Provisioning Google Maps JSLink with SPMeta2

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Among PnP Samples there is a solution for using Google Maps. Great solution where where you can pick a point on a map and define a spacial area on the map. Unfortunately it is a sandbox solution. I rewrote it to a code based template with SPMeta2 Framework. Now it can be installed on any site very easily, without needing UserCode Service and a cumbersome process of uploading a wsp package and activating it. The code is very simple, you can see it on github.

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Let’s take a look at it. It does not contain a single line of SharePoint Legacy XML. There are following SharePoint artefacts that are getting provisioned:

  1. Two site columns (Location Point and Location Area)
  2. A SharePoint List (Locations) with two additional fields mentioned above
  3. Google Maps code in and CSR in a jslink file
  4. Auxiliary pages for selecting points and areas on the map.

Field Definitions

In SPMeta2 everything is separated in meaningful definitions. First we define our fields. The preferred place in the VS solution is Definitions – IA – Fields.

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List Definitions

Then we define our List – Locations. That is also a SPMeta2 Definition. List Definitions reside in Definitions – IA – Lists. We do not add fields in our list definition. The fields are added while “assembling” the model.

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ListView Definitions

ListView Definitions are also in the Definitions – IA folder. We inherit from the OOB AllItems view:

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Modules (a.k.a. Files)

Resource files like javascript, css, aspx, html and so on are Modules. They are in the “Modules – Implicit” folder. The internal structure is copied to the web folder. The upload of files is easy and is defined in the web model, see next section.

Web Model

Now it is time to pick the definitions and create a model. The most common model is a Web Model. The model is created programmatically and relies on “Add” methods: AddField, AddList and so on:

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Provisioning

The actual provisioning is the most fun, it is easy and straight forward, it takes models and deploys it to a SharePoint site. You can easily switch between SSOM and CSOM.

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Distribution

Another bonus of SPMeta2 Provisioning Framework is the ability to serialize and deserialize models to XML or JSON. In our project we define SharePoint Applications as SPMeta2 models serialized in XML and make them available for installation on any SharePoint Site.  A SharePoint Application is a meaningful collection of SharePoint artefacts that becomes an entity and solves a business need.

Summary

This Maps solution is a simple solution, but it is a very powerful one, originally created by the PnP team. If we just redesign the Provisioning Part, it becomes awesome. SPMeta2 provides a solid, well defined, easy-to-understand framework for define code-first models for SharePoint Applications.

Setting up Raspberry Pi2 for a Dashboard Monitor

I have set up Raspberry Pi as a Dashboard Monitor a couple of times. Here I want to summarize my steps. In fact, it is nothing special, a raspberry pi that is used as a browser showing a web based dashboard in full screen, but there are some important configuration steps needed to make it as good as possible.

Install Raspbian

Raspbian is the best operating system for Raspberry Pi. Just stick with that.

Expand file storage

When you boot up Raspberry Pi, the first thing you should do is to expand the file storage, otherwise it is hard to install anything. To do so, run raspi-config from command line and restart your raspberry pi after that.

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Rename your raspberry

You are advised to change the password. In my case I usually just want to keep the default password: “raspberry”. What I want is to change the hostname from raspberrypi to some unique hostname (in my example it will be “kallerasp”), so that I can access it from my network without running risk for name conflicts. To rename your raspberry, update the /etc/hostname file:

After that restart your computer.

Install iceweasel

Iceweasel is a Firefox fork, which works just fine on the raspberry pi. Update your raspberry pi and install it:

Make sure the screen is not getting blank

To use your raspberry pi as a dashboard monitor we need to prevent the screen from getting blank (dark).

Update it so you have the following:

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Start dashboard page on startup

To automatically start iceweasel on startup, we need to configure autostart. To do so, run this from terminal:

In the .desktop file write following:

Previously I had chromium-browser –kiosk http://someurl, but Chromiums is no longer available, and iceweasel does not have –kiosk parameter. On the other hand, you have to activate Full Screen the first time, then after OS restart iceweasel automatically will activate Full Screen and your dashboard page from the previous session.

Chuvash Keyboard Layout for Mac

I’ve got a Mac and one of my first questions was: How can I write in Chuvash on my Mac, obviously :) In this post I am going to tell how I created Chuvash Keyboard Layout. The solution and installation instructions are on Github:

Chuvash Keyboard Layout for Mac

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What the heck is Chuvash?

For those who don’t know yet: Chuvash are people who live in Chuvash Republic in Russian Federation, and abroad, as me. We are 1.5 million. Chuvash is also a language, an official language of the Republic, a minority language, that is completely different from the second official language Russian. Chuvash uses Cyrillic letters, all 33 Russian letters plus 4 additional letters: A breve (Ӑ), E breve (Ӗ), C cedilla (Ҫ) and U with double acute (Ӳ).

Keyboard Layout

There is no official Chuvash keyboard layout. What we have is a de facto standard – a very humble layout. It is “humble” because it does not dare to put Chuvash letters on the buttons directly, they are accessible through modifiers: AltGr in Windows and Linux, Option on a Mac. To get A breve you press AltGr and A in the same time. That is not a good input method for Chuvash where additional letters with diacritics (breve, double acute and cedilla) are more common than some Russian letters. In fact, many Russian letters are just part of the Chuvash alphabet because the loan words are just imported in the original spelling.

The reason why this humble keyboard layout was introduced and became a de facto standard was a will to provide a fully functional Russian keyboard layout with a bonus – being able to write in Chuvash, although a hard way. It is hard to write, but it is very simple to have (you don’t need to switch input sources), it is easy to explain: want a diacritic, just press AltGr and the corresponding plain letter. I created the same layout for Mac, too. In future a better, more Chuvash, keyboard layout must be designed and agreed upon.

Keyboard Layouts on Mac

AFAIK, there is no keyboard layout (“input source”) for any minority language in Russia. On the other hand the process of creating and installing a custom keyboard layout is easiest on a Mac. I followed the steps described on Salvatore Testa’s blog: I installed Ukulele and created a new keyboard layout based on Russian PC. That bundle that is saved from Ukulele needs to be copied to ~/Library/Keyboard Layouts/ folder. Then (presumably after a computer restart), Chuvash can be added as an input source. Custom keyboard layouts are just files (bundles) in a user’s home folder. No need for Administrator rights (as in Windows for installing a custom keyboard layout as an exe file), no sudo access to X11 folder (as in Linux).

What I would like to wish is the presence of Chuvash and other minority languages’ keyboard layouts directly Out-of-the-Box on Mac OS, iOS, Android and Windows. Linux is the only OS family that natively supports Chuvash keyboard layout.

Other minority languages

I am just curious: what languages have already had custom keyboard layouts ready for install. I found those ones:

Some words in Chuvash and Russian

I want this text to be searchable and findable, so here come summary of this blog post in Chuvash and Russian.

Макинтош валли чӑваш сарӑмӗ

Чӑваш сарӑмӗ Линукс, Виндовс, татат Андроид оператив системисенче пуррине халӑх пӗлет-ҫкӗ. Паян эпӗ Маккинтош (Mac OS) валли чӑваш сарӑмне турӑм. Вӑл виндовсри тата линуксри пекех, мӑйракаллисене ҫырас тесен Option (Alt) пускӑчне пусса мӑйракасӑррине пӗрле пусмалла. Option + А – Ӑ пулать. Ку ҫӗнни мар. Сарӑмӗ тата мӗнле лартмалли ку вырӑнта тупӑнать (хальлӗх акӑлчанла, анчах вӗҫ ӑнлантарнине ӳкерчӗклентертӗм).

Чувашская раскладка на Макинтош

Теперь есть чувашская раскладка для Mac OS, она такая же как и на Виндовс и Линукс. Чтобы написать Ӑ нужно нажать на Option (Alt) и на букву А. Раскладку и инструкцию по установке можно найти на этой странице (инструкция на английском пока, но все шаги проиллюстрированы картинками).

Working with Ukulele

I won’t go into details about how to work with Ukulele. But I was very surprised how easy it was to update the keyboard layout.

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And more surprised I became when I saw that Chuvash was present in the list of available languages. cv-kbd-mac-007

Just to compare, Chuvash exists as a language in many systems in the Open Source world and close to it: Linux, Firefox, Wikipedia… For Microsoft Chuvash does not exist. No LCID, no locale, no way of referencing cv and cv-RU. There is one exception – Skype, but it was added before Skype was bought by Microsoft. I really hope it can be changed in future.

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The last step was to rename to Chuvash – PC and generate an ID within the range for Cyrillic keyboards.

My first Office Add-In

Yesterday I participated in the Hackathon at European SharePoin Conference in Stockholm. The main goal was to learn more about Office Add-Ins. I wanted to create a very very simple app to learn the basics. Here in this post I’ll provide some links and describe the steps needed to start developing your Office Add-Ins.

The Add-in I created is an Outlook Add-In, it is called “Joke Inserter” and with it you can insert a random Chuck Norris joke. It is just for fun, but it demonstrated how an add-in can be installed, made available in “New E-mail” and interact with the e-mail you are writing.

All the code is on github. The random jokes come from The Internet Chuck Norris Database. As I said, the jokes were just for fun, this add-in is of course, not a business app. During the hackathon I got help from Pretish Abraham, Jeremy Thake and …

This is the result:

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Prerequisites

  • Any OS, I happened to have Windows :)
  • git, nodejs, npm (they should be in the $env:PATH)

Install following npm packages globally:

Creating the Add-In

Now with the yeoman support it is very easy:

Create a folder and scaffold an app:

After that update the manifest file: Icon Url, and Support Url

Start the application on localhost:

Go to your Outook.office365.com. Click on Manage Apps and add the manifest file from your solution.

Now when one is done with that simple fun add-in, it is very easy to go ahead and create real add-ins that provide value to you and your colleages.

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Resources: