Author Archive

PowerBI price model revealed

January 16, 2014 Leave a comment

The pricing of the Business Intelligence on the Cloud (Office365) #PowerBI that we demonstrated a few months ago has now been revealed :

Only US pricing for now.

With 3 licence models to choose  and a price per user, it is fair to say that if you have 1 or 2 “main BI developers” you just need 1-2 licences and all users will be able to see your beautiful BI.

PowerBI Pricing

But be wary looking at the prices as explained here by ZDNet Mary JoFoley:

Andrew Brust, founder of Blue Badge Insights (and “Big on Data” blogger on ZDNet), was a bit less bullish on the Power BI pricing.

“The ‘full boat’ package of Power BI + Office ProPlus is $624/user/year, which is almost exactly 25% more than Tableau Online, at $500/year. Even the Standalone package is $480/user/year which is only a little less than Tableau,” Brust said.

On a side note, there are some really cool PowerBI examples taking part of the PowerBI Contest being submitted so keep an eye on the line-up (interestingly on Facebook, not Yammer or Office365 site : link here). Last submission was 15/01/14 and final judging : 01/03/14.

check out this short video “Ivonne’s story” or how to show-off some BI in a few minutes and make someone’s day.

Ivonne's Story

Ivonne’s Story

By: Carlos De Leon



Found an issue [WITH FIX] with SP2010 April 2012 CU : incoming emails not going to SharePoint

Issue :

Incoming emails to SharePoint are all configured properly and emails are being received in the server’s SMTP Drop folder but they stay there and are not picked up by SharePoint.

Troubleshooting :

Looking at ULS Logs the following error is showing :

E-mail cannot be delivered because site is over quota or locked for editing. Site URL: http://xxxx.

Researching :

A quick Google and it seem that CU April 2012 has raised this issue:

SharePoint incoming email Fix :

Following the steps fixes the issue except for Nintex:

-> SharePoint Central Administration > Application Management > Configure quotas and locks > on the Site Quota Information section >  set a limit (i.e: 5000 MB) on this setting:  “Limit site storage to a maximum of:”  > and then press “OK”.

Nintex issue :

I now work a lot with Nintex workflow and one of the greatest feature in the product is the ability to approve a task via email response called “Lazy Approval”.

The issue with the above is that Nintex drops the Lazy Approval emails in to a HIDDEN library under the Central Administration, therefore we need to set a quota to the Central Admin site as well but as you will experience there no way to select the Central Administration Web app when setting Quota.

Nintex Lazy Approval Fix :

I found the fix on the Nintex connect forum here.

1) get the storagemaximumlevel for Central Administration using PowerShell :

$ca = get-spsite -identity http://sharepointserver:portnumber

Result should be 00000 since no quota is usually set for Central Admin site.

2) set a maximum quota



No IISRESET is required and email will leave SMTP DROP Folder to be treated by Nintex Lazy Approval in a few seconds once Timer Job restarts.

Conclusion :

Seems that either not many environment use Incoming Emails to Sharepoint libraries or not many have upgraded to April 2010 CU since there isn’t much articles about this, hopefully the next CU will fix this issue otherwise make sure you include this workaround in your Sharepoint and Nintex configuration.


[Update] April 2012 CU was removed and re-releaed however it still does not fix the incoming email, making this look like a definite move to disable it by default.

Categories: SharePoint 2010 Tags: , ,

How to break a SharePoint list in less than minutes

My client asked me today the limitation of Sharepoint 2010 in terms of number of words per column types, lines and attachments.

I found the answers in Microsoft website and also this blog that has a good summary.

But then I wanted to prove myself what “Multiple Lines of Text : 192 Maximum Value” really meant for my end user language, so now is the reference to my title “how to break Sharepoint”:

– In a Sharepoint list, I create a Multi-lines column

– Add the value “0123456789” to have 10 characters, then copy and paste this value a few times to have a few hundreds.

– Now be crazy and copy and paste is a lot, I used Word to count my characters and I arrive to 1Mo.

– From here Internet Explorer (I was pasting in a Datasheet mode) crashed, I could have let it think for 30 minutes but decided to crash it after 5.

– Now re-open IE and this list….

– It cannot open ! to be precise: the page opens but doesn’t load anything (blank page).

– And worse: if the list is also showing in a webpart on a page that page won’t open either. Quite an issue if that page is a homepage right ?

Now I had a problem: the list default view cannot be opened because it contains my very large value in a column, and you can only point to the list settings if you know the unique ID of the list (url http://sharepointsite/_layouts/listedit.aspx?List=%7B3C68CBBE%2D3F51%2D402A%2DA584%GD61A0F8C5AFA1%7D)

To fix it: open the site in SharePoint Designer, then open the list gives the option to


The column are now editable and I can change my “Multiple lines of text” to be “Single line of text”


By doing this the long text value in the column will be truncated (and rich text lost if any).

Don’t forget to close the Column edit tab in Sharepoint designer and save the changes.

Now any page containing the view and the list itself can be opened again.

Categories: SharePoint 2010 Tags: , ,

Last day at the International Conference in London

April 25, 2012 5 comments

*** UPDATE – If you would like to see more information about #ISCLondon, take a look at Matthew Hughes’ blog Engage in SharePoint.

The #ISCLondon is a 3 days intense knowledge sharing, specially on the third day it feels like the end of a marathon, may be something to do with the late party last night too!

Today on that last day a few delegate I spoke to had the same feelings: it felt like we are running out of topics for the ones like us who have attended the conference in the previous year or just used SP2010 since the beta version. The topics being discussed seems to be more about SharePoint overview or something we have already seen at other conference.
I did mention in my previous posts some disappointment regarding “mySite demo” that didn’t show anything new already.
I am sure next year will be much more exciting and 3 days will not even be enough.

Now here is a summary of the sessions I have attended today.

Search Center with Matthew McDermott

Form this session I will try to use search web parts more in other pages than search Center, they are quite powerful and work farm wise which may potentially replace querycontent web parts.

Few things i jotted down:
– Only picture library returns thumbnails in search Center.
– Queries you should know:
ContentClass:STS_Site –> will show a list of all sites that current user has access too.
Isdocument:1 –> will return only document
ContentClass:STS_ListItem_Issue –> show list of only issues

– Those terms are OOB but can be made user friendly, by mapping them in Central Admin (creating managed metadata)

– How to re-order the tabs on a result page
Open the tabs list settings, Change the URL “edit list” to “reorder”

– Refinement panel: avoid editing the XML in the dialog box, copy-paste it in an editor like notepad++, before copy-paste back to SharePoint, use the “unwrap effect” in notepad++ so that code goes back into a 1 line format.

Matthew showed a nice custom search result page for his customers scope showing custom refinement, a Bing map next to each person and links to the presence (Lync) information, change the phone number column to a hyperlink if you have Skype or IP phone. All his code will be available on his blog after the conference.

– use Best Bets for important content. (central admin, search keywords)
– create a search keyword with some “bad” words so that you can redirect the result to a special article / text explains the company code of conduct.

Matthew showed us a search Center entirely customised that he called “Bingo” in reference to Bing and his dog 😉 and really looks like Bing with pretty search field and dynamic backgrounds. Proving that you can do a very advanced search interface that doesn’t even feel like SharePoint.

– Matt says the question he likes to ask clients most is “why?.. like a 4 years old”. Because too often customers want something but did not really evaluate the reason behind. For instance a department may want a list of contact alphabetically but why would they? “Well that’s how we always did”. Challenging the why sometimes helps them realise better of way of delivering information, may be through search.

– By inserting a people search core results web part to a home page, adding “responsibilities:”SharePoint” ” on the “fixed query” field of that web part setting will show the list of people having responsibility in SharePoint in the company. This way Matt showed how to display a list of item on a page by using search without being in search Center.

– create a list of the last documents uploaded by a user:
Drop the Search Core Results web part to a page. Use the fixed keyword query field and type exactly what to be retrieved, for instance the contenttype:SalesDocuments, sort the search web part by modified date and show only the last 5 documents.
The great advantage comes if sales people do not upload documents at the right location, it will still show on that page.

Bing and REST services :
Once you have a bing maps developer account. You can send an address and additional parameters such as size of maps and options to…
Bing will return the image of the map at that location..
In Matt’s example he has a page with a search results of the latest pictures uploaded to a farm, an iFilter extracted the longitude and latitude, then jquery extracts the data from the search results and input them in the bing map on that same page.

Tip: use iFilter view tool from iFilterShop free download. This allows you to see the content of a file as the iFilter will see it, ie. all properties.

– How to add a new property to search results (for instanc coming from a new iFilter):
In central admin the new metadata crawled by the iFilter needs to be mapped to a managed property in “enterprise search service application”, re-crawl the search index, and add the extra columns to the search results web part XML.

Final point from Matt to information worker who wants to improve search : “make friend with IT”, you NEED someone in IT (it pros) who is going to help you to do all that pre-work of adding iFilter, indexing etc..

Basic search Center editing :
Get the iFilterview:

SharePoint query content web part By Lori Gowin.
Although I have used this web part for years, I am always amazed that Microsoft expects the power user to do this customisation, I believe they run away as soon as they see XSL code, so I am here to see if Lori can show power user a better way that I may have missed.

– Query content WP can query a whole site collection or narrow down to site or list under.
The only way to filter them is inside the web part settings, they cannot use connected web parts.
Filter keywords can be used : [me] and [today].
Main issue of a content query web part is that there is no paging option, so if only 5 items showing the additional are not accessible.
Lori edits the default CQWP to show all tasks items in her site collection and changes the format to group by site, and add Status instead of the Comments value in the Description field. this shows a little bit more data in your page, but the style is still not great, as we all have seen it.

Now let’s talk XSL.
Don’t modify the OOB style sheet tags, make a copy of an existing one and edit them
-ItemStyle.xsl is to design the item
-Header.xsl is to design the grouping
Now in 2010 the list of columns is updated in the web part settings automatically (as opposed to how it was in 2007, and I remember that well !)
ItemStyle.xml is the file where to edit the content of the query content,
Dont forget to publish it as major version to reflect changes to the page where the web part is.
This webpart does have a cache so it may take a few minutes for a item to show up.

Creating reports without a degree by Virgil Carroll @vcmonkey

Virgil is talking abut BI and why they are important, showing graphs in both google charts and SharePoint and then SSRS.

-Why visual BI are so important:

  • Raw data are often confusing
    Users have different level of understanding
    Reports provide too much info

-How to decide tables vs. graphs?
“Depends on what to accomplish”

-What’s tool to use?
Free charting tools
SharePoint chart web part
SQL reporting services
Performance point
– visual data is only as good as your data is.

Easy way to look at data from the current site as well as other sites.
The webpart Virgil uses is actually the one you can download on AMREIN which I have used last month too and is really easy.
I didn’t know that the webpart can even be connected to a choice filter webpart as is.
Tip: typing in the chart title “/trace” will show the error details in the webpart.

Only available in the enterprise licence of SharePoint 2010.
Webpart can connect to another webpart easily.
Customisation of the chart allows to add anything field as a link, tooltip text etc.quite a lot of chart types, templates of colours are provided.
Arriving to the end of the day, I resisted joining my colleague at the business track since they were finishing the day by drinking champagne, instead I am sitting at the Visio Services by Jennifer Mason.
I have seen Visio services examples before and implemented a short one myself but am always keen to know more business cases of using this more as I actually haven’t seen a client using it fully yet.

Visio is part of the insights components of SharePoint.
Insights includes: excel, Visio services, chart webpart, status , performance point.

Example 1 of using Visio services in SharePoint: use Visio sces webpart and use interactivity of links to change Visio pages when clicked.
User creating the file needs to have visio premium, as the file needs to be saved as a Visio web format.

2nd example of using it: have 2 connected webpart ps on a pag including a Visio services WP and change the selected shape on the Visio when an item is selected in the SharePoint view.
WP has connection option such as “get shapes to highlight from..”

3rd example is the reverse effect: when user clicks a diagram in Visio we can filter list webparts on the page. For instance showing documents that are related to the selected phase.
Each click will refresh the whole page. To avoid refresh the page , seek third part solution or custom code.
“the value of Visio services in 2010 is the webparts connections”

4th example: have a few shapes connected to SharePoint list ad display it on the page.
5th example : connect webpart and preview the Visio file in the SharePoint list, when clicked it shows in the Visio webpart (using send URL of Visio)

That’s it for my 3 days report in the International Sharepoint Conference.
Previous post are easily found searching for #isclondon on twitter, this blog and Matt Hughes’ blog.
Am finishing my day with Q&A with the IT-Pros experts panel, which a question came that made a long debate: ” how can business and IT pros break the bridge between them so that IT don’t decide changes without business approval”, a large subject.


More ISCLondon updates and Minority report in SharePoint

April 24, 2012 1 comment

Today is the second day of the International Sharepoint Conference in London where something like 80% of the Speakers are from the US.
I have been asked if I could blog live on the event by Matt Hugues (@mattmoo2) on his blog and we are a few doing this, so you can read a good coverage at EngageInSharepoint from myself and others.

Despite the many technical and business related sessions I attended I picked a good subject to finish the day and for once I will talk a bit about it here as well as on EngageInSharepoint cause it’s not something we usually see: SharePoint content on a via an XBox KINECT.

The pics below speak for themselves, you can see Dan McPherson opening document libraries and images of his SharePoint site, using a very METRO interface that we are now getting more familiar to see on Windows mobile phones. Although a very early proof of concept what was interesting is the interest it generated in the room. A few life examples being picked by the audience where this could be very beneficial to access documents when fingers cannot do it via keyboard or mouse.

So what’s next? Go and download the SDK on Codeplex and start coding for KINECT !
Minority report was actually accessing Sharepoint documents !:-)

20120424-171603.jpg 20120424-171618.jpg

Full cover of the day at

Categories: SharePoint Tags: , ,

Live blogging at International Sharepoint Conference

April 23, 2012 2 comments

[Edited 03/05/12]

This week I am blogging for the organiser Matt Hugues of the International Sharepoint Conference in London s find me there .

Categories: SharePoint Tags: ,

Feedback from the few sessions I attended at Sharepoint Saturday UK, 12th Nov 2011

November 19, 2011 Leave a comment

As Giles Hamson mentioned I too went to the “Sharepoint Saturday” meet-up in Nottingham for the first time. Since I was on a course this week and driving 3 hours every day I didn’t get much chance to give my feedback, so with a lot of delay here are my personal notes I jotted down in mymemory.

To my surprise, or just because I didn’t actually read the Sharepoint Saturday website much when I registered, I was amazed by the venue, the quality of the speakers (a lot US citizens Sharepoint faces coming just for the occasion) and the attendance. I thought not many professionals would sacrifice a Saturday to come and “think Sharepoint” since I know I was in that case last year but indeed it was quite a success, not a full room in the opening keynote but still a good number, a few bloggers have already reported about the event and a lot of noise on Twitter too, so this one is extra.

To my experience for having attended 2 Sharepoint Best-Practice conferences in London, once as a guest and once as a vendor, Sharepoint Saturday is very similar except that it’s free !

The quantity of knowledge session after session is very intense and if we had a way of attending 2 rooms at the same time it would be quite useful, like a download of information into our brain. Actually there kind of is a way to attend 2 sessions in 1… if you read the Twitter post of next room while listening to your room, but it is quite tiring.

The other point of such event is purely to take the opportunity of networking with the Sharepoint community in the UK and internationally, it’s rare to have people involved into Sharepoint, the ones who blog and write books under the same roof.
The reality is that meeting this close-knit Sharepoint community in real life in just one day does not give much time but it helps to put a face and personality behind a name or nickname when engaging each other on twitter and reading blogs.

Right, so now for the content and what I gathered from that day:

9:15. Silverlight vs. html5: Becky Isserman

This session was a demo of how to create a very basic project in Silverlight and the same in HTML5, but it was really a discussion with Becky and the attendees about the feeling around chosing either platform for development. The conclusion was a BIG “no idea”, “we don’t know” “Microsoft didn’t tell us anything”. So not very useful except to confirm our feeling of uncertainty.

Note to self :

10:20. Customizing the SharePoint Packaging and Deployment Process in Visual Studio 2010: Eric Schupps

I am not a Visual Studio developer since I usually design an application, write my views on what a webparts, event handler or piece of custom-code should do, then the developer would write the managed code and deliver me the packaged solutions to deploy on a Sharepoint environment. However I occasionally have to organise the solutions, re-factor a bit of code or add comments and re-compile and I recently also had to write a few SSRS reports in VS Business Intelligence therefore I needed to make sure I was in sync with other’s Sharepoint professionals’ way of packaging Sharepoint solutions.


One main thing I did not know for not having developed in VS recently and will now add it to priority number 1 when opening Visual Studio 2010 on Sharepoint: install CKSDev, this will add additional tools for SharePoint into your Visual Studio. For instance a very useful Project Item is “Branding” which create master page, CSS and layout page, which will all be activated as a feature when deployed:

CKSDev Branding item

  • What changed in deploying Solution to Sharepoint?

A must have as well is Powertool for 2010 to get additional tools for SharePoint.

Production deployment has not changed: give a WSP and deploy it via Powershell (or stsadm)

Development deployment has changed dramatically, to take advantage of sandboxed solution we can deploy directly Visual Studio to Sharepoint.

Pay attention at the option “view deployment configuration” in Visual Studio solution properties which allows us to configure all the steps that to be done at deployment time.

11:45. How we did it (about branding ) : Matt Hughes

  • Download a custom masterpage and CSS from the community, some include comments and disable some feature by default which is useful for starting small and re-enabling features as needed.
    example : by Matt, or http://startermasterpages.codeplex.comby Randy Drisgill
  • One CSS class to note that I didn’t use : “S2-notdlg” anything within this class will not show in a Sharepoint modal dialog box, to use if we have a control to show everywhere but not duplicate its display in the dialog boxes.

Matt’ session was really interesting as a subject but I didn’t learn much except that it confirmed my experience in doing Sharepoint branding as he and Sam have had the same issues I had.

It was a little bit strange to focus on Matt’s face while he spoke, check the pic below, Movember Sharepoint style.

13:45. Why are we developing?  : Nigel Price

I chose this session to check what others are doing Out-Of-The-Box in Sharepoint as opposed to building custom controls and webparts to reach business expectations. This is a rather vast subject because more often than not, my clients come to me and think that Sharepoint can do everything they want without the help of .net developers. The other side of the balance is that being a Sharepoint consultant I need to make sure that sites I design are not too far from Sharepoint architecture so that they will migrate easily and “anyone” (ie not developer) can maintain them, bringing a lot of out-of-the-box tools.

Again I mainly comforted what I usually do which is “Try OOB before going for managed code”, Nigel’s bullet list for “when do we have to develop” is :

  • Need to action something with elevated privileges
  • Use of an authentication mechanism outside AD
  • LOB integration (BCS..)
  • Write event receivers
  • Custom Search protocol (if custom iFilter)
  • Code repository, i.e. source versioning

15:00.  Why branding intranet ? Gus Fraser  (SharePoint 2010 Intranet Branding for Developers)

As we all know the main reason for branding an intranet site is so that it doesn’t look like SharePoint. This has been the subject of lots of discussion in the past weeks and surely will not end. Although my role is to advise my client in the concept of branding Sharepoint and why they should not remove all “Sharepoint-looking” features very often I just have to follow what the client’s creative agency (who never used Sharepoint) dictates.


  • Use prototyping tool like Balsamic more. specially that Balsamic includes “mockups to go” ribbons.

  • Again : use Visual Studio 2010 CKSDev which includes branding item.
  • Use control adapters.
  • Use CSSReset by Kyle Schaeffer, which is a CSS to literally “reset” the existing style in Sharepoint 2010 so that we can start styling them as we want.
  • Use ieTester tool to test your site with various IE versions
  • Options in the Sharepoint Ribbon barre can be removed using Custom Action. Gus’ code to remove the font style option for instance can be downloaded here.
  • Other link about branding in the pic below


As mentioned a the top of this post, this Sharepoint Saturday did not feel like wasting a day of my private week-end time, the amount of knowledge in the sessions AND talking to the other Sharepoint at the breaks is invaluable, it did feel like a long way to go for just one day and I had to be back in London for 8pm which made me leave just at 5 after waiting to see if I win an iPad2 😉 I will definitely go back to this event, and since I missed the Sharepoint Best Practice (now International Sharepoint Conference) in London this year I am very eager not to miss the next one so that I can renew this experience multiplied by 3 days.

Run SPD2010 workflows with impersonated permission

October 27, 2011 2 comments

Today one of my users reported that “something is not happening as supposed to” on a site, which most IT professional would say is quite a typical call we receive…


After a quick test I realised that a workflow meant to start on item submission of an InfoPath form was failing to complete and the workflow status would show “CANCELLED” (very misleading as nobody actually “cancel” that workflow… and this message “The workflow could not update the item, possibly because one or more columns for the item require a different type of information.”


Basically the user’s permissions had changed on the site so that he could not anymore update items in the library but the site owner didn’t realise the knock-on effect this would have on existing workflows as well, especially if the workflow is meant to go search for other items in the library and update them. The user not authorised to edit them will fail the workflow.


A short Google on “SharePoint Designer workflow elevated permissions” and I was reminded by this blog article  about impersonation in SPD 2010 Workflows (and not elevated as mentioned) which was new from SPD 2007.

But not any kind of permission, since it will the logged in user on SharePoint Designer so bear that in mind when releasing to Production environment.


Make sure you are logged in SharePoint Designer with the correct user (one that will not disappear once you finish your development) [note: use the little “change user” icon on the bottom  left corner of SPD2010 to switch user].

          Edit your workflow

          Within the steps of the workflow that require to be impersonated with your user insert an “Impersonation Step” by just typing the label


          Move all required steps into it (using Move Up or Down)


          Publish your workflow

          Test with the access level of your user

Et voila !

Note: This short blog article is my first attempt to participate to my colleague Giles‘ blog as an author and therefore you may also see it on my other blog.

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