Microsoft’s eDiscovery Platform SharePoint Saturday Twin Cities 2015 Presentation

Presenting at SharePoint Saturday Twin Cities about Microsoft’s eDiscovery platform found on-premise as well within Office 365. This year I have worked with several clients around both areas and found there are some sticking points that organizations need to be aware of ahead of time before implementing. You can check out the presentation here. Hope you get some good information from there. If you have any questions please post a comment!



SharePoint 2013 and Project Management – MN Project Users Group Presentation

Recently I had the opportunity to speak at the MN Project Users Group about using SharePoint 2013 for Project Management. Within the 2013 realm there are multiple options for Project Management depending upon what your overall needs are.

Ultimately during this and a previous version of the presentation I heard organizations are looking for different types of solutions for different types of projects. Light weight and low cost solutions for small and medium projects and more robust solutions for enterprise level projects. Personally what I have seen as utilizing SharePoint out of the box features (2007 to 2013 versions) works for those smaller and medium size projects. And those large projects that need a lot of oversight, visibility, time tracking, etc. you would want to use a product like Project Server 2013.

Now I am not a Project Server guru, but I do understand the capability of needing to roll-up projects for visibility. I also know that in the past Project Server has been a little clunky. However from what I saw from the co-presenter for this session made me become more of a believer of the product.

Here is the SlideShare for this event. Hope you enjoy it! MPUG SharePoint 2013 and Project Management


SharePoint 2013 and the New Visual Best Bets

Last week, I had an opportunity to dive into SharePoint 2013 and the Search Query Rules for a presentation I did at TechFuse. Part of that presentation was talking about Search Query Rules. This feature in SharePoint 2013 replaces Keywords and Best Bets found in 2007 and 2010. This feature allows for organizations to target specific content based on the keywords and synonyms that are search on. This can be used for a variety of different scenarios including (for the intranet) targeted company information such as benefits enrollment. One of the best features is the ability to set a review and publishing start and end dates.

Most of the features are the same as in previous versions of SharePoint with exception to the visual best bet. In SharePoint 2010 if you had FAST installed there is a feature called visual best bet which allows you to point to an image or page stored within SharePoint. This was pretty straight forward. In SharePoint 2013 they now have a checkbox where you check to “Render the URL as a banner instead of as a hyperlink”. This replaces the Visual Best Bet.


By checking that box if your page is a web page you will receive the following associated to your best bet.


Upon looking at the item SharePoint is embedding the promoted item banner as an iFrame in the search results with a fixed width of 500 pixels x 150 pixels. That does not render well and is a problem in my opinion. Based on this information if you were to use an image and create a secondary promoted item you would have to crop that image and get it to be just right.

Another innovation within SharePoint 2013 is something called Image Renditions. SharePoint allows any image that is added into the environment and has a content type of an image the ability to render different versions. For example:


Out of the box options for Image Renditions include:

  • Display Template Pictures 3 Lines: 100 x 100 pixels
  • Display Template Video: 120 x 60 pixels
  • Display Template Picture on Top: 304 x 100 pixels
  • Display Template Large Picture: 468 x 220 pixels

Also, when you are in Image Renditions for a specific image you have the capability of adjusting the picture to focus on a specific part of the image.

Based on this new feature we can have some fun with Promoted Items and Image Renditions.

    1. Create a new Image Rendition by going to Settings > Site Settings > Look and Feel section > Image Renditions
    2. Click on Add new item just above the existing Image Renditions
    3. Give a name such as “Promoted Result” and give a Width of 500 and Height of 150 and Save


  • Navigate to a Media Library within the site collection and add an image
  • After upload hover over the image and click on the More ellipses (. . . ) to access the image menu
  • Choose Edit Renditions
  • Adjust the focus of the image by finding the new Promoted Result image rendition and click on “Click to change”
  • Once completed then copy the URL, which now includes RenditionID syntax “http://~CorporateHero.jpg?RenditionID=5”
  • Go into Search Query Result found in Site Settings > Site Collection Administration > Search Query Rules and use the copied URL

Once completed you should see the results immediately when searching.


Personally I love the Image Renditions feature and plan on using it for other day to day activities within SharePoint 2013. Enjoy!

<Update June 4, 2013>

Keep in mind when working with SharePoint there seems to always be a catch. The catch here is that publishing features need to be enabled for image renditions to work. You will also need to enable Blob Caching in order for the feature to be available. Here is a post by Tony Phillips that describes that process:



SharePoint 2013 Learning Roadmap and Certifications

As with any new release there is an associated learning curve for anybody within the industry. In the past, Microsoft would rely solely on Microsoft Learning Centers to help get the information out. For SharePoint 2013 they are starting to do more. Recently multiple Learning Roadmaps for SharePoint 2013 were released to help IT Professionals understand what has changed with the platform. These Learning Roadmaps are broken down into:

  • Authentication in SharePoint 2013
  • Upgrade for SharePoint 2013
  • Virtualize SharePoint 2013
  • Windows PowerShell for SharePoint 2013

Within each of these Learning Roadmaps Microsoft breaks the information down into: Prerequisite information, 100 through 300 Level information, Ongoing Learning and other resources. A very handy tool for gaining knowledge on the SharePoint 2013 platform.

SharePoint 2013 Learning Roadmaps

Additionally it should be noted that the SharePoint 2013 certification path has changed, and in my opinion, for the better. My colleague Brian Caauwe wrote a post last October detailing the new and upgrade certifications for SharePoint 2013 within a post of SharePoint 2013 IT Pro Certifications. In essence for an IT Pro to be certified with SharePoint 2013 they will need to have their MCSA for Windows Server 2012. That is correct, you will need to understand the underlying server platform along with the SharePoint 2013 platform to become fully certified!

Luckily if you already have your SharePoint 2010 MCITP then it is a single exam (70-417 Upgrading Your Skills to MCSA Windows Server 2012) that you will need to worry about.

With all that said, I believe all of us will be putting in some time and studying to get ready for this within the coming year. Good luck to all going after your certifications.



SharePoint Conference 2012 – Advanced Dashboard Creation Using Excel, Excel Services, PerformancePoint and Apps for Office

Later on day 3 of the SPC12 conference I sat in a packed session with Kevin Donovan talking about some of the advances of SharePoint, Excel, and PerformancePoint. Kevin started by talking the different levels of Business Intelligence that are being move evident within today’s workplace. These include:

  • Personal Business Intelligence – using Excel and connecting to data (available On Premises and Cloud)
  • Self-Service Business Intelligence – create Excel and publish to SharePoint (available On Premises and limited Cloud)
  • Corporate Business Intelligence – authored using SharePoint, Excel Services, and PerformancePoint for the entire organization (available On Premises and very limited Cloud)

Kevin jumped into great advances within the Excel 2013 including:

  • Quick Analysis – right click on table to access and this gives you many tools to quickly analyze your information
  • Recommended Pivot Tables – when creating a Pivot Table this will bring in any other pieces of data, such as Power View and make them available
  • Timeline Slicer – similar to regular slicers except based on time
  • Power View – which is now included within Excel 2013 and not an add-in

Kevin continued to talked about some of the issues that arise when self-service Business Intelligence becomes more prevalent within organizations. People tend to start questioning the validity of the data and ask where it came from. Microsoft recently acquired an auditing product called Audit and Control Management server. This product will be able to audit changes make to spreadsheets, configure an custom alerts and even access historical information about the file. This will help with internal compliance and regulatory needs.

One of the newer tools that is available within SQL Server Data Tools (called BIDS previously) allows IT to bring in a PowerPivot set of data found within an Excel workbook and use within Analysis Services. This helps to move the presentation layer for the data from a Self-Service BI to Corporate BI mentality. Of course when the organization is ready to make the move.

From the Excel Services side for SharePoint 2013 there are a lot of new/improved features that have been plaguing this feature since SharePoint 2007. Field List/Field Well is the capability of tapping into data connection within the web browser to choose a dimension. This will negate the need to having to always open the client when working with your data. Another important feature is EffectiveUsername. This allows you to pass a username identity to Analysis Services which is set on the connection string. Ultimately it connects using the as the process identity for Excel Services and then uses the logged on user name to access the appropriate data.

Another thing that I always had a hard time with in SharePoint 2007 & 2010 was remembering what a named range/object was within the Excel spreadsheet. Now with Named Object View v2 we have the capability of choose these named ranged while in the browser and interacting with the information.

Kevin talked some about the new Microsoft App Store. This store is not just for Windows phone 8. Included in the App Store are applications that are created for use within SharePoint 2013 and Office 2013 products. For example, he highlighted an election map for the just recent election that allows you to see over time what happened for electoral and popular vote for the presidency. The Add Apps for Office can be found in the Insert Page of an Office 2013 product.



The Apps for Office currently out there are taking free data sets and creating a dashboard to help developer understand what is possible. These Apps can be created internally of your organization allowing you to tie into existing data sources. Once these Apps have been created they can be published to File Shares, the Microsoft Marketplace, or Corporate Catalogs within SharePoint.

The presentation moved to talked about changes within the PerformancePoint environment. Kevin started out by outline big picture some of the changes within this SharePoint 2013 service.

  • Themes – any theme that is applied to a SharePoint site will be carried over into the dashboard.
  • Dashboard Designer can now be initiated from the SharePoint ribbon.
  • Filter Enhancements & Filter Search – this feature allows you to drill down into information quickly, search for a specific piece of information within the filter and then bolds the hierarchy so you know which nodes you selected.
  • EffectiveUsername – is the same feature as within Excel and Excel Services.
  • Server-Side Migration – allows a dashboard or individual components within a Dashboard to be exported from one location and imported into another SharePoint location. The export/import will also allow you to include data connections and Excel spreadsheets that are associated to your dashboard. This can also be scripted by using PowerShell from the SharePoint server.
  • Dashboard Designer Authentication allows organizations to not only use Windows Authentication but also Forms Based Authentication when creating dashboards.

Overall I found this session to be very informative when it comes to using out of the box features to help deliver Business Intelligence information to the users. In the scheme of things the Excel/Excel Services components would be considered Crawl and some Walking. The PerformancePoint would probably start within the Walk and move into the Run phases for organizations with BI needs.


SharePoint Conference 2012 – Advanced Dashboard Creation Using Excel, Excel Services, PerformancePoint and Apps for Office

Later on day 3 of the SPC12 conference I sat in a packed session with Kevin Donovan talking about some of the advances of SharePoint, Excel, and PerformancePoint. Kevin started by talking the different levels of Business Intelligence that are being move evident within today’s workplace.

To read more of this blog post please click here.