Tag Archives: Fell out of my head

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!!

New look and feel for martinhatch.com

Well, its that time of year I suppose. I finally got around to giving my blog a bit of a freshen up.
It’s nothing too fancy .. a simple and clean white/grey style which is hopefully a little easier on the eye than my old red one (which I suppose was really a throw-back from my days working at Content and Code .. when everything we produced was a shade of red – their corporate colours).

What  else have I changed?

The main thing is the width has been increased from the downright lousy 740px width (an old blogger.com template I originally used) and up to a much more healthy 990px (which should be suitable for pretty much all modern browsers running 1024×768 or higher).
[Edit]It was set to 1000px, but this was causing horizontal scrollbars, so I made it 10px thinner[/blog]

I’ve also moved some of the navigation elements around, hopefully it makes it easier for you to find things, and there is a navigation bar at the top (which currently just consists of a “Blog” and “About Me” links but it was taking up too much real-estate on the right-hand side).

I also have a brand spanking new logo header. This was a bit of a cheeky freeby from fellow tweeter Dave Coleman. His son (also on twitter as CommandoUK) is starting up as a graphics designer and was offering some free blog / website headers to get his portfolio up and running.

Well, I was interested and he knocked up the logo header you see on there today 🙂 I like it quite a lot .. it oncorporates the main logo from my company site (https://www.hatchsolutions.co.uk/) as well as some funky colours which happen to mimic my Alienware M15X laptop colours (yeh … I know .. it’s a gimicky laptop which allows you to change the colour scheme of the keyboard and stuff ..)

Anyway, let me know if you like it (or not I suppose!). Thanks for visiting and hope you enjoy my next few posts.

Got more CKS: Sandbox stuff coming up, some Office 365 stuff and probably some SharePoint BI posts on the way too!

cheers

Martin

HTC Twitter “Peep” and OAuth

[UPDATE – 27/09/2010]
HTC Peep on my HTC HD2 is now working!
I found that I needed to login using my email address instead of my username, but it is now working again!
(hurrah)
[/UPDATE]

If you are using a Windows Mobile device from HTC (like me .. I have an HTC) then you’ve probably run into the same Twitter issue that I have.

Twitter recently shutdown their Basic Authentication method for Twitter and this hosed a whole range of Twitter applications which were not appropriately using the “OAuth” method that Twitter preferred.

One of those applications is the HTC “Peep” application. Now, I’m a quite avid consumer of Twitter, and although Twitter did recently release an announcement that it was working  it seems that HTC Windows Mobile clients (such as the HD2) are still not working.

Well, I submitted a question to HTC Support and they very kindly sent me a response back (in under 1 hour, very impressive). Their email response was as follows:

“We are currently investigating an issue with our Peep/Twitter/Friend Stream client that has stopped working and hope to have a solution soon. Please monitor the support pages for updates, or if you prefer we can record your details and contact you again once a solution is available”

So hopefully it will all be working again soon. Fingers crossed … It’s not exactly a mission-critical application for me, but I do hate it when things just “stop working” that I was a user of.

Epic Fail – Saving to a document library overwrites AllItems.aspx

This was a major “doh” moment .. learnt the hard way.

I don’t know if this is because I’m using Word 2010 beta, but I was working on a document that I wanted to save into a SharePoint library.

So I copy pasted the URL into the “Save As” dialog (including the “…/Forms/AllItems.aspx” bit on the end).

I expected it to show me a view of my library.

I got a Word Document saved as “AllItems.aspx”.

Epic Fail! 🙂

Is software development like construction?

I often find myself explaining software development in the veign of construction, especially because my job title is “Architect” and therefore most people automatically assume I use CAD to draw housing designs all day.

It’s not a perfect model, and not intended to be the explanation for all projects, but this did get me thinking about other parts of the construction business. What about other roles?

Disclaimer – I don’t work in construction, so please excuse any faux pas in assumptions about terminology or process 🙂

——————————

Architect [Solutions Architect]
This is my role. The key skills here are the overall “vision” and solid grounding in all disciplines. You don’t have to be a master of all trades (although it obviously helps) but the main thing here is being able to see the “bigger picture”.

An architect needs to be able to understand what the client wants, and bring together all elements of the requirement to create a design that provides what they want on the budget that is available.

An Architect requires enough technical knowledge to be able to provide options, direction and advice.

e.g. “the design is a 5 bedroom house with 3 bathrooms. I know enough to tell you the walls / fittings of each room, and how much floorspace you need, and what the best fit is between technology and practicality”.

SME Engineers [Technical Architects]
These are the subject matter experts. They have years of experience in a specific area (e.g. Plumbing, Electrics, Foundations) and are masters of their trade.

Typically involved in larger projects or for short technical consultation engagements.

e.g. “from the design I recommend you need X strength re-inforced steel beams” … “you will need N-feet of wiring and a specific type of fuse and junction box”

Note – On smaller projects Technical Architects will often take the same role as Technical Leads.

Foreman [Development Technical Leads]
These people know their trade well enough to know how to do a good job, and are also natural team leaders. They make sure that the labourers do the right work, and to the right standards, according to plan.

They are also capable of recommending solutions to problems “on the job”.

e.g. “the current design doesn’t work, but I know it will if you move that window 3-feet to the right / change the materials”

Note – On smaller projects Technical Leads will often take the same role as Technical Architects.

Labourers [Developers]
This is where the actual build gets done. You will have the people who do the same jobs on each project. They are good at it and fast too. Because they do this all the time, the chances are they will actually be quicker than the Architects / Engineers and Foreman too!

You will also have in this category the less experienced apprentices (Junior Developers) who are learning on the job.

e.g. Brick Layers / Plumbers / Plasterers / Electricians

Project Managers
These people spend their tmie making sure that scheduling is on track and keeping touch with the client. They make sure that everything happens at the right time and in the right order.

If the cement doesn’t turn up, or the wrong type of window frames have been ordered then it’s usually the Project Manager’s fault.

Consultants
You always have consultants, but the distinction between a consultant and another SME (such as Engineers or Architects) is that Consultants provide consultation for the client.

This is not always the case (consultants have a valued place for internal engagements and aiding the project team too!) but generally the main focus is to help the client to understand the requirements, the solution and to provide that much needed face for clients to ask technical questions (and get a lamens response).

——————————

I thought this was an interesting excercise, and certainly helps me to explain what I do to people in a way that they can understand. So few of the great-unwashed masses understand software development, at least this means I don’t need to say “I work in IT” and leave it there 🙂

Of course, some people tend to wear multiple hats and do lots of different jobs … but it also helps to describe in context (just because you are a “Developer” doesn’t mean you can do SQL, C#, CSS and XSLT … in much the same way you wouldn’t expect a builder to be able to do brickwork, plumbing, electrics and plastering!)

Why I chose Blogger?

I’ve already had this question asked to me, and my blog only moved yesterday! Why did I move from the “Microsoft” Live Spaces to the “Google” Blogger / Blogspot?

Unfortunately it was depressingly simple. I got fed up with the lack of features on Live Spaces. My more popular posts were being flooded with spam comments, I had no way of changing the URL (even within the spaces namespace, let alone use my own custom one!) and I was quite limited in terms of available templates.

The main features I like with Blogger are therefore:

  • Moderation of comments and support for blocking “bots” from posting comments
  • Ability to control comments on a post by post basis!
  • Ability to control URL
  • Support for custom domain names
  • Complete control over HTML template / colours / styles
  • Multiple {Tags | Labels | Categories} per post (why does Live Spaces only allow 1??)
  • Better post navigation (tag clouds and tree-view for post archive)
  • Improved analytics (or .. more accurately Google Analytics, which I probably could have used on Live Spaces but the built-in statistics for Live Spaces are extremely poor). 
  • Improved Text Editor for posting new posts (better paragraph / styling support, ability to post an older publishing date and AutoSave is awesome!)

In the end it seemed like a no brainer. I’ve been putting it off mainly because I didn’t want to have to go around updating all my links (plus my Google and Bing rankings will probably takes ages to catch up again).

But now I’ve taken the plunge I’m much happier, just got to put some elbow grease into getting it ship-shape in terms of styling and links (not to mention plenty of new posts too!)

New Blog Launched!

This marks the birth of my new blog; www.martinhatch.com 🙂

I’ve still got some styling work to do (so you can expect that to change yet!) but otherwise have my brand new shiny blog.

It’s powered by BlogSpot/Blogger (a.k.a. Google) and if you were wondering why, it’s because I get more finite control over the layout, I get better reporting (Google Analytics) and I can have my own domain name 🙂

So come, enjoy and be merry!

Key notes from the Keynotes – SharePoint Conference 2009

 

The keynote speeches contained a helluva lot of content, but there were some key points that were worth condensing into a post … so errr.. thats what I did 🙂

 

One of the main aesthetic changes is that  Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) is now called SharePoint Foundation 2010. Hopefully more details about capabilities will surface during the conference.

 

There was much talk about SharePoint Online. They apparently have over 100,000,000 users and the platform is updated quarterly with new functionality, so we can hope to see new SharePoint 2010 functionality in that creeping through once the RTM version of SharePoint  is released.

 

The list item storage limits has gone WAY up … 1,000,000 items per folder/list and over 10,000,000 documents per library (more about this in my next post).

 

Another favourite was how Excel Services in SharePoint 2010 allows you to expose excel data as REST feeds (such as charts, tables, images, pivot tables). This allows you to subscribe to an image URL which is actually being dynamically generated from the Excel 2010 spread sheet. The main focus here was that you can embed this image anywhere that a normal HTML or Office Client image can be placed, but if the Excel 2010 spread sheet data is modified then the image is automatically updated to reflect those changes!

 

Other highlights included forcing spelling checkers and broken link checkers on check-in of a page.  In fact there was a lot of mention around web sites full stop, particularly 2 new products for websites:

  • SharePoint Server 2010 for Internet Sites
  • FAST Search Server for Internet Business

 

The new Wiki Editing features were also demonstrated with auto-complete URLs for lists, views and folders in libraries.

 

For those power users there are also over 500 new PowerShell commands for SharePoint 2010 which will be shipped with the Beta version in November! These can even be run on a Windows 7 machine and executed remotely!

 

But by far the most impressive part for me was the presentation on SQL Server PowerPivot for SharePoint 2010 and SQL Server PowerPivot for Excel 2010. This is the product formerly known as "Gemini" and allows you to pull data in from SQL databases to allow up to 100,000,000 rows of data in Excel 2010! You can then filter, sort and produce charts which refresh near instantaneously! There was a demo of this in the session causing a round of applause from pretty much everyone.

 

A very interesting session in the end, with glimpses of promise from all over the platform.. I just can’t wait to get my hands on it all!

Tasty facts and figures about SharePoint Conference 2009

Wow … thats the word that pretty much summed up the team’s reaction to the Keynote speeches to open the conference. I’ll post about that in a bit, but to warm you up some tasty facts and figures:
 
538 onsite labour days to setup the conference
7.5 miles of CAT5e cable used (for the Wireless Network?? ;))
7400+ attendees (up over 90% on the last SharePoint conference)
160+ partners
300+ hours of brand new content
297 speakers
240 break-out sessions
(and 2 marriages!!)
 
so .. you could say they are taking this conference VERY seriously.
 
We also had some very interesting news. The Public Beta of SharePoint 2010 and Office 2010 will be launched in November!
They are expecting an RTM release in the first half of 2010.
 
Visual Studio 2010 Beta 2 was also released today! 🙂

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