Video Demo: SharePoint 2013 Wiki Libraries

written by: Tom Robbins on March 24th, 2015


We will cover how to use SharePoint Wikis and Wiki Libraries to create knowledge bases that your team can use. Wiki Libraries are a great feature of SharePoint 2013. This is one of the very underused collaboration features.They provide a lot of power for teams to collaborate with one another and create central repositories and knowledge bases. A wiki library allows a team to implement a true many to many collaboration experience. Very similar to Wikipedia, it is a library in SharePoint made up of web pages and together all of those web pages can create a central knowledge base. This is great to use for training manuals or product information or policies and procedures. Anything where we could put a piece of content on each page and elaborate each page.

So for an example, lets say we wanted to build an information technology procedures knowledge base. From the home page, you can click on the different procedures that we want to learn about. Not only can we learn about these, but we can contribute to the content of these pages if it is set up that way. We’re going to walk through the steps of how to create a wiki library, how to create pages in the library, how to add these placeholders, and create links to other pages.

Well get started by picking the site where we want the library to be created. Add an app for wiki library and give it a name. When you open this library it is a bit different than a normal library. Instead of displaying the documents, it displays the home page. If you want to see the content go to the page tab and click view all pages. Now we actually see it as a library. Click on the HTML document for the home page. To create a new wiki page its like creating a document in a document library. Click new page and give it a name and create. SharePoint automatically puts us in edit mode for the new page. Now we can go ahead and place whatever content we want on this page. Save the page.

Now when we go back to the library by clicking on the page tab, and view all pages, the new page is showing. We’ll start by editing the home page. You can take advantage of the default formatting to rename titles and edit content. What we start doing now is put in placeholders for pages that wed like to have created. Pages may already exist but if they don’t, we can put placeholders. One of the nice features of wiki pages are these right and left brackets. if you type two left brackets a menu will pop up that will be a quick menu to all the pages that already exist in the site. By clicking a page it will create a link and finish it with two right brackets. if you type in a page that does not exist yet with the brackets, you create the placeholders. You can also insert pictures, videos, etc and format the page anyway you like.

When you save the page, the dash underline under the link shows that page does not exist yet. It is simple to go back and click on the link to create a page. On each page you can add links to the other pages so that you can go back to the home or navigate to the others. Once you create a page and the page exists, it will then have a full line underneath the title.

So this is like Wikipedia on the internet. We have created an interactive experience for teams and based on the permissions in the library, notice these are all just pages in the library. You can use the same features as a SharePoint library like permissions, content management, approval, version control, meta data to manage these libraries. You can determine who has access to these pages and decide read/write access. That’s how quick and easy it is to create a SharePoint library.

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Web Seminar Recap: Reporting with TFS 2013

written by: Jennifer Johnson on March 23rd, 2015

TFS 2013 offers teams exciting capabilities for managing everything from requirements, to test cases, to builds, to issues. On top of all this functionality, a robust reporting system exists. There are many ways to report on data from TFS, though. In this webinar, we explored the options, talked about the new charting capabilities of TFS 2013, and did a demo of several reporting techniques – including Excel Services, charts, and SQL Reporting Services.

This one hour webinar was presented by our resident Agile release and TFS expert: Bryon Brewer. Missed it? You can find the slides & recording here.


Video Demo: SharePoint 2013 Discussion Boards

written by: Tom Robbins on March 23rd, 2015


One of the valuable tools for engaging teams is the Discussion Board app in SharePoint 2013. Discussion Board apps were available in earlier versions of SharePoint and continue to be one of the robust and useful tools for facilitating team collaboration. In this video, I will show you how to create a discussion board, walk through some of the features and show you how awesome it is to connect discussion boards to outlook.

We’ll start out here in this demo site and just like creating any app, you’ll go to site settings and add an app. Search for the Discussion app. Add Discussion Board and name it (“Team Discussion” in this case). Inside, notice it is just a specially formatted list and it comes with a couple of views to get you started. Create a new discussion and type in a subject line (“Favorite SharePoint Features”) and body text. If it’s a question, you can check the question box and that will allow you to do some filtering later between questions and non-question discussions.

Now we have a discussion on our discussion board and anyone on our team can come along and click on this discussion. From here they can add a reply. As a creator of this discussion, I can mark a response as a best reply. Notice, when anyone comes into this discussion now, that reply is listed at the top.

You can create a second discussion that is a question and check the question box at the end. The reason you mark it as a question is because one of the many views you can select is to see ‘answered and unanswered questions’.  If you select the filter on unanswered questions, you’ll see the discussion board you just created.

In the reply box, you are able to embed links. When an answer gets marked as a ‘best reply’, that tells SharePoint that this question has been answered. If you go back to the discussion boards and filter on unanswered questions, it’ll show that there are none, because that question is now under answered.

You can also change the view to recent posted discussions, featured discussions, or your own discussions. To mark a discussion as a ‘featured discussion’, go in to the discussion and click on the three dots in the original post and mark as featured. That allows a discussion to bubble up to the top when you click on featured discussions.

Because this is a list, you can add your own metadata and lifecycle management tools using columns. Under the list tab, click on the drop down menu next to ‘create column’ and choose management. This management view shows you the data as a list.

Moderation is the ability to mark something as featured or unfeatured. This changes the metadata shown at the end of the list.

Switch back into subject view with the drop down menu. For specific conversations you can also create an alert by clicking on the three dots again and selecting Alert Me. This opens the alert management screen.

An important feature is the ability to connect to Outlook. On the List menu, click ‘connect to outlook’. Once it’s connected to Outlook, you don’t need to have SharePoint open. You can go into Outlook now and participate in these discussions. They’re listed right below your inbox. You can expand the discussion in outlook and see all of the replies. To reply, pick a discussion and on the tool bar, hit post reply. The reply is a two-way sync back to SharePoint.

Discussion boards are very useful and are something you would immediately post on your home page to facilitate engagement within your team.


How To Use the SharePoint 2013 Newsfeed

written by: Tom Robbins on March 17th, 2015

New in SharePoint 2013 is the Newsfeed and all the awesome functionality provided by the Newsfeed.  The Newsfeed gives team a way to share information that can benefit the team in real-time.   The Newsfeed is the “Twitter” feed of SharePoint allowing users to post information in the form of microblog posts for teams to consume and interact with creating a truly collaborative communication sharing experience.  In the Newsfeed, users can do many things.  Users can post messages, ask questions, and share ideas.  This allows a user to start a public dialog to which others can respond and interact.  The microblog posts can include pictures, text, URL’s, and videos.  The maximum length of the posts is 512 characters and the maximum number of replies to any post is 100 replies.


In the body of the Newsfeed posts, users can use #hashtags and can mention people specifically by username using the “@username” feature.  #Hashtags give the microblog post meaning by classifying and categorizing the post.   Using mentions (@username) allow a user to be “brought in” to a conversation where they might not have even known about the conversation.

Using keywords via the #hashtag keyword allows a user to associate a keyword with a conversation.  Through social database integration, the #hashtag can then be followed by users allowing a user to stay in touch with ideas or concepts via keyword.  SharePoint tracks the use of #hashtags and through the trending web part, you can see what people are talking about in SharePoint.  Users can also find conversations via search using these #hashtags

Note the use of the #sharepoint2013 hashtag and how that keyword can then be followed.


Using @username (mentions) allows us to bring someone into a conversation.  When a user is mentioned in a Newsfeed post, SharePoint will send that user an email as well as feed the post into that user’s personal newsfeed.  This alerts the user that they have been mentioned specifically giving them the opportunity to join the conversation.

Note the use of the @mention:


There are some limitations to the Newsfeed in 2013 but we are looking for significant feature advancement in SharePoint 2016.

  • You can’t @ mention sites – only users – you have to either post a microblog from a site, or choose from sites that you are following from the Share With menu option at the top of your My Site Newsfeed.
  • You can’t easily insert videos or documents into your microblog posts like with photos; you have to add them as links (meaning they exist elsewhere already).
  • You can only interact with an activity that originated as a microblog (either on a My Site Newsfeed or a Team Site Newsfeed) — you can’t like or reply to an activity that is a notification (i.e., a document that you are following is edited, or a colleague that you are following starts following a site or liked a post).
  • You can’t see what changes are made to documents that you are following – only that they were modified – and you can’t preview the document in your Newsfeed.
  • You can’t send private messages using Newsfeeds or microblogging – Team Site Newsfeeds are restricted to those that have at least read access – you’ll have to continue to use email for private messages.
  • You can’t create custom activity streams: you can’t tailor activity streams based on specific tags, users, or anything else. Everything that you follow shows up in one activity stream in reverse chronological ordering with no filtering available.
  • Document thumbnails and previews are only available for Office documents (when linked in a microblog post).
  • Notification of changes to documents on a Team Site (or any other list or library item on the site) do not show up on the site’s Newsfeed – notifications of changes to documents that you are following will show up in your My Site Newsfeed – following a Team Site will not also automatically follow all of its documents for you.

In my next blog post I will demo the full features of the SharePoint 2013 Newsfeed.


Video Demo: How to Create and Use SharePoint 2013 Blogs

written by: Tom Robbins on March 16th, 2015


Blogs are a fantastic functionality in SharePoint that allow teams to publish information like status reports, project updates, or recurring employee information portals.

In this video, I am going to take you through creating a blog site. Just a reminder, blogs are a SharePoint site, not an individual list or library. As a site template, they are actually made up of lists and libraries.

Go into site contents, scroll down and create a new subsite. For this demo, I will name it Facility Relocation Blog. Create a description, such as “Weekly Blog Posts”. Enter a URL name. Choose the blog template. Hit create.

I will go ahead and upload images to my site asset library. After your site is created, go into site contents, and click the Photos library. Add a new picture from your desktop.

Notice in the Facility Relocation Blog that we’ve got a couple of categories created on the left-hand side. We’d like to update these categories to actually match the types of posts we will be posting in our Facility Relocation Blog.

  1. Go into site contents again and open the list app called categories. Go into each of these lists and edit these titles to match the blog. For this demo, I might name them “building updates” “facilities updates” and “relocation events”. These categories can now be used when the blog post is created.
  2. On your blog main page again, notice an image placeholder on the right-hand side. Switch the page into edit mode. You may choose a picture of your SME, of the person who’s creating your blog, or of whatever you want. Click on the image tab and then change picture. Choose from SharePoint if the image has already been uploaded and find the Photos library. Once inserted, you can change the caption text under the picture. Save the page.
  3. Click Change Look under site settings. You can change your blog settings to match the look and feel of your organization.

A couple of tools still available: create a new blog post, manage a list of posts, comments and categories. A favorite tool is the ability to launch a blogging app, allowing you to use another tool, like Word, to create your blog posts. To create a blog from Word:

  1. Set up an account in Word so that Word knows where to find your blog.
  2. Once an account is set up, create a blog post. You can do whatever you want to do using word’s formatting – insert pictures, tables, etc.
  3. When you’re finished, click publish. You’ll get a notification that it has been posted to your blog site.

You can also create a new blog post not using word by clicking ‘Create a Post’ under blog tools.

SharePoint blogs are fairly straightforward and simple to use. It uses SharePoint permissions like any other SharePoint site, so you can set permissions for users and delegate abilities to other team members.


Web Seminar Recap: Understanding Enterprise Social: Is There Real Value?

written by: Jennifer Johnson on March 16th, 2015

SharePoint is an Enterprise Collaboration platform which drives organizational engagement and allows teams to work on information together in a central portal. SharePoint is NOT Facebook. However, it does promise to provide the same change within an organization as it has in the public sector. SharePoint empowers teams to work better together. The social tools not only help teams communicate better, but also the underlying infrastructure facilitates Search relevance and helps SharePoint predict how your team is working.

In this one-hour webinar, presented on March 13, Tom Robbins discussed the impact Enterprise Social is having in the enterprise and looked at trends and examples of how SharePoint has helped change the way some major organizations work together.

The topics that were covered in this one hour webinar were:

• What is Enterprise Social?
• The SharePoint 2013 Social tools.
• Microsoft: “Working like a network.”
• Keeping your social network manageable.
• How the evolution of social tools is about to change your organization!

Missed this web seminar? You can find the slides and recording here.


Reach the Next Level of Ranorex Competency with the Newest Addition to our Ranorex Training Options

written by: Jennifer Johnson on March 9th, 2015

Delve deeper into Ranorex test automation with Ranorex Advanced Training, a 2-day course that promises to increase and enhance your Ranorex knowledge.

Delivered by experienced Ranorex test automation experts, this course maximizes your investment in Ranorex by increasing the effectiveness of using Ranorex and mitigating the risk of an automation initiative to fail.

Through real-world hands-on labs, you will test and apply your newly acquired knowledge. The course provides a comprehensive review on how to utilize Ranorex capability and will provide the answers to all your Ranorex questions.

In this course you will:

  • Improve your understanding of the Ranorex architecture and its underlying concepts
  • Discover how working in teams of any size is optimized and how to minimize conflicts
  • Extend the Ranorex Report with custom information
  • Differentiate working with image-based vs. object-based object recognition

To find out more about how you can attain a profound knowledge in test automation, check out ASPE-SDLC’s Ranorex Advanced Training for a thorough course outline, overview and training schedule.


Web Seminar Recap: Custom Workflow Solutions in SharePoint Server 2013 – Expense Reporting Approval Process

written by: Jennifer Johnson on March 6th, 2015

In our November session Custom Workflow Solutions in SharePoint Server 2013 Part IV, we were building a business solution designed to implement a multilevel approval process for expense reporting. Previously, we created a custom workflow using SharePoint Designer 2013 using the following features:

• Creating a custom workflow with SharePoint Designer 2013.
• List, libraries, and content types in the workflow process.
• Workflow building blocks Step, Stages, Actions, Conditions, and Loops.
• Assigning a Task and Starting a Task Process.
• What an initiation form is and how workflows use initiation forms.
• Two types of workflow data – variables and initiation parameters.
• Retrieve data from a data source during run time.

This webinar, presented March 4, 2015 by Andy Huneycutt, completed our real world example of the expense reporting approval process. The features covered included:

• Customizing the workflow tasks list
• Building a web page for manager reporting and key performance indicators
• Using web parts as an out-of-the-box reporting tool
• Implementing a Content Search Web Part
• Best practices for working with workflow variables.

Missed this webinar? You can find the slides & recording here.



Web Seminar Recap: Certified Analytics Professional (CAP) Certification – an Overview

written by: Jennifer Johnson on March 4th, 2015

In 2013, after a year of rigorous preparation, the Institute for Operations Research and Management Science (INFORMS) launched the first broad-spectrum data analytics certification available to analytics and data science professionals. We are pleased and proud to be partnered with one of the first data science consultants to earn this important credential – Damian Herrick, CAP. Damian is an experienced analytics consultant with years of experience helping enterprise organizations deploy end-to-end data science projects.

Damian took the Certified Analytics Professional (CAP) exam and earned his certification in the fall of 2014. On March 3rd, 2015 he presented an overview of the process, the exam, the requirements and the challenges associated with earning the CAP credential. This webinar was a valuable opportunity for anyone  interested in pursuing the only independent, peer-reviewed data analytics certification on the market.  This web seminar took a look at the CAP certification and what it means for the larger career options in the world of analytics and data science.

Missed this web seminar? Find the slides and recording here.


How to Use Wiki Libraries in SharePoint 2013

written by: Tom Robbins on March 3rd, 2015

Another of the great features of SharePoint 2013 is the Wiki Library.  Wiki Libraries are also one of my most favorite and underused collaboration features.  The Wiki Library allows a team to implement a true many-to-many collaboration experience.  Take what you know of Wikipedia on the internet.  Wikipedia is the largest repository of information in the world with content the result of input and collaboration from anyone on the planet.  Because anyone can create and update content, Wikipedia also has, what I call, a great “policing” mechanism that helps guarantee the content is accurate and not simply editorial.  We don’t need this same type of “policing” of content within teams at a company. (Hopefully)

SharePoint Wiki Libraries allow teams to easily create what is essentially a Knowledge base of many different types of information.  A Project Team could use the Wiki Library to implement a Lessons Learned base.  A help desk team could use the Wiki Library to create a searchable knowledge base of IT policies and procedures from questions asked on help desk calls.  A training organization can use the Wiki Library to build a knowledge base of Training Documentation which is updated regularly by subject matter experts.

In the world of collaboration, a Wiki Library, and the web pages contained in it, give teams a way to engage around team content so that everyone has input and the ability to update content.  A Wiki Library is similar to a Document Library in that it contains documents.  The documents contained in the Wiki Library are web pages (.aspx).  These web pages allow you to create and customize content displayed in SharePoint sites.  The default page of the Team Site template is a wiki page.  Wiki pages may contain free-form content as well as web parts.  This allows you to create very simple to very elaborate browsing experiences for users.  Multiple wiki pages can together form some larger piece of enterprise content.  Take for example the wiki page displayed in the following image.  You see a landing page for an IT Knowledge Base.  On the page there are a number of links that would open other wiki pages in the library.  From those other pages you could have links to even more pages.  All of these pages linked to one another allow you to create an experience for the users very similar to that of Wikipedia.



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