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PNP PowerShell: Managing Content Type Artefacts across a single or multiple Office 365 tenants

Creating content types in Sharepoint has always been relatively easy for site and content administrators. Furthermore, with the Content Type Hub feature, custom content types can be centrally defined and pushed out to all site collections. The challenges and difficulties, however arise when you want to make some inherent changes to these site objects or want these exact site objects to be present across your DTAP (Dev, Test, Acceptance & Production

For instance,

  • I’ve created my custom content types in my dev tenant. Now I want to migrate the changes to production?
  • How can I update an internal name of a field with a content type and ensure that the changes are reflected everywhere?

Actions like these were (and still are) generally avoided because there’s be no good way of accomplishing them. It’s still very good practice to thoroughly prepare and review what’s needed before creating custom content types. Making changes to these artefacts still requires effort especially when there is content that is already using these artefacts.

Fortunately, the ability to manage existing content types has gotten easier. Thanks to the efforts in the Microsoft Patterns & Practices (PnP) community.

We now have a set of useful PowerShell cmdlets that can help us. The list of cmdlets is continuously growing and we find that as administrators we can accomplish many more tasks using CSOM

You can go through the PnP Cmdlet documentation here https://github.com/SharePoint/PnP-PowerShell/tree/master/Documentation

I want to focus on creating content types and managing changes to these artefacts you use the following 2 PNP cmdlets

Get-PnPProvisioningTemplate: Enables you to extract a site template with all or a partial set of the site artifacts. The extraction is an xml file which can be reviewed and updated

Apply-PnPProvisionTemplate: Enables you to apply an extracted site template to an existing site. Essentially providing you with a means to apply changes how to all sites in a tenant or a different tenant

The overall process then would look like this:

Create custom artefacts in content type hub

As usual create your fields and content types in the content type hub. I recommend to:

  • Tag these artefacts in a custom group so they are easily identifiable
  • Decide on a naming convention for both fields and content types that helps others to see that these are custom artefacts
  • Avoid spaces in field names when initially creating them. Otherwise you end up with internal names looking like this

Where the space is replaced with a hexadecimal “_x0020_”. This is not a critical issue, however can be avoided and corrected.

I’ve created a content type in a unique group:

With a custom field Document Category

Extract artefacts using Get-PnPProvisioningTemplate:

Using the cmdlet, I can first enter credentials connect to my SPO tenant content type hub site collection

Then extract only the Fields and Content Types using the -Handler attribute

Make changes to your artefacts in XML

In your xml output file, you will find all the Fields and Content Types. You search for the relevant ones by looking for the group name (“Demo Only” in my case)

You can now edit field properties such as the StaticName and Name

Be sure to update the reference to the update field name in the corresponding content types as well. In my case I had created a “Demo Content type”

Modified to

Once your satisfied with you changes save the XML file and you are ready to apply the changes to the original content type hub site collection

Apply changes using

Connect to your content type hub site collection again:

Run the Apply-PnPProvisioningTemplate with the updated xml file as an input:

I changed the static name of “Document_x0020_Category” to “Document_Category” which is not reflected in when viewing the field column URL:

This was a simple demonstration of the scripting tools available to manage site artefacts change that previously were difficult or impossible to update.

Changes can now be pushed out to all site collections by republishing the updated content type:

Using this same technique, with a bit more preparation you can also extract a set of custom content types for one tenant and apply them to another. Thereby keeping field names, content types and their internal GUIDs all intact!

Crawling as fast as possible

More and more we are becoming a generation of searchers. And that is not meant in a philosophical, running your fingers through your beard kind of way, but in a very practical everyday reality kind of way. When was the last time an argument you had among friends was not settled by searching the internet for the right answer? And this trend is not just influencing your personal life, but your work life as well. A clear shift is happening within corporations to go to a flatter organization structure, have self-organizing teams and increased cross functional interaction. We are trading in hierarchies for communities. Heck, there are even companies that let their employees pick their own job titles[1].

In this world of less structure one thing becomes more and more important to still be able to do your work: search! However, making sure stuff is available to be found within SharePoint Online is not always straightforward.

Our colleagues Marijke Ursem and Martin Offringa wrote a blog (read it here) about the workings of search in SharePoint and how to make sure the search results are shown just how you like it. So we will not cover any of that here. Instead we will dive into the bag of tricks we have to make sure that content is searchable as quickly as possible.

The Index

For those of you who are new to the subject of search in SharePoint, let us quickly cover some of the basics.

The search results you see in the content search web part or the search results web part are not coming directly from your lists and libraries, but from the search index. The index can be considered as one big bucket with all the searchable content and only stuff that is in the index can found through search.

Based on an automated schedule the index is filled with the latest changes that occurred in your tenant. This is done by the crawl, and in SharePoint Online there are two variants of the crawl: 1) the continuous crawl that runs every 15 minutes and picks up new and changed documents or items and 2) the incremental crawl that runs every 4 hours and picks up changes in the search configuration.

Crawling 1

Schematic to show how the content a tenant, the crawl and the index relate to each other.

Lack of Control

One of the most heard complaints about search in SharePoint Online related to search is that even with the highest of permission levels on your tenant, you are still not fully in control of the crawl. This is because, in contrast with an On Premise situation, the automated schedule cannot be changed. In SharePoint Online, it is Microsoft who runs the show.

But there is no use in complaining, because at the moment there is no option to speed up the crawls. So if you can’t beat them, join them. Because there are some tricks that help you to go as fast as possible when it comes to having your changes crawled in SharePoint Online.

The Basics

First, a document which has no published version will not be crawled. So when you are working inside a document library that has minor (concepts) and major (publications) versioning activated, make sure to publish your documents.

Second, when you add a column to a list of library it will not be crawled if there is no item that has a value for that column. So make sure that at least one item contains a value for this new column, even if that means adding a temporary test item.

The Simple Tricks

Maybe the best analogy for the scheduled crawls is to view them as an old fashioned postman, who is doing his rounds on a fixed schedule. And on his round he comes by a series of classic postboxes with the little red flags on them. The classic postbox works by raising the flag when there is something in it and leaving it down when it is empty. And let’s decide that in this analogy raising the flag is a signal to the postman doing his rounds to empty the postbox.

Furthermore, it is important to know that the crawl acts on value changed. So in our analogy, value changes raise the flag automatically and indicate to our postman to pick up the changes. So if you have a document and you change for example the person mentioned in the “owner” field then this change will automatically be picked up by our postman. However, when you change the way the owner needs to be presented from “account name” to “display name with presence” this change will not automatically raise the flag since no value change occurred. Only a setting change was done.

To make sure your change is picked up anyhow, you can raise the flag yourself via the library settings, which is described in a support article of Microsoft[2].

Crawling 2

The same article also describes how to raise the flag for a whole site and since Microsoft already did an excellent job of explaining how it is done, we have nothing to add to their story.

Crawling 3

When we leave the libraries and list behind us and start getting our hands dirty within the search center of SharePoint Online there are also some tricks we can pull out of our top hat. Within the Search Schema we can have a ball setting up managed properties and mapping all sorts of crawled properties to our managed properties.

For those of you who are new to the Search Schema, crawled properties and managed properties and want to learn more about the topic, we recommend to give the support article Manage the search schema in SharePoint Online a good read.

While you can do a lot of nice and necessary work inside the Search Schema, you will have to do something extra to make sure your changes have effect. The reasoning behind this is that “…Because your changes are made in the search schema, and not to the actual site, the crawler will not automatically re-index the site”[3]. What you need to do is re-index the site which uses the crawled property that you have used in your managed property mapping and then “…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”. Or if the crawled property is only attached to a certain library or list, you can re-index that list which will have the effect that “…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”.

So for sites, lists and libraries we have the power to raise the flag and our postman (a.k.a. crawl) will pick up our changes and update them in the index so they are seen in search results.

 

The Advanced Tricks

At this point your question will undoubtedly be what else you can do to give the crawl a kick, because going into every site that you want to raise the flag for one by one is just too much of a hassle.

Well unfortunately, this raising the flag thing is the only instrument we have in the wen interface. Because as said, there is no way to influence the schedule, only ways to influence what is picked up during the next round of our postman. But rest assured, we are not suggesting that you actually go into every site that you have and click a button. We are suggestion that you put others to work for you.

The first option you have is to put Microsoft to work for you. Via the Admin Center you can raise a ticket to Microsoft technical support and ask them to re-index a bunch of sites, a site collection or even all your site collections. It is also possible to request a re-index of all the user profiles. What Microsoft Technical Support then will do is raise the flag for all your content so that everything gets picked up during the next round of the postman. Upside is that Microsoft can do this much more efficient, but the downside is that you still have to wait for the next incremental crawl. And of course, there is waiting involved between raising the ticket and getting a response from Microsoft.

So, where do we have to turn to get even faster results? This is really not a question of who, but a question of what. Because the answer lies in PowerShell. For those of you who want to learn more about Windows PowerShell, this TechNet article is a nice place to start.

With PowerShell we can fire off commands to our SharePoint tenant and, just to name an example, can raise the flag on a bunch of sites. So this puts you back into control and releaves you from waiting on Tech Support to pick up your ticket. Plus, you won’t have to do much scripting, because others have already done it for you. Two scripts that are particularly handy come from Mikael Svenson (https://twitter.com/mikaelsvenson).

The first script enables an admin to trigger a re-index of a site collection and all its sub sites[4]. The way the script raises the flag is by changing the search version property of the site or site collection which ensures that the site will be picked for re-indexing on the next incremental crawl. This is a major time saver in the sense that you do not have to manually trigger re-indexing on every single site

The second script allows you to raise the flag for all the user profiles in your tenant[5]. A user profile is just another content record and for it to be picked up by the crawl it needs a value change. So when you start changing user profile properties it would require a user to change something about their profile before the change is picked up. And since users do not necessarily change their profile’s very often, it might take a while before your change has reached all users. So this script is a major help in activating your change for all profiles in your tenant. Also because there is no way to raise the flag manually on a profile other than to apply a value change to that profile. And actually, this is also what the script of Mikael does. On every profile it overwrites a property value with the same value, which in the eyes of SharePoint is a value change and thus all the profiles are picked up by the next incremental crawl.

 

Summary

When working with search in SharePoint Online you have to deal with the fact that you cannot influence the crawl schedule. Just put it out of your mind and try to accept it. What you can do is make sure that all the changes that your made are picked up as soon as possible by the continuous and incremental crawls that pass by your tenant. Or, to put it in terms of our analogy, making sure that the postman is picking up your message on his very next round.

 

Disclaimer

A lot of the items discussed in this blog have been created, communicated or distributed by others as first. We certainly want to put credit where credit is due, so we tried to do our absolute best to always show the source or inventor of the trick where this was possible.

Also, the scripts mentioned in this blog should only be used and deployed by people who understand what they are doing. Never let code loose on your tenant that you do not understand yourself. This warning has nothing to do with PowerShell or these scripts in particular, but is just part of good sensible ownership for any admin.

If needed Rapid Circle can help you understand and safely deploy these scripts on your tenant and help you save time in configuring search for your SharePoint Online environment.

[1] http://www.fastcodesign.com/3034987/evidence/the-case-for-letting-employees-choose-their-own-job-titles

[2] https://support.office.com/en-us/article/Manually-request-crawling-and-re-indexing-of-a-site-a-library-or-a-list-9afa977d-39de-4321-b4ca-8c7c7e6d264e?ui=en-US&rs=en-US&ad=US

[3] https://support.office.com/en-us/article/Manually-request-crawling-and-re-indexing-of-a-site-a-library-or-a-list-9afa977d-39de-4321-b4ca-8c7c7e6d264e?ui=en-US&rs=en-US&ad=US

[4] http://www.techmikael.com/2014/02/how-to-trigger-full-re-index-in.html

[5] http://www.techmikael.com/2014/12/how-to-trigger-re-indexing-of-user.html

Microsoft Forms preview: The ins & outs

Microsoft Forms was formaly introduced via an Office Blog post "Microsoft Forms—a new formative assessment and survey tool in Office 365 Education" and in preview since April 2016 for Office 365 Education subscribers. It allows users to create quizzes, questionnaires, assessments and subscription forms.

The product

Microsoft Forms is a product that specifically targets the education market and allows users to create web based forms in which different types of questions can be created. The tool lends itself to create a pop quiz for a classroom, a questionnaire to gather qualitative information about a topic or a simple subscription form. As said it is specifically targeted towards the education market and therefore only Office 365 Education licensed users will be able to use the product (in preview). Watch the video released by the product group below;

Microsoft aims to deliver an easy and fast solution for teachers to create assesments, which can filled out via all types of browsers on all types of devices. Don't let the simple interface fool you,you do have powerfull options available, such as validation, notification and export to Excel.

Not the new InfoPath

If you are anything like me, your first reaction when hearing that there is something new called Microsoft Forms will most likely to be: “Finally, the replacement product for InfoPath has arrived!”. Well, it has not. Microsoft Forms does not come close to the full suite of options we know from InfoPath. And more importantly, there are no signs whatsoever from Microsoft that it is supposed to replace InfoPath in the future. For that we have to look at Microsoft PowerApps. Microsoft Forms is a product to create assessments, quizes, surveys, etc. Let's show the power of the product by building a little quiz.

Pop quiz!

Let's jump in the product and create a Pop quiz! It'll show off what the poduct is really good at; creating a questionnaire.

The Basics

Microsoft Forms logo
Microsoft Forms logo

So let’s find out what it can do and take a closer look to this new addition in the Office 365 family. First off, Microsoft Forms is a legit product within the Office 365 suite for education licensed users and therefore you start it, like any other product in the suite, from your app launcher.

Launching Microsoft Forms brings you to the My Forms overview, where all your Forms are shown, and a button to start creating a new one. My overview looks like this:

Forms
Forms

When you click the new button you a Form builder is loaded which allows you to enter a title, an introduction text and start adding questions. There are five types of questions that can be added to a Microsoft From.

Forms
Forms

First, we have the “choice” type which allows you to define a question and list a set of options that can be the answer. Unique to this the “choice” type is that you can use the “other” option if you want to provide a way for your form users to answer outside of the given options. This type of question is typically used for general information questions where there is no wrong answer like: “how did you find out this quiz?”.

Forms
Forms

Second, there is the “quiz” type which also works with defined answer options. Unique to this type is that there is actually a correct answer which can be set. Also you can provide feedback for each option to explain why an answer is correct or incorrect. The “quiz” type question is really the one that gives Microsoft Forms its educational flavor, because this is used to verify knowledge instead of gathering information.

Forms
Forms

Third, the “text” type for which the answer is given in a text box. Unique to this type is that there is an option to allow for a long answer, which gives the person taking the quiz a bigger textbox for the answer.

Forms
Forms

Fourth, we have the “rating” type which allows you to answer using a scale. This scale can be set to stars or numbers and can run from 1 to 5 or from 1 to 10. The “rating” question is often used in questionnaire to gather information about how the test subject agrees or disagrees with certain statements.

Forms
Forms

Fifth and last, there is the “date” type question for which the answer is given by selecting a date from the calendar. A date type answer is often seen in subscription or application forms or in questionnaires to ask about someone birthday for example. However, with a little creativity you can work this type of question into a quiz if the answer is a date (perfect for history exams) with is question like: “What was the founding date of Rapid Circle”.

Forms
Forms

Advanced options

For each of the five types of questions you can indicate if a question is required or optional. This is almost common practice with any type of question tool, but since it is such a powerful way to ensure data completeness I did not want to let this go unmentioned.

Also, for all types of questions you have the option to add subtitle. This could be used for providing a hint about the answer or giving guidance about how to answer the question.

“Choice” and “quiz” type question can be turned from single answer questions into multiple answer questions with a flick of a switch. However, the way that Microsoft Forms is letting the user know that multiple answers are possible is very subtle. For single answer questions the option selection boxes are round and for multiple answer questions the option selection boxes are square. So when making a multiple answers question, I would definitely recommend putting something like “(multiple answers possible)” into the question. Otherwise you well surely get complaints from your quiz takers.

Also for “choice” and “quiz” type of questions you can select the setting to shuffle the options. This will present the answers in a different order every time the quiz is loaded, which has several advantages. One, and I know you are thinking the same, it makes it harder to cheat. Two, when looking beyond the possible bad behavior of quiz takers, there has been a lot of research on how the order in which options are presented influences the option that is most likely to be chosen by quiz takers or the most likely to be correct. So if you as a quiz creator want to remove this bias, shuffling the answers is a nice option that helps you.

For the “text” type question, it is possible to provide restrictions. For example that the answer should be a number (nice for math problems) or that the answer should be between two values. All the restriction options are number based restrictions, so they actually help you to turn the “text” type question into a sixth type of question, namely the “number” type.

For the form as whole there are also some additional settings that can be turned on or off. For example, you can choose if you want to apply a deadline or if you want to shuffle the questions.

Forms
Forms

Sending out the Quiz

When you are done creating the quiz there are several ways to send out word about your newly created quiz. Obviously you can share the link by copying and pasting it to a certain location or email the link.

But next to that, Microsoft shows a nice realization of their mobile first strategy by allowing you to create a QR code for your quiz so people can scan it with their smartphone. Of course we did a test among colleagues, and it worked liked a charm. This function is especially interesting when promoting a training or event for which users need to subscribe. On the poster or flyer you can easily include the QR code so people walking by can scan it and immediately subscribe.

The last way to offer your quiz to users is by embedding it onto a webpage. This could be a SharePoint page, but any other webpage will do as well.

Forms
Forms
Forms QR
Forms QR

When spreading the word about your quiz, questionnaire or subscription form you can still control who can fill it. While the options are not very extensive (to say the least) the most important choice is available, which is to allow people outside your organization to fill out the form.

Forms
Forms

Feedback to the User

When someone fills out you Microsoft Form they get a piece of feedback after submitting. Next to the standard messages that thank the user for submitting and verifying that the form was submitted successfully, extra feedback is given when “quiz” type questions are incorporated in your form.

First, as discussed, a “quiz” type question offers the option to provide a comment per answer option which is shown after submitting the form. Second, in the advanced settings you can determine if the user should see the correct answer for a “quiz” type question after submitting. And Third, a user score is calculated based on the amount of “quiz” type questions they have answered correctly.

This last one is a bit tricky because it only looks at the “quiz” type questions in the form. So if you have a form with 8 questions and 4 of them are “quiz” type question, then the maximum score a person can get based on the feedback is 4 out of 4. From a technology point of view it makes sense, because for the “choice”, “text”, “rating” and “date” type questions you cannot indicated what the correct answer is so it just ignores those questions. But from a user experience it is pretty weird if you just answered 8 questions and you see that your score is 3 out of 4. And since there is no option to switch off this feedback about the user’s score, this definitely takes some communication effort to avoid confusion or complaint. So I would advise you to add a note covering this in the description text at the top of the form.

The responses

If you did a good job building and sharing your Microsoft Form, you will have plenty of responses in no time, which are automatically analyzed for you in the responses section of your form. Here you will find some statistics about the form as a whole and more detailed statistics about each individual question.

Forms
Forms

I have to say that the automatic statistics that are generated are quite good and cover the basic requirements around insight in your responses. But before we go into detail, I would like to point you to the “Open in Excel” button at the top right hand side which will allow to completely go berserk in analyzing the responses in your own way.

Forms excel
Forms excel

For “choice” and “quiz” type questions the responses are presented in a table like fashion as well as a chart. For “text” and “date” type questions the number of responses are presented along with the last three responses. And for “rating” type questions the number of responses is shown together with the average rating.

And for each question you have to option to click the “Details” button which shows all the responses for that particular question in a dialog box.

Forms
Forms

Final thoughts on Microsoft Forms preview

Microsoft Forms is a very complete quiz tool that will help you to create quizzes, questionnaires and simple subscription forms in a quick and easy way. Especially for a product which still is in Preview, I have to say that this first version already covers a lot of requirements. However, there are two major points of critique when looking at Microsoft Forms.

First, the name. It is very misleading in the sense that it brings high expectations to anyone who knows about the fact that InfoPath will be leaving us in the future. Because if you review Microsoft Forms Preview from the perspective of it replacing InfoPath, then you will be very disappointed.

Second, the audience. Microsoft offers the Preview exclusively to Office 365 education licensed users, while this product can also be very helpful outside the educational realm. Many corporations, government bodies and non-profit organizations could use this product. Creating a quiz for your internal training programs, making a questionnaire for customer satisfaction research or building subscription forms for an event is daily business for any type of organization and therefore the restriction to only offer this product to the educational market seems like a strange strategy. It even feels unfair for non-education licensed users. Logically, there are many many people lobbying to bring Microsoft Forms to all Office 365 users when it becomes Generally Available and I am one of them.

So Microsoft Forms shows to be a promising tool for creating quizzes, questionnaires and subscription forms. It covers the basics and in 90 percent of cases will do just fine. But it is not the long awaited replacement of InfoPath, so that remains on the wish list, and will live a life in the shadows of the Office 365 suite if it remains to be solely targeted at education licensed users.

FAQ

How can I get Office Forms Preview?

Sign up to gain access to the preview via https://forms.office.com. Unfortunately it's only available right now for Office 365 Education and the US market. If you are outside the US, but do have access to an Office 365 Education tenant. Sign up, but fill out an US address.

Will it only be available for Education tenants?

At the moment it's only available for Education tenants. Microsoft is exploring all posibilities, but has nothing to share about that as of yet.

Will it be available in my region/language?

Yes, Microsoft Forms will be launched for all Office 365 Education regions and languages.

Is this the Infopath replacement?

You might think that when you read the product name, but... No, this isn't even close. Look at Microsoft PowerApps as the Infopath replacement

Is this the final product?

It's in preview with no live date set, so you may expect changes. These can be small and/or large. If you'd like you can contribute via the feedback button when you're using Office Forms or post your ideas and upvote others on the Office 365 uservoice (https://office365.uservoice.com/).

Is there a Microsoft Support article available?

Yes, use your favorite search engine or follow the link: Microsoft Support - What is Microsoft Forms?

The preview is available for US right now. Anything I should be aware of when outside the US, but still apply?

Yes, as it's running for US only right now, all data is stored in the Microsoft Data Centers in the US. So if you're in Europe for instance, the data entered in Microsoft Forms preview will be stored on US servers. This will be until the product becomes available for your region.

Forms and SharePoint: Excellent question! 

The new kid in town

There is a brand new feature in Excel which allows you make good looking surveys superfast. And this new addition to your favorite workbook tool is placed front and center in your OneDrive (in my case the OneDrive for Business) and it will appear in your SharePoint document library as soon as you switch to the new look and feel (Read more about the new experience in document libraries here). When selecting new the Excel Survey pops up in the drop down and as soon as you create one, you quickly enter a name for your document and then you are building your survey straight away.

How does it work?

When you create an Excel survey you basically create a workbook and a nice interface for data entry. This was always possible for the Excel experts among us, but it is readily available out of the box to all and way faster than building it yourself in an ordinary workbook. The survey builder lets you pick a title and a description (or delete the placeholder if your survey doesn’t need them) and then you start defining the questions.

Forms and SharePoint: Excel Survey Blog
Forms and SharePoint: Excel Survey Blog

Every question has an additional settings menu where you can define the question, the subtitle, the response type, if it is required or not and a default answer. And off course you will find the add and delete buttons in this panel as you are used from Microsoft. There is no validation (a part from making questions required) and no special formatting or anything, just plain and simple, and above all superfast, survey building. And when I say fast I mean fast. The survey that I show below contains a title, description, five questions and was built in under ten minutes. And that was timed including the time to take screenshots of every step.

Once you are done with building your survey you simply hit the “Save and View” button to get a glance of how the survey will look to the people who you will be asking to take it. And if you like what you see you simply hit the “Share Survey” button and a link is generated that you can send to your audience.

What has happened in the background is that for each question that you created a column was made in your workbook. This is where the response will be stored of the people taking your survey. And the columns have properties that match the kind of questions they are linked to. So a text column is made to store the answers for a test question, a number column is made for a number question and a choice column is made for a choice column. Again, I not saying that this was not possible before in Excel, but this just makes it so much easier.

In light of being totally honest, I will add in the note that Microsoft also includes on their support page, which is that “Columns in the spreadsheet are built as you add questions to the survey form. Changes you make to the survey form are updated in the spreadsheet, unless you delete a question or change the order of questions on the form. You'll have to update the spreadsheet manually in those cases: delete the columns that go with the questions you deleted, or cut and paste columns to change their order.” (from: Office Support)

Why should I use Excel surveys?

For me this new feature really shows that Microsoft has a sense of what their customers are doing with their product. Because as stated earlier, building surveys in Excel has been done before. And also for other survey tools that Microsoft brought to life, for example the SharePoint Survey App, the data is stored in a list and usually analyzed in Excel. So building a survey feature into the product of Excel makes sense.

And there are some additional benefits next to the fact that your survey building time will become far shorter with this new feature. First, as explained, you only share a link with your audience. This means that you do not have to give the people who fill out the survey, access to the data in the workbook. This separation of data entry and data storage fits the security driven world we act in today. Second, since you share a link to a webpage with your audience, the survey is easily accessible from any device (desktop, laptop, tablet, mobile, etc.) as long as you have a browser and an internet connection. A colleague of mine opened the email I sent out on his phone and could fill in the survey straight away.

If have to put the excel survey in line with the other survey tools that Microsoft offers, I would put it as an equal weight and possible replacement of the SharePoint survey app. For the quick and dirty poll, you can use a third party poll app or even the Outlook voting buttons and for the structured business processes you can use InfoPath forms or a third party form builder like Nintex. But Excel surveys fits nicely in between to fit scenarios where you do have multiple questions to ask but it is an ad hoc or onetime thing that doesn’t need or justify developing a custom form.

This blog post is part of the series Forms and SharePoint. More on this Topic can be found HERE

SharePoint update in 2016: Mobile & Intelligent

On May the 4th 2016 Microsoft held their Future of SharePoint event. It presented all the new stuff which is on it's way for SharePoint and OneDrive (for Business). This post is about a break out session by Microsoft Mechanics, which highlights the new updates on its way for SharePoint in 2016. Scroll down to view the video (18:21 min), but I encourage to first read the summary. Big chances are coming. The first of which, is the update on the document libraries we reported on: New experience SharePoint Online Library.

SharePoint update

SharePoint mobile app

There will be a SharePoint which brings the SharePoint online experience to the mobile phone. It has tabs for Links, Sites and People. All driven by OfficeGraph, Search and Office 365. It's fully responsive and shows the new SharePoint sites (nextgen portals) on your mobile device. Partners should be able to modify the mobile styling to match the client. Below are 4 screenshots of the new app.

1. Links: Links list

2. Sites: showing sites you've interacted with based on OfficeGraph

3. Responsive view of a site

4. People: Search and mobile Delve profile

SharePoint App - Links
SharePoint App - Links
SharePoint App - Sites
SharePoint App - Sites
SharePoint App - Site
SharePoint App - Site
SharePoint App - People
SharePoint App - People

Sites SharePoint!

The sites app in the app launcher has it's name finally restored, it's SharePoint!. With the name update the page will be updated too. The power of OfficeGraph will be added to show an overview of sites used frequently lately but also the some extra info. Everything has been moved around to provide more real estate for the "Frequent" sites. On the left we have the option to create a new site, the Following list to display Followed sites and recently modified.

2 screenshots below;

1. Sites overview:

2. Create site: New interface to create a team or publishing site.

SharePoint overview
SharePoint overview
SharePoint - create new site
SharePoint - create new site

Nextgen Sites & Page authoring

New updates to team and publishing sites will be added to SharePoint Online. These will be fully integrated with Groups and have a new look. Navigation options are still available on the left. The biggest change that's shown is the new page authoring. Well, not really new, but the Sway interface for authoring has been added. Have a look, as it works really well in Sway, it's intuitive for users. As you may notice, adding sections is not only for documents, texts, etc. You can add Power Bi , Office Form, Quick Poll, Power App and other add-ins directly to the page.

3 screenshots below;

1. SharePoint site: New portal. with a linked group, pages slider (news) and activity.

2. Page authoring: the Sway interface to edit pages

3. Search content roll-up app: roll up content

SharePoint site
SharePoint site
SharePoint - page authoring
SharePoint - page authoring
SharePoint page
SharePoint page

New Experience for Lists

Lists will get the same new experience update as the document libraries. Still the option to place list view sections on pages, but the list itself gets a new experience.

3 screenshots below;

1. New list experience: matching the new document library experience

2. Grouped view: Grouped view in document library

3. Search: search results in document library

SharePoint List update
SharePoint List update
SharePoint - grouped view
SharePoint - grouped view
SharePoint - doc.lib
SharePoint - doc.lib

Flow

IFTTT for SharePoint. Creating automated workflows for Office 365 and 3rd party web services. This way users can create, through an UI, workflows between your favorite apps and services to get notifications, synchronize files, collect data, and more. We can automate simply tasks. We start with the trigger, like "receive a new e-mail" after which the workflow can configured. For instance adding a condition (if received from user "X") and adding actions (set category to "X", save the attachment to OneDrive for Business and sent a notification via Slack).

Screenshot:

1. Flow: creating a new flow

2. Services: connect web services to automate tasks

Flow
Flow
Flow - Services
Flow - Services

 Microsoft Mechanics episode

All coming to Office 365 in 2016

Do not underestimate OneNote, the time saver for paperless meetings in Office 365

OneNote is often compared to Evernote. However, that comparison does not OneNote justice, for OneNote is so much more than Evernote. The most important advantage of OneNote is that it integrated in all the products in the Microsoft suite. So it is very easy to exchange information. In the video at the bottom of the page, you will see how you can have a paperless meeting with OneNote.

What is OneNote?

OneNote is more than a simple notepad. It’s your memory, the team’s memory and the organisation’s collective memory. It’s also a place for agreements, tasks, collaboration, having meetings, and a place where ideas are formed. You can work on your notes from every device; together, at the same time, live and real time.

A paperless meeting

You have set a date for a meeting in your Outlook calendar, and you’ve shared it with all those who need to be present. This scheduled appointment includes all the necessary documents and the content for the meeting. So every participant will have the necessary information before the meeting starts.

During the meeting, you open the appointment in Outlook. Then, click the OneNote button (in Outlook!). A new OneNote page is made right away, containing all of the information about the appointment. OneNote automatically ‘pastes’ those who were invited to the appointment into the note, and offers the option to check who is and who isn’t present. The subjects of the appointment are also pasted into the OneNote page. The files from the appointment are added as well. Therefore, OneNote provides an overview containing all the information that is necessary in that moment. The meeting can start.

Keeping the minutes together

A big advantage of OneNote that is not presented in the video – but that is possible – is multiple people keeping the minutes at the same time in OneNote. This means that not just one person is responsible for the content, but everyone is. Exciting? Probably! Practical? Absolutely! It saves a lot of time, mostly because no review is needed afterwards. Everyone can see the made changes, the kept minutes and who is contributing right away. With labels it is easy to indicate what the tasks, questions and points of action are, and who is responsible for what. Because notes no longer have to be typed out afterwards a lot of time can be saved. It does not matter if the people present are working from their computer, tablet or smartphone. Even people who are calling via Skype Business can contribute.

When customers want to start having paperless meetings, Rapid Circle will guide them through their first paperless meetings to show them how it works, smarter and more efficiently. The described situation in this blog is one example of how it could work. But there are a lot more possibilities.

Are you interested in having paperless meetings in a smarter way? We would love to help you out!

An ROI of 162%: the business case for Office 365.

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]  “What are the advantages, what are the gains, what are the costs, what are the risks and how flexible are we with Office 365?” In other words, what is the business case? This is a question that we are often asked. Research shows that it is now possible to get 162% back of your investment.  

As requested by Microsoft, Forrester Consulting studied the ‘Total Economic Impact” (TEI) of Office 365. The TEI framework is a means to weigh the costs, advantages, flexibility and risks of an investment. In Forrester’s research, both qualitative and quantitative methods have been conducted by closely looking at a number of cases and executing an extensive survey.

The conclusion of this research is that an investment in Office 365 absolutely pays off. An ROI of 162%, an internal return rate of 468% and a reimbursement term of 7 months; those are the advantages that come with an investment in Office 365.

Forrester researches the economic impact of Office 365 in five fields, namely: technology, mobility, control & compliance, Business Intelligence and Enterprise Social. Below we provide a preview of the results of the research:

  • Among other things, the research shows that Office 365 offers advantages related to technology, because organisations do not need to build a new hardware infrastructure, and less manpower is needed to keep the tool working. The research also shows that after three years employees will have an extra hour to spend per day because they are working more efficient in Office 365. They can use this extra time for the benefit of your organisation.
  • Examples of costs that have to be calculated when investing in Office 365 are costs for implementation, trainings, continuous system administration and licences.
  • The question of whether the use of Office 365 results in more flexibility is answered with a convincing Yes. One of the interviewees stated that ‘It has given us tremendous agility’.
  • There are also risks. An example is the risk of implementation. This risk means that it is possible that the final product deviates from the expected requirements. However, according to Rapid Circle this can be solved easily by implementing Office 365 in an agile way. By testing the requirements continuously, working iteratively and not fixing the end product from the start of the project, the implementation can always be adjusted to the requirements of that moment.

 

Would you like to know exactly how your organisation can benefit from Office 365, what the costs are, how it will keep your organisation agile and what the risks are? Download the research report by filling in the form below.

Would you like discuss the options of Office 365 for your organisation? Please contact us!

[email-download download_id="8911" contact_form_id="8846"].

 

Rapid Circle named Tier-1 Microsoft Cloud Solution provider

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As of January 2016, Rapid Circle has been accepted into the Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider programme (CSP). This means that Rapid Circle – as one of the few so-called Tier-1 partners – can buy licences from Microsoft directly. Because of this, we can offer licences for Microsoft Office 365 and Dynamics CRM on favourable conditions, without the intervention of an external licence supplier and without an Enterprise Agreement contract.

If you purchase licences via Rapid Circle, this can have many advantages for you as an end user. Some of these advantages are:

  • Optimal flexibility, because CSP licences can be changed every month. So there is not only the option to upscale your plan every month, it also provides the option to terminate (some) licences every month.
  • Transparent investments: all the project activities, (premium) support and Microsoft licences on just one invoice.
  • It allows for paying at the end of each month, instead of 1 year in advance.

Would you like to know more about the possibilities that this licence model can offer you? If so, please contact Norbert Waal via norbert.waal@rapidcircle.com or on +31 6 15 56 49 38.

 

Website based on SharePoint live at BrabantZorg

Last month, Rapid Circle launched a public website based on SharePoint at BrabantZorg. The website is fully responsive, optimised for Google and fully contemporary.   What did BrabantZorg need?

BrabantZorg is – as a committed organisation for housing, welfare and healthcare – always working on renewing itself. The purpose is to be able to be a distinctive and attractive regional provider for clients, employees and all the relevant institutions in the changing healthcare market. An important step in the development trajectory towards becoming an attractive provider was a new website.

Screenshot 2016-02-10 17.32.57
Screenshot 2016-02-10 17.32.57

What did we do?

In collaboration with the online marketing bureau Have a Nice Day Online and BrabantZorg, we built a public facing website based on SharePoint 2013. Keeping the future and the possibility to integrate processes in mind, it suited BrabantZorg for the public website to be built on the same technology, because the internal sites and processes of BrabantZorg also run on SharePoint 2013. Rapid Circle has taken care of the technical realisation and the project management.

Screenshot 2016-02-10 17.33.11
Screenshot 2016-02-10 17.33.11

The result

The website, developed in coproduction, has improved a lot when compared to the old version. The current site is fully responsive, Google optimized and entirely compliant with the guidelines and standards of these times. The most important difference between the old and the new site of BrabantZorg is that the experience of the user is much more positive due to the userfriendliness.

Would you like to know more? About public facing websites based on SharePoint or what else we can do? Please contact us!

Intune device enrollment AD FS sign-in error “An error occurred. Contact your administrator for more information.”

Recently a client of mine added Windows Intune to their existing Office 365 subscription. The enablement of Intune requires users to install the Company Portal App on their mobile device which enrolls their device to your Office 365 organization.

In the process of enrolling a device it asks to login to Office 365. When a user tries to login with a federated Identity useraccount the login session will be redirected to your local AD FS sign-in page. However, when this is done from a mobile device it throws an error.

“An error occurred. Contact your administrator for more information.”

4-2-2016 14-17-03
4-2-2016 14-17-03

Now once you have a look on the AD FS Admin eventviewer logging which can be found under the Applications and Services tree in the eventviewer MMC snap-in.

There you will find the error listed below:

Encountered error during federation passive request.Additional DataProtocol Name: wsfedRelying Party: urn:federation:MicrosoftOnlineException details: Microsoft.IdentityServer.Service.Policy.PolicyServer.Engine.InvalidAuthenticationTypePolicyException: MSIS7102: Requested Authentication Method is not supported on the STS.at Microsoft.IdentityServer.Web.Authentication.GlobalAuthenticationPolicyEvaluator.EvaluatePolicy(IList`1 mappedRequestedAuthMethods, AccessLocation location, ProtocolContext context, HashSet`1 authMethodsInToken, Boolean& validAuthMethodsInToken)at Microsoft.IdentityServer.Web.Authentication.AuthenticationPolicyEvaluator.RetrieveFirstStageAuthenticationDomain(Boolean& validAuthMethodsInToken)at Microsoft.IdentityServer.Web.Authentication.AuthenticationPolicyEvaluator.EvaluatePolicy(Boolean& isLastStage, AuthenticationStage& currentStage, Boolean& strongAuthRequried)at Microsoft.IdentityServer.Web.PassiveProtocolListener.GetAuthMethodsFromAuthPolicyRules(PassiveProtocolHandler protocolHandler, ProtocolContext protocolContext)at Microsoft.IdentityServer.Web.PassiveProtocolListener.GetAuthenticationMethods(PassiveProtocolHandler protocolHandler, ProtocolContext protocolContext)at Microsoft.IdentityServer.Web.PassiveProtocolListener.OnGetContext(WrappedHttpListenerContext context)

Want to know the solution? Check it out here.

Offboarding mailboxes back to on-premises Exchange with Office 365

mailboxoffboarding
mailboxoffboarding

Most companies use the built-in migration feature in the Office 365 Portal for onboarding mailboxes to the cloud. This has been recently upgraded with a lot of new features such as batches and migration end-points etc.

However a logical question is, what about migrating mailboxes back to our on-premises Exchange organisation? Creating those end-points can sometimes be difficult. To make life easier I use this simple PowerShell script. Before you can run the script you first have to connect to Remote PowerShell. For that please follow the instructions described here.

$opcred = get-credential domaindomainadminGet-Mailbox -Identity username@contoso.com | New-MoveRequest -OutBound -RemoteTargetDatabase ‘Database01′ -RemoteHostName ‘hybrid.contoso.com’ -RemoteCredential $opcred -TargetDeliveryDomain ‘contoso.com’

As you can see we define several parameters. Most of them should make sense to you, however I want to highlight that in a hybrid scenario you must use the database on your hybrid server. The RemoteHostName parameter is your hybrid endpoint.

Rapid Circle wins again! Cloud Partner of the Year

After winning the worldwide ‘Health Partner of the Year’ award from Microsoft we also received the ‘Cloud Partner of the Year’ award for the Dutch healthcare sector. Andre Piso, Health & Local Government Lead from Microsoft Netherlands handed over the award to Wilco Turnhout.  With this annual awards Microsoft wants to express their appreciation for all Dutch partners who developed special or innovative solutions for the healthcare industry based on Microsoft technology. The Microsoft Health Partner awards are awarded in 5 categories: Innovator of the Year, System Integrator of the Year, Solution Partner of the Year, Licensing Partner of the Year en Cloud partner of the Year. We also want to congratulate the other award winners – Wortell, Caase.com, ChipSoft and Agile Software.

The reason that Rapid Circle won this ‘Cloud Partner of the Year’ award is because of our express choice for Office 365, Cloud and Microsoft Azure. Our clear ‘Cloud first’ strategy at our customers, but also in our marketing and PR.

Rapid Circle wins Microsoft ‘Worldwide Health Partner of the Year’ award.

Rapid Circle has been proclaimed winner of the ‘Health Partner of the Year’. We are very honoured to belong to a global field of top Microsoft partners. Every year Microsoft awards partners who have demonstrated excellence in innovation and implementation of future-proof customer solutions based on Microsoft technology. Awards were presented in several categories, with winners chosen from a set of more than 2,300 entrants from 108 different countries worldwide. In 2014 Rapid Circle was already named finalist in the Healthcare category, this year we can officially take the trophy home. With this we can be considered the most valuable partner for Microsoft in healthcare worldwide.

“This year’s award winners are among the most innovative and valuable our partner ecosystem has to offer. Therefore, it came as no surprise that Rapid Circle was named among that group as this year’s winner of the 2015 Microsoft Health Partner of the Year award,” said Phil Sorgen, corporate vice president, Worldwide Partner Group, Microsoft Corp. “We applaud Rapid Circle on this achievement and for the outstanding value it continues to provide for our mutual customers.”

Industry Managing Director, Worldwide Health Paul Smolke from Microsoft adds: “Rapid Circle has earned the Microsoft Health Partner of the Year Award because of their innovation and dedication to results.  They offer solutions based on a combination of Microsoft’s cloud and mobile platforms and their understanding of healthcare.   Their solutions are easy to implement and utilize.  Thank you, Rapid Circle for making a difference.”

Phil Sorgen and Satya Nadela (Corporate Vice President and CEO Microsoft) will officially present the award at the World Partner Conference in Orlando

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Specialist in healthcare

We’re very proud and honoured to win this prize. Harold Punter, CEO: “It is an acknowledgement for our course, vision and the results we achieve with our clients. For this we want to thank our clients, because we achieve innovations and success together.”

Even though Rapid Circle is present in several sectors to improve cooperation and productivity, our position is especially strong in healthcare. While the healthcare sector has less and less resources to work with, we are motivated to add value to the quality of care and to improve client experience. As Rapid Circle we can add value to productivity and quality of care through the utilization of new technologies. The Netherlands is leading in innovation of healthcare, and this award is a great example.

Cloud Success Management. A new approach to IT

Employees of (healthcare) organisations experience innovative and cloud technologies as consumers everyday. Because of this, they also expect these technologies within their organisations more and more. New solutions for mobile and tablets help with innovating internal and external communication and cooperation, increase productivity and stimulate self-organisation in flatter organisations. These solutions become relevant to organisations through configuration and continuous cloud-based innovation, just like for consumer apps.

Configuration demands a different approach to IT than customization used to have. Our approach consists of guiding (healthcare) organisations in determining cloud-strategy based on organisation goals and user profiles, implementing platforms, arranging support, measuring results and continuously pay attention to the utilization of platforms through adoption and governance. Because we invest in long-term relationships we can offer organisations the latest innovations on the platform right away

poty2-01

Leading in new technologies

In the Netherlands Rapid Circle is leading in implementing solutions based on the Microsoft Cloud. Important elements of the cloud are Office 365, SharePoint Online, Enterprise Mobility Suite, apps, CRM Online and Skype for Business. Based on these elements, Rapid Circle realizes solutions in healthcare. Examples are the digital workplace, care apps, employee portals, referral portals, client portals, quality handbooks and video conferencing.

As a fast growing organisation we hope to support more healthcare organisations in the years to come with their questions regarding innovation of cooperation.

Do you want to know more about our plans, way of working, solutions and services? Please contact Wilco Turnhout.

Walkthrough: Add Geolocation column to your list in Office 365

A while ago a client (with an Office 365 E3 subscription) came to us with the wish to create a map to plot locations of external contractors on. My first thoughts, as an Office 365 consultant, went towards using the tools at hand. SharePoint 2013/Online has a Geolocation column type and the list view type "Map view". The client agreed to use this feature and I went about setting up the solution. So I posed the self-fulfilling prophecy: "How hard can it be?"...

As the list with the data was already in place, I was neither keen on letting a developer create a solution which either creates a new list with the column in it (and me migrating data) nor writing a solution which adds the column programmatically once. I wanted to add the column directly through (a reusable) script and went on to do my desk research. This ended up taking way too much time as almost all information found…

  • ...were solutions for SharePoint 2013 on premise,
  • ...were articles on the end-result,
  • ...posted failing scripts,
  • ...did not offer information on the Bing Maps key,
  • ...did not offer guides/information specifically for Office 365/SharePoint Online scenario's.

Something as simple as "what to use as the Bing Maps application URL for an Office 365 tenant?" was not to be found.

It took a while, but when I finally got the settings right for a Bing Maps key and a working script, I decided on 2 things;

  1. Create a generic script, because as a consultant I'll want to use this script more than once for multiple tenants.
  2. Write a blog post as a definitive guide to add the geolocation column type in Office 365/SharePoint Online as a resource for the community

Scenario

For the walkthrough I'm using the following scenario; As a global admin for the tenant https://yourcompany.sharepoint.com, I'm adding the geolocation column type to the list "Contact" on the sub site https://yourcompany.sharepoint.com/sites/sales and naming the column "Office".

Step 1. Get a Bing Maps Key

Go to Bings Maps Dev Center; https://www.bingmapsportal.com/

Log in with your Live account (@live.com, @outlook.com, etcetera) or create one to gain access.

Go to My account > Create or view keys

bingmapsdev1
bingmapsdev1

To create a new API key follow the "Click here to create a new key" hyperlink

bingmapsdev2
bingmapsdev2
bingmapsdev3
bingmapsdev3

Fill out the form to create your API key

. Application name: The name you would like to use for your key. It helps you to identify the key in your overview

. Application URL: The URL of your root SharePoint portal (https://tenant.sharepoint.com)

. Key type (Trial/Basic): Choose whether you're using the key for 1) a test site (max 10,000 calls p/mth and max 90-day trial period) or 2) a live site (free for max 125,000 calls p/yr) (more info here)

. Application type: What is the application? App, site,for non-profit use, etc.

In this scenario, the admin fills it out;

  • Application name: Sales Office
  • Application URL: https://yourcompany.sharepoint.com
  • Key type: Basic
  • Application Type: Public Website

After you click Create and the Captcha was filled out correctly, the page refreshes and displays your new key below. You'll receive a 64 character key.

bingmapsdev4
bingmapsdev4

Step 2. Gather required information

For the script to run properly, you'll need the following information;

. Site URL: URL to the site where the list is.

. Login account: at least admin permission as you're changing list settings.

. List Name: name of the list to add the geolocation column type.

. Column Name: title of the geolocation column.

. Bing Maps Key: to register the app and remove the notification in map view.

In this example, the admin has gathered the following info;

  • Site URL: https://yourcompany.sharepoint.com/sites/sales
  • Creds: Admin@YourCompany.onmicrosoft.com
  • List Name: Contact
  • Column Name: Office
  • Bing Maps Key: [PASTE KEY HERE]

Now we can run the script.

Step 3. Run script

Start SharePoint Online Management Shell as administrator

If you don't have SharePoint Online Management Shell, you can download it @ Microsoft Download Center

set-executionpolicy Unrestricted Clear-Host [void][System.Reflection.Assembly]::LoadWithPartialName('Microsoft.VisualBasic') <# Get User input #> $SiteURL = [Microsoft.VisualBasic.Interaction]::InputBox("Enter Site URL, example: https://yourtenant.sharepoint.com/sites/yoursite", "URL", "") $Login = [Microsoft.VisualBasic.Interaction]::InputBox("Office 365 Username, example: youradmin@yourtenant.onmicrosoft.com", "Username", "") $ListName = [Microsoft.VisualBasic.Interaction]::InputBox("List name to add Geolocation column", "ListName", "") $ColumnName = [Microsoft.VisualBasic.Interaction]::InputBox("Column name for the Geolocation column", "ColumnName", "") $BingMapsKey = [Microsoft.VisualBasic.Interaction]::InputBox("Bing Maps key", "Key", "") <# Show results #> Write-Host "/// Values entered for use in script ///" -foregroundcolor magenta Write-Host "Site: " -foregroundcolor white -nonewline; Write-Host $SiteURL -foregroundcolor green Write-Host "Useraccount: " -foregroundcolor white -nonewline; Write-Host $Login -foregroundcolor green Write-Host "List name: " -foregroundcolor white -nonewline; Write-Host $ListName -foregroundcolor green Write-Host "Geolocation column name: " -foregroundcolor white -nonewline; Write-Host $ColumnName -foregroundcolor green Write-Host "Bing Maps key: " -foregroundcolor white -nonewline; Write-Host $BingMapsKey -foregroundcolor green Write-Host " " <# Confirm before proceed #> Write-Host "Are these values correct? (Y/N) " -foregroundcolor yellow -nonewline; $confirmation = Read-Host if ($confirmation -eq 'y') { $WebUrl = $SiteURL $EmailAddress = $Login $Context = New-Object Microsoft.SharePoint.Client.ClientContext($WebUrl) $Credentials = Get-Credential -UserName $EmailAddress -Message "Please enter your Office 365 Password" $Context.Credentials = New-Object Microsoft.SharePoint.Client.SharePointOnlineCredentials($EmailAddress,$Credentials.Password) $List = $Context.Web.Lists.GetByTitle("$ListName") $FieldXml = "<Field Type='Geolocation' DisplayName='$ColumnName'/>" $Option=[Microsoft.SharePoint.Client.AddFieldOptions]::AddFieldToDefaultView $List.Fields.AddFieldAsXml($fieldxml,$true,$option) $Context.Load($list) $Context.ExecuteQuery() $web = $Context.Web $web.AllProperties["BING_MAPS_KEY"] = $BingMapsKey $web.Update() $Context.ExecuteQuery() $Context.Dispose() Write-Host " " Write-Host "Done!" -foregroundcolor green Write-Host " " } else { Write-Host " " Write-Host "Script cancelled" -foregroundcolor red Write-Host " " }
The actual programming part in the script I modified from the script posted ina blog post by Albert Hoitingh. I wanted to remove the hardcoded values from the code, so the script can be run based on user inputs. So I added the interface (input boxes, confirmation, write-hosts), replaced the hard coded values and added comments.

When you run the script, PowerShell will ask the user to input the information we gathered in Step 2.

geoscript1
geoscript1
geoscript2
geoscript2
geoscript3
geoscript3
geoscript4
geoscript4
geoscript5
geoscript5

After the last values have been entered, the admin will see a confirmation screen where the values can be review and confirmed (if the input is incorrect, the script can be cancelled by entering "N" to not proceed - screenshot).

geoscript6
geoscript6

After confirmation, the admin will be prompted to enter the password.

geoscript7
geoscript7

If everything was filled out correctly, the script will run and returns with the "Done!" notification upon completion.

geoscript8
geoscript8

Return to your SharePoint online list and you'll notice when creating a new view for your list "Contact", you gained the option Map View. When checking the list settings, the column "Office" has been added of the type Geolocation.

mapview1
mapview1

Are you missing information, do you want me to clarify anything, do you want to post a conversation starter or do you just want to say thanks? Leave a comment.

Rapid Circle is Gold Certified Cloud Productivity Partner

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By the end of 2014 we were chosen by Microsoft as the winner of the ‘European Microsoft Cloud First Partner Healthcare’ award. And now, as one of the first in Europe, we have also recieved the Gold competency for the Cloud Productivity program and the Silver competency for the Cloud Platform program for Microsoft partners. Those programs are part of the total cloud strategy of Microsoft, in which technologies as Office 365, Windows Azure and Dynamics CRM are very important. We are very proud that we reached those two competencies as a recognition of our knowledge, experience and commitment to the ‘Cloud First’ strategy of Rapid Circle. It gives our customers the security that they can trust us on our cloud expertise. Besides those competences we already got the Gold competency for Content & Collaboration and also the Gold one for App Development.

Rapid Circle & the Cloud

For years we think that cloud is the right way to go for organizations. Employees bring their experiences with the apps and solutions for the home consumers into the office and expect the same experience with their business apps. Cloud solutions bring those innovative and new technologies for business solutions and help organizations with reducing costs, increase productivity and innovate on their internal communications and collaboration. The Cloud helps organizations to grow and makes them more flexible in a fast changing world.

Implementing new technologies is always challenging for businesses on the technical and organizational part. When they are successful in the cloud they can focus more on those two pillars, which brings them in a better balance.

Do you want to talk about Cloud solutions for your organization? Please contact us.

Convert security groups to mail-enabled and universal for Office 365 with PowerShell

by Thomas Verwer, Technical Consultant @ Rapid Circle When carrying out projects for Enterprise clients I commonly face challenges with companies not meeting the system requirements for Office 365. One of the most commonly seen missing requirements are on the Identity and Access Management part of Office 365.

When migrating legacy Identity and Acces Management infrastructures to Office 365 you quickly bump in to Microsoft’s Active Directory Services (ADS). To migrate this service to Windows Azure Active Directory – which is part of every Office 365 license – you can use the Windows Azure Active Directory Sync tool. Or as most IT Professionals know it “DirSync”, this is a special edition in the history of FIM.

Now back to businness. To migrate legacy security groups to Windows Azure Active Directory, for products such as Exchange Online it is a requirement to have a GroupScope of Universal.(see image below)

Get-ADGroup-GroupScope
Get-ADGroup-GroupScope

Since most companies still use Global security groups these need to be converted. Therefore I use a PowerShell script which automates this proces. For this script to work, import the ActiveDirectory module in PowerShell or run the script with Active Directory Module for Windows PowerShell.

Clear-Host

if((Get-Module | where {$_.Name -eq “ActiveDirectory”}) -eq $null){Import-Module ActiveDirectory}$scriptPath = split-path -parent $MyInvocation.MyCommand.DefinitionSet-Location $scriptPathWrite-Output “Output will be stored in ” (Get-Location)

$SeaBase = “DC=corp,DC=local”$SeaVal = “CN=Mailbox_*”$SeaScope = “Subtree”$GrpList = “ADSecGrp.csv”$UniGrpList = “Uni_ADSecGrp.csv”$strLogFile = “ErrorLog.txt”$DomainAdmin = Get-Credential

#Search for all Groups that are of type Security and scope is Global and starts with “Mailbox_”$SecGrps = Get-ADGroup -SearchScope $SeaScope -SearchBase $SeaBase -Filter {GroupCategory -eq “Security” -and GroupScope -eq “Global”}

foreach ($secGrp in $SecGrps) {try {$DN = $secGrp | Where-Object {$_.DistinguishedName -like $SeaVal}$DN | Export-Csv $GrpList -Append } catch {throwBreak}}

(Get-Content $GrpList | Select-Object -Skip 1) | Set-Content $GrpList

Write-Output “Check $GrpList to verify all exported security Groups are of type Global”Write-Output “Press Y to continue”$selection = read-hostif ($selection -eq “y” -or $selection -eq “Y”){Write-Output “$GrpList CSV File Checked….”foreach($G in Import-Csv $GrpList){try {$D = $G.DistinguishedNameGet-ADGroup -Identity $G.SID Set-ADGroup -Identity $G.SID -GroupScope Universal -Credential $DomainAdmin} catch {$ErrorMessage = $_.Exception.MessageWrite-Output “Error converting for $D ..`n Error Message : $ErrorMessage” | Add-Content $strLogFileThrowBreak}$DN = Get-ADGroup -Identity $G.SID$DN | Export-Csv $UniGrpList -Append}(Get-Content $UniGrpList | Select-Object -Skip 1) | Set-Content $UniGrpListWrite-Output “Check $UniGrpList to verify all modified security Groups are of type Universal”}else{Write-Output “Script Stopped by User” | Add-Content $strLogFileBreak}

As you can see the script contains several variables. With these you can define the scope of OU’s or name convention for existing security groups. When running the PowerShell script it builds up a CSV-file called Uni_ADSecGrp.csv. When paused you can open and check the file to see if it contains the groups which you wish to convert. If so, you can insert “Y” to the script and it proceeds running.

After we have succesfully changed the GroupScopes to Universal we can carry on and use the second PowerShell script which mail-enables the security groups so they meet the requirements for Exchange Online. Besides the conversion to mail-enabled it also hides the groups from the Global Address List.

Run this script on one of the legacy Exchange servers with the use of the  Exchange Management Shell.

Clear-Host

#if((Get-Module | where {$_.Name -eq “ActiveDirectory”}) -eq $null){# Import-Module ActiveDirectory#}

#Add-PSSnapin Microsoft.Exchange.Management.PowerShell.E2010# $env:ExchangeInstallPathbinRemoteExchange.ps1#Connect-ExchangeServer -auto

Write-Output “Output will be stored in ” (Get-Location)

$GrpList = “Final_ADSecGrp.csv”$strLogFile = “enableErrorLog.txt”$log = “AfterLog.txt”$ErrorLog = “ErrorLog.txt”

foreach($G in Import-Csv “Uni_ADSecGrp.csv”){

try {Get-ADGroup -Identity $G.SID

Enable-DistributionGroup -Identity $G.DistinguishedName -Alias $G.NameSet-DistributionGroup -Identity $G.DistinguishedName -HiddenFromAddressListsEnabled $trueGet-DistributionGroup -Identity $G.DistinguishedName | Add-Content $Log$x = Get-DistributionGroup -Identity $G.DistinguishedNameif($x -ne $Null){Write-Output $G.DistinguishedName}else{Write-Output $G.DistinguishedName | Add-Content $ErrorLog}} catch {$ErrorMessage = $_.Exception.MessageWrite-Output “Error Enabl-DistributionGroup for $G.DistinguishedName …..`nError Message : $ErrorMessage” | Add-Content $strLogFilethrowBreak}

}

Once you have succesfully executed the second script you can add these objects to your Windows Azure Directory Sync cycle. Please be aware that when you convert the groups, the groups may not contain unsupported characters such as namespaces or & characters.

Best of luck to you all with carrying out succesfull Office 365 deployments. Before I publish the post, I have to share my respect to my colleague and teammate Dev Chaudhari for working on the scripting!

Original blog on: thomasverwer.com

Rapid Circle wins “European Microsoft Cloud First Partner Healthcare” award

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Rapid Circle has been chosen as the winner of the ‘European Microsoft Cloud First Partner Healthcare’ award at the ‘EU Health Innovation Event’ in Brussel. We are very proud that Microsoft sees us as one of the most important partners for working with the Microsoft Cloud for healthcare. Microsoft: “We recognize Rapid Circle for leading the cloud business in Europe.” 

For Rapid Circle is Cloud a very important part of our vision and strategy. We believe that the Microsoft Cloud is an important platform for innovation and better healthcare. We are dedicated to the Microsoft Cloud for the last 5 years, to reach our goals: Innovative, user friendly and cross-application app’s. We are very proud that our method and focus on Cloud are recommended with this award.

Microsoft says that our creativity, the way we speak the language of our customers and all of our work for lots of healthcare organizations in and around the Netherlands brought us the award for ‘European Microsoft First Partner Healthcare’. With this we serve as a model for Europe, regarding migrating to the cloud and knowing what is relevant for cloud adoption.

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge - "Off course we also participate in the battle agains ALS"

Being challenged in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge? Off course we step up! "Surely we also participate in the battle agains ALS", says Harold Punter in the video with the Ice Bucket Challenge of Rapid Circle. A fun wat to generate attention and extra resources for a serious cause; the rare neurological disease ALS. "In this wat we contribute to the research of this terrible disease".

As Microsoft Healthcare partner Rapid Circle happily supports this cause. "ALS is a disease with approximately 1000 victims a year, to which no cure is available. Hopefully we can change this together", says Harold. In return, Rapid Circle challenges PQR, Agile Software and Mavention to contribute as well. Because it is as the ALS foundation states on their website: "There's only one way to ban ALS, and that is through research. And research is not cheap."