As many commentators have observed, Covid has made 2020 a challenging year. Nevertheless MacroView has continued to make great progress. The functionality and user experience that we provide for managing documents and emails using Microsoft 365 and Teams has led to numerous new customers adopting MacroView solutions as their new normal mode of operations.
The highlights of 2020 are grouped under the following headings.
In addition to their Mailbox with its InBox and Sent Items, many Outlook users need to have additional mailboxes in their Outlook Mail environment. The secondary mailboxes might be a shared mailbox for a Team or business function (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org) or for colleagues – e.g. an executive assistant might want to see the mailbox for his / her executive(s).
In early 2020 we enhanced MacroView DMF and Message to allow monitoring of secondary mailboxes. This monitoring allows emails to be saved automatically as they arrive in the InBox of a secondary mailbox, or as they are sent via the Sent Emails in a secondary mailbox. The automatic email filing can be handled by personal email filing rules, Corporate Email Filing and Predictive Email Filing.
MacroView email filing rules can now match on whole words. As an example, this prevents a filing rule that is looking for ‘rock’ in the Subject from firing when the Subject contains ‘rocket’.
We enhanced MacroView DMF and Message so that if MacroView Corporate Email Filing is enabled, dragging and dropping an email to a SharePoint location that satisfies an active CEF filing rule will cause the filing tag that corresponds to that location to be inserted in the Subject of the saved email.
MacroView DMF / Message now allows the Corporate Rules File Path to be specified and adjusted by using the Corporate Rules tab in the MacroView UI. This is more convenient than the previous approach, which required the user to specify the path in the User Registry and to restart Outlook for the filing rules to take effect. An organization that prefers to lock down the path can still enforce this setting by using Group Policy.
The new options controlling prompting for metadata when saving an email (see Metadata Capture Enhancements, below) significantly increased the scenarios when emails can be filed automatically.
MacroView Standardiser is a very useful tool in email migration projects because it bulk processes existing email files so that their naming and metadata is the same as if the emails had been saved by using MacroView (i.e. MacroView DMF, MacroView Message or MacroView Mail). Standardiser works in bulk, processing all the emails it finds as it traverses all the document libraries in a specified site collection or CSV file.
During 2020 MacroView Standardiser performance when running client side was significantly improved. Standardiser was also extended to handle emails in EML format as well as MSG format. We also created a free extension for MacroView DMF / Message that allows a user to right-click>Standardise up to 50 emails.
A challenging part of migrating existing emails to SharePoint Online – e.g. from Public Folders – is the creation of the areas in SharePoint Online to hold the migrated emails and also any new emails saved in the course of ongoing operations. When migrating a large volume of emails from a multi-level folder tree in Outlook / Exchange, the optimal design for the SharePoint email store may well involve a new site collection (or collections), one or two levels of sub-site and document libraries containing document sets and SharePoint folders. The libraries need to be provisioned with the metadata columns to capture attributes of the migrated and new emails and with views to display those emails with their attributes.
During 2020 MacroView Solution Provisioning (MVSP) developed to the point where it was employed successfully to create and provision the site / library / document set / folder structure in SharePoint Online that was required to store a large volume of emails being migrated from an on-premises Public Folder environment. MVSP was run in bulk, creating hundreds of SharePoint Online areas. The areas to be created were defined in a CSV file, and the preparation of that CSV file was facilitated by a special EXCEL template.
For more information see Implementing Solutions in SharePoint and Teams, below.
As it saves an email to SharePoint the MacroView software checks whether the destination area contains a special content type (by default called Email) and if so, selects that content type automatically. This is part of MacroView’s objective of enabling the saving of emails with minimal (ideally zero) prompting for metadata.
During 2020 MacroView email filing was extended to be able to look for multiple Email content types. This minimises metadata prompting in organizations where different areas of the SharePoint email store used differently-named Email content types. This multiple-content type improvement applies to all MacroView software that can save an Outlook email – i.e. MacroView DMF, MacroView Message, MacroView Mail and solutions based on MacroView DMF such as MacroView Case and Matter.
For many years, when saving a copy of a Sent email, MacroView DMF and Message have used the date/time the email was sent to construct a file name for the saved email in SharePoint. That SentOn date comes from the PC of the user who sent the email. In our increasingly globalised world, this caused some confusion for other users in the organisation who were working in different time zones. The SentOn date was leading to duplicate copies when an email was saved by recipients in different time zones.
During 2020 we changed the default file naming for Sent emails to use the Greenwich Mean Time when the email was sent. This SentOnGMT value is the same for all users, regardless of their time zone.
During 2020 we made substantial progress on saving emails and attachments for users working in the Outlook app on iOS and Android mobile devices, the Outlook app on a Mac or in Outlook Web Access (aka Outlook Online). For more information see MacroView Mail App, below.
2020 also saw the release by MacroView of best-available support for managing Outlook emails in Microsoft Teams. For more details see Support for Microsoft Teams, below.
For many years MacroView DMF and Message have supported saving and managing Outlook emails in MSG format. During 2020 we added support for emails stored in EML format. This included updates to the Email Search panel, MacroView Standardiser and the right-click>Standardise extension. The EML format allows consistent saving and prevention of duplicates across MacroView DMF, MacroView Message and MacroView Mail.
2020 saw the initial release of the MacroView Mail app. This is an Office app, which allows saving of emails and attachments to SharePoint Online (including Teams and OneDrive for Business) from Outlook running on iOS and Android mobile devices and from Outlook running on a Mac. MacroView Mail also extends Outlook Web Access, where in addition to saving emails and attachments it also supports retrieving files from SharePoint Online and inserting them as attachments or links in a new email message. Files can also be converted to PDF before they are attached.
Emails stored by MacroView Mail app have the same file naming and automatic metadata recording as emails stored by MacroView DMF and MacroView Message.
Microsoft have approved the MacroView Mail app so that it can be installed from AppSource. During 2020 Microsoft have made a number of changes to requirements for such approval MacroView continues to respond to these changes as they arise.
We upgraded the MacroView Mail app so that you can select different content types for the email and its attachments, when opting to save both in a single operation.
When the Subject of an email contains a CEF filing tag, MacroView Mail automatically navigates to the relevant SharePoint Online location, which saves a number of user keystrokes.
The MapFolderNameToField extension streamlines metadata capture by displaying the name of the folder where a file is being dropped as the default value for a metadata column such as Document Type (see Metadata Capture Enhancements, below). The MacroView Mail app was upgraded to have the same capability.
The MacroView Mail app was upgraded to cope when an area of SharePoint Online contains more than 500 items. In such cases you can now page through all the sub-items.
The MacroView Mail app supports Favorites, which speeds up navigation to areas of SharePoint Online (including Teams and OneDrive for Business areas) that you use frequently. Initially these MacroView Mail Favorites were separate to the Favorites available in MacroView DMF or MacroView Message. The MacroView Mail app was upgraded so that Favorites could be retrieved from OneDrive for Business. These same Favorites can also be available in MacroView DMF / Message.
Out-of-the-Box, Microsoft Teams is excellent for chat-based communication, but leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to managing external communication in the form of Outlook emails.
MacroView addressed this shortcoming by releasing a MacroView Solution Provisioning solution which upgrades the document library that is automatically contained in the site collection for a new Team. The library upgrade adds an Email content type with the metadata columns that MacroView uses to record the attributes of emails being saved. While you work in Outlook you can then save an email to a Teams channel by dragging and dropping to the corresponding area displayed in the MacroView tree.
The upgrade also adds views to the library to facilitate display of the saved emails and their attributes. The new views are also available in the Teams UI. You can also use the Email Search panel in MacroView DMF / Message to find emails stored in the channels of Teams sites, based on their content and / or their automatically recorded metadata.
The net result is that MacroView provides best-available support for managing Outlook emails in Microsoft Teams.
In late 2020 we released another upgrade for MacroView Solution Provisioning (MVSP) which allowed the creation of a new Teams site by right-clicking in the MacroView Browse tree. The new Teams site automatically has the content type, metadata columns and views to enable good management of Outlook emails. You can also associate the new Teams site with a Hub site and nominate the URL extension for the new Teams site collection.
The rapid rise in adoption of Microsoft Teams is leading to users in many organizations having access to a large number of SharePoint Online site collections in the organization’s Microsoft 365 tenant. This is because each new Teams site is implemented as a new site collection in SharePoint Online. A good way to manage this proliferation of Teams site collections is to take advantage of the Hub Site feature of SharePoint Online.
In August 2020 MacroView introduced support for Hub Sites in MacroView DMF and MacroView Message. For more details see Hub Site Support, below.
During 2020 MacroView made good progress towards its objective of providing an excellent user experience for generating documents and emails. We want to improve the generation experience as much as we have improved the user experience for managing documents and emails in SharePoint.
A key component of that progress is MacroView Smart Documents. This term refers to documents that utilise our Advanced Document Automation (ADA) technology.
Smart Documents reflect how many business users like to generate a new document, which is by modifying an existing document. You complete a Smart Document by answering a series of Question. Answers that you have made previously are displayed so that you can re-use or modify them in your new document. The answer text is automatically inserted at all relevant points in the new document. You can also record content that you enter as the answer to a new question, which is handy when you want to re-purpose a previously created document – e.g. to make a proposal document into a specification.
A real advantage of Smart Documents is the way they let you take full advantage of the familiar interface and functionality of Microsoft Word. Smart Documents also work in Outlook, significantly improving productivity when you are drafting a new email message.
In November 2020 we added a New button to the action bar that displays above the file list in MacroView DMF and MacroView Message.
By clicking the New button in MacroView DMF / Message you can choose a Template or Smart Document to use as the basis for a new document in Word, Excel or PowerPoint, or a new email message in Outlook. The Templates and Smart Documents can be associated with the Content Types in the document library for which the file list is being displayed. They can also come from the Windows folder where your Office templates are stored – e.g. the Workgroup Templates path in Microsoft Word.
MacroView DMF / Message will automatically save the new Word, Excel or PowerPoint document in the SharePoint document library that is currently selected in the MacroView tree. If a new email is created in a SharePoint location that satisfies a CEF filing rule, the filing tag corresponding to that location is automatically inserted in the Subject of the email, so that this and all subsequent emails in the conversation are saved to the same location.
The New button also makes it easy to create a link to an existing document or folder in SharePoint.
Clicking the New button displays SharePoint Templates and Smart Documents from Office environment.
MacroView ClauseBank is an easy-to-use and easy-to-implement way to streamline the preparation of Word documents, Outlook emails and PowerPoint presentations. For example, when you are drafting a new Outlook email, ClauseBank displays a menu of standard, approved text and graphics content stored in SharePoint / Teams and inserts the content items you select into the email. The result is significantly increased productivity and much less risk of including incorrect or out-of-date content in emails.
During 2020 we added a New Clause button in Outlook, which makes maintaining the reusable content items for emails much easier. While you are working in Outlook you simply select the text or graphics that you want to add to the ClauseBank and click New Clause. ClauseBank can be configured so that the new item is subject to an Approval workflow, so that it is reviewed by a Content Administrator before it is visible to other authorised users of the ClauseBank.
In DMF and Message v8.8 we introduced new settings that provide more control over when to prompt as you are saving emails and documents. For example, only prompt for Required columns that do not have a default value. This significantly increases the opportunity for automatic email filing, because emails can be saved automatically if there is no prompting for metadata.
The MapFolderNameToField extension that is available for MacroView DMF and Message has proven very popular. When a user drops an attachment in a SharePoint folder and the name of the folder is a valid value for a metadata column (e.g. Document Type), the name of that folder is automatically displayed as the default value for Document Type. This reduces user effort related to metadata capture while at the same time removing the need for administrators to define default metadata values for folders.
During 2020 we also made this capability available in MacroView Mail.
2020 saw the delivery of a much-requested feature in MacroView DMF and MacroView Message, which is the ability to upload an entire Windows folder to SharePoint. MacroView users can now drag and drop a Windows folder to the MacroView tree (in DMF Explorer, Outlook and other Office applications). MacroView will automatically re-create the folder in SharePoint, and also re-create any non-empty sub-folders. Files contained in the Windows folder(s) will be uploaded to the new SharePoint folders, with prompting for metadata as defined in the destination SharePoint library.
In 2019 we added support for creating anonymous links to files and folders in SharePoint, so that those files and folders could be accessed by an external user. During 2020 we upgraded the right-click>Share command of MacroView DMF / Message so that you can securely share a file, folder or document set with a specific external user. The external user does NOT have to be licensed under your Microsoft 365 subscription.
Secure sharing with an external user whose email address is email@example.com
During 2020 we added support for Hub Sites to MacroView DMF / Message. Hub Sites are a way of grouping SharePoint Online site collections, including the site collections that are created by Microsoft Teams for each new Team. The rising popularity of Microsoft Teams is leading to a proliferation of site collections and Hub Sites are a good way cope with this proliferation.
The MacroView tree can now show the site collections that are associated with each Hub Site. The Hub Sites can be collapsed and expanded. Site Collections that are not associated with a Hub Site are shown under a Sites heading node. It is also possible to hide a Hub Site – e.g. so that the MacroView tree display is not cluttered by site collections related to closed or inactive Projects.
MacroView Solution Provisioning now lets you associate with a Hub Site as you create a new site collection for Teams or in SharePoint Online generally.
Favorites are a popular feature of MacroView DMF and MacroView Message because they allow a user to quickly navigate to and use certain areas of a SharePoint document store. Favorites are particularly useful in organizations where the MacroView Browse mode displays a large number of nodes – e.g. numerous Microsoft Teams sites.
In July 2020 we released an upgraded Push Favorites for SharePoint Online which is simple to implement and maintain. Each Favorite to be automatically created for (i.e. ‘pushed’ to) a user is an entry in a SharePoint Online list called Subscriptions. The new Push Favorites mechanism removes the previous need to deploy a custom event receiver in the customer’s Azure instance.
The automatically created Favorites can be areas in Office 365 (SharePoint Online, Teams and OneDrive for Business) and on-premises SharePoint Servers accessed by MacroView DMF / Message in Client Side Only. Other features are:
Creation of new entries in a Subscriptions list was made even easier when we released a new right-click>Subscription command for MacroView DMF / Message. A user with update permission to the Subscriptions list simply right-clicks in the MacroView tree on the site, library, document set or folder which they want pushed out to a user or group which they select from a Person or Group control.
The new Push Favorites mechanism also allows an individual user to have personal Favorites that are available in MacroView Mail as well as in MacroView DMF or MacroView. A user achieves this by having a Subscriptions list in his / her own OneDrive for Business site.
For many years MacroView DMF and MacroView Message have allowed you to right-click a site and choose Filter Sites and Libraries. In 2020 we extended this command so that you can choose to filer on just sites or just document libraries. This is useful in organisations where there are a large number of sub-sites and libraries nested in an upper-level site.
In late 2020 the release of MacroView DMF / Message provided better performance when switching between modes – e.g. from Search to Browse mode or from Browse to Recents mode. As part of this improvement DMF / Message let you see the progress of the navigation. This feedback lets the user know that navigation is happening, which is a real advantage when using a heavily loaded on-premises SharePoint server or a slow internet connection to a SharePoint Online tenant.
Effective management of documents and emails in SharePoint requires that the SharePoint environment has a good design. Implementing a design can often require a significant amount of Administrator effort, including when new areas (e.g. new document libraries) need to be created to store the documents and emails for a new project or transaction. The new library needs to be provisioned with the appropriate content types, metadata columns and views.
In response to this implementation and on-going administration challenge, we created the MacroView Solution Provisioning tool. MVSP uses XML files that comply with Microsoft PNP, which is the de-facto standard for defining SharePoint designs. The set of XML files needed to provision a specific design is known as a MVSP Solution.
MVSP fully respects the standard permission requirements of SharePoint – e.g. to create a new site collection the MVSP user must have Tenant Administration permission, etc.
At the start of 2020, MVSP already allowed a suitably-authorised user to create site collections, sub-sites and libraries. During 2020 we released extensive improvements in the MVSP tool and its available pre-built solutions. These included:
Another very important improvement was the ability to run MVSP in stand-alone mode – i.e. as a separate executable rather than as a right-click command in MacroView DMF / Message. This stand-alone execution could be scripted (e.g. with PowerShell) so that the design of a whole new SharePoint Online environment could be implemented in bulk. This capability was used successfully in 2020 to create and provision the SharePoint Online design needed for a large Public Folder migration. For more details see Migrating Emails to SharePoint, above.
MacroView Solution Provisioning (MVSP) is an extension for MacroView DMF and MacroView Message which originally needed to be downloaded from the MacroView Help Centre and installed separately. In the course of 2020 the functionality and popularity of the MVSP extension increased significantly, so we made the installation of MVSP occur automatically as MacroView DMF / Message is first run.
Immediately after installing MacroView DMF or Message a suitably-authorised user can right-click>Provision to create new site collections, sites and libraries with a specific design and to perform the range of other tasks described in Implementing Solutions in SharePoint and Teams, above.
When you are designing a SharePoint document and email store, Document Sets are useful because they are easy-to-implement and an easy-to-maintain way to automatically record metadata for documents and emails. So it is not surprising that the Create Document Set extension that we created in early 2020 has been very popular. MacroView Professional Services have included this extension in custom solutions for numerous customers.
As it creates a new Document Set, the Create Document Set extension:
Create Document Set extension adds a New Project command and generates a new document set with Project Code 1111 and a set of folders. The Create Document Set extension is now included in the standard installation of MacroView DMF / Message. This makes deployment of the extension much easier. Note that Create Document Set is a separately licensed extension, so will not be active until a license is in place.
The command names and messages displayed by MacroView DMF and MacroView Message can be re-labelled to reflect your organization and branding – e.g. The MacroView pane can be relabelled Acme Docs and Save As to SharePoint command relabelled to Save As to Acme Docs.
During 2020 we extended MacroView DMF and Message so that the new labels can be deployed from an XAML file stored in a central SharePoint library – e.g. called Resources. This makes deployment and ongoing administration much easier than the previous approach, where the XAML file needed to be installed in the …/Program Files/… area of each user PC.
In early 2020 we extended MacroView UDN and MacroView AOI so that:
During 2020 we added support for Dark mode in MacroView DMF and MacroView Message. As part of this upgrade we also improved support for high DPI screen displays.
A great MacroView feature is the way it enables ‘one-click integration’ with a Line of Business or CRM system – you click a Documents and Emails hyperlink in the record for a Customer or Project and are then jumped into MacroView DMF Explorer, already navigated to the area where documents and emails for that Customer or Project are stored.
If you are using a recent release of Microsoft Dynamics CRM you will benefit from a new Dynamics customization that MacroView created during 2020. This allows a Dynamics CRM record to have a hyperlink that works as described above.
Enterprise Keywords provide a very flexible way to classify documents. SharePoint maintains a central list of key words and phrases from which you can pick when you are saving a document. You can easily add new words and phrases to this central list.
Custom MacroView Search panel containing an Enterprise Keyword control
During 2020 we introduced a new Enterprise Keyword control that lets you define a custom MacroView search panel so that you can search for documents that have been classified with certain key words and phrases. You can type-ahead to select one or more key words / phrases or click the ‘keys’ icon to browse and pick from the complete tree of Enterprise Keywords.
When you click in a MacroView file list on an email that contains an attachment, the attachment displays as a link at the top of the formatted preview of the email. During 2020 we upgraded MacroView DMF / Message so that you can drag and drop that link from the preview – e.g. to insert the file as an attachment in a new email.