Posts Tagged 'sharepoint designer'

Simple User Interface Enhancement With the Content Editor

Sometimes we need to develop custom solutions or customize SharePoint sites using SharePoint designer. Examples might be when creating detailed user interface elements such as interfaces to complex business system via web parts or changing the styling or branding of a complete site by modifying master pages. At other times we just need to enhance the user experience by adding a small piece of functionality.

One great example of this is to be found in the document centre.

A large upload button is provided to make it easier for our users to start the upload process.

This is implemented by using the content editor web part and some simple HTML/ JavaScript.

  1. Open up a document center site
  2. Switch the page into edit mode
  3. Investigate the HTML source for the content editor web part
  4. Create your own version to use against other libraries
5. This assumes you have SharePoint server standard or Enterprise installed and that you can create or access a new site that is based on the document centre template

6. The site will look something like this – note the button on the right

7. Use Page | Edit page to switch the page into editing mode

8. Click on the big grey button (Content Editor Web Part) then click on the HTML Source ribbon item

9. The source for the web part is now editable and will be similar to the following which has been slightly reformatted for easier reading

The key part is highlighted in blue. A call to a JavaScript routine provided by SharePoint that opens the upload document dialog.

Using a different address such as DavesDocuments/Forms/Upload.aspx allows me to either modify the existing button or create a set of buttons each opening their own library dialogs.The button itself is an image file (uploaddoc.png) above which can also be replaced.

The result is an enhancement that is simple to do if you know some basic html and JavaScript. Combine this with some css and even more useful effects can be achieved.

In summary, if you haven’t used it yet, the content editor web part is well worth a look as it is easy to use and gives a lot of potential for enhancing pages without needing the heavier duty development or customization tools.

Dave Severn

Code, just the code ma’am – The role of SharePoint Designer

The systems development paradigm has changed and like the frog sitting in steadily warming water I am not sure developers have noticed the temperature is going up.

I wrote a SharePoint Designer course and I continue to be surprised with developer’s comments expecting to see more code for application development when dealing with SharePoint Designer. I think there may be a misunderstanding of what the role of SharePoint Designer is and what can be done with it. So first, let me explain the purpose of SharePoint Designer, where and what type code there is, and I’ll tie it back to the bigger picture of application development.

SharePoint Designer is a tool for customizing SharePoint web sites. As I see it, it has three major types of customizations.

  1. Branding – Changing the look and feel of the web site by modifying the Cascading Style Sheets (CSS),  HTML, java script etc.
  2. Linking and connecting to lists, libraries, xml data sources, and databases using a wizard (no code) approach to build a  “dashboard” style web page that links multiple data sources on a single page. Straight forward CRUD (Create, Read, Update, Delete) database functionality.
  3. Building custom, no code, very powerful workflows.

Branding requires an intimate knowledge of the SharePoint page construction, of Master Pages, Content Pages, how CSS and HTML is used and integration in the in the page. This technology is ASPX master page technology, but implemented in SharePoint. You will see code here, but only client side code and have the ability to add new master pages.

Linking to various data sources is all done via properties and wizards. There is no server side code at all. We have VS.NET type grids and controls available to us and we set properties to get the controls to do what we want them to do. It is surprising how much can be done with no code.

Building workflows is almost like building a Visio diagram that executes. As a matter of fact SharePoint Designer 2010 workflows will be built in Visio!

Now back to development big picture.

If you are a developer I can hear you chuckling, I’ve used those types of controls in Visual Studio previously and they don’t give me the type of control I want. Before I agree or disagree with you, I need to ask; what type of application are you trying to build? Check your water temperature.

I am going argue that many applications can build built now with no code, a smaller percentage require coded solutions.

SharePoint has 3 levels of application development.

  1. Web site
  2. SharePoint Designer
  3. VS.NET code development

The first two, don’t require code and you can build very robust applications.

20 years ago we were promised that there will be no need for coders, we laughed. 20 years ago the tools were not as mature or had as much functionality as today. What kind of application are you working one, does it really need a custom code solution?  Before you emphatically say YES! Really ask yourself what kind of application you are building?

System development can be grouped into two large categories

  1. Mission critical
  2. Office automation / project management / business intelligence / basic CRUD

Mission Critical applications require complex logic and finite control. These should be written with code.

Office automation etc. – Users have been using home grown LAN and email solutions (not great but workable solutions and I’ve seen very large companies run on these). SharePoint and SharePoint Designer can provide a fast solution for these types of applications that are 1000 times better than home grown LAN and email solutions. Development is fast with no code.

SharePoint has changed the development landscape and I am not sure that all developers have noticed. What kind of systems are you working on?

Here is an another view from Joel Spolsky on a similar topic-

Gord Maric

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