SharePoint Holmes and the Event Error

Our new SharePoint intranet is getting its final shape, and now that we have the different sites and the news in place, we can start working on other things.

The case

One of those “other things” is the Events calendar, where we share important events within the organization. As these are published on the intranet home page, we needed to give people access to the Events list in the home site only, to avoid them being Masters of the Intranet. 🙂

We created a group of Event Publishers, added that group as Contributor to the Events list, and instructed them how to create a new event. (It works much like creating a page or a news item, just with extra predetermined columns).

The form to add a new event from the Events web part.

Shortly after we gave out the instructions, questions started to roll in. Some Event Publishers had no issues at all, but some reported strange error messages and could not publish their event. It was time to see if SharePoint Holmes was still around!

The investigation

  • I checked permissions. Yes, this group had Read access to the intranet site (this is not a given at this moment pre-launch!) and Contribute access to the Events List. So far, so good.
  • I asked one of the users to show me what she did. She did as instructed – clicked on “Add Event” from the homepage and added a custom image from her PC
This is a custom image that was stored on her PC
  • When she clicked on “Add image” she got the following error message. The same happened when she wanted to add something “from the web”.
I had never seen this error message before!
  • It was a rather mysterious error message, that I had never seen before, but it looked as if it had to do with the image and uploading.
  • I wondered if it could have to do with the fact that she did not have Contribute access to the homepage, so I asked her if she could create an event directly from the Event list. She could add the event without issues, but there was no option to add an image.
The “new event” form from the list looks much different from that form from the webpart
  • I then asked her to repeat it from the web part, this time using an image from the Stock Images. The event was published to the homepage smoothly.
  • This somehow felt like News, where images are being stored in a separate Site Assets library. (Except Stock Images or Organizational Assets; those images do not get stored)
  • I checked if Events were stored in the Pages Library, as they looked much like a page. They were not – they were stored in the Event list.
  • I then checked the Site Assets library, and in the folder “Site Pages” there was a subfolder called “Event”. In that library the Event images are stored.
Apparently Event images are stored in the Site Assets library.

The solution

We did not know that Event images are stored in the Site Assets library when we started, so we had not thought about giving them Contribute access to this library.
We added the Event Publishers group as Contributor to the Site Assets library, and then every Publisher could add events without any error messages.

The Event calendar. The middle item has been created from the Event list directly and has no image.

We could have asked them to use images from the Stock Images or Organizational Assets only, but we felt that was too restrictive. Our education folks have custom images to brand their events consistently, for instance. We could have added those to the Organizational Assets but giving everyone access to the Site Assets is easiest and saves us a lot of instruction and support. 🙂

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.

Troubleshooting external access to SharePoint sites

We frequently get questions about external contacts that can not access SharePoint sites that they should have access to. Well, access and permissions are troublesome in all organizations, but access issues for external users can have additional causes and solutions, so here’s an overview to help Site Owners and support and admin people (such as myself) to identify and fix issues.

The site owner can check the first 4 items, and if that does not work, the support and admin folks may be able to help with 4, 5, 6 and 7.
It always helps to ask for a screenshot of the error messages, because you can already learn a lot from those.

It is wise to advise external users to log in with their browser in private or incognito mode, especially if they are from an organization that also has Microsoft365. It will avoid account mixups.
Thank you, former colleague Anita, for reminding me!

1. Does the user have access?

Let’s make sure that is not an issue, right? Check if the user is a Guest on Teams, or in case of a stand-alone SharePoint site, check if this person has permissions. Please be aware that external users only become visible in SharePoint permissions after they have been in the site once. So, if you can not find them in the Visitors or Members, it does not mean they have not been added.
In the screenshot below, I have already added someone with a Gmail account, but that person has not yet accessed the site. You may want to check item 2 first.

External users are only visible when they have accessed the site. Most annoying!

2. Has the user seen the invitation?

Warn your user that the invitation may end up in the Spam, Junk email, Unwanted items or whatever their non-regular mailbox is called. My invitation to a Gmail account was considered Spam, and my invitation to a Hotmail account also ended up in Junk mail. Messages in Gmail Spam are deleted after 30 days (see below) and in Hotmail Junk in 10 days, so your external contact may never have seen their invitation!

Invitations easily end up in Spam or Junk mail!

3. Has the user’s invitation expired?

External users need to do their first log in within 90 days, or their invitation expires.
In Classic team sites, the Site owner will see this in Site Settings > Access requests and invitations, under “Show History”. If it says “Expired” you may want to add the user again.
In Communication sites, check Gear wheel > Site Information > View all site settings > Access requests and invitations.
I could not find this option in other site types, and adding “/Access%20Requests/pendingreq.aspx?mbypass=1” to the root did not help either.

Here’s where you see who has been invited.

4. Does the user log in with the exact email address as per the invitation?

This is a frequent cause of problems. If you have added your externals with their Outlook or Hotmail account, they can generally access smoothly; if they have a Gmail, Yahoo or other free mail account you can warn them to expect issues, but if they have an email account for work, using their own domain name, you can not tell whether they can expect issues or not.
Externals should access with a Microsoft account. So if you give someone access with their Gmail account, they are prompted to create or use a Microsoft account. This is not always clear, I have found.

Gregory Zelfond has created a good overview of what the external user sees, and how they should proceed.

Another issue can be if the user has multiple emailadresses, and they access with the wrong one. We recently had an issue where the person had two very similar addresses. It was not clear to both the external and the site owner that he was logging in with @organization.eu, while access was given to @organization.nl ! It was clear from the error message, but you know how people can panic over error messages 🙂

SharePoint admins may use the follwing Microsoft info when trying to help the Site Owner:

Error when an external user accepts a SharePoint Online invitation by using another account

“Access Denied”, “You need permission to access this site”, or “User not found in the directory” errors in SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business – scroll down to see some trouble-shooting for external users.

5. Is the site accessible for external users? (admin only)

Another reason for issues can be that the site is internal-only. In my organization sites are by default internal, but when external access is needed, we can open them up. When people request a new site and they specify that the audience contains external users, we make it accessible for externals from the start. Otherwise, it needs to be changed when the need is there, but site owners do not always know or remember that most sites are internal-only.
An admin can check the sharing settings in the SharePoint admin center.

This site is accessible for external users.

6. Is the external user listed as a Guest user in the Admin center? (admin only)

External users added to Teams will be visible straight away, but again, for stand-alone SharePoint site they need to have accessed the site first. If they are mentioned, they have access and have been able to access this or another site in your tenant.
If they are not visible, it does not necessarily mean they have not been added.

Guest users have their own list in the admin center

7. Has guest access expired automatically? (admin only)

This is a relatively new feature in the SharePoint admin center. You can limit the time that a guest has access, counting from the moment the guest has been given access. After the time has expired, the site admin receives an email and can extend the period.

You can set an automatic guess access expiry in the SharePoint admin center.

Personally I would welcome the option to set an expiry time after a certain period since the last log-in, but “from the moment you have been given access” does not make much sense to me. You can be in the middle of a project and then get kicked out because it has been 60 days since you were given access and the site admin has overlooked the email or forgotten to extend your access? Most annoying!

8. Has the other organization blocked access to external networks?

Sometimes the employer of your external guest does not allow access to external networks. You will not know, and it is up to the external guest to find out. There’s not much you can do about it, except giving the external person an account from your own organization.

Access to Teams

Although external users can have difficulty accessing a Team as well, access is much easier to check than in stand-alone SharePoint sites. Permissions to a Team are easier to check, and guest users to Teams are immediately visible in the Guest users in the admin portal, while SharePoint users only become visible when they have accessed the site once.

Did I miss anything?

Have you found a frequent issue with external users and how have you solved that? Would you know where to find the Access requests and invitations in modern non-communication sites? Or do you have another question or remark? Please add them to the comments!

Leaving the organization gracefully

We all know that your personal mailbox, agenda and personal documents will be deleted some time after you leave the organization.

But recently we have seen that more and more team content is stored (and automagically shared) on personal OneDrives, which means that when someone leaves, that shared content will be deleted and lost.
Owners may not be aware that they are the owner of the video, file or Whiteboard, and that these resources live on their OneDrive.
Colleagues of leaving employees may be in for several unpleasant surprises.

I tried to compile a list of things to look for, so if you are the leaver, you can check these items and decide if they needed to be handed over. You will save your colleagues, your manager and your Microsoft365 admins a lot of hassle!

Yes, the manager will have control of your OneDrive for some time after you have left, but

  • do they know enough about the details of your work to know what to keep and what to let go?
  • do you really want to burden them with this?
  • do you want to leave your remaining colleagues in the dark about team stuff?

If you know that a colleague is leaving, you may want to help him/her with checking NOW which content you need after they have gone.

Step 1: Teams Meetings

Are you the organizer of a regular Teams meeting? The meetings will keep running, but nobody will be able to change dates or times, add or delete invitees, or manage the meeting details. At this moment it is not possible to transfer the ownership, but I think that is in the Roadmap.
It is therefore important to either

  • Stop or cancel the meeting, and ask a colleague to re-schedule it. This will mean that meeting links and resources will change. This is the best suggestion for smaller meetings.
  • For meetings with many attendees, a collague can duplicate the event by opening the meeting, clicking on the … and then “Duplicate event”. The meeting will the be copied with the same invitees. The new owner can then remove the old organizer and make sure times and recurrence is OK. This will send a message to all people in the meeting, but in any case you do not have to add them all again.
    This will also change link and resources.
  • Check meeting chats for important files or attendee reports or recordings that needs to be safe-guarded in SharePoint.

Step 2: Regular files – copy or move to Teams/SharePoint or delete

  • Documents
  • Attachments (from Outlook)
  • Notebooks
  • Pictures
  • Office Lens
  • Transcribed files

Step 3: Special files

I have based this list on the various OneDrive folders as described in my earlier post “Who created those folders in my OneDrive?

Microsoft Teams Chat Files : everything you have shared in private chats

Do you realize that all those screenshots, funny videos and other stuff, that you have ever shared in a private chat (which means: not shared in a Teams channel) live on your OneDrive and will therefore be lost when you leave? It will not be big issue for that silly gif that made your colleague smile when they were feeling down, but there may be relevant documents or screenshots that your colleagues want to keep.

So, you can either check the Microsoft Teams Chat Files folder in your OneDrive, or scroll through your private chats. Upload the files to a relevant Teams/SharePoint site or send them as attachment to your colleagues. (Usually not recommended, but they will need their own document)

Now you will understand why Matt Wade, in his Definitive Guide to Everyday Etiquette in Microsoft Teams, says: “Work should not be completed in private chat”. (Page 14) 🙂

Microsoft Teams Data: Meeting notes from Teams meetings

This contains the Meeting Notes you have created in Teams meetings. I personally do not use this very often to take notes, as I think the functionality is rather limited, but it is helpful in emergencies. Additionally, it does not open easily from OneDrive, I had to select an app to open it (it is an .mht file).

Do you have Meeting Notes that you would want to keep? Copy the text into a Word or OneNote document in the relevant Teams/SharePoint site.

Recordings: Videos from Teams meetings

Another shared resource that is being stored in a personal location. Make sure you move the video(s) that need to be kept to Stream or Teams/SharePoint.

Whiteboards: Sketching sessions (can be from Teams meetings)

At this moment Whiteboards are still stored in Azure, but they will follow the Recording path and be stored in the OneDrive of the person who creates the Whiteboard. This is expected to happen in October 2021, according to the Microsoft Roadmap.

I expect you will be able to copy/move Whiteboards, and I will update this post when I know more.

Step 4: Applications

Forms – the Forms themselves

Please check out my earlier post on how to handle Forms when you leave.

Forms – files from “File Upload” questions will be in a folder called Apps

If the Form will still be running after you leave, please move ownership of the Form to a relevant Teams/SharePoint site as mentioned above.
If you still need these uploaded files, whether the Form is still running or not, please move them to the appropriate Teams/SharePoint site.

This question type will create a folder in your OneDrive to store the documents – please make sure they are preserved if they are still needed!

Workflows

Power Automate workflows are not stored in your OneDrive, but they are personal. Your Flow will keep running (if it is not something in your personal apps, of course) but if it needs an authentication, or needs an edit, it will need a new owner.

You can simply share the Flow with a colleague, so you co-own the Flow.

In your “My Flows” you can select the workflow and share it with your successor. Make sure they have permissions to the source info!

If you have not done that before you leave, your Administrator will be able to hand it over to your colleague. But hey, your Admin is usually busy enough and all those individual fixes take a lot of time! 🙂

How to manage orphan flows when the owner leaves the organization (microsoft.com)

Stream

Do you have any instruction videos that may be useful later, or do you have any old meeting recordings that should be kept?
In Stream, go to “My content” and then “Videos” and see what needs to be transferred. Open the video in question, click the … and select “Update video details”. See screenshot.

More info: Permissions and privacy in Microsoft Stream – Office Support

Here’s how to start changing ownership of a video. Not the most obvious wording 🙂

PowerApps

I do not have too much experience with PowerApps, so I have found a blog that explains how to transfer PowerApps: HOW TO: Change PowerApps Owner | Todd Baginski’s Blog

Lists

For lists in a SharePoint site, you do not necessarily have to change ownership, as generally all Owners will be owner of the List.

For personal lists, that live somewhere in your OneDrive, it may not be so easy. You will have to recreate the list in a SharePoint site. You can use the Excel file as a basis (see my earlier posts on the topic). I hope Microsoft will make moving a personal list to a SharePoint site easier in future!

SharePoint sites

Make sure you appoint another Owner if you are the only one (which is not a good idea, I always suggest to have at least 2 Owners for backup)

You may also want to check the permissions to content that is important for the team, and make sure it will still have an Owner after you have left. Appoint another Owner or, even better, make sure that the permissions of that content follows the permissions of the site.

Have I missed anything?

Or do you have any experiences or suggestions to share? Please let me know!

Update 7 June 2021:

Good addition from Loryan Strant, I do not have too much experience with the apps mentioned (except for OneNote, of course) but be aware if you are using them!

8 steps to retrieve a lost SharePoint document

SPdocgone-header2We frequently get calls from colleagues whose documents have “disappeared” from their SharePoint site. Over time, we have come up with a few steps to investigate and (often) find them.

They are comparable with the steps taken when you misplace a OneDrive document, but finding lost documents in SharePoint is a bit more complicated than finding them in OneDrive:

  • Other people can edit or delete documents
  • You only have 1 OneDrive (which is one document library), but you probably work in multiple document libraries in multiple SharePoint sites
  • Permissions can vary within and across sites

On the plus side, there is a Site Owner and a SharePoint admin who may be able to help you out!

What could have happened?

These are the most frequent “disappearing acts” of documents:

  • Deleted (deleting a synced folder without disconnecting it first also deletes the documents from SharePoint!)
  • Renamed
  • Moved to another folder in the same document library
  • Moved to another library in the site
  • Moved to another site. This means the original document has been deleted.
  • Moved to your OneDrive
  • Permissions have changed and you no longer have access
  • Metadata have changed so it appears in a different view than usual

Which tools are available?

  • Search
  • Recycle bin
  • The document details pane
  • The site owner or your SharePoint admin

Where to start?

Just like my post about the disappeared web parts and lost documents on OneDrive, I have thought about the best possible order to use the available tools. It may appear to be fastest if you go to the Recycle Bin first, but that may be quite a chore if your site is active, your document has been deleted some time ago and/or document name, the author or the suspected deleter starts with M or N. Sadly you can only Sort, and not Search, in the Recycle bin.

My suggestion would be to first try and find the document in the original library. But please, feel free to disagree! It also depends…:)

1. Search in the Document Library where it used to live

Found it? Open it to see whether this is the document you are looking for. It has most likely been moved from one folder to another, or metadata has changed so it appears in a different view. Take step 2 to find the location if you do not see it straight away and/or confirm with step 7 to see what exactly has happened if you are curious.

SPdocgone-searchlibrary
There are two documents in this library. You can click to open them from there or click “Show more results”

No luck? Move on!

2. Search in the SharePoint site

You can easily do this by clicking “Expand search to all items in this site” on the bottom of the Search results page from step 1.

SPdocgone-searchlibrary2
You do not get any more results in this case, nor the exact location of your documents, but this view allows you to expand search and that will give you more info.

SPdocgone-searchlibrary3
So there is another result if you search in the site. If you get too many results, you may want to use the Files tab and/or the Filters to narrow down. And…this view will show you the path of the document!

Found it? Note down the path and navigate to it to confirm this is the correct document. The document has been moved to another library. Confirm with step 7 if you feel the need.

No luck? Move on!

After this, you can do what is most easy for you.

3. Search from the SharePoint landing page

Found it? Well you are lucky! Unless your document has a very unique name, it will be hard to find between all the other documents in your organization. (Of course, using the Files tab and the Filters should help a little). So, it has been moved to another site. Note down the path and confirm it is the correct document. Confirm with step 7.

SPdocgone-spsearch
Results from SharePoint search. In this case you get results from all of SharePoint, so it will be necessary to narrow down the results by using the Files tab and the Filters. You see there is also a result from OneDrive.

Results from OneDrive are also shown in SharePoint search, so if you have accidentally moved the document to OneDrive, you will find it there as well. Unless you want to know WHEN you did this, there’s no need to confirm with step 7 as you are the only one who could have done this. 🙂

No luck? It has probably been deleted, renamed or had its permissions changed (with or without moving). Take any of the next steps to find out.

4. Search in Office365

Frankly, chances are slim that you will find it here but you can try! If it is not in OneDrive and not in SharePoint (including Teams) it may be in Outlook or Yammer but would you not remember if you have done that? But, just to be on the safe side, give it a try.

Found it? Congratulations! Now move it back to where it belongs!

No luck? Well, you really did not expect to find it after all your other trials, right? Time to look in the Recycle bin.

5. Check the Recycle bin

Found it? Restore it.

No luck? Move on!

6. Ask the site owner if they know, or to search in Library or Site

Found it? It has probably moved to a place to where you do not have access, or you have actively been removed from the access group. Discuss with the site owner to give you access again, if possible.

No luck? Move on.

7. Check the Document Library’s details pane

In some cases you may want to do this earlier, but especially in a busy SharePoint site you need to scroll a lot! If someone knows a good way to export the data into a nice Excel file or something, please let me know.

The details pane is context-sensitive and will display different details depending whether you are on the document library landing page or in a folder.

DisappearedDocs-infopane
Nice icons, clear descriptions and clickable links for documents that are still in this folder or library. Deleted documents are not clickable.

Found it? Confirm it is the correct document and note down the path and/or new name.

No luck? There is one last option…to be done when all else fails.

8. Ask your SharePoint administrator

Your SharePoint admin will likely have permissions to everything so if they can not find the document in Office365 search, it will not exist in its original shape anymore.
Additionally, they can also check the 2nd stage Recycle bin to see if it has been deleted.

Found it in Office365 Search? Confirm it is the document, note down the path and ask the site owner to give you permissions again.
Found it in the 2nd Stage Recycle bin? Ask your SharePoint admin to restore it.
Confirm what has happened with step 7 and give your SharePoint admin a compliment on Yammer or Teams for everyone to see! 🙂

No luck? Sorry….

Any other thoughts?

Did I miss something? Do you think there is a better order? Any other tricks to share? Please let me know!

Image courtesy of ronnieb on Morguefile.com

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 and then to F3, we did not consider the fact that the Delve app would no longer be visible for the F3-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.

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. 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 

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.

SharePoint Holmes and the Gone Gallery

800px-Northwestern_High_School_Student_Art_GalleryWhile all consultants are writing about Modern Sites, Hub Sites and Communication sites, I am quite certain that a lot of us practitioners are still working with the Classic sites. Looking at “my own” environment this will not change overnight.

(One of the joys of being a practitioner is that you can watch an intranet grow old…and not always gracefully 🙂 )

So here’s another case of Classic SharePoint Investigation.

The case

“I can only add app parts to the page,” the user said. “I am the owner of the site and I would like to add Summary Links, but I can only see the web parts for the document libraries and lists in my site.”

And indeed, when I looked at her page in Edit mode, it looked like this:

SH-GG-WebParts
Although the user had selected the Web Part Gallery, she only saw the App Parts.

 

SH-GG-AppParts
This is what she saw when she selected the App Parts – exactly the same!

 

The investigation

  1. The site permissions were OK – she indeed had the correct permissions to manage the site.
  2. I checked the permissions for the Pages library and Pages – all were inheriting from the parent so that was not the issue.
  3. I logged in as admin (that account has Administrator permissions on all site collections in the tenant) and I saw all web parts. So it looked like another permissions issue.

    SH-GG-CorrectWP
    Same page, different user: I could see the web parts
  4. I asked the owner to which business she belonged. That was Business B. This gave me the clue that I needed.
  5. I checked the site collection – this was a site collection for Business A.
  6. So I checked her permissions on the site collection level – none, as only employees of Business A had access.
  7. To confirm, I checked her permissions for the Web Part Gallery.  Bingo!

The solution

As we are divesting Business B, we have removed all permissions of the Business B people from all site collections of Business A, and vice versa. This means that the Galleries in the Business A site collections are not accessible to employees of Business B. It is an exceptional case that a Business B owner is an owner of a Business A site, but there was a reason for that.

Fortunately the Web Part Gallery had unique permissions, so I added her to the Gallery and then she could do what she needed to do. I did not have to worry about maintenance as her account will be removed in a few months automatically as the system separation takes place. (I may write about that later.)
Frankly, I do not know which permissions a Web Part Gallery should have by default, as I have seen both “inherited” and “unique” while checking some site collections.

This case is probably not very common, but if you ever get incidents where people can not see the web parts when editing a page, please check permissions of the Web Part Gallery at the site collection level. I remember once accidentally removing all permissions at site collection level, and after I had added the groups back, several Galleries were inaccessible as due to unique permissions the groups had not been added back automatically…

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.

Photo courtesy of Maryland Pride on Wikimedia.

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.

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