What do you do when you receive a request for access to your SharePoint site? Accept it immediately (because you want to be done with it, or you feel a bit ashamed that you have excluded someone) or find out exactly what they want because there may be more to the request than meets the eye?
Yes, I thought so. 🙂
Let’s dig a bit deeper into Access Requests. There’s quite a lot you can do with them, including creating unique permissions. You know that I hate that!
Microsoft explains this in detail but of course they they let you figure out all the implications by yourself. Or by me :-).
If your email address is in the Access Request Settings, you will receive access requests via email, and the requests will be replicated in the Site settings > Access Requests and Invitations page.
How does it work?
When you get the access request in your mail, you will see the link to the desired content. You can immediately click the “Accept” button from the email and give them Contribute permissions by default.
Yes, Contribute. That means they can edit the content.
Hmmm, perhaps clicking Accept immediately is not such a good idea after all. Perhaps Read-permissions are good enough. Or, if you have sent this link assuming they had access, it may be a good idea to give them access to the complete site.
Alternative: the Access Requests and Invitations page!
So, here comes the Access Requests and Invitations page to look at (and manage) the request.
You will see three categories: Pending requests, External user invitations and History.
Here again, you can click Approve or Decline, or check first what will happen if you click Approve. So, click the … next to the name of the requester. This pop up opens:
Here you see some more info:
What Office365 has decided about their permissions. In this case Office365 would add them as an individual to this document with Contribute permissions – most unpleasant!
You can click the drop down to select the Contributors or Visitors group for the site.
Who has asked access and what exactly for. Hover over the link to see the URL.
Date and time of the request
Email conversation with the person who requests access. You see I was busy writing this post, so the impatient Mystery Guest asked for permissions again 🙂
What would have happened…
If I had clicked Accept from the email or Approve from the Access Request page, this is what would have happened:
Exception: Site welcome page
There is one exception to this rule and that is when you send the link to the welcome page of the site. In that case the requester is added by default to the Members group. This also may be more than you want, though.
After approval, the request ends up under “Show History”. This gives a nice overview of everything that has happened in your site.
If you see a name very often, it may be an idea to give them access to the whole site.
When you receive an Access Request it may be better to spend some time figuring out the details, than to click Accept immediately. This will cost you some time now, but will save you time fixing unique permissions later (and dealing with even more access requests because too many inheritances are broken!).
Have you found any other “interesting” behavior of the Access Request?
The other day someone asked me if I could help him set up a SharePoint survey. He wanted to use our nice new intranet and did not even mention the word “Surveymonkey” 🙂
I do not have much time for individual support at the moment so I thought I’d find him some help from the internet. I found a good article from Microsoft about creating a survey but it stopped at the creation of the survey list. All the other blogs that I found on the topic touched very briefly on other settings at most. The best one I found also included a good number of benefits and examples of how to use surveys,
In my experience most problems occur because people think a survey is ready-for-use once the questions and answers have been set up. However, there are a lot of things you have to think about, so I still had to write the complete manual myself.
What will I cover in this post?
This will be a long read, so let me inform you of the topics I will cover:
Determine your needs
Find a site
Give your audience correct permissions
Decide on “show names”
Decide on one or multiple entries per person
Visibility of entries
Welcome page and thank you page
Testing your survey
Launching your survey
Gathering and analyzing results
Deactivating the survey
Deleting the survey
So, here goes!
1. Determine your needs
It makes a difference if you use your survey for a fun purpose (who will win the World Football Cup?), for a neutral business purpose (to collect suggestions for a new product), or for a serious and possibly even sensitive purpose. (How do you feel about this company? What were your experiences with this project?). For the latter, you will need more thinking, more questions, more careful wording and stricter settings than for the first example.
This is beyond this post’s scope, but this article may be a good starting point. Update April 4, 2017: And as serendipity would have it, just after I published this blog this Tweet appeared in my timeline:
A SharePoint survey is a list in a SharePoint site, so you need to have a site. You also need to be a site owner since it is very likely you will be fiddling with permissions and need to monitor responses. If you have one, you may need to consider the survey audience. Is your confidential project site a good place for a survey for all employees? Is your open site a good place for a very sensitive survey for senior management only about an upcoming divestiture? It can be done, but it may be more difficult to set up and manage than if your site has an audience that sort of matches the audience of your survey.
In some cases it is better to have a special site for this purpose.
If you do not have a site, and you are on Office365, an Excel survey may be an option. I have no experience with this, and I do not know if the information below is relevant for this.
3. Create questions and answers
First of all, plan your survey. Microsoft has some help for that, including an overview of the types of questions and answers.
Secondly, create the survey, add questions and answers and change some settings.
Please be aware that you will be unable to export a Likert scale (rating scale) question/answer to Excel for further analysis.
This is what a survey will look like:
4. Give your audience correct permissions
Many people expect that a survey is automatically set up to receive responses from everyone, but this is a normal SharePoint list with normal SharePoint behavior. So, in most cases you will need to give your audience Contribute permissions to the survey.
If you do not give them Read access to the site, be aware that they can only access the survey via the direct link to the survey and they can not enter the site.
5. Decide on “show names”
This is a setting that you will find in “Advanced Settings” when you create the survey, or afterwards in Settings > Survey Settings > List name, description and navigation.
The default is “Yes”. If you select “No”, all names of people will be replaced with ***.
This is not really anonymous because a Site Owner will be able to switch that at will, making all names visible again. During a survey it may make sense to have the names replaced, and only make them visible when you export the results, but this is also depending on your choices for point 7.
6. Decide on one or multiple entries per person
The default is “No” and in most cases that makes perfect sense.
If your survey collects information such as ideas or suggestions, it can be useful to set this to “Yes” so people can add multiple suggestions.
This setting can also be found in “Advanced Settings” when you create the survey, or afterwards in Settings > Survey Settings > List name, description and navigation.
Please note that most people get into a right panic when they want to enter a survey twice and get the error message. If they read the message, it is perfectly clear, but who reads an error message? 🙂
It may be good to tell them they can enter once only, or multiple times.
7. Visibility of entries
Do you want everyone to see each others responses? This can be a good idea if use your survey for logging issues, so people can see which issues have been submitted already. But for a survey asking for opinions about the company strategy you may want to limit visibility.
Go to your survey, click Settings > Survey Settings > Advanced Settings.
Set the first radio button to “Read responses that were created by the user”.
This way, people will only see their own item. They will still see the total number of items in Site Contents, but they will not able to see anything else.
Also check out the options below about Create and Edit access. By default people will be able to edit only their own responses. In some cases it may be good that they can edit all responses, but to be honest I have never come across the need for this settings.
Never select None because this also means that a user can not add anything, which is rather odd for a survey.
8. Welcome page and thank you page (optional)
I often add a page with some more information about the survey and a nice button or text which leads you to the entry form upon click. After submitting their entry, people can be led to a Thank You page, thanking them for their contribution and informing them about e.g. when the results will be published or the prize will be drawn.
The default return page is the ‘survey homepage” (screenshot above).
It is easy to create as follows:
Create a page and add welcome text and a link or button to the survey
Create a page with a thank-you-and-these-are-the-next-steps-message. Copy the link of this page to Notepad or a Word document.
Click “Respond to this survey” on your survey and copy the link into Notepad or a Word document. Delete all text after Source=
Add the URL of your thank-you-page after Source=
On the welcome page, add the new link to the link or button
Please be aware that your audience needs Read access to both pages, so if you have a confidential site where the audience is much larger than the site’s regular audience, I would not go this way, since it will either mean setting item level permissions (and you know I do not like unique permissions) on those pages OR a lot of error messages 🙂
9. Testing your survey
I have created many surveys, but even I test everyone of them before they go live. Ask one or two people, preferably from the target audience (again, depending on purpose and audience and complexity), to go through the complete process and respond to your survey. Do they understand the questions and answers? Have you missed anything obvious, or are some things redundant? Does everything work from a technical/functional perspective?
10. Launching your survey
You can inform your audience in different ways, depending on urgency, topic and audience.
If your survey needs to be executed in a certain timeframe, you will probably send a link in an email or post it as a news item.
If you have a long-term survey, you can add the web part to a (home)page, add the link as a Promoted Link, a Summary Link or in the navigation, so all users of your site are reminded on a regular basis to give their feedback.
You can use
the link to the survey (people will need to click “Respond to this survey”)
the link that you get when you click “Respond to this survey”
the combined link that takes people to the Thank-you page after “Finish” as in item 8 (you skip the Welcome page)
the link to the Welcome page as in item 8
11. Monitoring results
During the time the survey is active, you may want to keep track of the number of replies you get. You can set an alert to keep track of new submissions, or look in Site Contents on a regular basis.
When you are on the Site Contents page, clicking on the survey and then on “Show graphical summary” will show you an overview of the results; clicking “View all Responses” will show you who has completed the survey and their individual contributions.
Those two options are only available for the site owner.
12. Gathering and analyzing results
When you need a status update, or when the survey is over, you can either look at the graphical summary, or export the results into an Excel file for further analysis.
Click Actions > Export to spreadsheet.
Again, please be aware you can only make screenshots of any questions that need a response on a rating/Likert scale. These questions and answers can not be exported.
13. Deactivating the survey
Once the survey is over and you are working on the results, conclusions and next steps, you will want to stop people from making new entries. You can do this by changing the permissions from Contribute to Read and/or deleting the unique permissions, or by removing the audience from your survey or site altogether.
14. Deleting the survey
Once you have exported or captured the results and determined next steps, your survey project is completed and you can delete the survey.
Go to your survey > Settings > Survey settings > Delete this survey.
If you have used a welcome and thank-you page, you can delete those as well.
That’s it, folks!
As I said, this has become quite a long post, but I just wanted to take you through the complete process. There’s more to a survey than just creating some questions and answers!
For your next survey project, I would appreciate it if you would follow these steps and let me know if this has been sufficient information to do it yourself, or if I have overlooked something. (and if yes, what)
Image courtesy of fantasista at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
As I am writing help materials for our new intranet I do not only have to think about “HOW do you do this” but also “WHY would you do this” and “How can you do this BEST, without spending too much time, adding maintenance or messing things up?”
With the migration of content to the new platform, many Site Owners need to rework their publishing pages. Generally these pages contain (clickable) header images, Promoted Links, Summary Links and links in the text.
On the old platform, when you want to grab the link to a document or image, you go to the library, right click on the name and select “Copy Shortcut” from the pop up. This is no longer available in SharePoint Online.
So, how does one get a link in SharePoint Online?
I have found 3 ways to link to a document, page or image:
In Summary Links as well as the Rich Text Editor on a page (Wiki page style), you can browse for the link to a document or image that lives in your site or site collection.
You can open the item and grab the URL from the address bar.
There is the new Get a Link option, which you will see when you select a document or image from a library, in the Action Bar (is that what it’s called?) and the pop up menu.
The users in my company are all accustomed to grabbing a link when they want to share a document via email or on Yammer, so I think this “Get a Link” will appeal to them.
However, at first glance I see 5 different options. What to select?
Let’s find out how this works!
Microsoft has already written about this but it is not very detailed.
So, I have created a brand new site in my own tenant. In this site I have uploaded 5 documents, each named after the action I will take.
I assume the file type is irrelevant so I have used a mix of Excel, Word and PowerPoint.
Please note I am the tenant admin, so I am not a normal Site Owner. Some things may work differently for a regular Site Owner with Full Control.
My tenant is almost out-of-the-box and external and anonymous sharing has been enabled on all site collections.
How to use Get a Link:
Select the document and click “Get a Link”
Select one of the 5 options
Click “Create” (if the link has already been created earlier you will immediately see “copy”
Click “Copy” and the link will be added to your clipboard
Paste wherever you need it.
You can remove a link if you longer want to share. This means the link will be disabled if someone clicks on it.
For links with “no sign-in required” you can set an expiration date. This means the link will no longer work if someone clicks on it after the expiration date.
2. Using the “View” and “Edit” links will break permission inheritance for the document as soon as you hit “Create”.
Yes, you may want to read this again:
Using the “View” and “Edit” links will break permission inheritance for the document as soon as you hit “Create”.
I was a bit worried about the word “guest_access” that I saw appearing in 4 of the 5 links, so I decided to check the permissions of my site.
Microsoft mentions this in the small letters of their post, but it is easily overlooked.
4 of the 5 docs have broken permissions inheritance! The permissions have not changed yet, but the inheritance has broken. This may not appear to be a big deal now, but if you ever happen to add a new group or individual to your site, which is not unlikely, you will have to remember to give them access to these documents.
Do you seriously think any Site Owner will remember this? Or have the time for that?
More scary and inconvenient findings
As soon as someone clicks on a link they are added to the permissions of the document, regardless of their existing role in the site.
People in the Members group get all the options for “Get a Link” as well!
I have tested this in my work environment and it turns out Members can see and use the “view” and “edit” options so they can break the permission inheritance of documents without the Site Owner being aware!
You can only find out which links have been created by checking the options for each document. Click “remove” if you see that an unwanted link has already been created. Now go find out which of your links (In a text, in Summary Links etc.) used this link 😦
You can remove the link, but the permission inheritance is still broken.
You can only “delete unique permissions” per document, so you have to go to Site settings > Site permissions > Show items with different permissions > View Exceptions > Manage permissions > Delete unique permissions.
This is a tedious process.
I think this can turn into a serious issue. I have found that many Site Owners do not fully understand the consequences of broken permission inheritance, and do not understand the extra maintenance and support issues involved. I have tried to tell them NOT to break permission inheritance unless it is really needed, and to never do this on a document or item level.
And even if they know, it is a time-consuming job to reset the permissions.
Also, why all this complexity for just getting a link? I think only the “Restricted link” would be sufficient. Who would ever want to use the “edit” options when linking to an image? Why would you use the “Get a Link” option to share via email if there is also a “Share” option which sends an email? (and which, in some cases, asks permissions to the Site Owner first?)
What would I recommend if you need a link?
Use the “Insert > Link > From SharePoint” option to link to a document or image when working in the text editor of a page
Use the “Browse” option when creating Summary Links
Use “Get a Link > Restricted View” when you want to get a link otherwise. This respects the permissions of your library.
Instruct your site Members about the dangers of Get a Link and ask them to use the Restricted Link.
What are your experiences with the Get a Link functionality? Have you been able to reduce the scope and if yes, how? I would appreciate to hear and learn from you!
Kitten image courtesy of Top Photo Engineer at FreeDigitalPhotos.net. Text added by myself.
Recently I sang the praise of the details pane in SharePoint document libraries, because I firmly believe this will make it easier for site owners (and supporters) to know what has happened to their documents.
But there is more to that pane than just information about the library. It also shows useful info about each document.
When you upload a document to a library, the newly added document will be selected and the details pane opens.
On the details pane you see the following from top to bottom:
A preview of the document’s first page
Document name, size and modified date.
A warning that this document misses mandatory properties
Recent activities for this document and by whom
Who it has been shared with
Document information such as file type, path and size
There are now three ways to edit the properties of the document.
1. Traditional: Via the document menu
-Click … behind the document name, click “More” in the menu and then “Properties”.
You will go to the document properties page.
-Click “Edit all” and you will go to the edit page
-Make edits and click “Save”
-You will go back to the document item page, as per screenshot above
Hmm…you will have to find your way back to the document library again 😦 .
2. Via the “Edit all” link
-Click “Edit all” in the details pane, next to “Properties”
-You will immediately go to the edit page of the item
-Make edits and click “Save”
-You will go back to the library.
Now, that is better. It saves me a few clicks and I stay in the context of the library.
3. In the details pane
-Click on the field below the column name (in this example: Name, Title and Topic).
-The field will now open up and can be edited
-When you have made your edits, click below the edited field
-You will see “saving”, “saved” and then the field will look normal again.
-Click on the next field and repeat.
I think this will benefit from a short video demo. Please watch in full screen mode and look at the right side.
Yay, this is very fast and I do not even have to leave my document library!
This also works for lists. You can even add an attachment to a list item from the details pane. (I am not a big fan of attaching documents to list items, but that is another matter)
If you have many required properties and they are all Choice or Lookup fields with many choices, you will have to do a lot of scrolling. Using “Quick Edit” (the former “Edit in Datasheet”) may be a better way.
The “wobbling” caused by the words “saving” and “saved” appearing and disappearing makes me a little seasick, especially when I had to edit about 50 documents recently 🙂 . In that case, “Quick Edit” may be better.
There is not much space available to show texts, so if you have a long description, you may lose track of what you are writing. Save your text to see if your sentence still makes sense. Using “Edit all” (option 2) may be easier, although the space there is limited, too.
In older SharePoint versions, a document was only visible to the audience once it had been properly checked in with all required metadata. This appears to be no longer needed. So there is a larger risk of documents in your library that do not have all required metadata added.
This is a very new way of editing SharePoint stuff, so will need communication and adoption efforts.I can imagine that people will be looking for an “Edit”or “Save” button.
Editing a document’s properties in the details pane is a very easy way to adjust metadata while staying in the context of your work. It does have a few quirks, so may not be the best option for every purpose. I think it is great for adding metadata to newly added documents, or for making small adjustments to a limited number of documents.
What do you think of this? Do you like this pane or not, have you found any other gotchas? Is this something you actively communicate to your users? Please let me know!
In my recent training sessions I noticed that my trainees thought managing Promoted Links was a bit of a pain. I wholeheartedly agree!
If you would like to know more about SharePoint Online Promoted Links, please read Greg Zelfond’s post first. It explains when and how to use this.
And…here’s how I would like to see it changed. Fortunately I can do most of these myself, but now I have to do this (or instruct a site owner) for every instance.
1. Change the default view (DIY).
When you have just added the app, you will see an empty page that prompts you to go to the “All Promoted Links” view. Why is that view not there in the first place? Or even an “Add” button at the very least?
When you make that needless extra click, you get to the screen I would like to see:
I usually start by changing the default view into the All Promoted Links view. If I want to see how things look, I can easily switch to the Tiles View.
2. Allow adding the image from a library (Microsoft).
These are links, so it is logical that you have to paste or type the link to where the image leads you. But why do you also have to add a link to a picture? It would be so much easier if you could select an image from your PC or a library, like you can on Pages.
This turned out to be really annoying for my trainees, and frankly, a tad outdated.
3. Add an edit button to the “All Promoted Links” view (DIY).
When you have added some Promoted Links and you want to take a look, you check the Tile View for a preview.
Looks nice, but suppose I want to switch the order of the middle and right link, or have to change the URL.
How do I do that? There is no option to select the item for editing. You can go to the “All Promoted Links” view and edit the list in Datasheet view, but you can not edit everything that way.
So, I have instructed my trainees to add an Edit button to the “All Promoted Links” view.
Click the List Tab
Select the “All Promoted Links” View
Click List Tab again
Select Modify View
Add an Edit button to the view and click OK
4. Make the “Tiles” view editable (Microsoft).
The Tiles view is not adjustable. All tiles will be shown on your page and there is no way to filter, limit the number that is being displayed, or add that edit button.
This means that you can not create one big list of Promoted Links and distribute them over various pages using a filter. Alas, you have to create a Promoted Links app for every page, or even per row if you want multiple rows each with its own header.
5. Show a preview of the link (Microsoft).
When you hover over a document name or over a hyperlink in the text, you will see the URL displayed in the bottom left of the page. This can help you decide if this is indeed the information you need. With a Promoted Link you see nothing, so you do not know if you are going to the place you are looking for.
6. Add the 150 * 150 px image rendition to the image library (DIY).
If you use Promoted Links often, you may want to add the image dimensions to your image renditions. It shows you quickly if your picture will show up acceptably, especially if it is not square.
In Publishing sites, go to Site Settings > Edit Image Renditions. (under Look and Feel)
Click Add New Item; add a name and the dimensions, and click Save.
Talking about the Image Rendition feature, did you know….oh no, I will leave that for another time…:-)
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
We are moving from an old on-premise SharePoint intranet to one on SharePoint/Office365.
I have been using SharePoint Online from 2011 so I have become quite used to the interface and its regular changes. But I was very curious what my end-user colleagues would think of the new SharePoint and I recently had the opportunity to train a number of them in the new environment. Our goal for this training was to get an idea of how people would react to the new platform, and which elements would be clear immediately and which would need more help and instruction.
All participants (except one) had experience with managing SharePoint sites. They also knew this was an experimental training so they were encouraged to be outspoken about their findings and suggestions. Each got their own test site in our test tenant, which is on first release.
These are the findings of that first classroom training:
1. The Office365 Homepage
When you log on to Office365 for the first time, you get a lot of pop-ups about Office365. While that is helpful for new users, for this purpose it was annoying because people were less interested in Office365 than in SharePoint.
Clicking around opens up a ton of new screens, which was not universally liked.
2. The SharePoint Homepage
This was a bit confusing, because people have never had that, and the page was mostly empty. The test sites did not show in everyone’s page, despite them having personal access. I do not know if that is a search indexing thing or that you must have visited the site before it is shown in your “recent” sites.
As soon as everyone was on their site’s homepage, I told them to “Follow” it to be able to revisit it quickly, and everyone got it.
3. Site Contents
I took them to Site Contents, and then I found that some of my trainees had the old Site Contents with tiles, and some of them had the new experience . That was a bit confusing, but it was a good illustration of the ongoing changes that everyone can expect.
4. Document Libraries
Document Libraries were already in the New Experience, and I was a bit worried if people would be able to overcome the gap in look-and-feel between our old SharePoint and the new one.
It was a pleasant surprise to notice that, with just limited instructions, people took to it straight away. Everyone saw the benefits of the Pin To Top functionality, and I saw two people nudge each other happily when they learned about the library and document information pane, that also tells you who has deleted a document. No more guessing or blaming SharePoint or IT!
Unfortunately the Lists were still on the “old experience” with the tabs and the ribbon. While I have always loved the ribbon in The Office Suite, I have never taken to it in SharePoint, and I am more than happy to see it go.
My trainees did not use Lists much (an opportunity for later!) but they got it quickly enough.
6. Deleting and Restoring
Deleting and Restoring content is a topic high on my agenda. We often get panicky calls from people who have “lost documents” and have never heard about the Recycle Bin. I added a few exercises with deleting and restoring documents and list items, told them what to do themselves first, and then how to get help. It all went smoothly once people knew how long things will be stored, what goes via the Recycle Bin and what does not, and what they can do themselves and when it is time to contact the site collection admin.
7. Quick Links/Navigation
The Quick Links (team site) and Navigation (Publishing site) caused some confusion since it is a mixture pf settings and edits, and moving the menu items around resulted in unwanted indentation. It is also different from the custom-built navigation many people have used, so this will definitely need some more instructions.
8. Editing a page
Editing a site’s homepage turned out to be quite easy for the trainees. Everyone in the audience had experience with managing Publishing sites. They sighed happily when I showed them they can now insert images from their PC in the Content zone without having to upload them to SharePoint first.
Everyone had already embedded a video before I even talked about it 🙂
Editing the (basic) team site homepage was even easier.
9. Image Library/Image Renditions
We have some recommended image sizes preconfigured in the Image Renditions and the trainees thought that was pretty useful. (It shows you how an image will look in that size). In our current environment, you only see it when you have added it to a page, and that can lead to surprises. 🙂
10. Promoted Links
Promoted Links have been designated as an important tool for nice looking links to other content in formal sites. Oops, this was a bit hard. Of course this is a new functionality so people did not know it beforehand. But I also think that the default configuration can be improved. That will be another blog.
All in all, my trainees did quite well. But then they were experienced and motivated. I think they benefited from my little bit of hand-holding and assuring them that most was still there, just in another place or with another name.
The only person who was a bit lost was the person with no earlier SharePoint experience.
”SharePoint” or “the intranet” is generally not the first thing people think of when an organization changes. But there will always be a moment when people are looking to align their teamsites to the new organization structure.
If you are supporting SharePoint users in your organization, this may be a good “toolkit” to support site owners who are confronted with a major change.
I wrote the following posts earlier, but I have now ordered them tfrom overview to detail, which suits the process better.
First, the new owner should know what (s)he is the owner of.
Which site(s) are in scope, how are they related, what do they contain and who can access what?
Of course this should ideally be done by the former owner, but in real life this is not always feasible, since the former owner has generally left their position by the time the new owner arrives. I have to step in quite often.
When the new site owner knows what (s)he has inherited, it is time to review the content. Is all content still relevant, do subsites or documents have to be moved to another place, can stuff be archived, does content have to be updated or new content have to be created?
While the new owner will probably make the first adjustments during review , there are some more detailed changes that need careful investigation and planning beforehand. When changes in metadata are required, for instance, you have to understand how your list or library has been set up, and how a change is going to affect your content. There is a big difference in behaviour of a library that picks metadata from a Choice field compared to a Lookup List.