New Trello Power-up: Demote a Card

Continuing to use Trello I found a need to take cards that had been sitting around a while and put them in a place other than Archive (and forget them). What I had been doing was copy/pasting them in checklists in another card and as needed taking the check list items and promoting them back to a card. However, after performing the manual process (which could take a lot of time) enough times, I decided it was time for another Power-Up. So, I created the Demote a Card Power-Up:

https://trello.com/power-ups/630d74e4e1bab6013d6c1160/demote-a-card

Also — while building this Power-Up, I also got a tad frustrated that there was not any IntelliSense code assistance from the Trello Library. So, I build one in JSDOC and will likely be publishing that on GitHub soon. Not sure how many other developers there are out there that write Power-Ups, but my hope is it might be useful.

Trello Writers Block – Browser Extension

I have been in full-bore developer mode of late, trying new things and writing a lot of code. One area I thought I would give a try is browser extensions. I find myself wanting to tag pages so that I can reference them later in something I am writing or working on. And because I like to store information in Trello, I wanted something that combined both. So, here is an extension I created that will do just that. It takes the page you are on and then creates an MLA or APA reference and then adds it to a card in Trello for you.

I published this to both the Microsoft Edge and the Google Chrome store:

The following screen shots show you what it looks like when you are using it:

Extension in action on my website.
The card once it is added to Trello.

This browser extension is useful if you are a student writing a paper (supports MLA and APA formats), an author writing a book, or a blogger or someone doing research and keeping track of references using notecards. Because Trello is a digital version of notecards and it is available everywhere and stored in the cloud, you don’t have to worry about the dog eating your homework. đŸ˜±

Add it to your browser and let me know what you think.

New Trello Power-Up: Board Wiki

I just completed another Power-Up for Trello, called Board Wiki.

I have really taken to using Trello to help organize many aspects of my life and one area that kept annoying me was that I always had to have a card setup on various lists for “meta” information or things like my weekly, quarterly and yearly plans (see Cal Newport). After thinking about it a bit, I realized since it makes sense to keep all this in one place, why not have a wiki to capture this, so this new Power-Up was created.

Trello Board Wiki Power-Up

I have now created several Power-Ups a couple Office Web Add-ins and just published (still in review) an Edge Extension. To see everything I have published, check out my website.

Published: Trello Taskpane for Word

I have done it! I have published my very first Office Web Add-in to the Microsoft Store. After years and years of blogging about it, I wrote an add-in for something I needed. It is true that necessity is the mother of all invention.

The add-in is called the Trello Taskpane for Word. It is a simple add-in that connects Word to your Trello boards, so that you can insert information you have collected in Trello into your documents. I do research on the web for various topics and send snippets and pages to Trello cards where I organize and refine them. Then I found myself copy/pasting the information from Trello into Word getting lost on the task switching. Now, I can remain in Word, select the cards I want, and insert them without ever leaving Word. How’s that!

It was also a fun exercise for me to combine the two types of extensions I have found to enjoy writing (Office and Trello). More importantly, it is a useful tool that I think might benefit other writers that use Trello, or writers looking for a new way to keep their notecards and thoughts in a more digital, accessible from anywhere type of format.

Have fun and let me know what you think!

5entences Add-in Released

I have been spending some of my free time writing add-ins for Office and Power-Ups for Trello. I just completed two add-ins for Office. One is going through the process with AppSource and I will blog about it soon enough. The other cannot go though AppSource because it uses the Block On Send interface for Outlook. The add-in I just release is the 5entences Add-in for Outlook.

I have been inspired by various books I have read that all cross-pollinate the idea that we use e-mail all wrong or too much. Cal Newport’s “A World without Email” and Tim Ferris’ “4 Hour Workweek” are just two examples. And I believe it was Tim’s book that first touched on brevity in email. And thus, this website was born: five.sentenc.es.

From those books, and website, I had an idea. Why not add “training wheels” to the idea of email brevity? So, I wrote the 5entences Add-in for Outlook as a simple to use add-in that tries to help you keep your email responses brief and to the point.

It has been a fun side project as I was delving deeper into writing React code and using prebuilt React controls, so I wanted to share it with everyone. Maybe we can make email fun again.

Productivity and Trello

I have been away from my blog for quite a long while. I had moved from doing work exclusively in the Office Developer space to general development, web development, even PowerShell development. The randomization was both distracting and eye opening. So, I took on a new role as a Program Manager that has only tangential involvement with Office and almost none to do with Office Development. So, that is why it has been a while. I have been involved in other projects and mentoring in Office Development projects and actually have a pet project I have been working on for an Outlook add-in as well.

Through all this, however, one thing I have been getting into is reading a lot around productivity and trying to make the most of my time, or better yet free up my time to do more things I would like to do. This is where my journey crossed paths with the productivity books written by Cal Newport. His book pointed me to the 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris and how to automate aspects of life. As I have moved towards more and more automation, one area, thanks to Cal Newport that has helped me keep organized in that effort is an application called Trello.

Now, I am a Microsoft guy, and I know, I know, Microsoft has a tool called Planner (now called Tasks) that is a similar Kanban tool. But one thing it does not have integrated into it is the ability for extensions. And another is a mobile app. So, Trello has been an amazing way for me to get organized.

One reason I also like Trello as I mentioned was extensibility. Being an extensibility guy, I immediately found “room” to build some useful extensions into Trello. So, I learned their API and viola, I have built two Power-Ups (as they are known):

I have a few ideas for more but will be working on suggestions I have received from the first and the second one JUST got published right before this blog post. Additionally, I am working on a few other side projects including writing a book.

I have worked hard over the last year to free up time to do the things I want to do. And so far, so good… thank you Trello (and thank you Cal Newport for pointing me to it).

Disabling your Web Add-in if you have an Equivalent COM/VSTO Add-in

In previous post, I described how you can add code to your VSTO/COM add-in to disable your Web Add-in loaded from maniferst via the Office Portal:
Removing Web Add-in Ribbon Customization in Outlook for Windows (theofficecontext.com)

Well with Outlook for Windows, Office 365, version 16.0.13728.36136, you can now disable your Web Add-in via Policy settings.

Download Administrative Template files (ADMX/ADML) and Office Customization Tool for Microsoft 365 Apps for enterprise, Office 2019, and Office 2016 from Official Microsoft Download Center

Here is the path in the policy editor for this setting:

Once in the policy editor, you would set the value. If your OfficeJS Web Add-in has a GUID of {c5bc7737-0d79-4302-9e73-2a614941e914} and the COM add-in is called “My Full Featured Outlook Add-in“, you would set the values like this:

Specifically, the registry key it puts in place is this:

PATH: HKCU\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Office\16.0\Outlook\addins\equivalentcomaddin
KEY (string/REG_SZ): {OfficeJS GUID}
VALUE: Prog.ID

For example, if I have an Outlook Web Add-in called “My Outlook Add-in” and it has the following manifest entry:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<OfficeApp 
          xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/office/appforoffice/1.1" 
          xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance" 
          xmlns:bt="http://schemas.microsoft.com/office/officeappbasictypes/1.0" 
          xmlns:mailappor="http://schemas.microsoft.com/office/mailappversionoverrides/1.0" 
          xsi:type="MailApp">
	<Id>c5bc7737-0d79-4302-9e73-2a614941e914</Id>

Let’s say I have a full VSTO add-in called “My Full Featured Outlook Add-in” and it is registered as the following:

If you were to look at the Policy key after it is set you would have an entry like this:

KEY: {c5bc7737-0d79-4302-9e73-2a614941e914}
VALUE: My Full Featured Outlook Add-in

If it were an older traditional COM Add-in, like the top item: AccessAddin.DC, then it would look like this:

KEY: {c5bc7737-0d79-4302-9e73-2a614941e914}
VALUE: AccessAddin.DC

That is all you have to do if you have the newest builds of Outlook for Windows.

NOTE: Coming later in the year, will be an option to add this entry to your Web Add-in Manifest file the way you can with Excel and Word. 
NOTE: This is all covered in the latest Office add-ins community call.

easyEws Updated to 1.0.20

This was more than a patch this time. It was a minor update to two functions:

  • sendMailItem
  • sendPlainTextEmailWithAttachment

There was an issue reported (#12) where the sendMailItem function was not working in IE11. This was because it was created to take an inline object (ES6). Well on IE11 (which only supports ES5), it broke.

So, I fixed sendMailItem to support ES5 and also took the opportunity to add two often requested features of this function:

  • It will now allow you to submit HTML body content or Text. It will also parse the HTML for you if you submit it as is.
  • It will also now allow you to send both file attachment (new), and mail item attachments (original).

Please see the documentation for more information on the updates to this function: https://github.com/davecra/easyEWS#sendMailItem

Also I updated the sendPlainTextEmailWithAttachment function. Under the covers this uses the sendMailItem function. So I had to update it to use the new format so it would work as well. There was no change to it’s features/functionality however.

I did not get to the last item I have had requests for:

  • ability to specify recipients as To/CC/BCC. I will update this at some future date. Also, please let me know if you would like to see this.

Overall, the goal is to have the sendMailItem() function be a full multi-purpose function at some point. It is almost there, but please keep the suggestions coming.

easyEws v1.0.19 Released

There were a couple small bug fixes in the splitGroupsRecursivelyAsync() function. Thank you to Jack for making me aware of the issue as it has now been corrected.

The CDN to the latest versioned instance of the library:

https://cdn.jsdelivr.net/npm/easyews/easyEws1.0.19.js

Here is a link to my GitHub:

https://github.com/davecra/easyEWS

And it is also able to be installed from NPM with the command:

npm install easyews

Office Open XML File Viewer

In case you did not know, Office files that end with an (x), like PPTX, XLSX and DOCX, or an (m), like PPTM, XLSM, DOCM are actually ZIP files. If you rename these files to .ZIP, you can open them up and see all the component that make up what is now an the Office Open XML File Specification.

Years ago I was working on a project where we were programmatically modifying Office documents using the Open XML Toolkit. I got sick and tired of renaming the files to .ZIP, looking inside, making corrections as needed, and then renaming the file back. So I created this tool. I used it – a lot, and then… Well, I forgot about it.

I recently started working on a project where I needed to quickly get into the contents of an Office file to see if the changes being made were correct. I also needed to do light editing of the internal XML parts at times. And I seemed to remember doing all this before. I searched and search and then I found this old project. I have been using it a couple weeks now and figured it might be a good thing to share with the community. So I published it on GitHub:

https://github.com/davecra/OpenXmlFileViewer

The details for install and usage are in the README.md. Once installed, you will have to register it for each file type. Once setup, you would right-click on the file, select Open With and then click OpenXmlFileViewer.

OpenXmlFileViewer on the PowerPoint (pptx) right-click, Open With menu

You will be able to browse the parts like you would files in File Explorer:

The Office Open XML File Viewer application window

Please let me know if you have any questions or issues.