Microsoft Office DELVE
Hello all the feature hungry folks…
Office Delve…. The latest offering from Microsoft for Office 365 users
If you remember, Office Delve was launched last year (September 2014) and made available to Office 365 users with no additional subscription fees. My colleagues and I were keenly following Microsoft’s approach from a development point of view and finally we have Delve extending itself to Exchange email attachments as well, compared to earlier roll outs that only pulled data mostly from Microsoft apps like SharePoint and OneDrive.
This post will give you a brief understanding about Delve and we’ll also share our findings and issues we ran in to with Delve unleashing contents from Exchange email attachments.
What Is Delve
Delve (previously named “OSLO”) is a tool that searches your emails, contact, documents and content stored in Office 365 and then shows you what you need to see. Delve simply makes work much easier to navigate, and is the perfect way to discover relevant information across your work in Office 365. It uses artificial intelligence (called “Machine Learning” by Microsoft) to get you what you need, similar to what Cortana is to Windows Phone. That means with Delve, information comes to you as opposed to you having to look for and find information.
Simply put, You don’t have to go to each application (email, social networking apps or SharePoint) to find or search the stuff you need. You just need to seek help using Delve.
What Powers Delve
Delve is built on a search engine technology called Office Graph, which most of us are familiar with. Office Graph uses the machine learning techniques to map content, people and your activity on Office 365 and presents it to Delve which publishes it.
Delve presents this information in an impressive card-based design that is mostly easy to comprehend and is easy to use, giving you the comfort of forgetting where you stored your information and content and from whom you got it. It’s a permission based model, so it only allows you to view content for which you have access/permissions to view.
Content Card-based design (search Results)
The search results in Delve show up as content cards in the “Home” View. In order to open the card you just need to click on the card to open the document. In addition to this, there are many other ways you can use this card and make use of the information available on the content card.
The top most area
is called the activity area that indicates who modified the document or who emailed you the attachment (In case of an email attachment). At the bottom of the card you can also see the total number of views on that document or if that email message if part of a shared mailbox or a distribution list.
of the card in case of a document is either the file name (only in case of a missing/empty title property) or the styles used in the Word document, the slide title If it’s a PowerPoint document, and the workbook title in case of an Excel spreadsheet. In case of email attachments the title on the card is the file name of the document.
You can also use the mail icon to send the document as a link through email as well as control that who can see this document using the people icon.
: these are just some of the features of this amazing contact card, exploring it and using all the available options should not be rocket science.
Now that we are somewhat familiar with the Delve, we know that it only and only pulls up data from Microsoft applications within Office 365. Microsoft promised to include many of the other applications since Delve was introduced to Office 365 users, and with keeping their promise, they’ve now equipped Delve to pull out Exchange email attachments as a search result. The latest version of the Office 365 tenant gives you an option to participate in Microsoft’s First Release Program; you can see this option inside Office 365 under new features, often flashed by Microsoft a few weeks ahead of release.
Delve would easily find Office documents (Word, PowerPoint and Excel) and PDFs that have been shared with you in an email.
Keeping aside the earlier features, now I would specifically talk about Delve exploring the email attachments and share with you some of the shortcomings that were shared by my colleagues.
- No way to remove the search index: if you wish to delete an item that shows up on Delve, it’s actually not possible to delete it right now within Delve, you do not get the liberty of deleting that from the search index.
- Only shows attachments that you have received: If you’re searching for an attachment you’ve sent (sitting in your sent items folder) from your mailbox, it just doesn’t appear in the search result. Delve only discovers items that you’ve received and are sitting in your inbox folder. Ideally it should be smart enough to find show all the possible attachments going out and coming in to my mailbox. Hope this works in the next release.
- The TWO WEEK inaccurate window: Basically, Delve at this point in time is inaccurate with the attachment search and it only pulls up attachments that have been sitting in your inbox for the last two weeks. In the test mailbox we used Delve; it failed to pick up email attachments that were sent prior to two weeks back in time and at the same time it failed to pick up some of the attachments from the inbox. It is very inconsistent with attachments at this time.
- Out of date Indexing: The Delve indexing feature fails to track attachments or email items that were moved to a different folder, as discussed earlier. This is in relation to Delve finding attachments only from the Inbox folder. But if you click on the link on the contact card to take you to the message of the attachment it still fails, even if the content was moved to the Inbox folder from a different folder. So simply put… Delve gets confused when emails are moved from one folder to another.
These were some of the fallouts identified by my team and we are still exploring Delve. We hope Microsoft comes up with a release that takes care of email attachments. Although this software looks like it’s still in the development phase of its lifecycle, hopefully there are better things to come from Microsoft with regards to Delve.
Microsoft also plans to eventually incorporate Delve with non-Microsoft applications which should be wonderful. Microsoft says this feature is now available with all the Office 365 plans. We’ve tried it on all the enterprise plans). Delve also only supports Office 365 mailboxes, with no hybrid or on-premise support.