Step by Step: Connect SharePoint Libraries to Outlook

This post is applicable to SharePoint 2013, SharePoint 2016

In this step by step module, we are going to see how to connect a SharePoint library to Outlook. Yes to Outlook, so that you can have all your documents in your outlook to easily edit and update back or leave it without updating even. This will be very useful feature if we are working on too many documents and we are in a position to store it all in the project’s team site every now and then.

Step 1: Open the team site where you had your documents stored and traverse to the document library. Click on Library tab, and click on Connect to Outlook. There will be a popup to confirm if you want to open the application. Just click on launch application and it will open up the Outlook.

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Step 2: In Outlook, there will be a popup to check if the SharePoint list can be added to your outlook.

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If we click on Advanced, we can have some extra options to configure as below, can opt to have this document library in all the places where your email account is configured and on the update limit. Click ok and Click Yes on the above popup. The List will be synchronized in a jiffy.

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Step 3: In your outlook, you can see a new entry as SharePoint lists and all the documents synchronized and available in your outlook. From here, the documents can be edited and saved and stored within outlook.


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We will see on how to edit, and save it back to SharePoint in the next step by step post.

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May Patches for SharePoint 2013 released!

Every month (from 10th to 16th) a new patch (You can visit technet page to know more on the patches too) will be released which will have all the previous month’s patches included within. Let us see a bit about what May month patch releases contains and also on some tips to decide whether those patches are needed or not for your environment.

For SharePoint Server 2013:

KB3115029:

This Cumulative update contains the below list of KBs.

This update can be patched all together or we can also choose which one is more needed and patch that particular update also. But it is always advisable to update all at one go to avoid any major issues.

  1. The servers must be restarted after the patches are applied.
  2. One month’s patch will take nearly 6 to 7 hours for a server. (This is purely from our experience for the past one year of patching)
  3. The prerequisite of this update is SP1 of SharePoint 2013.
  4. It is always good to wait for service packs if the released monthly fixes are not applicable or not needed for your environment.
  5. Security fixes are always prioritized but not all might be suitable for your environment.

The details for each and every update is as below:

KB3115034

Fixes the following issues:

  • Property demotion doesn’t work for Word documents that contain ink objects. This update also fixes property demotion that corrupts data of Office Mix add-in for PowerPoint.
  • If forms authentication is enabled in a nondefault (extended) zone, users can’t get permissions to edit Office Web Apps Server (WAC) documents that are granted through a group membership.
  • When you spell check an incorrect word that’s split across multiple formatting tags, you may receive a generic error message about this word, or the content format is changed.
  • When you press the Tab key on the Add Task page, the visual focus appears in the Task Name text box instead of moving to the first new form field of the %Complete text box.
  • A screen reader doesn’t announce specific column headers in the Tables mode.
  • A screen reader doesn’t announce check boxes in the Tables mode.
  • A screen reader doesn’t read app name for the ellipsis on the Site Contents page.
  • Some elements on the Add an App page aren’t marked up for accessibility.
  • When you focus a check box in the grid on the Resource Center page, nothing is read by the screen reader because the column doesn’t have a header.
  • You can’t use keyboard to expand or collapse groupings in the grid on the Resource Center page.
  • If the Notes field of a task contains special characters in a project detail page, the project detail page isn’t displayed but keeps loading.

If the above mentioned issues are not there in your environment, then this fix is “Not Needed”. But at the same time, Not needed does not mean it should not be applied. It can be always applied as the updates will affect only if those components are installed and used in your servers.

KB3114952

Fixes the following issues:

  • Translates the following error message in Norwegian to make sure that the meaning is accurate:

Sorry, this site hasn’t been shared with you.

The above talks about Norwegian language component and if you do not use this, again this fix is also “Not Needed”.
  • Updates the Danish proofing tools.
  • Improves taxonomy change tracking performance, and the term store won’t be offline even if many changes are made.
  • Translates the SharePoint Server 2016 hybrid search and changes user experience in multiple languages to make sure that the meaning is accurate.
  • Fixes the following issues:
    • When you use Managed Metadata Navigation and filtering, you experience the following two issues:
      • The halo around the active item in the menu is truncated.
      • The separator of the navigation bar is displayed with inconsistent width if you resize or refresh the window.
    • A screen reader detects tabs in the Term Store Management Tool as a single H3 header incorrectly.
    • The Content Query Web Part doesn’t load the correct entries when a user field is queried with a not-equal-to filter.
    • When you create a list item with a taxonomy field while using JAWS, the suggestions for the taxonomy field are not accessible.
    • When you spell check an incorrect word that’s split across multiple formatting tags, you may receive a generic error message about this word or the content format is changed.
    • Custom managed property that contains special characters (such as an apostrophe) isn’t highlighted when it’s searched.
    • Index component crashes randomly.
    • When you try to insert links from SharePoint to upload files to sites, unexpected error occurs if the site names have non-ASCII characters.
    • When you drop RTF email messages from Outlook clients to a document library, the email bodies aren’t indexed and nor searchable. This update improves the extraction of RTF email body text from .msg files.
    • You can’t change the regional settings and receive the following error message:
      Server Error in ‘/’ Application.

      This issue occurs after you install February 9, 2016, update for SharePoint Server 2013 (KB3114719).

    • Assume that you use a querystring URL parameter to pass values at the query time. When a user selects a specific taxonomy term, using the term GUID to search, the search doesn’t work.

These days most of the fixes are about language tools. The above is also updating some Danish proofing tools. But it also contains some of the basic components updates like Content Query web part which is quite commonly used. This fixes might be needed if you are facing the issue mentioned, or even without any issues, if the updates are going to help the components which we are using to work much better, no harm updating this. So I would term this as “Needed” but not a “Must”

There is one more fix for Feb update and if you had updated your servers to Feb patch, it is good to have this patch to rectify the other issues.

KB3114943

Fixes the following issue:

After you switch views in an InfoPath form in Internet Explorer 11, the People Picker control displays the following error message:

JSON IS UNDEFINED
Still using InfoPath forms, then this might be “Needed” or please put it under “Not Needed”.

Fixes the following issue:

If the conditional formatting rule is set to Show Icon Only and users have Excel Services Viewers permissions, Excel Services doesn’t display conditional formatting icons.
Not a show stopper issue though but no harm updating this patch as it does solve something in Excel services. Again if you are using Excel Services in your environment, this is “Needed”, else I would push this to “Not Needed” set.

Fixes the following issues:

  • Updates the Danish proofing tools.

Again Danish proofing tools, I would mark it as “Not Needed” as we do not use this language tool in our environment.

On an overall analysis, I would say this month’s release is not a must to patch. We should be able to wait for the next patch to be released as most of the parts that this CU contains are not used or not needed.

For SharePoint Foundation 2013:

KB3115023

Usually this CU will have some of the same updates that belongs to SharePoint server. If we patch the other release, we can ignore Foundation patches, but if your environment is only Foundation, then download and patch this set if you have decided to patch for this month.

Happy Patching up!

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Step by Step – Creating a Web Application in SharePoint 2013

There are numerous requests on how to do things around in SharePoint from beginners. So wanted to start off with how to create a web application.

The hierarchy in SharePoint always goes like this:

Diagram of a site collection

(Image Credits to technet)

Web Application is the parent, Site Collection is the child, Sites are grand children. Lets see how to create a Web Application in SharePoint 2013.

  1. In the SharePoint installed server, Open the Central admin in administrator mode. Preferably in IE. 1
  2. Click on Application Management link on the left and on the opening page on the right, click on Manage web applications2
  3. And in the page that opens, click New on the top left menu. This will trigger to create a new Web Application.A popup window will be opened asking for the relevant information.3
  4. Once you click on the New, you will see a popup on the screen, which will ask for information on the Application. Change the port number and the name will auto change to fix in to the port. Then scroll down to update the content db’s name so that it is easily identifiable. It will go like WSS_Content, change it to WSS_Content_<portnumber> for example.45.png
  5. Scroll to the bottom and click OK. No need to change anything else if this is just for a testing process. We will see one by one, in this pop up in my future posts to understand it more. Once the process is initiated by clicking OK button, we will be able to see the below and after few minutes, the Web Application will be created and a success message with a “Create Site Collection” link will confirm on that part as well. 67
  6. The next step is to Create a Site Collection which will be shared in the next post.
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PowerShell Script to create Search Service Application

I have uploaded a detailed script with comments on how to create a Search Service Application (SSA) here. This script has variables hard coded, so please change it according to how your farm requires and use the script to create SSA effectively.

Hope this helps…

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Experience as a Conference Speaker

Recently I got a wonderful opportunity to present in a PowerShell Conference Asia in Singapore. I would say it was my first time presenting outside of my organization and it was my best. The organizers were so supportive and the opportunity was given by Ravikanth Chaganthi, one of the world famous PowerShell MVP from India. He is a very good friend of mine and I have been following him for a long long time. I will always cherish the memories I gathered and experiences I gained through this conference and looking forward for many more to come.

My interview after the conference for PowerShell Magazine:

My Presentation files from the conference is here.

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A failure was reported when trying to invoke a service application: EndpointFailure – Solution Step by Step

This is from my friend and posting it with his permission in my blog. He helped to solve this issue.. 🙂

Problem: We noticed this error messages in the web front end servers and identified that it was trying to reach some end point which was no longer available. And this error was mainly to search service.

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Findings: We google’d and searched all over and found this link which confuses us more. They ask us to restart the services but some say it still did not make it work.

https://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/sharepoint/en-US/869fb269-2a6b-4efa-a0e0-c4a829065ca4/load-balancer-error-mesaage

Solution Steps:

1. Go to event viewer on your server. Open this error message in a separate window and click on the link provided in the error message next to the wordings Affected Endpoint.

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2. When the site is open, you should get an 503 error code as the service is unavailable. This means that this service is not created in IIS as a service application. What we can derive from this is, there was some search service application created and removed leaving behind traces of its id for the load balancer and that’s why it comes around searching for it.

3. To make this work, we need to go to IIS now. Open IIS and if you notice in the last on the list there will be an entry for SharePoint Web Services.

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6. Click it open. Right click on it to create a new Application. We are now in the process of creating an end point.

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7. For this, you need to copy the full id that you got in the url. Open the IE page again and copy the id that you have and keepsake it in a notepad.  It usually has a long word with numbers and letters. Add that id in the Alias area in the resulting window.

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8. Physical path should be pointing to the Service.svc file in the system. It usually resides in the below folder. Just browse to it and for the Application pools, choose the one which is existing and used for search service.

“C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office Servers\15.0\WebServices\SearchService”

9. After entering all the information, click on Test Settings to check if the Authentication and Authorization is established. There should be two green tick marks. Click the close button.

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10. The errors will not be there anymore and also you can check the URL which you checked earlier. It might look like this… meaning the endpoint is already established. And the problem is solved.

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High-Availability (HA) vs Fault Tolerant (FT) Solutions

High-Availability Solution: As the word says, it means that it is highly available in all the times. Lets see it more clearly what is HA solution exactly means.

  • Consists of set (2 or more) of loosely coupled servers which have fail-over capabilities
    • Loosely coupled means it will be coupled together but not dependent on each other all the time. Not all the servers will be running at all times.
  • System is independent and self-contained
    • It is independent of any other servers in the same cluster. If something happens to one server, other servers will not be affected.
  • Yet the servers are health monitoring each other and if one fails, another will take over and get restarted.
    • Even though the systems are not dependent on each other, it does keeps an eye on the other servers and if one server fails or if the OS hanged, the other server will take over and the application will be started from the other healthy server.
    • For Example: Windows Server Fail-over Clustering
  • It can recover in the magnitude of seconds.
    • But there cannot be a zero-second downtime. But an assured backup.
  • Flexible – recovers any application running on any server in the cluster
    • It recovers any of the application running on any of the server in the same cluster. as they are all independent and one server’s failure does not affect any other server.

Fault Tolerant Solution: This kind of solution will provide no fault solution for the applications running on the server.

  • Tightly coupled systems which provide redundancy.
    • Unlike HA solutions, in FT the servers are tightly coupled, meaning the systems are dependent on each other. The applications running will be the same in both servers.
  • Single copy of the OS and application within running consistently on two physical servers.
    • Common OS for all the servers in the cluster. If any instruction is executed on one system, it is also executed on the second system.
  • If the main system has a hard failure, secondary system takes over. There is no downtime
    • It can bring up the application with zero downtime.

Now that we have seen some details on both, there should be some level of understanding already. To summarize the difference:

HA FT
Loosely Coupled Servers Tightly Coupled Servers
Failover Capabilities Redundancy Capabilities
Systems are independent Mirrored and dependent
Chances to have downtime No downtime

The pros and cons of HA and FT Solutions

Pro for FT: This solution provides great resilience to hardware faults. If one of the server is plugged off, the other takes over immediately without any downtime.

Con for HA: There will be a small downtime for the other server to take over if any of the above issue happens. HA does not provide zero downtime

Pro for HA: All the servers are independent of each other and so if there is any issue with OS in any one of the server, it does not affect the rest in the same cluster.

Con for FT: FT runs using a common operating system, so if there is any issue with OS in one of the server, then both goes down and there will be no protection from software fault scenarios.

Pro for HA: This solution does not need all the servers to be up and running all the time. The resources can be saved a lot if HA is the solution used.

Con for FT: In FT, both servers will be running all the time and consuming more or double the resources and cost. It is almost like running two servers to use only one server.

If the app is a critical app and you are not worried about minimal hardware failures, then FT could be the better solution. But for all other cases, HA could be the better solution. Again it boils down to the business requirement and the kind of applications it is used for and also the SLA that needs to be achieved.

Happy Solutioning!

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ShareThePoint SouthEastAsia Conference Slides

You can download all the slides for SharePoint SouthEastAsia (Singapore) Conference here.

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Letter to all the SharePoint Interviewers

Hi all,

I hope you are doing good in your job and career and I feel good for you that you are in a position to decide which candidate can go in your company. I hope and wish this letter will help you a little bit more  in your process of selection.

Disclaimer: The below is purely my own opinion based on my own experience and I am not trying to insist on anything.

In this highly technological world, finding a best SharePoint professional is the most difficult task for anyone. First and foremost, there should be some job description with a title of the person you are looking for. It has to be too clear so that you get suitable resumes flowing in. I got a resume for SharePoint Developer and when I called her, she said she wants to become a manager. Then I asked why did you send your resume here? She said she wanted to find out if there is an opening for a manager!

First and foremost step I think should be, to decide the role you are looking for and what could be the best job scope for a person to fit into that role. You can never expect a Developer to be an Administrator unless or otherwise he is an Architect. You cannot expect an Architect to be a Developer unless or otherwise he is willing to do anything that is given to him.

Second will be to check through the resumes and filter effectively for your interview. With such an advanced networking world, the names can be googled to find some basic information about the person you are going to interview. Ask around or google! You might think if this is really necessary to do? Trust me, we had a very bad experience of taking someone who said he/she had worked in a well-known company for 7 years in .net but did not know how to open a solution file in Visual Studio. When I did some basic checks through my friend who was working in that company as a HR for a long time, found that this person was not in that company ever. This does not mean every one cheats but there are people who do this. Close one eye for all those that can, like the last day of work in his previous company if that does not differ too much.

Third, always do not prepare any technical questions and it has to be on the prompt if you are a good SharePoint Professional ;). When you go through the resume, you can decide on which questions you want to ask and again this is based on the role that the person is being interviewed for.

  1. If the person is a developer or an administrator, then ask questions related to his developing experience, how well he solves issues, what he did for performance tuning or what is his practice of coding if he is a developer and what is his day to day activity as an administrator or somewhat related questions if he is an administrator. You can sure ask one or two basic questions like how many site collections can be there in a content database or how many content databases can be used for a site collection. But don’t go beyond the basics as there is no one who knows the answer for everything that you ask and even if he answers it does not mean he will work effectively.

I will list down what I want to see in a person who is being interviewed for a developer and see if this list makes sense to you too.

  1. Can he communicate properly?
  2. Can he answer basic SharePoint questions?
  3. Can he do what he is asked to do? Attitude is the most important thing I want to see
  4. Can he answer at least one situational question based on his previous experience that he has mentioned in his resume?
  5. I always ask this question: What is the best thing you like about SharePoint, and what is the thing that you hate the most. Trust me I had decided based on the answer given to this question too.

More than enough to judge a person and I hope everyone will accept that these are the only thing we can see or get from a telephonic interview. When this is cleared then you can call him or her for a face to face interview. One advantage of face to face is that you can see how confident the person is when answering even though the telephonic will also help us to know by the shivering of the voice.

  1. If the person who is interviewed for an Architect, he or she should be very good in communication. Cannot proceed further if he or she fails in communicating properly. The questions need to be more situational and functional rather than technical. An architect is a person who is too sound theoretically. That does not mean he is not good in practical knowledge, he has to cross development first to become a good architect so he should be not bad in practical knowledge too. Need to check on his knowledge a little bit and then discuss about his approach to implementation of a project. His experience in SDLC process and how he will manage if there are many requests coming in at the same time. More on situational questions. This will sure help to know a person more than just asking technical questions.

I hope all these or at the least few are agreeable.

There are a few “completely don’t do this list” in my book.

  1. Do not ever talk about races when you are interviewing. Cannot and should not ask, “So! What was your previous company’s manager’s nationality? Were you ok with working along this particular race?”
  2. Don’t ask about SDLC if the person says I have been doing support only all along and my part is to develop what my team lead asks me to. Please don’t keep asking him the same questions again and again.
  3. Don’t ask the person if he has leaded a team before if that’s not mentioned in the resume and more over if the resume only talks about his job scope as developing web parts.

If you want a best person to be working with you, look for a good person and make him the best.

Positive Attitude and a Learning Interest are the only ones which cannot be taught, rest all can be. So find a person who has a good attitude towards work and with a positive learning interest and some working knowledge in SharePoint (this is a must too!!) and a little bit of passion towards SharePoint which might be travelling with him for long. All the best in your search…

Regards,

A SharePoint Interviewer who loves to interact, share and learn.

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