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Design Manager and The Return of the Snazzy Looking 15 Minute Weather Web Part


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Editor’s note: Contributor Erik Abderhalden is a consultant with Rightpoint. Follow him @erikboderek

They say there’s only two seasons in Chicago: construction and winter. Thankfully most of the major highway and tolls are construction free now (sans I-90 west of 290), and winter is a while away. Or is it? Chicago weather is downright bizarre. How do you keep tabs on what it’s like outside? 15 minute weather web part to the rescue!

What I love about the 15 minute weather web part is how easy it is to style. Unlike other weather web parts, you can really get into this one and style it however you want. In my initial post this would just be another ol’ web part sitting pretty in a zone. What if I’m too cool for zones? OK Fonzie, chill. We can create the weather web part as a snippet and place it anywhere we want and style it however we want. Since we’re too cool for zones, we can even embedded in – wait for it – the master page.

Thanks to the HTML snippet generator in SharePoint 2013 you can place it anywhere you want in the master page. Here’s how. Make sure Publishing is enabled on your site first.

  1. Download jQuery Tools here and zWeatherFeed here and place them in your site. Download jQuery too – especially if your master page isn’t already using it.
  2. Follow the configuration steps in my original post (stop after the first code block)
  3. Save the code as a text file
  4. Upload the text file to your Style Library and publish it
  5. Follow steps 1-5 here.
  6. In the Design tab select Media and Content > Content Editor
  7. 2013-11-12-WeatherWebpart-Part02-01.png

  8. In the content link property, enter the URL of where the text file from step 4 was uploaded
  9. Expand the Appearance section and set Chrome Type to None
  10. Click the Update button right of the web part properties
  11. 2013-11-12-WeatherWebpart-Part02-02.png

  12. Click Copy to Clipboard. Don’t worry that the preview is empty.
  13. Open up your master page in SharePoint Designer
  14. Make sure you open up the HTML version of your master page and not the .master
  15. Look for SharePoint: AspMenu ID="TopNavigationMenu". A line or two after it there should be a / asp: ContentPlaceHolder> and a / SharePoint: AjaxDelta> . Create a div with the class "weather".
  16. Paste the content copied from the snippet generator inside that div. It should look something like this:
  17. 2013-11-12-WeatherWebpart-Part02-03.png

  18. Save the master page and check out your site

OK – so it looks a little wonky. Let me help you with some CSS. Throw this in a CEWP or reference it via an external stylesheet in your master page. This won’t be perfect because the position of the classes depends on other elements in your master page, but this should whet your appetite.



When done, your web part should look like this. If you have multiple locations in your text file, the web part will rotate through them as well.

2013-11-12-WeatherWebpart-Part02-04.png

I wanted to share one caveat. If you’re using design manager to package up your publishing assets to move between environments or create a boilerplate site template, leaving the 15 minute weather web part, or any other web part embedded in the master page, is a bad idea. Strange things happen when you import the package. I’ll save you the headache now instead of later.

Finally I need to share some credit where credit is due. This post wouldn’t be possible without the help of my awesome coworker Liz Sdregas.

SharePoint: Create a Snazzy Looking Weather Web Part in 15 Minutes or Less


You may also be interested in: fpweb.net


 

Editor’s note: Contributor Erik Abderhalden is a consultant with Rightpoint. Follow him @erikboderek

When people ask me what’s the weather is like outside, I think of Good Morning Vietnam when Robin Williams asks his fictional weather reporter Roosevelt E. roosevelt what the weather’s like. Roosevelt snaps back, "You got a window? Open it."

When it comes to intranet sites, one of the more frequent requests is the ability to display weather. Not everyone in corporate America has the ability to open a window, nay even sit by a window. Thus a weather widget, or in the case of SharePoint a web part, is utilized to showcase the current temperature and give workers something to look forward to when they leave work or plan their weekend.

If you Google "SharePoint weather web part" you get a slew of solutions and they all have different functionality. What if instead of downloading a web part you could use a content editor web part and some JavaScript, CSS and accomplish the same functionality for free? It’s easy to set up and takes about 15 minutes from start to finish.

In this solution, I’ll be utilizing Zazar’s zWeatherFeed JavaScript and some CSS. zWeatherFeed utilizes Yahoo weather and is easily customizable to meet your requirements.

First, download the zWeatherFeed JavaScript here. If you’re like me and reside in the United States, we don’t use Celsius like the rest of the world, so we need to change the script to use Farenheit instead of Celsius. In your favorite script editing program, open up the script you just downloaded. Do a search for "unit" and replace the value of "c" to "f". The location varies if you downloaded the .min.js or .js file. Here’s what you need to look for:

zweather.min.js
unit:"c"
zweather.js
var defaults = { unit: ‘f’,

Great. Upload the JS to a safe place on your SharePoint site.

Now create a new text file. In the text file we’re going to place our code to call the JavaScript, and set up the HTML formatting for the weather.

The code is as follows. Be sure to update line 3 to reflect the JavaScript’s actual location.



In line 7 of the code are all the zip codes the web part will diplay the weather for. You can use up to 10 zip codes so update the code to be reflect all the zip codes you wish to display. When done, upload the file to your site.

Now you’ll need some styling. First things first, download this image and add it to your SharePoint site. This will be used to toggle between the different weather forecasts and displays at the bottom of the web part.

We’re not doing anything fancy here other than following the instructions about styling the .day and .night classes so the web part’s background will reflect if it’s presently day or night in the currently location. You can add the stylesheet to the page via your prefered MO: another CEWP, in the same text file as the JS, an external stylesheet etc.,

However you place the stylesheet, be sure to update line 53 to reference the image you downloaded in the previous step. If you don’t include the reference, no worries, but you won’t have the nice navigation in the web part because that’s what truly defines this web part as snazzy opposed to all those non-snazzy weather web parts.



Be sure to upload the CSS to your site. Now that the fun stuff is done, it’s just configuring the page. Add a content editor web part to the page and reference the JavaScript in the web part’s content link property. Repeat if applicable for the CSS. And voila! You’re now the proud owner of a snazzy looking weather web part!

2013-11-05-WeatherWebpart-01.png

SharePoint 2013: What’s in Access Services for Me?


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Editor’s note: Contributor Erik Abderhalden is a consultant with Rightpoint. Follow him @erikboderek

2013-05-13-SharePointWhatsInAccess-01.pngWhen we talk about collaboration in the workspace the discourse tends to focus around SharePoint, Word and Excel, Lync and social components. What’s absent from that conversation is Microsoft Access. I’m not sure why this is. Access has been around for a long time and is still part of the Microsoft product suite. For some organizations, Access holds business critical data; for others, it’s an easy, tried and true way to capture, store, and report on data.

There’s many problems with how we treat Access currently. First, most Access applications reside on network drives. This thwarts collaboration in too many ways to count in this blog post. The main collaboration inhibitor is that the database is isolated from other resources – be it people or data. Second, Access databases tend to be built on average about a decade ago, ported over to a new release of Access and the knowledge and inner-workings of the application are held like state secrets by one person.

This leads to what I call Access fiefdoms. Organizations who utilize Access applications tend to be composed of several fiefdoms. I’m not talking about Game of Thrones power struggles here; instead organizations end up with a bunch of siloed solutions that ultimately will depend on a single resource to maintain them. Once that resource leaves the department or the company, the app tends to wilt and ultimately die.

SharePoint 2013 can curtail these Access fiefdoms via Access Services. At a high-level, Access Services is functionality provided by SharePoint, with a little help from SQL, that renders Access web applications on SharePoint. In 2013, Microsoft has changed the relationship on how Access and SharePoint integrate and I believe there’s something in Access Services for everyone. So without further ado, let’s break it down by role.

End User

  • Single Point of Collaboration
    • If you’re already storing files in a team site and use Access, it coalesces elements of daily duties to a single spot.
    • Don’t need to worry about file-level locks. Multiple users can be working simultaneously.
  • Access Apps can pull in lots of data sources
    • Databases published via Access Services can consume data from SharePoint, other Access DBs, SQL, and ODBC. This is more than enough data sources for most users.
  • Nice Looking Forms
    • Access utilizes HTML 5 and has some nice looking forms that take their cues from the Windows 8 interface. Developers can build in custom actions at the top of each form to execute macros and improve the end user experience with UI and data macros. Discrete custom actions buck the trend to place too many buttons on forms and lead to a confusing user experience, which can be found in many Access DBs.
  • Reporting
    • The days of manually massaging SharePoint data after exporting from Excel are over. While reporting in Access Services is done via the fat client app you can leverage data sources from all sorts of SharePoint sites and mold them into meaningful reports.

Power User/Developer

  • Codeless
    • I feel SharePoint developers lose people when they start talking about content types and site columns and that may intimidate people from starting to develop SharePoint solutions. Access Services doesn’t require knowledge of C#, .NET, or core SharePoint concepts. All you need to know is Access and have a SharePoint site to publish to.
  • Easy to publish/App Store
    • It’s super easy to save and publish Access apps to SharePoint. The Access fat-client has changed so users can only develop with what will publish to SharePoint. This means there is no compatibility checker, because the compatibility of working with SharePoint is guaranteed!
    • Additionally, developers can save their app and redistribute it through their organization. This frees up developers’ time significantly. If a developer built an app form Team A and Team B wants to utilize a lot of the same functionality, Team B can download the App from the SharePoint App Store and make it their own, leaving the developer more time to focus on higher priority work. By sharing the app, we prevent the knowledge of the app from residing with a single resource.
  • Views
    • AKA The Functionality Formerly Known as Forms. Views are built using HTML5. They’re responsive and easier to develop than previous versions of Access. Built in the Access client via a WYSIWYG editor, they’re easy to build and customize.
  • Macros
    • While the end user reaps the rewards of the macros, the Access client has handsome macro builders that allows easy drag and drop functionality to create powerful operations in no time.

Administrators

  • App Store
    • With the App model in SharePoint, administrators ultimately have jurisdiction about what can and cannot be available in their environment.
  • Look Ma, no SharePoint Designer!
    • Access Services allows users to build composite applications without the need for SharePoint Designer. In environments where SPD use is prohibited or in the hands of a few, Access Services can empower end users to build their own apps and publish them to SharePoint, which in turn can drive collaboration and adoption of the platform.
  • SQL
    • The biggest change to Access Services in SharePoint 13 is that all of the data in Access resides in SQL. Every app belongs in its own contained database. This means that you’re no longer stuck with the limitations of SharePoint when running your Access app, you’re only limited by SQL. SharePoint only renders the app’s HTML and CSS. Meaning all of the processing is done by SQL in what Microsoft calls "Access Run Time." This should assuage any fears of an Access App taking down a WFE.

Access may be 20 years old, but that doesn’t mean we should be working like its 1993. Access Services on SharePoint 13 takes the best parts of Access and SharePoint and provides 21st century solutions for users across the organization.