Teams Real Simple with Pictures: Getting Hands on with Bulletins

This blog is part of a series on Teams. For more articles, check back often

Written: 14/02/2021 | Updated: N/A

Happy Valentines Day! It’s been a busy few weeks. I am in the middle of this thing called the Microsoft Teams Winter Tour. Basically, it’s ten conferences I am speaking at chained together throughout at the course of January and February. At the time of writing I have done seven. So three more to go – and all three come a week from today on the 19th in a triple header that’ll see me speak in France, Italy and Nigeria all on the same day. To be fair its been incredible – but it’s also been hard to keep up with all the new stuff coming out in Teams too – and there’s been a lot. A lot of news and a lot of developments. So in the period between now and Ignite I am going to try and step back up and I’ll start with something which seemed to fly under the radar which is bulletins. This is an app which appeared sometime last week and what interests me particularly about this is that its a Power App, one whose data is stored within Dataverse. Now Power Apps in Teams has massive potential – we all know this, we’ve all known this a long time. However, previously Power Apps designed by Microsoft typically came as either Teams Templates, or Power Apps Templates which meant you would need to customise and install them yourself as Custom Apps: in other words they weren’t already available out of the box from the Teams App store. Is this a new direction? Have Microsoft seen the best way to get into Power Apps is to actually go from the position of using them then customising them? Well, yes. Read the description below – ‘it’s then easy for an org to go on and extend the core functionality’. Clever Microsoft. Oh I see you. But let’s talk about Bulletins. It’s an app that’s designed to keep Team Members informed in terms of broadcasts and announcements. FAQ’s also. Now I can only imagine some within the Yammer community are going to have something to say here – but before we mosey on down to Defcon 1 in regards to apps which dupe functionality, let’s have a walkthrough and deploy this and see how we go. Personally, from the description I think this could be good. On the other hand, I also think it could go really bad if people don’t understand about storage

This blog will cover

  • How to setup bulletins
  • Deployment Notes
  • Managing Categories for Bulletins, FAQ’s and Links
  • How to Add, Remove or Unpublish a Bulletin
  • How to Add or Remove an FAQ
  • How to Add or Remove a Link or Contact
  • Removing Bulletins
  • How to extend Bulletins
  • Concluding Thoughts

Pre-requisites

  • Teams, SharePoint, Power Automate, Forms licence (In an Office/Microsoft 365 Subscription)
  • App Permissions to install apps in the Team (and Bulletins to be installable via the Teams Admin Centre)

HOW TO SETUP BULLETINS

1.) I have setup my Team ready to go. In the channel I select Add (+)

2.) Search for and select Bulletins

3.) Select Add

4.) Select Save

5.) You need to wait until installation has completed. The installation may take some time

6.) Bulletins will now be deployed as two apps – bulletins (the app to use) and manage bulletins (the management portal)

DEPLOYMENT NOTES

There is a few observations about this deployment

  • Bulletins can only be deployed as tabs within Teams, it does not exist as a personal app
  • It’s scope is the Team. In other words, deploying it into another team is deploying a second instance of the app
  • You cannot add Bulletins into Private Channels. It errors.
  • When deploying, both the bulletins tab and the manage bulletins tab are visible to all users in the Team. There is no permissions to show just the bulletins tab (and not to management tab) to other members of the team. The only way you can really get round this at the current time is to, for example, have the bulletins tab in a much used channel, then use both tabs in another
  • When you deploy an environment is created at https://admin.powerplatform.microsoft.com. This is where the two Power Apps are housed – in Dataverse for Teams
  • Creating bulletins in another team creates a second environment

MANAGING CATEGORIES FOR BULLETINS, FAQ’S AND LINKS/CONTACTS

This is what users see when they first deploy. The bulletins app has three tabs – Bulletins, FAQ’s and Links and Contacts. Content is organised by categories which are essentially containers for that content

1.) Select the Manage Bulletins Tab and then Cog at the top right

2.) Select Add Category underneath Bulletins, FAQ’s or Categories

3.) Type in the category name and Tick once done

4.) If you want to remove one select bin next to the category name then Update. Tick I Understand and select Delete

5.) You can now go on to arrange your categories for your Bulletins, FAQ’s and Links/Contacts as you wish. This shot shows that I have arranged them how I want moving forward

HOW TO ADD, REMOVE OR UNPUBLISH A BULLETIN

1.) In the Manage Bulletins tab under Bulletins select New Bulletin

2.) Complete the required information including and once done select Save

  • Category (from categories set earlier)
  • Featured (if required)
  • Schedule (if required)
  • Cover Image, Video URL (if required)
  • Title, Subtitle and Body
  • Button, Website Link and Author (if required)

3.) Once saved, select Publish

4.) The bulletin is now published as shown in the manage bulletins tab, and as shown in the Bulletins app

5.) To unpublish or remove a bulletin, in the manage bulletins tab select the bulletin and then select Unpublish or Delete. If you delete you will be asked to confirm

HOW TO ADD OR REMOVE AN FAQ

1.) In the Manage Bulletins tab under FAQ select New FAQ

2.) Complete the required information including and once done select Save

  • Category (from categories set earlier)
  • Question
  • Answer

3.) Once saved, select Approve

4.) The question and answer is now published as shown in the manage bulletins tab, and as shown in the Bulletins app

5.) To remove the question, in the manage bulletins tab select the question and then select Delete. If you delete you will be asked to confirm

HOW TO ADD OR REMOVE A LINK OR CONTACT

1.) In the Manage Bulletins tab under Links and Contacts select Add Link

2.) Complete the required information including and once done select Save

  • Title and Description
  • Category (as set earlier)
  • URL

3.) The link is now published as shown in the manage bulletins tab, and as shown in the Bulletins app

4.) Rinse and Repeat for Contacts. In the Manage Bulletins tab under Links and Contacts select Add Contact

5.) Complete the required information and once done select Save

  • If the user is an office user
  • Category (As set earlier)
  • Name, Description and Email

6.) The contact is now published as shown in the manage bulletins tab, and as shown in the Bulletins app

7.) To remove the link or contact is a similar process – in the manage bulletins tab select the link or the contact and then select Delete. If you delete you will be asked to confirm

REMOVING BULLETINS

Removing Bulletins is not a straightforward process of removing the tab

You cannot remove it from the app store

1.) Select Power Apps within Teams – either through the app rail or via a Tab

2.) Select Build

3.) Select Installed Apps

4.) Select More Options (…) and then Delete

HOW TO EXTEND BULLETINS

1.) Select Power Apps within Teams – either through the app rail or via a Tab

2.) You may see it within Recent Apps

3.) If not select Build

4.) Select Installed Apps and then select one of the Power Apps to customise it

5.) This will open Power Apps Studio where you can begin customising your app

CONCLUDING THOUGHTS

Our job here is done

I think Bulletins has potential – it’s got a simplicity about it which is very easy for bringing news, common questions and links and contacts together – things which a Team needs. There is some things that would need to improve in future versions

  • Every user in the Team does not have to see the Manage Bulletins Tab – only the users who manage it
  • There needs to be Power Automate integration (I.e. new bulletin triggers a notification/activity/post etc)
  • Contacts need phone numbers not just email/message

This list is not exhaustive – and there is a lot which I could continue to look at such as testing video in bulletins as it is unclear whether it goes beyond YouTube Videos and can use, for example, videos housed within SPO/ODB. Whether Microsoft intend to do any work whatsoever on this is unknown: this could turn out like the old Power Apps Templates. Microsoft may just be creating this for partners and customers to go on and do what they need with it without any intention of improving it in the future

Regarding Yammer, as mentioned in the introduction about duplicating functionality – this is aimed squarely at the Team so there isn’t a challenge there. It could be installed on an Org Wide Team I guess but even then it doesn’t have threads, you can’t ask questions, it lacks much of what Yammer does so it’s no threat whatsoever. It’s just a light customisable app that may be handy for a team to keep up to date with what’s going on, a small knowledgebase and common set of contacts perhaps

In terms of storage, anyone who installs this has to realise this is two Power Apps and is designed to leverage dataverse in Teams, installed into an environment linked to the Team. The environment can be found at https://admin.powerplatform.microsoft.com. In other words, data storage is 2 GB and according to Docs Dataverse for Teams cannot be upgraded to Dataverse yet. So storage has to be monitored. If 80% of the storage is used then notifications will be sent out, however, storage will be used quicker if multiple Power Apps are used within the same Team. In other words, it’s not just something we can use indefinitely and not think about whatsoever