Design Manager in SharePoint 2013 Designer – A Detailed Introduction

Understanding the Design Manager
Design Manager is primarily meant to help the users of SharePoint create custom designs and achieve the respective goals if they want SharePoint 2013 to represent the brand of the organization. It comes up as a particular feature in SP 2013, paving the way for a completely customized, pixel-perfect outcome using the familiar web designing tools. As a publishing feature, it is available in the publishing sites in both Office 365 and SP server 2013.

This extremely useful feature allows the creation of visual design for websites using the web designing tools and HTML editor. Only HTML and CSS can be used after which the design has to be uploaded into SP. Basically, it enables management of each aspect of a custom design.

So, designers using this excellent feature will have to precisely undertake the following activities:

  • Grasping and understanding the main SP design concepts
  • Creating a mock-up of the design in CSS and HTML
  • Implementing the same utilizing the Design Manager feature

SharePoint 2013 developmentImplementing a Design by Means of the Design Manager
It is essential for the SharePoint 2013 users to be aware of the usage of the feature in implementing designs. On looking at the feature, one gets to see a series of links representing the high-level tasks to be performed. Following is a step-by-step sequence in which the task of implementing a design is executed with success:

Prior to Making Use of Design Manager
Even before you start using the feature, you have to create an individual design or use a ready-made website template. While mocking up the sites in HTML and CSS, you will come across certain HTML files implementing designs for the particular way in which you want the different pages to appear. You also need to take the necessary SharePoint permissions, more particularly, you have to be at the Designer permission level to use the feature.

Management of Device Channels
Before starting right away with the task of designing your site exploiting this essential feature, you need to take into account the specific devices to be targeted and the kind of user experience on each of them. Once you have considered the specific device channels, it is time to use multiple ways in rendering a single publishing site by means of mapping varying designs to equally varying devices.

Now, the device channels, which are created as well as stored in the SP list, have ranking and therefore, the order of the same also matters. The inclusion rules are also processed accordingly.

Uploading the Designed Files
Once the designing is done, the designer can use any HTML editor of his preference and work with files locally on the specific computer. However, these files need to be uploaded to the Master Page Gallery of the SP site so as to enable the feature to convert, preview and at the same time, polish the already created design.

The best- possible way to upload as well as continue working on these files is by mapping a drive on the computer to the Master Page gallery of the SP site. This paves the way for a folder on the computer to be connected to the Master Page Gallery. The result is that one can work on files that are present on the server in SP 2013 provided that they are local files.

Editing the Master Pages
The next task is to create a fully branded master page containing all of the functionality of SharePoint that one wants. The steps through which the editing is done are:

  • Conversion of HTML file into a SP master page
  • Previewing the master page while also facilitating fixing of the possible issues
  • Addition of the SP snippets to the master page

Editing Display Templates
In the event of using the on-premises installation of the SharePoint server, one has the option of using the Content Search Web Part along with a few other search- driven web parts. This helps in the display of the results of the search queries as content on the pages. Now, the search-driven web parts make use of the display templates for two main purposes. These are firstly to map managed properties returned in the search result items to properties that are available for JavaScript. This includes any custom JavaScript that one chooses to implement. The second purpose is to make use of CSS and HTML to find out how these properties are displayed.

Editing Page Layouts
The process involving the creation of page layout in Design Manner is somewhat different from that of creating a master page. First, a page layout needs to be made using the .aspx file and HTML file. Following this, the associated HTML file has to be edited from the mapped drive in the HTML editor. The feature ensures that the page layout is created in a manner that the correct set of page fields get added to the page layout.

Apart from the above-mentioned steps, creating themes and composed looks, publishing and applying the designs and creation of the package of the same are the final steps to be taken when it comes to using Design Manager in SharePoint 2013 development projects.

We provide SharePoint CMS customization services. If you would like to know more about the expertise of our SharePoint developers, please get in touch with us at Mindfire Solutions.

5 ways to spruce up SharePoint 2013 for your intranet CMS

One of the biggest drawbacks that affect content management is the lack of proper search plug-ins. In the current scenario, businesses do not have adequate amount of time for tracking down different files. SharePoint comes to rescue in such a situation.

SharePoint developerSharePoint intranet comes with convenient document libraries, enabling every business to categorize information in the way they want. In fact, you can have all your content easily accessible by means of different libraries within a hosted portal- a library for media, one for finance, report, sales, marketing and so on. The inconvenience of lost data will never be experienced. The intranet also comprises the latest antiviral software for ensuring preservation of online infrastructure.

As a business owner or team member, SP allows you to open up documents through the web, and also to synchronize work via document collaboration. In short, SharePoint provides a collaborative, hosted solution for content management through the intranet. Investing in SharePoint development for org-wide collaboration always pays rich dividends. Let us discuss 5 trending ways which will help you to spruce up SharePoint 2013 for your intranet CMS.

1. Creation of an intranet newsfeed with SP 2013
With the help of an intranet newsfeed, users are able to publicly and rapidly communicate with each other by sharing ideas, posting updates, asking questions along with other activities. So far as the management is concerned, it is a great means for engaging with employees personally, directly and openly. Moreover, the SharePoint newsfeed renders a micro-blogging experience similar to that derived from social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Users are able to post comments, direct particular users with the help of @targeting as well as tag the same to a particular topic utilizing #tags. Comments or users can be liked or followed.

2. Showcasing intranet blogs with SP 2013
Intranet blogs are a brilliant way to discuss on relevant topics providing authors with the capability of communicating a message as well as starting conversation and collecting feedback. Readers can have their opinions heard and addressed. Authoring and publishing tools are offered by the SharePoint blog site to authors, in the same manner as they would expect from a consumer CMS. The features include the ability of video embedding from sources such as YouTube, rich text editing, capability of content publishing directly from MS Word. It is possible to like, rate, follow or share blog posts.

3. Using SharePoint 2013 for creation of intranet survey
With the help of intranet surveys, creators are able to speedily crowd source precious information from a huge employee pool. As participants, employees can get an easy means for bottom-up feedback and hence become more engaged. The SharePoint survey app offers a template to easily as well as quickly build surveys with diverse question types (multiple choice, text fields, rating scales). On completion of the surveys, results are represented graphically with the facility of exporting to Excel. The promoted links app of SharePoint builds metro-style tiles along with a hover-over state in order to make room for additional text information. The advantage is that tiles offer increasing visual engagement as against a standard list, following the SP site’s theme.

4. Leveraging SP 2013 for surfacing intranet KPIs
With regular and convenient access to KPIs, employees can adjust their activities to accommodate the changing business demands. Enhanced visibility of performance metrics at an organizational level helps in greater employee collaboration. With the help of the Excel Web Access Web Part, data can be displayed from an Excel spreadsheet straightaway onto a SharePoint page. Granular control can be maintained by the author over the data that can be displayed from the spreadsheet and accessed. Once it surfaces on the SP page, the data can be made user-interactive.

5. Using SharePoint 2013 for creation of an intranet discussion list
Through intranet discussion lists, users can discuss specific topics with subject matter experts and their peers. It can be used for diverse purposes helping employees draw the benefits of a wide organizational network of resources and knowledge. Forum-style collaboration areas can be created with the help of SP Community Site Features. Using the discussion list, users can start discussions or ask questions. Moreover, categorization of the content can be done.

For creating an engaging and dynamic intranet CMS, SharePoint 2013 is loaded with all the requisite functionality. Great outcomes can be enjoyed by those who comprehend the changing intranet demands and leverage this new functionality.

We provide SharePoint application development services. If you would like to discuss with an expert SharePoint developer from our team, please get in touch with us at Mindfire Solutions.

How To Control App Token Lifetimes in SharePoint 2013?

SharePoint has emerged to be one of the most beneficial web application development platforms these days. The newer versions of this platform have turned out to be of immense use for the business enterprises as, they assist in the successful accomplishment of several tasks and necessitate much less time and efforts. Now, developers are trying out more innovative ways of exploiting SharePoint so as to derive the maximum advantages out of this already useful platform. Controlling the app token lifetimes in SP 2013 is one area of concern that is emphasized upon to a significant extent.

SharePoint development companiesThe first question that arises in this regard is where one can control the app token lifetimes. However, when considered on a broader platform, it will be seen that the place of control is actually not so significant and that a highly advanced app like TokenHelper can be of substantial help. There are around one or two JWT tokens that are created if one goes by the IssueToken method. It is usually one when the app only token is being used and two tokens for the application and the current user. However, in both the events, the JsonWebSecurityToken is created and the parameter that is used to create the same determines as to how long it is valid.

It is for the app token that the TokenHelper makes use of a constant, which is known as TokenLifeTimeMinutes. By default, this constant has a value of 1,000,000, which leaves no scope of worrying except in cases where one wants to limit it. Now, for the user token, the constant is hard- coded by default for making use of a lifetime of 10 minutes. The values can be found as well as changed into whatever you want just with a little drilling into the IssueToken method.

With a deeper look into the code, it can be seen that the TokenHelper incorporates a delegate that is invoked in what is known as the GetClientContextWithAccessToken method. This method plays the important role in adding a bearer token to any particular request that comes into the SharePoint from the particular app of the user.

Now, if the user sets a breakpoint on that specific line of code and eventually step through the request from the app, none of the token ‘setup’ functions creating the ClientContext will be resulting in an HTTP call. At this point, the ExecuteQuery method has to be called on the ClientContext object. The request goes over the wire, the delegate fires and finally, the token is added to the request. While one can cache the access token obtained in the high trust app, there may not always be a justified reason behind doing so.

On the other hand, caching the app tokens is beneficial only at the time of using the relatively low trust apps. When such is the case, one has to save one or more trips to ACS for the purpose of accessing token at the time of caching them. In events where there are multiple users or several requests, the process helps. The only thing that one needs to be aware of in this regard is the right ways of caching the tokens for the low trust apps.

This is just a brief overview of the overall process of controlling application lifetimes in SharePoint 2013 along with a discussion about the use and benefits of the high trust as well as the low trust apps. However, it is a task that needs to be taken up by only the experts and pros in the field, who are aware of the processes and can therefore, adept in handling the same to produce faster results in less time.

You can hire developers from top SharePoint development companies in India who can help you build products within allocated budgets and time schedules.

We provide SharePoint CMS customization services. If you would like to know more about the expertise of our SharePoint developers, please get in touch with us at Mindfire Solutions.

The Problem with Leveraging SharePoint Records Management Services in Office365

The big question is, considering Office 365, where is Records Management fitting in? The old news is that SharePoint 2010 RM is not registering good performance within the e-discovery space. However, this is not considered a hindrance by most organizations.

SharePoint site migrationIt is a fact that IT is capable of pulling the objects which are essential to cater to the counsels’ expectations with respect to its own SOP or standard operating procedure, which generally incorporates a third party software. E-discovery has been performed by information technology more regularly and far longer than implementation of electronic retention by RM.

Automation is great
SharePoint 2010 RM services are capable of beautifully automating records declaration. They can be deployed successfully through mapping the records retention schedule across SharePoint 2010 RM.

The content types pertaining to the series can be holistically leveraged across site collections, followed by attachment of information policies. Then the indexing services to be run at particular intervals are recalculated.

The future hazards
Off-the-shelf SharePoint 2010 RM services are being trusted by corporate records programs. In an age where Records programs are entirely suspended or drastically squeezed, this is a quite inexpensive option for automated records declaration.

Since Office 365 lacks a related Records Center template, it is possible for the program to be vulnerable. The absence of automation can damage the program’s reputation. In case automated records declaration is leveraged in SharePoint also, the same might as well be in trouble.

What are the choices?
The necessities of the information architecture going beyond records policy amount to a textbook dilemma. Considering the case of information professionals, the design choice comes up with potentially long-term as well as negative connotations. In case an organization has automated records declaration through SP 2010 and its department of Information Technology is looking forward to embrace cloud services, it is a difficult choice. Deconstruction can be followed by manual records declaration implementation or the services of third party experts might be sought for devising something new.

Perhaps the best option in doing nothing in this particular case. First, something or the other will ultimately break. Secondly, this is a department that thinks forwardly and hence it cannot be visualized as restricting to one particular solution due to the lack of options. Thirdly, the employee turnover happens to be so high that the future administrator tends to lose all context pertaining to the architecture. Fourthly, retention schedules are subject to change and so unraveling of the Center for reconstruction in accordance with the new schedule is an enormous concern.

Manual records retention can also be considered as an option. However, it is an inferior one:

  • In-Place RM exists till today within Office 365, although it has been reduced to a mere status symbol. A one or a zero, which implies that either the record exists or it does not. In fact, the option for management of the same from the back-end is not available with the Administrator. The good news is that interaction with the end users is possible. On the other hand, the bad news is that until and unless the C-level stresses on and communicates its requirement, end users would definitely have to time for annual review. Destruction does not take place.
  • For devising out-of-the-box manual RM services within Office 365, the best way is the creation of a Records sub-site for each site collection. In every ways, the same folders should be used as are planned for the SP 2010 Records Center. The content types may be bypassed entirely and the same information policies may be used directly behind every folder.

Those objects which are required to be declared as records can be copied from the major site collection pages to the Records sub-site’s suitable folder. Since it is the case of a copy (wherein move is not available), the metadata changes should be noted and the peer should return to the original object for deleting it.

For initiation of a solution, the help of a third party may always be solicited. On one hand, it is being demonstrated that you need a compromise. Migration to the cloud cannot be hindered. On the other hand, you wish to make use of your cordial partnership with IT very meticulously at this point. Since Records is your project, it should not go to the backseat, being assigned with cleaning up legacy data.

On the positive side
In case you are going for RM in Office 365, the positive point is that it is convenient to edit retention periods. As discussions are held with each peer for planning of their folder structures, the maps need to be edited. It should be explained why and how folders pertaining to every site collection are a component of a bigger process-oriented schedule. Moreover, site permissions need to be unraveled for rebuilding them. After all, there is once more the opportunity to describe the mission as well as the significance of the program. As your IT department gears up for handling 2014 projects, it’s a great idea to seize the moment for RM in Office 365.

If you were to attempt a SharePoint site migration project to Office365, understanding of these choices and pros and cons would ensure a successful migration.

We provide SharePoint bespoke development services. If you would like to know more about the expertise of our SharePoint developers, please get in touch with us at Mindfire Solutions.

Top 8 Ways to Mitigate Risks in SharePoint Deployment

Deployment of the useful web application development platform of SharePoint involves certain risks. The SharePoint sites, which primarily include the SharePoint Online and the hosted SharePoint farms, have high chances of falling prey to some of the serious content security risks. Considering the fact that SP Online is highly preferred by all types of enterprises today for regulation of data, securing this data is a dire necessity. In fact, organizations are often found facing certain problems when it comes to maintaining the security of the data in SharePoint. The risks need to be mitigated without any wastage of time to ensure smooth work flow.

SharePoint bespoke developmentHere is a brief overview of the risks involved in SP deployment along with the possible ways of reducing their effects.

1. Less Awareness about SharePoint Content

The lack of awareness about SP content is a prominent risk in the deployment of this particular web application development platform. The two main ways of spreading increased awareness are implementation of the governance guidelines along with providing of content classification. The end users should be trained accordingly for performing periodic scans of content. Teams also have the option of making use of the SP metadata as well as workflows to pass the sensitive information to the secure locations.

2. Failing to Secure the Content in SP Servers, Transit and Endpoints

Securing the content in the SharePoint servers as well as endpoints is necessary. Enterprises must make it a point to implement solutions that ensure the security of the content on the SP servers as well as the backups through access control and encryption. Additionally, the teams should also go for a whole-disk encryption for endpoints and most essentially, laptops. The SSL encryption for data in transit should also be enabled by the security administrators.

3. Misconfiguration of the Access Controls and Permissions

This is yet another risk that often poses a problem in the deployment of SharePoint. The solution lies in auditing the existing SharePoint permissions and then reviewing or creating of the corporate access control policies. Following this, the SP permissions should be aligned with the corporate directory services, by which, the administrators can get an idea about the usage of inheritance as well as unmanaged item-level permissions.

4. SP Platform Security Risks

The SharePoint platforms need to be hardened by means of disabling the ports as well as services that are not essential to the functioning of the platform. Regular patching apart from whitelisting of applications also helps in reducing the risks of platform security.

5. Failing to Limit the Administrator and Service Accounts

One essential way in which the risk of failing to limit the administrator as well as service accounts can be reduced is by limiting the privileges on service accounts. Disabling the install account and not using the shared administrator accounts are other prominent ways of mitigating this particular risk.

6. SP System Architecture and Network Configuration Issues

The system architecture as well as network configuration issues related to the SharePoint can be reduced by putting a dedicated SP web front end in a DMZ and by making use of a single-function-per-server approach. Hardening of the SP, OS as well as the database as per the best practices is also highly recommended.

7. Issues Related to SP and Malware

Risks arising from SharePoint as well as Malware can be solved by implementation of the server malware solution along with a regular updating of the anti-virus definitions.

8. Difficulty in Performing Backups and Providing DR Capability

The only possible way in which this problem can be solved is by performing annual backups as well as tests and restoring them on a regular basis.

Managing the above-mentioned security risks through an application of the appropriate security controls helps in reducing the level of content security as well as compliance risks in SP to a great extent. If you were to attempt a SharePoint site migration project, understanding of these best practices would ensure a successful migration.

We provide SharePoint bespoke development services. If you would like to know more about the expertise of our SharePoint programmers, please get in touch with us at Mindfire Solutions.

Getting Started Developing for SharePoint 2010?

The process of developing for SharePoint is naturally quite elaborate and encompasses several steps. In order to have a complete overview of the development on this much popular and preferred web application platform, it is good to go step-by-step and accordingly, begin with a conceptual overview of the SharePoint foundation.

Understanding SharePoint Foundation

SharePoint bespoke developmentThe application of Microsoft SP Foundation is built on top of the Microsoft ASP.NET framework and the Internet Information Services. Server Farm, which is basically a set of servers running the various components of SharePoint Foundation, also comprises more than one front-end web servers along with Microsoft SQL server database servers. Every farm has an individual configuration database consisting of information about the front-end web servers in the administrators of the farm. Each content including that of the user information, on the other hand, is stored in the content database while the server farms too have multiple content databases.

Choosing the Best-Suited SharePoint API

Microsoft SP comes with three different types of APIs and the next question that arises with regards to the development on this platform is which of the APIs to be used. Here is an overview of the three kinds along with their advantages and limitations.

  • Server-Side Object Model

To begin with, there is the server-side object model coming up with a wide range of options for extending the capabilities of SP 2010. The good part of this is that it has all APIs that are documented in the SP 2010 Class Libraries and Web Service References section of the MS SP 2010 software development kit.

  • Client Object Model

The client object model allows for integration of SharePoint 2010 capabilities into script. This can be executed in the browser or code, in a .NET framework managed application or in a Microsoft Silverlight application. The APIs in this particular model act as wrappers around a customized web service, dispatching the calls to the server- side object model.

  • SharePoint 2010 Web Services

The SP 2010 web services pave the way for an integration of the SP capabilities into a code that runs in a client- side or server-side applications remotely. This specific variety offers a limited set of REST interfaces for developers, who happen to be familiar with the particular standard.

Glide Path for ASP.NET Developers

This area concerns the use of SharePoint Foundation as an ASP.NET application. Developers must be aware of the manner in which development differs with respect to ASP.NET and SharePoint. The areas that need to be taken into account are mobile adapter development, modification of Web.config files, page development as well as user and group authorization.

SharePoint Foundation Development Tools

Several tools are implemented when it comes to developing solutions for this remarkable web application development platform. These tools can accordingly be customized to maximize the efficiency of the developer and lead to a better outcome. The setting up of the development environment for SP 2010 on Windows 7, Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 is an essential consideration. At the same time, one must also be informed about the usage of visual studio and SharePoint designer for SP development.

Important SharePoint Programming Tasks

A number of SharePoint programming tasks are taken up as a part of the process of developing for SP 2010. Following are some of these tasks:

  • Conversion of date as well as time values
  • Description of forms of URL strings
  • Addition or deleting of list items
  • Returning items from a list
  • Registering as well as Importing of Namespaces
  • Security validation and making of posts to update data

Knowing about the Best Practices

When it comes to development on the highly advanced platform of SP 2010, understanding the best practices is essential to ensure perfect execution of the task. Some of the best practices include the following:

  • Avoidance of the suspended impersonation of the calling user
  • Avoidance of unnecessary construction of SPWeb and SPSite objects
  • Disposal of objects
  • Restrictions on file naming
  • Techniques of object caching
  • Optimizing of the code performance

The above-mentioned steps offer an overview of how the development process can take place in a smooth manner. If you were to attempt a SharePoint site migration project, understanding of these best practices would ensure a successful migration.

We provide SharePoint bespoke development services. If you would like to know more about the expertise of our SharePoint programmers, please get in touch with us at Mindfire Solutions.