Remember This

In the late 90’s, I developed a Desktop utility for keeping track of things like snippets of code. The entries could be grouped by subject or by programming language and the utility had a few special subject types for things like To-Do lists, Contacts and Events. Of course, Outlook replaced most of those functions but I still use the utility to keep track of code and things I just want to remember.

I know that SharePoint, with its powerful custom lists, could easily handle the storage, the categorization and the search but there was one problem – productivity. Adding an item to the list requires navigating to the list (in MySite) and adding the item and then making the return trip – or does it? I have recently been reminded that you can do a lot with SharePoint without doing full-blown “development”. A few bits of JavaScript and I had the power of a SharePoint list and the convenience of a desktop utility. Actually, there are three scripts.

The first is a New Item option. This script opens the “New” form for the list in a new window, leaving the browser on the current page. A second script closes the form window after pressing “Submit” – I simply replaced the URL string after the ‘source’ in the New Item URL (which normally redirects you to the AllItems view). These two scripts let me quickly enter an idea whenever it strikes me from wherever I am at the time. The third script opens the list in a new window when I want to reference it. The New script and the Open script are small bits of code in MySite that are assigned to the Favorite Bar in I.E. so they’re always handy. Where my desktop utility had subject databases, the SharePoint list has a subject fields that I can easily filter on for specialized views.

Putting this in SharePoint has an additional advantage; these things are always available now. The previous utility relied on a local object database for storage. If I wanted to have the same items on my laptop as my desktop, I had to export and import them. As of today, I have one list – the content manager in me feels good.

Thanks to Laura Rogers and the other speakers at SPTechCon for inspiring me to seek better solutions from the out-of-the-box features in SharePoint.

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