Category Archives: SharePoint 2013

Creating a new SharePoint framework project using NodeJS

It’s finally been released as a preview! Please note that backwards compatibility will not be supported so don’t start any production work yet, this is for testing and feedback only!



It can be downloaded from GitHub now, I go through the process below but the official instructions are here (and really straightforward): https://github.com/SharePoint/sp-dev-docs/wiki/Setup-your-machine

Getting familiar with the new environment

It takes some practice and learning to understand how the node package manager works along with Gulp and Yeoman. It can be a steep learning curve but there are some great Angular tutorials to help get familiar with the setup and technologies.

Error messages and path limitations

Even creating a new project can generate a large amount of errors. It’s important to get familiar with these errors and how to resolve them.

One important item to consider when creating a new project is the project path. The project folder structure can get very large and reach the limit allowed on windows machines. Try creating all the projects in a short path such as “C:\dev” to avoid hitting that limitation when generating projects.

Node Package Manager

Before starting, install NodeJS.

Install Yeoman and Gulp

All the other pre-requisites are installed via the NodeJS command line. It is very easy to add frameworks and components using this method.

Yeoman is a generator which will gather all the frameworks required and pull them down into the project. It is marketed as a scaffolding tool for modern WebApps. SharePoint has a Yeoman generator, this creates the project and downloads any dependencies.

Gulp is a JavaScript task runner. It provides a workflow to build, compile and optimise libraries and stylesheets. It also refreshes the browser as changes are made. Gulp will load the SharePoint workbench and refresh any changes made to the code live.

Yeoman and Gulp are installed from the NodeJS command line using the following line:

npm i -g yo gulp

Install the Yeoman SharePoint generator

The Yeoman generator for SharePoint is very similar to the old Visual Studio templates. Download the Microsoft SharePoint generator using the following line:

npm i -g @microsoft/generator-sharepoint

Creating a new project

Open up the NodeJS command line and navigate to your project folder (remember to keep the path short). Run the following line to create the new SharePoint web part project template:

yo @microsoft/sharepoint

Follow the instructions for entering the project details. Errors may appear on the screen which will need to be resolved at some point. This process takes around 20 to 30 minutes.

Running the SharePoint workbench

Test the new project template by running this command:

gulp serve

SharePoint workbench

The SharePoint workbench runs locally (so there isn’t a dependency to have a SharePoint farm or tenancy setup in the development environment).

Editing the code

Any text editor can be used to make changes to the code but it’s worth looking at Visual Studio Code. It is free!

These open source solutions are platform dependant so these projects don’t have to be created on a windows PC.

More resources

There are some detailed blog posts on all of the items skimmed above. Please read them and get up to speed with NodeJS before diving straight in with SharePoint.

Stefan Bauer’s blog posts on NodeJS and the SharePoint Framework
Chris O’Brien’s SharePoint Framework blog posts
Setup your environment
Official Microsoft starter tutorials

Gaining access to OneDrives within your organisation

Below I have created a quick guide to show you how to gain access to a user’s OneDrive within your organisation. This video is for SharePoint administrators and you will need to be at least a SharePoint admin in Office 365 to carry out these steps.

A OneDrive site is effectively a SharePoint site collection with a document library. When a OneDrive is created by the user in Office 365, it grants the user site collection admin rights. It doesn’t add any other administrators or groups to the permissions. You can do this manually using the steps shown in the video below or you could create a script to apply permissions to all of your OneDrive sites using the PowerShell Client Object Model.



How to show SharePoint list data in a pivot table

List data inside SharePoint can be pulled into Excel as a data source which can in turn be embedded on a SharePoint page as a graphical representation of the SharePoint list data. Great way to spice up your SharePoint page with graphical content and the functionality is built into SharePoint online. It’s also available in SharePoint on-premises 2010, 2013 and 2016 if you have Office Web Apps configured or excel services enabled.

Excel graph on SharePoint page

First open excel and go to “Data” in the ribbon and “From other sources”, select “From OData Data Feed”.

import sharepoint list data to excel

Copy and paste the URL of the site adding “_vti_bin/listdata.svc” at the end.

connecting to sharepoint

Select your list when prompted and a pivot table will appear. Select a few columns to populate it with data.

Pivot chart in excel

Save the excel file and upload it into a SharePoint document library on your site.

Edit the page and add the “Excel Web Access” web part under the business data category.

adding excel web access web part to sharepoint page

In the web part properties select the excel document and optionally enter a named item such as a pivot chart or table. Your chart is now on the SharePoint page and can be configured to refresh at intervals. It’s a great way to visualise SharePoint list data easily without any third party products.

web part on page

Watch the video guide below for a more detailed explanation and guide.



The future of SharePoint

The future of SharePoint event took place last night live from San Francisco. It was a live online event open to all which was watched by thousands of SharePoint fans across the globe. Microsoft renewed its commitment to SharePoint and the SharePoint brand by announcing the renaming of the sites tile in Office 365 to SharePoint and the release of a new SharePoint mobile app.

SP2016mobileteamsite

It was a very exciting glimpse into the future of SharePoint (both on-premises and online). A completely new revamped UI for team and publishing sites and a slick editing experience. One of the flaws with the current SharePoint experience is the inheritance of older SharePoint site templates and libraries which has only incrementally improved over time. Frustratingly this has left users with a poor mobile experience and a clunky, more complex editing process. Even the current SharePoint 2013 mobile site looks more like an ancient WAP site designed for a Nokia 7110. Below is a sneak peak as to what the new team site may look like. Above is a preview of the new SharePoint app.

SP2016teamsite

New document library experience

This has already rolled out to some tenancies. It gives a fresh look to document libraries which puts them in-line with the OneDrive experience and the SharePoint mobile view. The classic view will still be supported if you are using JS client side rendering, workflows or specific custom views. One downside to the new experience is the loss of any branding, however you could add document libraries to pages if you wanted to keep this. Users can pin files to the top of the page and get really nice previews of documents. Administrators can override end users to choose either the classic or new view of document libraries (see details here).

Design and development

The new improvements in the interface mean not only a fully responsive design but also a mobile app experience on iOS, Android and Windows. SharePoint is also moving away from the iframe app part model allowing more fluid and responsive web parts. For designers and developers there is now a new SharePoint framework (to be released later this year) which doesn’t depend on Visual Studio or any server-side development. Using JavaScript open source libraries we will soon be able to create design experiences which apply to both the browser and mobile apps.

There was several indications that design was moving this way over the last few years. Check out my earlier posts on moving from custom master pages to JS actions and client side rendering. Using these client side technologies was the first step in preparing ourselves for the new client side rendering experience for the next generation of SharePoint portals. I’m very excited to get stuck into the new SharePoint framework technologies (please release it soon Microsoft!). If you can’t wait to get started, you can start by learning the new technologies which will be used to develop against the SharePoint framework such as nodejs, Yeoman, Gruntjs and all the open source JavaScript frameworks which interest you. There is a good post on how to get hold of all these applications and packages on this blog post by Stefan Bauer. You can also view the full development lifecycle processes that Microsoft recommend in their latest video previewing the new framework below.



Microsoft Flow

Microsoft Flow is a new tool in the SharePoint toolbox. It’s a new way to get data into SharePoint and perform workflows using custom logic. It doesn’t replace InfoPath or SharePoint Designer but I can see many uses for it in a business process environment and sales. It extends workflow functionality out of SharePoint using templates or custom written apps. For examples you can have a flow which picks up tweets from Twitter and puts them into a SharePoint list. Very interesting to see how this product develops with SharePoint. You can find out more on the flow website.

Microsoft PowerApps

Create your own mobile apps in a few simple steps from lists and libraries in SharePoint without having to write any code. This could be a mobile app or just a web app. In fact you can do this from the browser from any list in a few simple steps. This could be a SharePoint list view or a web part. The PowerApps will be available from within the SharePoint app. I’m assuming you will be able to pin these apps to your start screen like you can with OneNote notebooks and pages. You can find out more about Power Apps on the website.

More updates to come…

Statistics in Office 365 Video

Another new feature in Office 365 video is the usage statistics. There are two graphs currently available for the last 14 days or 36 months showing the views, visitors and viewer engagement. Check out my video review of the new features below.



Adding subtitles and captions to Office 365 video

I’ve created a quick video guide on how to add subtitles in Office 365 video. It consists of first creating a VTT file containing the subtitles data and then uploading it into the video settings inside Office 365. Please find the video below and hope you find it useful!



Using PowerShell to add a list or library WebPart to a SharePoint publishing page via CSOM

Thought I would share this as I struggled to find a complete article online how to do this. First of all, the code below is based on José Quinto’s post USING POWERSHELL TO ADD WEBPART TO SHAREPOINT PAGE VIA CSOM IN OFFICE 365. It’s a really good article on adding a content editor web part to a publishing page.

I couldn’t find any posts online on how to use the same technique to add a list view web part to a page. Eventually I figured out how to create the XML for adding a list view web part.

This is an adaptation of Jose’s function to add a web part to a page:

function AddWebPartToPage ($ctx, $sitesURL, $WebPartXml, $pageRelativeUrl, $wpZoneID, $wpZoneOrder) {
	try{
		Write-Host "Starting the Process to add the User WebPart to the Home Page" -ForegroundColor Yellow
		#Adding the reference to the client libraries. Here I'm executing this for a SharePoint Server (and I'm referencing it from the SharePoint ISAPI directory, 
		#but we could execute it from wherever we want, only need to copy the dlls and reference the path from here        
		Add-Type -Path "c:\Program Files\Common Files\microsoft shared\Web Server Extensions\15\ISAPI\Microsoft.SharePoint.Client.dll" 
		Add-Type -Path "c:\Program Files\Common Files\microsoft shared\Web Server Extensions\15\ISAPI\Microsoft.SharePoint.Client.Runtime.dll" 
		Write-Host "Getting the page with the webpart we are going to modify" -ForegroundColor Green
		#Using the params, build the page url
		$pageUrl = $sitesURL + $pageRelativeUrl
		Write-Host "Getting the page with the webpart we are going to modify: " $pageUrl -ForegroundColor Green
		#Getting the page using the GetFileByServerRelativeURL and do the Checkout
		#After that, we need to call the executeQuery to do the actions in the site
		$page = $ctx.Web.GetFileByServerRelativeUrl($pageUrl);
		$page.CheckOut()
		$ctx.ExecuteQuery()
		try{
		#Get the webpart manager from the page, to handle the webparts
		Write-Host "The page is checkout" -ForegroundColor Green
		$webpartManager = $page.GetLimitedWebPartManager([Microsoft.Sharepoint.Client.WebParts.PersonalizationScope]::Shared);
		Write-Host $WebPartXml.OuterXml
		#Load and execute the query to get the data in the webparts
		Write-Host "Getting the webparts from the page" -ForegroundColor Green
		$ctx.Load($webpartManager);
		$ctx.ExecuteQuery();
		#Import the webpart
		$wp = $webpartManager.ImportWebPart($WebPartXml.OuterXml)
		#Add the webpart to the page
		Write-Host "Add the webpart to the Page" -ForegroundColor Green
		$webPartToAdd = $webpartManager.AddWebPart($wp.WebPart, $wpZoneID, $wpZoneOrder)
		$ctx.Load($webPartToAdd);
		$ctx.ExecuteQuery()
		}
		catch{
			Write-Host "Errors found:`n$_" -ForegroundColor Red
		}
		finally{
			#CheckIn and Publish the Page
			Write-Host "Checkin and Publish the Page" -ForegroundColor Green
			$page.CheckIn("Add the User Profile WebPart", [Microsoft.SharePoint.Client.CheckinType]::MajorCheckIn)
			$page.Publish("Add the User Profile WebPart")
			$ctx.ExecuteQuery()
			Write-Host "The webpart has been added" -ForegroundColor Yellow 
		}	
	}
	catch{
		Write-Host "Errors found:`n$_" -ForegroundColor Red
	}
}

And this is the XML to add a SharePoint document library called “Documents” to the page.

$WebPartXml1 =  "
		<webParts>
			<webPart xmlns='http://schemas.microsoft.com/WebPart/v3'>
				<metaData>
				<type name='Microsoft.SharePoint.WebPartPages.XsltListViewWebPart, Microsoft.SharePoint, Version=15.0.0.0, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=71e9bce111e9429c' />
				<importErrorMessage>Cannot import this Web Part.</importErrorMessage>
			</metaData>
			<data>
				<properties>
					<property name='ListUrl' type='string'>Documents</property>
					<property name='ListName' type='string'>Documents</property>
				</properties>
			</data>
			</webPart>
		</webParts>"

The URL for a list is slightly different to a document library, the example below is the XML for an announcement list.

$WebPartXml1 =  "
		<webParts>
			<webPart xmlns='http://schemas.microsoft.com/WebPart/v3'>
				<metaData>
					<type name='Microsoft.SharePoint.WebPartPages.XsltListViewWebPart, Microsoft.SharePoint, Version=15.0.0.0, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=71e9bce111e9429c' />
					<importErrorMessage>Cannot import this Web Part.</importErrorMessage>
				</metaData>
				<data>
					<properties>
						<property name='ListUrl' type='string'>Lists/Student Announcements</property>
						<property name='ListName' type='string'>Student Announcements</property>
						<property name='JSLink' type='string'>~sitecollection/Style%20Library/cdb_custom_announcements/cdb_custom_announcements.js</property>
					</properties>
				</data>
			</webPart>
		</webParts>"

I then get the client context and pass the XML and variables to the function to add it to the page

$tenantAdmin = "user@domain.com"
$tenantAdminPassword = "password"
$secureAdminPassword = $(convertto-securestring $tenantAdminPassword -asplaintext -force)
$siteURL = "https://domain.com/sites/subsite";
$ctx = New-Object Microsoft.SharePoint.Client.ClientContext($siteUrl) 
$credentials = New-Object Microsoft.SharePoint.Client.SharePointOnlineCredentials($tenantAdmin, $secureAdminPassword)  
$ctx.Credentials = $credentials
$relUrl = "/sites/subsite"
$pageRelativeUrl1 = "/Pages/Default.aspx"
$wpZoneID1 = "Top Left"
$wpZoneOrder1 = 0
#Run function
AddWebPartToPage $ctx $relUrl $WebPartXml1 $pageRelativeUrl1 $wpZoneID1 $wpZoneOrder1

Nice example of adding web parts to a SharePoint Online publishing page using PowerShell CSOM.

Editing Office Documents Collaboratively in Office 365

If you are new to office 365 or are not aware of this, editing documents simultaneously is a great feature and surprisingly easy to use. You may be used to collaborating on documents using Office on your desktop with the files stored on shares but one of the problems in the older versions of Office was documents being locked for editing by other users. Of course if you require documents to be locked for editing, you can enable checking in and checking out of documents to get the same effect in office 365, however working collaboratively on documents now doesn’t mean you accidently save over the other persons work. Parts of the document lock to allow you to see what the other collaborators are doing in the document. This feature is available in Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote files.

It’s a really exciting way to collaborate and makes working in groups much quicker than having to edit the document one by one. As a teacher you could be working on a documents together as a department rather than passing around marksheets or assessment data for each teacher to enter one at a time. It’s also great for businesses having to work on long documents which require collaboration such as proposals.

My video below demonstrates the functionality.



Adding SharePoint Online navigation from XML using PowerShell CSOM

The following PowerShell scripts were created to enable me to deploy a custom navigation across multiple site collections. You can use managed metadata navigation as mentioned in my previous post. Unfortunately this method doesn’t allow the user to reuse managed metadata navigation across multiple site collections (no idea why, I thought that was one of the advantages of managed metadata navigation!).

So a new and clean way of doing this is to use the CSOM for PowerShell. The code below deletes every navigation node using the first function and then adds each item added to an XML file. A strength of using this method is it can be manipulated to add additional logic for adding links to particular site collections depending on the variables in the XML file. Hope you find this useful.

For SharePoint design, workflows, automation, training and support please visit my SharePoint consultancy site www.clouddesignbox.co.uk. We offer education and business SharePoint solutions and services.

Deleting all navigation nodes using CSOM PowerShell

It’s fairly straightforward to enumerate nodes in an array, in this example I’m deleting all the top navigation menu nodes in a SharePoint site. This is how I would normally loop through the top navigation menu:

$topNav = $context.Web.Navigation.TopNavigationBar;
$context.Load($topNav);
foreach ($topNavItem in $topNav)
{
	Write-Host $topNavItem.Title
}

However if I want to loop through the menu and delete all the nodes, the above function errors as the array has changed each time it loops, the method below works but doesn’t catch all the menu items.

for ($ii = 0; $ii -lt $topNodes.Count; $ii++)
{
	Write-Host $topNodes[$ii].Title 
	$topNodes[$ii].deleteObject();
	$context.ExecuteQuery();
}

As we are enumerating the nodes, we are removing nodes from the start and changing the position of the other nodes in the array. As the loop continues to run, it can skip positions of some of the nodes.

A solution which works better is looping through the array backwards. As you loop through the array backwards, it doesn’t change the position of items still in the array.

for ($ii = $topNodes.Count - 1; $ii -ge 0; $ii--)
{
	Write-Host $topNodes[$ii].Title 
	$topNodes[$ii].deleteObject();
	$context.ExecuteQuery();
}

Hope you may find this useful, it can be difficult to find why the loop misses some random items and hopefully looping backwards will avoid any issues like this.