Workaround for the SP 2010 calendar resize bug

In SharePoint 2010, the calendar views are rendered via a script on the client side. This is a significant improvement over the heavy calendars of the previous versions (2003 and 2007), and in the 2013 version client side rendering has been extended to all list views.

Unfortunately, the SP 2010 calendar also came with a bug that I reported a couple years ago. It is made of two layers – one for the grid and one for the events – and when the calendar gets resized the two layers get out of sync. Really annoying! As far as I know, Microsoft has never fixed this. I keep receiving reports of this bug from users, especially as it occurs when calendar views are combined with the Easy Tabs.

If you have to deal with this annoying behavior, here is a simple workaround: go to the Web Part settings and give the Web Part a fixed width.

Hope this helps!

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A School Site to Track Schedules, Assignments and Grades (Part II)

Guest Author: Trudy Hutzler

Welcome to part two of the School Site Overview.

In the last article I gave you some background about why we created the School Site, and I showed how we tracked classes. In this article we start to get into more of the fun stuff as I walk you through how we track homework and assignments.

The Home Page

Again starting on the Home Page, where we have used Easy Tabs version 5 to organize our data, I want to start with the “All Assignments” tab. Here is a list of all assignments that are due for the current quarter and their status.

This shows whether an assignment is submitted, late and by how many days, or how many days until it is due. To evaluate how many days till due, or late against the due date I used Christophe’s new Countdown/Countup formulas.

The priority of the assignment is indicated by the font color of the Assignment Title. I used the Color Coded Calendar tool from the SharePoint Users Toolkit for this piece and just tweaked it a little for my use.

The progress % is a visual indicator showing the percentage of the assignment that has been completed. It moves from Red to bright green as it moves across the bar. The actual color changes in 10% increments.

With online classes, it is not unusual to have classes with over 100 students, so as you can imagine it sometimes takes the teachers a while before they grade all those assignments and post the grades. Until they are all graded the assignment remains blank or at 0% making it hard to know if the assignment was submitted and being graded or was late. So we added the Submitted field so we as parents know if the assignment was submitted, and my daughter can be sure she didn’t forget to turn in the assignment after she completed her work, which if you have teenagers you know can happen a lot.

The Due Today and Due This Week tabs are pretty self-explanatory they are filter views of the Assignments list which list all assignments that are due. The image below shows the Due This Week tab.

The Late Assignments tab is another filtered view which gives us a list of all assignments that are past their due date, and have not been marked as submitted.

The List

As I said in my last article the Lists are the real work horse of the School Site and the Assignments List is really the nerve center for the whole site, everything else is just for support of this one list. In this list all homework assignments for the current quarter are tracked, and the grades recorded. We even track how many days until it is due, or how many days an assignment is late. We also provide access to any links needed to complete the assignment, and scheduled time for completing the work. It all happens here, and it all gets integrated from here as well.

Keeping track of the assignments is only one part of process; you also need to manage your time so that you can actually get the work done and submitted.  But as we all know clicking around between your to-do list and your calendar is a pain, even for the most disciplined of us, but especially for a teenager.  I knew if it wasn’t easy to move between assignment list and calendar and somehow tie the two together it wouldn’t be long before my daughter gave up and went back to her old tried and failed methods of doing her work.   So we needed to find a way to connect her Assignments list with the Schedule calendar.  You may remember the Schedule calendar from the last article.

This calendar color codes the entries by changing the background color according to the category you choose.  If you look at the figure above you will see some of the entries have a green background, another entry has a red background, and so on.  When you create a calendar entry there is a Category field where you can choose a category like “Holidays-No School” which would give the entry a green background and “Report Periods” which would give the entry a red background.  The category you choose will determine the background color of the calendar entry.

But that’s not all, if you call in and order in the next 30 minutes you will also receive the added feature of the Assignment List integration.  You can link your calendar event with an item in your assignment list by using a hyperlink that when clicked will open up the view list item dialog box from the Assignments list.

 Let’s say you are checking out your schedule in the calendar and see an assignment you are supposed to be working on, but can’t remember what it is you were supposed to do for the assignment.  If you open the calendar event, it will look something like the figure below.   You can now scroll down to the Assignment field and click on the hyperlink, which for this example is titled “Assignment 4”.  

This will open the View list item dialog box for this homework assignment from the Assignments list, which you can see in the figure below.  The Assignment List item will even open in a new window so you don’t have to navigate back to the Calendar page again. 

But wait that’s still not all, did you notice the Assignment Page link at the top of the calendar page?

Click that link and go straight to the All Tasks view of the Assignments List, as shown in the figure below.

The All Task, as seen above, is the default view for this list. Notice that in this view we are using the Title field that is linked to the edit dialog box. This gives us quick access to edit the item and update its information. We can easily see how much progress has been made on the assignment by the progress bar. If you click on any of the links in the Scheduled column it will open the dialog box for the calendar item associated with this assignment.

So if you need to reschedule your time to work on the assignment or extend it to another day you can do so easily from the list item itself without having to navigate away from the page. But what if no work time has been scheduled for this item yet? No problem, to schedule time to work on this item, simply select the assignment in the list, hover your mouse over the title of the item then click on the down arrow to open the drop down list item menu. There we have added a new action called Schedule Work using SharePoint designer.

Click on Scheduled work and you will be redirected to the Schedule Calendar where you can schedule time to complete this assignment. Then simply hit the back button on your browser, or click on the Assignments Page link at the top of the page to return to the Assignment list. Finally notice the last column Late Status, this is our newest addition to the site and is based on the Countdown/Countup Formulas Christophe debuted in his blog not long ago. Once I saw them I just had to have them, and Christophe was kind enough to let me beta test them. I of course altered them just a tiny bit to better fit my purposes. The formula you are seeing in this view is the system time formula; I will show you the Internet Time formula in just a little bit. I have used both for demonstration purposes.

So basically that is the list, I have used views to change the way the list looks and functions based on what I needed to accomplish. For example, to track late assignment I created the Late Assignment view that you saw on the Late Assignment tab on the home page. Or I have created a calendar view to show when each assignment is due on a calendar. Some views have a few more visual indicators, like the Details view.

I wanted to be able to see which assignments were more heavily weighted and therefore, should have a higher priority, but I didn’t want to add another column when I was already struggling to keep all the information from running together in a hodge podge. So I made a dual purpose field that would display the Title of the assignment and then color code its priority level by changing the color of the font. May not be real fancy, but it is effective.

Remember when I told you we would be seeing the Internet Time based countdown/countup formula later, well here is in the IsLate column. If you need to create more visual impact this is the one for you, it combines the countdown/countup information with an icon image to really get your attention. I also tweaked this formula a tiny bit to make it more suitable for my needs, mainly by changing the text.

As I have said before replace classes with projects, assignments with milestones, and grades for progress or performance indicators and you can see how these same concepts can be adapted to the business world.

In my next post I will cover how we track grades, because in the end it’s all about the grades.

A School Site to Track Schedules, Assignments and Grades (Part I)

Guest Author: Trudy Hutzler

Trudy currently works as a Senior Technical Architect for AT&T Hosting and Application Management, where she provides Windows Server and SharePoint support and administration.  She is also a contributing author for the new Mastering SharePoint Foundation 2010 book.

As a SharePoint Administrator I often get asked about adding visualizations and such to SharePoint to add that little something extra to the out of the box SharePoint experience.  As an avid follower of Path to SharePoint I find many of the solutions Christophe has provided are a great way to enhance the users SharePoint experience without requiring me, as the Administrator, to maintain a lot of code or customizations on the server.  As good as the solutions are on their own, when you begin to combine them and layer them you can create something that is user friendly and visually appealing.

To demonstrate this I am going to share with you a School Site that I created for my oldest daughter who attends school online.  Now obviously not everyone will have a need for a School Site to track classes, homework assignments, and grades, but if you replace classes with departments or projects, homework assignments with milestones or requirements, and grades with assessments or performance ratings, you can begin to see where this concept can be applied to many more business related activities.

To make this easier to follow I am going to break this down into several posts, the first few will be an overview of the site and what it looks like, and then later posts will cover how I created each part and tied them together.  When it is all said and done I hope to provide readers with a copy of my site, and all the formulas I used.  So let me start by giving you the nickel tour.

BACKGROUND

The high schools in our area are not all that great, so my oldest daughter attends a state chartered online school.  We love the way the classes themselves are conducted, but the homework and grade interface is difficult to navigate, confusing, and it is very easy to miss an important assignment simply because it is hidden deep in layers of folders.  After an entire year of missing and late assignments and a constant struggle to navigate the interface, my daughter came to me last summer and asked me to help her create a SharePoint site on my development farm I have at home that she could use instead.

What you are about to see is the current version of that site.  My daughter would like me to note that all names, classes, and grades have been changed to protect the innocent, and that no actual grades have been used in creating this demo.

This site is created on the Team Site template, and I am using SharePoint Foundation 2010, however most of the functionality will work on SharePoint 2007, with a few exceptions like calendar overlay which is only available with SharePoint 2010.

As we go through the series I will refer you back to the blog entries I used to create each feature, and make all of the formulas available.  I will also be adding them to a special document library I have added to the demo site which, with Christophe’s help, I hope to make a copy of the site available to the readers for their use.

ON THE HOME PAGE

The site itself has three main functions; track classes, track homework assignments, and track grades. In this post I will be walking through the parts of the site that we use to track classes.

For tracking classes, my daughter needed to know the days and times her classes were scheduled for and what each teachers fax number was for submitting work she was unable to submit in the drop boxes provided by the school.  She also needed to be able to keep control of her schedule by scheduling in time to do her assignments. As parents we needed to know when she was supposed to be attending her online classes, the name of her teachers and how to contact them if we had questions. We also needed to know when the grade periods started and ended, and when there was no school.  Most of all we needed a way for busy parents, as well as the student, to be able to track it all at a glance.  This is what we came up with.


 
On the home page of the school site we used Easy Tabs to create an easy way to organize and navigate through the information we wanted “at our finger tips”. Some of the views are for Mom and Dad’s information, others are for our daughter’s use, but it is all there in one spot.

This first tab “Class Calendar”, as seen above, is a view of her class schedule, but to make it even more informative we over laid her schedule and assignment calendar views to give it a more complete view.

Next we will look at the tabs pertaining to classes and schedules.  The Schedule tab, This Week tab, and the Today’s Schedule tab show a calendar view of the scheduled classes and events for the month, the week, or for the day.  This helps other family members know when she is busy attending her web classes and can’t be disturbed.  This actually comes in very handy on days when my other children have no school, like snow days, and they know when they need to be quiet and leave their Sister alone, however you can use something like this to tack meetings, or deadlines, schedule events, etc.

For this calendar we have added color coding so we can easily differentiate between scheduled classes, work time, and holidays.

The last tab is Print Preview click on one of the other tabs that you would like a printed version for, then click on the Print Preview tab and it will create a printer friendly view of that tab, click on your browsers print button to print.  Once you have printed out your page if you look at the Print Preview tab it now reads Back to Page.  Click on this tab and you will be returned to your regular view.

For us, this gives my daughter a printed copy to keep with her and refer to throughout the day, or a schedule to post of the refrigerator, or just a list of assignments to follow up on at the end of the day, but you can also use this feature to print out pages to add to a report or share with others who may not have access to your site.

LIBRARIES

We are using the Shared Documents library to keep copies of any downloaded forms, assignments, test, or home work she has written up and scanned to email to the teacher or upload to the Drop Box in the class web site.  This way if something doesn’t reach the teacher the work is handy and can be easily resubmitted.
She also has to keep an activity diary for PE, she didn’t want those getting mixed in with other assignments so we made a separate library for it.
Finally for this demonstration I added a third document library to hold text file copies of all the formulas and calculations used in creating this site.
                                             

 

LISTS

It is in the lists that the real action starts.  It is the Class Calendar, Assignments, Schedule, Contacts and Grades that are the real work horses for this site.  Since this post is all about organizing and tracking classes we will look at the Class Calendar and Contacts lists.

The Class Calendar is really just the Team Site Calendar renamed.  We added all her regularly scheduled classes in as events, and later over laid the Assignment Calendar, which is how my Daughter schedules in time to actually work on her assignments, to increase its impact and usefulness.


 
Next we needed to track information about the classes, teachers and contact information so we created a contact list.  We started with a basic contact list then removed fields that weren’t needed and were just cluttering up the place, and added a few custom fields till we got what we needed.


 
We kept the usual contact fields like First and Last Name, Phone Numbers, and such.  Then we edited the Category from your typical Work, Meeting, Phone Call, etc. to something more school oriented like Teacher, Advisor, School Staff, Student and Other.  Finally we added another Choice field and added in the name of her classes.

At this point my Daughter decided she needed a place to keep track of all her other dates and to schedule time to actual work on each assignment.  So we created another calendar called Schedule which, since it would track multiple types of events, we made into a color coded calendar.


 
This calendar color codes the entries by category.  When you create a calendar entry, along with all the usual fields like title, location, start and end time, all day event or reoccurring event check boxes you also have a category choice field.  The category you choose will determine the color of the calendar entry.


 
So now you can see how using calendar overlays, and color coded calendars, in conjunction with Easy Tabs can begin to create a very useful interface.  This same concept can easily be adapted to tracking projects, deadlines, meetings and other deliverables.  And you don’t have to be a code ninja to get the job done.

In my next post I will get into the real nitty gritty of what makes the School Site work when I show you how we are tracking, and scheduling homework and assignments.

SharePoint 2010 issues with calendars

I am having the following issue in SharePoint 2010: when I set the chrome state of a calendar to “minimized” (under Edit Web Part > Appearance), the calendar still gets displayed on the page.

This is an issue I already reported with the beta version. Recently, I also posted my question on the MSDN forum, but got no answer.

The ability to minimize Web Parts is key when building dynamic interfaces. Currently this is a road block for some of my customizations, like the Easy Tabs or expand/collapse buttons.

It is not the only issue I am seeing with calendars, I also experienced some weird behaviors when resizing the browser window.

So, is it just me? I’d love to hear your feedback on this!

Live demo: calendar with color coding and tooltip

This week, Mark Miller and I will be hosting our live online workshop series dedicated to calendars. Mark will start on Tuesday (“Create a SharePoint Master Calendar Solution“), and I’ll join him on Wednesday (“Add Color Coding and Tool Tips to Your SharePoint Calendars“) and Thursday (“SharePoint Calendar Resizing and Enhanced Views“).

To give you an idea of what you can expect on Wednesday, see this live demo that showcases two of the solutions I’ll be presenting (hover over an event to display the tooltip):
http://www.pathtosharepoint.com/Lists/May2010/calendar.aspx

On Thursday, we’ll review several solutions to make the calendar month view user friendly:

  • Resize a month view
  • Switch from week view to month view in a snap
  • Display weekdays only
  • Hide start time for intraday events
  • Skip the “more items” button and display all events
  • Display a calendar from another site or site collection

All these solutions work on wss v3 and MOSS, and don’t require any server side installation.

Talk to you soon!

Tutorial: add color coding to your SharePoint 2007 calendar in 15 minutes

May 2010

Environment: SharePoint 2007 – wss or MOSS (no SharePoint Designer or third party application required).
Audience: confirmed end user, power user.
Permission level: design or full control.
Estimated time: 15 minutes.

0- Before you start
1- Select your colors (5 minutes)
2- Create your calculated columns (3 minutes)
3- Set up your calendar view (2 minutes)
4- Render the colors (5 minutes)
5- If you want to undo your changes
6- A note for SharePoint 2010 users

0- Before you start

To follow this tutorial, you need a calendar created in SharePoint 2007 (wss or MOSS).

 In my example, taken from Mark Miller’s community calendar, items are organized in categories:
– Online Event
– Online Workshop
– Training
– Conference
– User Group
– SharePoint Saturday
– Other 

I have created a choice column, called “Category”, to store these choices. Note that for this tutorial seven is the maximum number of choices. If your choice column has more options, only the first seven will be color coded.

A choice column is the natural option to organize items in categories. You can also use any column type that contains text or numbers, like content type, text column, calculated column. Note that columns of type Lookup will not work for this tutorial. 

Usability tip: People can distinguish up to ten different colors that are assigned to different categories, but it may be safer to use no more than five different colors for category coding. (source: rightpoint))

If your choice list includes more than seven choices, this follow up article will show you how to proceed.

Ready? Let’s see if we can get our color coded calendar in less than 15 minutes…

1- Select your colors (5 minutes)

To choose your colors, simply fill out this online form. In my example:
– choice column: Category
– choices: paste here the choices from the choice column
– display: Title (the event title will be displayed on the calendar)
– keep the default value for the other options (except if you are on a non-English SharePoint farm)
– Use the color pickers to select your colors for each choice

Note: the semi-transparent background will not be rendered in older browsers (like IE 6). 

After selecting your options, scroll down to the bottom of the form. You’ll see two formulas (pale-green text areas). Leave this page open or save your two formulas, we’ll use them in the next step. 

Note: you can choose to group the two formulas into one by unchecking the “Separate Color Column” checkbox.

While we are on this page, let’s grab the script that we’ll use later for the rendering:
– click on the Download tab.
– right-click on the last file name TextToHTMLlite-v2.1.1.txt, and select “save target as…” to save it to your computer.
– upload the file to a SharePoint library in your site or site collection. The location doesn’t matter, as long as your users have read access to the file.

Note! the download section displays 4 files; pick the last one for this tutorial.

2- Create your calculated columns

On your calendar page, select:
List > List Settings

On the List Settings page, create two calculated columns (use the “Create column” option for this):
– First column, named “Color”: paste the first formula.
– Second column: named “Display”: paste the second formula.

3- Set up your calendar view

Staying on the settings page, under Views, click on your calendar view. In the settings page, choose to display the “Display” column. Save your changes.

  

Now, go back to your calendar view, and you should get an ugly result like this:

Don’t worry, we are going to fix this in step 4.

4- Render the colors

We can now use the script we grabbed in step 1:
– go to your calendar view, and switch the Web page to edit mode:
Site Actions > Edit Page
– Click on “Add a Web Part”, and add a Content Editor Web Part to the page
– drag and drop the calendar view above the Content Editor Web Part (the order is important)
– in the Content Editor Web Part, click on “open the tool pane”
– under content link, paste the URL of your TextToHTMLlite-v2.1.1.txt file (remember, you stored it in a document library in step 1). 

If you now exit the edit mode, you should see your calendar in color.

5- If you want to undo your changes 

A key advantage of this technique is that all our customizations were made through the SharePoint UI and can easily be undone. If later you want to revert to the initial view:
– remove the Content Editor Web Part from the page
– go to the view settings page and replace Display with Title as the displayed column.
– delete the two calculated columns.

6- A note for SharePoint 2010 users

In SharePoint 2010, the script from step 4 will not work because calendars are rendered asynchronously. Alternate options can be found in this post.

Updates [09/08/2010]:
– Links now point to the new location for the SharePoint User’s Toolkit
– Link to follow up article for more than seven choices
– Note for SP 2010 users

Update [12/06/2010]:
Brendan Newell published an article based on this tutorial, with a couple additional tips. For example, here is the style in SharePoint 2010 to remove the default background from the event:

<style type="text/css">
.ms-acal-selected, .ms-acal-item {
  background:none;border:0px;
}
</style>

The article also mentions a resizing issue, which AFAIK is linked to the default calendar, not to color coding.
Check out Brendan’s article for more information!

Live demo: SharePoint May 2010 events, color coded

May2010

Today I decided to test my color coding tool on Mark Miller’s excellent SharePoint Community Calendar. I borrowed a slice (the month of May) and applied my formulas: you can compare the original calendar with my color coded version.

In the beginning of next week, I’ll publish an updated version of the tool, and a step by step tutorial.

Note that the semi-transparent background effect will not work in older browsers, like Internet Explorer 6.

Quick tip: in SharePoint, each list comes with a RSS feed. If you want to be notified of new events, you can subscribe to the Community Calendar’s RSS feed. Big thanks to Mark Miller and Natasha Felshman for maintaining such a useful resource!