Receive 30% Off May Courses!

written by: Admin on March 27th, 2015

30-percent-off-discount-sale-icon_2With the summer season approaching, we know how difficult it can be to stay motivated. Although training may not be at the top of your list, its becoming increasingly important to stay ahead of the game and continually refresh your skills in order to maintain a competitive advantage.

To help keep the momentum going, we’re offering 30% our May 2015 training sessions.

Register online or mention code MAY30 to receive 30% off your registration. 

For more information and a list of available courses and sessions, please visit


Web Seminar Recap: How to Configure and Use Managed Metadata in SharePoint 2013

written by: Jennifer Johnson on May 26th, 2015

Presented by Andy Huneycutt on May 22, this webinar focused on SharePoint 2013 Managed Metadata. Andy described the managed metadata service and connections, and provided an example scenario for using them.

Managed metadata is a hierarchical collection of centrally managed terms that you can define and then use as attributes for items in SharePoint Server 2013, and when applied contribute to a more efficient and consistent user experience. The managed metadata service application makes it possible to use managed metadata and share content types across site collections and web applications. A managed metadata service publishes a term store and, optionally, content types; a managed metadata connection consumes these.

Specifically discussed in this web seminar:
• Enable managed metadata in your SharePoint Server 2013 application
• Learn the difference between managed terms and enterprise keywords
• Create new managed terms
• Create enterprise keywords
• Share managed metadata with content types

This webinar also discussed the benefits of Managed Metadata:
• Consistent use of Metadata
• Improved content discoverability
• Metadata navigation in list and libraries
• Increased flexibility

Missed this web seminar? You can find the slides and recording here.


How To Implement a Folder-Less SharePoint 2013 – Part 3

written by: Tom Robbins on May 26th, 2015

Part 1

Part 2

In my final installment regarding the use of Folders in SharePoint I want to just outline a few bullet points, recap the previous blog posts, and finally give a list of other resources on the web around this topic.

1)      Folders constrain you by not allowing you to use all the features of Views

2)      Folders are usually named very liberally. The URL can become too large.

3)      Search cannot use folders because folders cannot have metadata

4)      If you are using folders because of permissions, consider Document Sets!

5)      Items that need to be classified in multiple ways would mean you would have to put a copy in every folder

6)      Metadata is scalable

7)      You can slice and dice your data using Views with metadata

This is a great matrix that I found on the web. The link to the original page is listed below:

  Folders Metadata
Security Folders can be used to propagate permissions and control the access to the resources the folders   contain. None.
Content Type Order Folders can control which content type’s users can create using the New menu on the list toolbar.   Folders can also control the order in which the content types appear in the menu. None.
Navigation Folders are intrinsically part of the navigational infrastructure in the SharePoint platform. Metadata can be used to control navigation, but this requires creative approaches. List View web   parts showing filtered list views can provide metadata-based navigational capabilities. While this requires no custom code, it can be labor intensive to add the web parts to a large number of pages. Additional metadata-based navigation can be accomplished through custom code. 

SharePoint 2010 Update: SharePoint Server 2010 supports the use of metadata-based navigation for files in document libraries and list   items.

Url Folder names form portions of the URL of the SharePoint resources the folders contain. None.
Tools Support Most Microsoft and 3rd party tools inherently know how to work with folders in the SharePoint   platform. Metadata support in 3rd party tools is spotty. While a tool from one vendor will generally understand how to handle its own metadata, the tool will generally not understand how to handle the metadata from another vendor’s tool. This can   make it challenging to incorporate metadata from multiple vendors’ tools into a single SharePoint information architecture.
Search None. Metadata is indexed by SharePoint search and will return results based on keyword searches.   SharePoint Server also supports promoting selected metadata to searchable properties. 

SharePoint 2010 Update: SharePoint Server 2010 and FAST Search for SharePoint supports using metadata to refine search results.

Sort None. Metadata can be used to control the order in which items are displayed in list views.
Filter List views can be configured to show only the list items contained within a folder and its sub folders. Metadata can be used to control which items are displayed in list views.
Group None. Metadata can be used to group list items together in list views. List views limit grouping to two   hierarchical levels.




How to Manage Community Membership (Public vs Private)

written by: Tom Robbins on May 19th, 2015

Communities is a SharePoint 2013 feature that allows people within an organization with a common interest to have a collaboration site to engage in and foster their common interest.  Through an evolved SharePoint 2010 Discussion Board, the team can ask questions, share ideas, brainstorm, and simply have conversations around a common interest. This discussion board has mechanisms to make it easier to find discussions and ties in to the reputation and badging system which allows members to show their level of expertise and engagement by building reputation within a community.

There are different types of Communities that can be created. The most common communities are public communities like an “ipad users” or “SharePoint Users” community where anyone can become a member.  Then there are communities that are private like an “Executive Leadership” or “Board of Directors” or “Auditors” community where members are explicitly managed by a community admin.  It is not obvious how to configure these different types of communities.

Consider these four types of communities and the membership permissions that go along with them:

Community Type Description Permissions Approval Settings
Private Community A community with sensitive information where you want to limit participation to specific users or groups Add users to the “Community Members” group manually No automatic approval
Closed Community Everyone can view the content but only members with approved membership requests can contribute Add “everyone” to the “Community Visitors” group. Use Access Approval to grant access as necessary Enable access requests, but do not enable auto approve
Open Community with explicit   membership Everyone can view the site and receives automatic approval upon joining. Add “everyone” to the “Community Visitors” group. Use Access Approval to grant access as necessary Enable access requests and auto approval. Setting in Community Settings as well as permissions settings. (Only works when the Community is a top-level Site Collection)  <bummer on this one>
Open Community Everyone has membership and can contribute to the   community without having to explicitly join Add users or “Everyone” to the “Community Members” group manually None


As you can see, it is the combination of permission and approval that determines how accessible your community is to users.

About auto approval

Enabling auto approval ensures that anyone who joins the community will gain access automatically without an administrator having to manually approve the request. When you enable auto approval, you are enabling it for the community itself, not for membership in a particular group. Therefore, if you decide to enable auto approval, you’ll want to give some thought to how permissions are handled. Auto approval is generally suitable for open communities where there are no restrictions on who can or can’t participate.

If you elect not to use auto approval, you will receive an email when a user clicks the Join button on your community. Once you receive the mail, use the People and Groups settings on the Site Settings page to assign the new member to the appropriate community group.

Enable auto approval

  1. From the home page of your site collection, in the Community tools web part, click Community settings.
  2. In Auto-approval for permission requests, check the box next to Enable auto-approval.

NOTE    The Enable auto-approval option is available only for communities that are root site collections and not available for community subsites.

Disable auto approval

  1. From the home page of your site collection, in the Community tools web part, click Community settings.
  2. In Auto-approval for permission requests, clear the checkbox next to Enable auto-approval.

Manage community group permissions

A community site collection comes with four user groups, and each group has a different permission level:

  • Community members have contribute permissions, which enable them to start discussions, reply to discussions, earn reputation points, and nominate replies as “best reply.”
  • Community moderators have moderate permissions, which allow them to create and manage discussion categories, monitor and act upon member complaints, gift badges to members, and determine reputation ratings.
  • Community owners have full control over a community. They can create and delete communities, assign permissions, participate in discussions, gift badges to members, and perform moderation tasks.
  • Community visitors have read-only permissions. They can follow discussions but must become members before they can participate in discussions.

Assign users to groups

  1. From the root of your site collection click Settings > Site settings.
  2. On the Site Settings page, under Users and Permissions, click People and groups.
  3. In the Quick Launch menu on the left side of the page, click More.
  4. Click the name of the group to which you’ll add members.
  5. On the People and Groups page, click New.
  6. Under Add people, type the names or email addresses of the members you want to add. You can also add distribution lists here so large groups of users are granted permission all at once.
  7. Click Share.

Monitor community membership

The community moderator, site owner, or site collection administrator are the only ones who can manage community membership.

  1. From the root of your site collection click Settings site settings.
  2. On the Site Settings page, under Community Administration, click Manage Members.
  • On the Community Members page notice that several different views are available:
    Members View: Displays member information, such as photo, name, and discussion statistics. This view can be sorted alphabetically or by top contributors. This is the same view that’s available to all members via the Members link in the Quick Launch on the left side of the page.
  • Admin View: Includes photo, name, and join information along with a tally of the member’s discussions, replies, best replies, and reputation score. Also lists any badges they have
  • New Members. Shows members who have recently joined. Clicking the member name or photo will take you to their My Site profile.
  • Elipses (…). Provides additional view options such as Top Contributors and Single Member View. The single member view displays a record of ongoing activity by member.



Web Seminar Recap: No Code Solutions 2

written by: Delaney Galvin on May 18th, 2015

SharePoint is an Enterprise Collaboration platform, which drives organizational engagement and allows teams to work on information together in a central portal. We often get this question from students: “Where do I go next… Is there a class where we can just talk about advanced tips and tricks”? SharePoint communities are where we learn what is next in SharePoint and how other peers are performing tasks in SharePoint.

This one-hour web seminar was presented by Tom Robbins on Friday, May 15th. In this webinar we covered some cools tips and tricks from working with Lists to working with Libraries as well as managing permissions. Don’t miss some cool new things from a seasoned SharePoint expert!

The topics that were covered in this one hour webinar:

• Tips and Tricks!
• Some really cool things!

Missed this seminar? Catch up by downloading the slides and recording here.


How to Implement a “Folder-less” SharePoint Environment – Part 1

written by: Tom Robbins on May 5th, 2015

In my much anticipated blog post regarding the use of Folders in SharePoint 2013, I am finally ready to demystify the confusion and lead the SharePoint faithful away from an antiquated thinking around how to classify and categorize information.   With almost all students and customers I work with, I always see the use of Folders in SharePoint and there is always some seemingly perfect explanation for why Folders must be used.  It is a common struggle for teams within organizations to break the decades old habit of creating large and complex nesting structures of Folders to classify and categorize information.  We are all experts at putting things into containers so that we can find things more quickly.   While this seems like the correct way of thinking, we more often than not, quickly find that this complex structure has only added complexity to our ability to find things.

In our kitchens, everything is in its proper container.  Silverware is in drawers, pots and pans have their cabinet, and dishes and bowls all have their nooks.  But we are people, not computers.  Computers don’t need containers to locate things.  Computers use data.  Think of it this way.  What if you wanted to quickly see everything in your kitchen that was a gift from your wedding anniversary?  Because the gifts can range from dishes to gravy boats, you have no way of quickly finding these items without opening every cabinet, drawer, and closet in the kitchen and doing a manual inspection.  Or, what if you wanted to find anything of value that cost over $100.  Again, start opening the cabinets and drawers and start making your assessment.   One option, and this option is a preview of great things to come, might be to put a green post-it note on everything that was a gift from your in-laws.  At least then, you could easily open all of your cabinets and quickly get a glance at the items that need “Thank You” notes.

This same complexity in finding items stored in containers is also found when items are stored in complex Folder structure.  You must open every Folder to look for what you are trying to find.  And what if you have buried similar documents, like expense reports, across years of Folder structure?   Take this example.  Let’s say you have a great Folder structure, because after all there is no other way to classify and categorize information.   You have a Folder for each division within a company.  In each of those Folders you have a Folder for each year.  In those Folders you have a Folder for each quarter.  In those Folders you have a Folder for each project you worked on within each quarter.  And then finally within each project you have expense reports related to those projects.  Hundreds of Folders and hundreds of expense reports later, you have created what you think is the perfect system of classification…  UNTIL!   What if you need to see all expense reports over $500 for the 4th quarter of every year for each division for a particular employee?  Your first problem is that you have no way of knowing from your Folder structure what the amount of the expense report was, or who submitted it.  You would have to begin digging into Folders for hours to open each expense report to find what you are looking for.   So certainly from an archiving perspective, you may have a good system.  However many issues arise from this system of classification, both from a usability and an administrative standpoint.  With computers, we can quickly find what we are looking for, but we need a different mechanism for the classification.  That mechanism is certainly NOT Folders.

There are many benefits to leaving Folders behind.  Now, I’m talking computers and systems here, not your home filing system.  Filing paper documents in Folders in a filing cabinet still works in your home office, just not in a complex system like SharePoint.  One of the many benefits of moving to SharePoint for the storage and use of documents and other files, is the ability to produce metadata, or data about data, for those files.  Think of it like putting similarly colored post-it notes across your files so you can easily find the documents that match a specific color.  Metadata in SharePoint allow you to quickly find what you are looking for using the many mechanisms in SharePoint.  The metadata can be used to sort, group, filter, and arrange information to match a team’s needs regardless of where the data happens to be stored.  With well-planned and implemented metadata, List Views will replace your need for Folder structures to arrange information.  For example:  Instead of creating a Folder for each state and then a Folder for each county in a state to arrange your documents, you would simply create two pieces of metadata.  One titled “State” and one titled “County”.  Then simply apply the state or county on each document as a piece of metadata.  Now if you want to see documents for a particular state, you simply apply a filter in a List View, or you can sort based on state to see all similar states grouped together.  List Views offer endless possibilities for arranging items according to metadata, rather than Folder structure where even documents themselves might need to appear in more than one Folder for means of classification and categorization.  Views allow for more functional and less rigid perspectives of your data.

With Views, it’s simple to change the way your data is classified, categorized, and displayed.  Once a view is created, you simply select the view by clicking on it in the List or Library page or you can choose the view from a populated list of views.  This makes it very simple to change the way you are seeing your data.  A user with the appropriate permissions can create Public Views of data and if allowed users can create their own private Personal Views of data as well.   The result of views is a more manageable, more intuitive, and more accessible configuration of your data.  Users are no longer left wondering which Folder they’re supposed to be looking for, and administrators are no longer stuck with the task of ensuring that items are in the right Folder or moving items around when they are not.  Or even worse, having the data appear in multiple Folders because the data should be classified in more than one way.

While the metadata approach might seem obvious to information managers, administrators and even “database people”, the value is not always clear to end users.  End users struggle with the shift from Folder structure to metadata application.  Users are typically focused on Folders for information management and often shy away at having to learn a new technique.  While the value can be shown to users, it’s important to consider this in user adoption planning and training.

Let the option of simply applying metadata on your documents sink in.  There are about a ½ dozen other reasons why Folders reduce SharePoint functionality.  I will talk more about this in “How to Implement a “Folder-less” SharePoint Environment – Part 2”.


Web Seminar Recap: Expert Q&A: PM and DevOps leader roles in the next technology, NFV

written by: Jennifer Johnson on April 29th, 2015

Do you recall how fast the mobile phone technology growth swept the world? It seems just yesterday when only a few carried mobile communications technology beginning with the personal digital assistant!

Our mobile technology has completely reshaped how most of us live, communicate, and attain information. The next similar super-wave phenomenon is happening now with the “Internet of Things”. With virtually everything connected in our sites, a new paradigm of infrastructure evolves and the savvy Project Manager and DevOps engineers and leaders must understand how to manage the change and leverage the change for benefit.

Introducing NFV, SDN, and VNF terms and they will mean to the PM and DevOps world!
• NFV – Network Functions Virtualization. How do we enable and deploy advanced connectivity effectively?
• SDN – Software Defined Networks. What infrastructure base is necessary to enable NFV?
• VNF – Virtual Network Functions. A few Use Case examples connecting the “Internet of Things”

This 1-hour web seminar was presented by Richard Jenny on April 28th. Facilitated by ASPE’s Chris Knotts (Director of New Training Development), this web seminar primed the Project Management and DevOps leaders to recognize and capitalize on what is about to sweep the backbone of the internet word. Richard Jenny shared his thoughts to help the audience recognize this major trend and begin stepwise Technical “how to” Project planning.

Missed this web seminar? Find the slides & recording here.


Web Seminar Recap: Business Connectivity Services in SharePoint 2013

written by: Jennifer Johnson on April 27th, 2015

One of the many challenges faced when implementing SharePoint 2013 is what to do with the data your organization already has. Is it necessary to migrate all your existing data into SharePoint? How does SharePoint 2013 integrate data from external systems? What are the security considerations administrations need to be aware of?

Microsoft Business Connectivity Services (BCS) is a set of services and features that provide a way to connect SharePoint Server 2013 solutions to sources of external data and to define external content types that are based on that external data. Planning for Microsoft Business Connectivity Services should include thinking about the kinds of solutions your organization requires, and planning for security and administration of those solutions.

This 1-hour webinar was presented by Andy Huneycutt on April 17. In this webinar, we examined SharePoint Business Connectivity Services (BCS) and how BCS brings external data into SharePoint and Office through the cloud and on-premises configurations.

Other topics covered:

• Supported Data Connections
• Configuring Data Connections
• Creating an External Content Type
• Creating a SharePoint list using external data
• Office client support for BCS
• Administration considerations

Missed this web seminar? Find the slides & recording here.


How to perform multi-user testing on SharePoint 2013 Sites Using Internet Explorer

written by: Tom Robbins on April 20th, 2015

Occasionally my students ask me what an effective testing procedure I would use to see how sites and library permissions work when using different credentials than the ones used to build and define sites.    While a site designer (Site owner) can certainly check effective permissions using the “Check Permissions” option under Site Permissions, sometimes it’s just easier to log in as a different user and actually see what the user experience is first-hand.

In previous versions of SharePoint, you could easily change the user principle by selecting “Sign in as Different User” from the User menu in the top right corner.  That option was removed in SharePoint 2013.




This was a great feature because it allowed you to easily switch back and forth between user accounts and this was great for testing.  The reality of this feature, however, was that the browser didn’t always like the credential switching and sometimes you would get unexpected results like: caching problems, documents opened in external applications were saved with an unexpected user account, and problems with cookies which affected what was rendered in the browser.  So, anyway.  What to do?  You certainly could add the menu item back, but Microsoft removed it for a reason.  It’s best not to tinker with the menu.  You could however by modifying info in the hive on each server.  I’ll leave that for you to figure out on your own because I don’t want to promote that kind of customization.

I will show you two options.  I prefer the first option to the second.

Option 1 – (My favorite) – Launching an application as a different user using “Run as a different user”

As a server administrator and a client desktop support tech, I regularly have to test changes made to servers or settings applied in SharePoint sites.   Often I’m logged in as a user with elevated privileges when I simply want to test things as a regular user.  Same goes with SharePoint.  As a Site Owner, you will likely have permissions that team members do not have.  For example: Site Owners often have full control.  In the windows environment you can simply choose to launch an application using different credentials.   It’s fairly simple and allows you to have multiple IE windows open at a time, but each window would have a different user account.  To do this, locate the IE icon in the Start menu.  If you’re using windows 7 or 8, you cannot use the icon in the taskbar.  It won’t work.  Once you find the IE icon, hold down the shift key and right click the icon.  In the menu you will now see the hidden “Run as a different user option”.  Now, just use the credentials you want and a new IE window will open.  When you navigate to SharePoint, IE will pass over the credentials you specified.


Option 2 – (Not my favorite) – Navigate to the “close connection” page in SharePoint

While this method may be faster because you can bookmark the link, it is more confusing to me when I’m testing multiple sites with multiple user accounts.

Navigate to “http://<site URL>/_layouts/closeconnection.aspx?loginasanotheruser=true”.

When the new page attempts to open, you will be prompted for the username and password and will then be redirected to the site you specified.


So, there you have it.  Now you can log in easily as another user to test and verify your site design.


How To Reindex a SharePoint 2013 – List or Library

written by: Tom Robbins on April 14th, 2015

When people search for content on your SharePoint sites, what’s in your search index determines what they’ll find. The search index contains information from all documents and pages on your site.

The search index is built up by crawling the content on your SharePoint site. The crawler picks up content and metadata from the documents in the form of crawled properties. To get the content and metadata from the documents into the search index, the crawled properties must be mapped to managed properties. Only managed properties are kept in the index. This means that users can only search on managed properties.

When you have changed a managed property, or when you have changed the mapping of crawled and managed properties, the site must be re-crawled before your changes will be reflected in the search index. Because your changes are made in the search schema, and not to the actual site, the crawler will not automatically re-index the site. To make sure that your changes are crawled and fully re-indexed, you must request a re-indexing of the site. The site content will be re-crawled and re-indexed so that you can start using the managed properties in queries, query rules and display templates.

You can also choose to only re-index a document library or a list. When you have changed a managed property that’s used in a library or list, or changed the mapping of crawled and managed properties, you can specifically request a re-indexing of that library or list only. All of the content in that library or list is marked as changed, and the content is picked up during the next scheduled crawl and re-indexed.

Manually request crawling and re-indexing of a site, a library or a list

In SharePoint Online, content is automatically crawled based on a defined crawl schedule. The crawler picks up content that has changed since the last crawl and updates the index. In some cases, you may want to manually request crawling and full re-indexing of a site, a document library, or a list.

Re-index a Site

 WARNING    Re-indexing a site can cause a massive load on the search system. Don’t re-index your site unless you’ve made changes that require all items to be re-indexed.

  1. On the site, click Settings > Site Settings.
  2. Under Search, click Search and offline availability.
  3. In the Reindex site section, click Reindex site.
  4. A warning appears, click Reindex site again to confirm. The content will be re-indexed during the next scheduled crawl.

Re-index a document library or a list

  1. On the site, go to the list or library that you want to re-index.
  2. In the ribbon, click the Library tab or the List tab.
  3. In the Library ribbon, choose Library Settings, or, in the List ribbon choose List Settings.
  4. On the Settings page, under General Settings, choose Advanced settings.
  5. Scroll down to Reindex Document Library or Reindex List, and click the button. The content will be re-indexed during the next scheduled crawl.