New to Office 365 SharePoint – Open This Link On A Phone

I found a new update on Office 365 today! This comes as a surprise since it wasn’t mentioned anywhere else yet, even in the message center (see my other post on 2 other recent Office 365 updates, one of which I have not seen yet). I’ve confirmed this update is available in another tenant, not just ours.

This update provides you a QR code to scan with your phone, and in turn access the document. Check it out:

Click the … for a document, and to the right of the link should be a wee little phone icon (I’m surprised I noticed it this morning):

sendtophone

After that gets clicked, a new window opens (which to me looks a little crude):

qr

Then I scan that with my phone and it actually works!ihpone

So, cool that there’s a nice new feature, sad that they didn’t warn us earlier?

But why?

The topic came up over on Fabian Williams blog, and it came up with my colleagues when I first found this. Fabian points out two great reasons for the QR code. Another way I think I would use this is to scan it with my iPad and load the doc on there, prior to walking into a meeting or something. Much faster than navigating to it on the iPad, or emailing myself a link.

Also, this is available on the SharePoint Online public web site as well, which has more of a use case than on a private site I would imagine. Giving your potential customers an easy way to get to your files! Pretty sweet.

Before You Make SharePoint Public

Today I presented at the first 24-Hour SharePoint Conference! Thank you all for attending. My session was prerecorded, which was a little odd to record a session without an audience, but it was worth it. I had a lot of fun doing it and I had a great turn out. Thanks again for joining!

You can watch it in its entirety below. The deck is just below there, and I threw some of the questions below as well, along with the animated GIF from the video. Enjoy!

Video

Presentation

Great Questions

I had some great questions during the session, thanks to all who attended. Some questions I received during the session:

Jared:  who’s moderating this beast? Christian Buckley again?
Mark:  this one is non anchored
Mark:  Keep the questions comign though
Jared:  That’s poor planning, David Lozzi will definitely require supervision
Mark:  lol
Mark:  let see…
Me:   I’ll be ok

 

Amy:  David – Do you only need licensing for the person or persons building the site?
Me:  if hosting on-premises?
Amy:  online
Eduard:  online limit: 1 person – 1 public site
Eduard:  online 100 person – 1 public site
Me:  SharePoint Online or O365 will have the licenses included, however i’m not sure… thanks Eduard
Me:  i have some links in the references for comparing the versions of O365 and SP ONline
Eduard:  so you need only 1 licence to run online public facing site
Jared:  Amy – for public facing site you just need 1 license
Jared:  That’s what we have for our User Group site.. Just need licenses for those that are logging in to make changes.

 

Eduard:  friendly urls is only on prem?
Me:  Not on Public site for SharePoint Online, you can use it on your private sites
Eduard:  sure

 

Pavan:  Question: Intend to convert a public facing .net site to a SharePoint public facing site, currently we have SP 2010 Enterprise, so my question is do i need any extra licenses to have anonymous access available?
Jared:  Pavan – if you’re hosting it then yes.. You’ll want to talk about SharePoint for Internet with your MS Rep
Me:  Great question Pavan. I completely forget the licensing model for SP2010. I remember in 2007, maybe 2010, that there was an Internet Connector license for making SharePoint public. MS has gone away with that for 2013, maybe for 2010?
Me:  I recommend chatting with your MS rep to clarify

 

Eduard:  Are there ana advantages in terms of SEO between on prem and online?
Me:  @Eduard page SEO is the same, sitemap is there. Online doesn’t have managed navigation
Me:  For me that’s a big loss for SEO
Eduard:  a meen to remeber that managed navigation have also drawbacks to SEO
Me:  @Eduard, what drawbacks?
Eduard:  as far as I remeber, if you have a content like wiki, that is highly interconnected – and now you start build up a managed navigation – the links are different
Me:  Ah, good point.
Me:  just a little more tedious to manage
Eduard:   yeahh

 

Oh right, and in the video I used this Working On It animation:

Working On It

 

Thanks again!

2 new updates to Office 365/SharePoint, did you know?

Quick Rant:

We’ve all heard the wonderful things about Office 365 and the frequent updates that should be pushed out to it. These updates will hit O365 and SharePoint Online first and eventually, if decided, will reach on-premises. These updates are supposed to occur more frequently, per SPC14, and I of course ask the silly question “How do we know what updates are being made?”.

This was answered with this link: http://community.office365.com/en-us/w/office_365_service_updates/974.aspx. However, this link hasn’t been updated since 2/13, and that wouldn’t be a problem if Microsoft hasn’t released more updates to SharePoint Online, but they have…

I found these, by accident, in my Office 365 tenant, by noticing a little notification icon in the blue bar at the top. Sorry, I don’t have a screen shot as it has been removed probably because I clicked on it. The Message Center in the Office 365 Admin appears to have this critical information about upcoming updates. As of now, I can’t find any other way to know about these updates. There is no feed to subscribe to, no email alerts, nothing. I submitted a ticket and their reply confirmed it.

One more thing, you can read up on the message center here: http://blogs.office.com/2014/04/01/managing-change-with-message-center/

As you can see, these two updates have been released but that wiki above hasn’t been updated. What’s up with that?

Now onto the updates:

Updates coming to user profiles in SharePoint Online starting April 1, 2014.

SharePoint Online user profiles are getting a new look. In the next few weeks, you’ll notice a new layout that makes it easier to find information and a new section called “Documents we have in common.” Documents we have in common is a list of documents users have shared with one another. When one user visits another’s profile page, the list of their shared documents will be prominently displayed.

This update will start rolling out April 1, 2014 UTC. It may take up to several weeks for it to be available to all customers.

I don’t see this in our tenant. Do you? This looks like a step closer to the new Office Graph! I wonder if they’ll roll out certain pieces slowly or the entire thing at once.

SharePoint Online is introducing a new command bar in Document Libraries starting April 9, 2014

We are introducing a new command bar to Document Libraries in SharePoint Online in order to give users simplified access to common commands. With this update, users will be able to quickly and easily launch frequently used tasks such as: new, upload, sync, edit, manage, and share.

This update will start rolling out on April 9, 2014 UTC. It may take up to several weeks for it to be available to all customers.

This update includes a link to Sync OneDrive for Business or SharePoint site libraries to your computer page, which includes a little screen shot of the new toolbar. This’ll be a nice update for SharePoint, as this has been a recurring ask from users.

Thankfully, now that I know about the latter update, I have some custom solutions for customers in which we have tweaked this bar, I can now plan accordingly. Whew.

I’m a little bitter about this and I hope Microsoft does something soon to remedy.

Installing SharePoint 2013 Foundation

Come along with me on a small adventure into the world of free SharePoint. Yes, free! SharePoint Foundation 2013 is technically free (well, included in your existing Windows licenses) and can do a whole lot for you without needing to spend significant amounts of money on Server editions. I am going to walk through a mini-series around SharePoint Foundation: installing (this post), what features it contains (and does not), how it can fulfill some use cases and finally a wrap up discussing if Foundation is a viable solution for companies both large and small.

Downloading SharePoint Foundation

Finding SharePoint Foundation was not as easy as one would expect. Going to www.sharepoint.com, and clicking Try or Buy didn’t render a link. I clicked Try Now under SharePoint Server 2013. Then off to the right under Related Downloads is a link for SharePoint Foundation 2013. Wait, that doesn’t have SP1 which is required for Windows Server 2012 (but SP1 has been retracted, hasn’t it?), so I searched some more and found it. Lucky for you, you can download it from: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=42039. If you’re running Windows Server 2008, you can download it without SP1: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=35488. Looks like Microsoft doesn’t necessarily want to show off this free version is readily available.

Requirements

Requirements for Foundation are similar to the Server versions. Check out the hardware and software requirements here.

My Setup

I am installing it in VMWare, with 8GB RAM and 2 cores. It’ll be slow but that’s okay for now. I already have Windows 2012 R2 Standard installed, and I have SQL Server 2012 Standard with SP1 installed on another VM. SQL has been configured with a named instance SPF2013A for this specific instance of SharePoint.

I need SQL too?

SharePoint runs on Microsoft SQL, period. Sorry, you can’t run on MySql or any other variation out there. If you don’t have access to SQL server, you can either install SharePoint in a single server instance which includes SQL for you, or better yet, download and install SQL Express (free). Note there are limitations, but if you’re doing a quick POC or trying out SharePoint, SQL Express will probably be fine. I recommend installing SQL separately as it’ll allow you to expand on your new SharePoint farm in the future. Even if you don’t have plans to expand this farm, install SQL separately, as your production farm will be using this model. I do not cover installing SQL, as there are many flavors and options.

Service Accounts

SharePoint utilizes Active Directory for permissions and such, starting at installation. You cannot install it on a server without AD. You shouldn’t install it on a server that is the AD domain server, though it will probably work, it’s not supported by Microsoft.

Create the following AD accounts for your SharePoint install. You can go crazy and use a service account for every service in SharePoint, allowing for an incredible amount of security separation (and maintenance) but being realistic, I prefer to use the following. Each account has to be a domain account, not a domain admin, just a domain user.

  • Farm admin account, i.e. spfarm.
    • This account will be the installation account, and SharePoint will setup the permissions for the rest of the accounts.
    • Needs local administrative rights to your SharePoint server, excluding SQL.
    • Account must be setup with dbcreator and securityadmin roles in SQL.
  • Application service account, i.e. appsvc. This account will be used to run your service applications in SharePoint.
  • Web service account, i.e. websvc. This account will be used to run your web sites services and application pools.

Prerequisites

Prior to installing SharePoint on your server, you’ll need to setup your server to handle a web site. Add the Application Server and Web Server (IIS) roles. Also include Application Server Role Services Web Server (IIS) Support.

Check your SQL Server’s properties, specifically the Max Degree of Parallelism of a value of 1. Check out http://www.sharepointpitstop.com/2013/04/max-degree-of-parallelism-error.html for more details, I ran into this issue myself ;).

Installing SharePoint Foundation

Now that you’ve found and downloaded SharePoint Foundation, got SQL setup, let’s install SharePoint! First, log in with your  spfarm account, and then run the install file you downloaded, and you’ll get the lovely blue splash screen.

SharePoint Foundation 2013 Splash Screen

Click Install software prerequisites, under the Install section. This installs all the stuff SharePoint needs to run.

SharePoint Prerequisite Installer

Just accept defaults and walk through this wizard. This wizard will probably require your server to restart. It may need to reboot a couple of times depending on how many updates it has to do.

Log back in and rerun the installer. Back at the blue screen, press Install SharePoint Foundation. Most of the installation will be pretty basic: accept the terms, press continue. For Server Type, select Complete and press Install Now.

server type

When done, you can go ahead and press Close.

install done

So far so good? The SharePoint bits, the binaries and files, are installed! Now onto the fun part and configuring SharePoint!

The SharePoint Products Configuration Wizard will appear next. Click Next then Yes to the warning. On the next page, select Create a new server farm.

create

 

On the next screen, enter your details for the SQL server, and use your spfarm account for its credentials. I have the \SPF2013A because I installed SQL with another instance, you can probably leave yours as the server name.

sql

Specify a passphrase. Important! This passphrase will be needed if you want to add another server to your farm in the future. Keep it safe!

passphrase

 

On the next screen, you can leave it as default, or specify a port number. If you decide to specify your own port, do not specify any of the standard web ports like 80, 443, 8080, etc. This should be a unique port number as central administration is the core of SharePoint, all configuration, permissions and such occurs here.

 

central administration port

Click Next a couple more times and the configuration will run. It may take a while depending on hardware and what not. Let it run. It will error if there’s a problem, otherwise, no news is good news.

successful

Success! Click Finish and Central Administration will open.

Configuring SharePoint

After a successful installation, Central Administration should open. If for some reason it doesn’t, you can open it from the Programs menu.

When Central Administration opens first, it’ll ask if you want to help make SharePoint better. Do as you wish, it’s your conscience.

So you have an option to here to use a wizard to configure SharePoint.

wizard

I prefer not to use the wizard, I’m a hands on kind of guy. The wizard is ok, and if you’re going to do a quick and dirty proof of concept, I guess you could do that. I will, however, carry us through the entire process, I’m going to press Cancel. That will bring us out to Central Administration:

central administration

Before we make any new sites, we have to continue to configuring SharePoint to get ready. Click Security in the left quick launch, and then click Configure managed accounts.

register account

 

Add your service accounts. In my case, I added the 2. What’s nice is if you fat finger the password, it will prompt you. This is nice since that will not cause issues down the road.

 

added svc accountsOnce added, click Application Management, then click Manage Service Applications.

service application

If you click new in the top ribbon, you’ll see a few options. We’re going to add each of these. Start with the App Management Service. Fill out the following in the dialog:

  • Name. I go with something clear, like “App Management Service”
  • Database. This should default to your SQL server, and you can leave it as is.
  • Failover Server. If you have one, you can specify it, otherwise continue on.
  • Application Pool. We do want to create a new application pool.
    • Application pool name, specific Application Services.
    • For the security account, select Configurable and select the appsvc account from the picker.
  • Create App Management Service Proxy. Keep the Create option checked.
  • Click OK.

Next up, create a new Secure Store Service.

Why did I skip the Business Data Connectivity Service? Because we don’t need it. This service allows SharePoint to connect to external data systems, like another SQL database. If you want to use it, go for it, but for most POCs, we don’t need it.

Ok, back to the Secure Store Service.

  • Name: Secure Store Service.
  • Database. Again, this should default, let’s move along.
  • Failover Server. Ya, again, move along.
  • Application Pool. This time, let’s select an existing application pool, specifically the one we made before, Application Services.
  • Enable Audit. Keep that checked.
  • Click OK.

Outgoing Email

Couple more small things. Click on System Settings, then Configure outgoing e-mail settings. Specify your outgoing email server. You can simply put your Exchange server here. You’ll have to allow relaying from the SharePoint server IP address. SharePoint does not authenticate with the outgoing email server.

If you want, you can validate the outgoing email by setting up a relay on the SharePoint server. This works well with Exchange or any cloud based email service. Check out my other post on Sending SharePoint emails through the cloud.

Services

Click System Settings then Manage Services on Server.

services on server

Now we have to turn a bunch of stuff on. Turn on the following:

  • App Management Service.
  • Microsoft SharePoint Foundation Subscription Settings Service.
  • Secure Store Service.

Create your first site

Now that SharePoint is configured and ready to go, let’s create a site. The site itself will be what your users access. Click Application Management then Manage web applications.

web app

Brief overview of SharePoint’s architecture

The SharePoint farm is what we have now. It’s SharePoint, installed and configured. It can be installed across multiple servers. Note we didn’t have to install SharePoint on SQL. SQL simply stores the databases, however SQL is still considered part of the farm.

Web applications are the top level of data collections. As you’ll see, Central Administration has a web app. A web app is a collection of Site Collections.

Site collections are a collection of sites, and can contain one to many sites.

Sites are the interfaces your users go to to access SharePoint. Sites contain lists, libraries and all the user data.

Create your web application

Click New in the ribbon. Fill out the page as follows:

  • IIS Web Site. SharePoint will create the following IIS web site on your farm. Keep port 80, specify a host header. For quick and dirty, you can specify your server’s name, in my case spf2013a. If you want something more meaningful, specify a valid name which has been setup in your DNS.
  • Security Configuration. You can leave this as is.
  • Claims Authentication Types. Leave it.
  • Sign In Page URL. Move on.
  • Public URL. Ditto.
  • Application Pool. We’re going to create a new one, keeping the default name is fine. Under the security account, select your websvc.
  • Database Name and Authentication. You can leave the database name as is, however I generally append the site name to the database name so I know what database goes to which site.
  • Failover Server. Ya, you know.
  • Service Application Connections. Move along.
  • Customer Experience Improvement Program. Again, up to you.
  • Click OK.

Create your site collection

When the web application finishes, the confirmation window will have a link to create a site collection, click that.

If you were so excited to have setup your web app that you closed that confirmation window. Click Application Management, then Create site collections.

In the Create Site Collection dialog, specify the following:

  • Title and Description. The title is the name of the site, what your users will see. This can be changed at any point later. Not as stressful as naming your kid, but close. You can leave description blank.
  • Web Site Address. Keep the / selection.
  • Template Selection. Select a Team Site. This is a basic site, a great starting point.
  • Primary Site Collection Administrator. Select the smartest person you know, yourself! Specify your user name in here so you can easily get into the new site.
  • Secondary Site Collection Administration. Select the other administrator of the site. You can specify more later on.
  • Quota Template. Leave with No Quota.
  • Click OK.

You’re ready to go!

new site

That’s it! You should be all set to go! We didn’t have to create a site, as a site collection always has a default root site within it.

If you try to hit the site from the server console, you may have an issue, check out this post for an easy fix.

Quick tips:

  • Click the cog, or the gear, or the little circle looking thing in the top right, then go to Site Settings. This is all the behind the scenese including permissions, Look and Feel, search settings and a whole lot more. Familiarize yourself with what’s here.
  • Click the cog, then Add an app. This is how you add new lists and libraries.
  • Click the cog, then Site Contents. This shows all content on the current site. This is also where you can create new sub sites, scroll down and you’ll see a link for new subsite.

Til next time, Happy SharePointing!

 

24-Hour Devathon for a Cause

I am very proud to share that our team at Slalom is taking 24 hours out of this beautiful New England weekend for a SharePoint/Office 365 dev-a-thon to benefit local non profit Junior Achievement of Northern New England.

From www.janewengland.org:

The mission of Junior Achievement (JA) is to inspire and prepare young people to succeed in a global economy. Using hands-on experiences, JA helps to prepare young people for the real world by teaching skills in financial literacy, workforce readiness and entrepreneurship. Junior Achievement trains community volunteers to deliver curricula, and to incorporate the sharing of personal and professional experiences with students. The hallmark of Junior Achievement efforts, these mentors inspire students by transforming the JA lessons into relevant messages that connect what is learned in the classroom to real-world situations.

I am a big fan of this organization. Financial literacy and workforce readiness is very important, with the rise of debt from school loans and credit cards, we have to teach the younger generations more and more about how to best manage their money and be ready to get sustainable jobs. JA reaches 38,000 students in annually!

This weekend a small contingency from Slalom Consulting Boston is putting in 24 hours to create a portal for JA’s board of directors, hosted on Office 365. Some of the key requirements include:

  • Calendaring including RSVP.
  • Custom newsfeed on the homepage highlighting important details from the portal (not what is followed).
  • Branding to match the JA brand.
  • Mobile device friendly, with a heavy focus on the iPad.
  • And other portal stuff like document libraries,

We are employing our best SharePoint and User Experience architects and developers to accomplish something great. I am really looking forward to working with my team as a whole. As consultants we are all spanned across multiple projects and clients, it’ll be a blast to work with the team, together, busting out a sweet project.

Why do I share this with you? One, to show off how much I love my job. Slalom loves promoting community efforts among its employees, really helping us do what we’re passionate about. #SlalomProud. Secondly, to tell you a little about JA, and hopefully you’ll check them out. They are a great organization, one definitely worth the look.

Finally, I wanted to give you a heads up as we’ll be sharing some of the code we create and walk throughs on what we built. I’m excited to build something great and being able to share it with the SharePoint community.

‘Til then, Happy SharePointing!