SharePoint Holmes and the Survey Surprise

Survey-Detective_Maxwell_on_his_desk_in_the_movie_Until_DeathMost questions I receive about SharePoint surveys are permission issues (it is not extremely intuitive that you need to give all your audience Contribute permissions) and the error message that tells people you can not enter this survey twice.
But this time the issue was different.

The case

The site owner had created a survey in which each item had to be completed by two people. When the first person had entered their part, they would send the link to their entry to the second person, who was supposed to enter the rest.
However, the second person could not open the link and got an error message.
“Sorry, something went wrong. No item exists at [location]. It may have been deleted or renamed by another user”.
When that second person went to the site and opened the survey, they could see that an item had been entered but when they clicked “Show all responses” they received a message that there were no responses.
Confusion all around!

The investigation

  1. I checked the permissions, of course.
    The second person had Contribute permissions to the survey, so that was OK. Everyone could see and edit all items, which is a bit scary, but as this was a controlled process with a limited audience, that could work.
  2. People could enter multiple responses, so that was also not a limitation that could cause this issue.
  3. I checked the survey itself. It had some branching. I completed the first part of the survey and clicked Save and close. My entry was saved.
  4. I went to the survey and saw the item and could open and edit it.
  5. I looked at the 2nd part of the survey, which had many required responses and that gave me some ideas to test…

As it turns out,

  • You are unable to save a straightforward Survey item (with no branches) if it contains questions where you have to provide an answer. We know that, it is the same as with List items.

    Survey-needsmandatoryfields
    This survey can not be saved when the required fields have not been completed.
  • A survey with branching however, will save answers, even if you have not entered all mandatory fields. You will get a message and the item will be saved as “not complete”.
    Survey-setup
    With the yellow-marked question the branching occurs, and there are 2 questions which require a response after that.
    Survey-page1filled
    This is what the first part of the survey looks like. The first person would “Save and Close”.
    Survey-messageforsaving
    “This website reports the following” – you are learning Dutch as you go along 🙂
    Survey-part1saved
    When you Save and Close,  the item will be stored and be visible.

    Survey-1responsenotcompleted
    If you click on “Show all responses” you will see that the item is “not completed”.
  • People can only see the completed items of someone else. As the item is “not complete” because the second part with mandatory questions is not completed,  second person Mystery Guest can not open my item, even though she can see there is an item and she has all the permissions.
    Survey-MysteryGuestsees1item
    Mystery Guest can see there is an item added…

    Survey-NoresponsesforMysteryGuest
    …but when she clicks “Show all responses” she gets the above message.
  • When I removed the “requiredness” of the answers of the 2nd part, the survey was marked as “complete” upon saving, and then the 2nd person could open and edit the 2nd part of the survey.

The solution

I discussed my findings with the site owner and suggested to make the answers in the second part of the survey no longer mandatory. I showed him how to create views in a survey to help getting the second part completed.

That worked for him. Case closed!

New experience for Surveys!

I also saw the Survey in Modern SharePoint. I appreciate the new consistency with other lists, but I can imagine that people will be lost without that well-known look-and-feel. But then, I expect that Forms will make the Survey obsolete soon, anyway.
I wanted to share a screenshot, but things are not very stable yet and I kept getting errors and the Classic experience. As soon as I have captured it, I will share!

About SharePoint Holmes:
Part of my role is solving user issues. Sometimes they are so common that I have a standard response, but sometimes I need to do some sleuthing to understand and solve it.
As many of my readers are in a similar position, I thought I’d introduce SharePoint Holmes, SharePoint investigator, who will go through a few cases while working out loud.

Image courtesy of ZaL141TeLq on Wikimedia.

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7 Risks of Copy To and Move To (in SharePoint Online)

In my earlier post, I explained what happens when you use Copy To and Move To. CopyMove-Risks

I really like using it, but of course there are some risks too, especially because it is very easy to do.
I have already encountered the first casualties and I assume many more will follow.

So here are some things that I think are a tad dangerous:

  1. Even people with only “Read” permissions can Copy your content to a site they have more permissions to, or to their OneDrive. What does this do for “one version of the truth”?
  2. It is now very easy to Copy confidential content to a location with a completely different audience.
  3. People with Contribute or Edit in your site can Move documents to another site and delete them from your site.
    This has been a recent issue with one of my users. He reported that he had lost a large part of his site’s content and did not know what had happened. Fortunately I found his (200+) documents in the Recycle Bin. They had all been deleted by the same person, in a time span of about 5 minutes. I still do not know if that person had really used the Move option, but it is plausible.
  4. There is no way for you, as a site owner, to see if content has been Copied to a different site.
    You can see in the Document Information Pane if people have deleted content. You could also set an Alert for Deleted Items, so you know quickly if an unexpected large number of documents has been deleted and you can ask the deleter if they have Moved content. But for Copy…no option.
  5. As far as I know, there is no option for the site collection admins to see what has happened, except when documents that have been deleted are mentioned in the Document Information Pane or show up in the Recycle Bin. (Please let me know if you have found how to do it – a third-party tool perhaps?)
  6. You can lose metadata and versions if the target contains fewer than the source. With the new versioning settings the latter will probably not cause many issues.
  7. You can break links as I found out recently. I moved some documents around because I wanted to combine some libraries and I had forgotten these were accessed from Promoted Links. Duh! 🙂

How to counteract:

1. Give everyone only the permissions they really need

Making sure every person has the correct permissions is getting more and more important.
With the defaults for sharing and access requests set to give people “Contribute” or “Edit” permissions accidents with Copy or Move are more likely to happen.
Delve, that shows you potentially interesting information that you have access to, makes this part of site ownership even more important!
I often use an extra permissions set called “Contribute without Delete” which means people can Read, Add and Edit but only the Site Owner can delete content. That reduces the likelihood of content disappearing.

2. Inform users how Copy To and Move To work

If your users know how this works, they may be more aware what they are doing. Perhaps this picture helps to convey quickly what happens.

CopyMove-Versions

3. Inform users of the confidentiality of your content

Always make your site’s audience aware of the confidentiality status of your content. Not everyone may realize that some content (such as new brand names, prices or competitor info) may damage your company, should it fall into the wrong hands.
Tell your audience which content should not be shared and copied, and what the consequences could be if they do, both for the company and perhaps even for themselves.

4. Set Alerts for deleted items

You may want to set an Alert for content that is deleted, so you are warned when you see an unexpected large amount of deletions, for instance. As you can not restore the content someone else has deleted, contact your support team as quickly as possible to restore the content.

Of course I am curious to learn which issues you have encountered, and how you have solved those!

Image by Glenn Wallace on Flickr. 

10 things to know about Copy to and Move to (in SharePoint Online)

CopyMove-headerOf course you all know a number of ways to move documents from one place of SharePoint to another, such as Open With Explorer*, Content and Structure** and 3rd party tools.

But have you tried the “Copy to” and “Move to” options in SharePoint Online?
(I will use the words Copy and Move throughout this blog as this makes it easier to read…and write)

CopyMove-bar
Copy To and Move To become visible when you select one or more documents

I knew that Copy has been available for some time in document libraries, but only recently I have also discovered Move. So I decided to find out how it works and how I can explain this best to our audience. The Microsoft Help is accurate and helpful, but it does not mention everything.

1. This is only available in document libraries with Modern Experience. 

2. Copy and Move are available for Document, Asset and Picture Libraries.

You can Copy and Move folders or individual documents to other Document Libraries.
You can Copy and Move images from Asset and Picture Libraries, but only to the same Asset or Picture Library or other Document Libraries.
In Pages Libraries, you can only Copy a page and then only to the same Pages Library. This is useful when you want to base a page on an existing one.

CopyMove-Pages
In a Pages library, you can only Copy a page to the same library. No other targets are available.

 

CopyMove-targetoptions
Source and possible target libraries

3. Copy and Move can be done between OneDrive and SharePoint Online and vice versa.

CopyMove-OneDrive
Your OneDrive is always shown as option.

4. Copy and Move can be done between different site collections, unlike “Content and Structure”.

5. What you can do depends on your permissions.

a. To Copy, you will need at least “Add” permissions in the target site.
You will be adding documents, so you will need Contribute, Edit or Full Control or similar.
“Read” permissions to the source site are sufficient in order to be able to Copy content.
b. To Move, you will need at least “Add” permissions in the target site AND “Delete” permissions in the source site, as Move deletes the documents in the source site.

CopyMove-Permissions
The roles you need

 

6. Copy only copies the latest version, Move moves all versions.

This is the same as with Content and Structure, but it does not hurt to mention it again, as this is now available for more users and can have consequences!

CopyMove-Versions
Differences in Copy and Move w.r.t. versions

7. Move keeps the original Created and Modified dates and names.

Copy keeps the original Modified date and Modified By name, but Create date will be now and Created By will be the name of the person who copied. This makes sense, as you are creating a new instance with new Create info.
This can also be slightly confusing, as the Create date can be later than the Modified date.
In the screenshots below, I have used the same Source Library and two different Target Libraries, to show the difference between Copy and Move.
The documents have different dates, people and versions.

First, let us Copy the 3 selected documents

CopyMove-Copy3docs
Version number are 3.0, 2.0 and 5.0, respectively. Different names in Modified By and Created By.

 

This is the result:

CopyMove-3docscopied
All documents have been copied as a new version with the Created date of some minutes ago – while the Modified date is earlier! Created By is me (I did it) while the Modified By is still the same.

 

Now, let’s Move the same 3 documents to a different library:

CopyMove-Move3docs
Now we are moving these same 3 documents

This is the result:

CopyMove-3docsmoved
The original names and dates are in Created By, versions are the same.

 

8. You will receive warning messages in certain scenarios.

a. You Move a document to a target document library that has fewer versions enabled than the source. In this case, document Sharing 9 has 5 versions, the target library 3. You will get a useful warning and the option to stop the process. You do not get this warning when you Copy, as this only copies the latest version.
(This will become less of an issue with the changes in versioning coming up)

CopyMove-VersionWarning
Warning about fewer versions

b. You Move a document to a document library with fewer/different metadata. In this case, I am moving a document that has a Topic column to a target without that. Again, you can Copy it with no warning.

CopyMove-metadatawarning
Warning about different metadata

c. You Copy or Move a documents to a target location that already has a document with the same name.

CopyMove-Titlewarning
You can not Copy or Move when a document or folder with the same name exists in the Target library

9. This functionality is not available for guests.

Guests who want to Copy or Move get an error message, even if they have the correct permissions and see the options. Judging from the error message, the sites shown in the panel are sites you follow and/or have recently visited. As externals have no OneDrive to store their Followed sites, nor Delve to see the recently visited sites, this makes sense.
This may get awkward for long-term trusted external partners, though.

CopyMove-MysteryGuestIssue
Even though the option to Copy or Move is displayed, external users/guests can not do this.

10. The sites that are suggested as targets are based on the Office Graph. 

A good reason to Follow your sites – they show in the targets panel and save you searching. The suggestions are based on the Office Graph and this explains why external guests can not Copy or Move – they have no Office Graph. Thanks to Greg Zelfond for providing me with this info! 

CopyMove-followed sites
What is shown here depends on your Office Graph.

 

My two cents

I am quite happy with this functionality. It is very simple and it will be very useful in case of organizational change or archiving a project.
I now use it all the time when I move instruction and help documentation (that I write using a Word template on my laptop) from my OneDrive to SharePoint. Somehow it feels easier.

However, I would not be me if I did not see some risks. But as this is already quite a long post, I will leave that for next time.

Special characteristics of other ways to move documents

*Open with Explorer
Microsoft help
• Needs Windows on your PC as it opens Windows Explorer
• Needs Internet Explorer 32 bits, does not work with any other browser
• Only works with Classic SharePoint
• Content takes Create/Modify dates and names from the person performing the action and the date/time of the action
• No versions can be copied or moved

**Content and Structure
• Only accessible for people with Contribute or higher
• Only available to copy and move within the site collection
• Only available when your site collection has publishing features enabled

Image courtesy of Baitong333 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

SharePoint Holmes and the Forbidden Follow

sherlock-holmes-462957_960_720.jpgThe Case

Recently someone reported an issue with Following. Whenever he wanted to follow a site or a document, he got this message:

Unable to Follow

The investigation

  1. I did a screenshare with him to find out what exactly he was doing. Sometimes seeing someone’s screen or actions provide you with a clue, but he did the correct things and there was nothing weird in his screen either.
  2. I asked my more technical colleague and he came up with something good. Do you know where Followed Sites (or Followed Documents) are stored?
    Follow a site and then click on the confirmation popup that appears.

    SH-Follow-Followsitepopup
    Click quickly on this popup before it disappears!
  3. I ended up on a page with “yourname/my.sharepoint.com/personal/”  in the URLSH-Follow-WhereFollowedSitesLiveand this is…
    SH-follow-drumroll
    drum roll

    …OneDrive!

  4. I replaced the last bit of the URL, to the right of the tenant name, with _layouts/15/viewlsts.aspx?view=14
  5. I saw the Site Contents of my OneDrive, with the Social List at the bottom.

    SH-Follow-SocialList in Site Contents
    This is where the Followed sites live – in a list called “Social” in your OneDrive.
  6. When clicking the ellipses next to the Social List and clicking Settings, I ended up in the list, which has several content types and a ton of columns.
    SH-Follow-Content Types
    The content types available in the Social list

    SH-Follow-Columns
    Pfff…all these columns just for the things you follow?
  7. I asked the user to give me Full Control to his OneDrive, as this is out of my normal support scope so I do not have admin access.
  8. I compared the  Social List of the user with my own.
    It appeared that his Social List missed two columns: File Type Prog ID and Server URL prog ID.

    SH-Follow-MissingColumns
    The highlighted columns were not in his Social list.
  9. Also, on his Delve profile, any hints of his OneDrive were missing in his profile card. I looked at the Delve profile of unknown colleagues and there is always a mention of “[person name] ‘s OneDrive” even when no files are shared.
    (I can not show that as I am the only person in my tenant)
  10. I searched on the internet and found mentions about being unable to follow sites but the problems (one user, some users, all users), causes (the application pool account has no access to the database, security updates, a setting not configured correctly) and solutions were very mixed and I could not find anything about those ProgID’s.

The solution

Well, uh…this is beyond my scope and a different team supports OneDrive, so I have assigned the incident to another team. SharePoint Holmes failed…:(
But although I have not managed to solve this,  I have spent some enjoyable time digging into new territory and learning something new.

Which issues have you found with Following Sites and how have you solved them?

About SharePoint Holmes:
Part of my role is solving user issues. Sometimes they are so common that I have a standard response, but sometimes I need to do some sleuthing to understand and solve it.
As many of my readers are in a similar position, I thought I’d introduce SharePoint Holmes, SharePoint investigator, who will go through a few cases while working out loud.

Detective image courtesy of 422737 on Pixabay
Drums image courtesy of posterize at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

An unpleasant inheritance

inherit-picInheriting something is a mixed pleasure.
You can become the proud owner of your uncle’s lovely old-timer, or be able to wear your grandmother’s diamond necklace and matching earrings at grand events, but you generally receive those treasures only after a dear one has passed away.
But you can also inherit debts, a house with an expensive mortgage, a nephew or other “things” that you have never wanted.

Inheriting permissions in SharePoint can also be a curse rather than a blessing.
“I have suddenly lost access” has been the title of many recent incidents. No need to blame this on Microsoft, SharePoint or the support team, because in 99% of cases this is a human error:

  • The Site Owner accidentally removed their own permissions while cleaning up a document library’s  or site’s permissions. The support team can easily fix this.
  • The Site Owner accidentally inherits the permissions from the parent site. That is pretty serious and has happened alarmingly often!
inherit-removeuniquepermissions
A dangerous button that will inherit permissions from the parent – this can be wanted in documents, folders and libraries but can wreak havoc in sites.

I have already mentioned in many of our instruction materials: “if you see “this web site has unique permissions” in the yellow bar, DO NOT CLICK “Delete unique permissions” as you will

  • Inherit the permissions from the parent site
  • Lock yourself out of your site if you have insufficient permissions on the parent site
  • Remove all unique permissions in your site (and there is no “undo” or “restore” option)
inherit-thiswebsitehasnqiuepermissions
If you see this text, you are at the site level!

The warning message appears not to be informative enough to keep people from proceeding.

inherit-warning
The warning message before you inherit the permissions from the parent site.

Recently I have guided a few people through “permissions stuff” via screenshare and I notice that they always want to click ‘Delete unique permissions” when they want to remove users. In several cases these users were individuals who were not in a group and therefore were seen as having unique permissions.
On those occasions I have been just in time to guide their mouse pointers to the right button: “Remove User Permissions”.

inherit-removeuserpermissions
Use this when you want to remove  groups or individuals from your site

This has now happened so often, with such serious consequences, that I have added a suggestion to Microsoft SharePoint Uservoice to rename “Delete Unique Permissions” into “Inherit permissions from parent” as this is probably easier to understand for the user than the current wording. If you agree, please support my request. (Happy to return the favour, of course)

You know, like in SharePoint 2007:

Inheritpermissions2007
What it looks like in SharePoint 2007 – much more intuitive! (Pic taken with Phone)

And if you have taken any measures that successfully prevent this accidental inheritance, please share!

Image courtesy of Phil_Bird at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

SharePoint Holmes and the Missing Menu-item

SPHolmes-EditPageThe case

“I am officially the owner of the site, but I can not manage the site”, the user had written in the description field of the incident.
I asked her what exactly she was trying to do that was impossible, and she said she had wanted to make changes to the homepage of the site.

“But the menu in the gear wheel does not look like the training materials”, she said. “Please see attached screenshot”.

Now that was an interesting screenshot!

SPHolmes-EditPage-Gear wheel
“Site settings” but no “Edit page” in the menu!

I could have asked her if she was able to go to the homepage from the Site Pages or Pages library and if she would have been able to conjure up the Page tab and do it from there, but I was so intrigued by the screenshot that I decided to do some investigation. After all, the “Edit page” option needs to be there and I could better fix that once and for all than waste her time with workarounds. Her problem was not so urgent that she needed the workaround.

And to be frank, I hoped it would turn out to be another SharePoint Holmes topic 🙂

The investigation

  1. Of course, I checked the permissions first. They looked OK. (You know the Dutch words by now, right? 🙂 )

    SPHolmes-EditPage-Permissions
    Owners with Full Control, Members with Edit, Visitors and another group with Read permissions – looks normal!
  2. Yes, she was in the Owners group with Full Control.

    SPHolmes-EditPage-InOwnersGroup
    Mystery Guest is in the Owners group.
  3. I checked the items with unique permissions. The Site Pages library was one of them.
  4. Aha, the Site Pages library had very limited permissions – only Visitors had Read access and that was it. As the Visitors group contained a company-wide AD group, I knew she had access – but only with Read permissions.

    SPHolmes-EditPage-SitePagesPermissions
    Fortunately a wide audience could see the site’s pages – but nobody could edit them!
  5. I checked the Homepage permissions to be on the safe side, and that inherited permissions from the library. So she could see the homepage but not edit it.

The solution

I added the Owners group back to the Site Pages library with the proper permissions. I informed the Site Owner that she had removed the permissions of everyone except the Visitors.
She informed me that “Edit Page” was now in her Gear Wheel menu and she could edit the page again. Problem solved!
I suggested to think about what she wanted to do with this library – keep it like it was with only Owner and Visitor groups (to avoid unwanted edits) or to inherit the permissions from the site.

I wish I had something more deep and interesting to conclude than: “SharePoint permissions are difficult to understand and manage”. 😦

But if you ever come across a screenshot like that, you know what to do!

About SharePoint Holmes:
Part of my role is solving user issues. Sometimes they are so common that I have a standard response, but sometimes I need to do some sleuthing to understand and solve it.
As many of my readers are in a similar position, I thought I’d introduce SharePoint Holmes, SharePoint investigator, who will go through a few cases while working out loud.

Image courtesy of  Clker-Free-Vector-Images on Pixabay.

Beware the SharePoint MVP!

 

No, I am not going to bash the SharePoint Most Valuable Professionals! I have received help, feedback and support from many MVP’s including Veronique Palmer, Jasper Oosterveld and Gregory Zelfond, and I have read and used the posts and presentations of many others.

But I am glad this title caught your attention 🙂

The Minimum Viable Product

This blog will be about another MVP – the Minimum Viable Product, a common word in Agile development, meaning you will launch a product that meets the basic requirements (as defined at the start of the project) and will be improved incrementally over time.

I think I have been woking somewhat agile  when I was configuring solutions, and met with my business counterparts on a very regular basis to discuss the proof of concept/prototype and checked if this met their expectations.
I only created a very small list of requirements, as I knew that many business partners only had a vague idea of what they were really looking for, and when confronted with my interpretation of their requirements all kinds of unexpected, or in any case, unspoken, things came up.

  • Is there an option to leave this field blank?
    Yes, but that means that we either leave this non-mandatory (which may lead to more blanks than you want) or we add a dummy value such as “please select”. What do you think is best?
  • Can we have a multiple choice for this field?
    Ofcourse, but that means you will be unable to group on this in the views, so we will have to resort to a connection for filtering. Oh and then it is better to make this field a look-up field instead of a choice field. Let me rework that.
  • What if someone forgets to act on the email?
    We may want to create a view that allows the business process owner to see quickly which items are awaiting action.

And more of those things. I generally met with my business partner once every fortnight, if not more often.

So I am all in favour of especially the short development cycles of Agile.

“Users” does not mean “end users”, exclusively!

I also think that “user stories” are much more realistic and human than “requirements”, although they sometimes look a little artificial.
By the way, I would recommend any team to think not only of “end user stories” but also of “tenant owner” stories or “support user stories” as other people involved have their own needs or requirements.

Rapid improvements

I also like the idea of launching a Minimum Viable Product and doing small, rapid improvements on that, based on feedback and experiences, because

  • You can show users that you are listening to them
  • You can show that you are not neglecting your intranet after launch
  • It gives you something new to communicate on a regular basis
MVP-DevelopmenttoLaunch
During development, you work towards the Minimum Viable Product

So, when we were launching our intranet I was quite interested to be part of the project and to work towards an MVP.

When we finally launched our MVP we also published the roadmap with intended improvements, and shared the process of adding items to the roadmap.  That way users could see that we had plans to improve and that we would be able to spend time and attention on meeting the needs of the business.

Vulnerabilities

When launching an MVP with a promise to make ongoing improvements you are more vulnerable than when you do a Big Bang Launch & Leave introduction. What about the following events?

  • Cuts in the improvement budget.
    Those can be a blessing or a curse, but they may happen.
  • People who leave before they have documented what they have created.
    I have never liked the extensive Requirements Documents and Product Descriptions that go with traditional development, but if you are handing over your product to the Support organization, you really need documentation of what you are handing over. End users can have the weirdest questions and issues! 🙂
  • Reorganizations which turn your product team or even your company upside down.
  • Microsoft changes that mess up your customizations. We have a webpart that shows your Followed Sites – it suddenly and without warning changed from displaying the first 5 sites you had followed to the last 5 sites. Most annoying!

So before you know it, you end up with a below-minimum viable product. ☹

MVP-Developmentfromlaunch
While in a normal development cycle you would slowly and steadily improve upon the MVP, unexpected events can leave you with something less than MVP.

What can be done?

So before you start singing the praises of Agile development and put on your rose-tinted glasses

  1. Make sure you have a safe development budget that can not be taken away from you.
  2. Ensure you have an alternative no-cost optimization plan, such as webinars, Q&A sessions, surveys, configuration support, content changes etc. to make the most of the launch of your MVP and to get feedback for improvements for when better times arrive.
  3. Insist that everyone documents their configurations, codes, processes, work instructions etc. as quickly as possible. It is not sexy but will save you a lot of hassle in case your team changes.
    If you are in need of extracting knowledge from leaving experts, here are some tips for handing over to a successor, and some tips for when there is no successor in place yet.
  4. Be prepared for changes in processes, data or organization. You do not have to have a ready-made plan, but it is wise to think about possible implications for your product or process if the Comms team is being reorganized, someone wants to rename all business units, or you need to accomodate an acquired company in your setup.
  5. Keep customizations to a minimum. Use existing templates and simple configurations.
    Personally I would be totally content without a customized homepage. The SharePoint landing page or, even better, the Office365 landing page as the start page to my day would work perfectly well for me, but I have learned not many people share that feeling.

Any experiences to share?

Have you had similar experiences? Have you found a good way to handle budget cuts, a way to develop budget-neutrally, how to deal with people changes or another way to deal with unexpected events that endanger your MVP? I am sure there are many people (including myself) who would like to learn from your stories!

Images are from Simon Koay’s totally gorgeous Superbet. Look at that B!
M=Mystique, V=Venom, P=Poison Ivy