Some thoughts on #SharePoint Adoption

SharePoint is a powerful tool for collaboration and information sharing. Working on documents, tracking issues, tasks and projects can all be made easier using the tool. In many demos I have seen SharePoint can be used as a complete solution for managing the complete life-cycle of a business process. It all seems so great.

In the real world of actual organizations (at least in my experience) not everyone is willing or interested in using SharePoint. There are ways to integrate external applications with SharePoint that can create very powerful solutions but in some cases the issues is more than just connecting to other data sources. There are cases where you just need to pull information out of SharePoint for a report to management or for a meeting where you will not have access to your SharePoint site. Continue reading

CSS-Tricks AnythingSlider in SharePoint

Chris Coyier from CSS-Tricks built this really cool jQuery plugin that creates a content slider that will support any regular HTML in the slides. This is cool because many sliders I have used had limitations on what could be on the slides and did not offer many of the featuers the AnythingSlider does.

AnythingSlider in SharePoint

AnythingSlider in SharePoint

Setup

To get this working in SharePoint you will need to make sure you have a reference to jQuery in the page somewhere as well as a list for the slider to read from. For my example I am using an out of the box annoucements list.  You will also need the files for the plugin download the anythingSlider plugin from css-tricks.com.

  • In SharePoint Designer add a dataview webpart to the page with any field from your annoucements list.
  • Switch to code view and find the first <xsl> tag. It should be right after the closing <DatasSources> tag.
  • Right click on the tag and choose “Select Tag”. Press delete, don’t worry we will be adding in our own xsl.

Select the auto generated xsl

  • Paste the following xsl into the page where you deleted the code.

Continue reading

Are custom designs becoming obsolete?

 Will Joomla make custom web design and creations from scratch obsolete?

I saw this question posted on LinkedIn last week and I thought it was interesting that people still think custom web designs will ever become irrelevant.

Creating functional good looking websites has become alot easier because of  CMS tools available for the novice web designer including Joomla, WordPress, MovableType, Expression Engine, Drupal and others. In terms of design sites like ThemeForest offer many cheap templates that can be slightly customized to fit specific needs.

So based on all this do you really need a custom design for your website?  My answer is it depends.

If the site is not meant to convey a specific message and the organization does not have branding requirements then using a template is fine. However in cases where a site has very specific requirements in terms of look and feel and functionality CMS tools and templates like those mentioned above are a good starting platform. To create a truly effective site in terms of design and messaging will  require custom CSS and design in order to be unique, convey the client’ s message effectively, and work with existing company logos and other branding elements. 

What does your site say about you?

From the perspective of a customer (who just happens to be a web designer)

When I see a website that uses a template and only changes out the logo and a few other graphics I think ‘this company did not care enough about me as a customer to design a site to appeal to me specifically’.  Many templates are very well designed and visually appealing but this does not mean they will convey the message or ideas that your website needs to communicate. In order to most effectively communication with site visitors the site will need to be custom designed after a careful analysis of  business goals and target customer demographics. 

Using stock templates will seems to save you time and money but the site will never really connect with its users like one that was designed for the purpose.

Dynamic Drive’s Featured Content Slider in Sharepoint

I have used Dynamic Drive’s Featured Content Slider on a couple of recent projects and wanted to see if I could get it working in SharePoint. There were several key requirements:

  1. User can easily add items
  2. Users  can choose a style for each item
  3. Expired Items must not show
  4. Each item will have a Title, Body and a customizable “read more” link.

Here’s how I did it.

slider 

First I created a custom list to store the slider items.  These are the columns I used:

Title – Single Line of text
Body – Multiple Lines of text
Link URL – HyperLink
Expiration – Date and Time (expired items will not be shown)
Image – Picture
Style – Choice  (we will use this column to allow users to choose the style of each item)

On the page I used a DataView WebPart to display the Title, Body, Image and Link URL columns.   Using Sharepoint Designer I setup filtering on the expiration date.  To do this in design view right click on the data view webpart and bring up the “Common Data View Tasks ” box and choose Filter.  In the window I set the conditional statement so that items would only be shown if the expiration date was greater than today. Continue reading

WordPress as a CMS

I have been usin wordpress for about two weeks now and never thought of using it as a CMS solution. In most cases I use Joomla, Drupal or DotNetNuke for CMS sites. I built my first non-blog WordPress site. It was alot esier than I expected and customizing the template to act like a regular site was easy. Here is a link to the site (I did not do the design just the implementation)  http://givetomorgan.com/

Here are some additional resources on using WordPress as a CMS