blog.frederique.harmsze.nl my world of work and user experiences

March 31, 2019

Saving overweight views in SharePoint

Filed under: SharePoint — Tags: , — frederique @ 19:30

SharePoint Online cannot handle views involving more than 5 000 items, especially in Classic mode. Even if it does not have to display them all on the same screen. The view collapses under its own weight, unless you limit the number of items by filtering it down using indexed columns. And when the view does break, the end-users do not see any information and freak out. Ok, this is not new. But we still bump into this issue, so let me discuss it in this post.

I am not the first line of support for end-users, but I do speak to people in the business and they do know how to find me when they experience difficulties in Office 365. Recently, I spoke with a few people in the business, who thought that their document libraries had broken down irrevocably and who started to doubt the entire concept of their SharePoint site. Oh dear… The users got a message telling them that the view they were looking at exceeded the list view threshold of 5.000 items. And they interpreted this message as follows: our document library breaks when we put more than 5 000 items in it. But we have far more documents, so this is not working at all.. Help!!

Overweight view in the Classic experience

Overweight view in the Classic experience

Overweight view in the Modern experience

Overweight view in the Modern experience

These users have libraries with over 5 000 items, which are structured with document sets (so yes, they are still using the Classic experience). However, some of their most important views ignore the document sets. For example, one of the views displays the key documents from each set, which they need to list as input for some subcontractors. The key question for me was:
Do you want your view to display more than 5 000 items?
Or are you trying to distill a much shorter summary from a large library?

Fortunately, the desired view was much shorter than 5 000 items, so we only had to configure the view properly.

The following tricks helped us to slim down overweight views and get them to work for our end-users:

  • Use a filter to narrow down the number of items, instead of the item limit.
    Setting the item limit does not help. If you set the view to display, for example, 30 items at the time or display only 30 items, SharePoint still tries to get all of the items in one go, before displaying the first batch.
  • Filter by indexed columns.
    Filtering by columns that have not been indexed does not help either. You need an indexed column: List settings > Columns: Indexed columns. For example, if the column Created has been indexed, you can create a working ‘Recent’ view by not only sorting by Created but additionally filtering Created is larger than [Today] – 365 (or a smaller number, if too many items were created this year). See Add an index to a SharePoint column.

    Recent items, filtered to display only items created this year, with the newest items displayed at the top.

    Recent items, filtered to display only items created this year, with the newest items displayed at the top.

    • Use a simple index, by one column only. A compound index including a secondary column does not help.
    • You should set up the indexed columns while the list or library still has under 5 000 items.
      In the early days of SharePoint Online, you were stuck if you had not indexed your filter columns before the list grew beyond 5000 items. These days, SharePoint Online is smarter, although you will still experience less problems if you set up the indices beforehand.
    • SharePoint Online starts to index a column automatically when you create a view sorting or filtering by that column. For example, if you create a ‘Recent’ view sorted by Created date, that column gets indexed automatically.
      This only works if the list settings don’t block it. Stick to the default setting: List settings > Advanced settings > Allow automatic management of indices? = Yes.
      And this only works if the list still has less than 20 000 items. So again, it pays to be proactive about these large lists.
    • You can still index a column manually too, even after the list has become overweight. In my experience, it may take some time for that index to actually appear. Lists that are only slightly overweight can create an index within minutes, but it hasn’t always been that quick.

      Indexed columns: Created has been indexed automatically, The others have been indexed manually, after the list became larger than the threshold of 5 000 items

      Indexed columns: Created has been indexed automatically, The others have been indexed manually, after the list became larger than the threshold of 5 000 items

  • If you filter by one column AND another column, the first one should already bring the number of items down to under 5 000. You may think that an AND filter is symmetrical, but it is important to put the right filter in first. For example, if there are many final documents but not too many key documents, filter your view ‘Final key documents’ as Key documents = Yes AND Status = Final, and not the other way around.

    Filter by indexed columns: first by the one that restricts the number of items the most: Key document = Yes, And then refining it by Status= Final to achieve the desired view.

    Filter by indexed columns: first by the one that restricts the number of items the most: Key document = Yes.
    And then refining it by Status= Final to achieve the desired view.

  • Filtering by one column OR another column breaks the view. So don’t filter a view ‘My Documents’ as Modified by [Me]  OR Created by [Me], even if there are only a few documents created or modified by each user.
  • Is the view still broken? Try to make the view less complex (see Manage large lists and libraries in SharePoint)
    • Sort by only one column.
    • Don’t sort by  “difficult” columns (people, lookup or managed metadata).
    • Don’t group.
    • Don’t use totals (which currently don’t work in the Modern view anyway).
    • Don’t display more than 12 of those “difficult” columns.

Views in the Modern mode of SharePoint are more robust, but they still have their limitations. In the Modern experience, I have seen views with over 7 000 items that worked just fine. But the view with over 70 000 items still broke; 20 000 seems to be the new 5 000. And the Modern ‘All items’ view of my test list of just over 5 000 item is still broken too; maybe I have to wait a bit longer for the view to get its act together and start working…

All in all, large views still need attention, but we do have some tricks to help our end-users.

February 28, 2019

Office 365 security and compliance GDPR dashboard – Yes please

Filed under: Governance,Office365 — Tags: — frederique @ 23:57

These days, our project managers and site owners are aware that they have to be very careful to store no personal data, except data that are necessary to do the job, only accessible to the people who need to use it, only for the time they are needed, only for the purpose for which they were gathered. But are we sure that there were no personal data hidden somewhere in SharePoint 2007, dating from more than a decade ago, that we now risk exposing SharePoint Online after migration? Let us MAKE sure!

I am working on a project for a construction company that has been using SharePoint for ages. They have over 8.000 SharePoint sites for our Operating Company alone, most of them SharePoint 2007 sites. Currently, we are migrating these old sites to SharePoint Online, as “archive sites”, as part of our transition to Office 365. So we see a lot of old stuff passing by…

  • We want to make sure we keep all information that is still relevant for the company, such as construction details on the buildings they constructed, information needed for maintenance and guarantees.
  • But we also want to make sure that we do not have personal data that we are not allowed to have according to the privacy rules, GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation).

I am not worried about the remains in SharePoint 2007; those servers will be decommissioned and emptied soon. What I want to know: are compliant in our Office 365 environment, including SharePoint Online, where we are migrating all of that old information. The advantage of asking that question, is that we can use the modern tooling offered by Office 365 itself to check!

Tools in Office 365: GDPR dashboard and toolbox

Recently, I made our privacy officer very happy by showing him the GDPR Dashboard in the Office 365 security & compliance center. It is part of the admin toolbox which we already have in our tenant. So let’s comfigure it and use it to our advantage.

Security & Compliance center: GDPR dashboard

Security & Compliance center: GDPR dashboard (in a demo tenant, nothing going on…)

It took me a moment to find it, because I was looking in the Microsoft 365 admin center. You need to go to a different url: https://protection.office.com/ (at least, in the admin center of my tenant I see no link at this time)

And this dashboard comes with a toolbox:

GDPR toolbox

GDPR toolbox

Discover
Identify what personal data in your org is related to GDPR.
• Import data: Bring data into Office 365 to help safeguard it for GDPR.
• Find personal data: Use content search to find and export personal data to help facilitate compliance in your org.

Govern
Manage how personal data is classified, used, and accessed.
• Auto-apply labels: Automatically classify content containing personal data to help ensure it’s retained as needed.
• Create a disposition label: Trigger disposition reviews so you can decide if personal data should be deleted when it reaches a certain age.
• Use Compliance Manager: Access your org’s compliance posture for GDPR and get recommended actions for improvement.

Protect
Establish security policies to prevent, detect, and respond to cyberthreats.
• Create a data loss prevention (DLP) policy: Detect content containing personal data to help ensure it’s protected.
• Apply cyberthreat policies: Protect your users from cyberattacks like phishing, malware, malicious links, and more.

Monitor & respond
Track label usage, stay on top of data breaches, and respond to data subject requests (DSRs) and legal investigations.
• Respond to DSRs: Create DSR cases to find and export Office 365 data related to a data subject request.
• Respond to legal investigations: Use eDiscovery cases to respond to legal investigations.
• Review and explore label usage: Get insights into how labels are being used and take action if needed.
• Set up alert policies: Track and get notified about user and admin activities related to GDPR.
• View reports: Drill down on activity related to policy matches, threat detections, and more.
• Visit Service Assurance: Learn how Microsoft helps meet the security, privacy, and compliance needs of your org.

Data Loss Prevention Policy for GDPR

One of the items in the GDRP toolkit is to create a DLP (Data Loss Prevention) Policy to detect content containing personal data. You can create one starting from the shortcut in the GDPR toolbox or from the DLP section of the security & compliance center.

Data Loss Prevention policy: GDPR

Data Loss Prevention policy: GDPR

This will detect personal information in our environment:

  • EU Debit Card Number
  • EU Driver’s License Number
  • EU National Identification Number
  • EU Passport Number
  • EU Social Security Number (SSN) or Equivalent ID
  • EU Tax Identification Number (TIN)

You can select where it should apply. I want it to protect all content in all locations Office 365, including Exchange email and OneDrive and SharePoint documents (Hey, not SharePoint lists? And how about Yammer Groups, Teams conversations? Maybe it is assumed that nobody would put, for instance, a passport number in there. I have seen scans of passports in SharePoint documents and in email attachments, before they were removed as soon as possible…).

GDPR Policy: select the locations it should protect

GDPR Policy: select the locations it should protect

But for a test it is more practical to limit its scope and choose specifc locations.

GDPR policy limited to one test site collecton

GDPR policy limited to one test site collecton

You can customize what it should detect, for example: content shared with outsiders or only insiders?

GDPR Policy: tweak the details of what it should detect

GDPR Policy: tweak the details of what it should detect

And then what action should it take if it detects personal data? For example, email a report to the person who set the policy, the global admin, some specific mail address.

GDPR Policy: what action should it take with what it has detected?

GDPR Policy: what action should it take with what it has detected?

As a result, you get reports like these, in a csv file:

GDPR policy: report from demo tenant, converted from csv to columns to make it more readable

GDPR policy: report from demo tenant, converted from csv to columns to make it more readable

 

Ok, to be honest, in our first test it did not seem to detect any of our own examples of personal information we added in a SharePoint testsite, while it found a lot of false positive. But still, it looks very useful, once we get it to work properly.

January 31, 2019

Where is our Office 365 data located?

Filed under: Office365 — Tags: — frederique @ 20:23

I am involved in the roll-out of Office 365 at a company, where they still have a lot of data on file shares. We explain that we are moving into the cloud and that sometimes prompts the question where the data will actually live. Good question.

“In the cloud”… to some people it sounds rather out there. We are a down to earth company, we don’t have our head in the clouds, so what do you mean working in the cloud?? But of course the data “in the cloud” is stored solidly in Microsoft data centers.

So where are those data centers in which our data are stored then? For one thing, it is always data centers plural: Microsoft copies our data to at least two different locations, so that they will be safe even if something catastrophic happens at one of the datacenters. I’ve heard colleagues say that our data is stored in The Netherlands, but that is only a partial answer.

You can check where your data is stored via: https://products.office.com/where-is-your-data-located. But make sure you scroll beyond the picture, because some services in Office 365 may store data in other locations.

For this company, with headquarters based in The Netherlands, the bulk of the data resides the Euopean Union, mostly The Netherlands and Ireland. However, there are exceptions:

  • Sway lives in the United States.
    That does not bother us much, because Sway is hardly used in any of the organizations I’ve worked at.
  • Yammer lives in the United States too!
    That is cause for more concern, because Yammer is used more extensively. Fortunately, Yammer is not the most likely place for people to share sensitive, confidential information But it is still something to take into account in our Office 365 governance and its associated guidance.
Microsoft data centers for the European Union. But for some services, the data is stored in the US.

Microsoft data centers for the European Union. But for some services, the data is stored in the US.

December 31, 2018

Best wishes for 2019

Filed under: Uncategorized — frederique @ 19:11

I wish you all the best for 2019. I am not just talking about SharePoint, obviously, but the new year as a whole.

Kerst2018-GlowEN

November 30, 2018

Getting our users on board in the migration to SharePoint Online – a checklist

Filed under: SharePoint — Tags: — frederique @ 23:56

I am involved in a migration project, to move thousands of sites from SharePoint 2007 to SharePoint Online. There is the technical aspect to it, but I am mostly concerned in how we can get our users on board. Give them the benefits of the upgrade to new tools that meet their needs better, whilst mitigating the hassle of the actual migration and change.

I have talked about the question what you should migrate, in what form and in which order in a previous post. Now here’s an annotated version of the 15 point checklist I use in the actual migrations.

1.Determine the migration scenario

Do you want to migrate the sites as they were, or only the content? To what template? With what mapping of the metadata? And what about the permissions? We have different scenarios for different situations. For example, archive sites, project sites and department sites for different business units, which have different source templates and different needs.

2.Test the results of the migration factory

Once you have the scenario, test it in a trial migration of a representative set of sites before you ask the business users to test anything. We have seen some unexpected results in early attempts, so we have learned to invest the time in these tests, to make sure the business users don’t trip over these problems. We keep track of all the sites and their migration status and the issues in SharePoint lists.

3.Involve the key users

Talk to the business about their needs, what do they think is still relevant from the old sites, what do they want with the new sites. And ask some key users to check the sites you migrated, after you have weeded out the errors.

4.Plan the final migration of live sites outside office hours

You need a content freeze for the migration. No problem for archive sites, because nobody is actively using them. But for active sites, you need to minimize the time users cannot work in these sites. Our solution is to migrate the bulk of the content while they work, and then do an incremental migration to update the content over a weekend. Plan the migration weekend with the business, to try and suit their calendars.

5.Communicate beforehand what will happen

Some people take any changes in their stride, but others really want know beforehand what will happen. So make sure all users are aware of the upcoming migration. Communicate, for example via the intranet and/or email:

  • Which sites will be migrated (for example, project sites or department sites) and to which environment they will be migrated. Hopefully they have already heard something about the new environment, like the rollout of Office 365 with SharePoint Online and you can refer to that.
  • What do they have to do. For example, stop using the old sites Friday before 18:00, park files locally if they have to work during the migration weekend, on Monday reconnect their Outlook plug-in to the new address, and check if all of their content was moved over correctly.
  • How are you going to help them. For example, provide them with a user manual, an email address and phone number they can contact, and in-house support on the day after the migration.
  • Who they can contact if they have questions now or later. If you send the message by email, send it from the mailbox they can contact.

Also, make sure you tell the key users, secretaries and other influencers what will happen, so that they can answer any questions their colleagues may ask them and prod them in the right direction.

6.Check which sites need special attention

We are migrating department sites at the end of the year. So the Finance people started to panic, because this is their busiest time and they do not want anything to interrupt their work. We reassured them that the old sites remain available in read-only mode; they can always still find the information there. And we take extra care when we migrate their sites. We also pay special attention to sites that have a lot of traffic, like sites that are included in the main navigation of the intranet.

  • Test if the content has been migrated properly. We cannot test every single site that is migrated, but we make sure to test these high priority sites.
  • Check the permissions: can they all still read and contribute the same as in the old site?
  • Are the start page, the site menu and the views in the lists and libraries correct and clear? We migrate from an on-premises environment that can handle view of over 5000 items to an online environment where such views may break.

7.Fix the glitches like overweight views

We migrate from an on-premises environment that can handle view of over 5000 items to an online environment where such views may break. So when we migrate large sites, we have some views that give an error instead of a list of items or documents, sometimes even default views, This would freak out the users, so we make sure we fix those views with filters based on indexed columns. Fortunately, we can do this before the migration weekend, once the bulk migration has been performed – because we already indexed the relevant columns via the site template.

8.Arrange for the update of links to the migrated sites

In this round, we are migrating some department sites that are connected to their intranet via static hyperlinks. In a previous round, we migrated project sites that were linked to CRM. These links need to be updated. We do not own that intranet or the CRM environment, but we do not want our users to hit dead links. So we asked around and found the managers of those systems who could update the links.

9.Provide an entry point to the new sites

The users have to know where they can find and access their new ‘digital homes’. We have done that in different ways.

  • When we had reliable list of owners for each site, and owners we could trust to inform their members, we sent the owners a mail with their URL (using a mail merge on our list of sites and owners). However, in most cases our governance failed in the past, and we don’t have a reliable site owner.
  • For the migration of a large number of project sites, we told the users to access their new sites from CRM, because that already was their preferred entry point and we could update the site links in CRM.
  • For another migration, we pointed the users to a site overview page with a search option where they could find their site. And we gave them the tip to Follow that site when they have found the new address.

10.Offer help materials

Our users need to take some actions after the migration, like reconnecting their Outlook plug-in to the migrated sites. You need to give them instructions on how to do that. Also, they have to learn how to use the new SharePoint Online environment. Most of it is intuitive enough, but not everything and now for everyone. So you need to give them a user manual and tips on that.

Offer them a single point of entry for all of these help materials. If you use a SharePoint site for this, you can update the information as you experience the migration and hear the questions that can come up. But be aware that some users will print put all of the materials as soon as you send them the link, so make that first version a serious one.

11.Send a message before the migration starts

If you have published a message on the intranet about the start of your migration, you cannot assume that everyone has seen it. So send an email Friday afternoon. Make it short and to the point, and put the key message in the Email subject: stop working in your department site before 18:00.

12.Run a script to compare the number of items in the old and the new sites

After the incremental migration to update the latest additions and changes in the migrated sites, the number of items in the source and the target should be the same. Unless the users have deleted files from the source file and the incremental migration cannot take that into account.

We had a script to compare the number of items automatically, and at the end of the migration weekend is the time to run it. In one round of migrations we forgot to run the script at that time and only ran it after the first day the migrated sites had gone live. But by then there were many discrepancies, especially when users got enthusiastic about the new options…

13.Make sure the old sites are locked after the migration

After the final migration to the new sites, users should not add or edit anything on the old sites anymore. Yes, this is obvious. But no, this does not always turn out well. We have had a glitch in the script, so that people were still able to work in the old sites. And of course these people had not paid attention to the communication.

So you need to double check that these sites are locked down in read-only mode, to allow the users to check the migration but force them to move to the migrated sites.

14.Send a message after it has finished

After you have finished the migration, make it perfectly clear to the users that they have to switch to their newly migrated site now, where they can find it, what they have to do now, and where they can find help. Put in on the intranet, send an email, tell all the key users and secretaries. This is not the time to be stingy with your communication.

15.Arrange for support on the day after the migration

There are always some issues or at least questions after a migration: where is my site, I’ve lost some documents, how do I connect the new site to my Outlook plug-in, … Try to be at their offices, to give them personal attention. Pay attention to the details when you arrange it, especially if “strangers” are to help out in this matter: who should be where and when, who is the host at that location and what are their contact details.

 

This weekend we are migrating the department sites of one of our more prolific business units. And yes, we use the checklist, specified for the migration at hand. In OneNote, with checkboxes to indicate what we have already completed. Check.

October 31, 2018

3 simple things that help user adoption

Filed under: Adoption,Office365 — frederique @ 22:58

Setting up effective tools and processes to achieve user adoption often turns out to be difficult. No time, no money, no resources. You should still make that time, find the money, and locate the resources, because why roll out something like Office 365 if users do not adopt it? Nevertheless, let us take a look at some things you can start doing right now that require only a little attention.

Set an example

Office 365 is a great toolkit for communication, collaboration and sharing knowledge. So let’s use it to support the roll-out of Office 365. Eat your own dog food!

Use Office to collaborate in your IT / information management / roll-out team. That allows you to check if everything is working properly, and it offers an example of the practical application of the tools that you can show to others.

And use Office 365 to share with the stakeholders outside your team. For instance, when you organize something like workshops or training sessions:

  • Do not send any materials as e-mail attachments, but share them on a SharePoint site.
  • Offer a Skype meeting or Teams meeting to allow people to join you online if they cannot join in real life.
  • Take notes of these sessions in OneNote and share them.

Also, encourage managers and other influencers to use the new tools when they become available. For instance, post announcements on the SharePoint. And if they want to send a newsletter or other e-mail for higher visibility, only include summaries in the mail text, with links to the full story.

Offer help content to answer frequently asked questions

User will ask how things work. At least, I get quite a few emails and calls with such questions and I know many my colleagues get them as well. Instead of detailing the same answer to each user, put these answers in a central location and point to those instructions and explanations to help them out.

  • A basic user manual,
  • A help page,
  • A list with clear tips or frequently asked questions.
  • A demo site with the SharePoint site template you have found or developed. Add some content to show what you can do in such a site.
  • A Short video, if you have more time or if you find it easier to show something in a quick recording than writing it down.

Anything, as long as it explains what is what, how to use it and what’s in it for them.

Do you have an information portal or help center? Great, use it!
If you don’t have anything elaborate (yet), just put something in a public team site. Even if you cannot broadcast the information yet, at least the information is available. Just send a link to anyone who asks a question.

Inspire people who show an interest

It takes a lot of time and effort to get everyone onboard on the Office 365 train. But in every organization, there are at least some enthusiasts who like to experiment and get started with new tools. They may contact you to learn more.

Inspire them with tips and tricks of what is already possible and sneak peaks of what will become available soon. Then they can inspire their colleagues. But be honest about the limitations and the reasons why some things are not available yet – these early adopters may want to move faster than you call roll out Office 365 in a controlled manner.

Try to find out what they really need, in their situation. Standard Office 365 features can be amazing discoveries if you were unaware of them and they turn out to meet your needs. Examples of things that made some people quite happy recently:

  • For a colleague the idea of sharing notes in the team site notebook was an eye opener. After all, that is included in every SharePoint site but he was not aware of that, so he was taking notes in a notebook in his OneDrive. Quite a few people were awed by the functionality offered by OneNote, which they found a lot more practical than notes on paper or on Word.
  • For a team that is discussing a draft versions of deliverable documents, Microsoft Teams was just what they needed: persistent chat threads in the context of the document under discussion.
  • A colleague had heard about Teams and thought that they would help him. But after some brainstorming, it turned out he wanted to manage an overview of information that was perfectly suited to list in SharePoint with some fields for status, owner and hyperlinks to other sources.

 

These are some things you can do to take a few steps towards some user adoption. But don’t stop there. In most organizations, you need to do a lot more to achieve real user adoption. See for example these earlier blog posts: 5 lessons learned about user adoption programmes,  5 more lessons learned about User Adoption and the DIWUG eMagazine article: How do we get users to adopt Office 365?

September 30, 2018

New meeting tools in Microsoft Teams

Filed under: Office365 — Tags: — frederique @ 23:36

Almost two years ago, I go my first glimpse of Microsoft Teams. For me, it was a big surprise, but it was not the hub for teamwork that it was supposed to be. At Ignite 2017, Teams got serious. And recently at Ignite 2018, Teams really took off.

Microsoft Teams is replacing Skype for Business as the preferred tool for online meetings. We knew that was going to happen, and now we heard the exhortations to move our users from Skype to Teams. And it’s not just a question of replacement: Teams now offer options that extend beyond what we ever had in Skype for Business…

This post summarizes the announcements: What’s new in Teams – Ignite Edition. And I’ve taken a quick look at the current Teams Meeting myself.

Scheduling a meeting starting from a compleet overview

I can schedule a Teams meeting from Outlook. And I can schedule one from within Teams, where I am already working. This is not brand new, but it is practical.

In the meeting section of Teams, I get an overview of my meetings today. Teams is integrated with Outlook: I also see the appointments created in Outlook that don’t have anything to do with Teams meetings. When scheduling a meeting, I can invite guest who are outside our organization.

Meetings in Teams, including an overview of my meetings today, including appointments set up only in Outlook. And the details of a Teams meeting.

Meetings in Teams, including an overview of my meetings today, including appointments set up only in Outlook. And the details of a Teams meeting.

Blurring the background in video calls

When I give an important presentation using video, I am always careful to sit in front of a neutral background. Now Teams has a new option to avoid distractions: background blurring. It does give me a weird aura, but it also reduces the mess in the background.

A video call without and with background blurring.

A video call without and with background blurring.

Sharing notes and other options

Personally, I don’t use the video option much. In presentations, I do a bit of video so that people know who I am, But then I start showing the real thing: presentation materials and demos. The options to do that look a bit different from the buttons in Skype.

Like in Skype we can have a chat-conversation. In addition, we can also take notes right in the context of the meeting.

Sharing and other options in my Teams Meeting.

Sharing and other options in my Teams Meeting.

You can have a meeting in Teams with a guest outside your own organization. But that guest does not have access to the notes.

The external guests can join the meeting, but they cannot see the notes.

The external guests can join the meeting, but they cannot see the notes.

Recording a session and viewing it in Stream

In Skype for Business, we had an option to record a session. We don’t record regular meetings, but we do record presentations, like knowledge sharing sessions. The option is available in Skype, but publishing a recording is a bit messy: you have to find the file on your computer and then upload it into Stream yourself.

In a Teams meeting, the recording is automatically uploaded into Stream. And a link to that video is posted in the chat conversation. You can open the recording from that conversation as well as from Stream itself.

The recording is posted to the chat conversation of the meeting,

The recording is posted to the chat conversation of the meeting,

Open the recording directly from the chat

Open the recording directly from the chat

It looks like it’s time to transform my recurring Skype mMetings into Team Meetings…

August 31, 2018

Some gotchas and glitches in Microsoft Stream

Filed under: Office365 — Tags: , — frederique @ 23:50

We are using Office 365 and investigating Stream as the video tool for a communication solution. Stream is interesting, but we hit some stumbling blocks. Let me share some of the lessons we learned setting up a channel, allowing the right people to upload videos into it and trying to achieve a smooth end-user experience.

We are working on a communication solution to share safety information with the entire organization. In addition to pages about safety rules et cetera, the team is making videos to explain safety measures and inviting vloggers to create videos about their safety experiences on the job. Because it is very important that the information follows the official safety rules, the content is curated assiduously.

In this organization we are rolling out Office 365, so we got started with a Communication Site in SharePoint Online and Stream for the videos. We were guided by Microsoft’s Overview of Groups and Channels, which was helpful but not enough to pull us through.

Set-up a channel where the right people can upload videos

Permissions are not set on Channels but on Groups

In the old Video portal in Office 365, you set permissions on the channel. In the new Stream, permissions are not managed on the channel, but directly on the video or on Groups. The channels are only meant to structure the collection of videos that the Group is publishing. In our situation, a small group of editors should upload the videos and everyone in the organization should be able to view them. So following Microsoft’s Group & channel examples, we set up:

  • A Public Group in Stream, where we Allow all members to contribute: everyone can see the content of this Group, but only the Group can contribute.

    Screenshot: Create a public group

    Create a Public Group, so that everyone can view the content and the users add to the group can contribute

  • In that Group, we created a Group channel. The Owners can change the settings of the Group and the channel, and the people they add as Members can upload and manage the videos in the channel.

    Screenshot: create group channel

    Create a group channel, so that the group can upload videos

In the Group and the Channel,

  • Owners can change the settings of the group the channel, add members and other owners, upload and manage videos
  • Members can also manage the group and channel settings like the title, and they can upload and manage videos. But they cannot add other members.
  • Everyone in the organization (because it is a public group) can view the content, but not contribute.
ScreenshotL add member

The Group Owners can add members and other owners, in the tab Membership of the Group.

Even Group owners cannot upload videos if video uploads are restricted centrally

Even the Owners of Stream Groups cannot upload videos, if video uploading is restricted in the central settings. We hit this problem. In our case, some owners could upload videos and others could not, and it took us a while to find out why. You will find this option in Stream itself (not in the central Office 365 Admin portal), in the menu under the gear icon: Admin settings.

Screenshot: link to Admin settings.

Link to the Admin settings in Stream.

The check the settings under Content Creation. You are fine if the option to Restrict video uploads = Off.

Screenshot: Restrict video uploads is Off.

Content creation settings in Stream: Restrict video uploads is Off.

If video uploads are restricted, you have to make sure that the people who are supposed to upload videos in your channel are added to the ‘whitelist’.

Screenshot: Restrict video uploads is On

Content creation settings in Stream: Restrict video uploads is On.

So if the editors cannot upload videos check this setting. And ask the governance board for your Office 365 environment if they can please relax this setting and stop the restriction on video uploads, because managing this ‘whitelist’ of unrestricted users will be a nightmare.

Finding the options

Keep titles short: Channels titles cannot be more than 30 characters

When you create a channel, This title only just fit in ‘’Test video companywide channel’, even though the title field looks much bigger. And even so, under 20 characters are displayed in the channel over view cards.

Partial screenshot: channels tab

In the Group, the tab Channels displays the channels of this group, but only short version of the channel titles

Editing the Group properties

Owners and (if members are allowed to contribute) can change the settings of the group and its channels. The entry point to the edit-options are somewhat hidden: follow the dot dot dots…you see in the group itself and in the overviews.

Screenshots: entry points to edit tgroup and channel settings

Click on the ellipsis next to the title in the group or channel, or in the overviews.

You cannot change the Group picture in Stream

You can edit the title, description and access options. But you cannot change the picture here.

Screenshot of the group edit options.

Editing the Group properties.

You have to go to the Group settings elsewhere in Office 365. After all, the Group we use in Stream is a regular Office 365 Group.

To change the picture, go to the settings in Office 3656 Group.

To change the picture, go to the settings in Office 3656 Group.

Stream on a SharePoint page does not work properly

Stream web part is in Preview and slows Internet Explorer 9 terribly

We have a Communication Site in SharePoint Online for the non-video content. In that Modern template, there is a web part (app part, whatever it’s called nowadays), to display a Stream video or channel on the page. But that is a Preview.

Putting the Stream preview on the page is a performance killer in Internet Explorer 9. This old Internet Explorer does not work well with the Modern interface.

Preview Stream webpart on a Communication Site

Preview Stream webpart on a Communication Site

Videos don’t play on iPhones

Because the Stream web part does not work properly on the laptops, we embedded key videos directly on the page. On the laptop that works.

However, in the SharePoint App on the iPhone, that does not work. On the iPhone, you get a message to log on. And that does not work…

On an iPhone, you do not get the video, but a log on message. Which does not work.

On an iPhone, you do not get the video, but a log on message. Which does not work.

Unfortunately, this is a show stopper for us: most users will probably use their iPhone to view the information, including the videos. Hm. So we have to keep looking…

July 31, 2018

Some notes on the migration of SharePoint sites

Filed under: SharePoint — Tags: — frederique @ 23:11

Currently, I am involved in a project to move a large organization into the cloud of Office 365. That includes the transition from SharePoint 2007, 2010 and 2013 to SharePoint Online. Very useful, but quite challenging, because of the number of sites, unclear ownership and the complexity of the original environment. So let me give some tips, based on our experiences.

Only migrate what is still relevant

To save migration effort and to prevent the innocent user from getting swamped in obsolete information, you should try to exclude information that is no longer relevant.

This is tricky, because most content owners have a knee-jerk reaction when you ask them what can be  deleted: “nothing can be left behind”. But you may still get rid of some things. This is most important when it comes to items that are hard to migrate: it is really worth the effort to do this?

Determine which sites we can ignore

In this organization, we have not been able to pinpoint any “real” sites that we can just leave behind. They have many long running projects, most of the old information needs to be stored at least ten years and usually longer, and they don’t like to delete anything. However, we also have sites are not “real”.

So, we can still ignore quite a few test sites, demo sites and training sites that showcase the old functionality but won’t mean anything after the migration to SharePoint Online.

Determine which lists and libraries we can ignore

Within the team sites, there are some lists that we can ignore. For example, as they now manage the contacts in CRM, the contact information stored in the SharePoint sites is obsolete.

So the technical guys doing the migration, excluded these lists from the migration scripts. And they were happy to do so, because these lists had some weird customizations that them caused problems.

Determine which fields can we can ignore

The libraries had some fields with very strange content, like ID-codes that do not make any sense to ordinary users. As it turned out, some those were left-overs from the previous migration, from Lotus Notes to SharePoint 2007. Other fields we encountered were part of a very old version of the site template and no longer used by anyone.

So we left these obsolete fields out of the new templates and out of the property mappings.

Archive what you can, only migrate as ‘active’ what you must

We have to keep a lot of information from projects that have already finished. The **

Determine which sites are still active and which are inactive

We based our status labels on existing lists of project (for example in CRM), last modified dates and information from the business. We have some humongous Excel sheets to gather, enrich an manage all of this information. Over the course of our long term project, we have to update this list.

Create a simple archive template

The goal of these archive sites is to allow users to find old information. This implies these sites don’t need to have advanced functionality. No smart lookups, workflows, beautiful image carousels or anything like that.

So we created a very empty site template: a container into which we could migrate the old lists and libraries. The tech guys included in the migration script steps to make sure that no fields are required anymore. And complex lookup fields that have a lot of customization are mapped to basic text only fields. After all, all we want to do is preserve the content, present it in views that help them make sense of that content and allow for searching.

Migrate the archive site at your leisure

The good thing about archive sites, is that nobody adds or edits anything there. So you don’t need to worry about a content freeze for these sites, which makes our lives a lot simpler.

Prioritize

Think where you want to start. For us the key criteria when we plan which sites are moved first are:

  • In which SharePoint does the original site live?
  • How complicated is the target template and migration script for this type of sites?
  • Do we have owners or other stakeholders who we can contact about these sites?
  • Are the new sites needed for another project?

Get rid of SharePoint 2007 first

We want to move out of the severely prehistoric SharePoint 2007 first, before it crumbles completely. After all, SharePoint 2007 has been declared officially “dead” by Microsoft almost a year ago (SharePoint Server 2007 end of support roadmap) https://docs.microsoft.com/nl-nl/office365/enterprise/sharepoint-2007-end-of-support?redirectSourcePath=%252fen-ie%252farticle%252fSharePoint-Server-2007-End-of-Life-Roadmap-ba124775-d5c0-4d68-b88d-8458ad4c3717 And we are experiencing difficulties with storage space on this server,

So we do our best to get as much as possible out of SharePoint 2007 as soon as possible, before we start on the “younger” SharePoint environments.

Start with the simple scenario’s

We did not want to get stuck figuring out all the complications in the beginning. Instead ,we got started with what we could do at that time. This way, we could iron out the kinks of our basic process and migration technology before we start pushing the envelope with the more complex stuff. And we can already lighten the load on the old servers and show the stakeholders some progress before things get more complex.

So we started with the migration of archive sites, rather than active sites. And we started with a set of sites that were relatively homogenous and relatively simple. We are still working up the courage to take on the “swamp” of other sites…

Start with sites that have clear ownership

Unfortunately, we have a lot of sites that have no clear content owner. The site owners in Sharepoint are IT people, not people in the business. Because we have over 8000 sites, we do not want to dive into each individual site, to check who has been active in there recently…

So we started with sites belonging to a business unit that has a mostly complete list of all project sites in CRM, stating the region it belongs to. The secretaries of those regions were able to take charge. They can tell us which sites are still active, which are important and need special attention, and how to deal with sites that turn out to be exceptions. And they could do some testing and give us sign-off on migrated sites.

Align with related project

We are not only transitioning to Office 365, but also to a new version of CRM in Dynamics 365. For one of our business units, CRM and SharePoint were always part of the same way of working. They work from CRM and the information is stored in SharePoint. The CRM project is moving faster than the SharePoint migration.

So we prioritized the migration of the SharePoint sites belonging to this business unit, allowing the Go Live date for the CRM project and the SharePoint project to coincide.

 

All in all, we are still working on the migration to SharePoint Online. But with these tricks, at least we are making progress and we’ll get there eventually.

June 28, 2018

Rock shelters: use what is available and go from there

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — frederique @ 15:27

The Dordogne in France has been a choice place to live for 400.000 years: people lived here already in prehistoric times as well as in the middle ages. And modern people still live there today. This is the place to be, because of the shape of the cliffs: there are many rock shelters. Many people over the ages have used these rock shelters as a place to live, adding to it in different ways.

Rock shelters

The limestone rocks in the valley of the Vallée de la Vézère have been shaped by the river, but also by ‘gélifraction’: repeated freezing and thawing of water seeped into the rock has crushed the softer layers. The result is like a long, shallow cave with a smooth floor, a ceiling and a back wall. A practical place to live.

Prehistoric times

We casually talk about ‘cave men’, but our ancestors in paleolithic times did not actually live in caves. They used caves, like Lascaux, as sanctuaries maybe, for paintings and engravings. But the people who adorned the Lascaux caves, lived in a rock shelter nearby. Such a rock shelter does not protect your entirely from the weather, but at least you have daylight, fresh air and floor space, which can be difficult in a cave.

Paleolitic men did not alter the shape of the mountain to create shelter. They took the rock as it was, though they may have added screening made from perishable materials like wood and animal skins.

The original Abri de Cro-Magnon: the place that gave the Cro-Magnon man his name, when the first remains of his kind were discovered 150 years ago: the earliest human that was anatomically modern. With a reconstruction of what might have been a tent-like additional protection.

The original Abri de Cro-Magnon: the place that gave the Cro-Magnon man his name, when the first remains of his kind were discovered 150 years ago: the earliest human that was anatomically modern. With a reconstruction of what might have been a tent-like additional protection.

Middle ages

Many of the rock shelters were used again and again by different people, in different times. All of them found it useful.

For example, the Abri de la Madeleine has been used since paleolitic times (it gave its name to the period called Magdalenian, about 17.000 -12.000 years ago). But people kept living here. In medieval times, they built a village and a castle in a higher layer. The advantage of the location is that is not only already supplies a smooth floor, a wall and a ceiling, but also that it is perched halfway a rock face and easy to defend – an important point in those quarrelsome times.

In these times, they did not take the rock as it was, but they modified it: they dug deeper niches, and they built additional walls.

Medieval troglodyte house in La Madeleine

In the medieval part of the Abri of La Madeleine, they dug bedsteads and added walls to close the space and to provide an oven for example.

Example of how the wooden beams were fitted into the rock face. You see these holes everywhere, here at La Madeleine the have reconstructed to wood to show how it works.

Example of how the wooden beams were fitted into the rock face. You see these holes everywhere, here at La Madeleine the have reconstructed to wood to show how it works.

Now

Nowadays, people still use the shelter provided by such abris. Why build an entire house, when you can use the existing rock shelter and only add a few walls and a partial roof? And why put up a roof to protect your car from the sun and the rain, when you can park it right under the abri?

This house built under the Abri Pataud is now the museum for this Abri.

This house built under the Abri Pataud is now the museum for this Abri.

The museum guard parks his car in the Abri, nice and sheltered.

The museum guard parks his car in the Abri, nice and sheltered.

This rings a bell…

Ok, this was on holiday and I was too busy sightseeing and enjoying myself to think about it. But now that I am back, this reminds me of the way we use Office 365 and SharePoint Online: we take the basics, which in our case are provided by Microsoft instead of Mother Nature. And we use them as a starting point. Sometimes this gives us enough shelter or functionality to get by. And sometimes we add to it, to make it more comfortable, secure or user-friendly.

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