Monthly Archives: September 2013

OnePlaceMail 6.5 – The integration between Outlook and SharePoint that Microsoft should have built

OnePlaceMail 6.5 went into public release last week and represents the biggest user experience overhaul we have ever done to the product. This is no light statement, given that OnePlaceMail is already known in the market for it’s seamless, intuitive, and slick user interface.

We heard your pains in deploying SharePoint in your organization; Getting users to save content from their desktops into SharePoint and work on files in SharePoint was the main reason SharePoint deployments were failing or not succeeding as well as hoped.

Our major goal for the release was to drive better user adoption of SharePoint by delivering SharePoint content into Outlook in such a tightly integrated way that users could work with SharePoint content as quickly and easily as they could within their inbox or any other Outlook folder. We also wanted SharePoint content to just “feel” like Outlook content so that user’s stopped thinking about SharePoint as a system that was “out there in the browser” and rather think of it just as content that is “here and available on my desktop”.

So how have we delivered on such an ambitious goal?

Outlook Style View of SharePoint Locations

When a SharePoint location (Library, List, Folder, Document Set or Site) is selected on the left navigation of Outlook, the SharePoint content is presented in an ‘Outlook Style Interface’. This provides for a familiar Outlook experience for the end user when interacting with SharePoint.

This interface provides access to both SharePoint public and private views for the selected location. This includes all SharePoint view capabilities such as:

  • Columns – including Managed Metadata, Enterprise keywords, External Data columns, Lookup Columns and all the standard column types
  • Grouping
  • Sorting



Find SharePoint Content Quickly – Filtering, Sorting, Searching

When viewing SharePoint content you can instantly filter (per character filtering as you type), advanced filtering operations, instant sort on columns.


Searching SharePoint content quick and easy, search within a library or across whole site collections directly within Outlook with hit highlighting and embedded preview.


Preview of SharePoint Content Embedded within Outlook

Providing SharePoint content in an “Outlook Style” that allows user to locate content quickly is awesome, but how do I know I’ve found the right file? PREVIEW. Yes, it’s worth shouting about.OnePlaceMail delivers Email and Document Previews within the ‘Outlook Style Interface’. Where available, OnePlaceMail utilises the Office Web Application Server preview capabilities provided by SharePoint 2010, SharePoint 2013 and Office 365 environments to deliver highly efficient previews. Where Office Web Apps are not available OnePlaceMail will perform local preview of files.





SharePoint Content Ribbon Actions

Access to the selected document Items Properties is available using the ‘View Properties’ action on the ribbon or by performing a ‘right-click’ on an item. The View Item Properties page allows you to further edit the item and initiate workflows.


The ‘Email as Link’ provides the ability to insert links direct to the document(s) or to the Item Properties. If the ‘Document ID’ feature has been enabled on SharePoint 2010 or SharePoint 2013, the links will be generated using the Document ID. This will minimise broken links in the event of a SharePoint restructure or items being moved as part of a records management solution.


There are circumstances where sending content from SharePoint as an attachment is required. OnePlaceMail allows you to use the ‘Email as Attachment’ for one or more selected items.


What about SharePoint/Outlook 2010 and 2007?

It takes time to upgrade to the latest and greatest so not only have we managed to deliver this awesome integration in Outlook 2013, but it is also available to Outlook 2010 and Outlook 2007. We’ve also made it compatible with Office 365, SharePoint 2013, 2010, and 2007 (hosted, on-premise, or hybrid)


My experience of using it over the last few weeks

The impact this release has on SharePoint usability is simply massive. At this start of this release, and even a long way into the development cycle, I was looking at each of the individual features in relative isolation. I underestimated the impact that the combination of all the features would bring to the user once they were delivered in a single package.

I now find it just as easy (and sometimes easier and faster) to work with files in SharePoint than I do with files on my local drive – seriously. I’m finding it’s faster to click through a few files and have Office Web Apps provide the preview embedded in Outlook than it is to fire up Word on my desktop.

Finding content in SharePoint is now simple and fast, I just start the search from the most specific container I think the file might be in (e.g. a site, sub site or library) enter a few keywords and I get hit highlighted results back immediately from the SharePoint search index. I can then do client side type ahead search within the search results as well as sorting and filtering on file type and size. With live preview happening on search results finding content is easy.

During a manual testing session I was trying out opening content from SharePoint (e.g. email messages) and continuing working on them (forwarding, replying etc). I’d run through about 20 minutes of test script when I realized I was in a folder under my inbox and not a OnePlaceMail SharePoint folder. To me, this was a moment of clarity, we had gone a long way to achieving our goal. For the user experience to be so integrated and seamless that you forget whether you are working with content in SharePoint or content in your local mail folders is a fantastic result.  As a user I’m not overly fussed about where the content is stored (that’s an IT/Governance decision), as long as it’s easy and intuitive to get to and work with, the back-end storage is somewhat irrelevant.



Release 6.5 is available to download immediately from the OnePlaceMail website.


Other Resources

Official OnePlaceMail Release 6.5 news article

Official OnePlaceMail Release 6.5 highlights document (PDF)

SharePoint Client Browser 1.0 released, bye bye preview!

Very handy tool that developers and admins can add to their toolbag. Similar to the SharePoint Manager 2010/2013 tool that has been a great resource for many years now. SharePoint Client Browser has the added benefit of supporting different credentials modes, remote SharePoint Sites and handy PowerShell integration.

Bram de Jager - Coder, Speaker, Author

Finally after 2 months I decided to build the 1.0 version of SharePoint Client Browser and released it to the community! Although the preview (beta) status did not prevent people from downloading it. The counter is currently set at 555 downloads since start of the project on the 2nd of July (only 2 months ago).

CodePlex project and download at

So what got changed? I guess almost everything changed from authentication support for default (username and password), SharePoint Online, anonymous and forms based all the way to almost complete coverage of the Client Side Object Model (CSOM). That’s a bit over the top, but the basics for Foundation are in the tool. New capabilities for future releases will focus on Server components like taxonomy.

Remote PowerShell for SharePoint Online and on-premise

A hidden gem is the PowerShell support. It’s very easy to start a PowerShell session and use…

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How to create a custom SharePoint list definition using Visual Studio 2012

In this article you will learn how to create a custom list definition (not a list instance) using the Visual Studio 2012 visual designer with step-by-step with screenshots.

In Visual Studio 2012 select File | New Project

Select Templates | Visual C# | Office/SharePoint | SharePoint 2013 – Empty Project


If you don’t see this type of project available then you may need to download and install the Microsoft Office Developer Tools for Visual Studio 2012

Provide a name and location for the project/solution and OK

In the SharePoint Customization Wizard Prompt, configure the server to use for developing/debugging. If possible you will want to try and achieve a Sandboxed solution over a Farm Solution due to it’s ability to be able to be reused in more scenarios requiring less permission is the SharePoint environment.


Once the new solution has been created, we can use the new Visual Designer to create the List Definition. Right click the project in the solution explorer and select Add | New Item


Select Visual C# Items | Office/SharePoint | List, provide a name and click OK


Provide a display name for the list. We just want to create a list definition, not an instance of the list; This isn’t an option so what we do instead is go with the “Create a customizable list template and a list instance of it” and we will make some mods to the generated project files to remove the list instance so we are just left with the definition.


You should now see the list instance and definition files in solution explorer.


If you select the SettingsProfile in the solution explorer you will get the new List Visual Designer. Notice the “List” tab, this represents the instance of the list.


Since we only want the list definition, we are going to delete the list instance files from solution explorer. Select SettingProfileInstance, right-click and Delete.


You should now be left with just the list definition, the “List” tab will now be greyed out.


We can now get on with creating the list definition and there are plenty of articles out there on the finer points of doing this. Here are some for reference:


Just for completeness if you are following this through I’ve added a couple of columns to my definition.


Now lets deploy it to SharePoint to make sure it works

Double click the Feature in solution explorer to bring up the feature visual designer and package explorer

Here you can set options such as how the feature appears and it’s scope. For our purposes just confirm the items in the feature include just the list definition files.


Now select the project, right-click and Deploy


Once the solution has been deployed I’m going to navigate to my site in a browser and verify that the new solution has been deployed and the feature activated (by default the solution is deployed and activated, and the feature is scoped at a web level and activated). You should see messages in the Visual Studio status bar to this effect during the deployment.





Everything is now is place for us to create an instance of the list from the definition, so I’ll create a new app and select our Widget Settings Profile app (list definition).


Provide a name for the new list instance based on our custom list definition.


We can now create items in the list and we see our columns coming through that were defined in the custom list definition.


Job complete, in this article we went through creating a list definition using the Visual Studio 2012 SharePoint 2013 List project template. We manually deleted the default list instance files so that we were just left with the list definition in our solution.

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