Thursday, January 31, 2008

FireFox Quickie: use keywords for quick access to websites

If you use the FireFox browser, there's an easy way to quickly browse to a website that you use often. After bookmarking the site, right-click the bookmark in your Bookmarks menu and select Properties. In the Keyword field, add a word that you want to use as shortcut for the website.
After doing that, getting to the website is as easy as typing that keyword in the address bar and pressing ENTER.

For example, I regularly have a look at the Spry Framework page of Adobe. Instead of trying to remember the URL or even selecting the bookmark, I added the keyword spry to the Properties of that bookmark:Now, the only thing I have to do is to type spry in the address bar of FireFox and press ENTER.
This will load the bookmark URL. Cool!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Recommended Tool: PureText

There are a few tools that I use so often, that I can imagine some of you might be interested in them as well. The first one is PureText.

It's a small nifty application that will simply remove any text formatting from the contents in the Clipboard. You can assign a hot-key to paste the text (without the formatting). I use the default setting of the Windows Key+V. When I want to paste everything with formatting, I use CTRL+V, otherwise, WINDOWS+V. Really cool!

As the Author (Steve Miller) says "PureText is basically equivalent to opening Notepad, doing a PASTE, followed by a SELECT-ALL, and then a COPY. The benefit of PureText is performing all these actions with a single Hot-Key and having the result pasted into the current window automatically."

Best of all, the tool is absolutely free. Highly recommended:

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

SharePoint 2007 Quickie: Adding Lists to a Meeting WorkSpace

In a previous post, I complained about the fact that SharePoint 2007 is not intuitive enough. With this Quickie, I want to share the best way to add a List to a Meeting Workspace:
  • The way not to do it: I thought you needed to select Site Actions > Edit Page and then Add a Web Part to add a Custom List to a Meeting Workspace.However, if you do that, you get a list of Web Parts that you can add, but not the list you would expect (or at least, the list I expected). I was looking for a way to add a Custom List, but just a few predefined Lists (Attendees, Directions, Discussion Board, ...) appeared. There was no way to add a Custom List:

  • The way to do it: Simply select Site Actions > Create to add a Custom List to the Meeting Workspace. If you do that, you get the full list of things you can add:The List will be added to the left hand side at the bottom, but after creating it, you can select Site Actions > Edit Page to move the List somewhere.
OK, I have to admit that it isn't that illogical after all to use Create for adding a list, but then again, it would have been nice if you could do the same when using Add a Web Part.

SharePoint 2007: More bugs

Unfortunately, my experiences with SharePoint 2007 are revealing more bug.
  • I already mentioned the issue that after saving a Meeting Workspace as a template, the resulting Meeting Workspaces don't not keep the view settings that you defined in the template.
    Specifically, I created custom lists in a Basic Meeting Workspace, saved it as a template and then used it as Meeting Workspace (created from Outlook).
    In the template, the lists are defined as showing the All Items view with a Summary Toolbar:However, when actually using it, the meeting workspace always shows a different view, with a Full Toolbar. On top, one of the lists even shows a drop-down box where you can choose a view. It's not logical that this happens:
  • When I tried to add a Column to a list, clicking the OK button did not do anything. Debugging the issue, the problem lies in a Javascript error: "Helperfrm is null or not an object". I'm not the only one with the problem. The only work-around I found was to use the FireFox browser (!) to create the column.

Friday, January 4, 2008

SharePoint 2007: 2-way synchronization with Outlook 2007

After experimenting a bit further, I am happy to see that there is 2-way synchronization for Calendars and Contact Lists between SharePoint 2007 and Outlook 2007.
Unfortunately, this does not work with Outlook 2003, as confirmed in another blog:
"Outlook 2003 can link to SharePoint Calendars and Contact Lists on your new MOSS 2007 server and download read-only copies of that content. Outlook integrates with MOSS servers in exactly the same way as any SharePoint server, so there's no additional limitations over the read-only nature of Outlook 2003's sync'ing feature. Upgrade to Outlook 2007 to get the full 2-way sync experience against MOSS.
Andrew Ash
Microsoft Outlook"

An update on using SharePoint 2007 for a few weeks

I've been using SharePoint 2007 for a few weeks now and it's time for another update on my impressions about the product. I still think that SharePoint 2007 is a vast improvement over Sharepoint 2003, specifically in the area of usability. It's just a lot more intuitive.

Nice things about SharePoint 2007
  • I was happy to see that the Recycle Bin not only allows for entire Lists or sites to be undeleted, it also is a safety net for individual List entries that have been deleted. The deleted items are in the Recycle Bin that can be accessed from the Quick Launch Panel on the home page:
  • The Top Link Bar allows for easier navigation and can be easily customized:This tabbed interface is a lot more user-friendly that the somewhat obscure predefined top line of SharePoint 2003:
  • Calendar entries can have all-day events (finally!):
Not So Nice things about SharePoint 2007
  • SharePoint 2007 still is not intuitive enough. I wanted to add a link to the Top Link Bar, and it took me a while (and the use of the Help documentation) to find out how I can do that. (Site Actions > Site Settings > Look and Feel: Top Link Bar)
  • SharePoint 2007 still is not consistent: while you can add any link to the Top Bar, including Lists, SharePoint does not recognize this as a part of the same SharePoint site: if you click on the tab, the List is shown, but the tab is not "highlighted". Instead, the "Home" tab stays highlighted, which is confusing. In the example below, I created an Calendar called Out Of Office. I added it as a link to the Top Link Bar, and when I click on the tab, the Calendar is shown, but the Home tab is still highlighted:It works as expected with a subsite: I created the subsite Test, and selected the site to be displayed in the Top Link Bar. When clicking the Test tab, it stays highlighted:
  • SharePoint 2007 contains bugs. I've created a special Meeting Workspace that I saved as a template. When creating new instances, some of the Lists that I defined use the default view even though I changed the view to be different. From my tests, it looks like this only affects Custom Lists.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Excel Quickie: Using mm instead of inches for margins

Yesterday I encountered another of those pesky issues that can drive you crazy. I was working in Excel, and needed to change the margins. I wanted to use precise numbers in millimeters, so I clicked the margins button on the Page Layout tab and was confronted with a dialog screen that only showed numbers, no units:Apparently the system was using inches by default. It took me more than an hour of searching on how I could change this into mm... only to find out that you don't define this in Excel, or in the Printer Options. Excel (and the other Office products), use whatever is specified in the Regional and Language Options in the Control Panel.

I was using the English (United States) setting, which also makes Office use inches as default units:
You can change that by clicking the Customize button, and select Metric as Measurement system:Restarting Excel gave me cm instead of inches:Apparently the same applies for Office 2003.