Harvey Balls Redux – Display Templates for Site Columns by Dave Paylor

It may surprise you to know that one of my most popular blog posts has nothing to do with SharePoint, knowledge management, performance improvement, jQuery, client side coding, SPServices, or anything else you might expect. It’s one I wrote years ago (June 17, 2009, to be exact) called Harvey Balls for Office Documents. I though it was a throwaway post at the time, but it’s number 11 on the hit parade.

Title Views
Adding Script into a Content Editor Web Part (CEWP) in SharePoint 2010 32,547
Microsoft Excel Error: “There was a problem sending the command to the program.” 25,816
Adding jQuery+SPServices to a SharePoint Page: Step One, Always 23,973
Displaying Links Lists’ URLs in a Content Query Web Part (CQWP) in SharePoint 2010 22,971
Populating a SharePoint List Form with the Current User Information 20,789
Showing All Versions of “Append Changes to Existing Text” in a Data View Web Part (DVWP) 19,502
Using a DataSource in a Data View Web Part (DVWP) in a Different Site in SharePoint Designer 2010 18,904
The SharePoint 2010 “List View Lookup Threshold” and Why We Don’t Change It 18,848
Active Directory Groups vs. SharePoint Groups for User Management: A Dilemma 17,169
Working with SharePoint People Pickers with jQuery: A New Function Called findPeoplePicker 15,742
Harvey Balls for Office Documents 15,574

Harvey Balls are something that you probably have run across in one place or another. They can be used to give information about where something ranks or how far something has progressed at a glance. Consumer Reports magazine (and subsequently their Web site ConsumerReports.org) here in the US has used them for decades to rank products.

Here’s an undated example I found out on the Web:

Consumer Reports Harvey Balls

Dave Paylor (@DaveAtOBS) and I were talking at the Auckland airport after the New Zealand SharePoint Conference (an awesome conference – don’t miss it next year!) and somehow the topic of Harvey Balls came up.

Dave took our conversation as a challenge. He went home and came up with a Display Template for a SharePoint Site Column that will display that Site Column as Harvey Balls. Take a look at Dave’s post Display Templates for Site Columns – Harvey Balls.

This is an excellent example of the power of Display Templates. In the past, we would have had to deploy server-side code to create a new Field Type. I’ve seen very few people actually do that, probably because it was a relatively invasive project. Display Templates are something that can be added to a Site Collection by someone who knows JavaScript using SharePoint Designer. It’s not a non-developer task, but it’s doable by a lot of citizen developers out there.

Unfortunately, attaching the Display Template to a Site Column requires PowerShell. Dave’s added an item to the Office Development User Voice site called JSLink on Site Columns. I’ve voted for it, and if you’d like to create similar types of goodness in your SharePoint sites, you should vote for it, too. Microsoft is really watching the suggestions on that User Voice site and acting on them. If you have any other suggestions, please make them there!


Memorable Moments from 2010…and What’s to Come in 2011

Well, what a year 2010 was, and what a year 2011 looks to be. I abhor all of this end of the year / start of the year reminiscing and promising, but here I go anyway: I thought I’d do it, too. [I started this over the holidays and then got sick and it languished as a draft. figured I’d set it free.]


2010 was quite a year for me professionally. Mainly due to the state of the economy, I had some lows and blabbed about them here and here, among other places like Twitter. Being an independent consultant running one’s own business can sometimes do that to you. There was far more upside than downside, though. Let’s focus on those high points, shall we?

USPJ Academy

In January a reprobate named Bjørn Furuknap and I started talking about his idea for an online Academy focused entirely on SharePoint. The more I heard, the more I was intrigued. I’d always wanted to try my hand at teaching somehow, and this seemed like a great way to do it. After meeting Bjørn in person at SPTechCon in SFO in February, I signed on to maybe create a course or two. I also had the pleasure of meeting Bjørn’s partner in crime, Anil Sharma, with whom Bjørn founded the Academy, through Skype (which is such a common way to “meet” people these days). That led to many more conversations, me taking on more little tasks here and there, and now I’m fully entrenched in the USPJ Academy. We even had a faculty meeting in June in Dubai where we all met in person to brainstorm about the Academy and work on the foundations.

I’ve built a set of courses focused on what I see as the three key Middle Tier SharePoint development disciplines: Data View Web Part Basics, Enhancing the User Experience with jQuery, and Introduction to the SharePoint Web Services.

The Academy has been great fun, and it’s really going well. Bjørn and Anil and the rest of the Faculty have been great to work with. We continue to be excited about what we’re doing and the feedback that we’re getting from our students.

Middle Tier

Speaking of the Middle Tier, in April, I published a white paper called The Middle Tier Manifesto: An Alternative Approach to Development with Microsoft SharePoint.  Talking about Middle Tier development has gotten me either:

  1. Opprobrium and scorn
  2. Thanks and interest

The former tends to come from purists who say that the term “middle tier” already means something else. I know that, of course; thus the capitalization to indicate a different meaning. The latter comes from people who use SharePoint and can’t figure out how to get things done using only formal .NET development. Regardless what we call it, this “other” way of developing on top of SharePoint has legs.


Some of those legs can come from using my SPServices library. My work on SPServices continued apace, and it really moved into the mainstream. In 2009, there had been a total of 2400 downloads, but in 2010 there were over 15,000. Now that’s a ramp up!

Not only were there a lot of downloads, but some of the big players in the SharePoint world started taking a look, providing feedback, and also using the library in their projects. I also see from the email domains from which I receive questions that some of the largest organizations in the world are using SPServices here and there.

It’s truly gratifying to know that SPServices is in such wide use out there. Of course, that also implies a real responsibility on my end to keep it moving forward.

Client Work

Of course, the backbone to everything was the client work I did throughout the year. As I mentioned above, there were some lean times, but in the second half of the year things really picked up. I had one long term project which lasted over six months, as well as a number of smaller projects, anything from a few hours to a few weeks. All projects teach me something (I like to learn!), and there were lots of growth opportunities in all of these projects.

This Blog

Another thing that really took off in 2010 was visits to my blog, which is yet another gratifying thing. When I write stuff, I never know what is going to be helpful.I don’t try to titillate or blog about whatever’s hot, but to offer a little of what I’ve been learning. In fact, if I wanted to pander to the stats, I’d write a lot more posts about Harvey Balls. That’s consistently the search term which brings the most people to my blog. The nice folks at WordPress sent me a summary of the year’s activity, and I include it ant the end of this post.

SharePoint MVP

Even though it technically happened on January 1, 2011, I was awarded the 2011 Microsoft MVP Award for SharePoint based on my work in 2010. What an honor, and I truly look forward to whatever having the MVP status will bring.


Here’s what’s going to happen in 2011… Well, actually, I have no real idea, but here’s what I *hope* will happen.

  • I’d love to work on more seriously challenging client problems
  • I’d like to see USPJA really take off and become one of the gold standards for SharePoint training
  • I’d like to move SPServices forward significantly, especially to work even better with SharePoint 2010
  • I’d like to do more writing and speaking
  • I’d like to meet with and talk to even more of the great people in the SharePoint community

Thanks to all of you for a swell 2010 and here’s to an even better 2011!

My WordPress Stats for 2010

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 190,000 times in 2010. If it were an exhibit at The Louvre Museum, it would take 8 days for that many people to see it.

In 2010, there were 174 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 548 posts. There were 529 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 26mb. That’s about 1 pictures per day.

The busiest day of the year was October 12th with 1083 views. The most popular post that day was SPXSLT (SharePoint XSL Templates) Release 0.0.1.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were social.msdn.microsoft.com, endusersharepoint.com, sharepointdev.net, spservices.codeplex.com, and stackoverflow.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for harvey balls, funny comics, harvey balls powerpoint, jquery opacity ie, and harvey balls powerpoint 2007.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


SPXSLT (SharePoint XSL Templates) Release 0.0.1 October 2010


Cascading Dropdown Columns in a SharePoint Form – Part 1 July 2009


Cascading Dropdown Columns in a SharePoint Form – Part 2 July 2009


Microsoft Excel Error: “There was a problem sending the command to the program.” February 2010


jQuery Fun with Animation and Opacity July 2009

Harvey Balls for Office Documents

If you’ve been around for a while and/or you subscribe to Consumer Reports Magazine, you know what Harvey Balls are.  They are little circles with varying amounts filled in which can be used to represent a level of completeness, sophistication, match to a standard, etc.  They are a good replacement for numerical scales in many cases because they give a very quick visual cue.  Many people can scan a list with Harvey Balls and zero in on something they want faster than they can with numeric representations.


Today I wanted to put some Harvey Balls into a PowerPoint presentation, so I Binged “Office 2007 Harvey Balls” and found that a kind soul named Alastair Bor had created a Harvey Ball font for use with Office.  Having built these little beasties from scratch a few times over the years, I was very glad to have such a simple solution, so I thought I’d share it.  By formatting the numbers 0-9 with the Harvey Ball font, you get the nice Harvey Balls above.


Want to see how you can show Harvey Balls using a Display Template in SharePoint 2013? See my post Harvey Balls Redux – Display Templates for Site Columns by Dave Paylor.