SharePoint Saturday 2017 Atlanta

On June 17th I had the pleasure of attending another great SharePoint Saturday event put on by one of the best users groups in the area and it did not disappoint!

The morning Keynote was given By Stephen L. Rose from the OneDrive for Business team at Microsoft.

It was really great to see from him all the new features and functionality that are coming ahead in just the next couple of months! Its something I think that will make users of OneDrive want it even more!

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I also attended several other session about workflow and forms with Laura Rogers which was a great session describing all the ins and outs of how Flow is developing into quite a nice tool that still has a ways to go in certain areas, but is quickly being developed into an actual SharePoint Designer replacement.

There was also a great Power Apps session given by Laura later in the day where she went through some great scenarios and examples of how the current version of Power Apps compares with InfoPath as well. It can do some great things right now, but as with Flow, it still needs to be fleshed out I think more in order to be an actual replacement for the older tools everyone is used to.

Much of the content I saw from this day definitely centered around more of the push to Office 365, but what excites me even more is being able to mold these features and capabilities to the on premises and hybrid worlds of SharePoint.

Thanks once again to the Atlanta SharePoint group and all of the volunteers who work at this event! It was another great day of training that I learned more than my brain could hold. 🙂

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Creating sample data for SharePoint with SPDG

If you work like I do trying to setup test environments in SharePoint often, the experience is great when you finally get all the bells and whistles activated for the features you need to test, but then what?

Now you have a great looking environment with no data! A SharePoint farm with no data in it is like a chocolate chip cookie without the chocolate chips in it. You might as well throw it away and go get something else to eat.

Never fear though as I have recently discovered a great tool that can auto generate much of the content needed to flesh out a SharePoint farm and it happen to be an open source project on GitHub created by the same fine folks that created SPDocKit!

It’s called SPDG (short for SharePoint Data Generator) and it’s another awesome tool to add to your arsenal if you don’t already use it.

Just head over to Github at the following link and check it out here!

Below is an example screenshot to give you an idea of what it looks like:

What is even better about this tool is that you can use it to generate as much content or as little as you need to flesh out your test box. It works with SharePoint Online, and even older versions of SharePoint like 2010!

This tool is so great and I can see so many uses for it, I may just have to do a demo video of this sometime down the road, so stay tuned! I’d love to see more folks talking about this because it definitely saves a lot of time and effort to fill up an empty farm when you need to give a demo!

Many thanks again to the guys over at SysKit for developing something awesome like this!

I hope you enjoy it as well!

No time for documentation? Get SPDocKit!

For many people who work in development and IT there tends to be one universal truth that I have seen time and time again. People setup and spend lots of time and money creating great software systems for businesses and other organizations, but when it comes time to document where things are and how things are configured, documentation falls in line sometimes with the same considerations as system security (hello Equifax?).

I don’t normally write product reviews or give endorsements, but for this one, I have taken an exception. If you need to figure out what all is in your SharePoint farm right now and don’t know, or even if you “THINK” you know about everything in your SharePoint farm and don’t have it on paper, please check out SPDocKit from the great folks at Syskit.

Here’s a great summary if you have never heard of them!

SPDocKit – Ultimate SharePoint Admin Tool

 

Not only will this product document the configuration settings of your farm, it can regularly take snapshots of your environment to help you know how things change over time. And you can even easily publish reports of your farm config at any time! Just take a snapshot (which is like a backup type of job), and then you can report on all kinds of things!

If you want to put your own company logo or labeling on the reports that get output, you have that option as well!

One other thing to know is you can try this out for 30 days and see if you like it, but I can already tell you that once you set this product up and run it once and actually see all of the information that is gathered about your farm in a small amount of time, that you will literally be telling the folks at Syskit “Shut up and take my money!”.

I hope you get to check it out! It’s also very affordable for what the product does!

Here’s a great overview of their latest version:

Hands-on SPDocKit 7 – SharePoint performance, Permissions audit and SharePoint Online

 

Displaying pdf reports in SharePoint

I had an interesting request by someone the other day. I was helping them set up a new site template for SharePoint 2013 and they wanted to display a couple of reports on their site that they had in pdf format in a way to showcase the numbers of the report to others in the company that would visit this site.

There are multiple ways actually to do this very method, but the one I ended up going with is referenced in the following article:

https://sharepoint.stackexchange.com/questions/151161/how-to-embed-word-and-pdf-documents-in-pages

After doing this one the page it gave a pretty good layout on the page. My only concern going forward is having to update this manually and having to possibly retrain someone to keep this showing the most up to date info on the page.

There are other things I would like to research as part of this like putting in zoom or other capabilities in the code to modify the view of the pdf for the users.

I hope this gives you more ideas for displaying info on sites and pages and should work regardless of what version of SharePoint you are working with.

If you have interesting ways to display reports or other objects on pages, feel free to add to this in the comments below.

Thanks!  -BJ

Update 9/18/17:

Beau Cameron just posted a fantastic article about how to do this in O365. Here’s the link:

http://www.aerieconsulting.com/blog/how-to-embed-a-pdf-in-a-modern-sharepoint-page?utm_source=collab365&utm_medium=collab365today&utm_campaign=daily_digest

Enjoy!

2016 Year In Review

2016 was such a great year for me professionally and personally. I had many things happen this year that were firsts for me. Longest duration on a plane, first Microsoft cert, and many others.

This year I travelled to the following places:

Orange Beach, AL

Tampa, FL

Atlanta, GA

Chicago, IL

Aurora, IL

Decatur, IL

St. Louis, MO

Phoenix, AZ

Previously I have never travelled this much in a year, so this was a big change for me. I was able to see some great places, eat some fantastic food, and enjoy and learn about a lot of new topics like Office 365 and SharePoint 2016.

This year was also the first time I had ever tried to attempt a Microsoft certification. Back in the middle of the year I tried (and failed) to pass the 70-331 exam for SharePoint 2013. I was extremely disappointed that I did not pass this test. I had prepared extensively for it and plus I’ve been working with the product in one way shape or form since it was released in 2012, for almost 5 years with two different companies.

But on a whim around the same time I signed up for the 70-339 test, I saw that Microsoft was offering a free chance to demo the exams for SharePoint 2016. Everything that I had read and studied on the product so far made me think this could go right along with what I was doing for 2013. Well… kind of…

There are some similarities and differences between the products that’s for sure. This test was different, because since it was a beta exam, I wouldn’t know my score right away.

I had a pretty good feeling about it after taking the test, but then had to wait almost two months before I found out that fortunately, I passed. 🙂

During this year I also attended a training class to prepare for the coming of SharePoint 2016 and Office 365. It was held by Critical Path Training and instructed by Matthew McDermot. This was a great course and I highly recommend it to anyone who needs SharePoint training.

I was only able to go to one SQL Saturday or SharePoint Saturday event and that was SQL Saturday Chattanooga. It was a great event, and look forward to the event next year as well.

I will definitely have to head out to more events in order to learn more with the pace that things are changing. Too bad I couldn’t travel each month to an event…hmm….

I look forward to the challenges the new year brings.

 

Here’s to a New Year!

Passing the 70-339 exam and becoming an MCP

Back on October 20th, I received an email that I passed the exam 70-339! I am very excited and thankful that I passed the exam to begin with. This was a beta exam for SharePoint 2016 offered through the born to learn blog at Microsoft that I took advantage of back in late June of this year and tried my darndest to study up on the exam for about a period of three and a half weeks prior to taking the test. I highly recommend going to the Born to Learn site every now and again to keep up with certifications and new releases in general. Plus, they do offers on books and free training resources from time to time that are fantastic. 

Previously back during late July I took the 70-331 exam and did not do as well as I thought I would do on the test. So since I had previously failed this test, I had my doubts about how I was going to be able to perform on this beta exam since many of the topics were new and the product had not been out for long.

 

I used the same study methodology for this test that I did with the 331 test that I failed. I focused much of my studying on the core areas of study (you can review them here). I took much of this and reviewed many of the new PowerShell features and commands that had been added to this new version so I wouldn’t get tripped up in that aspect of the test.

 

One helpful area that I had recommended to me was the previous talks on taking the 70-331 and 70-332 exams from Ignite and other conferences over at MSDN channel 9. Many of these reviews were given by presenters that you can go and review now for free. You can find some from Ignite 2016 here. These were helpful to get an idea on how some of the questions for the exam are presented.

 

The combination of the videos and studying the core areas for the exams helped me score high enough that I passed and am now an official Microsoft Certified Professional!

 

This is a huge milestone for me personally and has always been one of my personal goals I wanted to achieve as a technical professional. It’s also given me the courage and drive to continue forward and look into working towards a second certification exam.

 

If you are hesitant at all about taking these tests, I would say to go for it because it forces you personally to check and make sure you have the proper knowledge and skills to accomplish what you need to going forward. For anyone out there looking at one good luck and I hope you are successful just as I was.

 

Now onto the next test for better or worse. 🙂

MS Ignite 2016 Day 5

Last day, a short day. Sad that it’s over, but glad to be heading home with so much new knowledge.I’ve heard that you get the short end of the stick by having to present on the last day, but I don’t think that’s the case. Today’s presentations were great! Starting off with:

Bridge the cloud Divide with hybrid BI in SP 2016 and O365

Presented by: Chris McNulty and John White

This great talk was about when and where to use many of the BI related tools and how they transferred from on premises to the cloud. There were so many great demos of this as well as some great previews of the new items that were coming soon related to Power BI and SharePoint Online that will improve the product from where it is now. Also had a good Q and A session afterwards and on how to get the most functionality out of SSRS by using both Native Mode and Integrated mode for the new 2016 version.

How to run a successful User Group

Presented by: Jason Himmelstein

This was a great talk that I wish we could have had more time to discuss. Jason has had several different experiences running user groups in his time in his career and so he gave out some great tips on things to do to keep people interested and eager about coming to meetings.

One other great part about this topic was other people from other user groups got up to share their tips and ask questions about how to better run their groups as well. This was only a short session, but I hope that in the future it could be longer for more people to share their experiences that they had. 

Join your Windows 10 devices to Azure AD for anywhere, Anytime productivity

Presented by: Jairo Cadena

This was a good talk based on how to integrate your new Windows 10 devices into either an Azure AD solution in the cloud or with a newer Federated AD solution with the newest version of windows server. Jairo took a good time to explain the architecture involved with a solution like this as well as giving a couple of demos on how this look from a client side perspective when joining a new AAD domain and other resources as well. It was interesting to see all of the security measures that someone could use in conjunction with Windows In Tune to make sure people are joined correctly and authenticated to company resources properly.

So this ends my Ignite Journey here in Atlanta, and all I have to say is wow! This has been such a great week of learning new and exciting things that are coming from Microsoft as well as more of the commitment that they are putting into making and improving SharePoint in every facet. I would say that if you aren’t currently working with the cloud in some way, shape, or form most if not all of the things announced and show this week make it very difficult to not start moving that way. Its eve more exciting to see that those features will eventually come back in some fashion to the on premises products and that Microsoft as a company is making bridging the gap between the two even easier with many of their gateway and integration products.

If I’m lucky enough to attend next year in Orlando in 2017 I can definitely see that by that time the improvements to the products shown here will create a great mix of things that people are going to want to continue to use.

Now in order to remember all of this I’m definitely going to have to go back and watch many of the sessions again at https://myignite.microsoft.com

Also I will have to make sure and add comments and questions to the new MS Techy Community site which can be found at: https://techcommunity.microsoft.com

-BJ