Customising the Nav Bar & App Launcher in Office 365

A while back Microsoft announced the release of the App Launcher in Office 365, also lovingly christened the Waffle by many due to it’s resemblance to the popular food. In the last few weeks the Waffle has started to appear across Office 365 tenants providing a much cleaner way of navigating to the various bits of Office 365 you care about.

The new app launcher

However, even with this cool new capability, I miss the old Projects and OneDrive links that used to be on the Navigation Bar and often find myself cursing having to go over to the top left and clicking on what I want.

Where is everything?

This weekend, I discovered that MS had indeed catered for this situation and have given the user the ability to pin items to the Nav Bar instead of having to access them through the Waffle.

To pin an item to the toolbar, click on the Waffle.

Click on the Waffle

Hover on the item you want to pin and then click on the ellipses and choose ‘Pin to Nav Bar’

Pin to the nav bar

Low and behold the item will now be available on the Nav bar.

Pinned Project Online

If you change your mind or make a mistake, you can remove the item from the nav bar by repeating the above and choosing Unpin from Nav bar.

Unpin from App Launcher

You’ll also notice from the screenshot above that you can also choose to remove items from the App Launcher completely to customise the launcher to only show the things you care about. Never fear if you accidently do this, you can always re-add the item by clicking on My Apps in the bottom right hand corner of the launcher to open up all the items you can add to the launcher. The name is a little confusing at the moment, as the apps displayed are more items in the Office 365 service with additional apps from partners and ISV’s coming in the future. None of your SharePoint apps you may already have installed are visible in here.

My Apps

Finally to add the item back to the app launcher, however on the item your interested in, click on the ellipses displayed and click on ‘Pin to App Launcher’’

Pin to App Launcher

Happy customising your Office 365 and Project Online Smile

Help shape Microsoft’s Ignite Conference

Ignite - Spark the future

I’ve posted before about how fantastic the Microsoft Project & SharePoint Conferences are, well a couple of months ago Microsoft announced that they were merging those two conferences along with Exchange, Lync, Office 365 and pretty much everything in between into a new conference called Microsoft Ignite.

The Microsoft Ignite team have been hard at it planning what the event will be and it looks to be a cracker, but in a break from usual conferences, the team at Ignite want to hear from the community at large as to what content they want to see in the conference and have put up a survey at http://ignite2015.eventpoint.com/survey/callfortopics to understand the kind of content you want to see.

The team are also holding a series of TweetJams on twitter to engage with the wider audience. If your not sure what a TweetJam is, you can read more here.  But essentially, a TweetJam is a public discussion on twitter where posts are marked with a hashtag to allow the discussion to be tracked. Typically they have a host and a hashtag to follow. You can read more about TweetJam’s  here.

ProjectTweetJam

However I wanted to call out the Project specific TweetJam which is happening on the 9th December, the details of which are below:

Date / Time

Location Local time Time zone UTC offset
Seattle (U.S.A. – Washington) Tuesday, 9 December 2014 at 9:00:00 AM PST UTC-8 hours
London (United Kingdom – England) Tuesday, 9 December 2014 at 5:00:00 PM GMT UTC
Melbourne (Australia – Victoria) Wednesday, 10 December 2014 at 4:00:00 AM AEDT UTC+11 hours
Corresponding UTC (GMT) Tuesday, 9 December 2014 at 17:00:00

The Hashtag to follow is #IgniteJam

The team would like feedback on the following during the TweetJam, so get thinking :)

  1. What’s one thing you’ve loved in a past event that you’d like to see included in Microsoft Ignite?
  2. How can we help showcase your community at Microsoft Ignite?
  3. What is your preferred way to engage with our engineering teams at the event?
  4. What specific sessions do you want to see?
  5. What have you seen done at ANY event you’ve attended, Microsoft or other, that we should consider doing at Microsoft Ignite?
  6. How interested are you in learning about other Microsoft products, such as Azure and Windows 10?
  7. What’s one “can’t miss” thing to do in Chicago?

Finally, if you haven’t already, registration for the Ignite conference is now open, I would recommend you taking a look at this landmark conference and move heaven and earth to get there.

The quiet removal of My Tasks

One of the big things to happen in Office 365 whilst I was ‘offline’ was a quiet announcement about the removal of the My Tasks capability on your My Site. In case you hadn’t seen it, the My Tasks capability rolls up all tasks that have been assigned to you across SharePoint sites into a single view in your My Site.  I’ve posted on it a few times before with the work management tag and it’s a great capability. What makes it even more powerful from the end users points of view is when you can link it up with Outlook and get all the tasks rolling through into OWA or your mobile device.

Back in September, MS quietly posted a support article announcing that the feature would be deprecated over at http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2998445/en-us .

The support article highlights that the Tasks link has been removed from the About Me section of the User Profile page, but can be reinstated easily if you want it back. The support article goes onto state that the capability will remain there for a year before it is removed and considered unsupported.

The article goes onto mention that the Sync with Outlook option is also being removed in the future, but doesn’t make it clear if this is just for the My Site capability or for the whole of SharePoint Online.

‘If you’re currently syncing a SharePoint tasks list to Microsoft Outlook, tasks will continue to sync for approximately one year following this announcement. The personal Tasks page will also continue to be available for one year. After that time, this functionality will be removed and will no longer be available or supported.’

If your using SharePoint 2013 on premises, then none of this matters for now as neither of these changes impact on premises SharePoint farms. If your an Office 356 user, I would be wary of building solutions leveraging this capability in the short term and be on the lookout for inevitable replacement and migration plan in the coming months.

Project Online Improvements

Running an online service is a massive undertaking, especially when you consider something of the size of Office 365. Not only do you need to keep adding new capabilities to the service, but you need to balance this with maintaining the lowest possible Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) and ensuring the service is efficient and performant.

The Project engineering team have been hard at work over the last few months performance changes across the service including the Project Center, Creating and Publishing a project, Submitting a timesheet as well as general tweaks etc. over all the tiers of the service. I’m sure we’ll see some of the benefits of this  when the next on premises edition of Project Server comes out and we dig around Winking smile

The Project team posted over at blogs.office.com about these changes and a few more including increased limits for the number of projects in a PWA site (5000 up from 2000) and the number of PWA instances available to be added to a Project Online tenant (7 up from 3).

Service Resumed

Service Resumed

Wow… I didn’t realise that I hadn’t posted for so long. Things have been a little crazy in my day job over the past few months with me moving into a new role but I’ve been keeping my finger on the Project pulse and have some great posts coming up in the next few months.

PS. For those not sure of the picture, it’s a service card that used to be shown on UK TV when the service was down..

Setting up a workflow proxy account in Project Server 2013

I’ve had a few comments through the blog on setting up a workflow proxy account in Project Server 2013, so I thought I would post something to take you through how to configure this.

The Workflow Proxy in Project Server 2013 is important if you intend to use the classic workflow engine (not Workflow Manager ) and will be the account that makes the PSI calls associated with the workflow. The account should be set up as part of your Project Server installation and is specified in the Plan for administrative and service accounts in Project Server 2013 documentation.

Products such as NW4PS, leverage the classic workflow engine,  so if this account is not set up correctly when the workflow calls the PSI it will fail with an error like in the screenshot below.

WorkflowWorkflowProxyAccountNotFound

Luckily the solution is pretty easy, however, unlike Project Server 2010, where the option was under Server Settings > Project Workflow Settings, in Project Server 2013, the option has moved into Central Administration and is probably the main contributing factor to this being overlooked.

To configure the account, navigate to Central Administration and choose General Application Settings from the left hand menu

Manage PWA Settings

Click on Manage under PWA Settings and you will be taken to the management screen for the PWA instance (if there are more than one instance, you can choose which one in the top right hand corner.

Project Workflow Settings

On the Settings screen, choose Project Workflow Settings, you will then be presented with the option to enter the Workflow Proxy Account.

Configure the Workflow Proxy Account

All that’s remaining is to enter the account you’ve already set up for the workflow proxy in the correct format (don’t forget to use a claims format account if that’s how you’ve set up your Project Server farm).

Project Lite now available

Project Online has been available for a little over a year now, the first real SaaS version of Project Server operated by Microsoft and available in Office 365. The online service provides all the capabilities of Project Server you would expect, the centralised view of Projects, Resource Management, Task & Timesheet management, Portfolio Analysis and Prioritisation, Reporting and powerful collaboration for a monthly per user fee. Is some cases, organisations don’t need access to all this functionality for all users, specifically team members only really need access to the Task & Timesheet functionality, collaboration sites and the ability to see their project schedules.

Well, Microsoft listened and as announced at the Project Conference in February, have introduced Project Lite, a lighter version of Project Online aimed for just those kind of users which is available as of today (1st May).

image

 

You can read more about Project Lite over on the official Office blog or here.