Audience Targeting

Audience Targeting allows you to easily manage what users can see in terms of lists, list items and web parts etc. Currently within the University Audiences are used to direct content to either staff or students. This means that students only see what is relevant to them and staff only see what’s relevant to them. Within Office 365, it is not only possible to to apply this model to web parts and lists, but also individual items within a list. It is very easy to target a specific list item. When the item is added to the list, there is an additional field to add the target group, once added only this group will be able to view that particular item.

Audience Targeting is not a functioning feature within the Small Business edition of Microsoft Office 365, and therefore we have not been able to test this feature. It is only included as part of the Enterprise edition and above.

Info Path in Office 365

In a recent meeting that Michael and I set up, we were asked about Info Path and Office 365, unfortunately would could not answer the question as we had not looked into Info path at that time. I have quickly checked it out this morning and it appears to be quite a useful tool in SharePoint development. Info path can easily create forms for SharePoint 2010+, granted this can already be done within SharePoint online, however, it is possible to customize it with different fonts and images to make it look more professional. There is an example of this on the right. Info Path needs to be connected to be connected to the SharePoint site before anything can be made for SharePoint. It is also only compatible with the Enterprise edition of Office 365, therefore making it difficult to test this program.


Microsoft OneNote

Following our introduction session with a handful of other colleagues, two topics arose that we had not previously looked into. One of these is Microsoft OneNote integration. OneNote has good integration, joining the other three applications that Microsoft offers through the Office 365 service. It is really simple to create a new note within the desktop application and then save it directly to a SharePoint site. All you need is the web address of the library you wish to save the file to. Once saved the document will then appear on the SharePoint site. Users are then able to edit the document directly within the browser. As with all the Web Apps some of the functionality is limited, and OneNote is no exception. As shown below the Web App is unable to show some parts of the document. It is unable to show drawings and the highlighting. Apart from this all the text remains, and enables the user to continue working when access to the client app is not available.

The screenshot below shows the document created in the client application.

The screenshot below shows the document as viewed in the Web Application.

SharePoint Workspace

SharePoint Workspace is an easy to use tool that offers complete synchronisation of your SharePoint site to your desktop computer. This enables greater flexibility of how you access the things you need for your day to day work. This also means that you can access files when on the go and don’t have an Internet connection. If you made any edits to any documents while you are disconnected these will be queued for synchronisation until your Internet connection is restored. Another great feature is that when changes are made to a document, only the changes are synced back up to the server, meaning smaller and quicker upload times. Workspace also provides the ability to save to direct folders on SharePoint Servers as if they were folders on your local machine, making it both familiar and easy to save documents to the cloud with no new skills to learn. With it’s great integration with Windows you can even search for documents located on SharePoint through a Windows Explorer window, which makes it really easy to search for those all important documents.

However it does not support all content. There are some instances where data will not be synchronised depending on the way that it is stored on the SharePoint site, for example in a custom list.

Workflows in Office 365

Workflows have so far been overlooked in this project, so we thought it was time to find out a little more about them and how they can be used. If a Workflow was to be displayed in a graphical form it would look like a flowchart. A work flow follows a series of actions to automate common processes within a business. For example we have looked at a workflow for the process of authorising annual leave. Here the user makes their request through the team site, the workflow is started automatically when the item is added, and the ‘Approver’ is then notified and asked to either approve or reject the request. If the request for annual leave is approved, the requesting user is then sent a confirmation email. If the request for annual leave is not approved then the item is deleted from the list and the requesting user is sent an email explaining this. The great part about designing workflows is that they can be designed in Microsoft Visio, in a graphical form, then exported into SharePoint Designer 2010, which then creates the overall framework for you. All that is required then is to add in the specific parts of the variables, for example who to send the emails to etc. Workflows can greatly improve speed and efficiency with common tasks, and can also save money by cutting out the small tasks that would normally be carried out by people.

Creating the workflow itself was relatively easy, the Visio file was easy imported into SharePoint Designer and the appropriate selections were made for each stage in the workflow’s journey. Unfortunately, every time we uploaded the workflow into SharePoint it would not work what so ever. The workflow is started and the list item (the holiday request) says “In progress”. When viewed, office 365 says that it may be a bit slow due to a large amount of processing, 5 minutes later that message is replace with an error message. We aren’t sure if it is something that we are doing wrong or whether the Workflow we have created just isn’t compatible with Small Business, either way, it’s frustrating.


We have since found out the following, and it appears that some of the functions that we included in the workflow are not supported by the small business version.

The following workflow actions are not supported in Office 365 for small businesses:

Start Document Set Approval Process, Capture a Version of a Document Set, Send Document Set to Repository, Set Content Approval Status of the Document Set, Start Approval Process, Start Feedback Process, Start Custom Task Process, Declare Record, Undeclare Record, Lookup Manager of a User, End Task Process, Set Content Approval Status (as author), Wait for Change in Task Process Item, Set Task Field, Rescind Task, Append Task, Delegate Task, Escalate Task, Forward Task, Insert Task, Reassign Task, Request a Change, Send Task Email.

No workaround is available. To use these SharePoint workflow actions, you must have Office 365 for enterprises.


We have now managed to get the built in workflow, three-state workflow, to work after struggling to get it to function correctly, it just previously kept failing.