Friday, 22 January 2010

Make SharePoint Count

If you are a regular reader to my SharePoint blog you will have guessed that the only place to start this week is by congratulating Aston Villa on reaching the Carling Cup Final. There were joyous celebrations on Wednesday following a game that had more goals than you get site templates in the popular ActionSharePoint Bumper Bundle. Yes, at 6-4 (sounds like a tennis score) it wasn’t always easy to keep track, so this week I am going to discuss some of the unused ‘Totals’ features in SharePoint. The BBC must have been delighted with ten goals, a sending off and incidents galore. I have never seen Alan ‘Captain Scarlett’ Hansen so excited. But even Mark Lawrenson would have sounded interesting talking about that game.

So how could SharePoint have helped keep track of the goals? A great feature is ‘Custom List’ and these are often the best starting point for creating any form in SharePoint as you can define all the fields/columns yourself. On Wednesday we could have had a custom list called ‘Semi Final Goals’. In this list we could have created fields for the following ‘Time of Goal’, ‘Villa Scorer’, ‘Blackburn Scorer’, ‘Description of Goal’, ‘Reason for Sam Allardyce to moan’. Then each time a goal was scored added an entry. The next part which a number of users don’t use to its full capabilities is the create View option.

When creating a ‘View’ you can decide which columns you need to display and how to display them. There is an option here to display them as a Data View (this means it will look a bit like a spreadsheet). A rule I always use is only display the columns that contains vital information as the user can always click on the link from one of the records to see the full item. Try to make it so the user does not have to scroll to the right on the list by reducing number of columns to display. Also useful sometimes to think about the length of the column name as this can also cause scrolling. If you wish the users to be able to update items you also need to make sure that either one of the columns contains an ‘Edit’ or ‘Link’ option otherwise a trick I use is to add the ‘Edit’ column as the first column to display. When you see the list of Columns in the View you will see that some columns have in brackets after their name ‘Edit item’ or ‘Link to item’ this means that they will be hyperlinks for the user to click to be able to edit or view the whole form.

Now you have your View created you can modify it to set things like ‘Sort’, ‘Group By’ or ‘Filter’. With ‘Filter’ you could select ‘Show items only when following is true’ select the field ‘Villa Scorer’ and then select the options ‘is not equal to’ then leave the next box blank. This will then only display goals scored by the mighty Villa. The other option on the Modify View which would help us count the goals is the ‘Totals’. From here you can add a total for each of the columns. The options under ‘Totals’ include Count, Sum, Average, Maximum and Minimum. If these are selected they will display the appropriate Total at the top of the column. So if we added the ‘Count’ option to both the ‘Villa Scorer’ and ‘Blackburn Scorer’ columns we would see a 6 and a 4 appear. So we could keep track of all the goals that went in. With the other Semi Final at Old Trafford next Wednesday you could also use these totals to calculate the ‘Fergie Time’. During the game Alex Ferguson could add an item for every injury, substitution or time wasting during the game. One of the fields could be ‘Length of stoppage in seconds’ and on the View this could be totalled using ‘Totals’ and ‘Sum’. Then after 90 minutes Sir Alex could start waving his laptop at the 4th Official and pointing to his SharePoint List.

So with my train from Birmingham Snow Hill to Wembley Stadium booked for 28th February I can now start work on my Carling Cup Final Souvenir SharePoint Template. This will be available free of charge as soon as we know which club from Manchester will be runners-up to the Villa in the 50th League Cup Final. Now who won the first one.....oh yes Aston Villa!

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