How to build an alternative to Meeting Workspaces in SharePoint 2013

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Microsoft decided to deprecate Meeting Workspaces in Sharepoint 2013. These handy site templates are still widely used in SharePoint 2010 (SP2010). In this post I’m going to describe an alternative.

According to Microsoft, there are enough alternatives for Meeting Workspaces, they mention Lync meetings, OneNote, SP team sites or the My Site. I have looked at these alternatives, but these require a huge change in the way the end users work.

That’s why I created another alternative by using a standard SharePoint team site, connected web parts and workflows.

Create lists and views

A Meeting Workspace in SP2010 has the following lists: agenda items, decisions, calendar, documents and tasks. We will create these lists.

Let’s start with the calendar list:

  • Create the default calendar;
  • Create a new view called FutureItems;
  • Uncheck recurrence and workspace at Columns;
  • Create the filter Start Time is greater than or equal to [Today];
  • Create another view called PastItems
  • Uncheck recurrence and workspace and Sort by Start Time and choose for descending order;
  • Create the filter ‘Start Time is less than [Today]’.

Then we make the list Agenda items:

  • Add a custom list and call it Agenda items;
  • Go to List settings;
  • Change the name of the Title column in Subject;
  • Create the columns Time (single line of text), Comments (multiple lines of text) and Owner (person or group);
  • Now click on Add from existing site columns and Start Date;
  • Change the name of this column in Meeting Date, set it at required and set defaults to None.

Now make the list Decisions:

  • Add a custom list and call it Decisions;
  • Go to List settings;
  • Create the columns Description (multiple lines of text) and Owner (person or group);
  • Now click on Add from existing site columns and Start Date;
  • Change the name of this column in Meeting Date, set it at required and defaults to None.

The list Documents probably already exists:

  • Go to Library settings and click on Add from existing site columns and Start Date;
  • Change the name of this column in Meeting Date, set it at required and default values to None.

Finally the Tasks list:

  • Add a custom list and call it Tasks;
  • Go to List Settings;
  • Change the name of the Title column in Task name;
  • Create the columns Start date (date and time), Due date (date and time), Assigned to (person or group), Description (multiple lines of text), Status (choice) and Priority (choice);
  • Now click on Add from existing site columns and Start Date;
  • Change the name of this column in Meeting Date, set it at required and set defaults to None.

Creating the dashboards

The first dashboard we create is on the home page. For the dashboard, I choose a page layout with three columns. Add in the first column the Calendar web part. In the second column Agenda items and Decisions web parts. In the last column we place the web part for Documents and Tasks.

Edit the Calendar web part:

  • Change the view in FutureItems;
  • Click on Row with data send to and then Agenda items. As shown in the example below:

  • Select for retrieving Filter values, and then click Configure. As seen in the example below:

  • Choose at Provider name field for start time and consumer field name at for meeting date. As seen in the example below:

  • Click on Finish.

Do the same for decisions, documents and tasks.

Then we make a dashboard with the items from the past. Add the web parts again, set on the connection between the web parts in the same way. The only difference is the view of the calendar web part. Set up the view on PastItems. Link from the first dashboard to the second and vice versa.

Make the workflow

The Calendar list in Sharepoint offers the possibility for recurring items. Then one item will be created and is shown several times in the list or web part. This is a problem in this solution, because connecting the web parts doesn’t work with recurring events. There is only one item and therefore only one start time of the event. Filter out the other dates of the event won’t work.

To solve this problem, we create a workflow which create recurring events for us. In this example I create a workflow in SharePoint Designer that creates the same weekly event at the same time.

Create the variable Counter with as type Number. Then create the following Form parameters:

  • Quantity: Type Number
  • Title: Type Single line of text
  • Start date and time: Type Date and Time. Uncheck Allow blank values and set Display format as Date and time
  • End date and time: type Date and Time. Uncheck Allow blank values and set Display format as Date and time

Copy the workflow as illustrated in the following figure:

This workflow, created using SharePoint Designer, has one disadvantage. When you create multiple items, some of them in the summer time and some of them in winter time, the time of the event after the daylight-saving change is incorrect. For example an event at 1 p.m. in summer time is set in winter time at 12:00. When its summertime and you create multiple items that starts in wintertime there will be no problem.

When you use an on-premises environment with Nintex workflows you can solve this problem. You can use the ‘Calculate date’ action and specify that the time must be stored in ‘local time’ instead of UTC. This option isn’t available in Nintex for SharePoint Online.

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How to build an alternative to Meeting Workspaces in SharePoint 2013

| SharePoint, Workflows | 34 Comments
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34 Comments

  • Eric Harris

    Good idea here. Definitely something to consider when looking at collaboration ideas for meetings and workspaces. Its a bit much for the average user to grasp completely, but the concept is there. Thanks will have to give you a shout if I add this to a project.

  • Bob Sieloff

    Quick question….

    For the workflow step:  I’m assuming we are creating the workflow on the calendar list and that the workflow will be kicked off by creating a new calendar item with “quantity” filled out?

    The following are all variables in the workflow?: Counter, Start Time and Date and End Time and Date

    The following are Columns to add to the Calendar list?: Quantity, Title

    I’m using Nintex as well, to see inside your calendar create item step would be great.

  • Frank

    Hi Bob,

    I’ve used a site workflow. Before you start the workflow you have to fill in the variables title, quantity and start date and time on the start form.

    But I think a list workflow should be suitable too.

  • Tanja Hageman

    I love this!  One question:  is there a way to handle multiple meetings on the same day?  since the fields are linked by Start Time (Calendar) to Meeting Date (subsequent lists), I thought if I made everything Date and Time that it would work, but it currently is not…. I could be doing something wrong though…  Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  • Cynthia Fistler

    Great solution! I added a list and WP for Minutes. Is there a way to configure the Calendar list WP to allow a user to page back to previous meetings, like the option you have if you display a standard recurring meeting (Previous and Next links)?

  • Jason Wheeler

    Any way to add an attendees list that would allow you to track yes/no if the person attended, and then filter past meeting attendance? 

    We have a static list of users that are supposed to attend the meeting. I would like to have that static list for each separate meeting date, hit a drop down or check a box if they actually did attend the meeting. 

  • Frank

    Hi Jason,

    It’s possible to create a list with attendees. Example: create a list called ‘Attendees’. Add a person column for each person that is supposed to attend the meeting , a checkbox for each person and add the Start Date column. Rename the Start Date Column to Meeting Date.
    Change the workflow, so it will add an item on the Attendees list for each meeting. Change the Dashboard to connect the webparts.

  • Jason Wheeler

    Thanks for the help Frank. I’ve almost got this working, however I’m not very good with workflows. I’m using sharepoint 2010 designer, trying to figure out how to take the list of “Attendees” for the meeting (I have 8 people attending) and create the separate list items in the Attendees list. I’m assuming I have to create some kind of loop, for each of the attendees. 

    Any advice how to get this started? I appreciate the assistance, I’m liking the way this is shaping up. Once I get this final piece I should be ready to throw it into production for my team.

  • Jennifer K

    Hi all, 

    I have tried to recreate this workflow but for the life of me I can’t get the ADD TIME TO DATE function to work correctly.  It will create new list items but they all have the original date.   

    Please help.

    Thank you, 

    Jennifer

  • Amir

    Thanks Dave then is it due to my account limited rights? because my interface isn’t givin me the options that given here in the procedure. Can you please help me out with some screenshots? 

    Thanks Again

  • dave magner

    This guide seems pretty comprehensive but it does assume that you have some knowledge of how to modify out of the box lists. If you tell me which options you aren’t seeing I can provide you with some guidance on where you might find them, but I’m not going to go into a detailed explanation of the entire process until I know where your issue is. If you’re getting stuck on webpart connections then that is something that needs to be activated in Central administration.

  • Amir

    Hi Dave

    Thanks for the help. Yes im facing problems with the connection. im trying to edit the calendar and change the view in future items but when i hit the edit on calendar then the connection field is greyed out/not active?  Am i missing something over here? because i have checked agenda items etc and the connection field is just fine there … In some forums i read that calender is in unsupported list. 

  • Jennifer K

    Hi all –  does anyone have a solution for the workflow problem described above where it will not add 7 days to the original to generate a calendar list of meeting dates?  I can manually generate them but that is annoying.

    Thanks, Jennifer

  • Adrienne Andrews

    @Amir – You might check to see if the page you are using is a content type “Wiki page”.  To get the functionality you are looking for, make sure it is a “Web Part Page”.

    @Matthew McDermott – Filtering a Task list in SP 2013 has a bug so the filtering given in the instructions here won’t work unless you create a custom list.  Yay Microsoft!  🙂

  • Tami

    Hi, I made a dashboard on my page by adding two columns. In the first column I put Future Items Calendar, Agenda Items, Decisions, Documents and Tasks. For the second dashboard I put in the second column Past Items Calendar, Agenda Items, Decisions, Documents and Tasks. I connected the calendar in both to their respective web parts per the instructions. I hope that it was ok to make the dashboard this way. The directions said to link the two dashboards. I have no idea how to do this. I am fairly new to SharePoint using Office 365. Would someone be able to tell me how to link the two dashboards? Or if I even did the dashboard right? Thank you for your help. I have attached a screenshot of what I have done.

    • David Crighton

      I like your idea of having the future and past dashboards on the same page. Since the author created two different pages, I believe they were just suggesting that we create a link on one page to the other page. you obviously can skip that step since you have both on the same page.

  • Carl Frank

    Frank,  Great piece, but question for you…  The workflow you have in here is designed in SPD as a 2013 workflow.  Could you (or anyone else who has been working with this solution on this thread) give me some direction in creating the loop using SharePoint 2010 workflow?  The client I am trying to implement this with is not running 2013 Workflow manager. They may be going to Nintex at some point in the future and don’t want to go through the exercise of standing up WFM.  Thanks!

       

  • Evans Conforti

    @Frank or anyone
    Can you explain the Workflow in more detail?
    Specifically the variables, parameters and the “Create item in calendar” section. Trying to understand this section; I got you need to create:
    Variable:
    Counter = Type: Number
    Then you need to create:
    Parameters:
    Quantity = Type: Number, Default Value: 0 (?)
    Title = Type: Single line of Text, Default Value: BLANK (?)
    Start date and time = Type: Date and Time, Default Value: Today’s Date (?), Allow blank values: Unchecked, Display format: Date and Time
    End date and time = Type: Date and Time, Default Value: Today’s Date (?), Allow blank values: Unchecked, Display format: Date and Time
    The following variables get created automatically:
    create = Type: Guid
    calc = Type: Number
    Now with the “Create item in calendar” section:
    List = Calendar (?)
    Title = Field: Title (?), To this value: Calendar:Title (?)
    Start Time = Field: Start Time (?), To this value: Calendar:Start Time (?)
    End Time = Field: End Time (?), To this value: Calendar:End Time (?)
    Do we need to add other fields?

    • Null Data

      Now with the “Create item in calendar” section:
      List = Calendar – use the Form Parameter Values you created in the previous step….
      Title = Field: Title | Parameter: Title
      Start Time = Field: Start Time | Parameter: Start date and time
      End Time = Field: End Time | Parameter: End date and time
      Do we need to add other fields? | I don’t think so.

  • Ahmad

    Hi Frank, is it possible to sync meetings and tasks with outlook to appear in outlook calendar and task list?
    and sync outlook meetings and tasks to the system?

  • Vijay SIngh

    We are looking to migrate all our SP 2010 Meeting sites to O365. This OOTB seems like a good option.Anyone has tried Meegaan Meeting workspace app for Office 365 .Appreciate any feedback from anyone who is using this app.