Thursday, June 8, 2017

SharePoint Enterprise Search part 7 - Top 10 Advanced Search Techniques

Some years ago, I wrote a post about boolean and other advanced search techniques in SharePoint 2010 using FAST Search for SharePoint. Most of those advanced search techniques still apply with SharePoint 2013 and 2016. In this installment of my Enterprise Search series, I hope to resurrect that old blog post by showing readers how some of these advanced techniques can help them find what they need faster by focusing on the top 10 (in my opinion) advanced search techniques.

#1 All words
By using the AND operator, you can tell the SharePoint search query engine you want to make sure it only includes results that contain all of the words. Alternatively, you can use the + symbol.
Example: onespace AND ESS
Example 2: delegation AND authority

#2 Filename contains a specific term
By using the filename property restriction, SharePoint can find files that have a specific name. Using asterisk/wildcard character, you can find files that have a specific term in the filename. This property restriction needs to be first, and followed by a colon, then the search term in quotes. If SharePoint doesn't find an exact match, it will return results that have the term in the file name.
Example: filename:"Computer Tools.docx"
Example 2, files that have the word tools somewhere in the filename: filename:"*tools*”

#3 Exact Phrase
By using quotation marks, you can tell SharePoint you want results with the specified phrase returned. 
Example: "delegation of authority"
Example 2, combining with the AND operator: "your department" AND "delegation of authority"

#4 Exclude words
By using the NOT operator, you can tell SharePoint you do not want any results that have the specified word. Alternatively, you can use the - symbol.
Example: communications NOT library
Example 2, combining with phrase search: "delegation of authority" NOT library

#5 Any of the words
By using the OR operator, you can tell SharePoint you want to results that contain any of the specified words. This can be especially useful in the world of acronyms we live in. 
Example: SP2016 OR "SharePoint 2016"
Example 2: PowerShell OR "SharePoint Management Shell"

#6 Authored by a specific person
Use the author property restriction to find files where the author metadata matches a specific person. This property restriction needs to be first, and followed by a colon, then the search term in quotes. You may also need to use a wildcard at the end since some people have a middle initial or other characters at the end of their name, depending on how they are formatted in your organization.
Example: author:"Collogan, Vincent*"
Example 2, combining with OR operator to fine documents authored by either person: author:"Collogan, Vincent*" OR author:"Humberdink, Englebert*"

#7 Created or modified 
Using the write property restriction, you can specify dates. By using 2 write property restrictions, you can return files greater than and less than certain dates, giving you a range. You can also use certain date intervals to restrict the results to those intervals. These include "today", "yesterday", "this week", "this month", "last month", "this year" and "last year", and they must be in quotes. The date(s) specified should be in the format yyyy-mm-dd (also knows as ISO 8601-compatible datetime format) and also need to be in quotes.
Example: write>"2016-12-31" AND write<"2017-05-16"
Example 2: write>"last month"

#8 On a specific site
Use the site property restriction to restrict results contained on the specified site. You can be specific down to the subsite, library or list level.
Example: "engineering management" AND site:"http://yourDomain/SharePointSite/Library"
Example 2: "staging" AND site:"http://yourDomain/SharePointSite/Library"

#9 A specific file type
You can use the filetype property restriction to return results matching the specified file type. While the refinements panel on the left allows you to restrict results to certain file types, you may find doing this straight from the query box is better. You can also use the OR operator to include, for example Word documents of both the old doc format and the newer docx format.
Example: filetype:docx
Example 2: filetype:doc OR filetype:docx

#10 Implement crawl best practices
This is not an advance search technique, but having SharePoint search properly set up will help ensure the best search results. Best practices for crawling in SharePoint Server 2016 (also links to other versions) 

I encourage you to go and test out some of the examples I've given here and see what results you get. Then, hopefully, you can use those examples to help you find what you need.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

SharePoint Cumulative Updates

There are new cumulative updates for SharePoint Foundation and Server 2013 and SharePoint Server 2016. The latest patches with links to their associated KB articles with downloads are here:
SharePoint Updates

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Collaboration features in SharePoint

This article gives a synopsis of the different social/collaboration features in SharePoint:

Plan for social computing and collaboration in SharePoint Server 2013

I've pulled some of the info from the above article and made some comments below:

1)     Community Sites

Uses and benefits of communities

Communities use categories to organize discussions. Visitors can view the discussions and become members of the community if they want to contribute to those discussions. Moderators manage the community by setting rules, reviewing and addressing inappropriate posts, marking interesting content as featured discussions, and so on. Moderators can also assign gifted badges to specific members to visually indicate that the member is recognized as a specific kind of contributor in the community, such as an expert or a moderator. Each community contains information about member and content reputation, which members earn when they actively post in discussions, and when their content is liked, replied to, or marked as a best answer.

2)     My Sites

  • Newsfeed is the user's social hub where he or she can see updates from the people, documents, sites, and tags that the user is following.
    • Microblogging is a feature that takes place on the newsfeed page. Microblogging simply means posting small updates that can turn into conversations when people reply to the posts. The posts/conversations also show up on your My Site 'About me' page.
  • OneDrive for Business is the user's personal file storage and synchronization service for business use. (Anyone familiar with cloud storage like DropBox or OneDrive should be able to use this. It's our private cloud storage and should be used instead of storing files on local PCs or network drives.)
  • Sites tab lists the sites that the user is following and suggested sites that the user might find interesting. The user can use this to easily keep track of the sites he or she is most interested in.
  • About me is the default page that displays when a user accesses another user's My Site. This page displays the user's profile page to other people in the organization. The About me is also the default page that displays when a user accesses another user's My Site by clicking the user's name or profile picture.
  • Blog is a Web Part page that the My Site owner can use to publish a blog. By default, the Blog page displays a left navigation pane with links to the user's blog categories and archives that can be edited.
3)     Discussion Boards are a place to have newsgroup-style discussions.  Discussion boards make it easy to manage discussion threads and can be configured to require approval for all posts (moderation).

4)     Team Sites are great for long term teams, but are also great for short term teams that are not associated with a specific project.

5)     Project Sites (as opposed to Project Server PWA sites) are great for smaller, short term projects requiring collaboration between shared resources who may not be on the same team, organizationally. By default, there is a newsfeed where members can post and respond to project updates, a tasks list that can be connected to Outlook, and a library for storing project related files. None of those features are specific to Project Sites, meaning they can all be added to and used on sites created from other templates (such as team sites).

Regarding SharePoint 2016, while there are some nice new and improved features, there are none that are specific to collaboration.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Exporting Excel tables into a SharePoint list and vice versa

If you have an Excel workbook you would like to bring it over to SharePoint, you can either just upload the Excel workbook to a SharePoint document library, or, to work with the data directly in SharePoint, you can export the table from Excel to a SharePoint list. Here are the steps:

To export your data from Excel to SharePoint, your data in the Excel worksheet must be in a table format. Select the cells you want to use to create the list in SharePoint. Then, on the Home tab in the ribbon, click Format as Table.

Next, click Export Table to SharePoint List...

In the dialog box, type or paste the site URL where you want the list to be created, and give it a name (required) and description (optional).

 Click Next.

Click the link in the dialog box to go to the list in SharePoint. You can now work with the list in SharePoint where you can add, edit and delete data.

This process can also work the other way. You can export a SharePoint list into Excel where you can build charts, reference the cells in formulas and work with the data in other ways. This way, the data stays in SharePoint and Excel is just a reporting tool. The displayed in Excel can be refreshed so it always reflects the current data stored in the SharePoint list. To export a SharePoit list into Excel, from ribbon, on the List tab, click Export to Excel. This will create an Excel query file that will open in Excel.

Click Open, which should launch Excel and import the table.

If you get a Security Notice pop-up, click Enable.

Decide how you want the data displayed and where you want the data. In my example, I'm importing as a standard table in a new worksheet.

Click OK.

You should now have the data in Excel.

You can go back to SharePoint and edit, add or delete data. Here, I've added row of new data. 

Then we can go back to Excel and click Refresh on the Table Tools > Design tab in the ribbon. 

Once the refresh is done, which should be nearly instant on a small data set like this, we can see the new row of data in Excel.

Remember that using this method, SharePoint is the data source. If you edit the data in Excel, it will not publsih back to SharePoint. Excel is just used for reporting on the data in the scenario. 

Hopefully you'll get some use out of working between Excel and SharePoint like I've shown in this blog post. 

SharePoint Training Resources

For those of you in no rush to get to SharePoint 2016, and have a user base who needs to learn about SharePoint and what it can do for them and their teams, for this blog post, I'm referencing several useful SharePoint training resources. Enjoy!

These YouTube channels have many good video tutorials for people want to get more out of using SharePoint:

Free SharePoint video courses on Microsoft Virtual Acadamy (try the YouTube ones first, they are better):!lang=1033

Various How-To articles on Learning for SharePoint:

Friday, May 6, 2016

The Future of SharePoint

​If you are a Star Wars fan, you already know May the 4th was #StarWarsDay or at least Sylvester the Cat's version of Star Wars Day (may the fourth be with you). 

This year, it also became #SharePointDay because it coincided with the official public release of SharePoint 2016. On May 4th, Microsoft held a very informative virtual event called The #FutureOfSharePoint, which went over their release roadmap, and many of the new features of SharePoint 2016 and Office 365. You can view information and videos from The Future of SharePoint event on this official Office blog post:

Search network file shares from SharePoint

SharePoint has the ability to crawl and index network file share content, including Office files, PDFs and other content. Searching a network share from Windows Explorer is usually very slow, but once SharePoint indexes the content, search results are returned nearly instantly. SharePoint also recognizes the security on the file shares it crawls, meaning SharePoint will only return content to people who have rights to those items in the file share.

If you are the owner of a network file share, or you use a file share you'd like to be able to search from SharePoint, please let your SharePoint farm administrators know so they can add the crawl source to the SharePoint Search Service Application. They will need the file share owner or the file server administrator to give the SharePoint crawler service account read rights to the file share, then your SharePoint farm admin can add the file share UNC path (\\servername\share) to the SharePoint search content sources and schedule a crawl of the content. Once the crawl completes, people will be able to search the file share content from SharePoint. The content should be incrementally crawled at least nightly so people will be able to find new content soon after it is added. SharePoint 2013 also has a continuous crawl feature, which means crawls are running all the time rather than scheduled. This feature can have impacts and drawbacks, so it should be tested and evaluated in your organization to ensure that it doesn't negatively impact the SharePoint farm, file servers or the network during business hours. You may need to scale your search servers in order to successfully use this feature. You can read about the difference between incremental and continuous crawls here:

Improving Document Findability in SharePoint

​NetworkWorld has a great little article on how to make your documents more easily found when searching via SharePoint.

5 Tips for Improving Document Findability in SharePoint

Also, refer to my previous posts on SharePoint search.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Integrate Outlook and SharePoint tasks lists

Exchange 2013 has better integration with SharePoint 2013, but if you're still on Exchange 2010 you can still use a tasks list in SharePoint, and view, update, add and delete tasks in that list via Outlook. One of the benefits of using a SharePoint tasks list instead of one just in Outlook is that multiple people (your team for example) can connect to SharePoint tasks list via Outlook...

If you are using Exchange 2013, ignore this next paragraph, but keep following along below it since the rest of the instructions are nearly the same.
If you are Exchange 2010 (do not do this if on Exchange 2013), you or your SharePoint farm admin need to first go to Central Admin, under System Settings > Farm Features, and disable 'Farm Level Exchange Tasks Sync'. This is enabled by default. Also, make sure 'Offline Synchronization for External Lists' is enabled - it should be already.
Then, go to the site where you have your tasks list, or where you want to create one, and go to Site Settings > Manage Site Features  (under Site Actions), and if needed, deactivate 'Minimal Download Strategy', and activate 'Offline Synchronization for External Lists'.

With that done, follow these instructions to get your tasks list in SharePoint connected to Outlook so you can work with the tasks in either place, and share the tasks among an entire team, project resources or beyond. 
First, on your team site, look under the gear in the top right for 'Site Contents'.

In the site contents, look to see if a Tasks list already exists and if you can use it. Or, to create a new one, under the gear again, click 'Add an app'.

On the apps page, look for 'Tasks' and click it.

Give the list a name (e.g., simply Tasks or something more unique and descriptive) and click 'Create'.
Now try adding a few tasks to your list.

From your tasks list, go up to the ribbon, click the 'List' tab, and click 'Connect to Outlook'. On the pop-ups, click 'Allow', then 'Yes.
If you have not the steps toward the top in Central Admin and Site Settings, you will still see Sync with Outlook instead of Connect to Outlook. If you are using Exchange 2013, keep following along since the rest of the instructions are nearly the same.

Once the list is connected to Outlook, you should see the tasks in your tasks view in Outlook. If it did not take you there automatically, look at the bottom left in Outlook and click Tasks.

As you can see here, my test tasks are red because they are past due.

Now you can try adding, deleting or updating some tasks from Outlook, then go back to the SharePoint site tasks list, refresh the page, and they should be updated. If you are using the tasks list for multiple people to track tasks, ensure they have rights to the list in SharePoint, then those other people can follow the same instructions to connect the list to Outlook.
You can search for specific tasks without Outlook (via the search bar on the top right of the Tasks section, or you or anyone with rights to the tasks list in SharePoint (e.g., your team), can search for specific tasks from your SharePoint search center. Do to this, go to your search center or use the search box on any page, enter some specific words or terms that might be in the tasks you want to find, then click the magnifying glass or hit Enter to run the search. When you get the search results back, narrow the results to 'Tasks' using the refinement panel on the left (you may have to click 'Show more' first to see all the result types).

The results should come back refined and tasks should be the top results. As with any search query, you may need refine your search terms to get the right results.
I hope you and your team are able to get some added productivity out of this valuable feature. Thanks for visiting.

Monday, September 14, 2015

SharePoint Site Permissions

Other than adding or updating site content, one of the most frequent tasks for a SharePoint site owner or delegated team member to do is to ensure the proper people have the proper level of access to the site's content, and also to ensure that unauthorized people aren't able to access content they shouldn't have access to. Modifying SharePoint site permissions can be fairly simple, or very complex depending on the complexity of your site and what rights people need to the various subsites, lists/libraries and items contained in a site. TechNet has a good general overview of site permissions in SharePoint 2013 here. You should also read through these TechNet articles:

There are a few key ways to reduce the complexity of managing SharePoint site permissions:
  • Identify a specific couple or few team members who will be tasked with control permissions, including approving or declining access requests. The old adage "too many hands in the pot spoils the soup" applies here. Ensure those people have read sufficient documentation and/or have been trained to be able to take on the role of managing permissions.
  • Use standard SharePoint naming conventions for groups (e.g., [site/list/library name] Owners group for people needing Full control rights, Members group for people needing Contribute rights, and Visitors group for people needing Read rights).
  • Do not break inheritance of subsites, lists/libraries or items unless truly necessary. The TechNet permissions overview article has a section on permissions inheritance. Breaking inheritance means having to separately manage the subsite, list/library or item you break inheritance on.
  • Use SharePoint groups, not AD groups. One may think it would be easier to just have the team in an AD group, then add that AD group to the site or list permissions, thereby granting rights to all the people in that AD group. However, the average person does not know how to see the people contained in the AD group, and you cannot see the members of an AD group in SharePoint. This can both increase complexity, and reduce security since you don't necessarily know who is in the AD group.
  • Add people to SharePoint groups rather than adding individual users to site, list/library or item permissions. This allows you to see at a glance who is in the group and know what level of permissions all of those people have.
One final note regarding Project Server PWA sites: Site permissions should never me modified on PWA sites because site permissions is controlled at the Project Server level.