I am Blog Summary (And NO You Can’t)

Blog summaries are fairly standard across the web. A paragraph with three periods and people can click the link or title to get to the full blog post is, for the most part, the norm in my experience looking at other people’s blogs. So how do you do it in the Office 365 public site blogging app? The short answer is you don’t without custom JSLink files or some major editing; I’ll be submitting another ticket listing this as a bug and updating this post with the responses. So here is my adventure in blog summary attempts…
Update 08/29/2013: Apparently the work around I detailed in this article is the official solution from the Microsoft. There also is apparently enough of an uproar from folks that they may be changing this in the future.

Attempt 1:

    I went to the page with my posts; and clicked on the “Page” tab with the toolbar section. Then I clicked “Edit Page”

This brings up all the Web Parts on this page. I then selected the “Posts” web part and clicked “Edit Web Part”.

This brought me to a handy tool with seemingly what I wanted to do. The current selected view was listed as default; so looking through the views there was a magical “<Summary View”>. I Changed the view to “<Summary View>” I then clicked apply and checked out the page.

Looking at my posts in the new “<Summary View>” I realized very quickly that the net affect was zero. The entire body of my blog post was still there. “<Summary View>” in the Blog app what is it good for? Absolutely nothing…say it again!

Attempt 2:

At this point I could throw up my hands and quit; but I’m scrappy and I really want a summary view. So I just kept plugging away at it. The next thing I tried was adding a new field to the list; I figured that ok if the “<Summary View>” view was broken; I’ll change it back to the “All Posts” view; add a new bit of text in there that is my first paragraph and hide the body.

So I headed back to my “All Posts” section and clicked on the main window in the “Posts” area. This brings up the “Item/List” area; I then selected “List” and “List Settings”

About half way down the page you’ll find an area to create a column.

So I created a Summary column and added it to the default view; then I clicked “Ok”

This brought me back to the settings screen. So I scrolled on down to the bottom to edit the “All Posts” view which is my default view.

Ok the last step was to remove the body; then add the summary to the existing view.

I’m excited at this point; surely this must have worked! Nope…after going in to a post or 2 and adding in some summary information view the “Manage Posts” -> “Edit” interface. Nothing; the only thing this ended up doing was removing the body which I thought was super awesome. Apparently you can remove any of the default items; but unfortunately can’t add anything into where they used to be; neat feature: ) . At this point I am a little frustrated; I have learned about some cool features in SharePoint 2013 and Office 365 but nothing is resolved; still no summary view.

So I think to myself; “This is you; you just are not getting something”. So; it’s time to open a ticket. After two days of back and forth with the Microsoft Representative; no resolution. He suggested that I alter the current view or make a duplicate of that view and use that as the default. I went through this but it brings out some default SharePoint behavior with lists; disables some of the features I like (such as basic, boxed etc.). So what are my options?

Include the full body?

    This would be fine but, the comments social plug in is not present when getting to the bottom of reading an article. I assume someone at some time will want to comment (at least I hope so). This is just bad UX design.

Eliminate the body?

Just the title and posting date etc.? No thank you; there is not enough information to get a person interested in the article and well…it looks like more of an archive.

Eliminate the body and use the title for your summary?

I can’t control the fonts; so the title is massive. I attempted to edit from word and from the site itself; no dice. Again; ugly and bad UX.

Don’t blog with your public site?

It’s an option but I like the other features in Office 365; I’m guessing this is an open ticket and “enhancement” request already present. If it’s not I’m going to make one and see about a fix.

The giant painful work around…..

So instead of throwing in the towel I decided there must be some workaround I can implement, right? So here is what I came up with:

Go back into the “Posts ->Settings” for the view again; edit your new Summary field to be numeric and a maximum value of 2.

Go back to the “All Posts” section; go to “Lists” and click on “Modify View”

Go down to the “Filters” section and add an “And” Filter; set it to Summary not equal to 0.

Now here is the catch; for each blog you post you actually need two blogs. One is the main blog post; with a “Summary” value equal to 0. The second blog post should have the same title and a paragraph from the main blog post as a hyperlink. The summary blog post needs to have a value of 1 or 2. Why two? It is possible that you will have a blog post that is one paragraph; so a value of 2 indicates it is both a blog summary and a full post. It will appear in your “All Posts” section and what we are about to get to which is the archive section.

Go to the page https://yoursite-public.sharepoint.com/Pages/Posts.aspx . Then go into the Edit view; the same as before and change it to the inverse of the first one you setup. I also took the opportunity here to remove the body from the view. Since I am treating this as my archive and not the standard Archive by month in Office 365. I also changed the “Number of items to display in list view web part for this view:” to 99.

At this point you have a Posts or Recent Posts page with your top 3 summary blogs and a body that is a link to the main blog post. The “/Posts.aspx” section now shows only the full blogs; with the body eliminated. Let’s be clear; this is a hack and not a great one. I lose some functionality; like the “Title” linking to the summary blog and not the main blog. Searches now have twice as many results; the summary and the full blog. The “Archive” section has a limit of 99 items; so in a year or two if I blog to much the archive will no longer show it and time is being wasted creating two blog posts…

It does what I need for now and hopefully MS will have a resolution when I send this blog over to them, I’ll update this as soon as I hear from them!

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