Friday, July 03, 2015

Doug Allen's Articles

2 Easy Ways to Calculate Working Days Inside a SharePoint Workflow

I’m in the midst of two different major workflows for clients right now, one of them being an HR New Hire Onboarding request and approval process.  One small but critical requirement of the process was that each level of approval needed a two business day wait period. In this post I'll demonstrate 2 easy ways to be able to calculate working or business days inside a SharePoint workflow.

Microsoft Ignite 2015–Day 5

imageIt’s been a packed week at Microsoft Ignite, and in this final post of my daily recaps, we’ll validate the awesomeness of Visio for dashboards and data-connected data graphics, review the common problems encountered when performing the initial configurations of Office 365 service for your organization, and finally share how search works in SharePoint 2013 plus how to scale it properly.

Microsoft Ignite 2015–Day 4

imageAs we near the end of Ignite, day 4 was still filled with some great technical sessions.  I’ll give you a rundown of everything from SQL High Availability, best practices for branding and page design in SharePoint Online to scaling SharePoint 2013 search.  One of my favorite sessions that I’m excited to share dealt with navigating the landscape of Office 365 tools. 

Microsoft Ignite 2015–Day 3

WP_20150506_08_20_14_Pro_smIf you’ve been wanting to get some more information on SharePoint 2016, today’s recap is for you!  I’ll briefly review some tips from the great duo of Todd Klindt and Shane Young on upgrading to SharePoint 2013, then I’ll dangle some awesome new not yet released tools for Dynamics CRM and Office 365 straight from the mouth of the great Girish Raja.  I then got some great insights from the master Spence Harbar himself on OneDrive for Business migrations, then rounded out the day diving deep in the new hybrid search service application for SharePoint 2013 / 2016.

Microsoft Ignite 2015–Day 2


In today's tales from the field, I take you through each session of my day, but also give you a quick look back at something I omitted from the day 1 keynote.  The sessions cover the gamut from information architecture and governance, to search, to OneDrive for Business and best practices for farm solution development. 

Microsoft Ignite 2015–Day 1 Recap

Spring in Chicago - Ignite 2015It’s still spring time here in Chicago, but it’s also time for Microsoft’s first ever all-in-one product conference named Ignite.  Throughout the rest of this week, I’ll do my best to share with you insights from the day, and highlight innovations or other content I thought was interesting.

What is Ignite?

This Ignite conference is the first (but not last I’m sure) time Microsoft is taking most of all of the other individual product conferences and bringing them all under one roof.  These include TechEd, Exchange, SharePoint, etc.  Content and information is being shared across all 5 days this week, ranging from the normal breakout sessions to hands-on lands, ask the experts sessions with the product teams, exam preparation and certification testing, live-streaming from Channel9, community theaters and of course the expo center.  New this year also is the MyIgnite mobile app, providing the same experience from the web to your mobile device with maps, session info, your customized saved calendar and other goodies. 

4 Reasons Why You Should Use Excel to Create a Survey

SNAGHTML13b5de3Maybe you didn’t even know, but if you are using Office 365 or OneDrive, you can use Excel to create a survey, share it with others, and easily get the results.  This blog details why you should use Excel to create a survey.  Using Excel won’t be for everyone depending on your requirements, but it does serve a purpose in the landscape of survey tools. Find out what you didn't know before! 

Gotchas When Using Power Query to Retrieve Dynamics CRM Data – Part 2

imageWelcome back to part 2 of my review of tips and gotchas for using Power Query with Dynamics CRM OData feeds. Let’s continue our review and talk about how ugly the option set numeric values are, and how you can improve your query times by tweaking (filtering more specifically) the OData URL used in Power Query.

Gotchas When Using Power Query to Retrieve Dynamics CRM Data – Part 1

imageIf you have been following the Excel business intelligence space lately, you are familiar with all of the slick add-ins Microsoft has introduced with Power Query, Power Pivot and Power Map.  We work with a lot of Dynamics CRM clients, and I recently set out to use some CRM Online data to create some visualizations and dashboards in Excel.  I encountered a few different situations I had to deal with, so in this post I want to walk you through some of the gotchas I found when you use Dynamics CRM data with Power Query. 

    How to Selectively Sync Folders to OneDrive for Business

    OneDrive selective folder syncWhile recently working with some users who are migrating to OneDrive for Business for SharePoint 2013, I was in a discussion about how to use the OneDrive for Business client.  After walking through the capabilities and how to use the sync client, the question was asked about how to selectively sync only certain folders from OneDrive for Business and not the entire library.  Users started uploading a lot of documents, and didn’t want to sync ALL of the files in their OneDrive for Business library.  They only wanted to sync some of the folders offline.  This is possible right?  Okay I must admit I misled you a little bit by the title.  You can’t use the OneDrive for Business sync client and only choose certain folders.  It will only sync the entire library or nothing.  But fear not, the point of this blog is to offer a few viable solutions as stop gaps until Microsoft adds this functionality. 

    How Do You Sway?

    imageIn my recent blog post “Microsoft Can Do Cool”, I mentioned a new app Microsoft has in beta / preview called Microsoft Sway.  Read on for more about Sway and to be inspired!

    Back to SharePoint Basics: Part 3–Working With Views

    imageIt’s been awhile but I am back to continue on my SharePoint Basics series for SharePoint.  Let’s see where we are:

    Back in Part 2, I touched on SharePoint Views briefly in the context of creating content.  In today’s post I want to go a lot deeper with views and show you how to work with them while will help any SharePoint user work more effectively and efficiently.

    How to Add Existing Office 365 Users to an Azure Subscription

    Microsoft AzureMaybe you’ve heard of Microsoft Azure, maybe you haven’t.   In today’s article, I’m going to walk you through the process of wiring up your Azure subscription to work with your Office 365 Organization accounts as well as Live ID. 

    Microsoft Can Do Cool!

    Mobile SurfaceLove them or hate em, like them or not, it can’t be ignored that Microsoft has been making some big splashes lately. We've started to reflect on how the software giant has been putting out some pretty cool stuff that truly improves someone’s daily life or job. Let us share some Microsoft tech that impresses us.  Read this blog to get the list.

    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).   

    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!

    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.

    What Am I Missing from SharePoint 2013?

    105824_strip

    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. 

    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!

    Fix the Attempted Operation Failed in Outlook with RSS Feeds

    rss_error

    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”?

    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!

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

    image

    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...

    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. 

    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? 

    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. 

    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. 

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

    SP13_plus_c5

    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.

    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!

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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. 

    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.

    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.

    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. 

     

    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. 

    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.

    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. 

    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. 

    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.

    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.

    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?

    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.

    Disable SharePoint Alerts on a Specific List

    employeedirectory
    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...

    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.

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

    error

    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).


     

    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.

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

    timeout
    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.

     

    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.  

    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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