Posts tagged Problems

After experiencing many problems with accessing the relevant pages to design the external site, the cause of which is unknown, we have been able to overcome the issue by typing the URL into the browser rather than navigating through the site. When the problems first arose Rob and I looked for solutions using the Office 365 Community Forums, where we found that many other users seemed to be experiencing similar issues. One Microsoft engineer suggested that users submit service requests through the Admin page, but again another unexpected error was thrown at us upon attempting to do this. I suspect that now that Microsoft have released Office 365, they support efforts are concentrated on subscribing customers, although this is just speculation.

The master page of the external website cannot be changed and therefore you are limited to what you can do with the layout, however you can override the CSS and once you have dissected all of the default CSS can make almost any design changes you wish. We decided to keep the design clean and simple, modifying only the color scheme and tidying up the navigation, which by default looks a bit messy.

Rob added a mock ‘Store’ page to the site to show that small businesses could, if they wish to, sell there own products using Office 365. Although Office 365 does not offer an out of the box store template, it was still fairly easy to set up a simple store using the paypal web parts. When inserting a paypal web part, the user is redirected to their paypal account which is where they will create the buttons for their products, once they have done this they will be provided with some html code which is then inserted into the paypal web part, a button is then generated. For anyone who is fairly confident with computers this should be a straight forward task, but for people who may be a bit overwhelmed, they may want to get a friend to do it for them.

The ‘Contact Us’ page, included by default, we think is very important from a consumers point of view. There is nothing more frustrating when you want to contact a company and you cannot find anywhere on their site to do it. We used one of the built in webparts to create a contact us web form. This is simply selected from a menu and dropped in to the webpage where your cursor is. This web form asks the user for their name, email address, and their message. The content of these forms is then sent by email to the chosen person/s, where the query can be followed up.

To try and make the website a little different from the sandbox solution Rob attempted to add in some JQuery navigation for the store, this involved some very simple code. This meant editing the master page too, after some, it became apparent that it wasn’t possible to edit the master page as it wouldn’t accept any changes at all and would just throw back an error.

Over the last few days Rob and I have come across some issues using the Small Business version of Office 365. The main problems arise when you wish to customise the  Team Site. You are however able to make certain modifications to the master page and the css files. But you do not seem to be able to edit the default headers and footers of the pages. The default Microsoft headers and footers are bright orange, and no matter how you customise the css file, the orange headers and footers just do not go. There are some .ascx files referenced in the master pages that could be related to the default header and footer, but there is no way to view these files or edit them that we know of at this time.

We have also been experiencing a ‘403 Forbidden’ errors. These have been occurring sporadically when clicking on links, and it’s not just happening on specific links. This issue has been ongoing over the last couple of days, and as of yet there has been no explanation of this issue. There has not even been any acknowledgement of this problem in the service health within the admin options.

Office 365 integration with the Office desktop apps appear to be quite useful and impressive, however, there are still some problems with it. One flaw we found was with the compatibility between web and desktop apps. I found my self rather annoyed that after creating a mock payrole Excel spreadsheet and uploading it to SharePoint Online, it could not be viewed on the 365 website, this was because the desktop appwas not fully compatible with the web app. There are certain features that the desktop app has which the web app cannot use, in the spreadsheet that I created I used validation fields in some cells, this feature was not supported int eh web app there for not accessible on 365. Granted the file can still be opened from the Cloud on the desktop app but the user might not always have Microsoft Excel installed on their machine. Although not fully explored this is true for other Office desktop features. I find this to be a huge flaw in Office 365 and I would hope that this is sorted out for the release version.

RE

In an article on nathanneil.com there are some valid points about how the system works should any circumstances change. The first being what happens if the organisation wishes to leave the Office 365 service for something else. How will users be able to keep their data, emails and even retrtact any domain name they have linked to the service.

Another potential problem that could occur is when an employee leaves. What happens to their account (emails & data)? The article suggests that the organisation would be required to continue paying the subscription for this employee to keep the data secure and available.

A third point to note is that Microsoft say Office 365 can encrypt your emails, which is essential if you are in the medical or legal fields, but it will only work if you buy extra equipment and have an IT professional that is trained and experienced in connecting the rights management system to Office 365.

A fourth point to note is that although Microsoft offers a 99.9% uptime, this is only scheduled uptime. This means that Microsoft could give advance warning of any scheduled downtime. This time would not be included in the guarantee. The message here is that the organisation would not have any control over any downtime, and this ultimately could cause disruption to its staff and or students. I posted a question about this to the Office 365 community, here is the link: http://community.office365.com/en-us/f/148/p/5707/22878.aspx#22878.

http://nathanneil.com/2011/05/office-365-a-closer-look/