Category Archives: Office 365

SharePoint Online Website Examples

You may also be interested in: O’Reilly - SharePoint 2010 at Work


Editor’s note: Contributor Chris Clark is the Marketing Manager for Creative Sharepoint. Follow him @chrisclark005

SharePoint Online, a component of Microsoft’s Office 365 suite, provides subscribing organisations with public-facing website functionality. This type of SharePoint public-facing website lacks the full feature set of SharePoint, but is perfectly adequate for websites with basic functionality (not necessarily small or low-traffic sites).

We were recently approached to deliver 2 such websites for a client (N.B. as an educational organisation they were eligible for the A2 Office 365 Plan, meaning their SharePoint Online website licensing and hosting was completely free)

Both of the SharePoint Online websites can be viewed here:

In this blog post we will give a brief overview of the two websites, exploring:

  • SharePoint Online Website Author Requirements (content management and analytics)
  • SharePoint Online Website Visitor Requirements (user experience and accessibility)
  • SharePoint Online Website Features Leveraged (blog site, list apps and library apps)

SharePoint Online Website Author Requirements

A public-facing website can have all the design and functionality in the world thrown at it, but if the content is not relevant or up-to-date then it is unlikely to have a lasting effect. For that reason, the key requirements from a website author’s perspective were easy content management and the ability to analyse site performance.

Content Management

As the organisation’s marketing team have no internal IT support, it was crucial that the content of both sites could be managed by non-technical authors. The content on the websites, which needs regular updating, includes:

  • Rich text, including videos embedded from YouTube and other sources
  • Links to other pages and external sites
  • Documents (particularly Word and PDF)

SharePoint Online websites allow videos to be surfaced directly from YouTube using the ‘Embed’ tool

In addition to creating and editing pages independently of IT, the website authors also need to be able to optimise the site for search engines (SEO) without having to edit code.

SharePoint Online websites allow SEO properties to be changed through a modal in the ribbon


Finally, website authors need to track the performance of the websites using Google Analytics. As the code snippet for Google Analytics (the code that allows authors to track websites) can change without notice, website authors also require a way to update this without going into HTML.

The SharePoint Online ‘Web Analytics App’ (freely available) allows authors to change Google Analytics snippets without touching code

SharePoint Online Website Visitor Requirements

User Experience

Website visitors need a simple, modern look and feel that helped them easily find the content they needed, whilst conveying the organisation’s existing brand guidelines.

SharePoint Online themes provide the whole website a consistent look and feel whilst custom CSS can be used to enhance specific page elements


As well as looking good, it is also important that the websites meet accessibility standards (specifically being AA compliant). Whilst underlying elements of Office 365 may compromise accessibility, additional code is able to meet the rigorous standards.

SharePoint Online Website Features Leveraged

As I mentioned in the introduction, the SharePoint Online public-facing website lacks the full feature set of SharePoint. Nethertheless, it provides more than enough functionality for many website projects. Here we will look at three areas of functionality in particular; the blog site, list apps and library apps.

Blog Site

The SharePoint Online blog site enables content authors to publish rich text blogs from either the browser or Word. Once published, blogs are automatically categorised and made available to website visitors. The latest blogs are surfaced on the homepage and visitors can choose to follow via RSS, comment with a Facebook account and share content via email.

Publishing a new blog through a rich text editor, as viewed by a website author

A new blog post, as viewed by a website visitor

List Apps

List Apps enable content to be stored, as the name suggests, in lists, and then surfaced on various website pages via ‘app parts’. Adding new content to lists is done through simple forms, meaning that pages with these ‘app parts’ can be updated without the use of code.

Adding a new FAQ through a form, as viewed by a website author

A list of FAQs, surfaced through an ‘app part’, as viewed by a website visitor

Library Apps

Similarly to list apps, library apps allow content in document format to be stored in libraries and then surfaced on pages via ‘app parts’, once again avoiding the need for editing in HTML.

Adding a document by dragging-and-dropping into a library, as viewed by a website author

A list of downloadable documents, as viewed by a website visitor


As you can see, despite the functional limitations of SharePoint Online public-facing websites, they can be more than capable of delivering an impressive authoring and visiting experience. In particular, they can:

  • Streamline content management, reducing dependency on IT
  • Be easily optimised for search engine performance
  • Integrate industry standard analytics
  • and finally, provide an engaging (and accessible) user experience to website visitors

HIPAA Compliance and Office 365


Editor’s note: Contributor Mike Fleck is Co-founder of CipherPoint Software, Inc. Follow him @mfleckca

2013-08-27-SharePointSecurityImpact-01.pngHealthcare organizations have to share patient information but they also have to keep that information private. The two requirements are in direct conflict.  Add the Cloud and things get really “interesting!”

Cloudy with a chance of breach

Everyone wants to move to the cloud – especially for file sharing use cases. For larger healthcare organizations the motivation to move to the Cloud is often to consolidate enterprise users to a common platform (as opposed to the scattershot “shadow IT” approach that exists today). Smaller companies often just want to get off servers. Regardless of why HIPAA covered entities are moving the Cloud or how big those entities are, the reality is they have patient privacy and security needs beyond what Office 365 and other platforms provide. When it comes to HIPAA covered entities Microsoft’s Office 365 is better than most (more on that later) but organizations need to approach Cloud adoption with a clear understanding of what your hosting provider can do from a security standpoint and what the end-user organization is responsible for. The scary thing is that users are adopting Cloud file sharing platforms far in advance of the enterprise actually being able to manage risk of a breach of patient information associated with those platforms.

Carry a big stick

When the Obama Administration included patient privacy enforcement in the HITECH Act, many of us in the privacy business noted that HIPAA finally got some “teeth.” The HITECH Act and other related changes resulted in very impactful provisions relative to breaches of patient data including

  • The establishment of fines for losing unsecured electronic patient healthcare information
  • The notion of shared risk for companies that provide services (aka Business Associates) to a HIPAA covered entity.
  • The use of data at rest encryption as a form of safe harbor from the breach notification requirements

The Haves and the Have Nots

In the first paragraph I mentioned that Office 365 is better than most offerings. The reason I say this is because of what’s called a Business Associate Agreement (BAA). A HIPAA Business Associate (BA) is any organization that provides services to a HIPAA covered entity that traffic in patient information. A BAA is an agreement that a Business Associate signs to share risk of a breach of patient information relative to the BA’s services. SaaS and other Cloud providers are clearly delineated into two camps: those that will sign BAAs and those that won’t. Microsoft will sign a BAA. Google, Dropbox and many others will not. This dynamic is wreaking havoc with organizations that have patient information. At best they can get existing providers to sign a BAA. At worst, they have to track down rogue usage of services like Dropbox and threaten employees with serious consequences.

Common Threads

In the past several months we’ve talked to a lot of enterprise security leaders in the healthcare space about their patient privacy needs relative to Office 365. They tell us that they do not want to be in the business of controlling who can collaborate with whom but they do need to get a level of central control over patient privacy. These healthcare providers, payers, and other covered entities need to identify patient information in Office 365, encrypt that information at rest (to get Safe Harbor), and track who accesses it. Microsoft’s willingness to sign a BAA just means that Office 365 is on the short list of options. These healthcare systems and other organizations recognize that they, not Microsoft, are responsible for how the enterprise users consume Office 365.

Don’t rock the boat

The reality is there are collaboration platforms built explicitly for regulated or high security use cases. The problems with these platforms are that they are much more expensive than Office 365 and, maybe more important, users don’t want to adopt them. The right way to approach the problem is to make the platforms like Office 365 secure for patient information.

Securing Office 365 so that you can safely store patient information on the platform translates to encrypting the data, applying access controls, and auditing access to the data. With these three technical security controls in place, you’ll be in good shape to prove to auditors that you’re protecting your ePHI as required by HIPAA security requirements.

Data Encryption in a Post-PRISM Cloud


Editor’s note: Contributor Mike Fleck is Co-founder of CipherPoint Software, Inc. Follow him @mfleckca

2013-08-27-SharePointSecurityImpact-01.pngThe recent exposure of PRISM and the role that Cloud providers played in that program changes how businesses need to think about Cloud data encryption. These conclusions reduce to two bullet points:

  1. Implicitly trusting your Cloud provider is not a wise move when it comes to storing your sensitive and confidential data in the Cloud. Enterprises must maintain strict control of their information even while it resides and is consumed in the Cloud.
  2. Highly sophisticated organizations want your data. Enterprises need to adopt Cloud data encryption technologies that follow encryption and key management best practices.

Maintain Control

The Cloud provides great economies of scale for both the consumer of the Cloud service and the provider. For example, Microsoft, Google, and Amazon can buy more and better security technologies because they can split their cost-basis across a huge customer base.

The security challenge, then, relates to maintaining control of your information. As someone in one of my recent presentations said, “once you put your data in the Cloud it becomes the property of your Cloud provider who allows you the right to access it for a monthly fee.” With non-commodity Cloud offerings, enterprises can put the Cloud provider through months of due diligence and contract negotiations. That approach doesn’t work with offerings like Office 365 and the like. The best way to maintain control of your data is to encrypt it before it hits the Cloud and then maintain physical ownership of both the data encryption keys and the encryption/decryption functions.

Leave Encryption to the Professionals

While the US Government is the focus of attention these days (for obvious reasons) don’t forget that there are other nations trying to peek at your Cloud data. Like any other group of competitive organizations, if one is doing it the others are, too. This means that your organization is likely to face determined attackers with plenty of resources.

Here are some top concerns when it comes to the landscape of Cloud data encryption vendors:

  1. Proprietary Encryption Algorithms are the one thing that you never, ever want to use. If an encryption algorithm hasn’t been created, vetted, and accepted on a global academic and government scale then don’t use it. Period.
  2. Usability at the cost of security is an approach that vendors take when they don’t have the expertise and experience to devise a Cloud data encryption system that is both secure and usable. There will, of course, always be an impact to usability for securing your data but remember the first bullet. Cutting corners is as good as doing nothing at all.
  3. Encryption and key management requires a pedigree. Encryption and key management are highly specialized disciplines. Few organizations have the talent and experience necessary to make encryption and key management both secure and usable. There are a lot of moving pieces like Initialization Vectors, sources for random numbers, encryption key storage, key rotation, and key expiration just to name a few. We’ve touched on this topic in previous blog.

Is Dropbox vs. Office 365: The Next IT Battleground?


Editor’s note: Follow contributor Mark Fidelman @markfidelman

A big mismatch is looming today between how CIOs view the world and how most employees view the world — and it’s creating an even deeper gap between the two.

For many of today’s employees, IT is the equivalent of the roadblock department in charge of slowing productivity and causing unnecessary headaches. Employees expect instant access to their work-related data and services and data from their personal tablets and smartphones – but, in most cases, IT is unable to support them. In today’s mobile world, employees are not waiting for IT anymore. They are taking matters into their own hands and bypassing IT altogether. That’s dangerous.

In fact, according to a newly released uSamp survey of 500 mobile business users (commissioned by my client four in ten mobile business users happily ignore IT restrictions proclaimed by their slow-moving, draconian IT departments to try out file sharing services such as Dropbox. Its simple experience is a huge draw, and unlike SharePoint, it works just as well on Android and Apple phones as it does on tablets, PCs and Macs. So what’s the issue?

Its infamous security flaws, for one. Ask just about any CIO you know and they’ll tell you that Dropbox is a huge security risk.

In this August 2013 security research report, Dhiru Kholia of Openwall and Przemysław Wegrzyn of CodePainters detail various methods to bypass Dropbox’s authentication, intercept SSL data and use a combination of code injection and ‘monkey patching’ techniques to hijack Dropbox accounts. What’s more, according to the uSamp survey, one in four workers (27%) who shared a document using Dropbox and other unsanctioned cloud services suffered negative repercussions, ranging from lost business to law suits and financial penalties.

That’s a problem.

And it gets worse: 38 percent of respondents to the uSamp survey said that a document shared using an unsanctioned service such as Dropbox reached an unintended recipient in the past 6 months, and 27 percent reported a data breach and negative consequences as a result. So chances are uncomfortably high that if your employees are using Dropbox at their discretion, they’ll make a big – and potentially costly – mistake. Adding insult to injury, SharePoint customers waste nearly $1 billion a year in duplicate Dropbox file sync and sharing services, reports in this infographic :

The High Cost of Mobile Business Users’ Rogue IT Behavior

You can download the full report at

So how can peace between IT professionals and their business users be restored? The de facto Dropbox and SharePoint co-existence solution is an expensive one. Can a clean cut be made? And if so, how?

One obvious solution is to deliver secure, full featured access to Office 365 and SharePoint from corporate-owned and personally owned iOS and Android devices, in addition to Windows. Given Microsoft’s reluctance to offer its prized productivity and collaboration suite directly to customers with multiple operating systems, five MDM vendors – Airwatch, Citrix, Good Technology, MobileIron, and Samsung KNOX – have taken matters into their own hands and offer secure access to Office 365 and SharePoint document collaboration and social features from iOS and Android devices, in partnership with

That’s one potential solution; built-in data encryption for document collaboration is another. What additional mobile security solutions would you like to see over the next two to three years?

Display SharePoint Blogs on a SharePoint Online Homepage - Part 2

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Editor’s note: Contributor Chris Clark is the Marketing Manager for Creative Sharepoint. Follow him @chrisclark005


In my last blog I explained how to use the Content Query Web Part to display SharePoint blogs on a SharePoint Online intranet site, something that cannot currently be done using the RSS Viewer Web Part.

In this blog we will explore two ways we can build on this feature by filtering the results of the Content Query Web Part.

Firstly, we will configure the web part to only show Featured blogs, e.g. blogs that the blog author has deemed of particular interest.

Secondly, we will configure the web part to only show Popular blogs, e.g. blogs that have a user rating of 4 or more stars out of 5 (on average).

Featured Blogs

In order to display only Featured blogs through our Content Query Web Part we first need to add an additional column to our Posts list on our blog site.

To do this, navigate to your blog homepage and click Manage Posts.

Click List Settings under the list tab in the ribbon.

Click Create column under the columns heading.

Call the column “Feature Blog?” and select column type Yes/No (check box). In the description box you might want to enter a prompt for the user, e.g. “Would you like this blog to be featured? Featured blogs are displayed to users on the intranet homepage”.

It is also worth setting the Default value to No.

Now navigate back to the page containing your Content Query Web Part.

Click on the settings cog in the top-right and select Edit page.

Edit the web part and click Query, then scroll down to the Additional Filters heading. Set up the filter as follows:

Show items when:
Featured Blog?…is equal to…Yes

Click OK and save the page. Your web part will now only display those blogs that your content authors specify as featured.

Popular Blogs

In order to display only Popular blogs through our Content Query Web Part we first need to change the Rating Settings on our blog site.

To do this, navigate to your blog homepage and click on the settings cog in the top-right and select Site Settings.

Click Rating settings under the General Settings heading.

Change the voting/rating experience for this list from Likes to Star Ratings.

Now navigate back to the page containing your Content Query Web Part.

Click on the settings cog in the top-right and select Edit page.

Edit the web part and click Query, then scroll down to the Additional Filters heading. Set up the filter as follows:

Show items when:
Rating (0-5)…is greater than or equal to…4

Click OK and save the page. Your web part will now only display those blogs that have an average user rating of 4 or more stars out of 5.

How to Use Power Query for Excel to Query a SharePoint 2013 List

You may also be interested in: Documentation Toolkit for SharePoint


Editor’s note: Contributor Alexandru Dionisie is an Internet Professional and Technical Writer. Follow him @AlexDionisie

If you want to extract all the data from a SharePoint List to an Excel workbook, an easy solution is to use Export to Excel. SharePoint allows you to export a Web Query which downloads that lists data into a spreadsheet.

Besides that, there is another way to extract data from SharePoint without the need to open a web browser and access the SharePoint site. It’s called Power Query for Excel and it’s designed to help by easing data import from a variety of sources. It allows us to model the data in different ways, like filtering and grouping before we import it into Excel. The Export to Excel feature allows us to do that, after we insert the data into the spreadsheet.

In this article I will use both methods to extract data from a SharePoint List and I will let you see the differences (some of them) between Export to Excel and Power Query.

Export to Excel

From the LIST tab click on the Export to Excel button.


When we run the Web Query, Excel asks us for permissions, in order to connect to an external data source.

Here we must click on Enable.


After allowing Excel to connect to SharePoint, all the data from the list is downloaded into a spreadsheet.


Microsoft Power Query for Excel

According to Microsoft:

 - Power Query provides an intuitive and consistent experience for discovering, combining, and refining data across a wide variety of sources including relational, structured and semi-structured, OData, Web, Hadoop, Azure Marketplace, and more. Power Query also provides you with the ability to search for public data from sources such as Wikipedia. -

Download Link | Power Query

From the POWER QUERY tab, click on From Other Sources and then choose From SharePoint List.


Next, we must specify the URL to our SharePoint site.


One important step is about the authentication to the SharePoint site.

Here we can connect:

  • Anonymous;
  • Using Windows credentials;
  • Using MOS ID.


Because I have my Office 365 account connected to Office 2013, in the MOS ID section I just click on Sign In and I am automatically signed in.


In the below image we can see that the data is downloaded (101 KB when I took the screenshot).


In the Query Editor we can see the data from our SharePoint List.

Here we can:

  • apply a filter;
  • sort the data;
  • hide the formula bar;
  • etc.




To download the data from the SharePoint List, click on the Done button.

Now, in Excel we have the SharePoint data from the list.

On the right side we can see a settings pane.

In this pane we can:

  1. see the last update time and we can force a new data refresh;
  2. enable or disable the data downloading into the spreadsheet;
  3. load the data into PowerPivot.


Using the Load to Data Model option, the downloaded data is sent to PowerPivot and from there we can do some more advanced “stuff”, like:

  • create relations between this table and another one in order to create a PivotTable from multiple sources;
  • output a variety of visual data to your Excel worksheet.
    • PivotTable;
    • PivotChart;
    • Chart and Table;
    • Four Charts;
    • Flattened PivotTable;
    • etc.
  • use DAX (Data Analysis Expressions) to to create measures (an upgraded version of Excel formulas);
  • publish dashboards to SharePoint;
  • etc.


Account Information

At one of the above steps, Excel asked us to connect to the SharePoint site.

The POWER QUERY offers us the option that allows us to change the account or to delete the stored connection data.

From the POWER QUERY tab click on Data Source Settings.


If we click on Edit Credential, for the selected site, all we can do is sign out and sign in with another account.


In order to delete a site and its stored credentials, click on the desired site and then click on the Delete option.


We have to confirm the deletion, by clicking on the Delete option.


Now, the selected site was deleted along with the credentials.


Display SharePoint Blogs on a SharePoint Online Homepage

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Editor’s note: Contributor Chris Clark is the Marketing Manager for Creative Sharepoint. Follow him @chrisclark005

If you’re using SharePoint Online (as part of Office 365) for internal SharePoint sites, you may choose to create an internal SharePoint blog.

In most cases your blog site will not be the homepage for users, however, you may choose to surface your latest internal blogs (alongside news etc.) on your homepage.

Ordinarily you might use the RSS Viewer web part to surface the RSS feed of a blog. It is important to note that there are technical differences between surfacing external and internal blog feeds via the RSS Viewer web part.

Whilst it is possible to set up external blog RSS feeds (e.g. BBC) on your SharePoint Online sites, it is not possible to do so with internal blog RSS feeds (see the table below).

​SharePoint Online SharePoint On-Premise
External Blog RSS Feeds​ Out-the-box​ ​Out-the-box
​Internal Blog RSS Feeds With configuration​ Not possible

If you do try, you will get the following error message:


“An unexpected error occurred processing your request. Check the logs for details and correct the problem.”

Thankfully there are other ways to surface internal blogs on your SharePoint Online sites. In this blog I will take you through one alternative, using the Content Query web part, to provide this functionality (as seen below).


In order to do this we must do the following:

1. Activate the SharePoint Server Publishing Infrastructure site collection feature
2. Add the Content Query web part
3. Add new columns to the blog posts list
4. Configure the Content Query web part

Activate the SharePoint Server Publishing Infrastructure site collection feature

The SharePoint Server Publishing Infrastructure site collection feature must be activated on the site that we want to display the Content Query web part on, so in this case our intranet site.

In order to activate this feature, click on the settings cog in the top-right and select Site Settings.

Then, under the Site Collection Administration heading select Site collection features.

Finally, scroll down to SharePoint Server Publishing Infrastructure and select Activate. If the feature is already active, progress to step two.

Add the Content Query web part

Now that we have enabled the SharePoint Server Publishing Infrastructure feature we have some additional web parts available, one of those being the Content Query web part.

To add the web part, click on the settings cog in the top-right and select Edit page.

Select the zone you would like to add the web part to (in this example we will use the top zone) and click Web Part under the insert tab in the ribbon.

Under the Content Rollup category you will find the Content Query web part. Select this and then click add.


Now that we have the web part on the page we need to point it to our blog content. Click Edit Web Part and under the Query section, select Show items from the following list and click Browse.

Using the drilldown find your blog site and select the Posts list within it, then click OK. Now click OK to finish editing the web part and Save the page to leave editing mode.

The web part should now be displaying the titles of your recent blog posts (if you have created any).


In the next two steps we will take this basic display and add a summary and associated image to each of the blogs.

Add new columns to the blog Posts list

We need to add the following 2 columns to our blog Posts list:

  • Summary: to display a brief introduction for each blog
  • Featured Image: to display a relevant image for each bog

From your blog site homepage, click Manage posts. Within the posts lists, click List Settings under the List tab in the ribbon. Under the Columns heading click Create column.

For our first column, we will use the Column name Summary and the column type Single line of text. Select Yes for Require that this column contains information and lower the Maximum number of characters to 100. Click OK to add the column, then click Create column again.

For our second column, we will use the Column name Featured Image and the column type Hyperlink or Picture. Select Yes for Require that this column contains information and select Picture for Format URL as. Click OK to add the column.

Before we configure the Content Query web part to display our blogs we will need to add some Featured Images. I would recommend using images in a 50×50 pixel format. For this example, I will use 3 icons which can be downloaded here.

To add your images, click on the settings cog in the top-right and select Site contents and then click on the Photos app. Once you have uploaded your images to this folder you will need to copy the images URLs. You can do this by clicking the ellipsis (…) on the image and copying the URL from the modal.


Then navigate back to your Posts list. Edit the relevant blog post and paste the image URL into the Featured Image field.

Once you have populated your blog posts with summaries and featured images you are ready to configure the Content Query web part.

Configure the Content Query web part

To configure the Content Query web part to display our blog summaries and featured images we must navigate back to the intranet homepage (or wherever you have chosen to place your Content Queryweb part).

Click on the settings cog in the top-right corner and select Edit page. Edit the web part and configure the following settings:

  • Under Presentation:
    • Check Limit the number of items to display and set the Item limit to 3
    • Leave the Group style as Default and the Item style as Image on left
    • Set the Image field to Featured Image
    • Leave the Title field as Title [Custom Columns];
    • Set the Description field to Summary
  • Under Appearance
    • Set the Title field to Latest Blogs (or whatever you would like to call the web part)

Finally click OK to finish editing the web part and Save the page to leave editing mode.

Your web part should now display links to your latest 3 blogs, complete with a summary and featured image as seen below.


In my next blog we will explore how to filter the blogs displayed in two ways:

  • If the blog is Featured (as chosen by the content author), or
  • If the blog has a 4 star or more rating on average (as chosen by the content readers)

SharePoint: How to Restore the Promoted Sites Web Part

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Editor’s note: Contributor Alexandru Dionisie is an Internet Professional and Technical Writer. Follow him @AlexDionisie

Sometime ago I wrote about adding a promoted site in the new office 365. One of my blog visitors asked how he can restore the Manage Promoted Sites, because he deleted all the sites and that option was gone. I thought that he deleted the web part or had done something else.

Because it is a challenge for me to fix something that is broken, I did the same thing and noticed that the Promoted Sites section was gone.


After some testing I discovered that the Web Part (because the Promoted Sites is a Web Part) was actually hidden automatically, not deleted.

How to unhide the Promoted Sites Web Part?

On the right side of the page, where the username is shown, click on the username and from the drop-down menu click on Personalize this Page.


Now, the page is in Edit Mode.

As we can see below, the web part name has the hidden text in round brackets (a).


To unhide it, we must activate the Properties pane.

  • Click on the button (b) that is next to the check box and from the menu, click on the Edit My Web Part option (c).

After we activate the Properties panel, we must click on the Layout property.

In the Layout section, just uncheck the Hidden property and then click OK.


Before we exit the Editing Mode we must add a website, in order to be able to see the Web Part after we finish the operation:

  • Click on the Add a promoted site link;


Now, just fill in the details about the site and click on Save changes.


After we add the site, we must stop editing the web part:

  • Click on the click here link.


For the final step, just click on the Stop Editing button from the ribbon and that is all.

Now the Promoted Sites are back.


SharePoint: I am following

You may also be interested in: Documentation Toolkit for SharePoint


Editor’s note: Contributor Nicki Borell is a SharePoint Evangelist & Consultant for Experts Inside. Follow him @NickiBorell.

A new feature in SharePoint 2013 is „Following“. Users can follow nearly everything in SharePoint 2013. Unfortunately you can only get an overview of WHAT you are following using your MySite. The Web Parts / Lists used to store and aggregate that data are not usable in any Team Site etc.

My first thought was that the new and hyped SearchDriven technique could be the way to aggregate all the content a person followed including outside the MySite. FAILURE. The content, for example, stored under “Site contents -> Social” in every MySite cannot be found using search. Also, the suggestion part of the Following Feature is not based on Search Analytics. More details about Suggestions in the context of Following can be found here:

The facts that matter are:

<!-[if !supportLists]->· <!-[endif]->Sites that are being followed by your colleagues.

<!-[if !supportLists]->· <!-[endif]->Sites that are being followed by people you’re following will tend to be recommended to you.

<!-[if !supportLists]->· <!-[endif]->Sites that are being followed by a large number of people in your organization.

<!-[if !supportLists]->· <!-[endif]->Sites that you have modified recently.

To get information about what a user is following we need to use a REST API call. MSDN documentation which can be found here:

Using, for example, that method:

GET http://<siteCollection>/<site>/_api/social.following/my/followed(types=15)

You get a JSON result set with information about which documents, persons and sites the user who fired the query is following.

Using this JSON result and some jQuery magic we can generate a Web Part containing this information in a list view:


Or the same information in METRO style:


For the jQuery Script to create that list, go to: The solution works with SharePoint 2013 only, on-prem or with O365 / SharePoint Online.

You can use other REST endpoints to feed the jQuery script to get other information’s, too.

SharePoint: How to Use SkyDrive PRO to Sync Document Libraries

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Editor’s note: Contributor Alexandru Dionisie is an Internet Professional and Technical Writer. Follow him @AlexDionisie

SkyDrive Pro is the replacement application for SharePoint Workspace which is no longer included within Office 2013. SkyDrive Pro is intended to take its place when working with SharePoint 2013 and provide offline document synchronization.

SkyDrive Pro is separate to any consumer SkyDrive subscription with the Pro version being used only to store work related content.

This is great for offline access and management of files from all your devices.

How to sync a document library

  • Above every document library there is a SYNC button; click on it;


  • Next, we must configure SkyDrive Pro:
    • choose another path;
    • choose a document library;


At this point , the folder has been created. The folder is actually a mapped drive of a SharePoint document library.

We can copy-paste different files which then will be synced with SharePoint.


The result: