During the SharePoint Evolution Conference in London, I was asked, so what’s the purpose of Live Publish for Word and SharePoint? A perfectly legitimate question given we’re relatively unknown in the SharePoint space and that our app has been in the Office Store all of few weeks. I guess this is precisely the reason for me travelling half way around the world (from Perth) – to get the message out regarding apps for Office and SharePoint and to tell folks what we’ve been doing in this space.
It all starts with web content management (WCM) and the basic assumption that it’s all just a little too difficult to create web content in SharePoint. Perhaps it’s the experience of using the browser as an editing tool, perhaps it’s the challenges in managing HTML mark-up or perhaps it having to upload and manage images separately from the written content – perhaps it’s all these things. Whatever the cause, Live Publish sets about to help solve the problem of getting written content into SharePoint Publishing pages easily and more efficiently by using MS Word as the editor and publishing tool.
So how big is the issue of creating publishing pages in SharePoint via the browser experience? It’s hard to say, however, experience tells me that 80% of web content created and managed via SharePoint publishing pages (e.g. Intranet-based content), is essentially informational written content. The purpose of the content is to detail how or what users need to know; this may take the form of policies and procedures as an example.
Qualitem Live Publish is a product to help manage informational content in SharePoint (whether that is intranet, extranet or internet based content), it’s important to understand exactly where Qualitem Live Publish can help. The best way to answer this is to look at the following issues you might experience with the SharePoint content publishing process:
Creating new publishing pages
When users look to create new content for their internet or intranet site, they know what they want to say but the process of getting it into SharePoint is not simple and not intuitive; certainly not as simple as using an editor like Microsoft Word.
MS Word – a user’s first choice as a content creation tool
In my experience, irrespective of the browser editing experience, users tend to draft content in MS Word before publishing web content. Using MS Word, content is cut-n-pasted into a publishing page (via Notepad on-the-through to strip out any control characters). Time is taken to ensure the content is grammatically correct and that there are no spelling errors. The reviewing of the written content by others is also done in MS Word. Once reviewed in MS Word and ready for publishing, it’s migrated out of MS Word in to a publishing page and submitted it for approval.
So it makes sense to integrate the two; initially editing content in MS Word with the Publishing of HTML to a SharePoint publishing pages. Qualitem Live Publisher achieves this using the app model. It’s a Word app loaded in the right-hand task pane that communicates to SharePoint to publish the MS Word document to the server or Office 365 environment.
What about images?
In addition to the written content making up the publishing page, images are used. To view these images in-line within the web pages, the images are pre-downloaded (either purchased, downloaded from a camera or downloaded from a file share) and uploaded into SharePoint. Links to the images are then added to the publishing page to allow the images to view in the web page.
So how can we make image management simpler?
By using MS Word as our edit for web content, the user simply adds images and photos to the MS Word document – in-line. This is very straightforward and intuitive. There’s no need to separately uploading images and create links, users simply bring the images directly into the Word document and Qualitem Live Publish takes care of managing the upload.
So what about image optimization?
We also manage the image sizes. Most user will not give consideration to the image size they are using. When images are downloaded from a camera to be incorporated in to a web page, they are typically not optimised for web and can be unnecessarily larger than needed. This slows down the web page load time as the entire non-optimized image is loaded. Live Publish will optimize the image as it saves to SharePoint; cropping and optimizing the image to assist with page load performance.
Live Publish solves this problem as it allows users to stay in MS Word as their content editor. Using our app, content is moved directly from the drafted MS Word document, to the SharePoint publishing page. Users can publish documents in-line directly from within the Word document, and preview the document once saved to SharePoint; this provides a seamless experience between MS Word and SharePoint with the user never having to leave MS Word to see the published document.
PDF format – a user’s first choice as a read-only document format
Saving the MS Word document to PDF format, is not a particularly difficult task to perform. However, it’s made easier using Qualitem Live Publisher. The reason it’s easier is that the user can navigate SharePoint document libraries within the Word app task pane. This is a nice inclusion that would otherwise be performed using a “save as” process.
What else? Opening and editing existing publishing pages
In addition to creating web content and saving as PDF, probably the coolest thing about Qualitem Live Publish, is that you can open an existing published page to edit in MS Word, directly from within the app. This instantiates a new instance of MS Word to allow the user to edit the APSX content in MS Word and re-publish it out via the Qualitem Live Publish app.
Qualitem Live Publish supports opening the page within a currently open MS Word document, what this means is that whilst editing within Word, you can simultaneously open another publish page in a new instance of MS Word. The Qualitem Live Publish engine will load the task pane in the new instance of MS Word and import/convert the HTML content from the ASPX publishing page in to the MS Word document.
The Qualitem Live Publish Word and SharePoint app helps simplify the process of creating and publishing content to SharePoint Publishing pages. As a fully integrated experience, the user never has to leave the MS Word edit experience to publish their content to SharePoint, whether this is as a web page (HTML), DOCX and as PDF document.
Qualitem Live Publish is available for trial from the Microsoft Office Store