WitGirls Podcast

I have launched a podcast called “WitGirls Podcast” and it will be hosted by me and my friend Christina. We have both long experience from working with SharePoint/Office365 and also from working within the IT business. I also listen to a lot of podcasts, but there aren’t so many in this world that is run by women. So I thought it could be fun to start sharing our experience and also we will invite guests to the show. In the first two episodes we present us, our background and what we work with. In upcoming shows we will invite guests and also deep dive into issues or apps that we are working on. Or topics related, there aren’t really any rules – I don’t like rules – and we can talk about whatever we feel like. If you would like to be our guest, contact us at witgirlspod@gmail.com. Read more on our website witgirlspod.wordpress.com. You can listen to us on SoundCloud or iTunes. Hope you will enjoy the show, and remember – it’s our thoughts and opinions in the podcast, not Microsoft’s or any other product’s views. We do not have any sponsor. This is for fun and I strongly believe that sharing is caring! Hope to see you on a SharePoint somewhere! Cheers!

Move SP databases to SQL 2016 Cluster

This post describes how to move SharePoint 2013 SP1 OnPrem server SQL content databases from SQL 2012 to 2016. This means that there is no upgrade involved, only a move to a new SQL Server Cluster. It worked really well. Even if I read lots of articles that it is not supported to run SharePoint 2013 on SQL 2016 it does work if you follow the steps below.

Step 1 Check the Health Analyzer in SP
This is an on prem server and the customer does not have an active SP admin, so I wanted to make sure the server was in a fresh state. I checked the messages in Health Analyzer and noticed that there was an Upgrade message which I wanted to correct first. All content databases had the message “Database is in compatibility range and upgrade is recommended”. I guess some other administrator had done an update on the server but missed the part with running the SharePoint Config Wizard afterwards. So I did just that, and once the Wizard was completed the messages were gone.

I also checked that the UPS and Search etc was running fine without any errors.

Step 2 Backup and Snapshots
Now that the servers are fresh, do an entire backup of all content databases and take a snapshot before you start, in case you must make a rollback.

Step 3 Document your server configuration

I always document the server configuration before I start any changes on a server, to make sure all services runs with the same accounts and mostly because my memory is really bad and it is easy to forget something. So I take screen shots of the Services with the SP accounts that are running, I document “Services on server” inside SP, etc. I also look at the SQL server instance in the “Security” and “Permissions” areas to see what accounts are there and the roles they have. This is important, otherwise you will not be able to connect to the config database later.

Step 4 Verify what content databases that should be moved

Do not move over old databases, keep the servers fresh and without old data. So I checked what databases to be moved. I discovered that there were two Config databases, so only one of them should be moved into the new SQL server. Also, some “test” databases were there for old web applications that no longer was in use. So only move the databases that you actually use. You can see a list of which databases that are in use, if you go to “Upgrade and migration” in Central Administration and click on “Review database status”. There are all the content databases listed that SharePoint uses.

Step 5 Setup the new SQL server

Make sure all accounts that are used on the “old” SQL server are setup the same way on the new SQL server instance. Check dbo, security roles and permissions. You may have to select the dbo account in “Permissions” and check what roles it has, like “Connect to databases” etc. Then select the service accounts, they may have a different role setup.

Step 6 Stop the SP services

Now stop all SP related Windows Services on each SharePoint server in your farm. Do it in this order (thanks to Dan Holme and his article about moving databases http://sharepointpromag.com/sharepoint-administration/simple-guide-moving-sharepoint-content-databases-new-server):

SharePoint 2013: W3SVC, SPSearchHostController, OSearch15, SPWriterV4, SPUserCodeV4 (was not running), SPTraceV4, SPTimerV4, SPAdminV4, FIMSynchronizationService, FIMService, DCLoadBalancer15 (disabled), DCLauncher15 (disabled)

Then, open a command prompt with Run As Administrator, and enter the command IISRESET /STOP

Step 7 Detach databases on the source SQL server

In SQL Server Management Studio, right-click each SharePoint database (the ones you decided to move), point to Tasks, then click Detach. In the dialog that appears, click OK

Step 8 Copy databases to the target SQL server

We did not move the databases, but copied them to the new SQL Server. You’ll need both .mdf (database) and .ldf (log) files.

Step 9 Attach databases to the target SQL server

In Management Studio on the new SQL server, right-click the server or instance, then click Attach. In the dialog box, click Add, then select one database. Click OK to finish attaching the database. Repeat for all databases.

Step 10 Reassign the DBO of the databases

This is an important step. If you don’t assign the correct security roles, permissions and dbo to the databases the connection will fail from the SP server. When you attach databases to the target SQL server, your user account becomes the DBO of the databases so make sure you assign that back to the Farm Account.

Step 11 Create an Alias on the SharePoint server

You can now shut down the “old” SQL Server to make sure this step below really works.

Now we will force the SharePoint servers to use the new SQL Server instance. To do this, we will add an Alias in CLICONFG.EXE so run that on the SP server. Click on the tab “Alias”, and then on “Add” (if it is empty, which it was on my server. If not, then “Edit”). Do the setup according to this image, it is self explanatory. Very smart actually. It may take a while before this connection works, so maybe restart the “Browse SQL” service to refresh that and if you have done all steps above correct, it should work as soon as you have done the last step below. The alias is used to redirect the connections from the original source SQL server to the new SQL server. Repeat this on each and every SharePoint server.

NOTE: Do NOT forget to add the SERVER INSTANCE after the SQL Server names (on both the original and the new target SQL servers) otherwise the connection will fail.

Step 12 Start the Windows Services SharePoint services and IIS

Start the SharePoint services in Windows Services again on each SharePoint server. They should be started in the reverse order from how you stopped them.

So on SharePoint 2013 start them in this order: DCLauncher15, DCLoadBalancer15, FIMService, FIMSynchronizationService, SPAdminV4, SPTimerV4, SPTraceV4,  SPUserCodeV4,  SPWriterV4, OSearch15, SPSearchHostController, W3SVC,

Then start the IIS by running as an admin: IISRESET /START

Step 13 Start Central Admin and fingers crossed 🙂

Check that Central Administration fires up, if you are lucky – then all is back up again! Also make sure that all service applications like UPS (I always have to start that service manually from within SharePoint CA), Search etc are up and working. For me, all this was working as before. And last but not least, make sure all your sites are running!

Step 14 Reboot the SP server/s

This is maybe not necessary but I always do this to make sure that everything really runs… I reboot the SP servers one last time to be certain. And – all running fine after that too 🙂

Done!



Change the color of modern views

I got a question from a customer who did not want the red, purple, pink, green etc colors in the modern views in SharePoint on Office365. It seems like each subsite gets their own colors, and how can you change that to one color that matches the company’s graphic profile?

 

Pressed F12 to get the developer tools and deselected the bg color that was in a class called something with theme.. and then the default blue color showed up. So this color theme comes from an actual theme on the site. I have never chosen a theme, but decided to check out if any settings where applied anyway.

First I opened the link “Theme” in Site settings, and removed any folders from there. Did not change anything.

Then I opened Site settings > Change the look and selected the Office Default Theme. No change.

To see the connection between the site and its modern view colors:

Click on “SharePoint”, the tile in the app launcher. There you can see the pattern. The colors comes from the icons there. It matches, I got the pink color and purple color on these two sites when I open the modern views. I am stuck here, there is no settings that I have found that can change these colors.

 

Conclusion:

If you don’t want these random colors, make the following changes (below). Note that this will NOT affect the sites that are already created.

  • Follow my steps above to remove any old Themes
  • Click on the “Office” default theme in “Change the look” so that is really added
  • You can check the “Prevent users from overrriding..” in Admin Center and it will still add the new sites in default blue theme

Now all your site icons in “SharePoint” and the modern view colors will be the default blue:

Modern libraries Part 3

This is the 3rd part of my articles about functionalites that I find annoying or confusing or that simply are gone in SharePoint Online/Office 365. I have two more things on my list:

  1. When you want to filter a view, there are many clicks to get to the actual values you want to filter on. In former versions it was just one click, then the dropdown with values came up. Now you must click (and aim on that flyout can be difficult.. :)) and then click again to see the values.
     It does work in Edit mode though, that menu looks the same as it does in former versions:

    Also, not sure if you can multi-select in this drop down menu. Otherwise you have to click the Filter symbol up in the right corner of the view and open that panel where you can multi-select.

  2. When you have a view Grouped by a value, then the “Quick Edit” button is gone from the document library menu, which is really annoying (because it’s just not efficient anymore). And these things makes people hesitate a bit to work with SharePoint (I know, I hear it all the time from customers!):

    You must click to change to a view that is not grouped, then click Quick Edit, and then you can tag your documents. This used to work in grouped views, in SharePoint 2010 it worked so I don’t know why it has been removed. To workaround this, I have added a link in the left side menu called “Quick Edit” and that links to a new view that I set to open directly in edit mode (you can create a view that opens in edit mode directly) which saves even more clicks for them.

More thoughts on Modern libraries in SharePoint on Office 365

One of my current assignments as a SharePoint consultant is to train users how to work more efficient with document management. It’s quite a challenge, as users mostly are against using metadata, first because they don’t understand it and second because they are used to folders which is of course much more easy but not so efficient and modern. Once you get them to understand the benefits of using metadata they start seeing the possibilities and power of it. But it’s a change of behavior for the users, and it takes some time for them to get into it. My only goal is to help users use SharePoint in the most efficient way and make it easy for them to organize and find their documents.

I have spent a lot of time lately on a customers Office 365 intranet to help them organize and restructure their documents and I found some annoying things and maybe some of them are actual bugs. Also, there are too many clicks involved and don’t we want to reduce that and not increase clicks?! Anyway, thought I wanted to share them here and maybe someone out there has an answer, solution or explanation.

Note: this list is based on SharePoint in Office 365, not on prem servers.

  1. First on my list is a thing that is really annoying, but I know it’s not fixable since it is a new “feature”. You cannot right click on documents to Copy Shortcut anymore. Oh that is so f-ing annoying. I do that all the time, it’s like deep down in your browser behaviour that you forget you can’t. Instead you have to do the “get a link” and then select if the user should have Read + login, Modify + login, Read -login, Modify – login…. Sigh. Why. It is TOO much security and not healthy for the heart!!! And the links is ugly, does not give a hint what it’s about, it’s just a long gui or something.
  2. When you have selected a document in a library and you open the “i” panel to add metadata – the fields in the “i” panel kind of “jumps” or moves a bit so it is hard to focus on them. I don’t like this feature, it’s slow, jumpy and hard to fill in. It’s also a long way to get out of the panel, click the “i” again and then deselect the document. It’s just not a good and user friendly UI.
  3. I miss the “Settings” link when you are in a document library and want to customize it. Now you have to click on “Site contents” in the left menu and then select the library and click the “…” dots and then click on “Settings”. That is a loooong way to go. I want the “Settings” link back!
  4. PDF files and metadata. My customer needed to move an entire library from one site to another. That is not possible through the UI. The “Content and Structure” does not allow move of libraries. So you must first create a template of the library and setup that on the new site (so that all metadata follows) and then you can use “Content and Structure” to select all docs and move them into the new library. That is quite okey, but of course there is a but and it can be a BIG BUT 😉 because if the files are PDF’s the metadata will not follow. Just beacuse it’s Adobe and not Microsoft. It’s just stupid. We are trying to do our daily job and we need good tools for that and these kind of bugs, errors, annoying shit makes us lose patience with the products and users will do it in another way instead.
  5. The Content Query web part is buggy. It works best with IE. But if you use Edge, it will not add the URL to a site or site coll or library in the query field. You must paste it manually. Something I miss with it is also the possibility to group query by Document Library. For instance, I have added a web part that will show all Archived documents on the site, and they are stored in different libraries. So I would like to organize my documents by library, but that is not possible, only by Site. A missing feature.
  6. When you upload a document that already exists in the library you will notice (or NOT! until some time….) in the menu bar that a message is displayed with a red cross saying that “1 items was not uploaded” which is a bit misleading and makes you think something is wrong with the document, until you actually click the message and then it says “a file already exists…” and you can replace it. Not so good UI again… And when the replace is done, you would want that panel to disappear but no, you must click on the X to close it. Annoying, too much clicking and inefficient.
  7. It can be painfully slow to work with SharePoint on O365. Just is.
  8. The customer has a start page on their intranet, but the “new” look top navigation cannot display that link. It says “Page cannot be found“. So no home page is allowed?
  9. “Tiles” versus “list”. How can you control that the tiles are not shown when you open a library? I mean that should be an option that the user makes, not by default. Because: it takes time to load, it is totally messy and you don’t get an overview of your documents and you don’t see your tags. The only time tiles are good is when it comes to pictures. Then I understand why it’s there. But not for documents. I have not found a setting for it, so I wonder if this is something that the browser remembers, like how it was set the last time and then it opens in that mode per user? So that means that I think the library opens in “List” mode but it really opens in “Tiles” when another user opens it for the first time?
  10. This last one is actually the same for ALL SharePoint versions, no matter on prem or cloud, and it should be known for most of the people who uses SharePoint for document storage. And that is: The field “Title” is not in sync with “Name”. And that gives you headache! Because: the Title field is used to display search results, and if that is empty, SP will display the document name. And if the document has a title then the title will be shown in the search result instead of the document name. WHY are there two fields with the same functionality?! And one is filled in but not the other! I have always thought about adding a workflow that simply copies the text in Name to the Title field, but then you must add that to each library and we all know what that will cost in performance, errors in workflows, not possible to achieve even. It’s just bad UI.

 



Thoughts on Modern libraries in SharePoint on Office 365

So this new look has been rolled out last week in SharePoint online for Office 365 users. At first glance it looks great, I like that “hard-to-find” ribbon is gone and easy access to all buttons.

But then I got a call yesterday from a customer who was asking why their document libraries no longer worked as expected. What had happened was that the “Group by” function no longer worked correctly, as the First level grouping was hidden and the Second level was instead displaying all documents. Which led to big confusion for the users of course.

Grouped views displays documents by their second level, not first!

Is this a BUG or change of standard functionality? Grouped views has been in the product as far as I can remember (I have worked with your products since 2003 and document library features has not changed that much). Why change something so basic that has been in the product for so long, don’t the developers at Office365/SharePoint/MS (who knows) think we are using these functions or why??

I noticed that if you change view from “All documents” (which is the default view in document libraries, untouched!) to the “Tiles”, then the grouping works but its still not smooth, it is very much clicking around and you soon get lost on where you are in the library. It shows first level one and if you click on that level you can see level two but you must click back and forth. It’s just not good enough! It’s messy!

There has always been an option to Group documents in two levels (maximum) and now this is obviously removed in SharePoint online (I have tested back and forth and this is what I found), so you can only have 1 level of grouped documents. And yes it would be acceptable if this now is the case and all documents were grouped and displayed by that First level but NO, they are now grouped and displayed by the Second level so we have to go in to each library and REMOVE that second level so that the first level is showing our documents, WTF!!!:

groupedbynolonger

Don’t the developer teams follow their own “best practices” and test these type of scenarios?? I mean, before rolling out a new critical function like this? They don’t think this feature is implemented on intranets and document management systems out there?? Well then they have not seen many real live intranets because I see it a LOT!!

I have always followed the OOB standard and educated people telling them how important it is to follow Microsoft recommendations and use metadata instead of folders, to easily find and filter documents and that search picks up metadata etc. And one thing I have learned from all the years of working very closely to the organizations is that “people want structure“. They can’t handle when you just dump thousands of docs in one library and say “use the columns to filter”. No, they want to organize the documents so it looks like folders, although its metadata. And that magic could happen with the “Group by” function. Yes, you can have one level now in the new “modern libraries” but then the button “Quick Edit” is gone so “win some loose some”. So again. Not acceptable.

Quick Edit not visible on Grouped views

And why isn’t such important functions like “Quick Edit” visible on Grouped views? Come on!!! It was the same already in the on-prem 2013 product on grouped views so I guess this is something that is programmatically hard to achieve (?) but should that be OUR problem? As a workaround I have always had to build own “Edit” views so the users can do this fast and easy (fake it til you make it right?). We want to be able to work fast and easy, not click so many times that you forgot what you were doing on the way there… Yes they can select a document and use the i-button and the task pane etc… But what if they want to use the fantastic “QuickEdit” view to update several documents at the same time?

Button for “Open with explorer”

Yes, this function that users love! Is this gone now, really? Wow. I will not miss it but I know who will…

So questions to Microsoft:

  1. Is there going to be an update to this new library feature so that the Groupings will work on 2 levels again? Or if not, will you correct the BUG that it shows level 2 now and not level 1.
  2. Will the Quick Edit button be visible for Grouped views also?
  3. I never recommend to use this but users LOVE the “Open with explorer” and is that gone also?

Situations like this really makes me question why I am working with this product, because we have to struggle so hard to make users understand how to work properly with SharePoint  and not only use it as a file share, (yes that is very common out there) but to really discover all the great functionality with SharePoint document management. But it’s tiresome when standard functionality changes and all of a sudden you doubt the things you have claimed were good and best practice.

Content database is in compatibility range and upgrade is recommended

Incident

This warning message has turned up in the Health Analyzer on a SharePoint 2013 OnPrem Server.

“Product / patch installation or server upgrade required”

productpatch

Finding the root cause

I opened the “Version history” to see when this message started to show up:

verhistorymes

I also checked the “Database status” in “Upgrade and Migration” and found that the same message was displayed on all web applications in the server farm:

dbupgradestatus

According to some articles out there, this can happen if a CU / patch is installed. Now this server is maintained by a host provider so it could of course have happened and they don’t have in their routines that they must run the SharePoint Configuration Wizard after a CU or any other SharePoint related patch has been installed. Normally the security updates should not affect this, but this time it seems like these patches (Security Updates for Microsoft SharePoint Foundation 2013…) has caused the incompatibility as the warnings started coming after these were installed:

winupdateslist

Solution

The solution was to complete the upgrade by either:

  • run the SharePoint Configuration Wizard
  • run the PowerShell command as stated in the above message

I decided to run the SharePoint Configuration Wizard and after quite a long time running the upgrade step, it gave me an error message first saying it could not start the User Profile service and then I got the Configuration Failed message. But no worries, it is because it could not start the ups service.

messconffailed

First I went back into the Health Analyzer and clicked the button “Reanalyze now” on the message and then it was gone. Also checked the “Upgrade and Migration” link, “Review database status” to see that the normal “No action needed” message was back on the databases. And it was, so the upgrade was indeed successful.

dbupgradeviewstatus

Went into “Services on server” and started the UPS service again.

Done.

How to handle CTB Locker virus on O365

A customer had some libraries synced from SharePoint in Office365 to the local computer, and unfortunately clicked a link in a mail that contained the virus (or malware or whatever its called) CTB Locker which “encrypted” all the files in the synced library. The files could not be opened, two files called “How to decrypt the files” were added into the library, the file icon got the unassociated look and the computer name was added at the end of the file:

virusfiler

Continue reading “How to handle CTB Locker virus on O365”

Send a document to your OneDrive

Okey so this solution is nice if you have permissions and can do stuff in your SP environment.

I want to be able to send documents directly from the intranet or any other site in SharePoint to my OneDrive, without having to download the document first (which feels really old to do). But there is no way currently to do that in Office365, unfortunately. So I thought that changing the OneDrive site to have a “Drop off library” and use the Content Organizer to do this for me. Then you will find this Send to action in the ribbon of any document library!

Continue reading “Send a document to your OneDrive”