Monthly Archives: November 2011

My top missing features in Windows Phone 7 – SharePoint Contacts, Tasks and Calendars

I have been an advocate of Windows Phone 7 (WP7) for quite some time now, especially having owned and used a WP7 device for over 9 months now. However, there are some things that I really do find lacking.

Microsoft have been pushing the SharePoint integration with WP7 quite hard, especially with the recent announcements for SharePoint Online to support BCS (which basically opens up the door to have WCF calls made from your Office 365 SharePoint Online site, so you could do two-way WP7 applications which integrate tightly with your SharePoint applications!).

However, there are some features which I think would really concrete this device for small businesses as THE device to have.

Let me give you two example quotes from small businesses who were looking to implement Office 365 / SharePoint Online with a Windows Phone 7;

Plumbing Business – We would like to use SharePoint task lists to document jobs and push those tasks to our plumbers using their phone.
Our problem is that when the plumber updates the task, we want to it write back to SharePoint..” 

Pub Landlords – We want to use SharePoint Online to track and store all of our suppliers and contacts that we use, but how do I get those contacts onto my phone? If one of my suppliers calls, how do I know who they are?”

These are just examples of some of the reasons why I think WP7 is missing a trick.

Missing Feature 1 – Use SharePoint Contacts as Phone Book
At the moment there is no way for my WP7 device to use a SharePoint contact list as a phone book. This is a MAJOR piece of functionality I have been asked about by the last 3 clients who were implementing SharePoint Online.

They have all of their contacts centralised and through the web. They can bring them into the desktop Outlook application (with even two-way synchronisation!) but they can’t even get them read-only on their phone.

You really should be allowed to “link” one or more SP contact lists with your phone book, so that when someone in your sales team get a phone call the contact details pop-up.

Missing Feature 2 – WP7 overlay with SharePoint Calendar
Pretty similar story here for the calendar. Person is out on site and wants to engage with their {Supplier | Customer | Partner}. They get asked simple requests like “can you book a meeting room for us next week?”

How awesome would it be to be able to bring up a SharePoint Calendar being used for resource bookings, central meetings or events, and overlay it with your own personal calendars (so that you get notifications and can view everyhing in one calendar).

They already do this with Hotmail / Live accounts, so why not SharePoint? This really is a must .. the ability to invite / write to that Calendar from the standard Calendar interface would be a bonus!

Missing Feature 3 – Working with SharePoint Tasks
This is a standard one here .. and really works on so many different levels;

  • I want to see my tasks in a SharePoint List in my WP7 calendar
  • I want to get notifications on my WP7 when a SharePoint task is overdue
  • I want to be able to update the details of a SharePoint task while I am roaming, and people in the office to see those details straight away

If you can wire in the SharePoint workflow / events to the Task list this suddenly becomes very very powerful! You could build entire business centric applications using nothing other than some centrally controlled Task Lists, some Workflow (which you knocked up in SharePoint Designer in a couple of days) and an off-the-shelf WP7 device!

…..

This really is the tip of the iceberg, I could go on and on, but I really think that until this gets fixed the WP7 will continue to be nothing more than a decent consumer device, with little to offer to businesses beyond what other handsets are doing.

Any Android / iPhone / Blackberry (or lets face it .. 10 year old Nokia) can synchronise your Exchange Mailbox … it is the SharePoint (and other LOB) integration that will make WP7 an “Enterprise” device!!

Summary of SharePoint Saturday UK 2011

Well, this was actually my first SharePoint Saturday experience and I have to say I was massively impressed! The whole day was very well organised and felt like other SharePoint conferences I have been to in the past (with a great variety of the sessions available and excellent quality and depth of the content being presented).

I actually brought a friend with me to SPSUK and he is mostly looking at Office 365 and Windows Phone technologies so that ended up being one of my main focuses as well. I also spent some time prepping (and packing away) from my session, as well as some time in the “Ask the Experts” room (where I met @MossLover and @SharePointBuzz for the first time :)) so I didn’t get round to as many sessions as I would have otherwise liked.

Configuring Kerberos in a SharePoint 2010 Farm (#SPSUK06)
I was up first presenting this session and I was very pleased with how it went. We had a great turnout, some really good questions and (to my relief) all of the demos worked really well first time! 🙂 This was a re-run of my SUGUK session in August on the same subject and I’m quite pleased with how the session shaped up.

It was very nice getting people coming up to me during the breaks, in the Ask the Experts session or even on twitter and email afterwards (asking questions, or just telling me how much they enjoyed the session) .. these kind of touch points really make the whole thing worth while 🙂

If you are looking for my slide decks then you can find them here:
They are branded for SUGUK but the content is the same so you should find everything you need 🙂

  • Download PowerPoint Slide Deck (PPTX) (zip)
  • View online using PowerPoint Web App
  • (PS – The PowerPoint Web App is powered by Office 365, so hope it works well for you. Feedback welcome!)

    Extending SharePoint 2010 LOB Apps to Windows Phone 7 (#SPSUK23)
    This was a good presentation by Chris Forbes (@chris_e_forbes) on Windows Phone 7 development and SharePoint 2010 integration. This is an area I am getting very interested in for two major reasons:

    1. Office 365 now supports BCS in SharePoint Online, so you can write “no-code” methods of calling WCF web services (which potentially allows the Windows Phone 7 “push notification” services which Microsoft host)
    2. The new “Mango” (Windows Phone 7.5) release includes back-ground tasks, which may allow a background application to respond to push notifications and execute custom code.

    This really opens up the doors in terms of having a very powerful zero-infrastructure solution leveraging both Office 365 and Windows Phone 7!

    Sort your processes with easy, effective InfoPath Forms and SharePoint Workflows (#SPSUK15)
    My final session of the day was with Ian Woodgate (@ianwoodgate) and ran through some cool InfoPath techniques (easy cascading drop-downs) and especially the InfoPath “Approval” mechanism which is being championed by Laura Rogers (@WonderLaura).

    Everytime I look at InfoPath I get more and more impressed, and with Office 365 it really does open up a lot of doors in terms of process automation, workflow and external communications without having to write any custom code (which is ideal when, in SharePoint Online, your development is limited to the SharePoint 2010 Sandbox which restricts a lot of methods).

    Steve Fox – “SharePoint and the Cloud: Crash or Convergence?”
    The end of the day was spent with Steve Fox (@redmondhockey) from Microsoft giving us some live demos of the new Windows Azure platform and some SharePoint 2010 integration (both on-premise and using SharePoint Online) as well as Windows Phone 7.

    Wrap Up
    This was a really good day. I was quite surprised at the number of people there (for a free event, all day on a Saturday) and everyone had a very relaxed non-commercial attitude to the day which was refreshing for a “conference” type event.

    I will definately be going to the next one .. and I seriously recommend that you do too!

    To sum up the day I’ll quote from my friend (@Denyerec)

    Back from , or by its other name . Very worthwhile day out.