SharePoint Holmes and the No-show News

The case

One of our Communication sites has changed hands recently. The former owner was very active in her site and we often referred people to that site as a showcase for Communication sites.
She left and someone else took over. The new owner attended one of our Webinars and told us she felt confident managing the site. Last week she asked for help – she had published a News item for the first time and although it showed on the SharePoint start page she could not find it in her site.

On the SharePoint start page, news item are displayed in chronological (First published) order. The item on the left is the most recent.
The homepage of the site in question. The latest item is nowhere to be seen.

The investigation

I remember seeing the post on my SharePoint start page and thinking “Ah, she did it! Good to see that that site is active again”. But I had not looked at the site.

  • I went to the site and there was the homepage, seemingly untouched since the last owner left. (see screenshot above)
  • I created a new page with the News web part and noticed that the new item was displayed in first position.
A new page with the News web part as is – the new item is in first position.
  • I checked the web part settings of the News web part on the home page.
  • After checking the web part layout and settings, I checked the bottom of the web part menu. And yes, what I suspected was true: ALL news items had been fixed on the page, blocking display of all new News items.
All 4 News items are pinned in a fixed position. This means that new items will be displayed below these.

The solution

That was relatively simple:

In web part editing mode, I clicked on each x after the News item’s title. The chronological order revealed itself, and the latest News became visible.

“Native web part” (in chronological order).

I think pinning all News items is not a good idea. I can imagine that you will want to keep one or (at the very most) two things visible for some time, but to fix them all in their place is defying the purpose of having a News functionality. Default is best, because it is news and it is supposed to change! Also, it can really puzzle your successor ūüėČ
And I personally keep forgetting how it is done; the functionality is a bit weird.

More on creating SharePoint News in my earlier post:

16 things to know about creating SharePoint News

And by the way…

I noticed that the web part picker no longer has an expand option. That means you can no longer have a large overview of available web parts. You can now choose between a grid and a list view, and you can search, or scroll.

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.

SharePoint Holmes and the Disappearing Digest link

It has been some time that SharePoint Holmes’ skills were required to deal with a strange issue. But here he is again – this time with a mysterious issue with SharePoint News!

The case

Last time I mentioned a colleague who had started a new site, and who is very happy with the SharePoint News and the News digest. I had given her a short demo of creating both and emphasized that she needed to have at least 5 News articles before the link “See all” would appear on her News web part.

She called me some time after to ask why she did not see the “See all”. She had 5 news items but the link did not show.

No “See all” link on top of the News web part (left)

The investigation

I counted the News articles but yes, she had 6, so the link should be visible.

Perhaps it had to do with the page, one way or the other? So I checked:

  • Section colour – a wide shot but as she had used the dark section background perhaps there was a contrast issue?
  • The web part settings – you have a number of layouts for News items, such as a list or a Hub, and there are also some options per layout.
  • Number of columns – did perhaps a narrow column hide the link?

I just played around, changing the layouts and fiddling with the various options. Current SharePoint pages are so easy to change, that it is really not a lot of work, compared to the old pages!

The solution

Of course I should have trusted Microsoft that they know how to make sufficient contrast – the background colour had no negative influence.
A narrow column made no difference either – there is always room for “See all”. You see it in other web parts as well.
The web part itself was the culprit. There are actually TWO situations in the Layout when the “See all” does not appear:

  1. You use the Hub News layout – for one reason or another this NEVER shows the “See all”
  2. You deselect “Show title and commands“.
If you switch off “Show title and commands” you will not get the “See all” link

The latter was the problem in this case. My colleague did not like the extra space that the title took, so she had decided not to show that when she configured the page. When she hit 5 articles, she expected the link to show, as she did not realize that she had turned it off.
I can’t blame her, I only found out after she had called me!

The desired end result. You see it takes more space.

The tip

So, if you like the Hub News layout, or you want to hide the web part title, and you still want to create a News digest, you may want to do either of this:

  • Change the web part layout temporarily into another style, and go back to it when you have created your Newsletter
  • Create an additional page with a layout that supports See all, to create your Newsletters from.

I knew something would turn up as my 10th “Things to know about the SharePoint News digest“, so I have added it just now! ūüėĀ

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‚Äôd introduce SharePoint Holmes, SharePoint investigator, who will go through a few cases while working out loud.

SharePoint Holmes and the Online Only

sh-onlineonlyThe case

‚Äú I can not open the embedded document‚ÄĚ 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 ūüôā )
  • @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 Invisible Image

SH-invisible-man-154567_1280The case

“It is possible to show the person’s picture in a list, next to the name?” ¬†the user asked me. “Of course”, I said, but it depends on the list and the definition of the column. Let’s have a look.”

The user did a screenshare with me and showed me the list. It contained a number of “People or Group” columns.

We checked the settings of the columns and it turned out he had used the default option, “Name (with presence)”.

SH-InvisibleImage-Default
The default option when you create a “Group or Person” column.

So I showed him there were more options and that he’d better select “Name (with picture and details)”.

SH-InvisibleImage-Namepicdetails
I suggested this option to make the picture show in the list

So he did, and he went back to the list. But no image was shown.

SH-InvisibleImage-ListModern
No image next to the name ūüė¶

The investigation

  1. I checked the column again, as this was unexpected behaviour. Yes, that was the right setting.
  2. I also tried the other options, “Picture only” in various formats. But the image would not show.
  3. I was flabbergasted. Microsoft Office, especially in the Modern fashion, has such an obsession about pictures, images, icons and other visuals that I could not understand why the picture would not show up. I mean, I have to look at myself all day but SharePoint would refuse this?
  4. But then I thought, what about Classic View?

The solution

I switched to Classic View and there it was:

SH-InvisibleImage-Listclassic
This was what the user was looking for!

The user was happy and changed the Advanced Settings to make¬†sure this list would always open in Classic View for all the site’s users.

I am not so happy, however. This was a modern site with a modern list and a perfectly legit column setting. Why is the picture not displayed in the Modern View, knowing the emphasis Microsoft places on visuals?
Please note it is the same with Styles and Totals – they only display in Classic View ūüė¶
I have already added a warning to my SharePoint Style Counsel blog…

Additionally, over time I have grown an aversion to the Classic view as I think it looks cluttered.

So, does anyone know when can we expect these display options to be available in the Modern view?

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 OpenClipArtVectors 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 ūüôā )

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 Рnone, 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 ‚Äúnot complete‚ÄĚ.

    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 ūüôā

    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.

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 ‚Äúyourname/my.sharepoint.com/personal/‚Ä̬† 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¬†‚Äú[person name] ‘s OneDrive‚ÄĚ 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

SharePoint Holmes and the Missing Menu-item

SPHolmes-EditPageThe case

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

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

Now that was an interesting screenshot!

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

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

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

The investigation

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

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

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

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

The solution

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

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

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

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

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

SharePoint Holmes and the Continuous Classic View

Sherlock GnomesThe case

“Why can I not set my document library to the New experience?” the user asked me.

“Of course you can, let me show you”, I said confidently.
Over-confidently, as it turned out. Because there was no “Exit Classic View” link bottom left.

Classic-Nolinkbottomleft
Huh? No “Exit Classic View” bottom left of the page.

 

And the Advanced Library Settings showed that the library was already set to display in New experience.

Classic-LibrarySettings
The library was set to display in the New experience

Sigh…I got my SharePoint Holmes hat and magnifying glass out of the cupboard and set out towards…

The investigation

  1. I remembered some other sites which did not display their “Exit Classic View” button. Those all have a¬†banner on top of the page,¬† a popular feature from our old intranet, that has been migrated¬†to the new intranet.
    I set the user’s page into Edit mode. There was a web part zone on top but there was no web part in it, so that did not give me any clues.¬†Hmmm.

    Classic-Nowebpartontop
    Empty web part zone!
  2. I looked at the other views in the library and those were in New Experience. Huh!
  3. I created a new view and this was in New Experience as well, so the issue was with the default view.
  4. To check my sanity, I did some searching (Yes, I know I should do that straight away but I like to look at things and push buttons ūüôā ) and what did I find?¬†¬†This.
  5. So, I dove into that Classic View, edited the page,¬†looked at Closed Web Parts…and found a¬†Content Editor Web Part.

    Classic-ClosedWebpart
    There was a closed web part on the page.
  6. I added it to the page, then deleted it and that turned out to be…

The solution

Classic-AfterRemoval
The library now shows in New experience, with the “switch”-link bottom left.

So, there are two options when you can not get your document library to show in New Experience while it is set to be New:

  1. Remove all web parts on the view page, open and closed.
    Set the page to Edit mode.
    If you see a web part, DELETE it.
    If you do not see a web part, click Insert > Tab > Web Parts > Closed Web Parts. If you see one or more web parts mentioned, add part(s) to page, and then DELETE it/them.
  2. Create a new view by copying the old view with a new name, setting it to be the default view if needed, and deleting the old view.
    I must admit this did not work in my own tenant – all views showed and were created in Classic SharePoint. But I have seen this multiple times in our work tenant.

If you want to display a picture, you could also upload one or more pictures and pin it/them to the top.

Microsoft also has some things to say about the Classic vs Modern view. They also mention the influence of web parts (at the end of the article) but the language is not very clear.

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.

Picture from unknown source but it was too funny to let go. See the trailer of Sherlock Gnomes! With Johnny Depp…

SharePoint Holmes and the Pesky Permissions

SH-Pesky-ByOllieArteThe case

‚ÄúThis user is losing her access all the time‚ÄĚ, the site owner said. ‚ÄúShe keeps getting an access denied and then asking me for access‚ÄĚ.
Now I know that SharePoint permissions can be a bit of a nightmare, but I have not come across situations where people who have access, suddenly lose that without any actions on the side of the site owner or manager of the permissions group.

The site owner told me he had added her to a group in his site. This group needs Edit permissions to the Commercial documents, a document library with confidential information.

“When she gets that access denied message, do you find she has disappeared from that group?” I asked him, but he did not know that.¬† Not very helpful,¬†but a site owner should not have to be a detective, of course; things should just work.

So…time to get my Detective paraphernalia out of the closet and set out on a hunt for clues.

The investigation

    1. First step: site permissions.
      The group was called L1-CommercialTeam, with Read permissions.

      SH-Pesky-Site permissions
      I still have not figured out why permission levels are mentioned in Dutch, but trust me: The L1-CommercialTeam has Read access on this site.

      That looked OK, knowing she¬†would have¬†Edit permissions on one library. And indeed, when I looked at the “Users with Limited Access” I saw this:

      SH-Pesky-LimitedAccess
      Limited access because this group has Edit permissions on one document library.
    2. I checked the settings of the group. The user was a group member. The owner of the group was the site owner group, so there were no other parties who might have been messing about.
    3. I checked the permissions of the group: Read + Limited Access on the site, Edit on the document library. OK.
    4.  I checked the permissions for the library with confidential information. Indeed, the group had Edit permissions there.

      SH-Pesky-LibraryPermissions
      Enter a caption
    5. So, everything looked OK. What could have gone wrong? It is extremely hard to solve things that “occasionally happen” so I needed some time to think about next steps.
    6. I decided to have a look at all the permissions in the site, knowing that things can be more complicated than you might think at first sight.
      That was interesting: all 3 document libraries in the site had unique permissions, but the L1-CommercialTeam only had access to the Commercial Documents.

      SH-Pesky-Uniquepermissions
      All document libraries in this site have unique permissions
    7. I contacted the user and she confirmed that the she got the access denied when she wanted to go to the other document libraries.
    8. I contacted the site owner and asked him when he had created the Commercial Documents library and the group  Рthis had been done recently.

The solution

As the unique permissions in the other document libraries had been created before the L1-CommercialTeam group had been created and added to the site, the L1-CommercialTeam did not automatically get access to those libraries.

I informed the site owner about the permissions in his site – that all libraries had different permissions and that the user had requested access to the two libraries that she did not have access to.
He had inherited the site from a predecessor and was not aware of the unique permissions.
Besides, as the group appeared to have Read permissions at site level, he thought the group had access to everything. I can not blame him, really.

He gave the L1-CommercialTeam access to one library, and re-inherited permissions to the other. No access denieds have been reported since.

So, dear site owner, please check the unique permissions in your site on a regular basis. SharePoint Online has a very useful link on the site permissions page, which has turned into my new BFF:

SH-Pesky-Showtheseitems
This link allows you to see all libraries and lists with unique permissions, as well as libraries and lists that contain items with unique 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 Ollie Olarte.