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Doug Allen's Articles

SharePoint Workflow 101 Part 1: Intro and Core Concepts

SharePoint for Business Process AutomationWith most clients I’ve worked with over the years, I inevitably get asked the same thing sooner or later – “what’s workflow?"  Or it’s “teach me about workflow,” or “how do you customize an default workflow?"  

With this blog series I want to try to take explain some core concepts of workflow, then give some direction on creating them, the interface, customizing the default ones, some best practices and some ideas on extending them.  Sounds like a lot, and it is!  There are 2 and 3-day training courses just on workflow, but my goal is to give you some basics and direction to get you going with your adventure with SharePoint workflows.  I won’t go into many step by steps on building a sample workflow, but I want to help you started.

Walkthrough of SharePoint Online Modern Document Libraries

SharePoint Online new library experienceRecently Microsoft gave all document libraries in SharePoint Online an overhaul.  Some call it “modern document libraries”, others refer to it as the new library interface experience (or UI experience).  I want to give folks a more granular walkthrough of the experience, and in this post I want to call out some important differences and changes you should pay attention to.

One Missing Step to Uncheck Overwrite Existing Files in SharePoint

Discover the missing step needed to uncheck the default "overwrite existing files" for uploading documents to a single document library.

Upgrading SharePoint: Everything You Need To Know For A Successful Transition

Earlier this March, all the long hours and late nights of the Microsoft SharePoint team came to fruition with the announcement of the release of SharePoint 2016 on May 4, 2016.  As you start planning for a potential migration to SharePoint 2016, we have put together a checklist to ensure your project success.  Continue reading to understand how projects fail and how to avoid this fate!

 

How You Make SharePoint Announcements Grab Attention Easily Using CSR

How You Make SharePoint Announcements Grab Attention Easily Using CSR

SharePoint has had “Announcements” for a very long time now.  The idea is good, you want to let people know what’s going in your department, division, location, site, project, whatever the case might be.  You put the Announcements on the homepage of your site, but they don’t exactly blow you away.  Today I’m going to show you an easy way to use Announcements for Critical News that will with style that get a lot more visibility.

Easily Apply Custom Branding with Focus on Content in SharePoint 2013

imageFocus on Content was a feature that emerged with the release of SharePoint 2013 and is also in SharePoint Online.   What this little button does is hides some structural parts of the rendered page to allow more room for the library, list or page content.  With custom branding, you might have issues. 

I’ll show you a quick and easy way to overcome this and get your users more screen real estate!

How to Better Understand BI Capabilities in SharePoint

imageWith the imminent release of SharePoint 2016 in the coming months, now is an excellent time to reflect on the current landscape of BI. 

Does this sound familiar? “I need a cool dashboard for manager and other executives.  Can SharePoint do that?”
This post will outline options and give guidance when you have SharePoint and are looking to enhance with graphs and charts to build dashboards.

Nintex in 2016: What’s New and the Road Ahead

Nintex Workflow for Everyone
Why are we talking about Nintex?   If you’ve taken a look at their site lately, they have a lot going on! 

In today's post, I'll review some of the latest changes and new functionality coming from Nintex and look forward to great things from them in 2016. 

Use PowerShell to Call a Web Service - Don’t Reinvent the Wheel!

Use PowerShell to Call a Web Service - Don’t Reinvent the Wheel!

One habit that prevails through any vertical is to be efficient at what you do – work smarter not harder right?  In the land of PowerShell (or any development for that matter) that is a vital lesson to learn!  Something comes up and you need to turn to code or PowerShell to accomplish said task and you need to take care of it quickly.  In today's post, I'll show how to use PowerShell to call an existing web service to do all the hard work for us and save us tons of time writing a new script from scratch.  

How to Migrate a SharePoint 2010 InfoPath List Form to SharePoint 2013 or SharePoint Online

Migrate InfoPath list form error
I’ve been working with a client recently to migrate their SharePoint 2010 farms to SharePoint 2013.  A lot of the data was being organized so it was quite a granular move utilizing one of the common 3rd-party migration tools Metalogix Content Matrix.  Of course some of the SharePoint lists had been customized with InfoPath.  While this is fine, I went to move the list with the migration tool, and all went fine until it tried to move the customized list form template - template.XSN.  It refused. This post details exactly what I did next to work around this!   

Wave Goodbye to Power BI in Office 365, We Won’t Miss You

imageAs it happens with Microsoft products, there are two competing versions of the same thing and eventually one gets phased out. Now it’s Power BI for Office 365’s turn. It had a good run, but Microsoft is finally killing off the initial iteration of Power BI to let its new service move in and run the show. Continue reading as I walk you through What is Power BI, how we got to this point, and what can you do moving forward in your Business Intelligence efforts.

How to Use Date Tables and Auto-refresh Online Data Sources in Power BI

Date tableIf you’ve been paying any attention at all to the world of business intelligence lately, you’ve seen the shift of Microsoft Power BI from the service built-in to Office 365 to the standalone offering from http://powerbi.com.  In today’s post, I want to show you how to leverage the Power BI service and construct your data source so that you can have date tables and OData sources that you can configure scheduled refreshes on. 

What’s Missing from the SharePoint 2016 Preview?

SharePoint 2016 IT PreviewIf you keep up with SharePoint news at all, you have very likely heard that Microsoft recently dropped the beta 1 build of SharePoint 2016 (or more affectionately called the IT Preview) to much fanfare. With the release of the public beta, there are lots of folks in the community who have written about these new features and how to install it. In today's blog I want to discuss the initial highlighted features that are removed from the SharePoint 2016 preview.

Using AutoSPInstaller to Build a Three-Tier SharePoint 2013 Farm – Part 2

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Welcome back to part 2 of my short series of using AutoSPInstaller to build a 3-tier multiple server SharePoint farm.  Last time we looked at all of the work we needed to do to get setup and discussed what our end goal was.  Now we can get down to business and start some installation!   I’ll walk you through the most critical part – creating your answer file, then the installation itself.

Using AutoSPInstaller to Build a Three-Tier SharePoint 2013 Farm – Part 1

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In this 2-part series I am going to take you through all of the necessary steps to use autospinstaller to build a 3 server farm doing remote installations on Windows Server 2012 R2 with SharePoint 2013 recent CU. (When I say all, I am referring to the SharePoint relevant pieces and the autospinstaller.) Continue reading for SharePoint 2013 (2010) installation.

Resolve Stubborn Missing Reusable Workflows in SharePoint Designer

imageHave you ever opened SharePoint Designer, clicked on Workflows, and saw nothing?  I sure did and was able to fix it.  In today's blog post, we'll do a quick primer of SharePoint reusable workflows, then I'll discuss the problem and all the troubleshooting I did to try and fix the issue.  Finally I'll review the magical steps necessary steps I took to actually resolve it.

2 Easy Ways to Calculate Working Days Inside a SharePoint Workflow

I’m in the midst of two different major workflows for clients right now, one of them being an HR New Hire Onboarding request and approval process.  One small but critical requirement of the process was that each level of approval needed a two business day wait period. In this post I'll demonstrate 2 easy ways to be able to calculate working or business days inside a SharePoint workflow.

Microsoft Ignite 2015–Day 5

imageIt’s been a packed week at Microsoft Ignite, and in this final post of my daily recaps, we’ll validate the awesomeness of Visio for dashboards and data-connected data graphics, review the common problems encountered when performing the initial configurations of Office 365 service for your organization, and finally share how search works in SharePoint 2013 plus how to scale it properly.

Microsoft Ignite 2015–Day 4

imageAs we near the end of Ignite, day 4 was still filled with some great technical sessions.  I’ll give you a rundown of everything from SQL High Availability, best practices for branding and page design in SharePoint Online to scaling SharePoint 2013 search.  One of my favorite sessions that I’m excited to share dealt with navigating the landscape of Office 365 tools. 

Microsoft Ignite 2015–Day 3

WP_20150506_08_20_14_Pro_smIf you’ve been wanting to get some more information on SharePoint 2016, today’s recap is for you!  I’ll briefly review some tips from the great duo of Todd Klindt and Shane Young on upgrading to SharePoint 2013, then I’ll dangle some awesome new not yet released tools for Dynamics CRM and Office 365 straight from the mouth of the great Girish Raja.  I then got some great insights from the master Spence Harbar himself on OneDrive for Business migrations, then rounded out the day diving deep in the new hybrid search service application for SharePoint 2013 / 2016.

Microsoft Ignite 2015–Day 2


In today's tales from the field, I take you through each session of my day, but also give you a quick look back at something I omitted from the day 1 keynote.  The sessions cover the gamut from information architecture and governance, to search, to OneDrive for Business and best practices for farm solution development. 

Microsoft Ignite 2015–Day 1 Recap

Spring in Chicago - Ignite 2015It’s still spring time here in Chicago, but it’s also time for Microsoft’s first ever all-in-one product conference named Ignite.  Throughout the rest of this week, I’ll do my best to share with you insights from the day, and highlight innovations or other content I thought was interesting.

What is Ignite?

This Ignite conference is the first (but not last I’m sure) time Microsoft is taking most of all of the other individual product conferences and bringing them all under one roof.  These include TechEd, Exchange, SharePoint, etc.  Content and information is being shared across all 5 days this week, ranging from the normal breakout sessions to hands-on lands, ask the experts sessions with the product teams, exam preparation and certification testing, live-streaming from Channel9, community theaters and of course the expo center.  New this year also is the MyIgnite mobile app, providing the same experience from the web to your mobile device with maps, session info, your customized saved calendar and other goodies. 

4 Reasons Why You Should Use Excel to Create a Survey

SNAGHTML13b5de3Maybe you didn’t even know, but if you are using Office 365 or OneDrive, you can use Excel to create a survey, share it with others, and easily get the results.  This blog details why you should use Excel to create a survey.  Using Excel won’t be for everyone depending on your requirements, but it does serve a purpose in the landscape of survey tools. Find out what you didn't know before! 

Gotchas When Using Power Query to Retrieve Dynamics CRM Data – Part 2

imageWelcome back to part 2 of my review of tips and gotchas for using Power Query with Dynamics CRM OData feeds. Let’s continue our review and talk about how ugly the option set numeric values are, and how you can improve your query times by tweaking (filtering more specifically) the OData URL used in Power Query.

Gotchas When Using Power Query to Retrieve Dynamics CRM Data – Part 1

imageIf you have been following the Excel business intelligence space lately, you are familiar with all of the slick add-ins Microsoft has introduced with Power Query, Power Pivot and Power Map.  We work with a lot of Dynamics CRM clients, and I recently set out to use some CRM Online data to create some visualizations and dashboards in Excel.  I encountered a few different situations I had to deal with, so in this post I want to walk you through some of the gotchas I found when you use Dynamics CRM data with Power Query. 

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    CPR for CRM Study

    The complementary paper includes over 12 years of research, recent survey results, and CRM turnaround success stories.

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    SharePoint Readiness Assessment

    This 60-second assessment is designed to evaluate your organization's collaboration readiness.

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    CRM Self Assessment

    Learn how you rank compared to organizations typically in years 1 to 5 of implementation - and which areas to focus on to improve.

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    SharePoint Feedback Solution

    This is a sandbox solution which can be activated per site collection to allow you to easily collect feedback from users into a custom Feedback list.

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    SharePoint Upgrade Checklist

    Whether you are upgrading to SharePoint Online, 2010, 2013 or the latest 2016, this checklist contains everything you need to know for a successful transition.