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Posts Tagged ‘SharePoint’

A Day in the Life of a Office 365 User


Office 365 comprises of a lot of services and features which can be overwhelming for an end user. More often than not we hear concerns from organizations and individual users of how roll out of new products and technologies fail. I do not see this as a technology problem, rather a communication and change management issue. At Perficient, we deal with this day in and day out and understand the importance of a successful roll out. Any big technology implementation requires a significant investment (time & effort) towards creating and utilizing process, training, and governance. It’s not just big talk, but an extremely important undertaking when moving your platform to the cloud (Office 365).

When we look at a typical day in life of an end user from the time they start their day to the time they shut down their devices (and brains), they go through their emails, work on documents, involve in conversations (phone or messaging), search for content, and much more. Office 365 connects all of these tasks and make it seamless so it’s tightly interwoven. In this post I will take the opportunity to showcase few of these scenarios and demonstrate how a day would look like for an office 365 user. Read the rest of this post »

Global Rollout for Office Delve

colored_paper_shutterstock_wordpressFor quite some time I have been sharing my experiences and knowledge around the new Office Graph app (utilizing machine learning) called Delve. It’s great to know that this feature is now public for all Office 365 business subscribers globally. Until now it was only available for “First Release” customers and but everyone who wishes to take benefit of this intelligent new feature can now do so.

I’ll give a quick recap of what Delve encompasses. Delve is always proactively surfacing content from across Office 365. It assists you to discover content from various Office 365 streams including SharePoint Online team sites and OneDrive for Business, Office 365 video portal, and Yammer shared links, and most importantly, email.

Here are some articles which will help you gain more understanding around this cool feature.

  1. Delve
  2. Everything you need to know
  3. Make your life easier
  4. Office announcement


Happy Delving!!


Microsoft Interview – BI & Health Analytics are Critical to ACOs

population health

As a healthcare organization, being able to easily locate and capture information is critical when it comes to providing quality patient care and maintaining the financial health of the business.

For accountable care organizations (ACOs), managing population health successfully requires the gathering of insights that comes only from a combination of data – data from outside the organization, as well as clinical, operational and financial data that’s internal.

Last week, Dr. Dennis Schmuland, Chief Health Strategy Officer, U.S. Health and Life Sciences at Microsoft, interviewed Christine Bessler, CIO at ProHealth Care, on how the organization stood up an enterprise data warehouse (EDW) to provide value based care, reduce superfluous costs, and diminish the need for costly care. Using EPIC’s Cogito data warehouse as their EDW foundation, ProHealth Care was able to combine clinical, financial, and operational data across 15 primary care clinics, three hospitals, home health care, home hospice service, and long-term care facilities with outside data sources to meet the current needs of their ACO.  Read the full interview here.

Better together: How ProHealth was the first to stand up EPIC’s Cogito data warehouse in a production environment, and how they’ve extended Cogito with Microsoft BI tools…

Bessler: When we made the decision for our ACO to be part of the MSSP Program, we knew we had to also make an organizational commitment to develop a long-term strategic BI roadmap that we could implement in manageable phases, based on our health system’s stage of maturity. To accelerate time-to-benefit, we knew we had to find the most expedient and cost-effective way to maximally leverage our existing investments in EPIC, as well as our other technologies. We needed to extract and integrate EPIC data with data from a myriad of non-EPIC systems, including our operational data and financial data, as well as external data sources like Medicare claims and HCAHPS scores.

With a scope of that magnitude, we knew that complexity would be the biggest threat to our vision and budget. After an extensive evaluation process to consider all the alternatives, we chose Microsoft’s BI stack and tools because of their simplicity, interoperability, and familiarity to both financial and clinical frontline teams. By adding simple and familiar tools like SharePoint 2013, Excel, Power Pivot and PowerQuery to Cogito, we were able to fulfill our vision to make BI self-service. This enabled us to empower executives and frontline employees and clinicians to turn a sea of otherwise blinding data into actionable insights within the context of their day-to-day workflow.

Read the rest of this post »

Advanced Content Targeting in SharePoint – Part 2

This post is a continuation of my previous blog post explaining advanced content targeting using SharePoint search. We saw earlier how to implement a custom token for the logged in user which filters incoming content in the search index based on the user’s profile attributes. Today we are going to look into creating display templates to render custom result URLs. Before we begin let’s refresh our memory with the scenario here


An internal portal accessed by employees and contractors in three dozen locations comprising of countries and/or regions. Authoring takes place in a separate content site and content is rendered on the publishing site. All content is targeted with three important profile attributes -

a. Location (comprises of country and their region)
b. Role
c. Business Unit

Each piece of content/link takes the user to the publishing site keeping authoring unexposed to the end user. What this means for search results is

1. The results should be targeted based on user profile properties (mentioned above)
2. Customizing search results URL to point to publishing site
3. Customizing hover preview to display publishing pages (instead of the authoring site content pages)
4. Customizing Control template to implement custom paging


In the previous post we covered #1 above. This post will focus on #2.

By default all the search results points the user to the actual authoring pages which is (in this case) sitting in a separate site. Because the authoring site (usually) does not have any branding or targeting enabled, we do not want our users to lose their place in the navigation. In order to avoid that we came up with top level category pages with each of them having sub category sections which render page content from the authoring site. So in essence the publishing site URL for any piece of content will look like this:[categoryname].aspx#[subcategory]. The hash tag in the URL is to enable anchor links (bookmark) feature. It’s not relevant in this context so we’ll leave it out.

1. We declare the managed property mappings – Here we used RefinableString0 and RefinableString1 to map the category and sub category metadata fields.


2. Build a custom linkURL



3. This leads us to the html section to render the linkURL


4. And this is how the result URL look like


Advanced Content Targeting using SharePoint Search

There are various ways to achieve content targeting in a content management system. In SharePoint, some common terms which are associated with this feature are Audience Targeting, Security Trimming, Metadata etc. Today I am going to share an example which we recently implemented for our customer and which required advanced targeting rules.


An internal portal accessed by employees and contractors in three dozen locations comprising of countries and/or regions. Authoring takes place in a separate content site and content is rendered on a publishing site. All content is targeted with three important profile attributes -

a. Location (comprises of country and their region)

b. Role

c. Business Unit

Each piece of content or even a link takes user to the publishing site keeping authoring unexposed to the end user. What this means to search is

a. Customizing search results URL to point to publishing

b. Customizing hover preview to display publishing pages

c. And most importantly the results should be targeted based on user profile properties (mentioned above)


In order achieve the above, we designed a custom solution extending content by search web part. This solution inserts a query token into the content search web part which filters the indexed content with logged in user’s profile attributes (Location, Role, Business Unit). (Credit goes to my colleague Ryan Selley for developing this robust solution)

First we’ll map managed properties to crawled properties for the taxonomy terms used to tag content.


Then we’ll create the custom web part in Visual Studio by extending content by search.


Then we’ll Generate a custom query variable to insert in the search query box.


Build this custom query token with logged in user’s profile properties in the BuildTAQuery()


This is how the query text looks in the search web part


With this token in place your content is now targeted on the user’s profile attributes. The logged in user will now only see content which has been tagged to their location, role, and business unit.

Happy targeted coding!

How Delve Makes your Life Easier!

For some time now Microsoft has been working on an intelligent fabric- machine learning. This algorithm is (now more than ever) becoming an Delve Img1integral part of many new platforms and products, especially office graph which powers the new Office app called “Delve”. Delve is part of the Office 365 suite and is available for all tenants with “First Release” turned on.

I blogged about Delve in its early days here & here  but since then it has evolved quite a bit. What I wanted to share with you is how Microsoft is rolling new functionality into this app so that life for an end user becomes simpler. There are many aspects when we look into a “day in the life” of an end user but one of the most important ones is organizing and email. Won’t you agree? Taking these two in consideration, let’s look at how Delve makes your everyday life easier!

But before we look into the new enhancements, let’s take a small walk down the memory lane and see what is Delve. Office Delve brings most relevant content to you. This is based on what you’re working on and what is trending around you (your connections, groups etc.). Helps you discover new connection, be it People, documents, or new ideas. All this is done by Delve constantly learning your work habits/styles and creating a globe of information in and around you. Office Graph incorporated signals across Office 365 and content primarily from OneDrive for Business, SharePoint Online team sites and the new Office 365 Video portal.

Now let’s explore the latest enhancements that has been keeping the Delve team pretty busy.


This feature helps you organize various content and make it readily accessible and share friendly. Think of this as the same exercise you are Image 001used to, of applying sticky on a board to gather all relevant ideas and suggestions. This feature takes this traditional approach, digital.

Image 002Everyone in your organization can view and contribute to an existing board or create a board—but they can only see and open documents that they have permission to access.  From within Delve, you can search for a board, follow it to stay informed and discover other boards—all without having to know or remember where individual pieces of content live. Watch this youtube video to get a better idea.

Image 003


Boards does not allow you to embed external pages yet; so in essence no public boards!
Currently you cannot add context to the content on a public board. It’s simply pinning a document without any comment or context around it. (Sounds like a yammer integration in the play here)

Image 004


I bet you would not disagree with me when I say email is single handedly the most used/abused application today. People use it to share ideas, circulate announcements, send attachments etc. This is a the latest in the list of additions to Delve. On the Delve home page, attachments found in email show up in the “Home” view. The attachments are presented in cards that provide some context including information about who sent the message and some text from the message body. If a message contains multiple attachments, each attachment is presented in a separate card.

It won’t show you attachments sent by you.
Attachments will only show in the two week time frame. Delve will show items that are of interest to you based on insights it has gathered and analyzed in the Office Graph database. The same kind of signal-driven rationale is used to surface documents stored in SharePoint and OneDrive for Business libraries.
You obviously can’t delete items from Delve – that’s due to the reason that Delve is a machine learning algorithm based on search.

Overall great additions to the Delve family. I’m certainly looking forward to the next one – Yammer integration.



Image source: Microsoft Office blog

The (updated) SharePoint app model development approach

I was recently invited to attend a session at the Microsoft campus in Redmond titled “Transitioning SharePoint Full Trust Code to Application Model Solutions Airlift”.  So, aside from the long title, what exactly was this session going to provide?  I did get a chance to see the preliminary agenda so I did have some idea what the main topics were, but I still wasn’t exactly clear on what I was going to get out of this.  Nevertheless, I was intrigued and knew from the agenda that there were some great topics being discussed so I made my travel arrangements and headed to Redmond.  Little did I know at that time that I was about to attend a session that really put things into perspective with the current state of SharePoint and change how I think about approaching both on-prem and SharePoint Online projects going forward.  In this post, I will go over the key topics that I took away from these sessions and the recommended guidance to address these topics.

airlift intro

At a high level, the primary goal was to bring partners and clients up to speed on converting SharePoint Full Trust Code (FTC) to app model.  Topics ranged from initial deployment, to maintenance, upgrades, migrations, etc., the whole gambit, essentially.  I have been following the Office 365 Developer Patterns and Practices Team (PnP) for some time so I did have some idea of this before the event, but after sitting through the sessions, going through the labs, and talking with others at the event, it really put things into perspective and made me realize the paradigm shift the platform started with SharePoint 2013 and how important it is to get on board now, even if you’re an on-prem customer.

App model != apps/app parts/app webs

When SharePoint 2013 was making its debut, SharePoint apps were all the rage… many a session was attended discussing SharePoint apps, app webs, host webs, etc.  What seems to have gotten lost in a lot of that shuffle was the focus on the app model and not just SharePoint apps.  It seems that Microsoft is aware of this and the PnP team is trying to help guide everyone to focus on app model (client side code) and not just SharePoint apps.  While apps have their place, they are not the star in my mind and too much focus has been around apps in general since SharePoint 2013 was released.  Focusing on the app model in general (not just apps!) is key and, for those more involve with ECM and Intranet style projects, it’s necessary since apps don’t always have the best fit with those types of projects.

Read the rest of this post »

Much Awaited OneDrive for Business comes to Mac and iOS

This announcement should be music to the ears, for all the Mac and iOS diehards using Microsoft apps. Earlier I had blogged about an interim solution for these devices, you can read it in my post here. Last week, Microsoft announced new ways that you can access and manage your OneDrive for Business (ODFB) files from your Mac and iOS devices. The good news is that ODFB works like OneDrive (Personal): You get a virtual drive in the Finder so that you and your apps can access ODFB files normally. That means that Office for Mac can now access files in your corporate ODFB account (which should have always worked). New capabilities in how you view, manage, and share your photos and it now allows you to connect to one or more ODFB accounts.

Previously Microsoft had shipped two separate apps – one for your personal files and one for business files – now you can do this all within the one app. For a business user you can access all your files plus all the files that have been shared with you. You can even access your most recent files plus recover accidentally deleted files from the Recycle Bin. You can download the iOS app from the app store, and the Mac sync client preview from the Microsoft Download Center. You can also take a first look at the new Mac sync client on Office Mechanics. I share below some screenshots from my iPhone, that goes to show how easy it is to add ODFB to your existing app. Read the rest of this post »

Why governing Yammer vs. SharePoint represents an about-face

Yesterday may have been Ground Hog Day, but unlike the movie, I’m happy to report no time loop (although there was a lot of snow for some of us). Aside from the freshly fallen snow, there was also fresh new content over on CMSWire, thanks in part to my colleague Rich Wood and his article The Yammer vs. SharePoint Governance Taste Test.”

Rich is the only person I know who can relate Folders Crystals to governance in Yammer and SharePoint and have it make perfect sense. How so?

Do you remember the Folgers Crystals instant coffee commercials from the 1980s? In these 30-second advertisements, a surreptitious survey is taken of diners in a fancy and presumably expensive restaurant. Served after-dinner coffee, they inevitably describe for the camera how fantastic it tastes and smells. Just as inevitably, the shock of the coffee drinkers when they discovered they’d actually been served Folgers Crystals — instant coffee, not the freshly-brewed European blends they’d been expecting — gave their snobbish expectations the lie.

In many ways the governance of Yammer vis-à-vis the high-powered governance features of SharePoint is similar to that cup of Folgers coffee versus flavor expected of the freshly-brewed premium blends.

Rich goes on to explain that the shocked diners are your SharePoint admins. Within Yammer, the governance features are softer and lighter, existing to guide collaboration. The opposite is true of SharePoint, where the governance model tends to restrict people from communicating outside of approved circumstances. Despite being so different, when deployed correctly, governance in Yammer can be just as effective as that of SharePoint.

Rich discusses the importance of understanding the differences between social, cloud-based collaboration like Yammer and collaboration within the older, document-first platforms.

If you’re used to thinking of “governance” in a SharePoint context, it can be a difficult transition — even an unnatural one — into governing a Yammer network properly while still encouraging user engagement. The baseline systems serve different purposes. Simply put, SharePoint is for files, Yammer is for people.

Read the rest of this post »

SharePoint 2013 Search: External Content Relevancy Boosting

Where’s my External Content?

The first time you bring in external content into your search index, whether that be from BCS or Custom Connector, your search ranking and relevance for that content will most likely be buried under all of your SharePoint content. This is quite common. Don’t worry however, we will go over some of your options to bring that content to the top, also known as relevancy boosting.

Query Rules for the Admins

It has been said and it has been done a lot. Query Rules have become somewhat of a staple in SharePoint 2013. I won’t cover it in detail because there’s a huge amount of resources out there (check out Chris Hines’ post here), however I will leave a small tidbit below.

Often when you are pulling multiple entities from BCS, you end up with a single content source with quite a few different entities that are of different types of content. Good news is that you can split them out.

Accessing Individual BCS Entities

Look for a crawled property called EntityName (might be two of them), and map them to a managed property. For our sake, we will call it MPEntityName. You will want this managed property to be queryable.

Then you can query your BCS entity by running a simple MPEntityName:NameOfEntity.

Read the rest of this post »