Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Re-Use your Intranet portal mega menu using SharePoint framework extensions

SharePoint Framework extensions is a great new way to customize modern SharePoint sites. The "Application Customizer" SPFx extension provides a way to customize the look and feel of certain sections of moder site such as header and footer. More details here. This gives us the opportunity to develop custom mega menu navigation and place it in the site header of modern sites .

Consider that you have a Communication Site in your tenant (for HR/Admin news etc) which is linked through the mega menu navigation of your Company's Intranet portal. Wouldn't it be great if a user navigating to this communication site was able to see the same mega menu as on the Intranet portal ? I recently implemented a solution that uses SPFx Extension application customizer to do exactly this.
  • For a customer that I was working for, the mega menu links for their Intranet portal site were stored in a custom SharePoint list.
  • A DIV element placed in their custom Master Page acted as a container for the mega menu. JavaScript code retrieved the navigation links (using REST API) from the SP list and rendered the links inside this DIV through JQuery and CSS.
  • The JS and CSS files were stored in the Style library of the portal site collection (all the users having at least read access to this library).

Reusing this in Modern sites ?

<Click on the image to enlarge>



We can re-use all the JS, JQuery, CSS files to render navigation on modern site without having to replicate these files. This can be done as :

1) Reference the JS and CSS files in the SPFx extension. The links will point to the intranet portal site's style library Here is very nice article from Chris O'Brien on how to achieve this.

2) Render the container DIV in SPFx extension through a React Element which can then be used by JQuery (or any javascript code) to render the navigation links.

Since we are using the same JS and CSS files hosted in the intranet portal site, appropriate changes will have to be made to your JavaScript code if it uses any local site's information. For instance, if it uses "_spPageContextInfo" variable to get the navigation links using REST API, the code will have to be changed to always point to your intranet portal site collection.

Implementation :

Start off by creating a Application customizer SPFx extension using Yeoman generator. Make sure you select "Do you want to allow tenant admin the choice of being able to deploy....." to YES in the yeoman generator. This will allow you to deploy the extension tenant-wide and add the navigation to the modern sites across your tenant without feature activation (Add it as a custom action).

Once the project is created, modify the code of your Application customizer typescript file to add CSS and JS references and also to render a REACT element.

Here is the code for the onInit() method of the SPFx extension. It renders a REACT element.


Create a React component in your code





































Deploy the SPFx extension to your tenant's App catalog. Once it is deployed, it is globally available. You can now add the SPFx extension to a communication site easily using PnP PowerShell



ClientSideComponentId  is the ID specified in the .manifest.json file of your SPFx extension.























The exact same navigation used in your intranet portal appears on a communication site.



Monday, 22 May 2017

Quick tip - Get all the empty lists and libraries from SharePoint environment using Search

There might be scenarios when you want to identify all the empty list and libraries from your SharePoint environment for general administration / governance reporting / pre-migration clean-up purposes Instead of writing long running scripts looping through the Site Collections and lists, this data can be found quickly using SharePoint search.

Out of the box, there is a crawled property and a managed property in SharePoint that indicate whether a list is empty or not

Crawled property  : ows_IsEmptyList
Managed property : IsEmptyList



By default, the managed property "IsEmptyList" is not Queryable. To be able to query for the empty list data, create a Queryable custom managed property and map the crawled property "ows_IsEmptyList". I have created a managed property called EmptyListFlag




















Now using the good old Search Query Tool, I could retrieve all the empty lists in my SharePoint environment. The results will also have some Out of the box lists and libraries which can be excluded through the query or while processing the results.


























PS : I have tested this only against SharePoint online only !

Monday, 8 May 2017

Create a simple timer job for SharePoint online using Microsoft Flow

Creating scheduled jobs for SharePoint on-premise environment was pretty straight forward. Develop a timer job and deploy it to the farm and you are done. With SharePoint online, there are a few different ways to develop scheduled jobs, one of which is to create a Azure web job which talks to SharePoint data and runs the required tasks.

However, some organizations/small businesses do not have Azure subscription or the technical ability/developers to develop and deploy an Azure web job. Sometimes, the required functionality of the scheduled job is not too complex to create a Azure web job.

With Microsoft flow, we can easily create timer job-like features that run on a schedule and carry out a few simple tasks.I say simple because when I set out to explore several different scenarios where a Microsoft flow timer jobs can be used for a SP list, I found that Flow lacks several features. While it provides a lot of connectors, triggers, actions and conditions, as developers or power users there are a lot of actions/trigger/functionalities we need that are missing. At the end of this post I'll explain in brief about a scenario I tried to implement using Flow however it did not work out well.

Sample Timer Job

Meanwhile I decided to develop a simple timer job for asset request and procurement process. The job runs on a schedule and moves the "Approved" asset requests from requests list to a separate "Procurement" list. In this post we will see how to

1. Get items from SharePoint list
2. Filter SharePoint list items using a ODATA filter.
3. Loop on the list items
4. Create and delete list item

I have created two lists that will be used in this flow. Asset Request list with NEW and APPROVED requests (choice column) and a Asset Procurement list which will be empty initially.















Navigate to Flow from Office 365 and create a new flow from blank template.

















Give your flow a name. The first step we add here is a Schedule action. This will enable us to define a schedule for our process to run periodically.



















The schedule can be set based on Minutes/Hours/Days etc as given below
























Now, we will retrieve items from Asset Request list. Add a new action and select SharePoint























Select the Get items action




























Configure the Get items action. We retrieve the list items from Asset Request list and filter by only the items which are Approved



























Now that we have the approved items, the next step is to iterate through the items and create these items in the Asset Procurement list. To add the Loop operation, click "Add an apply to each" action as shown below


















We need to tell the loop action which data source it should iterate. Select the 'value' as indicated below. Notice the data source label is the previous action "Get items"



















We need to perform two actions now,

1. Create item in Asset Procurement list
2. Delete Approved items from the Asset request list

Add an action to create a list item in SharePoint.






























Select the site and list in which the items must be created and indicate the value for each column in target list. Notice that the data source from where we select the value for the item to be created is coming from our previous Get Items action. So the values coming from the Asset Request list will be added to the Asset procurement list.















































Now we create a new action to delete the Approved items from the Asset request list.


























We need to delete item from the Asset request list. So select the source carefully. Since we have retrieved items from the Asset request list through Get Items action, select the ID from that data source as shown below.





















The complete list flow look as shown below.








































After the flow execution, our lists look like :






































Limitated functionalities :

The limitation or issues mentioned here are something that I noticed at the time of writing this post. As and when updates are pushed to Microsoft Flow, I will try and update this post as well :)

While creating a SharePoint list item through flow, I noticed that we cannot add values to People column and Choice column as of now. There are a couple of more types of columns which are not supported.

https://powerusers.microsoft.com/t5/Building-Flows/Create-Item-Sharepoint-list-fields-missing/td-p/8930

Also, the SharePoint get items action only accepts Odata filter and does not support the Odata Select operation.

There might be several other actions/triggers which you may need to implement your business requirement but are not yet available in Flow.

Hope this helps !!

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Evaluating Distribution list to Office 365 Groups Migration

Microsoft is encouraging customers to adopt Office 365 Groups more and more instead of using simple distribution lists. So much so that when you try to create a DL in Office 365 Exchange admin, the UI to create an Office 365 Group pops-up first :-)   ..and from there you can navigate to the UI to create a simple DL.

The distribution lists in Office 365 tenant can be migrated to Office 365 Groups. This can be done either through the Exchange admin center UI or through Powershell scripts.

Through User interface :

From the Exchange admin, select the Distribution list from Groups and click the “Migrate to Office 365 groups” button






























This will upgrade the disctribution list or it will show an error if the DL is not eligible to be migrated. 

Eligibility critera :

Not all types of Distribution lists can be migrated to Office 365 Groups. Here is the documentation that explains what type of DLs are eligible and not eligible for upgrade.


Old documentation ?

At the time of writing this, the documentation in the above posted link mentions that the Moderated DLs and DLs with send on behalf setting cannot be upgraded, however I found this inconsistent. These two types of DLs CAN be upgraded and looks like the documentation is not updated (?)
I posted a query on tech community forum and from the response I gathered that the documentation will be updated soon


I will try and update this post as and when I find that the documentation on Office support site is updated.

Update [8th May 2017]: 

The documentation about the eligibility of the Distribution list for upgrade looks updated now :)

https://support.office.com/en-us/article/Upgrade-distribution-lists-to-Office-365-Groups-in-Outlook-787d7a75-e201-46f3-a242-f698162ff09f?ui=en-US&rs=en-US&ad=US#bkmk_powershell

PowerShell approach :  

Microsoft has provided Powershell scripts that evaluate the distribution lists in your tenant and provide a report of eligibilty as to whether the DLs can be migrated to Office 365 Groups or not
I decided to do an evaluation considering a couple of scenarios. From exchange online I created 6 distribution list each satisfying the below criterias

  •  DL with send on behalf setting
  •  Moderated DL
  •  Simple DL with users
  •  DL with external contacts : Mail user and mail contact
  •  Nested Parent-Child DLs


The scripts are available to be downloaded from the Microsoft documentation, You need to connect to the Exchange online in your tenant and then execute the script. On executing the Get-DlEligibilityList.ps1 two files are generated - Open the output files in excel (though these are TXT files)

Evaluation reports 

 DlEligibilityList.txt : This file lists all the DLs and whether it is eligible to be upgraded or not along with reasons and some other useful information such as

-          Owner of the DL
-          Member count
-          Reasons if the DL is not eligible.

       

      Again, as specified in earlier above section, the DLs with send as behalf and moderated DLs are eligible and CAN be migrated.

       MailUniversalDistributionList.txt : This file contains the properties/settings of the Distribution list and indicates whether the DL is nested in some other DL or not














What happens to the Distribution lists with external “Mail user” or “Mail Contact”

I have a added few external email IDs as Mail user and Mail contact in Exchange online. I created two Distribution lists, one having a Mail user and one having Mail contact.























When you try to upgrade a distribution list with a Mail contact, it fails with the following error as indicated by the the eligibility report.






When you try to upgrade a distribution list with a Mail user, it upgrades successfully. The external mail user is added as a member to the new Office 365 Group.










Sunday, 12 March 2017

Office 365 Groups ecosystem Part 4 : External users and group email settings


Office 365 Groups ecosystem Part 1 - The Basics
Office 365 Groups ecosystem Part 2 - Office 365 Group Team site and permissions
Office 365 Groups ecosystem Part 3 - Create groups from several UI options



External users can be added as "Guests" to the Office 365 Group. Here are the details of what guests can and can't do in the group. Only users outside the organizations can be added as "Guests", users that are a part of organizations can be invited and added as regular members.













The external user receives an email and is registered in Office 365 if the user wishes to collaborate in the group.

Email settings for Office 365 Groups :

Office 365 Group email settings can be administered from the Exchange admin. Navigate to the Office 365 Admin center -> Exchange Admin and Groups



















This will show you the groups in Exchange, Your Office 365 groups will also be displayed here. Double click on the group or select and click the Edit icon to change the settings of the group in detail
















































Can external users send emails to Office 365 groups ?


By default, the users outside your organization cannot send email to the Group mailbox. You can edit this setting from the general tab as shown.