If you have been following this long running series, it probably comes as little surprise that I love video. I love videos which are genuinely interesting and jam packed with useful content, well produced and palatable in terms of their length. Yet the one problem I have is that I do so much focus work these days that I always forget to check for updates and so I often end up missing out on some really great content. Of course, there was a period I used to check them. I used to spend too much time checking them every other day, regularly switching out of context which often took me out of the focus work I was doing
It has felt like a very long time since I last sat down and wrote a decent blog. It was back on 26th April when I looked at the initial roll out of background effects. Not that long ago at all you say - but since then I have delivered at Microsoft 365 Saturday Madrid, Teams Day Online Germany, Microsoft the Tour Israel, Vuzion Power Platform Bootcamp and got myself involved in this little MVP training gig. I am also currently writing sessions for Microsoft 365 Marathon, Galactic Collaboration Summit and Commsverse and have multiple Fundamental deliveries in the next two weeks. All on top of the day to day.
This could very well be the 100th blog that you have read on background effects in Microsoft Teams. I am very aware of that fact. When it dropped into general availability I was in the middle of writing 30 blogs in 30 days for the #fightcorona series. Immediately after I had to submit several sessions to several conferences - all of which I am happy to say I was accepted for. But it's good to be back. After a year on this series I still feel as passionate about it as when I first started. And as always I want to give you a bit more to make it worth your time
30 blogs in 30 days is tough. When I bet Yannick Reekmans on Twitter back on the 17th of March it's fair to say I had no idea what I was letting myself in for even though I write a blog pretty much every single week. I have a full time job, and through MVP Summit, running TeamsFest, family commitments and the surge in Tech Community it's been a hell of a ride. Good thing I love Teams and keeping promises then isn't it! So coming to the end of this series I thought I would cap it all with a few helpful things I can think of and which can set you on your way. I haven't covered everything in this series - far from it. Yet I had to make a choice, since I am not blessed with infinite time, the ability to warp space time, or defer my responsibilities as a husband and father, to focus on core workloads and the fundamentals. When I think of Teams as a user I think of chat, and files, and meetings, and calling and apps. I chose Deskop and Web on Windows purely because in the current situation I haven't got access to a Mac and mobile takes ages to take pictures and get them onto a site. Maybe one day I'll do a series on that. In the meantime I wish you the very best in your experience with Teams. Since Teams is rapidly evolving the content in this series will no doubt age. I'll review and amend for a while, but one of the key things about Teams is that change is constant. The cadence of new functionality is unbelievable - and I already know that within the past 30 days I'll have to go back and amend the article on background blur as today they released background effects to general availability. Blink, and you may miss a serious good add.
Having looked at personal apps, tabs and messaging apps, the penultimate blog - and the final one on Apps - is on Bots, Connectors and Custom apps. In my personal experience, most people are used to using apps - whether this is on their mobile phones, or on their operating systems such as Windows or MacOS - they understand the concept of apps which gives them a head start in terms of installing them when beginning to use Teams. However - and again from my own personal experience - they typically have far less experience of Bots, Connectors and Custom Apps. Bots are automated programs that respond to queries or give updates and notifications. Connectors connect content and updates from external services directly into a Teams channel or chat. They can both be amazingly useful if you spend a bit of time getting to know them and getting hands on with them. With custom apps - the world really is your oyster - if you have the skills to package an app via App Studio or make the app through the Power Platform, then you can start tailoring what each and every Team needs. This is when we start thinking about Teams as a platform for our communication and collaboration needs not simply an application in-itself
As we approach the end of this series, the next two blogs will focus on Apps. Apps let you bring content from your favorite services right into Teams. There is, for example, an app for Planner, and one for Stream, and one for Forms and one for YouTube and one for Jira. Apps can be Microsoft apps or Third Party apps. You can even create and add your own! By adding Apps we can go way beyond core workloads such as chat and files, and enrich both our own experience, as well as our collaborative spaces with a deep set of tools for every one of our Teams
The last blog looked at what you needed to know about files if you were using Teams for the very first time. How to create them. How to upload your existing files from your local machine. How to sync Teams files and personal files to your desktop and how to share files with others outside of your Team and outside of your organisation. This one is all about accessing and finding files. Most people use certain files more than others. We don't want to have to trawl through all our files in order to be able to find specific ones every time. A good file experience allows us to find them quickly and have them to hand