Thursday, December 18, 2014

Doug Allen's Articles

8 Features in Outlook 2013 You Probably Aren’t Using

Outlook-2013If you’ve worked anywhere and had a cubicle in the last 15 years, you likely use Outlook to get and send email.  Even though we all use Outlook, there are features (some new, some not) that if you take the time, can help your day to day be a LITTLE easier.  I’m not saying this features will make you coffee or solve world peace, but every bit helps right?  Let’s look at 8 great features in the latest iteration of Outlook (2013).   

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Making Your Visio Drawing More Valuable with Live Data and Data Graphics

imageWhen it comes to Visio's high quality, yet static content, can we make that flat data more interactive and fresh?  Sure, with Data Graphics!  Some people refer to drawings like this as having data-behind.  You might have seen the Supply Chain example from Microsoft in a number of demos, and think that it must be some overly complicated configuration.  It’s not!

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How to Add the ID Column to SharePoint Email Alerts

imageGenerally the out of the box provided ID column is used as the “Issue ID” since it auto-increments by default.  Invariably, users need to be notified whenever issues are created or updated, so they subscribe to alerts on the list.  When they get their notification email, they notice that the Issue ID is missing, so they aren’t sure exactly which issue got updated. 

We can fix this by adding the ID field to the email alert file.  Let's take a look how.

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What Am I Missing from SharePoint 2013?

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The purpose of this article is to try and compile a list of features removed or discounted features, not list all of the changes or improvements in SharePoint 2013.  This list will vary somewhat depending if we’re talking SharePoint on-premise or SharePoint online, but I’ll try to call out the differences where applicable. 

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Export and Synchronize Contacts from Outlook to SharePoint


Export Outlook Contacts to SharePointLet's say you’re a member of a sales team and you need the ability for your sales peers and managers on your team to be able to see your contacts. Did you know you can use SharePoint to store and share Outlook contacts?  This blog will show you just how easy this is to do!

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Fix the Attempted Operation Failed in Outlook with RSS Feeds

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This blog covers the simple fix for the common issue of no new items in the RSS feeds feature in Outlook.  Have you tried to just right click on RSS Feeds and add a new feed, only to get lovely error “The attempted operation failed.  An object could not be found”?

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Let Your SharePoint Users Be Heard With the C5 Insight Feedback Solution!

SharePoint Site Feedback How do users communicate their SharePoint frustrations, feedback, and questions?  If the answer is “they send an email” or “they open a helpdesk ticket” then this is for you!  We have created a solution for SharePoint 2010 on-premise and SharePoint 2013 on-premise and Office 365 that provides a powerful yet simple mechanism for users to provide feedback.  Best of all, it's free!

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Steps to Resolve the SharePoint Error “Sandboxed code execution request failed” When Configuring CRM Integration

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After getting a client's SharePoint available on the public interweb and thus available to CRM, we installed and activated the list component. But when we went to an Opportunity or other entity that was configured for document management, it would throw an error...

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Use PowerShell to Enable Versions in All Document Libraries in All Subsites

powershell_iconIn this post with PowerShell, I wanted to show you how you can write a script that will enable versions but starting from a subsite instead of the entire site collection. 

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Create a Simple Time-Based Email Reminder for SharePoint Calendar Events

imageSee if this sounds familiar:
Someone asks you “Can I get an email reminder for these events on the team calendar?”.  You think well, we can set alerts, so you go look into the alert settings, so you go look into the alert settings, and quickly realize that alerts don’t work like that.  The alert mechanism in SharePoint will send the alert subscriber an email based on an action happening on the item (it is being created, edited, etc).  We need the trigger to be based on a date.  So what to do? 

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How to Easily Lower Opacity In Visio Shapes

imageAs a SharePoint solution architect, when I’m not creating site columns and configuring SharePoint server databases, I'm meeting and talking to clients about their business requirements for collaboration technology like SharePoint.  On a project basis like assessing a clients desire to upgrade their SharePoint environment, this involves documenting a SharePoint environment or a lot of times just business processes.  There are many tools available for these types of drawings, and one I typically use for drawing SharePoint farms and topologies is Visio. 

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Back to SharePoint Basics: Part 2–Creating Content

Welcome back to to my series on the basics of SharePoint.  If you've already read the first post, we covered what SharePoint is. Now we're ready to dive into how to create content in SharePoint.  (Notice I said create content, not any form of structure.)  We have to crawl before we can walk, right?  Then we can move on for the super users on how to create structure, the things that hold the content. 

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Back to SharePoint Basics: Part 1–What is SharePoint?

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To start with and ensure we’re all talking the same thing, we need to level the foundation.  It’s easy to assume otherwise, but I continually find people at any given company across a variety of industries who don’t even know what SharePoint is.  They have heard the term perhaps, but don’t know what it is, much all it can do (beyond the dumping ground for your documents).  So let’s get started with Part 1.

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How to Make SharePoint List Form Fields Read Only Without InfoPath

I was working with a client recently in a simplified signup site.  In effect what was needed was to make the fields read only based on the role of the user.  Follow me as I walk you through the steps using only SharePoint Designer, no code or InfoPath required!

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Create Dynamic Images Using InfoPath and a SharePoint Picture Library

Create Dynamic Images Using InfoPath and a SharePoint Picture LibraryAs part of an auction site I was working on for a client, one part of the solution was to use an InfoPath form for users to submit their bids.  This post  focused on how to get the dynamic images from a SharePoint Picture library.

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Use Power Pivot to Merge Related SharePoint List Data

Excel-2013 When working with SharePoint, you occasionally need to work with related data.  Since SharePoint isn’t setup for true relational data, that means we’re typically working with lookup columns from a child to a parent list.  This is all fine well and good, but I had a client ask me for some special filtering and output with this related data.  After reviewing my options, I found that the quickest way to do this (in under 15 minutes) is to use Microsoft’s Power Pivot add-in for Excel.  No SharePoint Designer required!  If you have Excel 2010, you will need to download and install the add-in.  If you use Excel 2013, the add-in is already installed, you just have to enable it.

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Creating Managed Metadata Terms in SharePoint with PowerShell

sharepoint Create metadata term with powershell with guidWhether you are using SharePoint 2010 or SharePoint 2013, it is very likely you are taking advantage of the Managed Metadata service for taxonomy and other purposes.  Hopefully you have a development / test environment in addition to production, and if so you know it’s a struggle to keep them in sync.  If your groups, term sets and terms are not identical down to GUIDs between the two environments, if you move a database from one to the other then all your terms will be broken… not good. 

The point of this blog is not help you sync your environments with metadata.  Let's dive in.

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How to Get Date Only in SharePoint 2010 Workflow

While working on a client request recently, I came across a way to easily work with date and time values in a SharePoint Designer 2010 workflow.  I was able to solve this using only SharePoint Designer.  I reviewed other solutions, and I will give links to a couple others in case they are needed.  This worked for me, and I didn’t see anyone else with this exact solution so I thought I would share for the greater good. 

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What’s Up With This People SharePoint Taxonomy Group Anyway?

Classify SharePoint TaxonomyAfter having some pleasant discussions in the SharePoint Yammer SPYam community on this subject and finding almost no information online about this topic, I thought I’d put some fingers to  keys and do my part to share some information.  This post assumes you have basic concepts and knowledge of SharePoint taxonomies, but review TechNet if you need more info or to get up to speed on the basic concepts.

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How to Easily Get the Root OU of an Active Directory User with PowerShell

How to Easily Get the Root OU of an Active Directory User with PowerShellWhile working on a PowerShell script to do some updating list items in SharePoint, I first had to get some properties from the user account in Active Directory. The end goal was to update a managed metadata field, choosing terms based on the root OU that the user resided in Active Directory.  I found an easier way to do this with PowerShell and wanted to share.

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Five Different Methods for How to Print SharePoint List Item

Print a SharePoint List Item If you’ve gotten to this page, it’s because you or your users make heavy use of SharePoint lists, and the inevitable request came up “Ok this is great, but I can’t print this item, help!”.  Like most things with SharePoint, there is no one right answer (sometimes there is!), but some are definitely easier than others or better depending on your needs.  I'll show you a couple different common solutions out there in one place, and what worked for me. 

 

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Quick and Easy Print SharePoint Picture Library using CSS

A client contacted me the other day about some help with printing a picture library.  I found a simple way to do this, and I wanted to share to hopefully save someone some grief. 

If you search the interwebs for “print sharepoint list” you get articles that are either a fancy ribbon button for printing lists/libraries form codeplex, or doing javascript or similar to call the print dialog from a modal.  That works, and I started down that path. 

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SharePoint Usage Logs Not Being Removed Fixed

I've seen folks all over the interweb and even a client of mine hit this issue, so I wanted to take a moment in this blog to document it for posterity.  It deals with the Usage logging features of SharePoint, and the all too familiar Microsoft bugs.

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Missing SharePoint Document Properties after Protect with Password

In this post I wanted to share a resolution to an issue I had with a client recently.  At first I thought this was going to be a difficult issue, but as luck would have it the resolution was amazingly simple if you know what to look for. 

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Outlook 2013 Only Shows Today Appointments is Fixed!

So the community responded, and someone published an add-in for Outlook 2013 that puts it back.  This worked, but sad it was required.  Many blogs reference this codeplex solution as a workaround to ease their pain and suffering.

The other day I had rebooted after some Microsoft Office updates, and to my surprise I noticed it was there!  I guess Microsoft does listen when enough people complain about it. 

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What Makes Good SharePoint Documentation?

When it comes to writing documentation, it is unfortunately one of those things that you will get to tomorrow, gets pushed because this server was down, or Bob needs his password reset.  But I believe it’s important to at least have some form of documentation.  This is important because:

  1. It can prove to be very helpful when planning upgrades to the next version of SharePoint. 
  2. It can be useful if you have to rebuild your farm so you can easily replicate the environment.

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How to Fix “No two choices should have the same ID” SharePoint Error

Sooner or later, you might run into this error. I was able to work out the easy solution so I wanted to share it to help someone else. You will likely run into this error if you try to go site column or site content types, or from a list or library you click add site column. In my case, I had just created a site from a custom site template and was getting this error. Let’s dig in.

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Why Do Hidden Taxonomy Catch All Columns Become Visible?

EMMDoubleTagI’ve been fighting an interesting issue lately where some hidden taxonomy columns are becoming visible. In this environment, there are simple custom content types with some custom site columns, a few of which are managed metadata columns. The issue is that what seems randomly, some strange fields suddenly show up in the library columns, and on the list forms:

Why Do Hidden Taxonomy Catch All Columns Become Visible?

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How to Download a SharePoint Content Type Template

SharePoint content type template
Let’s say you have a SharePoint document library configured with a custom content type that uses a custom document template. Now you need to edit that template. Normally, you can edit the file via the UI. When you go to the library settings and look in the advanced settings, you see the image to the left. Clicking Edit Template should let you do what you need to do, however, when you click Edit Template you get an error.

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Disable SharePoint Alerts on a Specific List

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Here’s the scenario: You have a picture library that stores employee photos. This might be the case if you’re not storing the photos in Active Directory yet perhaps. Now, HR comes to you and says, "We want to be sure that employees can’t set an alert, because then they would know if we remove a picture when an employee is terminated." Here is what you should do...

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Fix for High CPU with Multiple SPUCWorkerProcessProxy and Conhost with SharePoint



I recently had a client contact me recently with an interesting SharePoint issue. Seemingly out of the blue, their SharePoint 2010 server CPU started being consumed by two main processes with multiple instances: SPUCWorkerProcessProxy.exe and conhost.exe. Read on to find out how I fixed this issue.

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Correcting SharePoint 2010 Error: Application Server Job Failed for Service Instance

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I was recently doing some routine maintenance on a SharePoint server and I happened to check the event viewer logs. Wow was I surprised! It seemed that every minute, we were getting this error message, event ID 6481: Application Server job failed for service instance Microsoft.Office.Server.Search.Administration.SearchServiceInstance (GUID).


 

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Make Multiple SharePoint Fields Required with Windows PowerShell

powershell_iconThis entry includes script that was created for a recent client who asked me to make several columns required in their SharePoint 2010 site collection of approximately 25-30 subsites. This would've taken two minutes if all columns were site columns, however, that wasn't the case. As a result, the columns were not inheriting and I was forced to turn to PowerShell for a solution.

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Quick Tip: Changing the Timeout Value for a SharePoint Redirect Page

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I recently had to help a client solve a URL redirection issue. We tossed around using SharePoint AAMs, IIS URL Rewrite, and other possibilities. The best solution ended up was to use a SharePoint Redirect page. It’s not something that is used very often but it certainly fit the bill for our issue. My focus on this quick tip is to show you how to change the timeout value on the redirect as I couldn’t find this documented.

 

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Working Around Inability to Insert an Image in SharePoint 2010 Page

 

On a recent client project, we implemented a solution that heavily used article pages / page layouts from the SharePoint 2010 Pages library. Most of them had images. While working through use cases with these articles, I came across some strange behavior that someone else had found but not documented (to my knowledge). As a result, I wanted to blog about the topic to make it easier for others to find.  

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What to do When SharePoint 2010 Timer Service Keeps Stopping


I recently completed a SharePoint migration for a client from 2007 to 2010. Overall the migration went well, however, we did have one small issue with the SharePoint 2010 Timer Service that I thought I should share with all of you. Read on for a brief explanation of the issue and my quick fix.

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Troubleshooting SharePoint HTTP 500 Errors and IIS Failed Request Tracing

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I had a client call me the other day as he was having an issue with a couple of his SharePoint 2010 sites that seemed strange, the sites just stopped working. When anyone tried to access the sites, they would get HTTP 500 errors. I was able to resolve this issue for the client so I thought I should share some of my troubleshooting tips.

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Quick Tip: Avoid Database Attach Error When Upgrading to SharePoint 2013

SharePoint 2013 logo

A database attach upgrade is the only supported method for upgrading SharePoint 2010 Products to SharePoint 2013 (unless you use a third-party migration tool). Database attach is used to upgrade SharePoint content and service applications. I was doing some testing with doing database attach upgrades from SharePoint 2010 to SharePoint 2013 and found an issue.

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SharePoint Login Issues: How to Fix Users who can’t Log in via their User Principle Name (UPN)

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I got a call from a client recently where one particular user was unable to login to SharePoint via their User Principle Name (UPN). For those non-AD SharePoint folks out there, UPN refers to an attribute on the user account object in Active Directory. Anytime a user is created, at a minimum they will have a user logon name and a UPN suffix (domain name). The UPN is composed of the user logon name and the UPN suffix joined by the @ sign. Read on to see how I quickly resolved this issue.

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Dealing with Mixed Content Prompts in SharePoint After SSL Change

Security Warning: Do you want to view only the webpage content that was delivered securely?For the IE users out there, I’m sure you’ve come across this dialog once or twice in your life. On several of our recent client projects we’ve been doing a lot of changing over from unsecure to secure URLs via SSL certificates in SharePoint. Invariably, as soon as you enable SSL and log in to SharePoint, you get this wonderful prompt: Do you want to view only the webpage content that was delivered securely? Find out how to get rid of this for good...

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Quick Tips for the SharePoint Chart Web Part

SharePoint 2010 Chart Web Part

On a recent project I got to work with the out-of-the-box (OOTB) Chart Web Part in SharePoint 2010. My team just needed to chart some simple data, nothing fancy, but we had some fairly specific styling requirements. We tried Web parts from other vendors they already had and got close, but we just couldn’t get there. Luckily we were upgrading to Enterprise anyway, so that allowed us to use the Chart Web Part that comes with SharePoint OOTB.

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4 Quick Tips: Branding SharePoint2010

Over the time I’ve been using SharePoint, I’ve been taking notes on the tools and that make my job a little bit easier. Lately I’ve focused on collecting a ton of tips for working with branding in SharePoint2010. To help other people working with branding in SharePoint, I thought I should share some of my information.

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SharePoint 2010 Taxonomy Term Changes Don’t Update Content

SharePoint 2010 Managed Metadata

If you’re like a lot of other folks, you’ve taken advantage of the Managed Metadata functionality in SharePoint. You’ve created your taxonomy group, specified your term sets, and created some terms. Then you’ve created your managed metadata column in your site collection, and pointed it to your specified term set. You’ve then uploaded a lot of documents and specified terms for the metadata column, everyone is “happy happy happy”.

But then you need to rename one of your terms currently called “Information Technology Department” to just “Information Technology”. No sweat, you go into the Term Store tool, rename the term. Done right? To your surprise, when you look at properties of various documents tagged with your term, they haven’t been renamed. Hmm … what gives?

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How to Delete a Service Application Database that is Not Responding

powershell_iconOn a recent project, I hit an issue with databases that was interesting. We were restoring a lot of databases over to a development environment from production, as well as the managed metadata database. I had gone through the whole deal, backed up the database in the old server, restored it to the development SQL server, etc. There was an issue with the Managed Metadata service that required to have service application re-created. This lead to a situation where the service application database was unprovisioned, but not deleted.

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Did You Know Microsoft Expression 4 Is Now Free?

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I don’t believe Microsoft Expression ever had a huge following from web developers and graphics designers, but it served a purpose. Whether you liked it, hated or loved it, Microsoft has done what it does best again.

In case you haven’t visited their website lately, you will notice some major changes with Expression. Basically, they are rolling the Expression products into Visual Studio 2012 and beyond, forgoing the standalone tools. For the time being, they made Expression Web 4, Expression Design 4 and Expression Encoder 4 free for download. That may not be a big deal to some, but I think it could prove useful to some.

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How to Resolve the Missing Item Scheduling in SharePoint 2010

SharePoint Publishing SchedulingSo you’re going about your business in SharePoint, say when you want to publish an article page. You open the page and click on Publish, and the Schedule option isn’t there! Ack! Oh the humanity! If you’re uploading a document, the schedule items appear on the edit properties (editform.aspx) dialog.

You may be asking, what scheduling option? Well, it’s the option for being able to publish pages at a future date and time and is activated at the document library level. If you have a publishing site, this feature should already be activated on the Pages library. But it can be enabled on any site/library under the right conditions. This is very likely a simple fix. Let’s review the items to check.

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How to Configure a Filtered Calendar Overlay in SharePoint 2010

SharePoint 2010 Calendar overlayCalendar Overlays was definitely a welcome new feature when SharePoint 2010 was released. They provide decent basic functionality for being to have a nice view of multiple calendars at once (up to 10 calendars). Suppose you are in a situation where you want to do some calendar overlays, but you only want to show a filtered set of calendar entries on the calendar overlay view? This turns out to be much easier than it might sound. Now you could write a simple workflow that runs on the child list and copies the list item on the child calendar to the parent calendar, but that’s not really an overlay is it?

As I said, this is actually extremely easy to configure. It feels like it should be illegal to be this easy, so enjoy the moment! So what do we need to do? Here are the overview steps:

  • Create at least 2 calendars (one child, and one parent used to display the overlay)
  • Create items on the child calendar
  • Create a filtered Calendar View on the child calendar (e.g. only show items where category=X)
  • On the parent calendar, configure the overlay, and be sure to choose the new filtered view
  • Sit back, have a drink and bask in the awe of your coworkers and boss as they bow before you in the view of this incredible display of SharePoint awesomeness

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Auto-Populate a SharePoint 2010 Contact List from User Profile Data

imageWhile the contacts list is usually filled out for contacts that are outside the company, there are times when you would use a contacts list to store internal and external resources. Wouldn’t it be nice if you didn’t have to re-type your internal contacts’ information that are already in the system? Now you can with a little InfoPath customization on the contacts list.

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Free SharePoint Training and other Resources

SharePoint 2010 trainingAs I work with various clients with different skill levels with SharePoint, I have on more than one occasion needed to compile a list of training resources. Microsoft (and others) provide a good number of resources so I thought I would try and compile a list in one place. These resources can be a mix of delivery methods including blogs, whitepapers, online videos, tutorials or courses. Let’s start with resources for end users, then move to the IT Pros, then to the developers. I started writing this for the purpose of training, but the lists quickly grew to include other resources, so I hope you find it a useful resource.

For the sake of this post, all resources will be for SharePoint 2010. But with the very soon to release SharePoint 2013, I will provide some information in another post. Stay tuned!

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Correct Empty ULS Logs in SharePoint 2010

imageIf you're unsure what ULS logs are or what they're used for, please see my previous post where I cover the basics. On a recent project, I was adding a new server to a SharePoint 2010 farm. After the join was completed, I went to go review the ULS logs to ensure all looked well and no serious errors or other issues came up. To my surprise, it was empty! It turned out to be a simple fix, but here are some things to check when this happens:

  1. ULS logging is driven by the Windows service "SharePoint 2010 Tracing". Ensure this service is started, and if it is already running, right-click on it and choose restart. Then re-check the ULS logs.
  2. If the above tracing service is started and re-starting doesn't help, it likely is permissions related. This was the problem in my case. To fix this, do the following:
    1. In this environment, the tracing service was running as the application pool account. We need to add that account to the local user group "Performance Log Users".
    2. Check the membership of this group on a working farm server, and ensure the new farm server has the same group membership.
    3. Restart the tracing service, and check the ULS logs again for entries.
  3. If you still have trouble, check the other local security groups like WSS_WPG and WSS_ADMIN_WPG groups and ensure the problem server has the same memberships.

While you shouldn’t have to, it might be necessary to either perform an IISRESET on the problem server, or even reboot to ensure new credentials take affect.

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