Now that we’ve spent a couple blogs evangelizing the use of metadata in a document library, let’s reverse course. Today I’m going to focus on Explorer view. This has been something SharePoint has had for a few iterations now (at least SharePoint 2010, probably 2007). But it surprises me how infrequently it’s used. There are some caveats, which I’ll cover in this blog, but there are some very distinct advantages. Using it in the right circumstance can save you hours of waiting and frustrating.

What is Explorer View?

Explorer View allows you to open a SharePoint document library in Windows Explorer. It uses WebDav (which has its own limitations) but it allows you to move files to and from the library as if it were a local folder. The obvious advantage is being able to download and upload multiple files in a single shot.

How to Use Explorer View

In older versions of SharePoint, there was an option in the ribbon bar called Open with Explorer. Simply click on the button when using Internet Explorer and the document library opens in a Windows Explorer window.

Older versions - Open with Explorer

In Office 365, the option is available from the Document Library menu.

In Office 365 - Document Library Menu

When you click View in File Explorer SharePoint opens a new tab with the traditional view of a document library. From there, you click Open with Explorer.

Open with Explorer

After you click the correct option, Explorer opens with the view into your document library.

Now you can copy and paste as if the library were a local folder.

Good Times to Use Explorer View

Starting a New Library

You may have occasion to create a new library in order to store a series of documents. You can, of course, create the library, add the columns (metadata) to the library, and then upload the documents one-at-a-time, completing the metadata as the documents are uploaded.

But using Explorer View and Datasheet View will save you time and frustrating. Here is the approach I would recommend:

  1. Create new library
  2. Add metadata columns to the library. DO NOT MAKE ANY OF THE FIELDS REQUIRED at this point. If you do so, it may muck up the process because SharePoint will want the required fields populated when saving the document.
  3. Create a view that contains all the metadata columns you want populated.
  4. Access Explorer View.
  5. Copy and paste all the documents into the library.
  6. Return to the library and use Datasheet View for the view you created.
  7. Populate metadata for the documents you just uploaded.
  8. If necessary, in the Document Library settings, mark those columns you want required as Required.
  9. The library is now current and ready for new documents!

Downloading Multiple Files from the Library

I’ve used – and still use – too many versions of SharePoint. It’s hard for me to remember which version can do what. You may need to download local copies of multiple documents in a library. It seems as if you should be able to select all the files you want and click download. This definitely doesn’t work in older versions of SharePoint. The last time I tried in Office 365, the documents download as a zip file… and even then I thought the process was clunky.

Regardless of the version of SharePoint I’m currently using, Explorer View has always worked for me.

Simply open the library in Explorer view, and use standard Shift-click or Ctrl-click to highlight the desired files, and copy them to my local machine. Easy.

Saving Files when Folders are Necessary

What? I just spent some time the past few weeks detailing why folders are an unnecessary evil of SharePoint libraries and encouraged all of you to use metadata instead. However, there are occasions when folders are necessary.

I use it when creating online curriculum that I want to save in SharePoint. The HTML 5 files produced by Adobe Captivate contain a standard index.html file and then a series of folders.

online curriculum file structure

Of course, I could recreate this structure in SharePoint manually. I’d have to create folders, upload each document to the correct folder, and if there’s subfolders within the folder, repeat the process. It’s much easier to do it all with a quick copy and paste.

So I simply navigate to the library where I want the files stored. I open the folder in Explorer View. And then I just copy and paste the entire output of Captivate to the library (after changing the json references… but that’s for another blog).

After waiting a bit, the files are uploaded with the correct foldering structure, and the curriculum is ready for view. A user just has to access the index.html file.

When Not to Use Explorer View

If you want a previous version of a document, do not use Explorer View. Explorer View displays the most recent version.

If you need the metadata Explorer View will not work. If you need to move a series of documents from one library to another, it may seem the best way is to open both libraries in Explorer View and just pop the documents from one window to the other. However, if you do this, the metadata will not be in the new library. This can cause problems if you are actually CUTTING and PASTING. If you go this route, not only will the new library NOT contain the metadata, but because you actually moved the documents, the metadata will not be in the old library. It’s just lost.

Big files. WebDav’s limitation is 47.7 MB. I usually try to stay below 45 MB as a general rule. This holds true regardless of the maximum upload setting in SharePoint. The limitation is not SharePoint’s, it’s the WebDav technology. This maximum size is per file, not per bulk process. So if you have 100 documents that are each 1 MB, you are save to use Explorer View. If you have 1 document that’s 50 MB, don’t even try. It will bomb out.

Conclusion

Using Explorer View can make your SharePoint life easier, especially when working with multiple documents. But you need to use it judiciously. There are occasions when it may cause more harm than good. But if used wisely in the right circumstance, it can spare you hours of frustration.

 

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So far in this series we have covered a few of the tools a SharePoint administrator must master in IIS Logs, ULS Logs, and ULSViewer.  Another that tool that every SharePoint administrator absolutely has to master is PowerShell.  Every Microsoft application platform these days has a PowerShell API, including the cloud applications. To truly set yourself apart as an automation-focused administrator you need to learn PowerShell.  In this article we will cover the basics of SharePoint PowerShell. We’ll also touch on some ideas on how you can put it to work for you.

Getting Started: Permissions

First things first.  In order to run PowerShell commands against SharePoint (object model and databases) you are going to need the permissions to do so.  You are going to need to be a farm administrator and have your account added to the SP Shell Admin group on the databases.  Actually your account can be granted object model and limited content database access if you do not need full farm access.  This is done using the “-Database” parameter of the Add-SPShellAdmin cmdlet.  For our purposes we are going to ensure your account has full access to everything.

There are a couple different PowerShell IDE’s that are available as part of Windows Server and the SharePoint installation where you can author and run PowerShell scripts.  These are PowerShell ISE (integrated scripting environment) and the SharePoint Management Shell.  You can find these by searching form the Windows Server start menu.  ISE is better suited for writing longer reusable scripts where the SP Management Shell is good for quick commands.  Another very good options is Visual Studio Code which is more powerful than ISE, but we won’t cover that here.  It requires a separate install and is free from Microsoft’s website.

SharePoint 2016 Management Shell

Windows PowerShell ISE

The SharePoint Management Shell is just a PowerShell console window with the SharePoint module pre-loaded for you.  The SharePoint Module is the SharePoint PowerShell API that contains hundreds of cmdlets specifically for SharePoint.   If you prefer ISE then you’ll need to add “Add-PSSnapin Microsoft.SharePoint.Powershell” as the first line of your file to gain access to the SharePoint cmdlets.

Adding User Accounts

If you open the SharePoint Management shell and you see an error that the local farm is not accessible, then your account has not yet been added using the Add-SPShellAdmin cmdlet.

PowerShell - the local farm is not accessible

To add this user account to the SP Shell Access role you’ll need to run:

PS C:\Users\andy> Add-SPShellAdmin -UserName DEMO1604\brett

Note the account you’re using to run this command will need to have DB_Owner on the target database.  In this case the SharePoint configuration database.   This also adds the user account to the WSS_Admin_WPG local groups on each farm SharePoint server.

Checking Brett’s SQL permissions we see that he was added as a login in SQL Server. He was also added to the SP Shell Access and SPDataReader roles on the configuration database.

Checking SQL permissions

Granting Access

We have not added Brett’s access to our content databases yet, so he will not be able to run PowerShell commands against sites in those content databases.  We only have one content DB in our farm named WSS_Content_usclouddemo1604.uscloud.com.  Running specific commands against the site content will result in access denied errors to the content database.

Failed login - access denied

To grant Brett access we’ll need to run the same Add-SPShellAdmin command but specify the database name as a parameter.  We have to use the Get-SPContentDatabase cmdlet inside of parentheses because the –Database parameter requires a specific SPContentDatabase object type to be passed into it.

Shell admin access granted

Now Brett has been granted Shell Admin Access on the configuration database and our content database.  He can now run PowerShell commands that interact with those databases behind the scenes.  If Brett is going to need to run PowerShell against specific service applications like search or user profile, he will need additional Administrative rights to those service applications and their databases.

There is a wealth of information from here online about the available SharePoint PowerShell commands.   Check out this API reference. The above should get you the basic access you need to get started playing with SharePoint using PowerShell.

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So how does metadata work in a SharePoint document library? The answer is however you want it to. Unfortunately, from my experience “in the field” so to speak, it seems to be rather extreme, one way or the other. Meaning, organizations choose not to use metadata at all, or they try to use too much.

Remember metadata is used to help locate information. Of course, it stands to reason that the more metadata columns you have, the easier it would be to locate information. This isn’t always the case, as too much metadata can make it cumbersome to locate data. Additionally, when prompting users to assign an excessive amount of metadata, it really slows down user adoption of the SharePoint platform. The most egregious example I saw was a library that had thirty-three metadata columns! Every time a document was uploaded, a user would have to assign thirty-three metadata fields for the file to get saved. What happened? It’s obvious isn’t it? Users stopped saving their documents to SharePoint.

Implementing Metadata

As I said, this is the extreme case. Most often, very little metadata, unfortunately, is collected in the real world. Libraries end up looking something like this:

Typical SharePoint Library

Essentially, the metadata ends up being the exact same as if it were on a file share: Filename, Modified Date, and the person who last modified the document.

Many will use the same methodology as a file share, and create folders. Something along these lines:

Folders in SharePoint

This does make it slightly easier. If I want to find an Invoice for a particular year, I just go to the correct folder. I always make the analogy that using folders in a SharePoint document library is like using a traditional old paper filing cabinet. Do people remember these? Basically, you’d store a bunch of papers in hanging folders with labels. These labels are like the foldering method in a SharePoint document library.

You locate the folder you need, and then shuffle through the papers within the folder to find what you want. Although this works… kind of… it’s not really that efficient.

The problem with this method (and the filing cabinets of old) is that you are limited to essentially ONE metadata field. And although you can find information this way, there’s a better way. Have a look at this:

No Folders

There’s no folders in this library. All the documents are stored in the root of the library, and have appropriate metadata associated to them. So now if I want to see all the Invoices from 2016, I don’t go into the folder. Instead, I simply use the UI filter for the Invoice Year column.

SharePoint Filter UI

Upon using the filter:

Library after filter has been applied

Now you can filter by another column to find what you want.

Library filtered by column

So now I can locate Invoices from 2016 by the ACME Explosives Company. But let’s say you want to find all invoices from this company, regardless of the year.

Just clear the Year filter:

Clearing filters

And you’ll get your results:

Results of clearning filters

This is something you can’t do when foldering in SharePoint (or when using a filing cabinet for that matter). When using filtered metadata columns, you have much more flexibility on what data to display.

Even More Ways to Filter Results

You can create a view that only displays Invoices that are greater than a specific amount. In this example, I’m going to use 1000.

Filtering by amount

Here’s the result:

Invoices greater that $1000

If you wanted to find this information without using metdata, you would have to navigate to each year folder, open each Invoice, and then record those whose amount exceed 1000. Even better, you can still apply filters to other columns. So, If I want to see only Invoices exceeding 1000 by Spacely’s Sprockets, I just use the Company filter.

Invoices greater than $1000 for a specific company

As you can see, using metadata will make you SharePoint life easier. But, as I mentioned at the beginning of this post, you don’t want to use too many columns. You’ll burden, frustrate, and turn off your users to the idea of SharePoint. Too much of a good thing, and all that.

Keep Your Users in Mind

The ideal number of metadata columns is four to six. This won’t overburden the users when saving content. And really, with nearly any kind of content, you could categorize the content by using six columns. In our example of Invoices, we use Company Name, Invoice Year, Invoice Amount, and Invoice number. These columns allow a user to locate a specific Invoice so long as they know some of this information.

And once users understand how easy it is to locate specific invoices using metadata, adoption and acceptance to the platform is only a matter of time. Ultimately, that’s what we all want. An easier and less bothersome way to perform our daily tasks. SharePoint document libraries, when using appropriately assigned metadata, accomplishes this.

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In part 1 of the series we looked at a common SharePoint issue (503 service unavailable) and how to troubleshoot using IIS logs. The 503 can be caused by a number of things including patching and other SharePoint maintenance.  In this article we are going to dig into another critical troubleshooting tool for SharePoint administrators – the SharePoint ULS trace logs.  When troubleshooting correlation IDs and pretty much any other SharePoint application error or performance issue you’ll want to take a look at ULD logs.

Let’s start out by looking at how to configure the SharePoint ULS logging via PowerShell and Central Administration.

SharePoint has hundreds of component categories that you can individually configure to record more information in the logs.  One way to take a look at these categories is with Powershell.

As a SharePoint farm administrator with shell access you can type the following in the SharePoint management shell.

Get-SPLogLevel

Get SP Log Level

As you can see you can get very granular based on what SharePoint component you are troubleshooting.

There a several severity levels you can set with the ULS trace level default being medium:

  • Unexpected – these are typically exceptions that indicate a problem
  • Monitorable- these are errors that may not explicitly break functionality but should be monitored over time
  • High – these are high level changes in configurations, starts and stops of services
  • Medium – these will capture succeeding or failing out of the box functionality like creating site or list assets or enabling features
  • Verbose – these are typically used by developers to dig into code issues and should not be left on for long periods of time
  • VerboseEx – these are the most verbose and can be useful for debugging tracing in code such as loops, database calls, etc

If we wanted to make the trace logs more verbose for a specific SharePoint component you have a couple options – PowerShell or Central administration.

An example with PowerShell:

Set-SPLogLevel -Identity “SharePoint Foundation:Monitoring” -TraceSeverity Verbose

To double check that our change took effect we can run:

Get-SPLogLevel -Identity “SharePoint Foundation:Monitoring”

Get SP Log Level Identity

You’ll also notice the EventSev property.  This controls the verbosity of events written to the Windows Application event log.

To set all category severity levels back to the default values you can run:

Clear-SPLogLevel

Now let’s hop on over to Central Administration and look at another way of configuring your ULS Logging.  If you open up Central Administration and click on Monitoring > Configuration Diagnostic Logging you’ll see the other way to configure ULS Logging

Central Administration Diagnostic Logging

You would just select the category check box and at the bottom select the Least critical event to report to the event/trace logs.  Here is also where you configure the ULS log location on disk and how many days of data to keep on the farm servers:

Central Administration Diagnostic Logging Options

If we hop on over to the folder path of the ULS logs you’ll find several log files with the naming convention of Server name – date.  Let’s sort by newest first and open up the latest using notepad.  You should see a table with many lines and columns

ULS logs sorted by newest in notepad

Notepad is a quick way to take a look at these log files, but the best practice is to use a utility like ULSViewer which gives you the ability to sort and filter these massive files.  You can download this directly from Microsoft here.  Once downloaded you can open up the application and choose File > open from > ULS and get real time log parsing.  This tool is a must have for all SharePoint administrators.

ULS logs in ULS Viewer

If an end users receives an error that includes a Correlation ID you can use this tool to find that correlation ID and figure out what the problem really is.  You can also use this tool to search for the URL the user was hitting at the time of the error.   It is extremely useful.  There are several ways to filter your view of these logs based on any of the fields.  One of my favorites is to right click on an interesting line item > Filter by this item then select the fields to filter on.

Restrict by Entry

Instead of manually digging through log files you can also search the logs using PowerShell.  You can export relevant log entries based on a correlation ID.  Every transaction within SharePoint is assigned a unique GUID called the correlation ID that allow you to drill down into what exactly was happening at the initiation of the process through the end.  To export all events with a specific correlation ID to a new files you can run:

Merge-SPLogFile –Path “E:\error.log” –Correlation “9a376f9e-ac5a-e094-c353-dcba72ad6c9e”

Merge-SPLogFile is helpful if your SharePoint farm has multiple servers.  It will go grab all events with this correlation ID from every server in the farm and put a copy into this new file.

If you have a very large farm we recommend implementing an enterprise log aggregation solution such as Splunk.  This allows you to import IIS, Windows events, and SharePoint logs all into one place for troubleshooting and trend analysis.  It is very powerful and helpful for larger SharePoint deployments.

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Automating a common manual process in Office 365 is easier than ever with Microsoft Flow. We will dive right in and create an approval workflow for the review, approval, and classifying a blog as “ready to submit.” Here is the basic workflow for our process that we’d like to automate.

basic workflow

There a couple different ways to enter in to the Flow designer.

  • From flow.microsoft.com
  • From a SharePoint Document Library
  • From the Teams

In this example, we are going to create a workflow from scratch straight from a SharePoint Online document library. The benefit of starting the workflow from the document library is that the Site URL, list GUID, and other contextual information is automatically pulled into Flow.

GUID

From the document library, select Flow > Create a Flow > Request Manager Approval for a selected item.

You will be redirected into the Flow application to begin editing the workflow.

flow application

At the bottom of the template overview page you’ll see what connectors this template is configured to use out of the box. You’ll find that the “Request Manager Approval for Selected Item” Flow template already is configured to integrate with SharePoint Online, Office 365 Users, Appovals, Emails, and Notifications.

Click Continue.

The template comes pre-configured with the following steps:

  1. For the selected SharePoint Item
  2. Get the Item
  3. Get my user profile
  4. Get my manager
  5. Start an Approval process
  6. Condition (based on approval decision)
    • If Approved (inform requestor)
    • If Approval Denied (inform requestor)

If the get manager action fails, the workflow will send an email to the document creator and terminate the workflow. If the get manager action is successful, it will start an approval sub process.

approval sub processBased on the outcome of the approval process (approved or denied), the workflow will alert the requester to the manager decision.

alert

Each of the previous steps output certain variables that you can use in the current step. So, if we want to add more information about the SharePoint document library item in the alert email, we can click in the Email Body field then select Add Dynamic Content.

add more information about the SharePoint document library item in the alert email

As you can see, we have these 6 items returned from the “Get Item” workflow step. We can add any of these to the email alert body. One thing to not do here is that if you select a multi valued array of data, like “Shared with Display Name,” it wraps the “Inform requester of approval” step inside of each loop, effectively emailing multiple times.

We are going to add more more step to the end of this to update the status field to “Ready to Submit.”

Click on New Step at the bottom. Then select Add an Action.

Click on SharePoint to filter the available actions provided by the SharePoint connector.

add an action

We would like the workflow to update the Status field, so we’ll select SharePoint – Update item.

update itemupdate item

Now select your SharePoint Site URL. You’ll see, however, that the List Name is not available. You can use the GUID from the Get Item workflow step above to fill in here. You’ll need to select Enter custom value and then paste the list GUID in.

For the ID field we are going to use the ID variable of the Get Item action.

get item action

And finally, we’ll have the workflow update the Status field’s value to Ready to Submit.

Let’s save the workflow and head back to SharePoint to test it out.

In our document library now, if we highlight a list item and select Flow > Request manager approval for a selected item, you’ll see a panel appear at the right.

see your flows
Click Continue.

run flow

Based on the design of the work flow it now asks the user to enter a message to their manager.

run flow with manager approval

The manager will get an email from Microsoft Flow and the select Approve or Reject and then Submit.

manager approval notification

After the approval is processed we can refresh the document library and you’ll find our item Status field was updated.

If you did not change the workflow name from the default you can easily do that by going back to the Flow interface and click edit flow. Then just type in the new name and click Update Flow.

workflow approval status

Microsoft has provided some very useful templates right from the start for you. Most processes in organizations require some type of approval and this template can be a great launching point for you to start automating those processes!

Stay tuned for more posts in the future on PowerApps and other solutions in Office 365.

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(Part 3 of How to Use SharePoint series)

In the previous entry in this How to Use SharePoint blog series we took a look at utilizing SharePoint lists. A common complaint from users when making the transition from Excel is that editing information in an Excel sheet is far easier than in a SharePoint list. And for the most part, I will concede this point.

In a traditional view of a SharePoint list you have to open each record individually in order to make changes to the record. This can be quite cumbersome and tedious, especially with multiple records. There is, however, a view that emulates the form and function of an Excel sheet, Datasheet View.

On rare occasions (hopefully they’re rare) you may have to edit multiple records in a SharePoint list. A common example is when a new column is added to a list and all existing records need to be updated with new information. Another example is if a company name changes. There are many unique businesses case that require changing data for multiple records in a list. I’ve heard countless times something like this: “I had to edit all records that were listed as Closed because they wanted {whatever}.”

Management sometimes likes to do things after the fact… which is where Datasheet View becomes a time/life saver. In the later versions of SharePoint, this feature is just referred to as either “Edit” or “Quick Edit.” SharePoint 2010 refers to it as “Datasheet View.” Interestingly, the later versions also reference “Datasheet View” when creating a view. Anyway, terminology aside, let’s see how it works.

Before using Datasheet View it is often times advisable to first create a view. If you create a view that displays only the required information to perform the task you’ll save yourself time and eye strain. For example, if you are changing all items with a specific status, create a view and filter on that status. That way you won’t be looking at every record in the list before making edits.

In my example, I’m going to ensure uniformity in a column. This is a common problem when allowing multiple users to enter data. They may not all enter the information the same way. (Managed metadata would help this… but that’s a topic for a later conversation).

Have a look at my list.

Notice the difference in the Last Name column. Some entered the band as “The Drive-By,” others just have “Drive-By,” and some use a hyphen in between the words Drive and By. Although this may work from an informational standpoint, if you plan on running reports on the data in this list you may get skewed results. It’s best if all values are identical.

Before editing the records, create a view similar to I have. In this case, the view filters on all records CONTAINING Truckers. This allows me to see all the records that need changing. I could highlight each record:


Click Items > Edit Item.


Make the change on the form and click Save & Close.


That process will get old really quickly. A quicker way is just to use Datasheet View by simply clicking
edit this list.


Or you could click List > Quick Edit.


If the button is grayed, make sure you are using Internet Explorer. If it is still grayed, ensure you have permissions to the list by editing a single record the traditional way. If you verified permissions and the button is still grayed, try adding the site to your Trusted Zones in IE.

After you click the button and enter Datasheet View, the list is presented in a familiar Excel-like way.

Now change one record to the correct value and copy and paste that value into the other “cells” as you would in Excel. Because the value in the first record is what I want, I simply highlighted “Drive-By Truckers” and pressed CTRL+C. I then pasted (CTRL+V) to the other rows. The whole process took under 20 seconds.

When you’ve completed your changes, click the Stop editing this list link and you will be returned to the normal list view. Easy. Quick. Finished.

Some parting cautionary words about Datasheet View:

  1. Use Internet Explorer.
  2. The list is live when using Datasheet View. Any changes you make are saved in real time. There IS NO cancelling changes or Not Saving as there is in an Excel document.
  3. Required Fields are also required in Datasheet View. If you cannot inexplicably save a change, ensure that any required fields are presented in the View and that they all possess a value.
  4. Copying and pasting entire rows and columns may be problematic. I have had situations where this scenario works, and I have had it where it fails. There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to what exactly will work, especially when copying bulk items from an Excel document TO SharePoint.

Using Datasheet View makes it easier and efficient to change multiple records. It’s not as clean as Excel, but couple this ability with all the other benefits of a SharePoint list, and it becomes clear that the better business decision is to maintain data in a SharePoint list rather than an Excel document.

In the next entry on this series, we’ll take a look at exporting a SharePoint list to Excel. Confused? Stay tuned.

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(Part 2 of how to use SharePoint posts)

In part one of this how to use SharePoint blog series, we looked at why you want to use a SharePoint list instead of an Excel document. Now let’s take a look at how to best utilize these lists to maximize productivity and minimize frustration.

Filtering

Filtering a list allows you to quickly see a subset of the data. Applying a filter in SharePoint is easy, just click the down arrow next to the column you want to filter.

apply a SharePoint filter

SharePoint will list all the possible values to filter on. Just place a check next to the ones you want to see. In the example below, I am saying “I only want to see records where the Label value is Analog Spark or Analogue Productions.”

select values to apply to SharePoint filter
This is the filtered list.

filtered SharePoint list
Notice the filter icon next to the column. This is a visual cue that a filter is applied to the column. It’s sometimes easy to forget, and then to panic when you can’t find a record you know exists.

It’s now possible to apply a filter to another column. This will create an AND filter. In plain English: “I want to see all records where the Label column value is Analogue Productions OR Analog Spark AND Artist Last Name is Fitzgerald.”

After applying the filter to the Artist Last Name field, the dataset decreases even more.

SharePoint list filtered by last name
Filtering provides an easy way to quickly locate records in a list that are similar.

Views

Have you ever had to share an Excel workbook with team members? You all needed access to the same information, but you all had very different reasons for needing the data. What’s the best way to present the data then? If there’s multiple needs, whose takes precedence (not accounting for title)? SharePoint solves this dilemma with views. If you find yourself applying an identical filter to a SharePoint list on a somewhat regular occurrence, you can just create a view. This essentially saves the filter. And even better, it doesn’t affect the list itself.

A view only changes the way the data in a SharePoint list is displayed, it doesn’t change the data of the list. This means that nothing catastrophic can result from creating a View. Don’t be afraid to
experiment… especially if you stick exclusively to creating Personal views.

Let’s look at the following features of views:

  1. View columns
  2. Sorting
  3. Filtering
  4. Grouping

Understanding these four aspects of views will go a long way to making it easy for you to find data in a
list.

To create a new view, use the ribbon and click List > Create View.

create view with ribbon

Choose Standard View. This presents the data in the most familiar way: columns horizontally on the top row with each record on an individual row.

Provide a View Name that makes sense. Calling it “My View” may sound like a reasonable idea now, but it won’t be after you create “My View6.”

You may have the option to create a public view. If you check this option than the view you create will be accessible to those who can view the SharePoint list. You’ve been warned. A view named Mr. Lazy’s Reports may not go over so well. I advise keeping the view Private until you are certain the view displays the desired data. If you don’t have the option to create a public view, then you can only create a Private View, which means only you can see it.

In the Columns section you choose the columns and values you want displayed, as well as the order (from left to right). Select only the columns that contain the data necessary to complete your task. This will keep the view clean and help you focus only on pertinent data.

Here are the columns I’ve selected for this view:

select columns for view
You can choose two columns to sort by.

choose two columns to sort by
The Filter section is where you tell SharePoint what records you want to see in the view. Use the first drop down to choose the column, the second drop down to choose the operand (equals to, contains, is not equal to, etc…), and then type the value of the filter in the text box.

filter which records to see
I recommend using CONTAINS whenever possible when filtering on a text box. This makes it easy to capture items that are intended to be the same but weren’t typed in exactly. An example is “Music Matters” and “Music Matters Ltd.”

You can use relative values that add quite a bit of flexibility.

For example, if you only want to see records created on the current date, then you can create a filter like this:

records created by date

[Today] is always the current day. Therefore, regardless of the day you view the list, you will only see records created on that day. If you want to see all records created the past seven days, use some elementary math.

filter records by last seven days
Or, what if you just don’t care about what other people are doing, and you only want to see records you created. You can use [me] like this:

filter records created by me

You can also create ranges. If I only want to see albums on my list that were released in the 1970s, create an AND filter.

filter by range of dates
As you can see, Filters in Views provide a flexible way of displaying data. By using relative values such as [me] and [today] you can create Views that are as up-to-date as you need them to be.

Lastly, you can group records together in a View. In my example, I choose to group by Album Title.

group records in view
Click OK to save the view. Here’s what mine looks like.

grouped by album title
SharePoint provides a count for the number of records in each group. If I expand the first group, you’ll see how it was sorted according to Release Year.

sorted by release year

You can switch views by using the Ribbon Bar:

switch view in ribbon bar
Creating personal views based on your job function eliminates the frustrations of having to apply repeated filters. You can choose the specific columns to display to pinpoint exactly the data you need.

In the next entry of the How to Use SharePoint series, we’ll illustrate how you can change multiple records on a list with minimal effort.

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SharePoint is packed with features, and once you connect to the SharePoint Store or Office 365 you’ll see there’s a rich ecosystem with thousands of products.  It’s been described as a 12 billion dollar ecosystem just a few years ago.

Here are nine free tools that could be useful as an administrator.

  • SPDeployment command-line tool by Marco Wiedmeyer – Wouldn’t it be great if you could deploy your solution consistently each time from early builds to release? Making sure the files go where they should, properties are set consistently, and login was handled?  SPDeployment is available on GitHub.
  • SharePoint Health Monitor by ManageEngine – Dashboard to Monitor CPU, Memory, Requests per second, system info, and Disk space in a dashboard.
  • SharePoint Designer is Free! Just kidding, Visual Studio Community Edition and Office Developer Tools.  IDE with plugin provides developer tools with Intellisense and debugging capabilities letting you run solutions in WSPs or remotely in O365.
  • 32 Free Webparts from Amrein – visualization of lists, pages, project sites, task rollups, stock parts, conf room calendars, and way more. They are the guys who did the free Dilbert cartoon webpart.
  • Migration Prep Tools – Quest Metalogix Migration Planner, SharePoint Pre-Migration Discovery Analysis Tool. Use these free tools to understand your customizations, features, solutions, workflows, and more…
  • Help Desk Plus by Ivero – Help desk support templates, Service request management, queue and IT requests including easy to use security and roles
  • Responsive SharePoint – Codeplex templates for SharePoint sites.  There are good starter masterpages that support Twitter bootstrap.  Modern sites will eventually replace this need, but we can’t wait for 2019.
  • Autospinstaller – Automated SharePoint 2010/2013/2016 PowerShell-based scripted installation & configuration process.
  • Monitoring Content Pack 90-day SharePoint Monitoring in PowerBI reports with Office365Mon (free 90 days) Power BI content pack helps users explore and analyze uptime data.

Contact the SharePoint experts at Fpweb for more SharePoint consulting, SharePoint support, SharePoint migration services, SharePoint dev … SharePoint Everything™.

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