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Overview: Creating Workflows with SharePoint Designer 2010, InfoPath 2010 and Visio 2010 | Matthijs Hoekstra | Channel 9

Overview: Creating Workflows with SharePoint Designer 2010, InfoPath 2010 and Visio 2010 | Matthijs Hoekstra | Channel 9.

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Help Desk Process

A Help Desk Process provides users with the answers they need for their technical issue. Modern Help Desk Process also provides a tracking system, to actively monitor a certain problem area. Help Desk Process ticket is the phrase used to describe an electronic document that contains information about a request for assistance from a customer or internal end user. Such a ticket allows a customer service organization to better track and resolve issues such as defective products, software bugs, and the like.  The information on a Help Desk Process ticket is routed and tracked by a helpdesk system as it is dealt with by support staff. The ticket is assigned a unique ID number, so it can easily be followed through the system.

Here is an example of IT Help Desk Process.
Here you can find a help desk template description, which provides a very useful information of data, that are used in Helpdesk process.
Don’t forget the ITIL. I found some doucments about it on the web, but I am not the expert about ITIL. However in some documents I found that ITIL defines HelpDesk process as one of IT Services.

The complexity of the help desk process depends on many factors. The most importanta are the following:
– interanl or external customers
– local or global usage
– complexity of issues / questions
– products or services

Before you start designing the help desk system, create the proces model, that suites your needs. Typical proces states and their names are:
– registered / reported
– open / in proces / assigned
– escalated / reassigned
– on hold
– closed / solved

On each step of the proces we have to do some actions (creating task, sending e-mails, changing form data). The following picture shows a typical example:

How to realize HelpDesk in SharePoint 2010 is described here.

And a very useful demo is here.

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SharePoint 2010 and InfoPath forms

Here are some basic facts about InfoPath. InfoPath is a versatile data-collection tool designed to make the creation of forms within SharePoint extremely easy, efficient, and connected to out-of-the-box or custom workflows.

InfoPath 2010 is available with Office Professional Plus 2010

You can use InfoPath 2010 to customize list forms on SharePoint. Here is an example how to do this How to start customize list form (New/Edit/View) using InfoPath Designer 2010.

More interesting is how we can use InfoPath in business solutions and workflows. Here are a few examples of the types of business solutions and applications that use InfoPath forms:

  • Form-driven applications start with a form that is used to gather data and add in other SharePoint functionality to process and report on the data including workflows, reporting, custom Web Pages, and external lists. Examples include a help desk Web site, a procurement center, or an employee hiring center for a human resources department.
  • Document workflow applications automate document-based business processes. Adding InfoPath forms to workflows lets you gather information from the users at predefined times in the life of the workflow and let users interact with the tasks for that workflow. Examples include contract approval, technical specification review, or processing for legal documents.
  • Business data applications start with data in an external system that is made available in SharePoint Server through Business Connectivity Services. Data in the external systems is accessible in SharePoint Server through external lists and can be added, viewed, updated, and deleted by using InfoPath forms. Examples include customer relationship management and enterprise resource planning.
  • Ad hoc business processes can be managed by using SharePoint lists. The forms used for creating, reading, and updating items in these lists can be customized by using InfoPath 2010. Examples include simple issue tracking or tasks lists.
  • Document information panels use InfoPath forms to display document metadata within the Microsoft Office system client application.

InfoPath consists of the following main components:

  • InfoPath 2010 is the Office system client application that has the following two modes:
    • Microsoft InfoPath Designer 2010 is used to create form templates. Form templates define the data structure, appearance, and behavior of a form. After the design process has been completed, form designers publish the form template to SharePoint Server so that users can start filling out forms based on that template.
    • Microsoft InfoPath Filler 2010 is used to fill out forms that are based on form templates created in InfoPath Designer.
  • InfoPath Forms Services in Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 enables forms to be rendered in the Web browser. It is available as an Enterprise feature of SharePoint Server 2010. Farm administrators configure settings for InfoPath Forms Services on the SharePoint Central Administration Web site.

There are two main form-filling environments, the Web browser and InfoPath Filler. Any form can be filled out in InfoPath Filler. Only browser-enabled forms can be filled out in a Web browser. SharePoint list forms can be filled out offline by using SharePoint Workspace. Form library forms can be filled out offline by using InfoPath Filler.

SharePoint list form templates cannot contain managed code or repeating or nested data. If the overall solution requires managed code or complex data structures in forms, you must use a form library. Form designers can add managed code to their forms by using Visual Studio Tools for Applications (VSTA). VSTA is an optional installation component available in Setup for InfoPath 2010.

A form library is a SharePoint document library that uses an InfoPath form as its default content type. Forms that are filled out by users are stored as XML files in the library. Form library forms should be used if your solution requires any of the following features:

  • Repeating or nested data
  • Digital signatures
  • Managed code
  • Form data stored as XML

Form designers publish form templates by using InfoPath Designer.

Here is a nice description, how to design the InfoPath form and how to use it with the workflow: InfoPath 2010 with SharePoint 2010: A Walkthrough.

Here are some other useful links on InfoPath:

Use a Three-state workflow – SharePoint Server – Microsoft Office

Use a Three-state workflow – SharePoint Server – Microsoft Office.

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SPD Conditional Formatting and Date comparison

My basic challange was how to conditionally format rows on the SharePoint lists, that fulfil selected criteria. I have a column DueDate. If the task is delayed, I’d  like to render it on the orange background.

Date format in my country (Slovenia) is different from the US format. By the way, Slovene date formatting is very similar to the German one and date formatting of other countries in Europe. So definitelly, they have the same problem.

Let’s go back to the challange. I concluded that the basic reason, why conditional formating doesn’t work, is different date formating. It compares US Format date with the date in Slovene  format.

Besides that I found the basic idea, how to “build” the date comparing function. Idea is to convert both dates to numbers and thaen compare this two numbers. Numbers are bulid according to the following patern: yyyyMMdd. This pattern guarantees that dates are comparable. The post where I got the idea is here:

[number(translate(substring-before(@EventDate,’T’),’-‘,”)) >= number(translate(substring-before($Today,’T’),’-‘,”)) and number(translate(substring-before(@EventDate,’T’),’-‘,”)) <= number(translate(substring-before($Today,’T’),’-‘,”)) + 7]

What I can do now? I went through the available Date and String functions in the “Advanced Condition dialog box” and decided to re-format Slovene date to the US one.

Here are the functions, which I can use.

Function Today, TodayIso, FormatDateTime and Format Date are described here.

You can find LCID (Locale Identifier) values on this site

(LCID for Slovenia = 1060, LCID for USA = 1033)

Here is complete description of functions in ddwrt namespace (available in SPD advanced condition editor).

The biggest problem is how to re-format date. I found that the functions FormatDate and FormatDateTime work very specifically and are bad documented.

Here are some examples of the use of these functions.

Examples of FormatDate function (examples in read use TodayIso function; example in blue uses different LCID):

ddwrt:FormatDate(ddwrt:Today(),1060,1)     16.12.2010

ddwrt:FormatDate(ddwrt:Today(),1060,3)     16. december 2010

ddwrt:FormatDate(ddwrt:Today(),1033,3)     Thursday, December 16, 2010

ddwrt:FormatDate(ddwrt:Today(),1060,4)     0:00

ddwrt:FormatDate(ddwrt:TodayIso(),1060,4)     11:02

ddwrt:FormatDate(ddwrt:Today(),1060,5)     16.12.2010 0:00

ddwrt:FormatDate(ddwrt:Today(),1060,7)     16. december 2010 0:00

ddwrt:FormatDate(ddwrt:Today(),1060,12)     0:00:00

ddwrt:FormatDate(ddwrt:TodayIso(),1060,12)     11:01:15

ddwrt:FormatDate(ddwrt:Today(),1060,13)     16.12.2010 0:00:00

ddwrt:FormatDate(ddwrt:Today(),1060,15)     16. december 2010 0:00:00

ddwrt:FormatDate(ddwrt:TodayIso(),1060,15)     16. december 2010 10:58:41

Then I tried function FormatDate with some string. The function doesn’t like a dot as a delimiter in the date format:

ddwrt:FormatDate(‘3.1.2010’,1060,15)      *** nothing displayed ***

By default the function recognizes the date as US version (MM-dd-yyyy). If the date is not logical e.g. ’13-1-2010′, then the function recognizes it as an european date ‘dd-MM-yyyy’. Very interesting, but nowhere documented. How can we use this function in Europe? The function is useless for us. Perhaps somebody knows something more about this.

ddwrt:FormatDate(‘3-1-2010′,1060,15)       1. marec 2010 0:00:00

ddwrt:FormatDate(’13-1-2010’,1060,15)       13. januar 2010 0:00:00

ddwrt:FormatDate(‘1-13-2010’,1060,15)       13. januar 2010 0:00:00

Function FormatDateTime has different parameters:

FormatDateTime(string szDate, long lcid, string szFormat);

string szDate – either an existing date column or a function (e.g. ddwrt:(Today())
long lcid – a number corresponding to the locale id (e.g. British English is 1033)
string szFormat – e.g. ‘yyyyMMdd’, ‘dd/MM/yyyy’ etc.

Here are some examples on FormatDateTime function:

ddwrt:FormatDateTime(‘1-13-2010′,1060,’yyyy’)           2010

ddwrt:FormatDateTime(‘1-13-2010′,1060,’yyyy_MM_dd’)        2010_01_13

ddwrt:FormatDateTime(‘1-13-2010′,1060,’yyyy-MMM-dd’)      2010-jan-13

I concluded that I can use function FormatDate only with Today and TodayIso functions, but I can’t convert dates in Slovene format. What I had to do is to convert both dates to numbers according to the ‘yyyyMMdd’ patern.

Here is my final solution.

number(concat(substring(string(@DueDate),7,4),substring(string(@DueDate),4,2),substring-before(string(@DueDate),’.’))) < translate(substring-before(ddwrt:TodayIso(),’T’),’-‘,”)

I used orange color for delayed tasks and yellow for the task that has to be completed today.

<%@ Register Tagprefix=”ApplicationPages” Namespace=”Microsoft.SharePoint.ApplicationPages.WebControls” Assembly=”Microsoft.SharePoint, Version=, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=71e9bce111e9429c” %> <%@ Register Tagprefix=”WebPartPages” Namespace=”Microsoft.SharePoint.WebPartPages” Assembly=”Microsoft.SharePoint, Version=, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=71e9bce111e9429c” %> <%@ Register Tagprefix=”Utilities” Namespace=”Microsoft.SharePoint.Utilities” Assembly=”Microsoft.SharePoint, Version=, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=71e9bce111e9429c” %> <%@ Register Tagprefix=”SharePoint” Namespace=”Microsoft.SharePoint.WebControls” Assembly=”Microsoft.SharePoint, Version=, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=71e9bce111e9429c” %> 16.12.2010 0:00
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Conditional Formatting and date comparisons with SharePoint Designer 2010 «

Conditional Formatting and date comparisons with SharePoint Designer 2010 «.

SharePoint 2010 Workflow problem, The form cannot be rendered.

I received the following error message when I was trying to start the workflow in SharePoint 2010.

You need to install the ‘State Service’ via the Configuration wizard in Central Administration.

Here is the procedure step by step:

  1. Go to Central Administration and select Configuration Wizard

  1. On the next screen launch the Wizard.

  1. On the next screen Start the Wizard.

  1. On the list of many services you will find »State service«. In my case it was already selected on the form, but evidently not activated yet.

  1. Finish the form and wait until the »processing« stops. When the »processing« finisehed, I was offered the following form to create a new top-level Web Site. You can freely skip this step. What we needed was already done.

  2. Refresh your site and you won’t receive the error message again. Workflow finally starts working.

How to import data into SharePoint 2010 List

My problem was how to migrate some lists from SharePoint 2003 into SharePoint 2010. There is a simple and effecitve way how to do this. At first you have to export data to Excel file. The next step is import Excel data into SharePoint 2010 list. How to do this, you can find very well described in this post:

Import and export data between Excel 2010 and SharePoint 2010

There is one thing I will add to this post. What I liked with this procedure is the fact, that the import function automatically finds the right data types for columns (text, number). Only with the text columns it alway selects “more lines of text”.