Custom Online Forms in Incident Tracker Application

With cloud-based web applications, lack of customization is always a pain point for a customer’s needs.  Online incident management is just one of those situations where the creator of the software package may have included certain fields that a customer may or may not want, but also left out relevant or required fields related to a customer’s absolute needs.  Customization is the solution, but often this can be costly for the customer and, in some cases, not a feasible option for the creator of the solution.

Incident Tracker by McKula Inc. recently received one of the more exciting updates in the applications 10+ year lifespan.  While the customization of a form was previously possible, we can now seamlessly integrate multiple custom sections directly into the form that is used to report incidents.

This feature allows us to replicate nearly any form for an Incident. In addition to this new feature capturing all the required information, workflows and reporting features work directly with the custom fields as well. This provides the ultimate flexibility to our customers.

Custom forms are just another customer centric feature in a whole list offered by Incident Tracker, making it one of the most feature packed applications available for incident management and tracking.  For more information – visit the Incident Tracker web site today.

Office 365 Who To Call List with JSLink Customization

Office 365 JSLink

The Problem

This past week we had a request from a client to display a list of employees to call based on a selected department.  They asked that the menu specifically be displayed on the left side of the screen with the department users displayed in two columns in a box like display.  They also needed to be able to manage not only the users and their information, but the departments as well.

The Solution

We needed some custom lists to allow the client to update their own departments and call lists.  We provided a person link field to help with photographs, along with some custom fields that the client could use to better explain why that particular user should be called.

The challenge came in both the menu and the custom display.  For the menu – we utilized a content editor web part that linked to a custom html page.  This custom page grabbed the department list and structure from the SharePoint API for lists and formatted it utilizing some custom css and javascript.

Clicking on a department would push that selected department into the query string – which would give us a way to determine which users to show.  We used a Query String Filter Web Part on the page to facilitate sending the values to our display web part area which was linked to our Who To Call list view.

To achieve a customized look of this list, we took advantage of a JSLink setup which allowed us to customize the list view to suit the customers needs.

Bootstrap provided us some layout options to achieve the look the client desired. Adding the javascript file under Master Page Gallery then Display Templates as a Javascript Display Template allowed us to then use it as a JSLink file for our view.

Nintex Forms and Workflows

The main tools to utilize in SharePoint development of forms and workflows have been InfoPath and SharePoint Designer.  However, with Microsoft’s latest updates in 2016, new versions of InfoPath and SharePoint Designer were missing from the list.  Microsoft has stated that there won’t be new versions of InfoPath, and it seems to be the case with Designer as well.  Both will be supported by Microsoft for years to come, but existing versions aren’t very intuitive.  Without future improvements, it may be time for businesses to look at other options.  One such option that stands out from the rest is Nintex Workflows and Forms

Nintex extends SharePoint’s functionality, giving a user-friendly way to create what would normally take extensive programming to achieve.  The two products they offer are Nintex Forms and Nintex Workflows.  They can be purchased and utilized separately if needed.  Nintex is also compatible with both SharePoint on-premise and Office 365.

Workflows are key in automating processes that would normally require a manual effort.  Workflows can be either scheduled to run or can be triggered by an event.  Nintex Workflows accomplishes this simply by point-and-click.  Nintex Workflows provides an interface with drag and drop actions that can be specifically configured to users’ needs.  In the workflow designer, you are given a flowchart view of the actions within the workflow.  A menu of draggable actions are shown to the left of this section.  Email notifications, setting SharePoint fields, assigning a task to users, and triggering another workflow are all standard options in the menu.  In addition, actions normally reserved for programming can be employed, such as setting variables, loops, and if-statements.

Forms are critical for easily capturing information and setting fields in SharePoint.  Similar to Nintex Workflows, forms can be built through Nintex using drag and drop.  A variety of form controls are available in the menu that can be placed on the form’s canvas.  These include all the basic form fields like labels, textboxes, checkboxes, and radio lists.  Once placed on the canvas, the fields can be connected to SharePoint fields.  However, there is also a tab containing all the fields in the associated SharePoint list.  These can be dragged onto the canvas as well, looking to column type to determine which form control is necessary.  For more advanced users, there is a section in the settings to add CSS and JavaScript to extend Nintex out of the box functionality.  The configuration options for each field allows for CSS classes and JavaScript IDs to be set.

Nintex will be an additional cost to SharePoint’s out of the box fees, but will allow for more extensive forms and workflows to be created with far less development time.  An additional advantage to Nintex is that a programming background is not required when setting up basic workflows and forms.  However, when working on more intricate solutions, programming experience certainly helps.