Why you should keep your on premise SharePoint when developing for Office 365

Office 365

If you’re diving into the wonderful world of developing for Office 365, or SharePoint Online, don’t let go of your development environment just yet!

Keeping your on premise instance of SharePoint 2013 for development will make a few things much easier, and will alleviate headaches in the long run.

For starters, make sure to have your environment configured with host named site collection, not separate web apps. This closely mimics how Office 365 is configured, and will help down the road. See this TechNet article for more details.


You heard it here first, Office 365 will error on you!

If you kept your on premises SharePoint, you can try the same app there, and if it errors, look through the logs. If it does not error, wait out Office 365 (more below).

I ran into this exact issue when developing a provider hosted app. Just couldn’t get past the error on Office 365. I spun up my virtual environment, tried it there, and received the same error. Searched the logs and found that my client ID wasn’t correct. Oops, I fat fingered something. Fixed and reran on Office 365 and success!

This won’t always work, as Office 365 does get updated more frequently than your environment does, and some of those updates may cause issues. Test it on your on-prem and then Open an Issue with Microsoft (more below).

You can also check the error log with your app, if you’re lucky. More on that here.

Waiting for Office 365

Sadly, Office 365 isn’t the best thing since sliced bread. Sometimes, Microsoft and team will randomly perform maintenance, and it appears whenever they want. I was working through the aforementioned provider hosted app, when all of a sudden, everything went read-only:

Site is read only Office 365

Great, now what?! Nothing. I couldn’t do anything, but my deadline kept getting closer!

What is a SharePointer to do? Dive into your on premise environment which you were wise enough to save, and finish development there. This read-only status kept for about 6 hours this day. This can really hurt development progress when this happens.

Another fun thing is when services get degraded.

Office 365 degraded SharePoint Online

This issue came up, and hindered one specific piece of what we were developing, sorry I forget what it is exactly. Sure enough, moving to on-premises saved the day.

One more story: I was working happily in Office 365 all day, with a deadline the next day, things were going smoothly. I left work at 5p, knowing I’d sneak in a little more work that night to polish up the app. I get home, enjoy my family time, and jump online once my kids are in bed. Sure enough, Office 365 is experiencing an issue and wouldn’t let me continue… grrr… Got up early the next morning and things started working again (I was able to meet my deadline).

Open an Issue with Microsoft

I have to hand it to Microsoft, their support team for Office 365 is responsive! Submit a support request through your tenant. If you’re working on someone else’s tenant, it’s okay, submit the request using your details. Gone are the days of having to submit under an account user just to hand the ticket off to someone else.

Once submitted, they call me back within 4 hours most times. Not too shabby. They aren’t the brightest set of support techs, sometimes things get escalated, but they really try hard to fix your issues.

Again, if you have your on-prem environment, you can submit the support request, then continue working on-prem.

Less Important, Until You Lose it

Office 365 is on the cloud, and if you lose your internet, you’re down. This may go for your on premises SharePoint as well if it’s not running locally on your workstation. Nothing hinders work more than not being able to access anything! Keep it mind.

Keep Your On Premises SharePoint

Just do it.

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SharePoint Online’s Public Website Doesn’t Allow Users to View Display Forms

If you’re used to SharePoint, and the display form on lists, you may be thinking you can use that on your SharePoint Online Public Sites as well. Sadly, by default your anonymous users cannot access the display form of a list item. Instead, SharePoint Online prompts the user to login.

Annoying? Yes.

It is due to the ViewFormPagesLockdown feature, which is available in SharePoint on-prem, and appears to be on by default on SharePoint Online. I think the reasoning is that the display form can have more data on it than you’d care to share to your visitors, and frankly, the page is rather dull. So thinking through how to get around this, my initial thoughts were:

  • Disable this silly feature, but alas, you can’t.
  • Use the search web parts with a custom display template, but alas, these aren’t available on the public site #FAIL
  • Write some custom JavaScript to grab the data, meh, too much work.
  • Fudge a few columns, and the view, and get it to work. BING BING BING

We can use the views of a list, since users can access that fine, and manipulate it to look like a form page.

Below I walk through how we did it on the Boston Office 365 User Group site, www.bostono365usergroup.com,

Take the default view of the list:

Boring SharePoint List View

Then let’s change the view style, we used Newsletter, which gives us the nice start to where we want to be:

List view in Office 365 SharePoint

Not terrible right? But let’s make it a wee bit more prettier. I edited the page, added a code snippet web part (embed code) and threw in the following collection of CSS:

<style unselectable="on">
.ms-listviewtable tr td.ms-vb2:first-child {

.ms-listviewtable td:first-child+td, .ms-listviewtable td:first-child+td+td {

.ms-vh2 {

table.ms-listviewtable tr td.ms-vb2:first-child {

.registerButton {
padding:4px 5px;
border:1px solid #5b5b5b;

@media screen and (max-width: 400px) {
.ms-listviewtable td:first-child+td, .ms-listviewtable td:first-child+td+td {
.ms-vb-tall {

Much better right? Almost looks like a normal content page now ;)

SharePoint List View Customized

How do we get users to this page view now? If I had multiple items in the list it would just scroll long. Since this is a list view, we can filter the list view by the ID of the item.

We added a calculated column to use as a link on the home page. So, let’s add the column and the calculation:

=CONCATENATE("<div><a href='/events?FilterField1=Title&FilterValue1=",Title,"'>",Title,"</a></div>")

Make sure to set the Calculated Field to output as Number. Why didn’t I use ID you might ask, well, the ID field doesn’t work as you’d like. The ID isn’t calculated until after the item is added and the calculated column doesn’t get updated accordingly. Very annoying. Fortunately, in our case the title will suffice.

So the above calculation will output a link, sending the user to the events list view, filtered based on the current item. You can see it in action on the home page:

SHarePoint Event List on Office 365

Wait a second, what’s that nifty Register button?


That’s another calculated column, reading from the registration URL field, and then spits out some extra HTML for us to format it as needed (in conjunction with the above CSS):

=IF(RegistrationURL="","coming soon",IF(RegistrationURL<>"",CONCATENATE("<div><a id='regLink' class='registerButton' href=",RegistrationURL," target=_blank>Register</a></div>")))

It’s not impossible to have nice looking forms on the public site in your Office 365 tenant, but does take a little extra work.

Til next time, happy SharePointing!

Vertical Promoted Links in SharePoint 2013

David Lozzi:

I had the pleasure of helping out Veronique via SPYam. It’s a great use case for the promoted links list!

Originally posted on Views from Veronique:

SharePoint 2013 has nice little tiles called Promoted Links to link to stuff all over your sites.  However, they all display horizontally when you add them to your page. Silly Microsoft for not providing us the option to list them horizontally or vertically in the first place – but thank you SharePoint community for providing the work-around, (and specifically in this case, David Lozzi)! :)  I love copy / paste code!!  Learn how to do this from our discussion on Yammer – thanks for your help David!

promoted links vertical and horizontal


Post Blog Update : So it seems not everyone is on Yammer.  Instructions and code copied and pasted below for your convenience. :)

<style type=”text/css”>
.ms-promlink-body {width: 170px }
.ms-promlink-header {display: none}

Drop it into the Edit Source bit of the Content Editor Web Part on the page to make it work.  If the web part is too wide, insert it into…

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Bringing SharePoint Public: Using SharePoint Online for your web site

I am very pleased to share that I will be presenting at this month’s Boston Office 365 user group, on August 21st.

I will be sharing about using SharePoint Online public website, which you get with your Office 365 tenant, to host your web site. We’ll cover some techie stuff but I will mostly cover the more important aspects of a public web site, like search engine optimization, mobility, performance and more.

More details on the Boston Office 365 User Group web site. Hope to see you there!

Presentation: Collaboration Throwdown: Salesforce vs SharePoint

My colleague Marty and I had the wonderful opportunity to present at the Boston SharePoint Users Group, comparing the collaboration features between Salesforce and SharePoint Online (Office 365). We did our best as we went round for round, comparing key features focusing on collaboration: social, documents, lists and data, workflows and mobility.

Here’s the deck: https://lozzi6-my.sharepoint.com/personal/david_lozzi6_onmicrosoft_com/_layouts/15/guestaccess.aspx?guestaccesstoken=SXthc5wfc42L%2bSHRQ0X3RqEer1u01qvGhd1icQ4WOQY%3d&docid=03220034c20ce4603b849d2f186881102.