one-click approval

On one of my recent projects, a client asked if it would be possible for the link to a task within a workflow notification email to open the task in “edit” mode instead of “display”. If you’re unfamiliar with SharePoint 2013 task processes built in SharePoint Designer, here’s what their process looked like prior to our change:

  1. Someone submits form
  2. Approval request sent to manager
  3. Manager clicks link in email to open task
  4. Manager clicks “Edit”
  5. Manager clicks “Approve”

They wanted to eliminate step 4 to make the process as easy as possible (one-click after opening link in email). Here’s what we ended up doing:

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SPTechCon is one of the largest SharePoint and O365 conferences available. You can win a free full-conference (4-day) pass simply by tuning in to next week’s Lawrence SharePoint User Group (LSPUG) meeting.

Microsoft MVP Melissa Hubbard and April Dunnam will be presenting “Microsoft Flow and SharePoint: Integration and Automation”. Learn more about the session here.

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Yesterday in a SharePoint 200 session I gave at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, I shared one of my favorite SharePoint “nuggets” which is the “Edit” icon available out-of-the-box, and easily added by any level of user in just 4-5 steps.

This edit icon column can be added to any list or library view in SharePoint and allows you one-click access to edit the properties of a document or edit a list item or form. In addition to that it’s security-trimmed, meaning only people who have edit/contribute permissions will actually see the icon at all. Everyone else will only see an empty column.

To add the column, you must have the ability to create or modify views and list settings.

Note this is only available in classic view lists and libraries. In the O365/Modern experience you can simply select an item, click “Edit” and the right edit pane appears to allow a similar experience.

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This post illustrates how you can accomplish adding sections to the left pane, and moving the pages pane from the right-hand side to the left as seen above.

Move Sections from Top to Left

In a recent training session, I was asked if it were possible to move sections from the top to the left in OneNote. The answer is “sort of”. We can get sections on the left also, but we can’t get rid of them from the top. There are two ways to accomplish this:

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I recently developed the above solution for a project requiring attachments at multiple points throughout the form. Originally I considered just placing a static “attachment button” in multiple places, but I came up with this and liked it better.

So if you also have long forms for your SharePoint lists, and you would like an easier way for end users to add attachments to list items, ditch the out-of-the-box ribbon menu attachment button and try this “floating attachment box” solution instead.

save cancelWhen you create a custom new item form in SharePoint Designer, you get a bonus set of “Save” and “Cancel” buttons automatically generated. One set at the top, and one set at the bottom (as generally seen on default forms).

Chances are if you’ve created a custom new item form, you had other intentions for the space now taken by duplicate buttons. Here’s how to get rid of the spare buttons and get back to designing and tweaking your custom new item form.

SharePoint lists have a default limit of 5,000 items per view. But lists can contain 30 million items (just not all available in one view). Since you’re reading this, perhaps you’ve already learned this from an error message such as:

The view cannot be displayed because it exceeds the list view threshold (5000 items) enforced by the administrator.

To view items, try selecting another view or creating a new view. If you do not have sufficient permissions to create views for this list, ask your administrator to modify the view so that it conforms to the list view threshold.

First of all, when in doubt, refer to the documentation provided by Microsoft. Read it carefully to understand limitations in your specific environment, explanations of various actions and rules and the permissions required to correct the issue.

Here’s my summarized version:

I frequently reference two resources linked at the bottom of this post that speak to the features unique to 2010 and 2013 workflows. Unfortunately, once you pick which workflow platform you’ll be building upon you can’t switch. So it’s important to use these lists in your evaluation phase to make sure you’ll be picking the right platform for the job. Keep in mind, you can always start a 2010 workflow from within a 2013 workflow.

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Perhaps one of the most useful automated processes out there is the ability to do approval processes. We fortunately have two tools on-prem or online that allows us to perform this action. Microsoft Flow offers some incredible connectivity between services (like approve a Tweet and post it, approve something from Google Docs and have it moved to SharePoint, etc.), but the approval process itself is very simple at this point and doesn’t offer some of the more robust features and customization options we get in SharePoint Designer 2013 approval processes.

I also will use both tools in the same business process occasionally, because they both have unique strengths.

But which do you use for approvals?

The quick answer to the question is: Use Flow for simple approvals, or approvals that involve multiple sites or external services. Use SPD for more complicated processes and customization options for approvals that involve a single site.