SharePlus Pro v3 Review


SharePlus Pro is available for both iPhone and iPad and costs AU $20.99 or US $19.99. At the time of writing this review (9 April 2012) the application is at version 3.0 and is a 19 MB download.

The application has primarily been used with an Office 365 site but I also connected to a SharePoint 2007 site. The review is based on v3.0.15 and is has been carried out on an iPad 2 running iOS 5.1.

SharePlus Pro v3

SharePlus Pro v3

I’ve completed a review of the Lite version before so will not cover off basics that are within that article. Instead, this will focus on improvements that have been made available in v3 and the Pro features that are not available within the Lite version.

SharePlus Pro First Use

SharePlus Pro First Use

The settings for the application can be accessed by tapping on the cog in the bottom left area of the application. The Pro version has a larger range of settings than the Lite:

SharePlus Pro Settings

SharePlus Pro Settings

The Pro version offers a new Passcode Lock facility that can be switched on. With this active, you must enter the Passcode to unlock the application every time you switch away from it.

Whilst I understand the concept of providing options to disable the Auto-Lock feature, I’m not sure that this benefits the security aspects of the feature. If a user chooses to enable some of these features they are in my eyes leaving content on the device open to compromise.

For me personally, I would prefer not to see an option to disable Auto-Lock. I much prefer the Colligo Briefcase implementation of changing the timeframe that any lock will occur in. I would also like to see this application adopt a similar security feature like Colligo Briefcase that will result in the application data being wiped if the passcode is entered incorrectly too many times.

Tapping on the Help section provides access to another screen where there is information that outlines the new features, how to work offline with this application and how to edit offline:

SharePlus Pro Help

SharePlus Pro Help

Tapping on FAQ switches to Safari and loads http://southlabs.com/shareplus-faq.aspx

Not shown above is a Feedback & feature request (creates email) and About Us which brings up information on the version and details about Infragistics.

Tapping on Advanced Settings shows further configuration options:

SharePlus Pro Advanced Settings

SharePlus Pro Advanced Settings

You cannot change the User-Agent. Tapping this field will show more information. In my instance this was: “SharePlus 3.0 (iPad; iPhone OS 5.1; en_AU)”

Tapping on the SSL Level, you can change the value from the default of Negotiated to:

  • TLS v1
  • TLS v2
  • TLS v3
  • None

You have the option to amend the Idle Time value before a Sync will stop and you have the option to switch on  a Technical Log which will be visible in the Local Files area.

Adding a site is straightforward: Tap the + symbol in the top left then enter the name and URL of the site. Select the authentication method and if required, configure the account.

SharePlus Pro Add Site

SharePlus Pro Add Site

A new feature of this release is the option to Test Connection as shown above. I’m not sure why, but this option disappears based on the authentication mode selected. If I choose Office 365 or Web Login, this option disappears when I believe it should remain present – it can still be used to verify that the site URL is valid.

When a site has been added, you can tap and hold on it to reveal options:

SharePlus Pro Site Options

SharePlus Pro Site Options

  • Edit settings will allow you to amend settings for the configured connection
  • Clear Credentials Cache will clear any stored login information and will force an authentication request (for Office 365) the next time you access the site
  • View in Web will display the site within the SharePlus Pro application but use Mobile Safari to render the site
SharePlus Pro View in Web

SharePlus Pro View in Web

New v3 Features

The key features that are promoted for the Pro version are:

Content Management

SharePlus Pro supports the addition, edit and removal of items within a site. Within the example below, there are two items that have been edited and one marked for deletion:

SharePlus Pro Content With Changes

SharePlus Pro Content With Changes

There is an indicator in the bottom right hand corner that shows all changes. Tapping on this, you can access a screen showing all the changes:

SharePlus Pro All Pending Changes

SharePlus Pro All Pending Changes

From this area, you can view details of the updates, further edit the item or remove the update so that it is not written back to the site.

The v3 version of the application also introduces a Rich Text Editor that can be used to edit content.

SharePlus Pro Rich Text Editor

SharePlus Pro Rich Text Editor

In the controls at the bottom (excluding the obvious):

  • F can be used to select from a number of Fonts including Arial, Courier, Helvetica, Times New Roman and Verdana
  • The area shown as A 3 A above allow you to decrease and increase selected text size by tapping on the letter. The left A decrease the size (and number) and the right A increases (to a maximum of 7)
  • The image icon allows you to either Take Photo, insert from Photo Albums or insert from Local Files

In the top right corner, there is option to tap and select an HTML view of the content. Within this feature there is only the option to insert a photo which doesn’t appear to work as well as that in the Rich Text Editor:

SharePlus Pro Editor Insert Photo

SharePlus Pro Editor Insert Photo

Document Management

SharePlus Pro supports check in/check out and also approve/reject functionality if enabled within the site. Content can also be edited within the application using the View in Web feature (subject to site permissions and availability of Office Web Apps).

Tap and hold on the content icon and you will be presented with one menu of options:

SharePlus Pro Tap On Icon

SharePlus Pro Tap On Icon

Tap and hold on the other area for the item of content, you will receive a different menu of options:

SharePlus Pro Tap On Item

SharePlus Pro Tap On Item

This took a little getting used to but once you know there are different menus based on where you tap it is better. Ideally, I’d like to see one tap result in an aggregated menu of options but this may not be possible with the size of the menu.

On occasion when working in Airplane mode, I ran into a few issues with opening content. For a large number of items I got the issue below even though I had set content for background sync:

SharePlus Pro Offline Error Opening Document

SharePlus Pro Offline Error Opening Document

The work around this issue was to go back online and access each item of content then go offline again.

Email Support

V3 introduces support for email file types so that they can be opened within the application:

SharePlus Pro Email

SharePlus Pro Email

Opening an email you can see the details of the email. Any attachments can be viewed by tapping on the link.

Tapping the arrow at the top left presents a number of options:

  • Copy URL
  • Email URL
  • Email Document
  • Copy to Local Files
  • Print
  • Reply
  • Reply All
  • Forward

Tapping Edit results in an error as the application does not have the ability to edit this type of content:

SharePlus Pro Email Error

SharePlus Pro Email Error

Automatic Sync and Offline Support

There is no offline support in the Lite version so you could only use that version of the application if you have an internet connection. The Pro version enables synchronisation to make content available offline e.g. when on a plane.

Unlike Colligo Briefcase, this option appears to be off by default and there is no option provided to enable as part of a site setup. Once the site has been setup, I needed to go through each list and library and configure individually.

SharePlus Pro List Setting

SharePlus Pro List Setting

Turning Offline Support on for the list, you then have configuration options:

SharePlus Pro List Settings

SharePlus Pro List Settings

Sync Mode can be set to either:

  • Browsed – Sync only what has been looked at online
  • Background – Sync all content as a background process

Only WiFi allows you to control any data transfer so it only happens via Wi-Fi to avoid any large data bills.

The list of features and options here is great; however, I personally found it frustrating that there is no default for the Sync Mode or Sync List View. Without these being set, the user will see two errors that I feel would not be necessary if say Mode defaulted to Browsed and List View defaulted to All Documents in the case of a Document Library.

SharePlus Pro Sync Mode Error

SharePlus Pro Sync Mode Error

SharePlus Pro List View Error

SharePlus Pro List View Error

I would personally prefer a default set for these fields to avoid presenting an error.

It doesn’t appear possible to make an entire site available offline in one go, the option only appears to exist at a list or library level. I would like to see an option where settings can be applied quickly to a number of lists and libraries.

Media Recording

A new feature of v3 is Media Recording. Within Local Files, you can capture new audio, photo or video or add from existing Photo Albums on the device:

SharePlus Pro Media

SharePlus Pro Media

Tapping Record Audio will bring up the option to start recording audio as shown below:

SharePlus Pro Record Audio

SharePlus Pro Record Audio

The gray line appears to indicate volume for the recording. There are options to pause and stop recording along with the ability to playback after stopping. If the recording is saved, it is stored in Local Files in the Core Audio Format (.caf)

Security

This area of the application has seen some improvements over the previous version and incorporates the fix to ensure that a user cannot login with cached credentials or access cached information.

As detailed above, the Passcode Lock feature has been introduced. All data stored locally on the iOS device is also encrypted using Apple’s Data Protection guidelines.

Some other features that are available include the ability to Clear Credentials Cache:

SharePlus Pro Clear Credentials

SharePlus Pro Clear Credentials

There is also the feature to select what information is removed when a site is deleted:

SharePlus Pro Delete Site

SharePlus Pro Delete Site

And there are prompts when you delete an account:

SharePlus Pro Account Deletion

SharePlus Pro Account Deletion

Wi-Fi Sharing

This feature can be used by tapping on the Wi-Fi icon at the bottom of the screen. Use the slider to switch the feature on and off. Tapping Close in the top right corner will close this feature and switch off the File Sharing:

SharePlus Wi-Fi Sharing

SharePlus Wi-Fi Sharing

The port number generated is random and changes as the feature is activated and deactivated.

Browsing the URL that becomes active, you can view a web page of the local content on the iOS device running SharePlus Wi-Fi Sharing:

SharePlus Wi-Fi Sharing Browser

SharePlus Wi-Fi Sharing Browser

As shown above, in addition to downloading files that are on the iOS device, it is possible to choose a file to upload into SharePlus.

The website becomes inactive if you switch applications or if the iPad is locked. When you reopen the application, this feature is off which is great from a security perspective.

Local Files Management

This feature allows you to work on items that have either been moved/copied from a SharePoint site so that they are local on the device or have been added to the device via the Wi-Fi feature shown above.

SharePlus Pro Local Files

SharePlus Pro Local Files

The above screen shows the options available after tapping on Edit. You can tap next to an item to select them and the Open button at the bottom can then be used to view in a browser (tabbed if multiple selected).

Select All/Deselect All is self-explanatory as is Delete.

Move will only be available when you have a folder created within the Local Files area.

Compress allows you to produce a zip file of the selected files. The application appears to support zip files natively and will prompt to confirm extraction. Files extracted from a zip will be placed in a folder based on the name of the zip file.

Verdict

An extremely good client with a large amount of features and functionality. Part of the reason this review took longer than usual to complete is looking into these features to provide a thorough and hopefully informative review.

The application still has some areas that could be improved in my opinion; mainly refinements to improve user experience. I would anticipate that these will be addressed as Infragistics iterate through application development.

I would certainly recommend other people purchasing this application. I bought this myself last year and have been very impressed with it. In my opinion it is money well spent for an iOS App!

Pros

  • A large amount of features for the price
  • Integration with Office Web Apps for editing and using web to view content
  • Security improvements over previous version
  • Offline capabilities
  • Support for email
  • Local file management, sharing via Wi-Fi and compression support

Cons

  • I would prefer to see the option to turn off auto lock removed to improve security and be on a par with Colligo Briefcase
  • I would like to see improvements in the way that settings are applied for offline sync
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About enigmaticit

Husband, father and acting IT Systems Analyst with keen interest in SharePoint, Lync 2010 and iOS.

Posted on 14/04/2012, in iOS, iPad, iPhone, SharePlus, SharePoint and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Hi,

    I just read your article. The app looks very nice. I already tried Briefcase Pro and I’m not sure which app to use.

    Are you also able to select which lists to sync? For example, I’m not interested in ‘Site Pages’ lists, etc.

    And, in Briefcase Pro I have to login to the Office 365 SharePoint authentication screen for the different sites. The app don’t remember my login info. Does this app has the same problem?

    • Hi Marco,

      Thanks for the feedback.

      Both apps allow you to control which lists sync. Colligo goes a step further and doesn’t display the lists that you chose not to sync and I personally prefer this feature.

      If you are working with Office 365 I don’t think you will get away from the credentials issue. In my experience, both will prompt you to log in regardless of stored credentials.

      Whilst this can seem like a pain, I believe it is a security measure and don’t personally feel it is that onerous.

      Chris

      • Hi Chris,

        Thanks for your reply! Your answers are clear to me.

        The big con regarding Briefcase Pro is that you’re not able to edit list items. But I do like the clean lay-out. I’m still not sure which app to buy and use… I’ll keep you informed.

        Marco.

  2. Hi Chris and Marco,
    Just a quick update that we’ve now released Colligo Briefcase Pro 2.0 with two-way SharePoint sync and the ability to edit standard and custom lists. Check it out on the App Store!

    Randy

  1. Pingback: [EN] SharePlus Pro v3 Review | SharePointSocial

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