations that I work with wish to add a disclaimer of some sort to all outgoing email messages. In this post, I will walk through how to setup email disclaimers.

The first step is to login to the Office 365 portal and then select Admin from the initial landing page:

The next page is the Administration page for Office 365, under the Exchange header, select Manage:

The Exchange Management page is displayed, select Mail Control on the left hand side. Make sure that Rules is selected and select New under the Rules heading:

The New Rule page is displayed,  from the drop down menu under If, select [Apply to all messages]. Under Do the Following, select either Append a disclaimer to the message or Prepend a disclaimer to the message:

Please Note: Append the disclaimer will insert the disclaimer at the bottom of the message thread. Prepend the disclaimer will insert the disclaimer before the text of the newest message.

On the right hand side of Do the Following, select Enter text...... The Specify Disclaimer Box appears. Enter the disclaimer text here and select OK:

On the right hand side of Do the Following, select Select one.... next to the Failback Action:

There are 3 options for the Specify Failback Action: wrap, reject or ignore. This option exists in case a message (such as an encrypted message) prevents Exchange from modifying the content of the original message. The wrap option will wrap the disclaimer message in an envelope . The reject will reject the message if a disclaimer cannot be added. Finally, ignore will deliver the message without a disclaimer.

The default setting is wrap and one that most of my clients have utilized. Select OK.

At the bottom of the New Rule page, select Save:

A dialogue box appears confirming that this Rule is to be applied to all new messages, select Yes:

The disclaimer will be added to all outbound messages, here is an example of a recipient message with a disclaimer: