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    Sharing this for others to use, as they wish. This is a document I prepared for our internal online community, Spark, at McGraw-Hill Education. We are on Jive Cloud and have enabled the Office 365 integration with Jive. -- Ted Hopton


    There are several good reasons to use the Jive Office 365 integration when working in Spark, and there's a key situation when you should not use it. Be warned, too, that once you enable the integration in a Spark group, project or space, you can never go back to the default way of storing files in that place.


    When you create or modify a group, project or space in Spark, on the settings page you'll see an option to change how the uploaded files are stored. When you select the option to use Office 365 for external file storage, you gain access to additional capabilities within Spark.


    Benefits of Using Office 365 for External File Storage

    The Office 365 integration with Spark enables you to

    • store files in Office 365 directly from Spark, allowing you to upload files larger than Spark's 100mb size limit
    • open and edit in your browser Word, Excel and Powerpoint files with one click directly from Spark
    • have multiple people simultaneously edit Word, Excel and Powerpoint files and see each other's changes in real-time
    • display Word, Excel and Powerpoint files in Microsoft's previewer, showing them on Spark pages exactly as they look in those applications.


    Drawbacks of Using Office 365 for External File Storage

    If you choose to use the Office 365 integration in your group, space or project, you need to be aware it means

    • you can't switch back to storing your files in Spark -- you're stuck with using Office 365 as your file storage system for that place.
    • PDFs will not display in Microsoft's previewer (they display nicely in Spark's default previewer)
    • People must have an Office 365 account and be logged into it to view files in the previewer and to edit them online (all MHE employees have Office 365 accounts, but they may not know how to log into them)
    • People must have the Jive Anywhere browser extension installed to edit files online
    • In activity streams, people won't have the thumbnail view normally presented for uploaded files, nor the ability to click on that thumbnail to open a preview window displaying the file.


    Stability Concerns about Using Office 365

    Throughout the testing process of deploying the Jive Office 365 integration, we have encountered stability problems with the cartridges for the Jive Anywhere browser plugin. Although each time issues have arisen Jive has resolved them, this has not stopped further issues from arising. This raises concerns about any individuals or teams being able to rely on this feature as a business critical part of their workflow processes.


    When You Should Not Use Office 365 for External File Storage

    If a key part of what you are trying to accomplish in Spark is to display uploaded files for a large number of people (PDF, Word, Excel, Powerpoint), then do NOT use O365.

    • Why? Viewers must be logged into O365 in order to see the files in the previewer in Spark (but there is no such requirement for Spark's native previewer).

    If people who need to see or edit the files do not have O365 accounts, do not use O365.

    • Note that all MHE employees have O365 accounts.
    • Non-employees and external contributors might not have O365 accounts.


    Use Cases for Office 365 for External File Storage

    Multiple People Need to Update Files

    If you need to have more than one person update an uploaded Word, Excel or Powerpoint file, use O365.

    • They can all be editing the file at the same time.
    • They will see each other's changes as they happen.
    • You don't have to worry about accidentally over-writing other people's changes because you don't ever re-upload the file -- the changes are saved automatically in the background as each person makes them.


    Mac Users Need to Update Uploaded Files

    If people using Macs need to update an uploaded Word, Excel or Powerpoint file, use O365.

    • PC users can download Jive for Office to make working with uploaded files fast and efficient, but that plugin does not work on Macintosh computers.
    • Both Mac and PC users can edit files online using Office 365 Online.


    Storing and Sharing Files Larger than 100mb

    If you need to store and share files larger than 100mb in Spark, use O365.

    • There is a limit with Spark's native file storage of 100mb per uploaded file.
    • There is no limit (except what your computer's internet connection will handle without timing out) to the size of files you store using Office 365 for External File Storage.
    • Stored files can be of any type (not just Word, Excel and Powerpoint).


    Display Accurately

    If you want your Word, Excel and Powerpoint files to render in the browser exactly as they do in your Microsoft Office applications, and you can ensure every one who needs to see them will be logged into O365 when they go to Spark, use O365.

    • Spark's native previewer does not always display images or some other formatting perfectly.
    • However, people will have to be logged into O365 Online to see the Microsoft preview window, and it will not display PDF files (Jive's preview does display PDFs).