An alternative way to dive into Delve

Delve-headerDelve is an interesting part of Office365.

In my previous organization I often received complaints about what was shown in Delve. Exactly like the results you see in Search, what you see is what you have access to, and for many people this was hard to understand. Every time the Search or Delve results got questioned (“Search is broken!”) I could prove that this person saw this search result or this document card on Delve because they had access to it, whether that was desired or not. I loved this demonstration of the importance of proper permissions management 🙂
In Search, any mismanagement of permissions only becomes apparent when you are actively searching, but in Delve “content finds YOU” so it is ruthlessly in-your-face.

Joanne Klein has written a great post on Delve and how to disable it – entirely or partially.

In my current organization we have not promoted it very much yet, so when we recently changed a number of licenses from E1 to F1, we did not consider the fact that the Delve app would no longer be visible for the F1-users, a big risk.
However, we received a question from someone who uses the people-part for looking up managers and direct reports, so I found three alternative options.

1. Via “My Office Profile”

After all, the Delve “Me” page is your profile page, so that should be available for every user. Just click on your picture top right and select “My Office profile”.

Delve-myprofile
“My Office profile” leads to your Delve “Me” page

 

2. Via the URL

Delve is available for users if they are logged in to Office365 and use the following URL: https://<datacenterlocation&gt;.delve.office.com.
For our organization and my own tenant this is https://eur.delve.office.com and for a tenant in the UK this would be https://gbr.delve.office.com
I do not have access to any other tenants so I can not give you the “code” for other data centers but please take a look at your Delve to see what it is. It may come in useful one day.

Delve-Mepage
My Delve page. The URL will resolve itself to yours as soon as you enter the URL.

3. Via Outlook (people data only)

Like Delve, Outlook also uses Active Directory so all people data is also in Outlook.
Users with an F1-license use the Outlook On The Web experience and they can see people’s managers and direct reports in the people card.
When you hover over a person’s name (searched or from an email) you will first see the small card, which expands into a larger card. When you click “Show more” you will see a ton of info, including the “Organisation” which will allow you to see a person’s manager and direct reports. In my case the tab is greyed-out because I am the only one in my tenant and have not set up AD.

Delve-Mepage2
Lots of info available if you click “Show more” on the extended hover card. The “Organization” tab will show you direct reports and managers.

4. “Discover” on the Office 365 start page (documents only)

The Home page in Delve shows a mix of documents that are popular or have been edited recently by people you work with.
The Office365 homepage has a tab called “Discover” which shows you a mix of recent documents from others.

Delve-discover
The “Discover” tab, showing you a mix of documents from your “circle”.

When I compared the two I found these were very similar except for

  • Content: the “Discover” tab on the Office365 homepage only shows documents from OneDrive and SharePoint, while the Delve page shows documents from OneDrive, SharePoint and Outlook
  • Display: Delve shows cards, the “Discover” tab can show tiles or list items
Delve-documentcard
A Delve card, which shows modified date, preview, views, and allows adding to favorites and boards
Delve-documenttile
A tile in the Office365 homepage, showing much less info than the card

Sadly I can not share any comparative screenshots as I can only see this in my work tenant. I am the only user in my tenant so there is nothing to share from others.
But trust me, the Discover tab is an alternative, albeit not a full one, for the Delve Home page.

What’s next for Delve?

My colleague was happy with the alternatives provided.

But when I found this all out I wondered if Delve may be going away as a separate workload as the functionality is now embedded in other, more frequently used, tools. It also has not been included in the recent icon redesign, which may be a clue as well. Would anyone know?
Just as I was writing this post, I found this post from John Liu (in response to a Tweet about Delve from Joanne Klein) who is also wondering about the future of Delve – he has a good idea for its development.

So let’s wait and see if Delve keeps being a separate app, but with added functionality, or will be absorbed into relevant other workloads in Office365…

Photo by Matthew T Rader from Pexels 

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7 ways to re-use texts in Office 365

Template headerDo you have to write the same text time and time again? For instance, an email confirming an appointment, a work instruction or an in-company invoice?

There are a few ways to do that.

1. Re-use and existing mail or document

I guess this feels as the easiest way. But how often have you forgotten to remove the “FW” when you forwarded that email, or forgot to change the salutation? And have you ever overwritten and saved a document that you wanted to keep intact?

Yeah, thought so 🙂

2. Store the text in Word or OneNote and copy-paste

You will have fewer accidents with this option, but now you may suffer from extensive but invisible make-up. This may cause your texts to have weird indents or line spacing when you have pasted them. The best way to strip off the code is to copy-paste to Notepad and then into the final message, but this is often forgotten and also not 100% guaranteed.
Besides, you will have to store that document or note and look for it whenever you need it.

3. Email template – text only

An easy way to manage your email texts is with an email template. That lives in Outlook so it is easily available when you need it – no need to search!
You can create as many templates as you want. You can store about 2100 characters in a template.

Outlook Client/Desktop:

  1. Open new email
  2. In the ribbon, top right, click the … and select “View Templates” from the popup
    Templates-OfficeClient
    Find your email templates in the Outlook Client
  3. You will see a few standard templates
    Templates-MyTemplates
    Standard email templates in the Outlook Client and the place to add a new one
  4. To create a new template, click on +Template
  5. Give your template a title (e.g. “Appointment confirmation”), add text and/or images and click “Save”
    Template-newtemplate
    Give your template a good name and add the text (and any embellishments)
  6. To use a template, click on the title and the text will be added to the email.
    Templates-Applied
    Adding the text to your email is very easy! 

Outlook Online – Current Outlook

  1. Open new email
  2. Bottom right, click the Templates icon
  3. Proceed with 3 as above
    Templates-OnlineOld
    The Templates icon is bottom right in Outlook Online – it’s highlighted in yellow! 

Outlook Online – The new Outlook

  1. Open new email
  2. Click the … at the bottom of the mail and select “My Templates” from the popup
  3. Proceed with 3 as above
    Templates-OnlineNew
    When you are using the New Outlook Online, you will need to click the …

4. Email template – text and make-up (Outlook Client)

If you need to use a template that contains both text and make-up, for instance for an email newsletter or other format, you can do this in Outlook Client/Desktop. It is a much more complicated process, so I would suggest to use this only if the look-and-feel is important and needs to be consistent.
BTW, you get a free email Newsletter when you use SharePoint News, of course, but for all those other occasions this option will be useful.

Microsoft has good instructions on how to create and save a template. It includes sending an email using the template as well.

5. Email signature

Before I discovered the templates, I used to store repetitive texts in an email signature. I have shared dial-in information for my personal Live Meeting (I think that was what web conferencing was called in those days 🙂 ), and shared help and support information in that way. Although I only use templates now, there may be cases where you prefer an email signature.

Outlook Client/Desktop

Microsoft has good instructions for creating signatures.  However the screenshots are a tad outdated. Now, you either use “Tell me what you want to do” or open a new email and click the Insert tab > Signature” to get to the signatures location.

You can have multiple signatures in the Outlook Client, but please be aware you can only add one per email, so always make sure your name and other information is included.

Templates-Clientsignature
How to add a signature in the Outlook Client

Outlook Online – current Outlook

  1. To add a signature, click the Gear Wheel in Outlook
  2. On the bottom of the popup, under “Your app settings” click “Mail”
  3. Under “Mail > Layout” on the left of the screen, click “Email signature”
  4. Add text and optional image, check the desired box if applicable, and click “Save”
    Template-signatureoldoutlook
    In current Outlook Online, this is where you add your signature
  5. To add a signature manually, open a new email, click … on top of the message and select “Insert signature”

Outlook Online – the New Outlook

  1. To add a signature, click the Gear Wheel in Outlook
  2. Click “View all Outlook Settings” on the bottom of the popup
  3. Select “Compose and Reply”
    Templates-NewOutlook-Signature
    In the new Outlook Online, this is where you add your signature 
  4. Add text and optional image, check the desired box if applicable, and click “Save”

Please note you can only have one signature in Outlook Online.

6.  Document template in SharePoint – general

You can add a template to a SharePoint document library for your team’s recurring documents. Think about reports or work instructions. You can do this for all Microsoft documents and you can have multiple templates in one library.
Anyone who can manage the document library can do this, so you will need at least Edit permissions.

I use and suggest this very often right now and wish it was also available in OneDrive!

  1. Create the document you want to use as a template and save it with a meaningful name – it may help to add “template” to the name
  2. Open the document library in question, click “New” and then “Add Template”
    template-SPNew
    Where to add the template
  3. Upload the template
  4. Check that it displays correctly.
    Templates-SPAdded
    Giving a good name is important – you will want to notice the template easily
  5. To create a new document in the template, click “New” in the Document Library and select the template. A new instance of the template will open.
  6. To move position of the template, or to make changes to the template itself, click “New” > “Edit New menu”. A popup will appear on the right-hand side of the page.
    Hover over the document to be removed, repositioned or edited, click the three dots that appear to the right of the name and you will get a popup with options.

    Template-SPeditmenu
    Editing, deleting or changing the position of the template is very easily done 

7. Document template in SharePoint – custom

It is also possible to add a custom template document as the default document. I can imagine this may have its uses when you want to use it for very formal documents, such as contracts or financial reporting. Those documents will have a strict format that needs to be adhered to.
In that case you can do that via the Library Settings > Advanced Settings. Microsoft describes the steps here. Although they mention SharePoint Online, they talk about “email-enabling” the library, which has been deprecated for several years by now, so I wonder when this has been last reviewed. (Of course I gave feedback to this article)

This needs Site Owner permissions but may also be done by an admin or IT.

Have I forgotten an option? Please let me know!

Image by Cohdra on Morguefile.com

 

Save Outlook Online emails as document

outlook folders-357514“I want to save emails from customers in our customer folders on SharePoint”, a colleague told me the other day.

I have not really done that a lot, so I could not help her immediately, but the request made sense so I promised her I would let her know. So I set about finding info and found a great post by my friend Gregory Zelfond and some others, including Microsoft themselves.

However, these options are all done with the Outlook Client, while the majority of my colleagues has an E1 license, which means they only have the online versions of Office 365. And trust me, Outlook Online works differently from the Client! There is no “Save as” in Outlook Online!

What did not work?

  • I could not find a consistent URL of an email. There were too many differences in URL between browsers and between current and new Outlook online. If that would work, I could have added the URL to a document library in SharePoint.
  • I could not find a Flow to convert emails into documents and move them into OneDrive or SharePoint.

Eventually, with lots of trials and internet search, I have been able to come up with two ways, depending if a PDF is good enough or if you really need the .eml format (which is still an email).

Experiments were done with IE, Edge, Chrome and Firefox browsers, and with the current and the new Outlook Online. Phew! 🙂

The easy way – print to PDF

  1. Open the email
  2. Click the … top right
  3. Select “Print” from the popup menu
  4. You will get a preview
  5. Select “Print” top left
  6. In the next screen, select “Print to PDF” or  “Microsoft Print to PDF”as the printer and hit Print
  7. Give the file a good name and save it to PC (The E1 license does not provide a OneDrive Client)
  8. Upload to OneDrive and copy/move to SharePoint

I have made a basic video, using Edge as browser.

Remarks:

  •  This is the best option if you have one or two files you want to save.
  •  The screen to create or print to PDF differs per browser.
  •  Google Chrome adds a title to the PDF before upload – but with “Mail-Ellen van Aken-Outlook” this is pretty generic. 
  •  Internet Explorer and Google Chrome present the option to share the mail after you have uploaded it to OneDrive – when you click “Share Link” it shows the usual document sharing options. This is relatively new functionality in OneDrive and SharePoint.
OutlookOnlineSaving-shareafterupload
After you upload a document you can share the link with others.

The complicated way – attach emails as eml

  1. Group the emails you want to save into a folder – this is optional but will make things easier
  2. Open 2 windows with Outlook Online and resize them so you can see them both on your screen
  3. Open a new email in window 1
  4. Open the folder in window 2
  5. Select the emails you want to save in window 2 and drag and drop them to the new email in window 1
  6. They will be added as attachments (in .eml format)
  7. Send the email to yourself
  8. Open the email and save attachments to OneDrive – they will be added to the Attachments folder automagically (although I often wish I could determine where they go)
  9. Copy/move to SharePoint

And another basic video, with Edge.

Remarks:

  • This is the best option if you have a large number of emails you want to save.
  • This works in Edge, Chrome and Firefox browser, but copying the emails to the new email does NOT work in Internet Explorer.
  •  In all cases, the subject title of the email is the file name.
  • You may want to use a Flow to move the attachments to OneDrive or SharePoint instead of taking step 8 / 9.
  • I tried drag & drop from email to OneDrive but that did not work – I have seen some promising stuff for the new Microsoft browser though!

Somehow this feels awkward. I understand that Online stuff is not always meant to be converted into a document, but emails are also a record and may need to be treated as such. I would have expected more and easier options. Have I overlooked something?

Image courtesy of Pixabay on Pexels

SharePoint Holmes and the Online Only

sh-onlineonlyThe case

“ I can not open the embedded document” the user told me.
“Ah”, I thought, “I have once solved a case for that”.
“Please ask the site owner to make sure the library opens in the client application” I told the user. “Because embedded documents do not open in the online version“.
I thought that was the end of it, but some time later the site owner contacted me, telling me that the document library always opened in client so he did not understand what I meant.
To be honest, I did not understand it either anymore, so I needed to put on my sleuthing hat.

The investigation

  1. I checked the library and the settings. Yes, the library was set to open in the client.
  2. I selected the document and opened it with Word. No problem.
  3. I asked the user which version of Word he had. A recent client version.
  4. Then I checked his permissions to the site. Somehow or other I always end up checking permissions. The user had Read permissions, as expected.

    sh-onlineonly-sitesettings
    The user was in the Visitors group with Read permissions to the site (In Dutch it is “Lezen”)
  5. I looked at the items with different permissions and noticed that the document library had different permissions from the site. There I saw that the user had been added with View Only, which according to the description means: View pages, items, and documents. Any document that has a server-side file handler can be viewed in the browser but not downloaded. File types that do not have a server-side file handler (cannot be opened in the browser), such as video files, .pdf files, and .png files, can still be downloaded. 

    sh-onlineonly-librarypermissions
    In the Document Library this group has “View Only” permissions.

6.  I gave my colleague the same permissions to the site and checked what happened. Indeed, she could only open documents in the online version with that role.

sh-onlineonly-opening
The user could only open documents in Word Online. No option to use Word Client.

The solution

The site owner had inherited the site and did not know why this permissions set had been given. To be honest, I have never used it so I wonder what people use it for.
I explained the situation and told him that the determining factor was the need to see the embedded document.

  1. If the user had no need for the embedded document, he could leave the permissions as they were.
  2. If the user needed to see the embedded document, he still had two choices:
    – Make the document available in the document library, instead of embedding it, and leave the permissions as they were
    – Give the user Read permissions

Tips:

  • Be aware that people with View Only can also not Copy or Move.

    sh-onlineonly-nocopyormove
    There are no Copy To or Move To options when you have View Only
  • @Site Owners: stick to the standard roles as much as possible
  • @Site Owners: always ask your predecessor for the why if you see any strange things when the old site owner hands over the site to you. (Yes, I know this will not happen, but a support girl can dream 🙂 )
  • @Support people: You will have noticed by now that you should always check
    – Client/Online opening behaviour
    – Classic/Modern settings (they are not an issue here, but have been unexpected causes of issues in other cases)
    – AND permissions


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 OpenClipart-Vectors on Pixabay.

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

d. You Copy or Move a document to/within a document library that has Content Approval, and do you not have sufficient permissions to approve content.
Added April 21, 2019, thanks to this blog by Paul Matthews.

041319_1828_accessdenie2
Not enough permissions to approve new content, in this case.

e. When you Move content, you delete content in the source. When you Move (and therefore delete) many documents in one go, you will receive a warning message. This is very considerate, but please be aware that it may freak some users out!
Added April 21, 2019, thanks to a screenshot from Joanne Klein:

IMG_0178
I think this is a helpful email, because it creates awareness of what you have done. 

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