Updated Sims Photo Export Utility–Filter Staff by Surname

December 15th, 2014 Richard No comments

I’ve just added the ability to filter staff by surname in our free PhotoExport utility for Sims.

The reason was because a user was getting an out of memory exception loading all the staff photos at once. The Sims API we are using loads all the photos into memory before we can save them, so if they are large then it can take a huge amount of memory.

Now, with the surname filter, you can export them by initial letter of the surname, which will hopefully keep the memory usage low enough to complete. If there are any particularly large photos, you can even filter by more than one letter, but I would start with one and then refine if you hit any further problems.

Usage PhotoExport username password outputFolder [/staff] [/year:x] [/nameAsId] [/format:xxx] [/names:filename] [/thumbnail] [/filter:xxx]


/filter:surname An optional parameter which if present will filter staff based on their surname. You can either type the start of the surname or a T-SQL filter
e.g. /filter:j will only export photos for staff whose surname begins with j
e.g. /filter:j%s will only export photos for staff whose surname begins with j and also has an s in it. Note in this case. the s can be anywhere after the j and not necessarily at the end of the name.

Categories: Free Utility, Sims Tags: ,

Send Reminder Emails with SLK 1.6 and above

November 23rd, 2014 Richard No comments

SLK has the built in ability to send reminder emails to learners for assignments, but, there is no built in a way to run this. However, there is a sample project in SLK\Samples\ReminderEmails which will run the functionality. The usage of this is

ReminderEmails.exe <site collection url>

This will then send reminder emails for a site collection using the email settings in slksettings.xml. This is implemented as a console project so needs to run on one of your SharePoint servers and you’ll need to schedule it using Task Scheduler or similar.

I have compiled this for SharePoint 2007, 2010 and 2013 at http://www.salamandersoft.co.uk/downloads/SlkReminderEmails.zip.

The default emails settings of SlkSettings are:

  <EmailSettings ReminderDays="1,7" EmailOnSubmitOff="true">
      <NewAssignment Subject="New Assignment: %title%">
          <slk:Body xmlns=""><p>You have been assigned a new piece of work: <strong>%title%</strong>.</p>
<p><a href=’%url%’>%url%</a></p></slk:Body>
      <CancelAssignment Subject="Assignment Cancelled: %title%">
          <slk:Body xmlns=""><p>Assignment <strong>%title%</strong> has been cancelled.</p></slk:Body>

The ReminderDays attribute controls when the reminders are sent. They are sent those number of days before the assignment is due. So if you wanted an email on every day for the 3 days preceding the assignment it would be ReminderDays="1,2,3".

You can also have a AssignmentReminder section to set the subject and body of the email as in NewAssignment and CancelAssignment above. Otherwise the default email settings will be used which are

    Assignment Reminder : %title%
  <p>Assignment <strong>%title%</strong> is due on %due%.</p>
<p><a href=’%url%’>%url%</a></p>

For anyone interested the code in the console application is very simple, it literally just calls the ReminderEmails object within the SLK project.

        public static void Main(string[] arguments)
            if (arguments == null || arguments.Length == 0 || string.IsNullOrEmpty(arguments[0]))
                Console.WriteLine("You must pass a url of a site collection.");
                    ReminderEmails reminder = new ReminderEmails();
                catch (Exception e)

It would be pretty easy to convert this to a SharePoint timer job.

Categories: SLK Tags: , , ,

SharePoint Connect 2014 and SharePoint Saturday UK

November 17th, 2014 Richard No comments

This month I’m going to be at a couple of conferences: SharePoint Connect 2014 and SharePoint Saturday UK. If anyone else is going I’d love to meet up and discuss SharePoint, SharePoint Learning Kit and anything else we do.

The SharePoint Connect conference is in Amsterdam on 18-20 November. Due to flights I’ll be here all week.

SharePoint Saturday is a community run conference as is on the 29 November at Hinckley Island Hotel near Leicester and is free so there’s no excuse for not going!

Categories: SLK, SharePoint Tags: ,

SLK 1.7.1 Released

November 10th, 2014 Richard No comments

A bug fix release for SLK 1.7. The zip file contains versions for SharePoint 2007, 2010 and 2013.

Changes include:

  • Handle @ in a user name for drop boxes
  • Handle css for SCORM packages in SharePoint 2013
  • Fix for SharePoint 2007 solution package containing incorrect element files
  • Added and fixed some mime-types in slksettings.xml
  • Allow frameset to run in non-compatibility view in Internet Explorer
  • Prevent script injection in ALWP frameset

This is a recommended upgrade, especially if using SCORM packages in SharePoint 2013.

You can download from https://slk.codeplex.com/releases/view/137537.

This is intended to be the last release for 1.7. All future functionality will go into SLK 1.8. I already have customers running on that, so it’s just a case of deciding when to call it a day adding features to it.

Categories: SLK Tags: ,

SLK 1.8 – Option to automatically check email learners box when creating new assignments

November 6th, 2014 Richard No comments

In SLK when creating an assignment there is an option to send emails to users about assignments. The option is a check box on the assignment properties page labelled “Email learners on creation or when changed”.


Following on from my last change about turning off emails to instructors on submitting, I’ve now added an option to automatically check the box for new assignments.

To turn on the setting, you need to add DefaultEmailingOn="true" to the Email setting in SlkSettings.xml as in:


By default this is set to false, so the current behaviour will continue, i.e. the checkbox will not be selected.

This is now available in the latest release of SLK 1.8 – which is considered to be Beta currently.

Categories: SLK Tags: ,

SLK 1.8–Option to turn off emails to Instructor when Learners submit

October 10th, 2014 Richard 2 comments

In SLK when creating an assignment there is an option to send emails to users about assignments. The option is a check box on the assignment properties page labelled “Email learners on creation or when changed”.



If the check box is selected then emails are sent:

  1. To learners when an assignment is created.
  2. To learners if they have been added to an assignment.
  3. To learners if they have been removed from an assignment.
  4. To learners if an assignment is deleted.
  5. To learners when as assignment is collected, reactivated or returned.
  6. To instructors when a learner submits an assignment.

This allows everyone to be kept informed about work they have been set, without having to go to a page in SharePoint with the Assignment List Web Part (ALWP) on.

Although the text only states learners, it does also email instructors about submissions. However, this means instructors can receive lots of emails telling them that learners have submitted an assignment. They are the people who are most likely to go and look at the ALWP to track the progress of their assignments. Ideally there should be a way to turn off emails to instructors.

I now added an option for this. Rather than add another option on the properties page, I’ve added a global settings when will turn off all emails on submission. I decided on a global setting to avoid cluttering up the properties page and to avoid adding any user training about a new user available option. It also likely that the majority of environments will want it on or off for everybody.

To turn on the setting, you need to add EmailOnSubmitOff="true" to the Email setting in SlkSettings.xml as in:


By default this is set to false, so the current behaviour will continue, i.e. if Email learners is checked in the assignment properties, then submissions will be emailed to the instructor.

This is now available in the latest release of SLK 1.8 – which is considered to be Beta currently.

Categories: SLK Tags: ,

Sims Accreditation 2014 – 2015

July 16th, 2014 Richard No comments


We are pleased to announce that we have passed our Sims Technical Accreditation for 2014-2015. This covers Read and Write access to Sims.

From the Capita web site at http://www.capita-sims.co.uk/accreditation:

SIMS Accreditation is an annual review of how a partner application interfaces with Capita SIMS products and we validate these methods as supportable.

Once the detail has been submitted, it is reviewed by our Partner Development Support Team and approved or referred as applicable. Partners will be required to complete this process annually to maintain the most recent Accreditation status which will be published below.

Categories: Sims Tags:

SalamanderSoft is Hiring!

July 1st, 2014 Richard No comments

Support Consultant, Home Based, £18,000 – £35,000 Dependent on Experience

Who are we?

We (SalamanderSoft) are a small, but dynamic, team dedicated to providing first class products and services to the Education Sector. Through our integration products for school systems, we help our customers to connect up their on-site and off-site systems in exactly the way they need to support teaching and learning and school administration.

As our customer base is growing, we are looking for an experienced Network Technician/Manager to help us maintain our level of support to our new and existing customers.

We also give back to the community by developing the SharePoint Learning Kit and a number of free utilities for schools.

What we need you to do
You will be joining the team to help us remotely install and support our range of products into Schools.

The main products you will be working with are our range of integration products, linking School MIS to Active Directory, SharePoint and other systems.

Our work is conducted from our own homes, although some occasional travel and hotel stay may be needed to allow us to meet as a team and best support our customers.

What we will do for you

5 weeks paid holiday per year plus bank holidays
Flexibility in working hours when required, although our customers’ needs have to come first
The opportunity to get rid of your daily commute
Expenses paid on any business travel
Support you in improving your current skills and to work with and develop new ones
The opportunity to attend some conferences/events/training during the year
Paid Certification attempts

Who we are looking for

Someone with great technical skills who loves helping customers and solving problems. We’re not finished with a job until the customer is happy. You are the sort of person who will see something wrong and fix it before it is raised as an issue. This is very much a customer focussed role, and regular customer contact via Phone/Skype and email will be essential.

Although you will need to be able to work independently and with little supervision, the team is always in contact via Lync, Yammer, email and phone. However, home working isn’t for everyone, some need the face-to-face contact an office gives!

With technology being such as fast moving field, we would expect you to have a thirst for knowledge and be keen to improve your skills, with a proven track record of doing so.

Although we will provide all the equipment and software that you need to do your job, you will need a suitable area for working in your home, a broadband connection and probably a kettle.

Now the boring bit

Key Skills we are looking for:
Expertise and Experience maintaining Active Directory, preferably in a School Environment
Experience with scripting Active Directory
Experience with Basic SQL Server Queries

It would be great if you had – but don’t worry if you haven’t:

Knowledge and experience of Sims.Net/Facility CMIS or other School MIS systems
Scripting Experience
One or more Microsoft Certifications
Experience working with Excel or other products for analysing data
Experience with SharePoint in an education environment
Experience with Office 365 Administration
Some experience of managing IT projects

Next Steps

If you are interested in joining our team, please write to us at jon@salamandersoft.co.uk with anything you want to support your application. Links to social media and community involvement would be great as well. Noting where you saw the ad would be helpful to us.

Although we are looking to hire ASAP, the role will remain open until we have found the right person.

Categories: Jobs Tags:

SLK 1.7 Finally Released

February 12th, 2014 Richard 12 comments

I’ve finally got round to releasing SharePoint Learning Kit 1.7. There’s lots of changes, but the biggest, and most anticipated one is support for SharePoint 2013. This release support SharePoint 2007, 2010 and 2013, for both the free and server versions.

You can download from CodePlex.

Install documentation includes instructions for all 3 versions above, but in general documentation is lacking. Best source of information for new features is my blog

The main changes are:

Support for SharePoint 2013
Many bug fixes
Web Part to play resources directly
Quick Assign – Allow upload resource as part of creating assignment
Allow use of multi-lingual interface
Localization of queries
Welsh translation and new localization build process
Instructors have read access to non-elearning assignment documents before submission
Pluggable architecture for Domain Group Enumerator (for programmers extending SLK)
SLK Members web part
Support for claims based authentication for observer and drop box
Office Web Apps support
Self assign web part
Tool tip on learner on assignment properties page
Site column in ALWP is clickable link
Setting option to automatically version document libraries
Add delegate controls to application pages
SLK stsadm commands instead of slkadm
Configure at web application level as well as site collection

Ribbon Controls

iPad support for Assignment List Web Part

Option to automatically select all instructors and/or learners when creating and assignment


I’ll try to blog some more information on each of these as time allows.

In addition it’s got the functionality of 1.6 in, which never made it out of beta.

Better handling of not quite fully compliant SCORM content
Textual grading as well as numeric (optional) e.g. ABC type grades
Quick assignment type. That is assignments not based on a document. This should make it much easier to use for a homework diary, especially if the assignment is along the lines of "Read chapters 1 & 2 of book y."
Email alerts

Categories: SLK Tags: ,

SLK 1.7 – Option to automatically select all instructors and/or learners when creating and assignment

February 12th, 2014 Richard No comments

I’ve just added 2 options to SLK settings to enable automatically selecting all instructors or learners when creating a new assignment. The options are:

  • SelectAllInstructors
  • SelectAllLearners
  • The valid values are true, false or not present e.g.


would automatically select all instructors, but not learners to give you



This is a global setting, so will affect all new assignments linked to the SLK database.

To enable this on an existing installation, you will need to upgrade SLK, then in Central Admin, go to Application Management | Configure SharePoint Learning Kit. Then choose your site collection, download the current SlkSettings file, modify it to put the new attributes in, and then upload the new (modified) file.

Categories: SLK Tags: ,