Working with Document Sets
April 18, 2016
14 Things I Like in MacroView DMF v8.3
June 2, 2016
Show all

Managing documents and emails is a high-volume activity involving large numbers of users, so it’s not surprising that organizations are always looking for ways to make their document and email management more efficient and to have it function exactly in line with their requirements. MacroView DMF® provides great functionality and user experience Out-Of-the-Box, but we receive a lot of requests to extend that functionality and experience in specific ways.  That’s why over the past several years we have invested heavily in making MacroView DMF readily customizable. In other words, able to be extended to meet the custom requirements of a customer organization, while still allowing that organization to run standard MacroView DMF and to take full advantage of new releases as they become available.

In this blog article and accompanying video we explore the wide variety of ways that MacroView DMF can be customized. Some of these you can do yourself – many of them require some assistance from MacroView Professional Services. All the examples we will see are drawn from actual customer implementations and all are also relevant to MacroView Message.

Configuration Settings
Anyone who has used MacroView DMF is probably aware of the Options dialog, which allows a user to adjust configuration settings on a number of tabs, including General, Servers, Office, Appearance and Support. However the settings displayed on this dialog are but a subset of available configuration settings – the ones that are appropriate for adjustment by an end-user.  The full range of over 180 configuration settings is stored in the User Registry.

Using these settings an administrator or power user can custom configure things like:

  • Hiding certain commands (e.g. the Compliance option on the right-click menu)
  • Controlling what metadata is re-used and / or displayed when a document is copied or moved
  • Auto-adjusting attachment file names so that they include unique document ID and version number
  • Specifying a color scheme for highlighting files that are checked-out, on-hold or declared as a record

MacroView DMF is designed to facilitate deployment so all these registry settings are compatible with Group Policy.  For example, by using GP you can rollout server registrations so that users do not need to do any definitions as they first start using MacroView DMF.  You can find an ADM template and documentation of intended use of all the settings on the secure download page for MacroView DMF.
 
Push Favorites
If you are a MacroView DMF user you can easily add SharePoint sites, libraries, document sets or folders as favorites so that they appear in the Favorites mode and streamline navigation to the areas of the SharePoint document store that you use frequently. You can also create favorite searches. 

The ’Push Favorites’ mechanism of MacroView DMF can create Favorites automatically for users. Push Favorites are also known as Subscriptions. Let’s say you’re using SharePoint to store documents related to projects or cases, and in some other system (e.g. a practice management system or CRM system) you are storing details of users who are assigned to each project or case.  A Push Favorites customization can retrieve these details from the Line-of-Business system and use them to create new favorite sites, favourite libraries or favourite document sets for a user that correspond to the projects or cases to which they are assigned.

Push Favorites Architecture

Architecture of MacroView Push Favorites mechanism

Some customers have also used Push Favorites to allow sharing of favorites among users (e.g. an assistant can have favorites of users who they work for pushed to them).

The Push Favorites customization can retrieve from any source (e.g. SQL database or SharePoint lists). If you would like to know more contact MacroView Professional Services. They can supply two cost-effective prototype Push Favorites solutions – one based on SharePoint lists and another based on SQL databases – and explain how you can have your own developers handle the creation of a web service that retrieves from your Line-Of-Business system as part of Push Favorites implementation.

Custom Search Panels
OOB, MacroView DMF provides excellent support for searching for documents in a SharePoint document store. The product ships with Keyword Search and Email Search panels that let you find documents and emails based on their content and / or metadata, while you work in familiar applications like Outlook, Word, Excel, PPT and DMF Explorer.

You can add your own search panels to MacroView DMF – e.g. search panels that reflect the way your organization, or individual business units within your organization, use metadata – including custom metadata columns that you have defined in your SharePoint libraries. As well as additional metadata controls you can specify result source / scope, and what columns are displayed in the search results. No wonder that this is one of the most popular ways to customize MacroView DMF.

To do this type of customization you edit a central XML file, which defines the search panels that are available in the Search Type drop down list. For instructions and a search panel publishing utility see this MacroView Knowledge Base article. If you require assistance with getting your custom search mask working, contact MacroView Solutions.

Taxonomy Search

Custom MacroView search panel, showing type-ahead in a custom picker for a hierarchical term set

If you prefer, MacroView Professional Services can do this search panel customization for you. They can also handle the development of more sophisticated controls for MacroView search panels, such as a picker that allows values for search criteria to be retrieved from a hierarchical term set, by both type-ahead and keyword searching.  An example of such a control is included in the MacroView Case & Matter solution, to allow users to select valid values of Document Type from a hierarchical term set. MacroView Professional Services can also customize a search panel so that it retrieves folders or document sets as well as or instead of documents.

Information Architecture
Strictly speaking this is design rather than customization, but creating the right information architecture is a key success factor for a MacroView DMF + SharePoint document and email management solution. MacroView DMF will display and let users interact with almost any SharePoint document store design, but the right architecture lets you derive the maximum benefit from your investment, which of course means achieving a good level of user adoption.

Optimal designs will cope well with large volumes of documents, they will provide appropriate protection of documents and they will capture the metadata required for discovery and retrieval while at the same time being popular with users.  Information about design techniques that are relevant in this regard – e.g. automatic metadata capture – is available in a number of MacroView articles and blog posts e.g.:

Designing the Information Architecture of a SharePoint document store is another area where MacroView Professional Services has the experience and expertise to assist – a couple of days of their time can lead to massive improvements in user adoption outcomes.

Localization
Many customers want to internally brand their SharePoint document management solutions, because this can lead to a greater sense of ownership and adoption by users.  MacroView Professional Services can customize the command names and menu items that MacroView DMF displays e.g. “SharePoint” and “MacroView” can be replaced by “Acme Docs”, “Filter Sites and Libraries” can be renamed “Filter Projects”, etc. These localization customizations are compatible with multi-language implementations of MacroView DMF – e.g. “Filter Sites and Libraries” can be replaced by “Filtrar Proyectos” for users who have Spanish language configured.

Acme Docs Localization

MacroView and SharePoint localized to Acme Docs

Custom Right-click Menu Items
Displaying a rich Windows-style right-click menu is one of the ways MacroView DMF provides a familiar and productive user experience.  The experience can be made even better by adding custom items to these right-click menus.  An example of such custom item is “Open With”, which is now included in the core MacroView DMF product and which streamlines working with non-Office documents such as Visio drawings, Microsoft Project MPPs and graphics files. Incidentally you can see this and other customizations that have been installed in your MacroView DMF environment by going to the Support tab of the Options dialog.

Options, Support dialog, showing Open With as the only customization that has been loaded.

Options, Support dialog, showing Open With as the only customization that has been loaded.

Another example of this style of customization is our MacroView Workshare Connector, which allows you to right-click Word and PDF documents to compare them with the Workshare Compare software that is installed on your PC. 

Additional items can also be added to the menu that appears when you right-click on a site or library or document set or folder in the Browse or Favorites tree display. One example of this is a customization developed for one of our customers that allowed them to create a new project in their organization. Behind the scenes, this would create the project in their line of business system and then provision a site for that project in SharePoint at the location they right-clicked in the tree – even if the user was only a Contributor.

There are numerous other examples of right-click menu customizations, including:

  • Right-click, Send As, PDF – select one or more files and right-click to have them converted to PDFs and then inserted as attachments to a new outgoing email.
  • Right-click, Send to ZIP – select multiple files and right-click to download them into a local zip file.
  • Right-click, Archive – move the document set for a project to a separate archive site collection, declare all documents within it as records and update the status of the project in a central list or database.
Sample right-click customizations.

Sample right-click customizations.

The development of these right-click menu customizations is handled by MacroView Professional Services. The deliverable is an MSI that streamlines the deployment and installation of the customization.  The development complies with the Microsoft Extensibility Framework, so that having these customizations in place does not impact on your ability to install and run new builds of MacroView DMF as they are released.

Custom Workflows
While it is not a tool for creating workflows, MacroView DMF happily co-exists with workflows that you create using SharePoint’s own workflows, or third-party tools such as K2 or Nintex. This is because MacroView DMF does not change how documents or their metadata are stored by SharePoint. Many MacroView DMF customers have deployed workflows that auto-start as a document or email is saved, or as the metadata for a document is adjusted to a specific value.

If you have custom workflows deployed you might want to consider having MacroView Professional Services create a right-click menu customization so that a suitably authorized user can right-click a document in a MacroView DMF file list and advance it to the next stage in its workflow. The right-click menu items can be context sensitive, so that their fly-out sub-menus contain options that are tailored to both the workflow and the area of the document store, and disabled for users who do not have the relevant permissions.

Search Site Tree
In a large SharePoint environment, it can be a real challenge to find and navigate to an area that you want to work with, especially if that area is deeply nested and you are not sure of its location. The Search Site Tree command of MacroView DMF makes this navigation easy and efficient.  Search Site Tree allows you to find and rapidly locate to any type of node – sites, document libraries, document sets or folders – using part of its name or title.

Customized Search Site Tree

Customized Search Site Tree dialog

By defining a custom query in the DMF server configuration, you can configure the Search Site Tree dialog so that it lists only the types of node that are relevant in your organization (e.g. not folders) and to have those nodes labelled in a way that makes sense to your users – e.g. Project or Matter rather than Document Set.

MacroView Professional Services can assist with this and can create even more customized solutions – e.g. a solutions that uses a custom web service to search a line of business system and return results which allow a user to navigate to the area of the SharePoint document store that corresponds with a selected entity (e.g. Customer, Claim, etc.).

Profiling Dialog Customizations
MacroView DMF already provides a rich profiling (metadata capture) experience when you save documents to SharePoint, or edit the Properties of already loaded documents. The MacroView DMF profiling dialog dynamically reflects the content types and metadata defined in the underlying SharePoint library and supports all out-of-the-box SharePoint column types.

However some requirement scenarios are best handled by having MacroView Professional Services customize the operation of the MacroView DMF profiling dialog. 

A simple example is displaying the currently logged in user as the default value of a Person or Group column – something that often saves effort, but which is not supported by these columns OOB. Another example is adding support for custom SharePoint field types – e.g. Bamboo Lookup Selector or Sparqube Lookup fields. 

Customized Profiling Dialog

Customized Profiling dialog – note ‘+’ icon and child form to capture details for new CRM record.

A more elaborate example is extending the profiling dialog to include a button that they user could click to add a new Project record to a Line-Of-Business system.  When a user is saving the first document for a new Project this button removes the need to exit the save, jump out to the LOB system to add the new Project record and then resume the save. This profiling dialog customization provides a very significant reduction in user effort and in turn a significant improvement in user satisfaction.

Another profiling dialog customization allows MacroView DMF to automatically record email attributes as emails are saved to SharePoint, even though the destination libraries contain columns that are named differently from those that MacroView DMF normally expects. This scenario occurs when organizations decide to switch to MacroView DMF from other email-saving software. Contact MacroView Services if you would like more information.

Event receivers
The ability to customize right-click menus and the MacroView DMF profiling dialog definitely reduces the need to create custom SharePoint event receivers.  However when used carefully, SharePoint event receivers can be the best way to implement certain requirements. For example, you can set up an event receiver to disallow the creation of folders within folders (i.e. only allow one level of folders under a document library), which helps enforce good SharePoint design practices.

Organizations can develop their own event receivers, or if you prefer, MacroView Professional Services can handle the development.  MacroView Professional Services can assist with more advanced designs, such as having a custom cancel message set by an event receiver be displayed by MacroView DMF.

Blocking the Save of Certain Types of Email
MacroView Professional Services can customize MacroView DMF so that when the user is attempting to save certain types of email, a warning message is displayed, or the save is blocked.

This is potentially useful to the many organizations that use software like Enterprise Vault to “stub” email objects.  The customization will prevent the save of a stubbed email from proceeding or alternatively retrieve the actual email from the vault and save it to SharePoint, rather than saving just the stub.

Automated Document Generation and Template Management
For over twenty years MacroView has been helping organizations automate the creation of their Microsoft Office documents.  Typically this involves the creation of Office templates with custom logic to generate documents and save and profile them in a document management system.  MacroView has developed hundreds of such solutions, which are in production use by organizations across the world, including leading international law firms.

If your organization is using MacroView DMF you can benefit from our experience by having MacroView Professional Services create a customization that displays a menu of your existing Office templates and saves the resulting documents in SharePoint, prompting for and recording metadata as it does so.  MacroView can also handle the development or enhancement of custom VBA or .NET logic for your Office templates, so that document generation, saving and profiling is even more efficient.

An example of such a solution displays a multi-level menu of available templates when the user right-clicks on a library or document set in the MacroView pane. Selecting MacroView Letter causes a custom form to be displayed so that the user can supply all details to be included in the generated letter, including retrieving some details from a CRM system or their Outlook contacts.  The save to SharePoint is completely silent, but as part of the save, content type and metadata are automatically recorded – e.g. Document Type is set to Letter and Document Author is set to the currently-logged-in user.

Create Document

Right-click, Create Document displays a tree of available templates. Document generated by MacroView Letter template are automatically saved and profiled in the document set that the user right-clicked.

Related to this is the question of how best to manage your Office templates. Many people have the impression that in a SharePoint environment, you need multiple Content Types in order to have multiple Office templates – one Office template for each Content Type. MacroView Professional Services can create a streamlined document automation solution that uses this type of template deployment, but can also show you how you can move your existing templates to SharePoint from a Workgroup Templates location on C: drives or a file share, without to deploy additional Content Types. See this MacroView blog post.

Custom Integrations
The Open from SharePoint and Save As to SharePoint dialogs available in Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Adobe Reader are key strengths of MacroView DMF. But did you know that they can be included in other applications as well? MacroView Professional Services has worked with both customer organizations and other vendors to allow our Open/Save dialogs to be invoked from their systems.

In one case we worked with a vendor of a browser-based docketing product to allow users to select documents from SharePoint. The selected documents were attached to a docket record in their system. In another case we integrated the Open from SharePoint command into Workshare Compare so that users could easily select and retrieve Word or PDF documents from SharePoint for comparison by Workshare.

More Information
For more information about customizing MacroView DMF to meet specific requirements, contact MacroView Solutions.