How to group by date chronologically for library views

(this post was written using a SharePoint 2010 environment)

So here’s the scenario, we have a document library that contains agendas, minutes, reports and other files related to meetings. The document library has a custom column called ‘Meeting Date’, a date column that is mandatory for all files that are uploaded.

We are required to create a view that is grouped by meeting date, sorted chronologically. Let’s give it a go!

Step one – prerequisites

My setup to achieve this was as follows:

  • A document library
  • An additional date column ‘Meeting Date’

Step two – configure the library

  • Navigate to the document library
  • Create a new calculated column called ‘Month of Meeting’
  • In the Formula section, add the following:
=IF([Meeting Date]="","Empty",("0"&MONTH([Meeting Date])&"/"&RIGHT(YEAR([Meeting Date]),4)))

NOTE
This formula basically states that if Meeting Date is blank, show Empty, if the meeting date has a value format it as MONTH (0 in front of the month number) / YEAR (yyyy).

  • Make sure the data type returned is ‘single line of text’
  • Press OK

Test your changes!

Now we have created a calculated column, we can test our changes by adding the column to a view and checking the Month of Meeting column has values.

Step two – create the view

Now we have verified our formula is working, we can start building out our view based on the requirements.

  • Navigate to the document library
  • Under Library Tools > Library > Create View
  • Scroll down to Group By, then group by Month of Meeting in ascending order
  • Press OK

NOTE
In the Group By section, you can set whether the groups are open or closed by default by choosing either collapsed (closed), or expanded (open).

You can also change the default number of groups to display from 30, but beware of slower page loading if you set it too high.

Now our view is configured we can take a look at it in all its chronological glory!

If you want to find out more about using group views, take a look at another post I wrote on ways around the 10 item limit in choice columns.

How to fix SharePoint sites that don’t appear in top navigation

(this post applies to SharePoint 2010, 2013, 2016 classic sites)

So in this scenario, a user was unable to get new SharePoint 2010 sites to show in the top navigation, even though some where hidden. If this happens to you try the following:

  • Navigate to Site Actions > Site Settings
  • Under Look and Feel > Navigation
  • In Global Navigation > update the maximum number of dynamic items
Update the maximum number of dynamic items to show all your sites

That’s it! now all your sites that haven’t been hidden will be displayed in the global navigation.

How to link to view item from any field in a SharePoint list

(this post was written using a SharePoint Server 2010 environment)

This is a variation on a theme and something I have used quite a bit over the years to change the link to the item display view from the default title or name field or another field of my choosing.

Changing the item link to another field or field(s)

  • Open SharePoint Designer
  • Enter the URL of your list or library site collection > Open
  • Navigate to the list or library you wish to change > Click to open it
  • in the Views section, open the view you wish to edit
  • in the Ribbon, turn on Advanced Mode
  • In the code view, look for the ViewFields section
<ViewFields>
	<FieldRef Name="Title"/>
	<FieldRef Name="Created"/>
	<FieldRef Name="DateStarted"/>
</ViewFields>
  • Highlight the Field you want to create a link from and add the following
<ViewFields>
	<FieldRef Name="Title" LinkToItem="TRUE"/>

You can add LinkToItem=”TRUE” to any, or as many of the fields as you wish, the end result will mean that each column in the list view you have added the above to will be click-able.

Add a link to the edit item menu

As I was writing this up, I came across the post below which also adds the extra option of creating a link to the item’s edit menu to, so full props go to the SharePoint Diary site for this one!

http://www.sharepointdiary.com/2016/04/show-link-to-item-edit-menu-on-any-column-in-sharepoint-list.html

If you do want to extend this to have the drop-down item edit menu, just add ListItemMenu=”TRUE” to the field in SharePoint Designer. You can add this after the LinkToItem=”TRUE” and to multiple columns in the list view.

<ViewFields>
	<FieldRef Name="NameOfTeam" LinkToItem="TRUE" ListItemMenu="TRUE"/>
	<FieldRef Name="Category" ListItemMenu="TRUE"/>
	<FieldRef Name="Created"/>
	<FieldRef Name="Author"/>
</ViewFields>

Looking for all of the available data types?

You can get a list of all the internal data types and their descriptions from the the link below:

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/previous-versions/office/developer/sharepoint-2010/ms437580(v%3doffice.14)

Tales of a SharePoint migration – part one

The path to a trial migration

I’ve been suitably inspired by Andrew Warland’s fantastic two-part series documenting his approach and migration to SharePoint Online, so much so that I thought it would be a fun series to write about my own experiences.

Take a look at Andrew’s blog series here.

It is’nt my intention to necessarily document Microsoft best practice in this series, rather just to explore some of the challenges, sucesses and experiences I notice along the way.

The current situation

My organisation has recently made the decision to move to to the cloud, with O365 being the naturally preferred destination. SharePoint has been well embedded, and heavily used within the business for several years, with on-premises SharePoint 2010 currently in production.

Finally, in terms of the SharePoint architecture and data volume, there are only three web applications to merge together as part of the migration effort. However, there are several site collections within our main intranet web app, plus many sub-sites nested within them, meaning the huge database sizes behind these site collections could prove difficult come migration time.

A note on the new, flat structure

Our current environment has a well established top-down structure in place that is generally consitent across the environment.

Having already made the investment in ShareGate, this will be the tool of choice for the migration. In the version 11.0 release of ShareGate, a new restructure option now allows you to promote sub-sites to top-level sites post inital migration from the source SharePoint environment.

The new restructure option in ShareGate 11.0

Considerations for a successful migration plan

One of the biggest issues to be resolved before we can start any sort of migration activity, is the fact that we have several content databases well over the 200GB recommended general use size limit.

Microsoft best practice suggests that any environment that has site collections, sites, content databases, libraries or lists that exceed the software boundaries and limits should be remediated prior to any migration activity. In this case, the main idea is to split each content database that exceeds 200GB into seperate content db’s, and where neccessary, move or promote sub-sites to site collections and attach new db’s.

Armed with the knowledge of the recent restrcuture functionality coming to ShareGate, plus my own personal feeling that any remediation activities to our current environment may in of itself carry adverse risk to the estate we proposed a different approach.

Trial migration begins

With all the reporting capabilities at our disposal via ShareGate, I was able to get a firm grasp of what resides within each site collection in our environment, in terms of:

  • The size of each sub-site underneath the top-level
  • Number/ size of libraries and lists
  • Number of items in each of the above
  • Any workflows running in any of the above

From this I ran a trial migration of a sub-site from SharePoint 2010 to a newly created team site in SharePoint Online.

Pre-migration

Before I kicked off the migration, I ran the source analysis tool within the Migration > Plan section of ShareGate. I noted the following obersavations:

  • The source analysis within “migration” in the ShareGate tool, although listed as only being able to analyze up to SharePoint 2013, does in-fact work for 2010
ShareGate source analysis
  • The source analysis cannot run at the sub-site level, meaning that you need to run it at the site collection level then just filter down to the sub-site in question through the report itself
  • Source analysis gives you a report of all checked-out files within a source site.From this, I created a simple view within each of the libraries that contained checked-out files to send to the site owners for action

Post-trial migration

The trial migration completed successfully as expected, however there were several interesting results I noted:

1. Everyone receieves a welcome email

If you migrate the permissions, once the source permission groups migrate each user will recieve a welcome email to the new SharePoint Online site.

There’s no GUI control for this as of this time of writing, but you can switch off the email notifications via PowerShell.

2. /Pages/ or /SitePages/…that is the question

Publishing sites seem to be the trickiest to migrate, especially those with custom master pages or page layouts. When migrating publishing sites, the Pages library is migrated wholesail, meaning the content won’t reside in the SitePages library (where new client-side pages are located).

3. Un-editable modern homepage

After the migration had completed, the new team site homepage threw up an error every time you tried to edit it.

I tried some of the documented resolution steps found here, but none of them worked for me. My solution was to just create a new page to replace the broken homepage, add all the relevant webparts and make this one the new default homepage.

Transforming classic publishing site pages to client-side pages

Publishing site pages will all be migrated as classic SharePoint pages, without the modern look and feel of a client-side page. My understanding is that for publishing pages with custom page layouts, additional metadata or custom content types will need to be transformed via PowerShell and creating a custom mapping file.

(I’m planning on writing a seperate blog post walking through an advanced publishing page transformation in the near future)

Its also worth considering that in the release notes for ShareGate 11.0 it makes mention of the fact they are researching the ability to transform classic to modern pages, so that could well simplify this process in a future release.

Conclusion

Overall, I was happy with our trial migration and believe it is a viable approach for us to move from on-prem to O365. Some lessons learned for myself would be to consider and SharePoint permissions audit prior to migration to remove any unecessary permissions, send an inventory out to site owners aswell as checked-out files, all in the name of reducing the migration effort.

This will be an ongoing series of posts, which i’ll focus more the on the nitty-gritty of the migration effort than anything else, but as always if there is any feedback or suggestions on how to improve this site, please let me know!

Configure a default view for Document Sets

(This post was written using a SharePoint 2010 environment)

Document sets are a pretty awesome way to convert people from traditional folders to using metadata in SharePoint, but retaining the ‘feel’ of a nice folder structure.

When you start using document sets you might want to play with the default view of your files, this isnt as straight forward as just setting a new default view. Here’s how to do it

Create and configure the view

  • Create your view
  • Under Folders > ensure show this view is set to In folders of content type: document set
  • Press OK
Select the document set content type in the view settings

Select the view for the Document Set Content Type

  • Navigate to the Library Settings
  • Under Content Types Select the Document Set
  • In Settings > Select Document Set settings
Document Set settings
  • Under Welcome Page View > select your view
  • Press OK

Now the changes made to your custom view will be present inside each document set!

Bonus

For more on document sets, check out my write up of the quirks of document set routing.

How to show the folder path of a file in library views

Introduction

This post looks at ways in which you can show the folder path of a file as a standalone column within a SharePoint document library view.

UPDATE: I’ve updated this post after some comments asking how to do this for modern SharePoint libraries. Click here for more.

Classic SharePoint

The scenario

A common request I get is:

How do I see what folders/ sub-folders my files are in at a glance

– all users everywhere

Out of the box, there aren’t any columns available that you could potentially leverage to display this information in a standard SharePoint 2010 library.

The solution

So, just by adding one value in SharePoint Designer, here’s how you do it:

  • Navigate to the library you wish to change, create a new view under Library Tools > Library > Create View
  • Choose the relevant format of your view, give your view a name and press OK
  • Open SharePoint Designer > Open the site > open the library you were just working in
  • In the Views pane > click to open the view you just created
In SharePoint Designer, clicking on the view name will open the view in edit mode
  • In the code editor window, scroll down until you see something like the following:
<ViewFields>
	<FieldRef Name="DocIcon"/>
	<FieldRef Name="LinkFilename"/>
	<FieldRef Name="Modified"/>
	<FieldRef Name="Editor"/>
</ViewFields>
  • Add the following field reference in between the opening <ViewFields> and closing </ViewFields>
  • Add the field reference in the display order you would like it to appear in the view
Add the field reference to the View Fields list
  • Press the Save icon to save your changes
  • Press the Preview button to see your view in action in the browser

Now you will notice there is a new column being displayed “Path”, that is showing us the full location of the file or folder in the libary. You’ll also notice that this path will display data when at the library root, or in any folders or sub-folders in the library.

Library root displaying a files path
File in sub-folder displaying relative location

Bonus

Taking this one step further, what if we wanted to show files of a certain type, then create a view that groups these files by their folder location? Guess what, that’s exactly what I did!

  • Navigate to your library > create a new view as before, this time base your new view off the one you just created
  • If you wish to only show files of a particular type, use the filter by settings (for example below is filtered to only shows Word documents)
  • Make sure “show all items without folders” is selected
  • Press OK
Filtering to only show word documents, also showing items without folders
  • Back in SharePoint Designer > Open up the view you just created
  • Scroll down until you see the opening <Query> tag and add the following beneath it:
<GroupBy Collapse="FALSE" GroupLimit="30">
	<FieldRef Name="FileDirRef"/>
</GroupBy>

Save and preview your view, it should now be grouping by the Path field:

I know this has proven really useful for my company, so hopefully this helps out someone else too 🙂


Modern SharePoint

The scenario

With Microsoft retiring SharePoint 2010 designer workflows, plus the movement away from SharePoint Designer in general, a few readers have asked for a solution that works with modern SharePoint.

When researching this I considered whether suggesting to use SharePoint Designer 2013, as the above solution would still work in SharePoint Online using SPD 2013. But, as Microsoft say themselves although SPD 2013 remains supported, it’s depreciated – so I decided to go in a different direction.

The below example walks you through how you can create a flow in Power Automate to update a file after it’s been created to have the folder path shown in the document library view:

The solution

For this solution you will need to have access to create Flows in Power Automate, as well as an existing Document Library created in SharePoint Online:

  • Navigate to the document library you wish to show the folder path for
  • Add a single line of text column to the document library > give it a name (I called mine FolderPath)
  • Under the ellipsis, press Automate > Power Automate > Create a flow
  • In Power Automate, either use an existing, relevant template or start from blank
  • The trigger action should be When a file is created (properties only)
  • Set the Site Address and Library Name where you want to add the folder path
  • Insert a new step > select Update file properties.
  • Set the following values for the update file properties step:
    • Site Address: same as previous step
    • Library Name: same as previous step
    • Id: ID
    • FolderPath: Folder path

NOTE: The FolderPath within the Update file properties step is the custom column we created earlier. The Folder path (highlighted in red) is dynamic content available within the step in the flow. The folder path dynamic content is the path to the folder the item is in, relative to the site address.

Ensure you select the system Folder path dynamic content to pull the right data into the custom FolderPath column.

Here’s the flow in it’s entirety:

At this point test and save your flow to make sure it is working as expected 🙂

Bonus #1 – turn your folder path column into a hyperlink column

So if like me you want to take this one step further, wouldn’t it be good if we could easily make our newly showing folder paths, actual hyperlinks to the folders? Well the good news is you can!

  • Navigate back to your document library > click on the FolderPath column > Format this column
  • Under Apply formatting to make sure FolderPath is selected
  • Paste the following JSON into the custom formatting box:
{
  "$schema": "https://developer.microsoft.com/json-schemas/sp/column-formatting.schema.json",
  "elmType": "a",
  "style": {
    "color": "blue",
    "font-weight": "bold"
  },
  "attributes": {
    "target": "_blank",
    "href": "='YOUR SHAREPOINT SITE URL' + @currentField"
  },
  "txtContent": "@currentField"
}

NOTE: for more information on turning field values into hyperlinks, check out this awesome sample from sp-dev-list-formatting.

  • Press Save
  • Your FolderPath column values should now be legitimate hyperlinks that click through to the relevant folders

Bonus #2 – update existing files in the document library

This was another suggestion from a reader with regards to how to update files that existed in the document library before the flow was created.

Running a flow manually for individual files

When I began to consider how to do this I started by looking at ways to manually start the flow.

It appears the only real way to do this is to create a new column that adds a button next to each file, that allows you to run the flow. I’m not really enamoured by this approach as it doesn’t seem ideal to have an extra column to run a flow showing on every file in your library. If this is something you would like to pursue then I would recommend this great article by WonderLaura who has the process of creating a button to trigger a flow covered!

Update our flow to update all files if folder path is empty

My solution to this problem was to update the flow we created earlier to get the properties for all files in the library, then add a condition that checks if the FolderPath column is empty, then if yes runs our flow as before.

  • First, I added a Get files (properties only) action which gets all the files from the source library
  • Then I added a new Condition action, which simply checks if the FolderPath column we created is equal to null. You will also notice a new Apply to each action will be created
  • I then moved the previous Apply to each action into the “If yes” condition
  • I left “If no” blank, as it is ok to leave a condition blank if you don’t want it to do anything

Here’s the updated flow in full, which changes highlighted in red:


Problems creating list or library views based on created date

The situation

Data retention and deletion…I’m sure this is a something that anyone involved in Office 365, SharePoint on information management in general gets fed up of saying since the recent GDPR legislation!

Recently we have been rationalising and cleaning up our data in preparation for moving to Office 365. We are starting with SharePoint as the first target repository or silo of content.

The general consensus is to delete files and folders over 7 years old unless there is a pre-existing data retention policy to adhere to. So the next task is to identify those files that fall within our threshold, and ultimately delete.

Luckily, we have Tree Size Pro and ShareGate so I was able to relatively easily identify the files in question (there were a lot!).

The setup

As our SharePoint environment is a) rather full; and b) rather old, I made the decision to incrementally delete files rather than en-masse to mitigate risk, targeting the lists/libraries containing the most out of date content. I started by creating a view in the first library – library A with the following parameters:

  • Standard library view
  • Filtered by Created Date if less than or equal to 01/01/2011
  • Folders or Flat: Show items inside folders
    Show this view: In all folders

(all other settings are left default)

Results this returned looked good, I could see folders and files in this view that matched the criteria – brilliant! Based on my previous statement I decided to delete in batches out of working hours, again to mitigate risk. I deleted first from library A, then from the first stage and finally from the second stage recycle bin all in this fashion.

The problem

I had permanently deleted around 50% of the total volume of content to be deleted from library A when we started to receive reports of current files being ‘missing’ from library A…not a good day.

After these reports were investigated they were indeed true. It turns out that when folders are included within a library view, folders that match the filter will be shown in the view, regardless of whether the files inside match.

We tested the view exluding folders and all the files returned matched the filter criteria. The same results were demonstrated from a SharGate report of the same nature. The report of all files over 7 years old brought back folders over 7 years old, but they also contained files that were newer.

Conclusion

At present, we are not entirely sure as to why these filters are not able to drill down past a top-level folder. It appears to be difficult to specify via view settings to only show files within folders, including the folder itself that matches the criteria.

We have decided to omitt folders from our reports and views going forward and to solely focus on files as this is the most reliable way we can delete files.

Bonus: for those of you with ShareGate, heres an example of my report we created to bring back all files over 7 years old, excluding folders. I ran this report across the entire intranet application over a weekend and it worked a treat 🙂

SG-report

Fix pages with no publishing options in SharePoint

(This post was written using a SharePoint 2010 environment)

So you’ve got a SharePoint site, it all looks good (well, as good as it can!) but you notice that the Publish tab isn’t available in the ribbon.

First things first you check the site settings to see if SharePoint Server Publishing is turned on.

SP2010-publishing-feature.png

If you get to this point and your still no further forward it’s likely that your site wasn’t set up as a publishing site, but if you follow the steps below and your pages will be able to be published in no time.

  1. Open the site in question, then go to Site Actions > View All Site Content
  2. Open the SitePages library
  3. Under Library Tools > Library, select Library Settings

    SP2010-librarysettings
  4. Under General Settings > Versioning Settings, turn on Create major and minor (draft) versions > press OK
    SP2010-versioning

  5. Go back to the original page, you will now see the publishing tab has appeared!

SharePoint and Nintex workflows failing on start pt.2 **FULLY RESOLVED**

It’s back again…a few months ago a wrote about my experiences with workflows failing on start after a .NET security update that was applied. You can read that post here:

SharePoint and Nintex workflows failing on start

Recently, the same .NET security update was applied to our SharePoint 2010 farm, which in turn caused the failing on start error to present itself again across all the workflows in the farm.

After identifing the issue soon after the update was applied, we decided to follow the same tact as before and roll back the patches, restart the servers and re-test the workflows – However, this time the results were different.

What was different?

Previously, rolling back the security update and any other patches added during this time, plus restarting the servers “fixed” the issue. This time, the same process did not yeald the same results and the workflows were still broken.

After performing the steps above, we observed that standard SharePoint workflows with a pause started to run sucessfully again, but Nintex workflows with a pause step either failed on start, or completed but errored after the pause step and sent an error notification.

Example 1 of nintex workflow with pause step failing on start
Example 2 of nintex workflow with pause step erroring, but completing

How we fixed it…

So this time we followed the updated step-by-step guide provided below on how to update the web.config files and OWS timer files via Add-CodeDomAuthorizedTypeToOWSTimerConfig.ps1 PowerShell script on the SharePoint Application server.


https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/rodneyviana/2018/10/12/step-by-step-video-on-how-to-fix-the-sharepoint-workflow/

We ran the script as recommended, which re-added the assemblies and dependancies to the OWSTimer config file and the web.config files on associated web servers and this in fact fixed the issue! As the script does an IIS reset/ Timer Job recycle we didnt even need to restart the servers!

I hope the that tidbit regarding the nintex workflow pauses helps someone else 🙂