Deep Linking to a SharePoint Framework Tab in Microsoft Teams

This is part 3 of a 3-part article series about building a “360 degree view” mashup for Microsoft Teams using the SharePoint Framework and React. The articles are:

  1. Part 1: 360 Degree Collaboration in Microsoft Teams
    This article introduces the 360 Degree pattern for collaborative applications, and explains a the workings of a sample solution based on SharePoint Framework and React
  2. Part 2: Working with Teams Content from an SPFx Tab
    This article explains how to access Team and channel content, such as the shared calendar and conversation, from a SharePoint Framework tab in Teams
  3. Part 3: Deep linking to a SharePoint Framework tab (this article)
    This article explains how to create a deep link that opens a Team, Channel, and tab, and passes information to your SharePoint Framework tab so you can display specific information

The series is based on a sample Teams tab written in SharePoint Framework which displays a mashup of information about customer visits.

What is a deep link?

In the world of web applications, a deep link is a link that not only selects a web page but also passes data to an application running on that page. For example, a link could open an Excel spreadsheet in a particular Team, rather than opening Teams and Excel in separate pages.

Image by Foundry Co from Pixabay

Recall that the sample application is a SharePoint Framework tab in Teams that displays a mashup of team members’ customer visits. A deep link, therefore, needs to work at three levels:

  • The browser interprets the URL and fetches a Teams web page
  • Teams interprets the URL and opens the correct Team, Channel, and Tab. The tab is running in SharePoint.
  • The SharePoint Framework web part interprets the URL and shows the customer visit specified in the link

Building a deep link for Teams

The deep link format in Teams is:

https://teams.microsoft.com/l/entity/<appId>/<entityId>?label=Vi32&context=<context>

where

  • <appId> is your Teams application ID (from the Teams manifest.json file)
  • <entityId> specifies the tab. If you were writing a tab from scratch, you’d get to specify this, but SharePoint owns the tab so consider it read only. The value is in the entityId property in the Teams Context
  • <context> is a JSON string specifying two properties – the channel ID and a string called subEntityId. This is where you can pass some information to your application code.

Note that this link format is documented in the official Teams developer documentation, but the article doesn’t specifically mention SharePoint Framework tabs. The use of entity ID and subentity ID in the SPFx case is not clearly documented, and may be subject to change. SPFx appears to behave like any configurable tab.

FieldVisitDemo

For example, there’s a text box in the customer visit demo; when the user clicks a button, the text is posted in the channel along with a deep link back to the same customer visit. To show a particular customer visit, I needed to know the user (person doing the visiting) and the customer ID, so that’s what I passed in the subEntityId. The code is in the PostToChannel.tsx component.

// Build a deep link to the current user tab and customer
const url = encodeURI(
    'https://teams.microsoft.com/l/entity/' +
    this.props.teamsApplicationId + '/' +
    this.props.entityId +
    '?label=Vi32&' +
    'context={"subEntityId": "' +
    this.props.selectedUser + ':' +
    this.props.customerId +
    '", "channelId": "' + this.props.channelId + '"}');

Reading the deep link

When someone clicks the deep link, Teams takes care of loading the right channel and tab, with your application inside. All you have to do is read the subEntityId property of the Teams context and you’re off to the races.

Here’s the code in the main web part file, FieldVisitTabWebPart.ts, which passes all the information into the mashup, a React component called FieldVisits.tsx. Notice that it reads the entity ID and subEntity ID from the Teams context and passes them into the component.

const element: React.ReactElement<IFieldVisitsProps> = React.createElement(
  FieldVisits,
  {
    // Services
    visitService: visitService,
    weatherService: weatherService,
    mapService: mapService,
    documentService: documentService,
    activityService: activityService,
    conversationService: conversationService,
    photoService: photoService,
    // Team and channel information
    groupName: this.groupName,
    groupId: this.groupId,
    channelId: this.channelId,
    // Deep linking context
    entityId: this.teamsContext ? this.teamsContext.entityId : "",
    subEntityId: this.teamsContext ? this.teamsContext.subEntityId : "",
    // App and user info
    teamsApplicationId: '(your app ID here)',
    currentUserEmail: this.context.pageContext.user.email
  }
);

ReactDom.render(element, this.domElement);

Conclusion

Posting deep links into a channel is a great way to connect your tab into the conversation in Teams. Users reach out to their collaborators with the postings, and the deep links bring them right into the same context.

Please check out the rest of the series for more information on building Teams tabs with SharePoint Framework!

  1. Part 1: 360 Degree Collaboration in Microsoft Teams
  2. Part 2: Working with Teams Content from an SPFx Tab
  3. Part 3: Deep linking to a SharePoint Framework tab (this article)

The sample code is here. I hope this little blog series has been helpful, and that you enjoy the demo!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s