Laura Rogers, with an assist from Mark Miller, presented a half-day workshop at SPTechCon Boston this morning on SharePoint 2010 and Office 2010 Integration. As I mentioned earlier on the Bamboo Team blog, the workshop was as informative as it was enjoyable. As evidence of the easy manner between the workshop instructors, Laura defined Mark's participation in her introductory remarks as that he would occasionally chime in as a "devil's advocate," which prompted Mark to respond with his own take on the nature of his role: "I think of us as an old married couple who squabble in public."
The scenario that Laura used to frame the demo-heavy workshop was that of an organization putting a policy management system in place. The demos and discussions which followed over the course of the three-and-a-half hour workshop touched on the integration points between Word, InfoPath, Outlook, Access Services, and Visio Services, with instructive step-by-step demos within each area. Mark would regularly highlight a particular aspect of the demonstrated feature, often calling out specific end user applications and/or cautions around fostering end user adoption.
Laura began her demo with a company policy list in SharePoint 2010, explaining that such policies can be put in place and enforced through the judicious use of metadata, via appropriate columns in a SharePoint list. Mark cautioned against using the term "metadata" with end users, and recommends referring to the more user-friendly "properties of a file" instead. Laura explained that Key Filters in 2010 appear as drop down boxes that allow users to quickly filter list data based on the entered filtering term. Laura then set up a new content type in SharePoint, associated site columns with the content type, created a new library and set it up to allow managed content types, then added the new content type, which caused the associated columns to automatically appear as being available. Laura cautioned, however, that this functionality is only currently available in Word, and not in Excel.
If you've been following our SharePoint 2010 Cookbook series on Document Sets, it will come as no surprise that Laura mentioned that Document Sets in 2010 "allow you to assign metadata to the entire set" of associated documents. A pair of fellow conference speakers in the audience, Bill English and Ruven Gotz, both spoke up at this point to contribute that you can also set up a folder in SharePoint 2010, associate metadata with the folder, and all documents subsequently added to the folder will automatically have the specified metadata applied.
Laura went on to demo managed metadata and management of term sets (sets of terms from which users can choose from a drop down on a given document), including a demo of how to add Quick Parts fields to a document library for the display of metadata. Once Quick Parts fields are in place, anytime a user creates a new document, those metadata fields will be present (and, if desired, required to be filled out by users). The addition of the Quick Parts fields led to a discussion and demo of the Document Information Panel in Word, which is the horizontal panel that appears at the top of a Word doc where metadata must be filled in (if required; the Document Information Panel Settings allow admins to always or never show the Panel).
Laura then demonstrated in InfoPath the ability to customize the Document Information Panel, changing the layout, colors, tables, and more, as desired. During her demo, an error was generated, which provided Laura with an opportunity to explain that "InfoPath does not like Managed Metadata." Laura went on to say that if you see such an error in InfoPath, you have two choices: either remove the Managed Metadata, or lose the ability to customize your Document Information Panel in InfoPath. While on the topic of customized Document Information Panels, Mark observed that "If it makes it easier, clearer, and more efficient for your end users [to accomplish the insertion of metadata], go at it … but if you're doing it just to make it look pretty, you're wasting everyone's time." The demo continued with the SharePoint tasks form, as Laura showed how to "completely customize the way that SharePoint form looks" by using InfoPath, with a variety of templates available out-of-the-box to get you started on the, ahem, path to forms customization.
Laura then talked through live co-authoring capabilities of Word 2010 ("this is huge"), saving edits automatically back to SharePoint (or, if you're offline, flagging the document as needing to be synched when you're connected again). Laura mentioned that live co-authoring is only available in the client version of Word, however, and not the Word Web App; she also pointed out that, conversely, co-authoring in Excel 2010 is only available in the Web App version, and not the client version. Laura added a couple of caveats around versioning, namely that versioning must be turned on to use the co-authoring functionality, and that each time a user saves a document, a new version is created.
Moving on to Outlook integration, Laura began by showing that clicking on the Connect to Outlook button in the Ribbon within a SharePoint document library will automatically connect that document library and all of its contents to Outlook. She cautioned, however, that you be aware that all of those contents will be downloaded to your hard drive. The ability to connect to Outlook can be disabled in library settings, but Laura warned that there will be consequences in SharePoint Workspace if it's disabled.
Additional quick hits from Laura and Mark on Outlook integration (the Outlook integration points were coming fast and furious, so I'm going to resort to bullets here):
- In addition to document libraries, the following can be connected to Outlook (and edited from both SharePoint an Outlook): individual document library folders, Document Sets, contacts, calendars, tasks, and discussions.
- When setting an alert on a document library, a new option in SharePoint 2010 is to only alert on a filtered view.
- With versioning turned on (in both SharePoint 2007 and 2010), one of the available options when saving is to combine two versions into an entirely new version.
- Images can be inserted directly into a SharePoint discussion board from Outlook 2010.
- A "master calendar," combining both Outlook calendar and SharePoint calendars (and including other users' or team calendars as necessary) can be created using the overlay feature of the SharePoint 2010 calendar.
- If you need to print a SharePoint calendar, Laura recommends connecting it to Outlook since you can only print the browser out-of-the-box in SharePoint, whereas Outlook's print options will allow you to print by day, week, month, etc.
- RSS feeds in Outlook come with, as Mark put it, "a dynamic content filter built-in," which allows you to search RSS content by keywords.
- SharePoint libraries can be set up as RSS feeds (using the RSS URL), but "only if you're using Kerberos for authentication." Laura pointed out that all government agencies using SharePoint block this functionality due to security concerns.
Though the focus of the presentation was on out-of-the-box functionality, I can't help but blog the fact that during the discussion of SharePoint 2010 calendar functionality, Mark made mention of third-party extensions to the out-of-the-box calendaring functionality, and made a point of plugging Bamboo's Calendar Plus, especially its functionality in combination with our List Rollup Web Part. Cheers, Mark!
During the Microsoft Access portion of the program, Laura pointed out that Access views can be created on SharePoint lists in both 2007 and 2010, but also mentioned some caveats, such as that there are "limitations having to do with fields, field types, and values for it to be compliant," and that fields can't have strange characters. A Compatibility Checker will have to be run, and flagged issues fixed, before Access content can be published to Access Services (which is what makes the content available in SharePoint).
Regarding Visio 2010, Laura began by discussing the all-new Visio Web Part in SharePoint 2010 which allows users to render Visio diagrams in SharePoint. She then went on to demo how to create a Visio diagram that's based on live SharePoint data, pointing out that if it's saved as a Web Drawing, users without Visio will still be able to view it. Laura did point out one limitation to this functionality, however, and that's the fact that while changes to SharePoint data which existed when the diagram was created will be reflected in the diagram, any new items that are added to SharePoint after the creation of the diagram will not show up.
Laura wrapped up by touching briefly on additional integration points with SharePoint 2010 that the scope of the workshop didn't allow for her to get into in greater detail. Those additional integration points include: Excel Services, PowerPoint slide libraries, PowerPoint's ability to broadcast a slide show in 2010; OneNote shared notebook, and Office Web Apps.
Bamboo Nation's complete coverage of SPTechCon Boston 2010: