Archive for the ‘SharePoint 2010’ Category

How to avoid site scoped search results confusion

August 28th, 2014 No comments

The SharePoint search can be a confusing user experience

Take a look at the following scenarios.

A. SharePoint search is setup to show results from the current site. However, the user is expecting a Google type search where all results are shown.

B. SharePoint search is setup to show results from all sites; however, this user only works within one team site and only wants to see this site’s results.

How can we make this experience better?  It’s through messaging. On the search results page you can add a web part to check if contextual search is being used. If yes, then output text that says “Currently viewing results for all sites” otherwise output “Currently viewing results for [this site]. To view results for all sites click [here]” and redirect to the full search results.


Categories: SharePoint 2010, SharePoint 2013 Tags:

Co-Authoring Excel Documents with SharePoint 2013

August 1st, 2014 No comments

Co-authoring documents has been part of SharePoint for quite a while. This feature helps multiple authors work on a given document at the same time while they see each other works in the document so they don’t create conflicts as they edit.

Among all Office client apps (the one that you install with office suit), Excel client does not support co-authoring, only through the Excel Web App can we do this. This has been clearly documented by Microsoft here. The limitation is primarily due to Excel client’s richness in functionality (i.e. – data models in PivotCharts and PivotTables) which makes co-authoring a bit tricky.

The requirement for co-authoring is that the document is in fact stored in SharePoint (on-premise or online in Office365) OR SkyDrive. So if you take the document out of SharePoint (or SkyDrive), co-authoring files will be out of the window with it!! Depending on where the document is stored, there are some similarities and differences in behavior which as been documented here.

Upgrading to SharePoint 2013 doesn’t change these limitations, however SharePoint 2013 adds a few new features to what was already there (see this post here). Overall, there is a better syncing pipeline between co-authors in Excel web apps and there is more visibility over who is online doing “what” in the workbook. Limitations still apply though!! When you view a workbook in Excel Web App 2013, some features are not supported or might work differently, as summarized in this post by Microsoft (Excel Web App 2010 link is here).

A few common questions I get asked by clients about co-authoring:

  • Q) Can you co-author on Excel files stored in SharePoint using Excel clients (2013, 2010, 2007, etc)?
  • A) No. You need Excel Web App and Excel Services depending on what you do in the Excel file.

     Supported software versions


  • Q) Can you take the Excel file out of SharePoint (or SkyDrive) and still co-author?
  • A) No. Co-authoring requires the file to stay in SharePoint (or SkyDrive).
  • Q)Does upgrading to SP2013 really help?
  • A)Yes. It improves the co-authoring experience but the unsupported features differences in behavior between client and browser still applies.
  • Q)What are the unsupported features in Excel web app?
  • A)Here is the list. Please note Microsoft is not using the word “Unsupported”, they’re saying features that differ in the browser, client and then in the description they say it doesn’t work in the browser.

Workblook features that differ between browser and desktop

Reasons to Love Yammer

February 13th, 2014 No comments

I love Yammer because it’s easy to use (just like Facebook). To me, Yammer is Facebook on diet …I mean there is no fluff or information overload and you can be much more focused on the conversation itself.

Conversations are like the oxygen for my daily work, so I do whatever it takes to improve them. Yammer is giving me the oxygen!

I love Yammer because it helps me explain SharePoint social features to my customers a lot easier than My Sites in SharePoint itself.  Here is an example of how I educate my customers on social features in Yammer before letting them touch MySite in SharePoint:


Have I replaced my outlook and Lync with Yammer? Absolutely No! Yammer is yet another right tool for the job. Depending on how urgent or braod my conversations are with my customers I use different tools. The following picture shows the model I follow:

Great article on how Yammer can help you drive better communication channels  with your customers: 

Categories: SharePoint 2010 Tags:

Office 365 : Service Interoperability

January 15th, 2014 No comments

Just to be clear, there are two breeds of Office 365 currently available in the market:

  1. Office 365 RTM (SharePoint 2010, Lync 2010, Exchange 2010 and Office Pro 2010) which is the focus of this blog post for the most part (see the end of the blog post for new Office 365 stuff)
  2. New Office 365 ( based on the 2013 wave of products (SharePoint, Lync, Exchange, etc) currently in the customer preview mode).


The more I work with Office 365, the more I like the interoperability features of the platform. In the context of services, the interoperability is the ability of a service to work with another service with no or minimal effort on the part of tenant. Here are some of the features and workloads in Office 365 that totally justifies why as a small to mid-sized customer you should be considering Office 365:

1) With SharePoint online, collaborating with your partners and customers is ridiculously simple. It’s just the matter of enabling a few settings and features , and you are all set!


2) Office Hub: Your SharePoint Online sites under your fingertips (Windows Phone Only)

3) Office Web Apps (Not included in Exchange Online Plan.View only in Kiosk Worker (K1))

Aside from the obvious benefits of Office Web App, if you are delivering content across a wide variety of network links or across clients with fluctuating bandwidth, Office Web App is a fantastic way of delivering Office documents to your end users FAST,without worrying about how long it would take for the client to download a word document or whether or not they have the right version of Office client installed. Just think about it for a sec!

4) MySites (Only available in enterprise plans E1 to E4)

I’ve lost the count of failed social implementations in SharePoint just because the client was not able to properly implement MySites. Identity management business is not fun and user profile import is not easy either. It’s a slippery path you don’t want to go down! Well, My Site are there already , all you need to do is a) buy the right plan  and b)click on the right link! That’s all to it!

5) Your Lync federation with other organizations that use Lync 

Be my guest if you want to spend thousands of dollars to buy and setup your Lync farm and spend half a year planning and executing your plan to install Lync in your organization. Lync as a service in Office 365 is easy to setup and it comes with Federation which if you wanted to setup yourself it could be an additional edge server , a couple more certs and IPs on the top of what you had already spent for your on-perm Lync farm!

6) Setup Exchange ActiveSync on various mobile devices

7) How to use PowerShell to manage your online services

.8) Creating online meetings using Lync Online

9) Broadcast your PowerPoint presentations using Lync Online . This feature is particularly important because SharePoint Online PowerPoint Broadcast feature in Office 365 will be removed on 2 October 2012, and all data stored in the Broadcast site collection will be deleted. That being said , for broadcasting your PowerPoint presentations you either need to use Lync or

10) Office Boradcast Service (a free service within PowerPoint 2010)

11) Microsoft Lync 2010 Attendee – User Level Install

12) Lync Online for mobile devices

13) Directory Integration Services in Office 365

Now let’s take a look at the features included in the new Office 365 and what they mean to customers from the interop perspective:

1) Sync your SharePoint documents to your computer at home or work using SkyDrive Pro included in MSI-based Office Professional Plus 2013 (Yeah, that’s how Office 365 team distinguishes their Office products from the traditional Office client apps intended for your desktop or on-premise usage):

2) Integration with Skype

Categories: SharePoint 2010 Tags:

SharePoint Jargon Is Not a Value-Add, Be Simple!

October 16th, 2013 No comments

As SharePoint evolves, so does its language!  For every new feature or workload Microsoft introduces in this great platform, a whole new buzzword is born. As a SharePoint consultant who has worked with dozens of enterprise customers for a decade, the one thing I have learned, over and over, is that using buzzwords or getting too technical is simply a bad sign in communicating with the business users.

Based on my experience business users only understand (and care for) six things in SharePoint:

  1. Sites: A central place for collaboration, communication, or storing information.
  2. People: Those who are involved in the site, either contributing information, facilitating the communication or consuming information.
  3. Apps: Those similar to what they have in their smart phone! I am sure you have heard this before: On my phone, I can find contacts alphabetically, give me a People Finder in search that works exactly the same! 
  4. Themes: Cosmetics, look and feel , basically everything that can make their ideas shine to the C-Level people.
  5. Search: The one that they use in Google or Bing sites with the exact same simplicity, speed and user experience.
  6. Metadata: Information about their information. Things like Author, Created By, etc.


When you go beyond the basics, it becomes important to have an strategy to make complex matters simple for them to understand. Getting too technical? They don’t understand you. They don’t understand you, then they don’t trust you . If they don’t trust you, nothing will happen, regardless of how qualified you are to get the job done!

So, how should you spoon feed information to your business audience?  I use many techniques varying from one interaction to another. However, the following three techniques are pretty much always in common:

Prepare, Prepare and Prepare

I never EVER meet with a business user without having an agenda. That’s just a simple rule that I never forget. I share the agenda ahead of the time and communicate the outcomes that would like to achieve. Sometimes, I send them home work or a survey to get them THINK in advance.

The Power of Stories

For every topic in my agenda, I have got a supporting story to tell. I try to keep the stories short and add a few jokes here and there. Below is “The New Home Metaphor” and the story I tell my business users when walking them through content migration from file share to SharePoint:

Think of building your SharePoint site as building a new home for your family. You design the structure, layout, façade and other requirements of your new home based on the taste and needs of your family. Before you move in, you divide (classify) all of your possessions into boxes and label (tag) those boxes to indicate “what each box contains” and “where they will be going” in the new home. At the end of the day, what is in those boxes will represents your home and how modern or old-school it looks like. If you are moving into a larger home, you’ll likely take items that were in a single room and put them into multiple rooms. On the other hand, if you are moving into a smaller home, you may end up merging your belongings from several rooms and put them into one single room.

Then there is the “moving day”, and movers help you move into your new home. And that’s when the real work begins!  You want to keep things in order so you can find them faster. You upgrade your home appliance, clean up your home and handle the day-to-day maintenance. Some maintenance like lawn mowing is outsourced, and some is done in-house. You and each member of the family are just one tenant of the new home and you all need to share some facilities, therefore you all need to follow some rules and requirements. There are communication, training, spot checks and monitoring activities to determine if each member of the family is doing their job right.

And the story goes on. You get my point!

The Art of Drawing

I like whiteboard drawings to express myself and to back up my stories in a “visually telling” manner.

I use simple drawings when I feel that the client is overwhelmed and is unable to metabolize the flow of information.  For instance, I draw the following picture on the white board to present the high level structure of Managed Metadata as well as how it works in SharePoint.


I draw the following picture to explain how content types are used as the  “information building blocks” of their sites . This picture is also useful when explaining the difference between managed terms and column metadata.


Make them Feel Part of the Process

Let’s face it. No business user enjoys sitting there in an hour-long meeting, and listen to you talking about how much you are in  love with SharePoint. They quickly get bored and you lose their attention. Use different engaging techniques to make them feel they are part of the process. Conduct workshops, play games, use card sorting, make them draw something on the whiteboard (this one is a bit tricky)…I don’t know, do whatever you can if you don’t want to see them playing with their BalckBerries !



SharePoint is complex! When working with business users, try not to make it more complex than what it is.  Most of business users never even have to know the details like what a web part connection is or how document set works behind the scene. Avoid getting too technical or using jargon simply because you’ll lose their attention.

Try to be simple and focus on helping them get the biggest bang for their buck!