A cautionary tale of relying on the automatic backups in SharePoint Online

Microsoft Stores Backups For 14 Days, But Restores Them in 15

So Microsoft keeps 14-day rolling backups of your SharePoint Online sites. That’s awesome – no need to take backups anymore, right?

Not so fast. It’s not always so easy, and by just relying on these backups, you risk losing your data. Forever, I might add.

This cautionary tale is about SharePoint Online, but I’d say you’ll need to take caution anytime you’re dealing with Microsoft’s automatic backups. The story starts with the client doing something unwise – a prime example would be them removing the root web of their classic SharePoint Site Collection (don’t do that!).  Continue reading

Opening a web part page in maintenance mode

SharePoint doesn't work as intended

Can’t access a web part page because of a broken web part? Yeah, that’s a classic issue – and it’s nicely ported into Modern world, too! In these cases, web part page maintenance mode comes in handy!

There’s a query parameter available for accessing it. For whatever reasons, it’s different for Classic and Modern mode, though. Why make things easy if you can make them dificult, right? 🙂  Continue reading

Hackathon win: Resolving Managed Metadata Madness

Won my first hackathon!

I won a hackathon! They had fun topics, it was a cool challenge, a well organized event, and had cool prizes. Since this is the first hackathon I ever took part in, I thought I’d post something about my experience and the solution(s) I figured out. Continue reading

Don’t remove the root site of your classic SharePoint Site Collection!

Let me explain SharePoint

A quick heads-up – if you remove the root site of your classic SharePoint Site Collection, that site’s going to be troublesome to deal with. Whereas you can always restore a normal site from the site collection recycle bin, the root site you can’t. You actually can’t access the recycle bin after removing the root site, nor can you make magic happen with PowerShell commandlets anymore.

Site Collection Recycle Bin

Site Collection Recycle Bin – where you could access your removed sites, if you still had the root site!

The Recycle Bin would be located at a URL like this: https://<yoursite>/_layouts/15/AdminRecycleBin.aspx, but after the site is removed, it won’t be there. 

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How to fix “- – the web site does not support SharePoint Online credentials. The response status code is ‘Unauthorized'” error

SharePoint is not broken - it just does't work

While running some SharePoint Online -PowerShell commandlets, or connecting to a SharePoint Online site from your app, you get a following (or similar) error about your SharePoint Online credentials being unauthorized for something you should definitely be authorized to do:

And that’s not all – by digging into the full error message, you find the underlying internal error:

What awakens my curiosity, is this line:

However, when you open your browser, you can actually log in without a hitch. If that’s the case, this might be a weird internal error in SharePoint Online – doesn’t matter, there’s a hazy and weird, but simple fix!  Continue reading

Using “DetectedLanguage” to return only localized results from SharePoint Search index

How to SharePoint?

Localization and targeting of content in multilingual SharePoint installations is always an issue. SharePoint offers a multitude of ways profile content based on user language (or other properties), but none of the solutions are fool proof. This post describes how to fetch only localized results from SharePoint Search index, which solves at least some of the issues.

Description 

SharePoint Search index can be used in quite a few different ways. Probably the most typical way is by searching on SharePoint, or using webparts like Content Search or Content Results. However, one can also build custom functionality, custom client-side liftups, webjobs, single-page applications, mobile applications and a ton of other things that fetch data from SharePoint search index. However, on multilingual tenants, results are, by default, not localized at all. That means, that typically everyone will get the highest-ranking results back, despite them being in the wrong language. And that’s one of the many, many ways to annoy your users!

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Alternative Languages in SharePoint forcing the (cumbersome) use of localized Managed Properties

SharePoint Search No Results

Localization and multilingual environments in SharePoint are an endless source of interesting issues and blog post topics. In one case, we had a tenant created originally in English, and a site collection created in Finnish. In this particular case, SharePoint somehow messed up the language settings, and ended up requiring the use of localized managed properties on the search center of that site collection. That ended up being unexpected, unituitive and unusable for the end-users.

Description of the issue

Typically, when you use SharePoint Search, you can use managed properties to search for values in certain fields or columns of any items in the index. Our particular use case involved searching SharePoint’s people results for users of certain departments.

“Department” is a managed property on its own, and gets info from – surprise, surprise – a field called “Department” in the user profile service in SharePoint Online. In our case, the Search service API returned results with “Department:HR”, but search center did not. 

After a lot of playing around, it turned out the search center required us to use localized versions of the names of managed properties. In this particular case, search required the Finnish name (“Osasto”) for the property. Before this, I didn’t even know that was a thing! In all of the installations I’ve seen, the plain English internal names of the managed properties worked just fine – so, in this case, “Department”. Continue reading

Web part title changes not reflected to some users in multilingual SharePoint environment

SharePoint is not broken - it just does't work

I encountered another, interesting issue – this time in a SharePoint environment, where multiple display languages were in use. When changing the web part title on a web part on a classic SharePoint page, it seems like SharePoint saves the changes for you. In reality, only some users see the changes.

So, in short: Some other users, on some devices, see the old title, whereas some see the new one. It’s a confusing situation and difficult to debug.

Why do web part titles get changed seemingly randomly?

Imagine this: You have a SharePoint environment, where you have multiple different languages set up. You also have users with multiple different workstation configurations – including multiple different languages. Different users, however, quite randomly see different revisions of web part titles in a very weird manner. This happens seemingly randomly even on new client devices, so no client-side caching is the reason.

This actually likely works as designed, it’s just kind of a confusing implementation. We’ve got Microsoft to blame for that, and their pretty bad documentation… SharePoint actually localizes (and hence saves) Web part titles per-language. This is just not very clearly explained (at all) when editing the page! Continue reading

How to use the Azure AD associated with your SharePoint Online

Azure Active Directory (Azure AD)

With the usual configuration of Office 365 and Azure, there might be multiple Azure AD (AAD) instances associated with your subscription. When creating registrations to whatever SharePoint-related apps that you might be using, if you create the registration to the wrong Azure AD, it can’t access the data in your SharePoint. Or at least without further configurations, it probably won’t get any data from your Office Graph API or whatever else you might want to use. 

How to find the instance of Azure AD associated with your SharePoint Online

It’s simple, luckily!  Continue reading

The effect of using Managed Navigation instead of Structural on SharePoint Online

SharePoint_aint_broken

Have you ever noticed that your SharePoint site just gets slower and slower? That’s probably because the performance of Structural Navigation is absolutely horrible, especially vs. Managed Navigation. This blog post includes our findings about the issue, and I also include some explanation of the reasons behind the difference and a simple comparison to Search-based navigation.

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