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

SharePoint Summit 2014 Vancouver – Early Bird Registration

June 23rd, 2014 No comments

SharePoint Summit 2014 in Vancouver will give you a 360 degree view of the best practices and methodologies you will need to plan, implement and manage successful SharePoint-based solutions designed to meet your organization’s business needs and be adopted by your end users. “Discover.Innovate.Build” are the main themes of this event, featuring MORE THAN 60 outstanding training sessions to help you make the most of SharePoint and maximize your people’s productivity and effectiveness.

See more information about the early bird registration in the ad below.


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My Favorite Top 5 Features in OneDrive

June 17th, 2014 No comments

Unless you are living in a cave, everywhere in the Microsoft technology stack you look these days, the first thing you would notice is that Microsoft is fully committed to deliver their next generation of their products in the cloud.

OneDrive , a product formerly known as SkyDrive, is one of Microsoft’s first investments in the cloud. To put it in layman’s term, OneDrive is your personal file storage/synchronization service that uses cloud as its backbone. The service was designed and implemented to compete with similar cloud-based storage services like Apple’s iCloud, Dropbox and Google Drive, to name a few! To make it a bit complicated, there are two distinct services Microsoft offers that carry the word “OneDrive”, and you certainly should NOT be confusing these two:

  1. Microsoft OneDrive : This is the consumer facing storage and synchronization service and the focus of this blog post. If you don’t have this service, you can sign up and get 7 GB  15GB (See this update) of Free space right away. All you need is a Microsoft account and Internet, and that’s all about it!
  2. Microsoft OneDrive for Business : This is the commercial facing service and you can read about it more here. If you have an internal SharePoint site or an Office 365 site,  you may encounter the word “OneDrive” in the top navigation or in various pages and that is an abbreviation for “OneDrive for Business” (the commercial service) to keep things simpler, as shown in the picture below:


Some very exciting updates to OneDrive and Office 365 were announced yesterday:

  • OneDrive will come with 15 GB for free (up from 7 GB)
  • All versions of Office 365 will come with 1 TB of OneDrive storage (up from 20 GB) – including OneDrive for Business (previously announced)
  • Storage prices have been dropped by over 70%


Focusing on Microsoft OneDrive, in this blog post I’d like to walk you through a few features of  Microsoft OneDrive that I have found useful:

1) Different Flavors, Supporting Different Platforms

Whether you are using your computer or your smart phone to work with your files, there is a OneDrive sku available for you. You can download OneDrive Desktop App and install it on your computer or you can add the smart phone app and work with your files just as you would on your computer. You can see a list of currently supported platforms for OneDrive here:

2) Tight Integration with Office, Both Offline and Online

OneDrive has a tight integration with Office, and it doesn’t matter if you are in the Office client apps offline, or in online. For example, the following picture shows the ability of OneNote client app to create and store a new Notebook in my OneDrive, the same goes for other Office client apps such as Excel, Word and PowerPoint.



If you browse to Office online at , sign in using your Microsoft account (or account) and create an Office document online, then your document will end up in your OneDrive instance in a folder called “Documents” and it’s viewed by Office Web app, as shown in the picture below:


While you are there, pay special attention to the fact that there is no “Save” button in the online version of Office apps as everything will be automatically saved to your OneDrive instance in the background.


3) Offline and Online Folder Structure

If you’ve installed OneDrive on your desktop, laptop or Surface, you’ll have a dedicated OneDrive folder which also gets added to your Favorites library in Windows Explorer. This allows you to work with your files offline (even when you don’t have Internet)  and perform file management tasks easier via familiar windows-style drag and drop.All you need to do is to drag the files you intend to share with others to the respective folders and everything is synchronized in the background when you have internet connectivity  to the online storage on Microsoft servers.


Side note: Green icon next to each file and folder represent complete sync state.

If you prefer to work with the online Web-based UI, just browse to your OneDrive Website at and the same folder structure will be there represented by blue tiles (big blue icons). Each folder also comes with thumbnail previews rotating through the content of each folder. Pretty cool feature that allows you to preview the content of each container without having to peek into every folder.


4) Guest Links

One of the advantages that OneDrive has over conventional file storage systems is the ability to share your content.  That comes really handy when you need to work with others collaboratively on for example a presentation or a document. You can share from the local folder structure or via OneDrive Website , which both will land you in the following page online:


When it comes to sharing, you have multiple options but the one that says “Recipients don’t need a Microsoft account” means anonymous sharing (or guest links). You send someone a link, they click on it and they can view (or edit) the document with or without having a Microsoft account.


5) Fetch Files

Another interesting feature of OneDrive is the ability to fetch files access all your computers via a central location in the OneDrive Website. When you browse one of your PC’s files remotely through the Website , you can download copies of the files or stream videos on that PC to your current device. Obviously, to use this feature you need to ensure the remote PC is turned on, it is connected to the Internet and OneDrive application is running.

Fetch files feature doesn’t work with your smart phones, as well as devices shipped with Windows 8.1

You can even access files on network shares and mapped drives if they exist in the remote PC you fetch files from. The following picture shows the PCs I can remotely access via OneDrive Website.


Other useful links related to this topic:

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Canadian MVP Consumer Camp 2014

May 14th, 2014 No comments


I wanted to let everyone know about a great event that Microsoft is organizing at the Microsoft Store at Square One Shopping Centre in Mississauga – the first Canadian MVP Consumer Camp on Thursday, May 29th from 4pm to 9pm. I will be there with my fellow MVPs answering tech questions, showing off demos and the unique features of Microsoft devices. There will be prize draws, Q&A sessions, snacks and refreshments.

MVPs are recognized exceptional, independent community leaders who share their passion, technical expertise, and real-world knowledge of Microsoft products with others. We speak at events, answer questions online, and have awesome technical blogs!  I will be there with quite a few MVPs from across Canada!

For those of you who haven’t been to a Microsoft Store yet, they are amazing!  They have a huge selection of the latest products and gadgets with experts who can answer all of your questions.  If you can’t make the event, definitely try to drop in to a store to try the latest Xbox game, check out Windows 8.1 and its great touch features or to buy the latest and greatest Windows Phone.  The Nokia Lumia 1020 has an unbelievable camera by the way 😉

Do you have any questions about Surface, Windows, Office, Windows Phone or Xbox?  Do you want to learn about how to get the most out of your gadgets?  There will be an MVP there who can provide answers! Hope to see you there!

Register here!



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Tech Genius – Ask your Toughest Technical Questions

April 10th, 2014 No comments

New this year, we are having Ask the Experts round-table sessions in SharePoint Summit Toronto. I am leading “Tech Genius – Ask your toughest technical questions ( Dev & IT Pto) track. If you are around, come and see us in Session 3.4 during the conference. Dates and times are in the following flyer:

3-28-2014 9-58-43 AM

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