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Written: 11/07/2021 | Updated: N/A

The TV is on. The Euro 2020 finals between England and Italy has just kicked off. But Sunday nights are blog nights: and so trying to get the best of both worlds I will be writing a short blog about a granular but useful addition to functionality which came along for the approvals app this week. This is the ability to use generic links. Up until this point, we’ve had the ability to upload documents from a local machine; we’ve had the ability to add a document from OneDrive. But nothing regarding SharePoint; nothing about something other than a document. Now, we know that support for SharePoint – here meaning a dedicated option within the approvals app along with a site and file picker, is on its way. This is within the item on the Microsoft 365 roadmap – RID 70787. However, being able to use a generic link we don’t have to wait for that. Indeed, generic links are really flexible insofar that we can start to review and approve anything which has a URL. This opens up some interesting scenarios.

This blog will cover

  • Adding a generic link for a SharePoint document
  • Other uses for generic links in approvals
  • Supported scenarios for generic links in approvals

Note this blog will have abridged steps which will assume some experience with Teams, Azure AD and navigating the Microsoft 365 environment

Pre-requisites

  • Teams Licence (In an Office/Microsoft 365 Subscription) for testing
  • Approvals App is permitted within the Teams App Permission Policy

ADDING A GENERIC LINK FOR A SHAREPOINT DOCUMENT

1.) You can get the link for a SharePoint Document in a few different ways. One way is to get it within the File Tab in Teams. On the file select More Options (…) and then Copy Link

2.) Select SharePoint and then copy the link

3) Alternatively, you could get the link to the document within the SharePoint site. In the document library on the file select More Options (…) and then Copy Link. The card will then have the link which you can copy or make a note of

4.) In Teams, select the Approvals App from the app rail, the app store or from the search bar

5.) Select New Approval Request

6.) The new approval request proceeds as usual with a Title, Reviewer and Notes (Optional)

7.) Now Scroll Down and select Add Attachment

8.) Our new option to use a generic link is here. Select Attach Link

9.) Add a name and copy the link for the SharePoint Document and then select Tick

10.) The link is now attached. Select Send

11.) The approval is now sent. The approver will receive a notification in the activity feed.

12. Clicking on the generic link attachment will open the document in SharePoint. The approval can now be approved or rejected as usual

OTHER USES FOR GENERIC LINKS IN APPROVALS

The ability to use generic links in approvals opens the possibility to reviewing anything that has a URL.

1.) Take for example a website. This could be effective to review and approve events or website changes

2.) What about reviewing a file within a channel in Teams? This will take you to the file directly in Teams as opposed to SharePoint, albeit via a browser

3.) What about to a List Item? This will take the approver to the List Item

4.) Or a Stream video in the new experience? The approval will go straight to the video

SUPPORTED SCENARIOS FOR GENERIC LINKS IN APPROVALS

We have looked at how generic links work in approvals, and how the can go beyond documents to approve other things. Finally, what are the supported scenarios

1.) As we have discussed throughout this blog, they are supported in the Approvals App

2.) They are supported in Channels and Private Chats

3.) They are supported in Meetings

4.) In terms of whether it’s supported in automation and Power Automate, the answer is yes and no. Links are supported as illustrated by the following flow (see below). This shows that when a document is uploaded to the SharePoint document library – either through SharePoint or Teams, it generates the share link which is then added to the approval. The only thing s that there is a set trigger – uploading a file into a SharePoint site – whereas the generic link is ad-hoc is much broader in scope which isn’t supported in the automation

5.) Finally, generic links are supported in Approval Templates

CONCLUSION

Our job here is done

Generic links is a small but nice feature that allows us to use SharePoint documents in the Approvals app before an official feature with a defined option and file picker is rolled out. However, this option now lets us now put anything with an URL into an approval. This allows us a flexibility which we didn’t have previously and starts to make us think about the approval app outside of just documents. It’s supported in the app, in chats and channel conversations, in meetings, in templates and to an extent, in Power Automate. I think this is a valuable feature and it’s one I will use in the future

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