This idea came to me after attending the HTML 5 Boot camp in Ottawa back in April 2011. The boot camp introduced me to a new concept in Internet Explorer 9, called Pinned Sites. Basically, this feature allows web developers to build web sites that can interact with the Desktop when users pin the site to their taskbar. Sites can be pinned in Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 by dragging the site’s tab from internet explorer down onto the taskbar. You can read more about pinned site on the following MSDN site:
Controlling the behavior of the pinned sites is really easy to do from any html page. However it gets a little trickier when doing from inside of SharePoint. For example, one needs to modify the Master Page’s <head> section to be able to specify a custom color for the Navigation buttons (back and forward arrows). Note however, that if you site is using a custom Favorite Icon (favicon.ico, normally located at http://<server>/_layouts/images/favicon.ico), the navigation button will adjust their colors to match the icon’s.
Back in early June, while chatting with Todd Klindt (@ToddKlindt) during one of his “world-famous” Netcasts, he asked the chat room if anybody had any suggestions on how he could make his blog more attractive and user friendly. One of my suggestions to him was to leverage the pinned site’s features of IE. Todd had a couple of key blog posts he wanted to promote, so Jump Lists inside of a Pinned Site would work perfectly.
I then decided to venture on my own, and developed a very simple sandboxed web part that would allow non-developers folks, like Todd, to easily leverage some of the Pinned Site functionality. The web part allows users to specify a Category for their Jump List, and to enter up to 5 items in it. The following Blog post describes how to deploy and use the custom web part. Since my web part is Sandboxed, you can simply upload it in the Site Collection’s Solution Gallery and have it activated from there.
By activating the solution on your site, you will automatically get a new web part named “Pinned Site Generator”.
Simply drag and drop it onto the page you want users to pin to their desktop. Once the web part is placed on a page, go edit its properties. Under the Miscellaneous header, you will find 11 custom properties that you can fill in. The very first one is the Category Name. This is a required field if you want your jumplist to be visible at all from your pinned site. This value will show up as the heading to your list. Logical values for this field could be anything like “Articles, Sections, News, etc”. The other fields are paired together, and they include a place to specify the name of the item, and the url it will point to. If we take back the example stated above, where Todd is looking to promote specific Blog articles, then the name of the item could be “Loopback Check”, and the url value would point to Todd’s blog post at: http://toddklindt.com/loopback .
Assuming the values entered above, here is what the final result of the pinned site’s jumplist will look like:
The solution (.wsp) is available to download from my company’s Office 365 site at the following location:
Now, I’m sure you guys will agree with me, the value added by creating pinned sites isn’t that great, but you can be sure that the next version of IE will continue to build and improve on this front. So please, don’t be pinless, and start creating dynamic Pinned SharePoint sites.