Posts Tagged ‘Office 365’


A client called in a panic because a sub-site was no longer showing on the link bar, in site contents, and no links to documents there worked any longer.  Vastly puzzling was that there was nothing in the recycle bin related to the sub-site or any of the files.  A search was ambiguous:  it would autocomplete in the search bar but then not find anything.

The real clue came from using a direct URL to get to the site which gave a 403 Access Denied error.  Why, I wondered, would there not be a site not found message from the browser?

It took a bit of snooping to find the problem, but here’s what to do.

  1. Go to the Admin Center in Office 365.
  2. Go to the Exchange Admin Center and choose the recipients tab, then choose the groups tab inside that.
  3. Scroll down through the groups and look for any that have been deleted.  Restore them one by one and see which one(s) bring access back.
  4. Done!

Because the sub-site was never deleted it wasn’t in the recycle bin and more importantly nothing was lost.  No one could get to it any longer was the only issue.  Restoring the groups fixed that.

Thee are probably two takeaways from this:

  • Limit administrators who might delete a group so that inadvertent deletion doesn’t happen;
  • Perhaps give an explicit full control permission to any sub-sites that have inheritance disabled on them so at least one admin can still get in.

The third takeaway might be to remember this tip.

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Flow Is Amazingly Cool and Powerful

I have been working with Flow for a few weeks now, and I am delighted with all it can do.  There are some rough edges and some flaws, and I will address one of the rough edges now, and a flaw later on.

When a File Is Created (or updated)

This is the trigger you should use for launching Flow on a Formlibrary.  I’ll just concentrate of when it is created for this post.

So I started with Create from blank on the My Flows (https://flows.microsoft.com to get there).  Click on Search hundreds of connectors and triggers to get to the Flow creation, click on the SharePoint icon, and then on when a file is created (properties only).

In the site address, use the drop down arrow to see a list of sites for your Flow logon.  Chose the site where the forms library is contained.  For the SharePoint library name, follow the steps outlined below.

Getting Flow to the Forms Library

What you need to enter into this field is the ID of the SharePoint library.  You can find the library Id by using SharePoint Designer 2013.  Open it to the site, click on lists and libraries, then click on the forms library you want to use for Flow.  The list information page displays, and at near the top left, below Wed Address: is List ID:.  Copy the list id but do NOT include the {} enclosing it.

Now paste the ID into the library name field in Flow.  Dynamic content will magically appear so your Flow will have access to all of the form library fields/columns.

Thanks to…

I had some great help from Kerem Yuceturk and Stephen Siciliano at Microsoft on getting started with some advanced Flow features and especially this one.

My Unfavorite Flaws in Flow

It probably goes without saying that the interface to access forms libraries needs work.  I haven’t drilled down into dynamic content yet to determine if fields from repeating tables show up, and how one might aggregate data from them into, say, arrays.  My first Flow on a forms library did not require that.

What I hope gets expanded quickly is rich text editing in creating the body of an email.  You can insert HTML features like <b> but not my favorite thing.  Harder to make Flow accessible to larger groups of Office 365 users.

I also dislike intensely accessing functions if Flow.  Some take so many parameters and options that it becomes rather impossible to get them right without trial and error.  A richer build experience would be nice.  A lot nice.

Hope this is of some value to you guys.


In my previous post, I listed the registry change to get sent email into the shared mailbox sent folder; otherwise it ends up in the sent folder of the primary email account.  Turns out the very same thing happens to deleted items, but there is also a registry key that will fix that.

  1. Close Outlook if it is running.
  2. From the search bar in Windows 10, type regedit and then click on the result to run.  In Windows 7 click Run and type regedit then click OK. Or from Windows 8 search, type regedit and run it.
  3. Navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\16.0\Outlook\Options\General.Note Office 2013 uses 15.0, Office 2010 uses 14.0, 2007 12.0 instead of 15.0
  4. In the right hand pane, right-click and choose New DWORD.
  5. Type DelegateWastebasketStyle for the name and press enter.
  6. Right-click on the newly created entry and choose Modify.
  7. Enter 4 for the value.
  8. Exit regedit.
  9. Restart Outlook.

You are done.


Things You Need to Do This

First, you need to be an admin on the Office 365 account.  Second, you need to have a license for at least Exchange; simply being able to administer the account does not seem to be enough.

Steps to Add Additional Email Addresses

  1. Sign in as an administrator with an Exchange account using your browser.
  2. Go to the Outlook Web App.
  3. Note the URL.url
  4. Now change the URL to remove owa and everything past it to ecp and go to that address.
  5. You should see the Exchange Control Panel like the image below:

    ECP

  6. As I have done for the illustration, click on “shared” to display shared mailboxes.  Highlight the mailbox you want to add email addresses to, then click on the pen icon above the mailbox list to edit it.
  7. In the pop-up window that appears, click on “email address” on the left hand navigation links, and you can then add additional email addresses by clicking on the “+” sign.
  8. You can also modify any of the other mailbox settings here as well.

This method also works to modify mailbox settings for distribution and security groups, users and contacts.  In fact, for all of the Office 365 Exchange Settings.


What is SkyDrive Pro vs. SkyDrive?

SkyDrive Pro is not to be confused with the free SkyDrive you can get at live.com.  What may be confusing to you is that they have similar names, and you might even use the same login name and passwords to access each of them.  But that is just co-incidence, much in the same way that the user name and password you might use to log onto your bank account and a news web site might be the same but those sites have no real relationship to one another.

So what is SkyDrive Pro?  It is a 25GB storage space that you get to via Office 365, but unlike he “Team Site”, this is a personal site just for you and based on your user logon to Office 365.  All the things, or at least most of them, that can be done on the team site – like creating libraries, lists, etc. – can be done on the SkyDrive Pro site.  But the data you store there is visible and accessible only by your logon.  (There is a way to store data so that all other Office 365 users in your organization can see it, but will discuss that shortly).

 SkyDrive Pro 2013 in the Office 2013 Suite of Programs

There is an important difference about SkyDrive Pro from the Team Site besides exclusively belonging to you.  There is an Office 2013 program, SkyDrive Pro interestingly enough, that does two things:

SkyDrive Pro 2013 makes a local copy of your Office 365 SkyDrive data so you can access it even when you are not online. SkyDrive Pro 2013 automatically synchronizes the data between your local copy and Office 365.  Update it in either place and the changes are replicated.

And yes, if you were wondering, you can use SkyDrive Pro 2013 on multiple computers.  Let’s say you are using it on your office and home office computers.  You update the local copy on your home office computer, and that replicates to Office 365 in the cloud.  That in turn replicates from Office 365 to the local copy on your office computer.

 Setting Up SkyDrive Pro 2013

If you already have Office 2013 Professional Plus installed (from Office 365, e.g.) then SkyDrive Pro 2013 is already installed on your computer.  You might want to pin this program to your task bar for easy access.  In Windows 7, click on the Start menu, then All Programs, scroll down to Microsoft Office 2013 and expand it, right click on SkyDrive Pro and click on Pin to Task Bar.  In Windows 8, swipe to the lower right hand corner of the screen to bring up Charms, choose the Search Charm, and start typing “SkyDrive Pro 2013.”  As soon as it appears, right click on it and at the bottom of the screen, choose Pin to Taskbar.  Return to the desktop.

On the taskbar, click on the SkyDrive Pro 2013 icon to launch it.  The first time it runs, it will prompt you to synch files for the first time.  You may be prompted for a URL of the library to synch to, or that may already be filled out for you.  If it is filled out already, just click on Sync Now.

If you are prompted for a URL, then close the window and perform the following steps instead:

  1. Open Internet Explorer or FireFox or Chrome.
  2. Go to http://portal.microsoftonline.com, 
  3. Log onto your Office 365 account.
  4. On the horizontal navigation bar at the top of the next page, click on SkyDrive.
  5. When the SkyDrive site opens, click on Sync at the upper right just below the user name.

SkyDrive

You should see a small window open asking to Sync Now.  Select that.  Subsequently, a second small window may open asking you to choose an application in which Microsoft SkyDrive Pro appears.  Click on it and then click OK.  Briefly another small window may appear informing you that your computer is contacting the server, and finally another window that sync is preparing, then finally that it is ready and you can view your files.  Click Show my files to do so.

Subsequently when you click on the SkyDrive Pro icon, it will open the folder from your local hard disk.  You will note the location of this folder is C:\Users\<profilename<>\SkyDrive Pro where <profilename> is the name of the user profile you are logged on as.  Generally it will be your log on name and sometimes with the domain name added.

o365-2

Please note on the screen shot above both SkyDrive and SkyDrive Pro appear.  That is because I set up a personal SkyDrive account in addition to having an Office 365 account.  They are not the same thing even though the names are similar.  It is as though Drop Box had one account for personal and another named Drop the Box for something else.  Jeez.

Sharing Data with Others in Your Organization

Notice in the screenshot above “Shared with Everyone” folder.  Open that and place a file or folder there, and anyone can access it.  Otherwise, the files are private to your log on.  Pretty simple, eh?

 What is the SkyDrive Pro Folder?

What SkyDrive Pro 2013 does is create a local folder in the path specified above, and it also sets up an automatic synchronization between that folder and the SkyDrive SharePoint site in Office 365.  Recall that the SkyDrive site in Office 365 that you see when you log on to the portal is private!  It belongs to your Office 365 log on exclusively.  Coupled with SkyDrive Pro 2013, it does a bi-directional synchronization to SkyDrive Pro folder on your computer.  In other words, if you add, change or delete anything in the SkyDrive Pro folder on your computer, those changes are automatically replicated in the SkyDrive SharePoint site in Office 365.  Likewise, if you add, change or delete anything in that site, it is automatically replicated to your computer.

Note that you do not have to be connected to the Internet to access files, or add files, to the local SkyDrive Pro folder.  Once you are connected, replication in both directions takes place without you having to do anything.

This feature makes it perfect when you are using more than one computer: say your office computer, your home computer, and your laptop computer.  Set up SkyDrive Pro on each.  If you make changes on your laptop while traveling, for example, once you connect to the Internet, those changes are replicated to Office 365.  And Office 365 in turn will replicate them to the home and office computers.

 The SkyDrive Pro 2013 Folder

When you click on the SkyDrive Pro icon on the taskbar, or from File Explorer under Favorites, or by browsing to the folder location.  The contents of the folder will appear as in any other folder on your computer.  However, SkyDrive Pro adds a crucial piece of information.  An icon will appear just before the file or folder name.  The icon will be one of the three following ones:

  1. A green check mark.  This indicates the file has been successfully synchronized to Office 365.
  2. A circle with two curved arrows inside.  This indicates that the file is awaiting synchronization to Office 365.
  3. A red circle with a white “X” inside it.   This indicates there is an error synchronizing to Office 365. It is either a file type that cannot be uploaded to SharePoint, in which case you should not put it in SkyDrive Pro folder, or the file name is invalid.  Invalid file names contain characters like “%” or “&” and several others that are invalid in SharePoint.  Or the file name has consecutive “.”  Myfile..ppt, for example, is valid in Windows but not in SharePoint.  Change the file name to allow synchronization.

You can see the icons next to the file names on the screen shot I posted above.

 Using SkyDrive Pro

The first thing you should do is move all of your files in My Documents to SkyDrive Pro, then abandon completely storing or accessing anything from My Documents.  If you save documents on your desktop, do the same thing: move them to SkyDrive Pro and cease using your desktop for storage.  If you save your documents to another location, well you get the idea.  You can open My Documents, any other folder, and also SkyDrive Pro folder and simply drag things from one place to the other.

When you are saving a document, say from an email attachment or from an application like Word or Excel, simply browse to the SkyDrive Pro folder and save it there (or to a subfolder there).

 Why Go Through All that Trouble?

Just to state the obvious, it is NOT more trouble to save or access things from SkyDrive Pro than from any other location.  There is a modest, but simple, effort required to move everything from other locations to it though.

Consider these benefits:

  •  If something catastrophic happens to your computer – lost, stolen, hard disk crash, accidental erasure, etc. – you don’t lose any of your files.  A copy is at Office 365 and readily restored to any computer.
  • You can keep your files current and accessible on multiple computers you use.
  • You can access your files while traveling with no Internet connection.
  • You can rest assured that Office 365 is backed up, redundant and robust to protect your data.
  • SkyDrive at Office 365 supports version control, so if you screw up a file, you can readily restore the previous version and save the day.
  • If you don’t have any of your computers with you but have access to one, you can still get to all of your files by accessing them through the Office 365 portal.  And if that computer doesn’t have Office 2013 on it, you can use the Office Web Apps or Office on Demand at any time.

A Few More Things

You have an icon in the systray for SkyDrive Pro and another for Microsoft Office Upload Center (the latter is an orange circle with a large up-pointing arrow).  When files are synching, the SkyDrive Pro icon will have a green moving bar underneath it.  Hover your mouse over it and a popup will show how many remaining files are waiting for synch.  Open Upload Center to see any errors in uploading, such as unsupported file types or invalid file names.  File names must conform to SharePoint file name rules, so certain characters valid in Windows file names will not work in SharePoint.

Saving files, or opening existing files, from Office and other applications is quite simple and easy.  To open a file, for example, click on the SkyDrive Pro (or similarly named) icon under Favorites or open the SkyDrive Pro folder from SkyDrive 2013.  Browse to the file you want and click to open it.  To save a file, follow a similar strategy

Files are synched to Office 365 only when a file is closed after updating or adding.  Don’t depend on synching a file that remains open for days at a time.  A good example might be a QuickBooks file.  As long as you close it after daily use, it will synch to Office 365.  A better strategy might be to set up QuickBooks to backup the file on an automated schedule to your SkyDrive Pro site.  Once the backup is complete, it is synched to Office 365, giving you a local and a cloud-based backup.

You may recall that if you go offline, say taking your laptop or table while traveling, or because your Internet connection is down, you can make changes to your files on the local SkyDrive Pro folder and once connected to the Internet again, those changes will be replicated onto Office 365.  But here is a caution if you are using Office 2013 SkyDrive Pro (Office APP) on more than one computer:  If you make changes on one of those computers to the folder and don’t go online to synch them but instead make changes to the same files or folders on another computer, you will create a synch error or worse cause an overwrite to the changes on at least one of those computers.  In normal operation, I consider this unlikely, but sure as I write this someone will do it.

If you are using a Windows tablet device, such as a Surface Pro, remember that your local copy of your folder is going to be as large as the online store.  Since these table devices are solid state disks (SSD) and generally 32GB or 64GB for all your storage, including the OS and program files, you might run out of room.  In that case, consider moving older or seldom-used files to your Office 365 team site libraries.

Summary

SkyDrive Pro is a personal SharePoint site for each Office 365 user.  Coupled with Office 2013 SkyDrive Pro, a local folder under your user profile is used to store data which is automatically synched to the SharePoint site.  Used in place of My Documents, or some network share, it is an excellent and vastly superior way IMHO to have online or offline access to your files, to have automatic cloud backup, and access to them on multiple computers or simply through an Internet connection and browser when your own computer devices are not available.


I wonder if I were clairvoyant when I titled my blog.  I was not imagining the demise of SBS, still all shiny and new in its 2011 issue.  No, I was thinking about all of the business issues that could be addressed once SBS was deployed and people figured out how to make it effective.

But here we are in a brave new world, and SBS is a memory, much like Clipper has become (yes, I was President at Nantucket, and it was hard to imagine that dBASE products would ever not be mainstream).  The new world is cloud services, but let me start out with a couple of comments:

  • Cloud is now a very hot and simultaneously cool word and concept, but when mainframes roamed the earth, that’s all there was.  Client-server meant that the day was foggy, not cloudy, and cloud stuff (SAS) is not new.  Just thank the marketing folks for this round of excitement.
  • Product offerings from the king and queen of packaged software, and that would be my friends down the street in Redmond, are simply getting better and more affordable.
  • For those of us who make a living helping SSB-targeted markets, this should be a giant Christmas present. No need for capital expenditures on hardware and OS, just pay as you go, data always accessible and backed up.
  • Having said that, customers at first hate the idea of paying EVERY month, no matter the total cost and benefits.  And they feel like their investment in servers from 2-10 years ago is being ignored, or worse, they are.
  • There is a lot for us to learn in order to be truly supportive and effective for our clients.

That is the new “Beyond.”  I look forward to telling you about my journey into it so far, and sharing some of what I have learned.


If you are using Office 365, there are two things you can add to your domain to integrate the management of your AD and Office 365 users and consolidate how they log onto the site for Exchange and SharePoint.  Let me warn you in advance of several things:

  1. This is only slightly SBS Standard friendly.  To implement it, you need a DC and a member but not DC server on premise or at least seemingly so.
  2. It is somewhat tricky and complex to set up.
  3. You will need a separate public IP address, a public name in DNS, and a trusted third party certificate that matches the name and resolves to the member server mentioned above, with port 443 traffic passing through to it.

You will need some patience with my blog, as I will not get all of this done in one or two postings, most likely three or so.

With this teaser, I will post another blog soon on how to get started.

The result is pretty cool.  Make changes in your on-premise AD and see them appear in Office 365 users.  And when you attempt to log on to Office 365, your log on will show another link that appears to your federation site where you log on and are then returned to Office 365, the single sign on part.

I would especially like to hear what the interest level is.