Let the right one in (your SharePoint site)

AccessRequest-KnockerWhat do you do when you receive a request for access to your SharePoint site? Accept it immediately (because you want to be done with it, or you feel a bit ashamed that you have excluded someone) or find out exactly what they want because there may be more to the request than meets the eye?

Yes, I thought so. 🙂

Let’s dig a bit deeper into Access Requests. There’s quite a lot you can do with them, including creating unique permissions. You know that I hate that!

Microsoft explains this in detail  but of course they  they let you figure out all the implications by yourself. Or by me :-).

If your email address is in the Access Request Settings, you will receive access requests via email, and the requests will be replicated in the Site settings > Access Requests and Invitations page.

AccesRequests-Link
If you do not see “Access requests and invitations”, you have not received a request yet.

How does it work?

When you get the access request in your mail, you will see the link to the desired content. You can immediately click the “Accept” button from the email and give them Contribute permissions by default.

Access Requests-request
At the bottom you see the link to the document.

Yes, Contribute. That means they can edit the content.

Hmmm, perhaps clicking Accept immediately is not such a good idea after all. Perhaps Read-permissions are good enough. Or, if you have sent this link assuming they had access, it may be a good idea to give them access to the complete site.

Alternative: the Access Requests and Invitations page!

So, here comes the Access Requests and Invitations page to look at (and manage) the request.

You will see three categories: Pending requests, External user invitations and History.

Access requests - page
The page where you can take a closer look at the access request.

Here again, you can click Approve or Decline, or check first what will happen if you click Approve. So, click the … next to the name of the requester. This pop up opens:

Access Requests-open.GIF
“Bewerken”  means “Contribute”, sorry, the language settings in my tenant are a bit out of my control.

Here you see some more info:

  • What Office365 has decided about their permissions. In this case Office365 would add them as an individual to this document with Contribute permissions – most unpleasant!
    You can click the drop down to select the Contributors or Visitors group for the site.
  • Who has asked access and what exactly for. Hover over the link to see the URL.
  • Date and time of the request
  • Approval state
  • Email conversation with the person who requests access. You see I was busy writing this post, so the impatient Mystery Guest asked for permissions again 🙂

What would have happened…

If I had clicked Accept from the email or Approve from the Access Request page, this is what would have happened:

Access request - acceptwithoutchanges
You see Mystery Guest now has unique permissions and is added as an individual with Contribute permissions.

Exception: Site welcome page

There is one exception to this rule and that is when you send the link to the welcome page of the site. In that case the requester is added by default to the Members group. This also may be more than you want, though.

Access requests-sharesite
If you share the site root or welcome page, the person is by default added to the Members group.

History

After approval, the request ends up under “Show History”. This gives a nice overview of everything that has happened in your site.
If you see a name very often, it may be an idea to give them access to the whole site.

Access Request - history
The Access Request history in this site. I may need to make this Mystery Guest a permanent member 🙂

Recommendation

When you receive an Access Request it may be better to spend some time figuring out the details, than to click Accept immediately. This will cost you some time now, but will save you time fixing unique permissions later (and dealing with even more access requests because too many inheritances are broken!).

Have you found any other “interesting” behavior of the Access Request?

Title based on the movie “Let the right one in“.

Image courtesy of cbenjasuwan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Get a Link – Get a Break!

getalink-brokenchocolate2As I am writing help materials for our new intranet I do not only have to think about “HOW do you do this” but also “WHY would you do this” and “How can you do this BEST, without spending too much time, adding maintenance or messing things up?”

With the migration of content to the new platform, many Site Owners need to rework their publishing pages. Generally these pages contain (clickable) header images, Promoted Links, Summary Links and links in the text.

On the old platform, when you want to grab the link to a document or image, you go to the library, right click on the name and select “Copy Shortcut” from the pop up. This is no longer available in SharePoint Online.

So, how does one get a link in SharePoint Online?

I have found 3 ways to link to a document, page or image:

  1. In Summary Links as well as the Rich Text Editor on a page (Wiki page style), you can browse for the link to a document or image that lives in your site or site collection.
    getalink-insertlink
    Insert > Link > From SharePoint will allow you to browse the libraries and lists in your site and link to the desired content.

    getalink-summarylinks
    When creating Summary Links you can browse for the content in your site.
  2. You can open the item and grab the URL from the address bar.
  3. There is the new Get a Link option, which you will see when you select a document or image from a library, in the Action Bar (is that what it’s called?) and the pop up menu.
    getalink-actionbar
    The Action Bar shows the Get a Link option when you select an item

    getalink-actionbar-gif-popup
    When you click the … behind an item name, you will see this in the pop up

The users in my company are all accustomed to grabbing a link when they want to share a document via email or on Yammer, so I think this “Get a Link” will appeal to them.

However, at first glance I see 5 different options. What to select?

getalink-options
5 options to Get a Link? Please note that the “no sign-in required” options can be disabled by the tenant administrator. This allows you to share links with anyone, in and outside of your company.

Let’s find out how this works!

Microsoft has already written about this but it is not very detailed.
So, I have created a brand new site in my own tenant. In this site I have uploaded 5 documents, each named after the action I will take.

getalink-documents

I assume the file type is irrelevant so I have used a mix of Excel, Word and PowerPoint.

Please note I am the tenant admin, so I am not a normal Site Owner. Some things may work differently for a regular Site Owner with Full Control.

My tenant is almost out-of-the-box and external and anonymous sharing has been enabled on all site collections.

How to use Get a Link:

  1. Select the document and click “Get a Link”
  2. Select one of the 5 options
  3. Click “Create” (if the link has already been created earlier you will immediately see “copy”
  4. Click “Copy” and the link will be added to your clipboard
  5. Paste wherever you need it.

You can remove a link if you longer want to share. This means the link will be disabled if someone clicks on it.

For links with “no sign-in required” you can set an expiration date. This means the link will no longer work if someone clicks on it after the expiration date.

getalink-expirationdate
For “anonymous sharing” you can set an expiration time.

Results

  1. The links look as follows:

Restricted link:

https://company.com/Sharing/Shared%20Documents/GetLink-RestrictedLink.pptx?d=wa1065f209e79474cb70b1d349a3d5c1c

View Link – account required:

https://company.com/Sharing/_layouts/15/guestaccess.aspx?guestaccesstoken=g5GzCR4X%2bSQeQkoUVxhvy6ObgkIgAOAwWPxUubf%2bNlY%3d&docid=2_061f40460a0bb4a509b5f126109e2f28e&rev=1

View Link – no sign-in required

https://company.com/Sharing/_layouts/15/guestaccess.aspx?docid=0d7dc303b58164d169fe1e15c05981740&authkey=Acc4tb7-2Nb5GYqUQPj4Oy0

Edit Link – account required

https://company.com/Sharing/_layouts/15/guestaccess.aspx?guestaccesstoken=OygCzI%2f3Nkr8YKUhpYNPucCNr3H7x4zTfJowLrST0lI%3d&docid=2_17f6bad80545a42428c32907a3503e6f4&rev=1

Edit Link – no sign-in required

https://company.com/Sharing/_layouts/15/guestaccess.aspx?docid=11bf22e7919224e2987caf7ea39f9f4f5&authkey=AReBJ-AIIrhwFnuFeCqR1e

2. Using the “View” and “Edit” links will break permission inheritance for the document as soon as you hit “Create”.

getalink-what
Pardon my French, but what did you just write there?

Yes, you may want to read this again:

Using the “View” and “Edit” links will break permission inheritance for the document as soon as you hit “Create”.

I was a bit worried about the word “guest_access” that I saw appearing in 4 of the 5 links, so I decided to check the permissions of my site.
Microsoft mentions this in the small letters of their post, but it is easily overlooked.

You know you can now see immediately if you have items with different permissions in your site. That is very convenient. Normally, only the Microfeed has different permissions, but now my Documents have too!

getalink-brokenpermissions
The document library has “exceptions”. That means: some items have different permissions.
getalink-4outof5
Only the “Restricted Link” does not break permission inheritance!

4 of the 5 docs have broken permissions inheritance! The permissions have not changed yet, but the inheritance has broken. This may not appear to be a big deal now, but if you ever happen to add a new group or individual to your site, which is not unlikely, you will have to remember to give them access to these documents.
Do you seriously think any Site Owner will remember this? Or have the time for that?

More scary and inconvenient findings

  • As soon as someone clicks on a link they are added to the permissions of the document, regardless of their existing role in the site.
getalink-added-after-clicking
I am the tenant admin, and have Full Control of this site, yet I am added as soon as I click the link.
  • People in the Members group get all the options for “Get a Link” as well!
    I have tested this in my work environment and it turns out Members can see and use the “view” and “edit” options so they can break the permission inheritance of documents without the Site Owner being aware!
  • You can only find out which links have been created by checking the options for each document. Click “remove” if you see that an unwanted link has already been created. Now go find out which of your links (In a text, in Summary Links etc.) used this link 😦
  • You can remove the link, but the permission inheritance is still broken.
  • You can only “delete unique permissions”  per document, so you have to go to Site settings > Site permissions > Show items with different permissions > View Exceptions > Manage permissions > Delete unique permissions.
    This is a tedious process.

I think this can turn into a serious issue. I have found that many Site Owners do not fully understand the consequences of broken permission inheritance, and do not understand the extra maintenance and support issues involved. I have tried to tell them NOT to break permission inheritance unless it is really needed, and to never do this on a document or item level.
And even if they know, it is a time-consuming job to reset the permissions.

Also, why all this complexity for just getting a link? I think only the “Restricted link” would be sufficient. Who would ever want to use the “edit” options when linking to an image? Why would you use the “Get a Link” option to share via email if there is also a “Share” option which sends an email? (and which, in some cases, asks permissions to the Site Owner first?)

What would I recommend if you need a link?

  • Use the “Insert > Link > From SharePoint” option to link to a document or image when working in the text editor of a page
  • Use the “Browse” option when creating Summary Links
  • Use “Get a Link > Restricted View” when you want to get a link otherwise. This respects the permissions of your library.
  • Instruct your site Members about the dangers of Get a Link and ask them to use the Restricted Link.

What are your experiences with the Get a Link functionality? Have you been able to reduce the scope and if yes, how? I would appreciate to hear and learn from you!

Kitten image courtesy of Top Photo Engineer at FreeDigitalPhotos.net. Text added by myself.

No editing pain with the details pane

docpane-picredRecently I sang the praise of the details pane in SharePoint document libraries, because I firmly believe this will make it easier for site owners (and supporters) to know what has happened to their documents.

But there is more to that pane than just information about the library. It also shows useful info about each document.

When you upload a document to a library, the newly added document will be selected and the details pane opens.

docpane-justuploaded
When you upload a document, the details pane opens with a warning that some required metadata are missing.

On the details pane you see the following from top to bottom:

  • A preview of the document’s first page
  • Document name, size and modified date.
  • A warning that this document misses mandatory properties
  • The properties
  • Recent activities for this document and by whom
  • Who it has been shared with
  • Document information such as file type, path and size
    docpane-firstscroll
    Top part of the document details pane
    docpane-secondscroll
    The second part of the document details pane

    docpane-thirdscroll
    The bottom part of the document details pane

There are now three ways to edit the properties of the document.

1. Traditional: Via the document menu

-Click … behind the document name, click “More” in the menu and then “Properties”.
You will go to the document properties page.

docpane-traditionaledit
The document properties page

-Click “Edit all” and you will go to the edit page
-Make edits and click “Save”
-You will go back to the document item page, as per screenshot above

Hmm…you will have to find your way back to the document library again 😦 .

2. Via the “Edit all” link

-Click “Edit all” in the details pane, next to “Properties”
-You will immediately go to the edit page of the item

docpane-edit-all
The edit page.

-Make edits and click “Save”
-You will go back to the library.

Now, that is better. It saves me a few clicks and I stay in the context of the library.

3. In the details pane

-Click on the field below the column name (in this example: Name, Title and Topic).
-The field will now open up and can be edited
-When you have made your edits, click below the edited field
-You will see “saving”, “saved” and then the field will look normal again.
-Click on the next field and repeat.

I think this will benefit from a short video demo. Please watch in full screen mode and look at the right side.

Yay, this is very fast and I do not even have to leave my document library!

This also works for lists. You can even add an attachment to a list item from the details pane. (I am not a big fan of attaching documents to list items, but that is another matter)

docpane-list
Editing properties of a list item

Some quirks!

  1. If you have many required properties and they are all Choice or Lookup fields with many choices, you will have to do a lot of scrolling. Using “Quick Edit” (the former “Edit in Datasheet”) may be a better way.
  2. The “wobbling” caused by the words “saving” and “saved” appearing and disappearing makes me a little seasick, especially when I had to edit about 50 documents recently  🙂 . In that case, “Quick Edit” may be better.
  3. There is not much space available to show texts, so if you have a long description, you may lose track of what you are writing. Save your text to see if your sentence still makes sense. Using “Edit all” (option 2) may be easier, although the space there is limited, too.
  4. In older SharePoint versions, a document was only visible to the audience once it had been properly checked in with all required metadata. This appears to be no longer needed. So there is a larger risk of documents in your library that do not have all required metadata added.
  5. This is a very new way of editing SharePoint stuff, so will need communication and adoption efforts.I can imagine that people will be looking for an “Edit”or “Save” button.

Conclusion

Editing a document’s properties in the details pane is a very easy way to adjust metadata while staying in the context of your work. It does have a few quirks, so may not be the best option for every purpose. I think it is great for adding metadata to newly added documents, or for making small adjustments to a limited number of documents.

What do you think of this? Do you like this pane or not, have you found any other gotchas? Is this something you actively communicate to your users? Please let me know!

Bad SharePoint! You deleted my document!

documentgone-imageAbout once a month I get a panicky phone call about “an important document that has suddenly disappeared”. Quite often SharePoint or even myself are blamed for this.

The reality is always different, of course: a user of the library has deleted the document, but who has done it is impossible to find out (for the Site Owner) and many people do not know how they can restore deleted documents.

I am therefore very happy with the new Document Library experience in SharePoint Online, where the “details pane” tells you what has happened in the library. (And even with each document!)

From now on, you can see who has deleted or modified a document by clicking he little “ï” icon on top right of your library to see what has happened.

documentgone-detailspane
The yellow-marked “Details Pane” opens up when you click it.

Let me show you how this works with a few common scenarios that may lead people to think their document has been deleted.

This is a library in the “All Documents” view.

documentgone-library
Document Library. Each file is named after an action.

1. The document has been deleted.

Deleting a document shows up in the pane.

donemuentgone-deleted
File deleted. The file name is not clickable.

Oh dear, you can see who has deleted the document! 🙂
I am always the bad guy in my one-person tenant, but please note everyone’s actions are visible to everyone in a more “normal” environment!

If you see this message, contact the person who has deleted the document and ask him/her to restore it. The Recycle Bin still only shows the items you have deleted.

If you restore the document from the Recycle Bin, the details pane will show you this:

documentgone-deletedandrestored
File restored. The file name is clickable again.

2. The properties of the document have been changed.

This may move the document to a different view, and may lead people to think the document has been deleted. (Depending on the views in your library)

I have a view for “Video”. It contains 3 files.

documentgone-videoview
3 files in this view, which is filtered on “Topic”= “Video”.

If I change the Topic property for one document, this is what happens:

  • The document moves out of this view
  • The details pane shows this message:
documentgone-editproperties
I “edited” this file.

“Edited” can mean various things, but in any case you will know that someone has done something to this document, and it was not a deletion.

3. The name of the document has been changed.

This will leave the document where it is, but people may no longer recognize it and may think it has been deleted.

This is what the details pane shows when you change the file name:

documentgone-edittitle
You get two actions in the details pane

Interestingly, you will see two actions mentioned:

  • “Edited” the old name
  • “Renamed or Moved” the new name

This will tell you where to look, and again shows you the file has not been deleted.

4. The document has been moved to a folder.

This will move the document out of the view, so people may think it has been deleted.
In this case, nothing new shows up in the details pane for your library.

However, if you open a folder and click on the details pane icon, you will see an action:

documentgone-movetofolder
You will only see any actions in the folder itself.

This means you will have to go to each folder and check if the document has been moved there. That is another reason to use metadata rather than folders to group your documents into meaningful clusters.:-)
I always suggest to create a “Monitor” view that shows all documents, sorted on “modified descending”,  without folders, to keep track of latest changes.

If you move the document back to the “All Documents” view, you will see it mentioned in the details pane of the document library again as “renamed or moved”.

documentgone-movedfromfolder
There is an action if the document is moved out of a folder into the All Documents view.

Good to know:

  • If you edit the content of the document, it will also show as “edited”.
  • When you select a document and open the details pane, you can also see and edit the document properties, see the document history, and a lot more, but that is not the scope of this post. (December 2016: I wrote this post about that)
  • All changes will remain visible for at least 2 months, but I do not yet know if there is a limit on time or number of actions.
  • If the same person performs a number of actions, they will be grouped as “<person name> made edits”. You can click the arrow to see them all:
documentgone-madeedits
Click the arrow to open and close the list.

Conclusion

I think this is very useful functionality to help any Site Owner. It will make the Site Owner less dependent of their site collection admin.
“Edited” and  “renamed or moved” may mean various things, but they at least indicate that a document has changed, but not been deleted.

What do you think of the details pane? Has it helped you?

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Title inspired by the movie “Bad Santa” with Billy-Bob Thornton.

Executive blogging? Hmm…

NoBloggingBlogging by senior management appears to be an ongoing struggle. I wrote about it earlier and remarked that it is not for everyone.
In my opinion, key success factors are:

  • You need to like doing it. It will cost a lot of time and effort, and if you do not like to spend that on writing, you’d better use your time in another way.
  • You need to add something new to the mix, something your employees have not already heard several times through your official channels.

Last week, I came across two other articles about executive blogging.

Do not blog if you do not know where you are going

Erika Parker posted “Executive Blogs: 7 Signs You Should Just Say No “

She also mentions that executives have to feel a need to blog. There should be something driving them, whether that is their personal opinions, a need to interact with employees or a need to change behaviours. If they feel they do it because they have to, they better find another channel or another way altogether.
And while it is not necessarily wrong to hire a ghostwriter, an executive has to feed that person with the direction, the tone-of-voice,  personality and topics. They can not leave it all to the writer. But remember: they should always post their blog themselves!

Do not blog about knowledge management

And if this all does not show enough that blogging by executives is not necessarily a simple thing that you “just do”, Nick Milton posted: “Why you should not ask your senior managers to blog“.

That sounds more forbidding than it really is. Nick warns that senior management should not blog about knowledge management, at least not about anything other than stating its importance.
In general, a senior manager’s blog will be too formal (an official communication), too hierarchical and too conceptual to be of practical use. It is not a good example to start informal company-wide knowledge sharing between peers.

Nick gives a few better options for using blogging as a method of sharing knowledge among employees.
I strongly support that opinion, just like I support blogging instead of publishing monthly newsletters.

I am almost starting to feel sorry for all executives.
If they have the drive and enthusiasm (which appears not to happen too often), then they are forbidden to blog about a certain topic. If wonder if any executive still has any motivation left after all this. 🙂

Perhaps you know of a good example?

Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Organizational change and your SharePoint sites

OrgChangePawnsSharePoint” or “the intranet” is generally not the first thing people think of when an organization changes. But there will always be a moment when people are looking to align their teamsites to the new organization structure.

If you are supporting SharePoint users in your organization, this may be a good “toolkit” to support site owners who are confronted with a major change.
I wrote the following posts earlier, but I have now ordered them t
from overview to detail, which suits the process better.

1. Handover

TeamSiteinheritanceFirst, the new owner should know what (s)he is the owner of.
Which site(s) are in scope, how are they related, what do they contain and who can access what?
Of course this should ideally be done by the former owner, but in real life this is not always feasible, since the former owner has generally left their position by the time the new owner arrives. I have to step in quite often.

In “Congratulations, you have inherited a teamsite!” you can find the first steps toward new ownership. 

2. Review and adjust

OrgchangeWhen the new site owner knows what (s)he has inherited, it is time to review the content. Is all content still relevant, do subsites or documents have to be moved to another place, can stuff be archived, does content have to be updated or new content have to be created?

In “12 things to do in your team sites after organizational change” I have listed a number of items to review regarding Content, People and Pages.

3. Change

While the new owner will probably make the first adjustments during review , there are some more detailed changes that need careful investigation and planning beforehand. When changes in metadata are required, for instance, you have to understand how your list or library has been set up, and how a change is going to affect your content. There is a big difference in behaviour of a library that picks metadata from a Choice field compared to a Lookup List.

Change-PictureIn “Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes part 1” you will find info on changing

  • Site name/URL

  • List or library name/URL
  • View name/URL

Changes-image2And in “Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes part 2” I have listed how to change

  • Columns

  • Folders

  • Documents and List items

Do you have other suggestions to help new site owners on their way?

Top Image courtesy of Graphics Mouse at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The new “Site Contents” layout

Just when I had recovered from the (pleasant) shock of “the new document library experience” I found out that “Site Contents” has had a design overhaul.

I have not seen many blogs on this new feature yet so let me show you more.

What did the Site Contents page look like?

OldSiteContents
The “old” look and feel of Site Contents

 

My concerns have been:

  • I personally do not like the grid layout with tiles, I can read a list better. Call me old-fashioned 🙂
  • Although the tiles occupy plenty of real estate, they do not provide as much info as they could, as I described earlier in “SharePoint tiles I’d like to see”.
  • I always forget if I have to click the tile (yes) or the … (no) to open up the list/library.

So, will my concerns be gone after the design change?

This is the new design

NewSiteContents1
The new design – top of page

 

  1. Eyecatcher: 3 new content blocks
  • Number of Site Visits
  • Trending content
  • Tips

I am not very active in my Office 365 environment, so the numbers displayed in the screenshot are not exactly informative, but you will get the gist. I am curious to see if the trending content itself will be displayed eventually, apart from the number.
I think this will create welcome transparency.

2. A new way to create new items

Instead of the “Add an app” tile you now select “New” and you can pre-select the desired item you want to add.
It appears that lists and libraries are no longer called “apps” – this calls for a happy dance!

NewSiteContents3
Creating a new item

 

If you click “Library”, you will go immediately to the new document library creation page.
If you click “apps” you will go to the known grid of app tiles.
I have not tested the Lists and Subsites yet.

3. The actual content

Underneath, your site’s real content is displayed.

NewSiteContents2
The actual Site Contents. Please note the site top bar and header stay where they are when you scroll down.

These are no longer displayed as tiles, but as a list. The list is sorted on list type, and then alphabetically on name, displaying icon, name, type, number of items and last modified date.

The subsites are displayed on a separate tab:

NewSiteContentsSubsites
The list of subsites, with #Views, and Created and Modified Dates.

 

What do I think?

I like this new design.

  • I especially like the list of apps with their smaller icons, because the smaller icons show more variety than the big blue tiles, and are therefore easier to distinguish.
  • The modified date is a granted wish. I am totally fine with “one hour ago” or “two days ago” but when it is more than a month ago,  I prefer to see the exact date.
  • Sorting the list on List type is helpful.
  • The Created and Modified Dates for the subsites are also very helpful.
  • I still have to see what extra value the 3 new blocks on top will have, but I can imagine these will be useful.
  • Also, it looks like older versions of SharePoint. While this may be a disappointment to some, at this moment it is very welcome to me. The company I work for is moving to Office 365 and I am concerned that our users will be totally lost in their new environment.

What do I miss?

  • The description of the list or library.

And…

  • The link to go back to the new look-and-feel!!!

When I noticed the new design, I found it had been changed across all my sites. That annoyed me because I did not have a screenshot of “before”.
Then I noticed a link, bottom left, saying: “Return to Classic SharePoint”. I created some screenshots of the new situation “just in case” and clicked that link…

All my sites turned back to the Classic look, with no link to the new design 😦

I can only hope that this change will be rolled out irreversibly in a few months. But if you know how to reset it, please let me know!

[Update June 13, 2016: Fortunately Andrew Gilleran knew the solution: Log out and log in again. A new session will restore the new look-and-feel! Thanks, Andrew!]