Helping Out for the Holidays

clip_image002This is always a tough time of year to write about SharePoint. Monday was the first day of our fiscal year which means it was also the first day of the process known as year-end. We also have a lot of activity associated with the policy renewals that happen on January 1st, so there usually isn’t a lot of time for SharePoint. Fortunately, a bunch of holidays occur in between our year-end and those renewals.

Last year, one of my coworkers decorated her office door. She did a great job, but there are a lot of doors and hers was the only pretty one. This year, she wanted to try and encourage others to join her. A few ideas bounced around a few heads, and a contest was born. The cool thing is that the winner gets to choose a charity to benefit from the proceeds of the contest. Of course, we’re going to use SharePoint to handle the contest. The process is pretty simple, but I learned a bunch of things about SharePoint that I didn’t know, and they might come in handy if you ever have a similar need. I didn’t figure any of this out; I just searched and picked one of many available answers. I’ve included the links here, in case they’re interesting to you.

Photos can be rated – We don’t deal with photos very often, in fact this might be the first time we are “dealing” with photos. Other photo libraries that we have are holding logos, pictures from business events we have held and pictures of things we want to put in a report. Not exactly stuff anyone cares to rate. We decided not to use this feature because we want a more direct way of choosing a winner and we don’t want to make people assign a value to every picture, but it’s pretty cool none the less.

There are Thumbnails – Well, of course there are thumbnails, that’s what we are looking at when we look at the standard library view, but those thumbnails aren’t directly available, or are they? Well, I found a short article from Stephen Wilson at Rackspace for accessing the thumbnails in SharePoint 2013. I tried his technique and it worked in our 2010 libraries as well. I spent a little time trying to wire up a related list that would show the thumbnail and let people make a choice (like a survey would be if SharePoint surveys worked better), but that didn’t pan out. The reason we’re doing this in SharePoint is because we have some remote workers who can’t see the actual doors. We don’t want them to have to go to the list, click on the thumbnail to see the photo and then go back to the list to vote. This needed to be simpler.

You can make workflows easier to use – One of the things people hate about workflows is that you have to do the whole right-click – select Workflows – select the workflow – start the workflow thing. Now you can make a really pretty page where this stuff all happens behind the scenes, but it’s year-end, and this is a simple contest. One way to simplify the workflow process is to add an HTML column that provides the shortcut to the workflow right in the item. I’ve used this method a number of times in other lists, but Varinder Singh wrote a nice blog entry on how to do it.

I’m going to opt for the workflow solution. People can look at the pictures, choose the one that they like and run the “Select as Winner” workflow. The workflow is pretty simple – it will add the name of the picture and their name to a list. A workflow in that list will throw out any previous entries that person made and a view will take care of the counting and sorting. Nothing fancy here, but it feels good to be able to say “yeah, we can do that in SharePoint” whenever somebody asks for a solution. Give us a few weeks, and I’ll post a picture of the winning door and the winner’s choice of charity.

3 thoughts on “Helping Out for the Holidays

  1. Dan:

    This is one of those fun little applications that I could get totally lost in. It would be an awesome SPA example, with live updating to the tally list, a little visualization to show where the votes currently stand, a rotator to highlight the top entrants…

    Ah, but there’s so much else to do in life, eh?


  2. Pingback: Mea Culpa | SharePoint Stories

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