Firefox 30.0 logoIf you have recently upgraded to Firefox Release 30.0 AND you are on a Non-Windows OS, you may have noticed that you are now getting a ‘401 Unauthorized’ error when attempting to log in. This is due to a change by Mozilla to disable support for NT LAN Manager Version 1 (NTLMv1) network authentication. The result of this change on a Windows based OS is that authentication will switch to NTLMv2 automatically but Firefox for a Non-Windows OS does not support NTLMv2 and instead will present the error you are receiving.

Firefox Access Denied SharePoint Troubleshoot

Firefox 30 was first offered to Release channel users on June 10, 2014 according to http://www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/30.0/releasenotes. If you did not manually download the most recent update, it was likely pushed out and auto-updated.

There have been a few discoveries that can help resolve this issue;

Option 1: Enabling NTLMv1 in Firefox 30

  1. Open Firefox on the Machine that you are experiencing this issue.
  2. Type about:config  in the address bar and press enter.
  3. Click the ‘I’ll be careful, I promise!’ button if prompted to do so.
    Firefox Access Denied SharePoint Troubleshoot 2
  4. Search for the string, ‘network.negotiate-auth.allow-insecure-ntlm-v1
    Firefox Access Denied SharePoint Troubleshoot 3
  5. Double clicking this setting will change the Value from false to true.
  6. Once the setting has been changed, it is already saved and you can close this Tab in Firefox. Try to load you site again, and—Voila! You are now able to access your site again!

Option 2: Use an Alternate Browser

This could be Chrome, Internet Explorer, the Built-in browser; Safari, or others. This would also mean that you would have no cached content (cookies, site content, passwords, etc…) and will need to migrate this data or start fresh.

Option 3: Change Your Authentication Method

Changing to forms based authentication or Kerberos will also remedy this issue, but will require a bit of work and is a massive change to your environment. To read more on Authentication methods, please see the following articles.

  • Plan for user authentication methods in SharePoint 2013
  • Plan authentication methods (SharePoint Server 2010)
  • Plan authentication methods (SharePoint Foundation 2010)
  • Plan authentication methods (Office SharePoint Server)

Option 4: Use Windows

If you were to follow Microsoft’s Best Practices, you would open your site in the Latest version of Internet Explorer on the most recent Windows OS with all patches up-to-date. At times, I think it is easy for users to forget that SharePoint is a Microsoft Product and is designed to work best when used in conjunction with other Microsoft Products.

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I recently ran into a problem with Anonymous Access in SharePoint 2010.

It was setup correctly in Central Administration – on the site, the Anonymous user had access, and in IIS, the site had Anonymous Authentication allowed.  And yet, for some reason, I still could not get in anonymously.

After doing a bit of digging, I found a problem in IIS sites where permissions was not granted to the ‘Everyone’ user. This was very obvious after I found it, but not so much beforehand. So, at this point, you can either skip to the bottom of this article to fix that permission, or run through the steps I did to ensure that anonymous access is setup correctly.

Overview of Anonymous Access

Let’s say you’ve built out your SharePoint website and are now wanting anyone to come and visit your site, so you enable anonymous access on the site collection but no such luck. It still prompts you to log in, even with anonymous access settings turned on. Frustrating.

Let’s double check that anonymous access features have been turned on in three places:

1. Central Administration
2. On the site
3. IIS (Internet Information Services 7)

Central Administration:

Log on to your SharePoint server and load up Central Administrator.

In Central Administration, we are going to navigate to your web application settings.  Central Administrator -> Application Management: Manage Web applications, select the web app of the site you want to enable Anonymous access for and check Authentication Providers.  Click the Default under Zone.  In the Edit Authentication check the ‘Enable Anonymous Access.’

Enable Anonymous Access

From the same place, Central Administrator -> Application Management: Manage Web applications, select the web app and check Anonymous Policy. Ensure that ‘None – No Policy’ is selected.

Anonymous Policy

Now that everything in Central Administrator looks good, let’s check the site.

On the site:

Go ahead and navigate to the site in question, log in, and go to Site Actions -> Site Permissions.  Click Anonymous Access in the Ribbon.  In the Anonymous Access window select Entire Web site and click ok.

Select Entire Web Site

It will add the Anonymous Users to the permissions list.

Add the Anonymous Users to the permissions list

So all looks good – Central Administration is set and the site has access for the anonymous user.  But we are still getting prompted for credentials…  Let’s check IIS.

Check IIS:

Open Internet Information Services (IIS) manager and expand the Sites tab and look for your site in there. Select your site and click the Authentication icon under the IIS section.

IIS Authentication icon

In the Authentication window, make sure Anonymous Authentication is Enabled.

Enable Anonymous Authentication

Now, here is where we get stuck: All the different places were the Anonymous Access could be turned off are on, but still we cannot get to the site without being prompted for credentials.

Well one last place to check is the web site’s permissions. In IIS manager, select the site, and right click it and select Edit Permissions.

Edit Permissions

This will open up a site properties box, select the Security tab. In the Group and Usernames that have access to the site, make sure that Everyone has Read privileges. If not, you’ll have to add it, by clicking Edit.  On the next window, click Add.  Find the Everyone user, click ok and then give them check the Read under the Allow column.

Everyone has Read privileges

Now go back to the site and see if it prompts you to enter credentials.  No prompt for credentials? Hurray!

This makes sense considering a web site is just a group of files, if the ‘Everyone’ user doesn’t have permissions to read it, no one without explicit permissions to the site will be able to view it.

Remember: This article is for SharePoint 2010, but if it’s an IIS permission problem, then it could affect more than just your SharePoint 2010 sites.

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With every new version of SharePoint, there are expected changes.

Some changes are minor, some are major; some you’ll never notice, and some are just frustratingly trivial. So, what do I mean by frustratingly trivial? These are changes that, at first glance, seem minor and inconsequential, but in truth lead to many headaches and a yawlping “WHY?!”

There were quite a few changes in SharePoint Designer 2013 regarding workflows: The concept of stages was added, Microsoft finally gave us an easy way to loop actions, and now it’s really easy to assign tasks and call a web service. These are all welcomed changes (for the most part).

One change, however, is not welcomed. And it definitely falls into the category of frustratingly trivial. The change is in the action Wait for Field Change in Current Item. It’s a great action, and one I use quite frequently.

In a previous blog, I talked about creating an approval process on the form. This was a critical action. It still is a critical action, but it was much easier to implement in 2010. Here’s why: It provided you a trigger to continue the workflow based off a number of options. Here’s the action in 2010. You can specify the field, the operator, and the value.

Wait Action in SharePoint 2010

Wait Action in SharePoint 2010

What do I mean by changing the operator? Click on the to equal, and you are presented with the following options:

Operators in SharePoint 2010

Operators in SharePoint 2010

Now, here’s the same action in the SharePoint Designer 2013.

Wait Action in SharePoint 2013

Wait Action in SharePoint 2013

Notice now you can only change the field and the value. And the value has to be equal to. There is no other option. If you want the workflow to continue, the value of that field must equal something.

This may seem like a minor change, but let me tell why it was a headache for me.

In 2010, it was easy to stop a workflow and await a response in a specified field. It could be any response. Consider the following example:

In my requisition form there is an Approved field. This is the field where the manager either approves or rejects the request. So the workflow goes like this on every new request created:

1. Send email to manager

2. Wait for manager to respond

3. If manager rejects request, stop workflow

4. If manager accepts request, continue to procurement

5. If manager needs request modified, send back to employee with manager notes

In SharePoint 2010, the action immediately following the email to the manager would be a Wait for step. It would say simply:

then Wait for Approved to be not empty.

Nested if thens would take care of the rest (if Approved = accepted go to A; if Approved = rejected go to B; if Approved = Require Modification go to C).

This is linear and logical. It’s easy to configure and easy to understand.

Now, in SharePoint 2013, it’s simply impossible to create a linear workflow that accomplishes the similar task because you do not have the option to specify the operator in the Wait for step. You can only specify a value the field needs to match. So, you can’t do:

then Wait for Approved to equal Approved

Because if the item is rejected, the workflow never continues.

Why?!

Why was this removed? It seems such a little change, but it adds unnecessary complexity to an otherwise easy to configure workflow.

So how do you get around this SharePoint headache?

My solution was to use parallel blocks.

Honestly, I’m not convinced this is the most efficient way. It certainly seems less efficient than how the solution was implemented in 2010. But I couldn’t find another way without having to write custom code. And it works well.

Basically, I created a Wait for Approval Stage and used parallel blocks to wait for the item to change.

Parallel Blocks in SharePoint 2013

Parallel Blocks in SharePoint 2013

As you can see in the screenshot, there are two parallel steps (displayed here). One step waits for Approved field to equal Approved; the other waits for Approved to equal Rejected. If the item is approved, the workflow continues from the Approved stage. Similarly, if rejected, the workflow continues from the Rejected stage.

Like I said this solution worked in this scenario. But I still ask, “Why?”

Why did Microsoft change the options for the Wait for action? In this SharePoint administrator’s humble opinion, it has resulted only in frustration and extra steps.

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Saving time, once again, with PowerShell

Have you ever ended up with a very large number of items in your SharePoint Site Collection recycle bin?

Sometimes, certain projects that involve migrations or large changes can fill up your bin with all of the items that didn’t make it to the next round.

More than likely, your recycle bin was similar to mine and only displays 50 items per page. For a recycle bin which contains thousands of items, I don’t have to do the math for you to realize that it would take a very long time to empty page by page.

This can happen for any number of reasons, but I’ll share how I ended up with such a large recycle bin and how I ultimately emptied the entire thing in just minutes.

How I overloaded my Recycle Bin:

I was recently performing a migration from WSS 2007 to SharePoint 2010 using our third-party migration tool, the Metavis Migrator.

During the migration, I ran into a few issues in regards to user mappings. Working with the fantastic Metavis Support Team, we resolved the issue and could successfully perform the migration again. But this particular site had a list with over 27,000 items in it, and because I had to attempt the migration of this site multiple times, I ended up with over 70,000 items in the recycle bin!

Like I said above, that would take a very, very long time only emptying 50 items at a time.

How did I empty the entire Recycle Bin?

One word – PowerShell.

Empty entire Site Collection Recycle Bin using PowerShell:

  1. Browse to the Start Menu. Search for “PowerShell”, select Windows PowerShell ISE(I am running Windows 2012 in this example. The steps to open PowerShell ISE may differ if using another Operating System).
  2.  Select PowerShell
  3. Copy the below command into PowerShell. Update the Site Collection URL to match the appropriate site.
 $sitecollectionUrl = “http://domainname.com/sitecollectionurl”$siteCollection = New-Object Microsoft.SharePoint.SPSite($sitecollectionUrl)write-host(“Items to be deleted : ” +$siteCollection.RecycleBin.Count.toString())$now = Get-Datewrite-host(“Deleting started at ” +$now.toString())$siteCollection.RecycleBin.DeleteAll();$now = Get-Date

 

write-host(“Deleting completed at ” +$now.toString())

$siteCollection.Dispose();

  1. Once you have updated the Site Collection URL, execute the command by clicking on the Run Script button on the PowerShell toolbar.
  2.  PowerShell toolbar run script

Depending on how many items are in the recycle bin, this could take a few minutes. When the command is executing, the red stop button (two to the right of the Run Script button) will be illuminated. When the command is completed, the Run Script button will be illuminated once again.

When the command is completed, you can verify if it was successful. Chances are, if the command did not display any errors, all items have been deleted. Simply browse to the appropriate SharePoint site to determine if the Site Collection recycle bin is now empty.

As stated above, the recycle bin I was working with had approximately 70,000 items. I executed the command, knowing it would take some time. I checked back about 20 minutes later and it was completed. An easy way to check progress is by monitoring the recycle bin while the command is executing. You will be able to refresh the page and watch the number of items decrease.

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Add Image to List Web Part SharePoint 2010I was recently working on a request to have Images appear in the announcements Web Part for SharePoint 2010. At first, I figured this was a simple enough task – just add an image to the page, right?

Well, I fell down the rabbit hole looking for the best way to manage this. Adding an image to the page worked, but it was ugly and not user friendly for managing multiple announcements. Searching online for a solution came back with similar recommendations to what I had already tried or to just write custom code.

I didn’t want this to be labor intensive (I never do!), so here is what I came up with after searching online came up short.

Prerequisites:

  • Having a Picture Library configured makes this process much easier.
  • Create a list you want this apply to or edit an existing list.
  • Full control of the page you are editing.
  • A few minutes to work on it.

The Process of Adding Images to a List Web Part:

  1. Go to the List Settings for your announcements that you would like to add an image to.
  2. SharePoint 2010 List Settings
  3. Under Columns, make sure Contact Photo is one of the columns currently listed. (It probably won’t be unless you have previously added it to this list.)
    a.  If not, click “Add from existing site columns”. Choosing “Create Column” will give the ability to add an Image Column, but when you are finished with this setup, it will only display a link and not the actual image. So, instead you will:
  4. Add from existing site columns
  5. b.  Add Contact Photo to the Columns to Add. Since this is title is seen on the list, I have renamed mine “Image” after adding it in. You can name it whatever you please.
  6. Add Contact Photo to the Columns
  7. At this point, the column to add an image is available, but it is not going to appear in the Web Part. Again in the List Settings, you should create a custom view for this to prevent multiple lists from showing your image column, or just stick with “All Items“. Since this was my only list on this testing site, I went with “All Items”.All Items
  8. What you will gain by creating/editing a view is the ability to add and remove the columns that will appear in the list page and organize them in whatever order you want.
  9. Abilitiy to add and remove the columns
  10. Your will now have an option to place an Image URL when posting new announcements. I would recommend using a thumbnail from your Picture Library because it will use the full resolution photo if you do not. Luckily, you took my advice above and created a Picture Library to steal an auto generated thumbnail URL from. You can also go back and edit previous announcements to add an image.
  11. Add Images to announcements
  12. So, now your List will show an image, but not the web part. Then what has this all been for? To have the Web Part show an image:
  13. Have Web Part show an image
  14. Let’s edit the Announcement Web Part.
  15.  Under “Selected View“, Choose the View you configured earlier. Apply and Ok the Web Part.
  16. Choose your Selected View

 

 You will see this alert. This only applies if the view is shared with other Web Parts.

Manage from Webpage

Keep this in mind if you are using this view in other Web Parts.

Now you have yourself a List Web Part that will display an image “a la blog” mode. Congratulations! Now sit back and enjoy your handiwork.

Your List Web Part Displays Image

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As many of you have heard, Microsoft has released Service Pack 1 (SP1) for Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013… again.

To be clear, they originally released the SP1 patch toward the end of February this year. They soon realized, however, that the installation of the first release created some issues which were preventing customers from installing future updates. Microsoft deactivated the download pages to prevent any further installations.

To view a list of issues that are fixed, please visit my SharePoint 2013 SP1 announcement blog.

Now that Microsoft has released the corrected version, let’s walk through the SP1 installation together.

At Fpweb.net, we have installed the updated Service Pack 1 on a few lab and production environments and have not seen any issues thus far.

Download SharePoint 2013 SP1:

Before we can install the Service Pack, we must first download it. There are separate downloads depending on your version of Foundation or Server. Unlike former SharePoint patches, you do NOT have to install both the Foundation and Server patches if you are running SharePoint Server.

Service Pack 1 for SharePoint Foundation can be downloaded here.

Service Pack 1 for SharePoint Server can be downloaded here.

SharePoint 2013 Service Pack 1 Download

Please be sure to read the details of the patches before downloading. The installation package is 1.3 GB for Server and 403 MB for Foundation. Ensure you have the necessary disk space available before downloading.

Install SharePoint 2013 SP1:

Once you have downloaded the correct media using the steps above, we can begin the install process. As with any SharePoint patch, this must be installed on every server in your SharePoint farm. This includes Web Front End server and Application servers, if applicable.

Let’s get started…

  1. From your SharePoint server, browse to the file location of your download.
  2. Double-click the officeserversp2013-kb2817429-fullfile-x64-en-us.exe file (assuming you kept the default filename).
  3. file location of your download
  4. From the Service Pack 1 for Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013 (KB2817429) 64-bit Edition window, be sure to select the checkbox next to Click here to accept the Microsoft Software License Terms.
  5. Microsoft Software License Terms
  6. Click Continue
  7. This will start the installation process and you will see the following progress window until the progress is completed.
  8.  start the installation process*Please note: you will see a few windows similar to the above that will appear and disappear. The majority of the process will display the above message: Please wait while the update is installed. When the installation is completed you will see this message:
  9. installation is completed
  10. You may NOT be required to reboot depending on your server. If you are required, please reboot at an acceptable time for your business.

Repeat steps 1 through 6 on all SharePoint servers. Once all servers have the Service Pack 1 bits installed, this does not mean the SharePoint farm is upgraded yet. To actually upgrade the schema, you must run the SharePoint 2013 Products Configuration Wizard. This also needs to be completed on each server, but you can only do this portion one server at a time.

Running the SharePoint 2013 Products Configuration Wizard:

  1. From your SharePoint server, browse to the start menu. If using Windows Server 2012, search for SharePoint 2010 Products Configuration Wizard. Click to Open.
  2. SharePoint 2010 Products Configuration Wizard
  3. You will immediately know if the Service Pack installation was successful based on the message you see on the Configuration Wizard welcome window. Notice the message “This wizard will upgrade SharePoint Products”, which differs from the normal message of “This wizard will help you repair SharePoint Products. Click Next to continue or cancel to exit the wizard…” Click Next here.
  4. This wizard will upgrade SharePoint Products
  5. You will then see a warning message letting you know that a few services will be restarted during this upgrade process. Click YesPlease note – Unless you have a high availability farm, your site will be unavailable throughout this process.
  6. services will be restarted during this upgrade process
  7. At the Completing the SharePoint Products Configuration Wizard screen, click Next.
  8. This will run through the upgrade sequence. When the wizard is completed, click Finish.

Repeat steps 1 through 6 on all SharePoint servers.

The installation is now completed and your farm has been upgraded to SP1.

Verify Installation for SharePoint 2013 Service Pack 1:

Now that you have successfully installed Service Pack 1 for SharePoint 2010, you need to verify the build number to be absolutely certain that the installation was successful. The easiest method to do so is:

  1. Browse to Central Administration from any SharePoint server. Again, if running Windows Server 2012, go to the Start menu and search for SharePoint 2013 Central Administration. Click to open.
  2. SharePoint 2013 Central Administration
  3. From the Central Administration home page, select Manage Servers in this Farmfrom the System Settings section.Manage Servers in this Farm
  4. From the Servers in this Farm page, under the Farm information section, you will see the Configuration Database Version. This should read 15.0.4569.1509. This build number tells us that this has been successfully upgraded to SP1.

Hope that helps! As always, please comment if you have any additional questions.

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Examining SharePoint’s Popularity Trends & Popularity and Search Reports

 

Web Analytics in SharePoint 2010 is now known as Popularity Trends, and, in SharePoint 2013, it’s known as Popularity and Search Reports. The rename comes at a time when Microsoft moved the analytics functionality to be a part of the search component.

This is a troubleshooting guide that will give you an overview of all the different components for the analytics, hopefully aiding in identifying where the break down is inside of the process. I will focus mainly on the Popular Trend’s Usage Reports.

Prerequisite:

Ensure that there is traffic to the site, not just from administrative users. In some cases, SharePoint will not log administrative accounts page requests. If this is the case, browse the site with a non-administrative or non-service account and make sure to traverse the sites content pages and libraries and lists.

Make sure Alternate Access Mapping is configured correctly.

(SharePoint 2013 Server) Ensure that Reporting is turned on.  This can be found under Site Settings -> Manage site Features. Look for Reporting, not Reporting Service. If it is not Active, turn it on. If you do not see it, don’t worry – it should be fine as I’ve seen sites function without this feature.

Ensure that Reporting is turned on

Configure usage and health data collection:

Ensure that Enable usage data collection is enabled.

Check under the Events to Log: that Analytics Usage, Feature Use, and Page Requests are also selected.

Configure usage and health data collection

Ensure that Enable health data collection is enabled.

Enable health data collection is enabled

Ensure that under Log Collection Schedule the two jobs Microsoft SharePoint Foundation Usage Data Import and Microsoft SharePoint Foundation Usage Data Processing are both there.

Check their jobs schedule: Microsoft SharePoint Foundation Usage Data Import should run every five minutes and Microsoft SharePoint Foundation Usage Data Processing runs daily.

Check if those two jobs are failing: While still on the same screen where we checked the schedule, go to Job History on the left. If you look at the view and it says Service change it to Failed Jobs. Go through the failed jobs and look to see if you see the two jobs listed above.

Search:

After we checked and made sure the jobs are healthy and running, let’s make sure Search is functioning properly. Since the search function now does the Analytics, it is vital that the site collection is crawled and search results are coming up fine on the site.

To check Search: Go to System Settings, under Servers, click Manage Services on Server. On the Service on Server, find SharePoint Server Search and click it. On the next screen, under Search Service Applications select the Search Service Application. Now you should be on the Search Service Application: Search Administration menu.
On this screen look under the Search Application Topology for your Analytics Reporting Database.

On the left side of the page, look for Content Sources under Crawling. Select it to go to the Search Service Application: Mange Content Sources page.

Mange Content Sources

Select the Local SharePoint Site and make sure that the URL of the site in question is in the Start Address box. Make sure if the site is httpS that it is httpS in the box as well.

Make sure the site is httpS

After we made sure search is set up correctly, make sure that the site is returning results when you run a do a search on the site.

Lastly, we need to make sure that the search service account is a member of WSS_WPG group.

So, after checking all of those components, we will need to dig deeper to find out what is going on with the Analytics.

Usage File Creation

(typically found C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\Web Server Extensions\15\LOGS\RequestUsage)

In the logging folder, we need to find a folder called RequestUsage. In this folder, if healthy and working correctly, we will see a *.tmp file and periodically a *.usage file being generated. If there is no file being created in here then the site is not listening for page requests.

If there is no file in here being generated make sure the site has some traffic to it, so browse the site, and check the folder periodically.

RequestUsage folder

The Microsoft SharePoint Foundation Usage Data Import timer job looks in this folder and takes *.usage file and imports the data to the Event Store.

The Event Store

(typically found at C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office Servers\15.0\Data\Office Server\)

The Event Store can be a chore to find, because the folder before it consists of a name with a GUID in it. If you look at your server’s shares, you’ll see it in there. In some cases, you can navigate directly from there to folder, but in other cases you cannot and will have to find it manually. Usually, I run a search for this folder by searching the computer for Analytics or EventStore. In the picture below you can see the “Analytics_(GUID)” share.

The Event Store Analytics_(GUID)

Once you find the event store, we want to make sure that it is creating folders with data in them. The folders are names based on their date. Inside the folders, you should find some .log files.

Event Store .log files

Not everything that gets passed from the RequestUsage folder gets put into the Event Store data files. Some of the information does get filtered out.

SQL

Next we must check that SQL is logging analytics data. To do this open up SQL and create a new query your logging database. We want to see if this is getting updated every five minutes by the data import timer job, so re-run the query below every five minutes to check for an increase in the row count.

Select userlogin,* from dbo.RequestUsage (nolock) where RequestType=’GET’ order by RowCreatedTime desc

Select count (*) from RequestUsage (nolock)

Conclusion

We broke down the analytics reporting function into Configuration of the Health and Data Collection, Search, Usage Request, Event Store, and SQL. Reviewing each competent can determine a point of failure in the process and focus on fixing the broken component. There is still much more to the reporting process that I haven’t gone into such as the Search Queries, but that is for a different day…

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Including how to create a link directly to the edit form of the requested item

Although there is a built-in approval process for SharePoint 2013 in SharePoint Designer 2013, I prefer not to use it. On approval processes I create for Fpweb.net, the approval occurs directly on the list item’s form. There are any number of reasons for doing this, but the best one — the real reason — is that it makes it easy on the users. And anytime it’s easier on the user, it’s ultimately easier on the administrator!

Once such approval process is a standard requisition request. Basically, an employee submits a request, an Approver approves or denies the request, and then procurement orders the item. Nothing too complex here and pretty standard fare for any business.

I could use SharePoint’s approval process and it would work just fine. Meaning, it would accomplish the primary goal of requiring a manager to approve an item before it is ordered.

But in order to make it as easy as possible for all users involved, I decided the approval process should occur directly on the form.

This allows the details of the request to be seen with minimal effort at any point during the process. The Approver can see the employee’s initial request and any details captured in the form (suggested vendor, estimated price, reason, etc). In addition to all this, procurement can also see who approved the item and the date of the approval. And this can be done in one form, making everyone’s life easier.

I’m not going into details about creating the requisition library, the corresponding content type (because you do use content types, right?), and the basic requisition form.

That’s all pretty standard stuff. Here’s a high-level overview of what I did to make the approval process occur directly on the form. I may go into details on various parts of this process in future blog posts.

How to Add Approval Process to the Form in SharePoint 2013:

  1. Create the requisition form
  2. Add an approval section to the form (Fields: Approved By, Approved/Rejected drop-down, Approval Date)
  3. Create a choice field on the form called Approval Status (These are the following choices: Submitted, Awaiting Approval, Awaiting Order, Awaiting Receiving)
  4. Add views to the requisition form (Views: Submitted, Approved, Ordered)
  5. Create the workflow to put it all together

Simple, right? Really, it’s not too difficult. I’ll probably cover some of the above details in future posts, but what I want to share in this post is how to create a link directly to the edit form of the requested item. Why do this?

Because when an email is sent to either the manager or procurement, you can save them time and headaches by providing them with a link that takes them directly to the item’s edit form where they can quickly do what they need to do.

This seems like a minor detail, but it’s one that your users will appreciate. Instead of opening the email and then clicking the task that opens the SharePoint task and then clicking the related items link and then going back to the task item and selecting whether to approve or reject the item open in the other window, the user simply has to click a link that navigates directly to the request form. On this form they can view the details of the request and then choose whether to accept or reject the item.

Oddly (or not so oddly, depending on your experience with SharePoint workflow), there is no built-in Lookup to navigate directly to the edit view of a specific list item.

So how do you do it then?

How to Navigate Directly to the Edit Form in SharePoint:

In SharePoint Designer, I add an action to assign a task to the employee’s manager (the Approver).

Assign a task in SharePoint Designer

In the task details, use a Lookup similar to the following:

SharePoint Designer String Builder

Building the string…

So it’s basically the URL to the list and then append “/editform.aspx?id=” (without quotes), and then click the Add or Change Lookup button.

Choose the current Item ID as shown below:

SharePoint Designer Current Item ID Lookup

Current Item ID Lookup

Create this Lookup in either the Description section or the Email Editor of the task details.

Now when the email is sent to the Approver, they have to click the link (only one click), choose whether to approve or reject the item, and click Save. Simple, easy, and most of all, unobtrusive.

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SharePoint 2013 offers many improvements over previous versions of the platform. Some of those are very apparent, and some are not so much. In fact, there are a handful of new features that almost seem to be hidden by the OOTB (out-of-the-box) installation.

One of these not so apparent features is the new Workflow engine, exclusively designed for use with SharePoint 2013. Some of you may be asking: where is it, how do I enable it, is it installed by default, etc…?

The scope of this guide is simply to provide you with the steps needed to take full advantage of this new workflow engine and the improved features that come with it. For an overview of the new engine and what capabilities it offers, please refer to this SharePoint 2013 Workflow Fundamentals page provided by Microsoft. Also here is a reference for How to Install Workflow Manager Certificates in SharePoint Server 2013.

Now that you have a thorough understanding of the SharePoint 2013 Workflow, let’s begin the installation and configuration.

In order to install Workflow Manager, you will need to download it as part of the Web Platform Installer 4.0, which is packaged with Workflow Manager 1.0. You can download this directly from Microsoft here.

How to Install Workflow Manager 1.0 Using Web Platform Installer 4.0

  1. Browse to the download location and run the workflowmanager.exe.
  2. Click Install from the Workflow Manager 1.0 screen.
  3. Install Workflow Manager 1.0
  4. Click I Accept from the Prerequisites screen.
  5. Accept Prerequisites screen of Workflow Manager 1.0
  6. This will begin the installation process of Workflow Manager 1.0. When this has completed, we can then begin the configuration.
  7. Begin installation process of Workflow Manager 1.0
  8. Now that the installation has completed, it’s time to configure. Click Continue on the Configure screen, as seen below.
  9. Begin configuration process of Workflow Manager 1.0
  10. After clicking Continue, you will see the Workflow Manager Configuration Wizard after a few seconds. In this example, we will choose Configure Workflow Manager with Default Settings (Recommended).Configure Workflow Manager with Default Settings
  11. On the New Farm Configuration screen, enter the appropriate SQL server and the credentials. As you can see, in this example, I am using SQL Authentication, rather than Windows Authentication. Either option is fine. Test Connection.
  12. New Farm Configuration screen
  13. In the Configure Service Account section, enter the appropriate service account you would like to use to run the Workflow Manager. In this example, I created a service account explicitly for the WM.
  14. Configure Service Account*If your SharePoint farm is not using an SSL certification, please check the checkbox next to Allow Workflow Management over HTTP on this Computer.
  15. In the Certificate Generation Key section, enter a unique key. In this particular example, I used the Farm Passphrase that was created when joining these servers to the SharePoint Farm. Enter a key and press the right arrow to continue.Certificate Generation Key
  16. When the Summary page is displayed, verify all information is correct. Click the checkmark to complete the configuration information.
  17. Complete Workflow Manager configuration information
  18. This will begin the configuration process. When this has completed, you should see similar to the below.
  19. Complete Workflow Manager configuration process
  20. Click the check mark to complete the configuration.

In this example, we are using a single server SharePoint Farm. The Workflow Manager client must be installed on every SharePoint server in your farm.

How to Configure Workflow Manager with SharePoint 2013

Now that the Workflow Manager is installed on the system, we must now configure it so that it works with the SharePoint 2013 Farm.

  1. Browse to the Start menu and open the SharePoint 2013 Management Shell.
  2. SharePoint 2013 Management Shell
  3. Run the following command, using the appropriate information:
Register-SPWorkflowService –SPSite https://sharepointsiteurl.com/ -WorkflowUri http://servername.domain.local:12290

How to Verify Installation of Workflow Manager:

The easiest way to verify that the installation was successful is to use SharePoint Designer 2013 to attempt creating a workflow.

  1. Using SharePoint Designer 2013, open the site used in the steps above.
  2. Select Workflows from the Site Objects menu.
  3. SharePoint Designer 2013 Workflows
  4. Select List Workflow from the ribbon bar and then select any item in the drop-down list.
  5. SharePoint Designer 2013 List Workflows
  6. This will open the Create List Workflows dialog box. Under the Platform Type menu, you should now see at least SharePoint 2010 Workflow and SharePoint 2013 Workflow as seen below.

BEFORE SharePoint 2013 Workflow Manager Installation:

BEFORE SharePoint 2013 Workflow Manager Installation
*Note the informational message at the bottom of the above dialog box.

AFTER SharePoint 2013 Workflow Manager Installation:

AFTER SharePoint 2013 Workflow Manager Installation

That’s it! You are now able to take full advantage of the SharePoint 2013 Workflow engine.

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In SharePoint, the Document Set is a powerful Enterprise Content Management Feature hidden in SharePoint Server that most power users don’t know about or haven’t implemented yet. This feature which bundles Office documents into a single malleable unit has a myriad of applications which can improve your process efficiency. 

Let’s take a look!

Applies to:

  • SharePoint Server 2010 Standard and Enterprise (Fpweb.net hosted, On-premises)
  • SharePoint Server 2013 Standard and Enterprise (Fpweb.net hosted, On-premises, or Office 365)

Document Sets may help in following scenarios:

  • New employee on-boarding
  • Employee training
  • Project initiation and management
  • Loan application and processing
  • Claims processing
  • MANY more possibilities

The Document Set Solution

Let’s start by analyzing a new-hire process. When a new employee is hired there will be a common set of documents that would need to be filled out, tracked, and filed. This collection of documents may include a W-4 form, insurance documents, equipment contracts, etc. Finding the latest versions of these documents, delivering them to the employee, and tracking the signed versions can introduce mistakes, lost documents, and a lot of time spent managing this process. If you are a large company these inefficiencies can add up and hurt productivity.

Enter the document set. Document sets can be thought of as a pre-defined electronic folder of documents and templates that are created when you initiate a process. Along with the ability to provision the pre-defined documents, document sets also have a unique customizable homepage, their own versioning functionality, and shared metadata columns. Once an instance of the set is created, you can modify (fill in) and version each individual document, upload additional files, or version the entire document set. If these documents must comply with a records management policy, you can associate a workflow to this document set to handle archiving or deletion as well.

You are probably thinking, “Wow we can use that here and here and this group would love this!”  Now let’s look at how to create and use a document set.

Configuring a Document Set

Document Sets completely rely on SharePoint content types. You will need to be familiar with these and have them enabled on a document library. I will not go through content types in detail in this article, but here is a series titled SharePoint Content Types and Metadata which we created on the subject. Document Set functionality is available by enabling the site collection feature named “Document Sets”. This is enabled on team sites by default.

SharePoint Document Sets

Document Sets site collection feature is active.

Next we’ll create a custom document set content type called “New Employee Packet”. We’ll give it a name and description. Be sure that this content type inherits from the “Document Set” content type so that yours will inherit the document set functionality.

SharePoint Site Content Types

Creating a new document set content type.

When the content type is created, you’ll notice a new hyperlink in its settings page named “Document Set Settings”.

SharePoint Document Set Settings

The newly visible Document Set Settings link.

Click on the “Document Set settings hyperlink to edit the settings of the New Employee Packet document set. On this page, you’ll be able to add content types, specify what documents and folders to include, and what shared columns the documents will utilize.

Configure SharePoint Document Set settings

Configure the Document Set settings.

You’ll also notice that you can lightly customize the welcome page that is generated for your document set instances.

Customize SharePoint Document set configuration

Document set configuration settings continued.

After you’ve configured the basic New Employee Packet document set settings, you’ll want to associate your content type to a document library so that you can create an instance of the document set. You do this in the document library settings page. You can optionally remove the default “document” content type here as well.

content types in SharePoint document library

The available content types in our document library.

Now let’s go to the document library and create a New Employee Packet. Notice that when we select the drop down next to “New Document” in the files tab, we see our New Employee Packet document set icon.

create an instance for new SharePoint Document set

Our new option to create an instance of the New Employee Packet document set.

Click the button to create the packet and give it a name. The packet is now created and you’ll find the welcome page along with all of the document templates!

New SharePoint document set home page

The new employee packet document set home page.

Notice the new “Manage” tab in the ribbon and the options you have here. From this tab you can secure this document set, email a link, capture a major version of the whole document set (which is really cool), view the version history, and see workflows that are associated to the “New Employee Packet” content type.

Manage Ribbon for SharePoint Document Set

The manage ribbon tab for extra document set functionality.

The great thing about the ability to associate workflows to document sets is that you can create custom archival and retention workflows to automate many of the monotonous records management activities associated with the life of these documents.

If we navigate back to the document library, you’ll see the unique icon which visually differentiates document sets from document library folders.

SharePoint Document Library All Items View

Our new employee packet in the document library all items view.

That’s a Wrap

As you can see it’s not completely straight-forward on how to create a document set, but once you create one it’s a pretty straight-forward operation. I believe these are very powerful and have many applications across the enterprise. I hope you learned a bit about this SharePoint ECM feature and, as always, stay tuned for more SharePoint goodness.

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