FT more you like blog

Fasttrack Automation Studio: The more you learn the more you like!

There is more to life than Schnitzel, even if you love Schnitzel!

In my youth I spent a very enjoyable four-week holiday exploring Austria with a friend. Unable to speak any of the language, I managed to survive the first two weeks with just a single German phrase:

“Ein Wiener Schnitzel, ein Pommes und ein großes Bier, danke!”

(“One Weiner schnitzel, one chips and one large beer, thanks!”)

Schnitzel for lunch, Schnitzel for dinner, and if it were on the menu, I’d have Schnitzel for breakfast too! Schnitzel was my favourite dish and here was I, basically in Schnitzel heaven.

Then half way through the trip, we hooked up with some fellow travellers that spoke some German, and soon I was to discover that with a little language support, there was so much more to like.

So, I learnt one of life’s simple lessons:

You think you know what you like, but you can only like what you know, so the more you learn the more you can like!

I think my two-week Schnitzel-odyssey is great analogy with our Automation Studio product. Let me explain….

Most customers that come to FastTrack Software, they are a little like me with my Schnitzel tunnel-vision. They know exactly what they want, they google for it, find Automation Studio, they try it, they like it, and every year they come back for more of the very same.

Powerful Outlook Signature solution? Fantastisch!
Bullet proof Office 365 drive mapping? Wunderbar!
Lightweight software distribution solution? Sehr gut!

In all these cases, customers are ravenously hungry for specific features that address specific needs, and each time, Automation Studio perfectly satisfies their specific appetites.

But what if you are on quite a restricted budget, so you are examining several products, all of which might deliver Office 365 drive mapping? When you compare functionality & pricing between these products, Automation Studio may not be the cheapest.

How do you then justify going with Automation Studio?

Here is how.

Office 365 drive mapping, four ways!

When you purchase Automation Studio, to do that thing you want, you are not just getting ‘software Schnitzel’ but the entire restaurant menu, and if you really want to get adventurous, the entire kitchen too. Never has the term ‘throwing in the kitchen sink’ been more apt!

Let me explain this with an example.

We mentioned our MS Office 365 SharePoint / One-drive For Business connection functionality above, so I thought I would illustrate, for just these two specific commands, how with just a little extra scripting, you could cook up some tasty capability:

1) The basics: connect an Office 365 SharePoint drive

If you are trialling Automation Studio you will find our Office 365 drive mapping functionality in the Logon Script Wizard, Drive mapping section. Filling in your Office 365 parameters here will create the following line of script in your FastTrack config file ‘behind the scenes’

ConnectSharePoint S:, https://mytenantname.sharepoint.com/Shared Documents/, SharePoint Drive

Although this is called at logon, if you wanted to you could paste this same script line into a new script file in the script editor and convert this script line to an EXE (impressively small at around 2MB in size), and distribute to all of your users however you like.

They click on the file, they get mapped. Nothing to install, nothing to update. It just works. This is super raw functionality, but it’s pretty neat.

2) Smarten things up with a branded GUI splash screen

Let’s build on this a little. Perhaps we can make it a little slicker looking? O365 SharePoint drives can sometimes take a few seconds to map depending on your Internet connection, so how about we show a message branded with your company logo / name, telling the user what is going on, and to hang on in there?

Super easy:

SetUserDefaultCompanyName MyCompany
SetUserDefaultCompanyLogo LOGO\MyCompany.png
SmallSplash [UserFullName] please wait whilst we connect your SharePoint drive..
ConnectSharePoint S:, https://mytenantname.sharepoint.com/Shared Documents/, SharePoint Drive

FT Please wait

 

So that’s a cool thing to easily add.

3) Automatically backup only certain types of local file to the users One-drive

Just like with our ConnectSharepoint command, our ConnectOnedrive command has just a few parameters to get basic functionality to give all users mapped Office 365 One Drive For Business disks:

ConnectOneDrive O:, mytenantname, OneDrive Disk

We can easily expand this single line with a little custom coding.

What if we wanted to ensure that each users personal documents folder is synced to OneDrive automatically after we map their drive?

Perhaps not a good idea to do this if they are on a slower link. We should only do the sync if they happen to be on a gigabit wired network.

They might have a load of stuff in there we’re not interested in, so lets only sync certain types of files: .docx, .pptx, .xls, .pdf (add more as appropriate!?)

Finally if users are connecting / disconnecting to their O365 drive multiple times a day, do we want to force a sync each and every time they do this? Perhaps not. So in this case, we limit the sync to only once a day. But we could just as easily do this once an hour, every two days, once a week, month, you name it.

Not a problem to do any of this.

Check this out:

ConnectOneDrive O:, mytenantname, OneDrive Disk
Sleep 5
If OnceADay 1 Then
If [WiredNetworkSpeed] >= 1000 Then
SyncIncludeFiles *.docx, *.pptx, *.xls, *.pdf
SyncDir [UserDocumentsDir], O:\DocumentsBackup\
End If
End If

(The directory structure is maintained from source to target as it’s synced which is handy)

Remember, like with the previous example, this script works not only with our Logon Script solution but can also easily be converted into a EXE file to run on any PC with a single click, or as an MSI that runs at startup / OS login.

4) Dynamically map departmental Office 365 SharePoint drives based on a user’s OU location

How about this situation: your organisation has been testing Office 365 SharePoint drives and now wants to roll it out to the entire organisation. Multiple towns and multiple departments. Every town need it’s own it’s own departmental SharePoint drive mappings.

The obvious approach would be to create a SharePoint mapping for every department in each town. But there are a lot of towns, who knows, perhaps 100s of them. Perhaps each town then has 10 departments? That would take ages to set up and would be a pain to manage.

With Automation Studio, you could do this task in just a single mapping by creating variables of your AD schema! We simply adjust the URL to contain not a hard-coded path, but we build the path on the fly with our dynamically generated variables:

https://mytenant.sharepoint.com/[ouparentou [userlastou]]/[userlastou]/

So here we have created our OU schema to replicate our MS SharePoint schema.

Our dynamic mapping looks in the last user OU, and then selects the parent OU of this (for the town), then adds the OU below it (for the department).

For example, if you had an OU structure of:

/mycompany/town-a/accounts/

/mycompany/town-b/technical/

/mycompany/town-c/marketing/

All these users are going to get one SharePoint drive mapping, and it will always map to their departments specific SharePoint drive, whatever town they work in. Even better, if they happen to move department or even town, they will automatically be presented with the correct mapping, with no more work to do than simply move the users AD object to the new OU!

1,500 reasons why you will like FastTrack Automation studio more

In summary then, the crucial point when considering our Automation Studio product and comparing it to other ‘one trick’ / ‘baked in’ solutions, is that with Automation Studio, you are essentially subscribing to a problem-solving toolkit. Automation Studio is a comprehensive language of over 1,500 commands that can enable you to do so much more than simply perform single functions, as I have shown above, by putting just a handful of commands together.

As you start to explore the feature set, you will find yourself using Automation Studio to fix things you never thought could be fixed.

So it’s very much a case of: the more you learn, the more you like… and the more power to you!

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