Trick #1: Cool SharePoint 2013 tricks for the Technically Challenged

Trick 1: Promoted Links

Welcome to the inaugural launch of ‘Cool SharePoint 2013 tricks for the Technically Challenged’.

SharePoint 2013 brings with it a number of goodies that appeals to non-tech folk like me. Building on a steady stream of end user centric development options since 2007, SP 2013 is giving us the capability to achieve slick, professional looking Intranets, Extranets and Document Management solutions with little more skill required than some extra reading and clicking of the mouse.

Given the depth and breadth of options out there, it’s a little difficult to know where to start. I posed the challenge to the BizData team, to come up with a list of cool tricks we wanted to share with you. There is only one simple rule: no ( ok sometimes minimum) technical skills required!

By now, we have all become used to seeing Microsoft’s ‘Metro’ design, first adopted with the Windows phone, and now incorporated throughout Microsoft’s suite of products, the ’tile’ has gained considerable popularity and SharePoint 2013 has given us a simple way of incorporating this design into our sites.

The Promoted Links App is a new feature with SharePoint 2013 and lets us store links that will show as tiles on pages where you choose to display them. Making it accessible across a range of devices, and providing a clean and modern feel, Promoted links allow you to surface common links to users, whilst giving you the creative freedom to associate nifty images with the links you want to promote.

The feature also allows you to configure a title and description for each link, which in turn becomes the sliding semi-transparent window that glides over your image. This is especially useful when screen real-estate is an issue, and pretty handy on a mobile device as the ‘click’ is a simple press on the tile.

So let’s start.

Oh, before we start there are some basic things you need to do that make the Promoted Links configuration a lot smoother.

Firstly, decide on what links you want to promote. Get your URLs ready and think about what you and your users are going to find the most useful.

Secondly, get your images ready. These can be traditional Metro tiles, or just content appropriate images that best represent the link you want to promote. Now, SharePoint 2013 out of the box defaults the tiles to 150 x 150. You can change them, but the solution is not an ‘on/off’ button but code. Click Here if you’re interested in changing the size, but given the aim of these posts, let’s just work with what comes OOTB.

Thirdly, make sure you save your images in SharePoint (In this example I’ve saved in the Style Library). Remember the location and the path because although Promoted Links is pretty cool, you can’t actually search to find your image location, you have to specify the path directly (I’ll show you where further down)

Part one: Setting up your links

1. Navigate to your SharePoint 2013 site. Click on tools icon and navigate to Site Contents.

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2. Select ‘add an app’
3. You will notice an app titled ‘Promoted Links’. Select.

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4. Give your Promoted Links list a useful name. For the sake of creativity I’ve titled this one ‘Promoted Links’ !

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5. Because this list is new (empty) click on ‘All Promoted Links’ view to add tiles
6. Select ‘new item’
7. Fill in details as specified:

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Think carefully about your Description as this will be the text that appears on the semi-transparent layer of your tile. Also don’t get too carried away with long sentences as there is a limit to the amount of text that can appear, and you don’t want it truncated when time comes to put on the page.

You can actually control the size of the font used on the title and the description that appears. It will require a little tiny bit of code, and I’ll cover it in an upcoming blog.

The rest is pretty straight forward. You can select where your link will open via the ‘Launch Behaviour’ option, and also dictate the order in which the link appears. Go on and hit save.

And here is what your promoted link will look like:

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Part 2: Placing your promoted links on a page

Now that you have your Promoted links set you simply add them to your page via an App Part

1. Navigate to your page and click ‘Edit’
2. Select ‘Insert’ from the ribbon and select ‘App Part’
3. You will see your newly made Promoted Link listed:

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4. Click ‘Add’ and your new link will appear.

You’re done! Well kind of. This is a web part like any other which means if you want to edit how the app part appears on the page including title, borders etc, you will need to edit via the standard edit options as part of your web part.

The final result (seen in a suite of 3 in this example) looks like this:

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There are some limitations with using Promoted Links out of the box (limitations that can be overcome with some custom code, but we are keeping it simple here). If you want to:

1. Resize
2. Change spacing between links
3. Change font size
4. Wrap a number of tiles onto the next ‘line’

You will need to source (or write) code to do this. Point 4 is actually quite important. If you have a number of promoted links, they will appear in a horizontal line across the width specified by your page / app part. If the total width goes over the defined size, you will see a horizontal scroll. Not so cool. To avoid this you may have to create multiple Promoted Links lists and stack them when inserting the app part on your page.

Stay in tune for our next update where I walk you through a very useful function called ‘Quick Edit’.