Category Archives: SPF 2013

SharePoint 2013 - User Profile Properties through JSOM

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Editor’s note: Contributor Tahir Naveed is a Microsoft SharePoint Specialist in the New York City region

Within an organization, users are created in an Active Directory and then imported to SharePoint through the User Profile Service. This service creates User Profiles in SharePoint which have properties like name, email, phone number, manager etc as well as some custom properties.

The following script will access four User Profile properties (Title, Department, Office location and Phone) through the JavaScript Object Model:


1. Create a blank ASPX page.

2. Add a Content Editor Web Part to the page.

3. Copy the above JavaScript on the page to get the following output



Use KnockoutJs in SharePoint 2013

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


Editor’s note: Contributor Veena Sarda is a SharePoint Consultant at Tata Consultancy Services. Follow her @writerpurple

In this article we will see how to use Knockout.js in SharePoint 2013. You will not need server side coding, Visual Studio or SharePoint Designer to build this user interface (UI). Only knowledge of knockout.js is required. Before going into details, I am pasting a screenshot of how the UI will look once this sample is built.


We will need to refer to 3 js libraries. I have uploaded them in the document library but as a best practice, create a different JavaScript library for them - jquery-2.0.3.min.js, knockout-3.0.0rc.js and ko.sp-1.0.min.Ex.js

ko.sp-1.0.min.Ex.js can be downloaded from and has binders of knockout with SharePoint. Some SharePoint data types such as images and hyperlinks need special processing, to get the correct results, which is handled by this library.

We will use a simple example of a product list. Build a SharePoint List – ProductList - with the following columns and add a few records in this list.


Create a Site Page and Insert a Script Editor Web Part from the Media and Content category on to the page.


Click on Edit Snippet and paste the code as below

Click on Insert and Stop Editing. If all goes well you will see the results as shown in first screenshot.

A couple of things to note:

  1. $.getJSON(_spPageContextInfo.webAbsoluteUrl + "/_vti_bin/listdata.svc/ProductList"
    is the main data returning element. Change to your list name and you can add filters at the JSON request to get specific records.
  2. Pagination is controlled in
    self.currentPage = ko.computed(function () {
                                                        var startPageIndex = self.pageNumber();
                                                         var endPageIndex = self.pageNumber() + self.nbPerPage;
                                                             return self.Products().slice(startPageIndex ,endPageIndex );
  3. For image data binding use spSrc (kosp library handles this)

This program can be extended for many other visual effects and checking boundary conditions. This is one of the powerful ways to write a UI without requiring server side coding and without Visual Studio and SharePoint Designer.

Using the updated SharePoint 2013 REST API versus the SharePoint 2010 model

You may also be interested in: Simple SharePoint Migration Tool - Content Matrix by Metalogix


Editor’s note: Contributor Craig Pilkenton is a Senior Microsoft Consultant for Slalom Consulting.

Overview Summary

Since SharePoint 2010, the platform has had REST URI services (Representational State Transfer) that are comparable to the existing SharePoint client object models. This meant that we could interact remotely with SharePoint data by using any technology that supports REST web requests (usually JavaScript) to perform Create, Read, Update, and Delete (CRUD) operations from our apps, allowing us to create applications that consume SharePoint data without pushing managed code into our Farms.

In previous articles I’ve shown how to use SharePoint 2010’s REST interface for querying List data, as well as for creating a ‘Save My Searches‘ feature for your users. This article will cover the changes between how we used REST in 2010 and what we need to ‘update’ for using the streamlined interface in SharePoint 2013.


If you have gotten this far in the article then you’re probably actually curious as to what is different. The really big change that this article is going to cover is the new verbiage for making the GET request from your site; the new “/_api/” portion of the URL.

In SharePoint 2010, we would take the URL for our site and append "…/_vti_bin/listdata.svc". This initial call would then spit out ATOM XML data that showed all the Lists for that site.
**For bonus points, "vti" stood for Vermeer Technology Incorporated (the original creators of Front Page).

1) SharePoint 2010 REST overview

Now in 2013, we use a nomenclature that makes more sense, appending "…/_api/web/lists/" to our URL’s instead. This call still outputs the ATOM XML data of all the Lists, but instead of just List names we now receive many of the properties of the List just in case we need them, including the actual item count inside!

2) SharePoint 2013 REST overview

Once the target List name was found in the 2010 XML nodes we would copy the ‘compressed’ name (no spaces, or else!) and paste it to the end of the URL like so "…/_vti_bin/listdata.svc/Links", giving us an output of all the Items in that List, if any.

3) SharePoint 2010 List Items

Now in SharePoint 2013 we still copy the List name (no longer compressed) but instead of just appending it to the URL we need to paste it into the ‘getbytitle()’ function and add the "/items" flag to the end: "…/_api/web/lists/getbytitle(‘Calendar’)/items". This then outputs all the items in a List just as was available before.

4) SharePoint 2013 List Items

Switching back to 2010’s nomenclature, when one Item was found to focus on we’d copy the Id XML node and again add it to the end of the URL wrapped in parentheses "…/_vti_bin/listdata.svc/Links(2)". This would filter the results down to just one.

5) SharePoint 2010 Specific List Item

SharePoint 2013 keeps the same methodology for obtaining one item, again just pasting the Id XML node to the end of the URL, but after the ‘/items’ flag "…/_api/web/lists/getbytitle(‘Calendar’)/items(33)". The big difference in the ATOM output is we now receive more Item metadata including the full GUID of the Item along with if it has any attached items. This is extremely useful if you need to show a link to the attachment.

6) SharePoint 2013 Specific List Item

When only specific columns were needed or to filter large sets of results in SharePoint 2010, we’d utilize the QueryString Parameters allowed by the OData Query Options documentation "…/_vti_bin/listdata.svc/Contacts?$select=Id,FullName&$orderby=FullName" (see link below). This allows for only pulling back what is needed from the back-end where the cost is less to process.

7) SharePoint 2010 Selecting Item properties

With 2013, all of these awesome query operations are still available, the only change is the new URL syntax that precedes the OData Query Operations: "…/_api/web/lists/getbytitle(‘Calendar’)/items?$select=Id,Title, Description &$orderby=Title". The question mark starts the parameters section, the dollar sign prefixes the Query Options, and the ampersand splits different query options up.

8) SharePoint 2013 Selecting Item properties

One gotcha to note, the "$orderby=" will throw a ‘400 - Bad Request" error if used in a REST URL where you have specified a specific item to pull back "/_api/web/lists/getbytitle(‘Calendar’)/items(3)?$select=Id,Title,&$orderby=Title". A ‘$select’ will just politely be ignored.

9) SharePoint REST URI error

Final Summary

While the same core capabilities are there, and even expanded upon, the new convention is designed to make REST URI construction easier and to shorten the base path. Using _api abstract’s away the need to explicitly reference the client.svc web service, but SharePoint 2013 still recognizes and accepts URIs that reference the client.svc web service. This allows us to build our request links with a bit more characters since we still have the 255 character limit.

Reference Links

Course Summary of TrainSignal’s Course “SharePoint Server 2013 Administration” - Part 4


Editor’s note: Contributor Stephan Onisick is a Senior Software Developer for HP specializing in SharePoint Portal Applications. Follow him @StephanOnisick

Lesson 11: Configuring Email for SharePoint

This lesson goes much deeper than this author wishes to pursue and probably deeper than most “Newbies” will wade into. This section is more suited for the “Super” or Advanced Admin Types.

Looks Innocent Enough?

Bill configures Incoming and Outgoing Email for the Servers. Also he sets up an SMTP Server as well as configuring the Exchange Settings in Exchange.

He starts the lesson by Adding the SPContacts Organizational Unit in Active Directory and goes through the Delegation Control Wizard to add the Central Administration App Pool account. His objective is to be able to create and delete child objects. This gives the Administrator delete subtree permissions for the account.

Next, Bill goes into Active Directory “Advanced Features” to for SPContacts. His purpose is to give the SPFarm account permission to delete subtrees.

He then goes back to the Domain Controller and configures the SMTP App:

Adding the SMTP Server Role

After Installing Bill restarts IIS and begins to configure the various properties:

Setting Properties on SMTP Server

The rest of the lesson gets blurry for an Exchange-Challenged Author. Bill Opens the Exchange Management Shell to run a PowerShell Script to get the Exchange Virtual Directory Path:

Next he uses the URL to access the Outlook Web App (Exchange 2013 Admin Center). After signing in, in Exchange he configures Send Connectors for Incoming Email and Receive Connectors for Outgoing Emails.

Mail Flow Receiver

After this Exchange Excursion, configuring the Input and Output and attaching it to Lists is a piece of cake.

(This is Lesson not for the faint of heart!)

Lesson 12: Working With Sites

Much of this and the next lesson are user interface. It’s good knowledge to have and the review doesn’t hurt—but I won’t classify it as strictly “Administrator”.

Here’s an example of “Adding an App”:

Adding An App

(Hopefully, by now you’ve drunk the SharePoint 2013 Kool-Aid and realize everything’s an App. It’s what God created on the eighth day!)

Lesson 13: Create Libraries, Lists, and Tasks

Much of this lesson is also User Interface Stuff: a good review but not necessarily Admin Stuff.

That being said I really learned some stuff about the relationship of Task Lists to Time Lines, Predecessor Tasks, Pert Charts and Calendars:

Task Lists and Timelines

Tasks on Calendar

(I was obviously surprised and delighted about the strong Microsoft Project-like analysis that can be performed in Out-of-the-Box SharePoint. My advice—if you’ve been around SharePoint 2013 somewhat, just to skip to the “Create Tasks” segment of this lesson. )

Lesson 14: Working with My Sites

This lesson has more relevancy to me for administration. My Sites has complex ties to the User Profile Services, Active Directory and can be connected to the user’s tasks on any site collection.

Bill graciously creates most of his user’s My Sites webs. Then he walks us through the creation of Heather Ackerman’s My Sites web. Bills show the Active Directory connections in data that gets populated:

Heather’s My Sites with Active Directory Data for People followed

Next, Bill signs in as himself and goes to his My Sites. He shows how to follow other people through the interface. He shows how to add a blog and other Apps to his My Sites. He, then, elaborates on the ability to see your tasks from the My Sites:

Bill assigned Tasks as seen on his My Sites

Bill further demonstrates the capability of SharePoint 2013 My Sites to follow other sites. He does this by going to a site and commenting on a newsfeed. Then, he selects to follow that site. This means he will now receive information from the newsfeed on his My Sites.

Then, Bill proceeds to follow a document on SharePoint site. Next he shows the list that he is following and shows how the My Sites software picked-up all his activities and listed them on his activities page:

Notorious Bill’s Activities

He also shows the documents that he is following. Next he notes that if someone changes one of the documents he is following, his newsfeed will be updated with that activity.

(I don’t know about you but I’m sold –Sign me Up for My Sites!)

Lesson 15: Configure the Office Web Apps Server

Bill first explains that the Office Web App Server allows for the viewing of Word, PowerPoint, One-Note and Excel in a Browser. Also this is a server product that runs on its own server. This can be installed on one or many servers on your farm—but your farm must use Claims Authentication. Office Web Apps supports viewing on multiple platforms such as Macs, Tablets, Slates, Smart Phone and other browser-enabled phones.

He further notes the Office Web App Server is very limited as to what other software can be installed such as SQL, LINQ or Microsoft Office Desktop Applications or Web Services using ports 80 or 443.

First he downloads the app from He next configures the Server with specific roles. He points out additional downloads for Server 2008 as opposed to Server 2012:

Server Roles and Features

After configuring the Server, Bill installs the downloaded Application. Next he creates the Office Web App through PowerShell Command:

New-OfficeWebAppsFarm –InternalURL –AllowHttp

(All one line—for Bill’s Server)

Next he checks if the Office Web App Server has been created by typing the URL into a browser to check the discovery:

As luck would have it, we have a Web App Server.

At this point, Bill switches to the SharePoint Server and proceeds to use the SharePoint Management Shell (PowerShell). Next he creates the binding from SharePoint to the Office Web App Server. After a series of PowerShell commands it’s soup. He creates the bindings and switches the service from https to http. Finally he has to change the Oath to check over http as well.

Now all is well in Bill Land:

Note the Option to Edit in Excel Web App

(Note the user no longer has to have Excel on his desktop to edit the App. Not all features are—but most are available.)

What Could be Enhanced for the Future

This course is stellar and really pushes the envelope for SharePoint 2013. Seriously, if you skip any one section of this article, you can safely miss this section without loss—I love this course.

But being a critic and writer, I’m listing a few things for TrainSignal to consider as they spiral upward under the PluralSight banner:

  • A Pre-Test and Post-Test Assessment would be welcome.
  • Downloads were by lesson and include a voice recording as well as a PDF.
    • A single download would be preferable.
    • It would be nice if the voice downloads were optional. They are really time-consuming and not everyone will use them.
    • The PDFs were not labeled and did not contain all the screens.
      (Hint: Hire someone who can document courses better—gee I think I know someone! :-) )
    • The Progress on the Overall Course is visible but a way to see the uncompleted sections would be of added value to user.

Conclusion: Summary and Forward SharePointing Direction

Great Course! How can you help but learn. Real Practical Applications with real problems that are encountered. Kudos to Bill Kulterman. 5 Star!

Also remember when this course came out, there weren’t many SharePoint 2013 Administration courses on the Net.

My aim was to provide a thorough feel for the content Bill taught. Also having taught college for four years, I try to add to the pool of knowledge. I would hope that this could also add to your TrainSignal Course Experience.

(So Many Screens to Document-So Little Time!)

Happy SharePoint 2013ing

Course Summary of TrainSignal’s Course “SharePoint Server 2013 Administration” - Part 2


Editor’s note: Contributor Stephan Onisick is a Senior Software Developer for HP specializing in SharePoint Portal Applications. Follow him @StephanOnisick

Lesson 3: Installing SharePoint

Bill starts lesson 3 by explaining SharePoint Server Roles- basically this hasn’t changed in the big picture: there is a Web Server, Application Server and Database Server.

Next he goes into Server or Server Farm Topologies and explains a Single Server or Stand-Alone Deployment.

(I actually have a disagreement with Bill in that there is a difference between a Stand-Alone Install and a Single-Server Farm Install. What he is referring to in this example is a Stand-Alone Install.

The Single-Server Farm Install is scalable where the Stand-Alone Install is not. The Single-Server Farm is actually a Farm install on one actual physical server but is configured as a farm. I have been doing this install for all my development systems. Bill uses the term Stand-Alone later when he shows a Single-Sever. This was vetted with Chirag Mehta, ( a friend on

Next he starts the basic install. After the Install completes, Bill chooses the option to run the SharePoint Products Configuration Wizard when it comes up and of course, we want to run it.

Even though Bill hasn’t used the terms “Grey Wizard” and “White Wizard” to refer to the SharePoint Products Configuration Wizard and the Central Admin’s Farm Configuration Wizard, I will be using this terminology as they are useful to point out some specific scenarios in Bill’s installation. Since the background of the next screens are grey, hence “Grey Wizard”:

Mysterious "Grey Wizard" or SharePoint Product Configuration Wizard

After this configuration wizard finishes, Bill Launches into the “White Wizard” or the Central Admin Farm Configuration Wizard:

Screen to Initiate the "White Wizard"

(At this point many people including me are yelling “Please Bill don’t do the configuration with the wizard!!” Alas, all to no avail. Bill even notes these sentiments. There are other ways to go through and configure farm services via PowerShell Scripts. But there is method to Bill’s going this route; basically, this course is an intro SharePoint Administration on 2013.

Actually this is not as bad as it seems: Bill’s methodology with the major services, like “Search” and “User Profile Administration”, is to initially delete the configured service; then, to reconfigure them.

His simple actions give the student confidence to do the same. This is exactly how I finally got my Profile Administration Services for SharePoint 2013 launched.)

Much Maligned "White Wizard"

Bill does a good job in explaining the basic services and deselecting the ones for a more advanced session.

(Note Bill actually restarts the installation from before the “White Wizard” was run in the next lesson. So that he can go through the wizard again. This means that the majority of services and databases just created will go “bye-bye” and be recreated in the next lesson.)

Lesson 4: Farm Configuration

At this point, Bill takes a step back. He actually picks up from before the “White Wizard” ran, just to see if everyone was awake. (I failed twice.) Some of the services and databases that we configured in the last lesson are gone.

He notes that there is only one Web Application present and that is for “SharePoint Central Administration v4” and then examines the IIS Manager and the SharePoint Central Administration Website.

Next after initiating the Farm Wizard, Bill sets up the “SPSvc” Service Account, Services Account, in Configure Managed Accounts to use an account other than the Farm Account. Bill also spends time discussing password synchronization and how to use the Register Managed Account to see what services are being run by which account.

After the end of the Farm Configuration Wizard, he creates the “Globomantics Main” Site Collection as a Team Site.

Then Bill shows the Services being managed by SPSVC after the Farm Configuration Wizard has been run under Configure Managed Accounts

Register Managed Account after Configuration

(Get any 10 Administrators in a room and there will be 10 ways of doing permissions. This screen under Managed Accounts is helpful to find out who actually has what.)

Finally Bill views the Site Collection in Central Admin and from the URL he opens the site created – you know, the Standard Blue and White SharePoint 2013 “Hello World” Screen. Bill concludes the lesson by showing the new databases created by the “White Wizard”:

Databases – Surprise! Now you see um again-Note Ugly Database Names!

(Note: When the databases are created by the Farm Configuration Wizard, the wizard tacks an ugly guid at the end of the name.)

Lesson 5: The Logical Architecture of SharePoint

If you’ve been doing SharePoint for any length of time this was a “snooze puppy”

Logical Structure of SharePoint

If you have knowledge of what the following terms are: a Farm, a Web Application, an App Pool, a Site Collection and a Site/Web — feel free to move to Lesson 6. If you are really new to SharePoint, the lesson is a good overview.

Lesson 6: Creating Web Applications

Bill walks through the creation of two web sites: the Globomantics Intranet Site and the Globomantics My Sites. But first he examines the Health Monitor. He notes that most of the warnings are because the installation is not complete.

Next he registers SPAdmin, the install account, for the security account of the App Pool he is about to create in the new Web Application. Then he creates the new Web Application from Central Admin:

Creating a Web Application

Bill provides a good explanation of Host Headers, which are needed to give descriptive and unique web directories for applications in IIS.

Next he fills in the information in the Create New Web Application Page so that a new App Pool will be built when the web application is created:

Basic Creation Screen-Bill will change the Ugly Database Name

(Note: See the ugly name for the Database Name with the long guid. This gets renamed to “Globomantic_Intranet” (Yeah Bill!) to make it more understandable and easier to locate.

Next Bill explains the concepts of Service Application Connections:

Web Application Services Hookup

He explains the use of a “Custom Connection Group” when not all default services need to be associated with a particular web application. This might be a web app to do some specific set of tasks.

After creating the Application, Bill is not yet ready to create the Site Collections, so he moves on to create the My Sites Web Application. Basically this is a “Rinse and Repeat” of the first Application created.

Next Bill configures the DNS on the Domain Controller:

Configuring Domain Controller to Configure DNS-Go Bill Go!

(To me this is where Bill really excels doing off-roading. These little side trips can, and do, cost technical people complete days of searching and Googling because not everyone doing these tasks has mastery of all the disciplines involved.)

Next Bill creates a new Host Record in DNS for our Globomantics Intranet Sites (the site will not be accessed from the outside, so only one record is needed to locate the site internally.)

Bill creates another Host Header for the My Sites App. Then briefly reviews the IIS Configuration.

5 Features for your SharePoint 2013 Intranet Homepage

You may also be interested in: Simple SharePoint Migration Tool - Content Matrix by Metalogix


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


A well designed homepage can be the make or break of an intranet. It forms first impressions of the system and acts as a starting point for a range of tasks and journeys.

Despite this importance, many organisations fail to get this keystone of their intranet right. All too often the homepage becomes a static page, crowded with generic content produced by a handful of designated authors.

Inevitably this has a knock-on impact on the rest of the intranet. Users avoid the homepage (in some cases, the intranet all together) and bookmark various other sites and pages instead.

So what can organisations do to create a relevant and engaging intranet homepage? Crucially, there must be a recognition that users’ expectations of the intranet have changed. Rather than just formal top-down communication, employees expect the homepage (and the intranet in general) to be a hub for bottom-up and peer-to-peer communication.

That communication is no longer limited to just change management initiatives or the CEO’s blog either. Employees want to see information relevant to their day-to-day activity, such as personal or organisational performance data.

The functionality in SharePoint 2013 has reflected these changes in user expectations. In this blog, we will explore 5 trending intranet homepage features and explore what SharePoint 2013 functionality is available to deliver these.

1. Creating an intranet newsfeed with SharePoint 2013

2. Surfacing intranet blogs with SharePoint 2013

3. Creating an intranet survey with SharePoint 2013

4. Surfacing intranet KPIs with SharePoint 2013

5. Creating an intranet discussion list with SharePoint 2013

1. Creating an intranet newsfeed with SharePoint 2013

An intranet newsfeed gives users the ability to rapidly and publicly communicate with one another, enabling them to ask questions, post updates, share ideas and more.

For management, it offers an opportunity to engage with employees openly, directly and personally.

Suggested SharePoint 2013 functionality: Newsfeed App

The SharePoint newsfeed provides a microblogging experience familiar from social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. Users can post comments (including rich media), direct it at specific users with @targetting and tag it with a specific topic using #tags. Comments (as well as users and #tags) can be followed and liked.

The author’s profile picture, as well as presence (e.g. online, offline, in a meeting), is displayed on an interactive tile to the left of the comment itself. Newsfeeds can be added to multiple sites on the SharePoint intranet and all conversations are aggregated (and can be filtered) in the users’ MySite Newsfeeds.

Out-the-box example

In this example a member of the Marketing department has used the SharePoint homepage newsfeed to gather feedback on a recent company video. The video itself has been embedded inline from a YouTube link and another user has liked the original post and replied.


Custom example

In this example we’ve simply styled the SharePoint homepage newsfeed app to have a custom header reflecting the organisation’s brand and SharePoint intranet theme.


2. Surfacing intranet blogs with SharePoint 2013

Intranet blogs open discussions around relevant topics in the way that news articles cannot. They provide authors with the ability to not only communicate a message, but also to spark conversation and collect feedback. For readers, they offer the opportunity to have their opinions be heard and addressed.

Suggested SharePoint 2013 functionality: Blog Site and Content Search Web Part

The SharePoint blog site offers authors the authoring and publishing tools they would expect from a consumer Content Management system like WordPress – including rich text editing, the ability to embed video from sources like YouTube and the ability to publish content directly from Microsoft Word. Readers can “Like” or Rate (1-5 stars) blog posts, leave comments and follow / share via RSS or email.

The SharePoint Content Search Web Part can aggregate all blogs from multiple site collections and surface links to them (in chronological order) via a web part on the SharePoint intranet homepage.

Out-the-box example

In this example we’ve used the SharePoint Content Search Web Part to display all blog posts from all SharePoint site collections. This means we are seeing an aggregated view of personal blogs (from MySites), departmental blogs (from team sites) and organisation-wide blogs.


Custom example

In this example we’ve displayed SharePoint blogs as part of a tabbed web part that also aggregates formal company announcements as well as company events in a calendar format. The web part has also been styled to include a profile of the blog author as well as a synopsis and to suit the organisation’s brand and SharePoint intranet theme.


3. Creating an intranet survey with SharePoint 2013

Intranet surveys enable creators to rapidly crowd source valuable information from a large pool of employees. As participants in the survey, employees are likely to become more engaged as a result of having a convenient channel for bottom-up feedback. Due to the potential passing traffic, the intranet homepage makes the ideal location for a SharePoint survey.

Suggested SharePoint 2013 functionality: Survey App and Promoted Links App

The SharePoint survey app provides a template to quickly and easily construct surveys with various question types (multiple choice, rating scales, text fields). Once the surveys are completed it also provides graphical representations of the results (which can also be exported to Excel for further analysis).

The SharePoint promoted links app part creates metro-style tiles with a hover-over state to provide additional text information. The benefit of the tiles is that they are more visually engaging than a standard list and follow the theme of the SharePoint site.

Out-the-box example

In this example we’ve used the SharePoint promoted links app part to display 2 Calls to Action – “Take the survey” and “View the results”. When a user clicks on the “Take the survey” link, the SharePoint survey app is opened in a modal on the same page.


Custom example

In this example we’ve embedded the SharePoint survey question directly onto the SharePoint intranet homepage to make it even more convenient for users, increasing the number of responses. When the response is submitted the web part dynamically changes to display a graphical view of the results. The web part has also been styled to suit the organisation’s brand and SharePoint intranet theme.


4. Surfacing intranet KPIs with SharePoint 2013

By having convenient and regular access to KPIs, employees are able to align their activities more closely with the changing demands of the business. Increasing visibility of organisational level performance metrics also unites employees in a wider cause.

Suggested SharePoint 2013 functionality: Excel Web Access Web Part

The Excel Web Access Web Part enables us to display data from an Excel spreadsheet directly on a SharePoint page. The author has granular control over what data from the spreadsheet is displayed and what data can be accessed (e.g. displayed only a single chart, restrict the ability to open or download the spreadsheet).

Once surfaced on the SharePoint page, the Excel data can also be made interactive for users. Filters and refiners for Pivot Charts and Tables as well as animated charts (using PowerView) can be surfaced so that users are able to explore data in more detail.

Out-the-box example

In this example we’ve used the Excel Web Access Web Part to surface FY2013 sales figures against targets. Users can filter the chart to see data by a specific quarter or month.


Custom example

In these examples we’ve displayed a variety of KPIs on the SharePoint intranet homepage combining a text description with a RAG status, indicating immediately to the user which areas of the business relevant to them are performing or under performing. In addition the web parts have been styled to suit the organisations’ brands and SharePoint intranet themes.


5. Creating an intranet discussion list with SharePoint 2013

Intranet discussion lists, as the name suggests, allow users to discuss particular topics with their peers and subject matter experts. An intranet discussion list could be used for a wide-range of purposes, from a Questions and Answers area to a forum for Product Ideas. The benefit of discussion lists is that employees can tap into a wide organisational network of knowledge and resources.

Suggested SharePoint 2013 functionality: Community Site Features and Discussion List App

The SharePoint Community Site Features allow us to create forum-style collaboration areas. Users can ask questions or start discussions using a discussion list. The content can be ordered by category. Contributors are rewarded with scores for their replies (and designated “Best Answers”) and discussion lists can be moderated by appointed users if required.

Out-the-box example

In this example we have added a noticeboard to the homepage for users to post work-related “Buy and Sell” discussions / adverts. This sort of fast-changing and unpredictable content often helps drive traffic to the homepage.


Custom example

In this example we have embedded the “Ask a Question” field directly into the page for convenience. Additionally, the responses to any questions or discussions added are displayed in-line on the same page, so users do not need to navigate to a new page to view them. The web part has also been styled to suit the organisation’s brand and SharePoint intranet theme.


SharePoint 2013 comes equipped with all the functionality required to create a dynamic and engaging intranet homepage for users. For those that recognize the changing requirements of intranets and harness this new functionality, the rewards can be great. A good intranet homepage sets precedent for a wider intranet experience and can contribute to employee engagement and productivity.

Whilst SharePoint’s out-the-box functionality has vastly improved since 2010, the requirement for customisation remains in order to provide a fully branded and cutting-edge user experience.

Course Summary of TrainSignal’s Course “SharePoint Server 2013 Administration” - Part 1


Editor’s note: Contributor Stephan Onisick is a Senior Software Developer for HP specializing in SharePoint Portal Applications. Follow him @StephanOnisick

When I noticed the affiliation between my favorite site,, and, I immediately made contact with TrainSignal and proposed some course reviews. Being closer to the “Suma Come Later” crowd than the “Technology Bleeding Edge” crowd, I wanted to offer my perspective and insight as a kind of compendium or adjunct to some of the SharePoint Courses.

The YouTube offerings from TrainSignal were top notch and I couldn’t wait to partake in their course offerings. As part of my review arrangement, I have access to their courses for the next year (Awesome!).

My choice of “SharePoint Server 2013 Administration” was deliberate. My normal role as developer had been altered to configure some SharePoint 2013 virtual machines for our test environment. To say I was challenged was an understatement. I was only peripherally familiar with Active Directory, DNS, Server Manager, Firewalls and Domain Controllers. I was looking for a good introduction without too many assumptions of prerequisites.

Being a member of, and Safari Online, I had actively been looking for SharePoint 2013 Administration Courses and couldn’t find one. TrainSignal’s course fit the ticket exactly. (Soon to be part of for a mere 27 million!)

To be fair, I know, has an offering—but I was not a member and did not want to outlay cash. Also, has sixty-five SharePoint Courses with approximately seventeen SharePoint 2013 courses—but none, at this time, were specifically designed to be an administration guide to SharePoint 2013—much less a “Newbie Admin” .

This course was specifically designed for the first-time admin—but there are also pointers for the seasoned veteran that might just be new to SharePoint 2013.

Train Signal Opening Menu

Course Menu - User Profile Service (Most Awesome Module) Circled

My tale gets even more woeful: I had been trying for three weeks to resolve “User Profile Administration” in Central Admin of a SharePoint 2013 development installation. I just wanted the User Profile Service to pick up my test users from Active Directory. Not surprisingly, when I got access to the course, I immediately opened the Lesson 10 on “User Profile Service Administration”.

What I found in that lesson was a Godsend! After watching the Lesson about twice and following Bill Kulterman’s instructions. My Profile Service was up and running and I successfully imported my Test Active Directory users. (There was life after User Profile Service Administration!)

Reticent Programmer

Bill had impressed me with his friendliness so much so that I’d even buy a used car from him?

Bill Kulterman: My Hero!

(I just found this YouTube Video Bill made if you’d like a sample of his congenial style: SharePoint 2013 - Creating a Web Application & Site Collection - YouTube)

What I specifically liked about the way Bill taught was that he navigates you into the problems that you WILL encounter and is friendlier than Microsoft Documentation at solving them.

My methodology for reviewing this course will be to give my impressions and point out the salient features in the lessons. I also provide a decent running dialogue of what’s being covered.
(Note: By my gestimate, in this course Bill goes through at least 500 screens, I have tried to include a representative sampling.)

Lesson 1: Getting Started with SharePoint

The Intro was the basic “Hi and Howdy” spiel—necessary, but just enough to move you on.

Lesson 2: Preparing for the SharePoint Install

Bill begins to get into “red meat” with this lesson 2. What most SharePoint Administrators know is that doing SharePoint involves a lot of off-roading. There are a number of components that go into a SharePoint Installation such as Configuring Service Accounts in Active Directory, Setup of SQL Server, and Firewall Configuration

I especially like his preparation of the Accounts in Active Directory to setup the accounts for the permission management and his use of the “Least Privilege” philosophy:

Setting up Admin Accounts in Active Directory

Next he proceeds to the SQL Server Install. SQL Server is the “bread and butter” of SharePoint. It is essential that the Admin have a feeling of how SQL integrates with SharePoint.

One thing that I value in his coverage is the seemingly obscure topics like “Max Degrees of Parallelism”. These obscurities come back to bite you if not set correctly.

Next he covers the actual SharePoint Prerequisites Install—which is part of the Setup download. After a couple of screens and a few reboots, “Bob’s your Uncle” and it’s onward to the SharePoint 2013 Install!

Embed a PowerPoint Presentation into a SharePoint 2013 Page

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


Office Web Apps (as part of SharePoint 2013) allow SharePoint users to view and edit Office documents (Word, PowerPoint, Excel etc.) from within the browser. Typically a user will click on a link to a document, for example in a document library, and be taken to a new page, as seen below:


But what if you want to present a document, specifically a PowerPoint presentation, in context on another page? In this blog I will show you how to do so.

Create (or upload) the PowerPoint Presentation

Start by navigating to your SharePoint 2013 site’s document library, or wherever is most appropriate to store your PowerPoint presentation.

If you have already created your PowerPoint presentation simply upload it to the document library. If not, click on “New Document” and select “PowerPoint presentation”:


Once you have completed your PowerPoint presentation, navigate back to the SharePoint document library using the link in the top-left hand corner:


Click on the ellipsis (…) next to the PowerPoint presentation in the document library and copy the URL:


Embedding the PowerPoint Presentation

Once you have the URL of the PowerPoint presentation (see above), navigate to the page you would like to embed the presentation onto. In this example I will use the hompage.

Once on the page, click “Edit page” in the settings in the top-right hand corner:


Next, click on “Web Part” under the insert tab of the ribbon:


Select the “Page Viewer” Web Part under “Media and Content” and click add:


Click the “open the tool pane” link and click OK to the following pop-up:


Paste the PowerPoint presentation URL into the link field, then click OK:


Now you should have the PowerPoint presentation displaying on the Page Viewer Web Part. However, the Web Part is not large enough to show the entire presentation slides without scrolling.


To fix this we need to give the Web Part a fixed height. To do this, click on the Web Part settings and click “Edit Web Part”.

Under the “Appearance” tab, select “Yes” for “Should the Web Part have a Fixed Height?” and specify 500 pixels, then click OK.


Finally click “Save” in the ribbon:


Your PowerPoint presentation is now embedded on the SharePoint 2013 page using the “Page Viewer” Web Part, as below:


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.

SharePoint vs. Yammer for Microblogging

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


In a recent blog I compared SharePoint vs. Yammer for Document Collaboration. Here I will look at the microblogging capabilities of each product.

SharePoint vs. Yammer Comparison Chart

The following chart provides a comparison of SharePoint and Yammer features at a glance. For more details, and to see screenshots of SharePoint and Yammer, click on the feature set headings.


SharePoint 2013

Announcements Yes No
Updates Yes Yes
Files Upload and share Share only
Polls Yes No
Praise Yes No
Events Yes No
@mentions Yes Yes
#tags / Topics All users Author only
People Yes Yes
Conversations Yes Yes
#tags / Topics Yes Yes
Files Yes Yes
Groups / Sites Yes Yes
Liking and Replying
Liking Yes Yes
Replying Yes Yes
Via Group or Site Yes No
Via Private Message Yes No
Via Link No Yes
Content Preview
Microsoft Office Files Yes Yes, with thumbnail
PDFs Yes, with thumbnail No
Images Yes, with thumbnail Yes, with thumbnail
Videos Yes, with thumbnail Yes, with thumbnail
Internal Pages Yes, with thumbnail No
External Pages No, thumbnail only No
Lock Conversation No Yes
Delete Conversation Yes Yes
Keyword Monitoring Yes No
Embeddable Feed Yes No
Applications iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Windows 8 iOS, Windows Phone, Windows 8
Hide Conversations Yes No
Follow Up No Yes
Bookmarks Yes No
Friendly URLs No, only remove URL Yes, and remove URL


Posting in SharePoint vs. Yammer

Yammer’s ‘Publisher’ tool allows users to share updates, upload and share documents, post polls, praise others, post events and make announcements (administrators only).


SharePoint’s ‘Newsfeed’ has less functionality. Users can hyperlink to content elsewhere (like surveys or events), but the Newsfeed itself is not very interactive.


Back to table

Tagging in SharePoint vs. Yammer

Yammer allows posts to be directed at specific users with @mentions and associated with specific ‘Topics’ (both with type-ahead). Once posted, anyone can add a new Topic to a post.


SharePoint also allows @mentions and uses #tags in place of Topics (both with type-ahead). However, #tags can only be associated to the post by the author ahead of publishing.


Back to table

Following in SharePoint vs. Yammer

Yammer users are able to follow specific people, conversations, topics, files and groups to get updates.


Likewise, SharePoint users are able to follow specific people, conversations, #tags, files and sites.


Back to table

Liking and Replying in SharePoint vs. Yammer

Yammer users are able to flag up useful content by ‘Liking’ it and engage in conversations by replying.

Likewise, SharePoint users are able to Like content and reply to conversations.


Back to table

Sharing in SharePoint vs. Yammer

Yammer allows conversations to be shared to other Groups or to individual inboxes via Private Message.


SharePoint allows conversations to be shared across sites, but only via a hyperlink to the original post.

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Content Preview in SharePoint vs. Yammer

Yammer allows a range of content (Office Files, PDFs, rich media and web pages) to be shared (with a thumbnail) and previewed within feeds.


SharePoint only provides thumbnails and preview for Office files and rich media within Newsfeeds. Pages and PDFs are shared only as hyperlinks.


Back to table

Security in SharePoint vs. Yammer

Yammer allows authors and administrators to delete conversations, removing them from feeds. It also allows administrators to monitor specific keywords that may indicate misuse.


SharePoint also allows authors and administrators to delete conversations. Additionally, conversations can be ‘Locked’, leaving them in place but disabling further activity.


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Other features in SharePoint vs. Yammer

Yammer has a range of additional features:

  • Embeddable feeds allow conversations to be integrated into other Line of Business Applications (note there are several third party apps and an API available also)
  • Mobile apps are available for all major mobile platforms
  • ‘Hide’ allows users to remove conversations from their personal view of feeds
  • ‘Bookmarks’ allow users to follow specific conversations directly from their profile


SharePoint also has additional features:

  • Apps are available for iOS, Windows Phone and Windows 8
  • ‘Follow Up’ allows users to create a personal task from a conversation, which will be stored on their MySite
  • Users are able to create ‘Friendly URLs’ for the hyperlinks they paste into newsfeeds


Back to table


The addition of the Newsfeed in SharePoint 2013 is the most significant addition of social functionality the product has seen. It is well integrated into the platform and provides the simple user experience that employees will expect from consumer products.

However, it does lack many of the ‘Posting’ features found on Yammer (such as polls, praise and events) which make the newsfeed a highly interactive centre for activity, rather than a signpost to content elsewhere. Microsoft’s roadmap will no doubt involve bringing this experience to SharePoint.