Customising the App Launcher– Part Two–Custom Tiles.

Back in December I wrote about the ability to customise the App Launcher, or Waffle as it lovingly known. The options were relatively limited unless you built your own app in Azure and deployed it to the organisation. However one request came up again and again, the ability to create a shortcut tile to a specific site or location inside the Office 365 tenant. Imagine being able to have a dedicated waffle link for the Marketing site, or perhaps a dedicated link through to a specific PWA instance.

Well in the past few weeks, a new feature has been added to Office 365 to allow an admin to create a link that they can then push out to everyone in the organisation. The feature is a little hidden, but incredibly valuable. For this post, we are going to create a dedicated link to one of my Project Online instances in my tenant.

The first thing we need to do is navigate to the Office 365 Admin Portal.

Office 365 Admin Center

In the portal, choose COMPANY PROFILE. You will be presented with some information about your institution, however we want to pick the Custom Tiles option on the left hand side.

Choose custom tiles

In this page we can add new custom tiles for use in our Office 365 tenant. Click on the + to add a new one.

Click Add

To add the custom tile, all you need to do is fill in the relevant information. The only tricky one is the Image URL, which needs to be a image that everyone in your Office 365 tenant can see. In this case, reading the help can really pay off as it tells you the icon should be 50 x 50 pixels and stored in SharePoint Online. Specifically the help suggests putting the image in a team site and generating an anonymous guest link that you can put in the Image Url section.

Configure the tile

Once you’ve pressed save, the custom tile is now ready for your users to pick up. By default the tile won’t be displayed in the App Launcher, each user will have to click on the My Apps link.

Choose my apps

 

find the tile and then click on the … and add it to the launcher.

Our Tile!

And tada!!

Tada!

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Checking out the new Workflow Health pages

Whilst looking into a workflow issue today on my Office 365 tenant, I noticed a new feature that appears to be quietly rolling out into Office 365, the Workflow Health screen. Dee over at DDLS also noticed it a few weeks back and blogged about it, but I thought I would dig in a little more.

From the surface it looks like the feature addresses some of the issues in Office 365 when the Workflow Manager instance your tenant is attached to is down or unavailable or you want to see aggregated status of workflows in a site or list without clicking into each workflow instance.

To access this Workflow Health screen click the link entitled Workflow Health next to the Workflow history view in your lists, libraries or site workflows and the Workflow Settings screens as highlighted below..

Workflow Health

In all cases, the link will take you to the Workflow Health page that provides an overview of all workflows in your site and the status of their associated instances.

Workflow Health Overview

What makes this feature even more useful is that you can see at a glance the status of each workflow and drill into specific details on the last update for each instance by clicking on the i icon for the status, instead of having to navigate to each individual workflow instance and that you would usually have to click on the little blue i icon to get as well as choosing to Resume, Suspend or Terminate all instances of that specific workflow.

Workflow Health Popup

Now all of this seems to be really easy to get to for SharePoint workflows, but if you want to access Project Online workflows it’s a little harder to more involved…

In PWA, click on the Settings icon to open the Site Settings and choose Workflow Settings

Project Online Site Settings

In the Workflow Settings page, there is a link for Workflow Health.Project Online Workflow Health

Clicking on the link will open the Workflow Health screen for the PWA site.

Project Online Workflow Health Overview

Now there doesn’t appear to be any direct way to get to the page from within Project Online, so other than the Project team adding some links in the PWA settings, adding the following link http://<TENANTNAME>/sites/<PWANAME>/_layouts/15/WorkflowServiceHealth.aspx to the quick links will do the trick.

Happy Workflow Monitoring Smile

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).

The Appie Awards…

 Last night at the SharePoint Conference in Las Vegas, Microsoft announced the winners of the ‘Appies’, recognising the best apps in the Microsoft Office and SharePoint stores. The awards highlighted a number of great apps covering SharePoint, Office and Project, including:

  • Campagna and Schott for their CS Task Board app, a runner up in the Best UI award;
  • CPS’s Project Task Auditor, winning the Most Business Value award for Project client apps; and
  • Sensei’s Project Dashboard, winning the Most Interesting Scenario, Project category.

Personally, whilst I didn’t get a chance to enter any of my existing, or new apps into the awards, I was really excited that Nintex (who I work for in my day job) won three categories including Most Interesting Scenario for SharePoint, Most Downloaded SharePoint app & the People’s Choice for Nintex Workflow for Office 365 and runner up in two categories for Nintex Forms for Office 365 :)

So given that there are so many great apps out there in the store, I thought this would be a good time to do some mini reviews of the apps for Project Server, so over the coming weeks will be diving into a few of them in a bit more detail, including:

Stay tuned :)