Posts Tagged SharePoint Online

List View Auto-Indexing – This SharePoint 2016 feature is available in SharePoint Online

It’s Sunday evening and I’m working late, so I’m not sure…
But how long has this option been around in the SharePoint Online ‘List Advanced Settings’?


Allow automatic management of indices


A part of me has the idea it has been there for a while, but running a Google search on this feature doesn’t return any results.
Anyway, I guess it can be useful to do a short post on it.

Why is this feature important?

SharePoint lists have never been designed to replace database tables. But SharePoint solutions grow and the result can be that you get into trouble by hitting the SharePoint 5000 list view threshold. When your company is running you’re own SharePoint Server farm, you could try to be nice to the IT Pro guys and ask to set a higher limit (like 10k items), but with SharePoint Online this isn’t possible. Setting a higher limit will Always have a negative influence on server performance, and so it’s understandable that Microsoft doesn’t want to set higher numbers.

Bill Baer (Microsoft Senior Product Manager for SharePoint) wrote a blogpost last week about “Navigating List View Thresholds in SharePoint Server 2016 IT Preview”. In this post he describes the inner workings of this feature. Basically there is a new timer job that will hunt for Lists that exceed 2500 items and when it find a list that has a view definition that could benefit from setting a index on a column, it will automatically created this index.

For example, if a view includes a filter for “WHERE A=1 AND B=2”, the Timer Job will create an index on either column A or column B. The specific choice depends on the other view definitions in the list, with the goal of minimizing the number of indexes created.

All Lists in SharePoint 2016 and Sharepoint Online are set by default to ‘automatic management of indices’. So there is nothing you have to do, it just there. This is the Office 365 Support article which describes the feature and usecase.

A filtered view with a column index is not only a way to retrieve items more efficiently, but a primary method of working with large lists and libraries without getting blocked. Creating a filtered view with an indexed column is a two-step process: create an index for a column and create a view that uses the indexed column to filter the view:

# Indexes   An index retrieves items quickly and can improve list and library performance. You can create up to 20 indexes for a list or library. Unique values require an index and the ID column is automatically indexed. Because each index adds some overhead to every database operation to maintain the index, it’s best to only add indexes for the most common or likely columns used to query the list or library.

# Filtered views   When you create a filtered view, make sure that the first column in the filter expression is indexed and that the filtered view does not exceed the List View Threshold. Other columns you specify in the view filter may or may not be indexed, but the view does not use those indexes, even if the final result of the filtered view returns less than the List View Threshold. If you use two or more columns in the filter expression, use an AND operator but make sure the first column in the expression returns the lesser amount of data

It’s a useful addition and I love the fact that it will ‘just work’…



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A new Office 365 Store is coming soon

A new update has been added to the Office 365 Roadmap which tells us the delivery date of the new Office 365 Store. The released date for all tenants will be ‘late July’. Organisations having a First Release tenant will be getting the new store in the next couple of weeks.

When released the new Store will only show ‘free apps’, so I’m guessing the current Office / SharePoint Store will exist besided the new store for a while. The new store will probably get the same look and feel as the store which will be released around the same timeframe.

We learned a lot about the new Office 365 Store updates during the Build and Ignite conferences. Jim Epes did a session named “Making Money with Office 365” at Build were we learned about the coming improvements. He did a similar session at Ignite named “Everything You Need to Know about the Office Store”.

Here are some of the things we learned during these presentations:

  • The store will get a more prominent location in Office 2016 ribbon and in the Office 365 App launcher
  • The new icons will bring users to a special version of the Store, which will also show them all registered applications at the tenant level of Office 365 (via Azure Active Directory).
  • You can hide Apps in the App Store (and only navigate to the app using a ‘code’)
  • The streamline acquisition flow which allows you to install apps directly into a SharePoint site or Outlook inbox without having to leave the Store Experience.

The update I liked most:

  • There will be a new option to present Web Apps in the store which extend Office 365 but live ‘outside of Office 365’. This can be apps which use Azure AD for authentication and use the Office 365 (Unified) APIs.

So what’s the goal of the new Office 365 Store updates?

The Office 365 store will make it easy for Office 365 users to acquire, manage and use third party applications directly from within their Office 365 web experience.

I’m sure these update will bring more Office 365 customers to the Office 365 Store (which currently has around 1500 apps). It might be enough to get App Sales in a lift, but more updates will be required to make it a really hot marketplace.

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More Office 365 NextGen Portals are coming – What do we know?

The current portals

During the SharePoint Conference in March 2014 Microsoft showed the world the first two NextGen Portals for Office 365: The Video Portal and the Office Delve Dashboard. In November 2014 these portals became available for Office 365 customers who activated the ‘First release’ option and currently both portals have been rolled out to most tenants.

One of the interesting things about these ‘NextGen’ Portals is that they aren’t fully build using the SharePoint building blocks we have known for years. The Video Portal is using a SharePoint Asset Library and an Access App under the hood (after the uploaded video is processed by Azure Media Services, as explained here). For presentation of video’s the Video portal is using a custom application, with no SharePoint GUI components. For Office Delve it’s the same, it using a custom interface without any SharePoint parts. For data gathering Delve uses the Office Graph, which can be queried using the SharePoint Online Search REST API.

Microsoft has created an answer to a common SharePoint problem: Building business solutions on SharePoint (Online) still takes a lot of consultancy and customizations. While customers are getting used to ‘click and go’ SaaS experiences like they get with Dropbox, Zoho or Box. Office 365 needs more ‘ready to go’ solutions which are able to provision in a couple minutes.


Microsoft started to build these new Experiences and it seems that most of them won’t appear in SharePoint 2016. There will be Hybrid options which allow Office Graph to receive signals from SharePoint OnPrem (or other applications) and maybe we will get to see some new portal templates…

I slowly moved my focus away from SharePoint distributed on DVDs since 2012, when Wave 15 of SharePoint Online was released. I no longer want to wait for days of configuration to setup a SharePoint solution, I want instant gratification too! So lets take a peek at what’s coming to Office 365 this year!

Updates for the Video Portal

From the Office Blogs, Office 365 roadmap and Ignite session catalog we know the video portal with get the following improvements

  • A companion iPhone app to stream video’s to iOS devices (I guess a Windows universal & Andoid app will follow)
  • Responsive Web pages for access across devices of all sizes (PC, Mac, Android and iOS)
  • Extend video playback to non-Flash capable devices via the new HTML5-based player from Azure Media Services
  • More refinement for some of the admin controls available to portal and channel owners
  • Office 365 Video API to push and pull content in and out of Office 365 Video
  • The use of Doc types (is this a new name for Content types or a whole no artefact?)
  • App Parts (Great! They should ‘ further augment NextGen Portals experiences’ so I guess we get the ability to embed Video’s in SharePoint Online Sites
  • Improved performance


New People Portal

Julia White has mentioned in her blogpost on February 2nd that we are getting a new ‘People Portal’. I have implemented SharePoint at more than 50 organisations and the ‘company Facebook’ (who-is-Who) if one of those features all customers want to have. From a new entry in the roadmap I have learned a little bit more about the new People Portal.

The Office 365 user profile page, aka “About Me,” is getting a significant update. First, it will be more user friendly in its overall presentation and how it looks and responds across all devices. <snip> The new “About Me” page will highlight people and people search in a whole new way – from hierarchical views, to showing who people most closely work with, and even a method to send a kudo to a co-worker.

Based on this information I can imagine a ‘Delve like’ Dashboard focused on people and SharePoint Search (Office Graph) oriented Search result pages. The text above clearly indicates the User About pages (public mysites) will get a nice makeover and I hope we will also get some improvements and extensions of the User Profile Store. This Ignite session about the ‘The New Universe of Findability and Discoverability‘ is about ‘how we connect to the content and expertise’ which might indicate some functionalities around ‘People Knowledge and Skill management’. The mention of Kudu’s could indicate the possibility of rating co-workers (and their skills)…


Knowledge Management

Julia White has also mentioned a ‘knowledge management’ portal in her blogpost and there is a short Ignite session description on this new Knowledge Management Portal. Personally I’m very interested in the capabilities of this Portal. I’m hoping the best SharePoint has to offer (like Document Centers, Topic pages and pre-configured Content Search Webparts) is used to create this experience. But we might see a whole range of new technologies directly built on Microsoft Azure and bypassing the biggest legacy obstacle of SharePoint: SQL Server. One thing that seems to be deeply integrated in SharePoint is a whole new Page authoring tool!

A new page Authoring tool?

This roadmap update about the new About me pages has an interesting description about a new SharePoint Online ‘page authoring tool’. This tool can be used to “create stories within the company – then expand to enable creation of new types of dynamic pages”. Cool! That sounds like an Enterprise Sway! “These stories and pages are created within the browser and have built-in hooks to add other Office 365 content in a seamless way”

So we will get a cool new page builder for users to easily integrate documents from OneDrive, videos from the Video portal and images from SharePoint document libraries! This is like Wikis on steroids and I can image a lot of great scenarios for Enterprise Knowledge Management, Personal Blogs and Support documentation.

Developers will also get some great updates on the Office 365 API’s and the current SharePoint App model since we will be able to “use the Office app model in context with configuring and extending Office 365 NextGen Portals”.

I can’t wait to get my hands on it! Christmas will be in the last week of April / first week of May this year!



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Does SharePoint Online has the ability to show new features per user?

The Office 365 ‘April 9th Update’ added the new command Bar to SharePoint Online and removed the default Sync Button in the upper right corner. But it seems it also introduced something else… People in the ‘Dutch SharePoint Business Yammer group’ mentioned some users were not seeing the new Command Bar, but others did. Both users were using the same Office 365 tenant, the same SharePoint site, the same document library and had the same access right and licences.. Hmmm…

Like Paul Keijzers has also described in his blog post, we then suggested many different things to find the cause. My first ideas was that somehow the new HTML/JavaScript was not loading in the browser… So we asked them to do a hard page refresh, clear the IE browser cache and try different browsers. But since this didn’t have any effect I got a bit puzzled. The test users were identical, used the same PC, the same Internet Explorer and one got to see the new CommandBar feature, but the other didn’t..

One of the tenant administrators mentioned that Microsoft had told them (after creating a support call) the current update ‘is rolled out per user’.  Uh? Can you say that again? Really?  That would make no sense since you would deploy this kind of feature per SharePoint Farm, right?  Then I started thinking about how the Office 365 team is learning from the Yammer team and is coping all best practices for running a SaaS platform. For years Yammer has been launching new features ‘per user’ to measure ‘usage metrics’ and other types of A/B testing. Would the SharePoint Online team also started implementing this approach? During the SharePoint Conference we were told that the Office 365 team was also adopting weekly updates (just like the Yammer team). Hmm.. Now I got really curious…

After posting a question about this on twitter, Joe Gaster pointed me to a great blogpost written by Chris O’Brien. I had read this post before, but I missed the Office 365 Change Management session during SPC14 and it is still sitting in my ‘must see list’. In the session (and blog post) one thing is mentioned which could explain this mystery:  The coming “NDA Preview” for Office 365 will allow changes to be rolled out to a subset of users in a tenant”. This near future “NDA Preview” will allow ‘nominated users’ to see early bits…

So this proves Microsoft is working on the ability to push features to specified users, but this still doesn’t explain why users would not be able to see the new Command bar..

Then I received the word that there might be ‘an issue with the new SharePoint Online architecture’.
So I’m guessing Microsoft has rolled out this ‘per user activation’ functionality in the same ‘April 9 Update’ as the new Command Bar and we might be witnessing some unexpected behaviour.

If I get new info I will post it here…

Update May 2nd.

This is an update one of the tenant admins got from Microsoft Support today.

“I would like to inform you that this is still ongoing upgrade and is not completed yet. The users in one Office 365 organization are located on different server farms. The update is performed not by Office 365 organization; the new patches are deployed on the server farms. This is the reason why not all users in your company can see the new toolbar. The upgrade is still not finished and it is normal that some colleagues of you still don’t have the toolbar available. The update might take up to 2 months. After this time passed all users in your organization should see already the toolbar available.”


Somehow I’m not fully convinced this is the exact explanation…
Such an update could never take two months (especially since the 0365 team is on a monthly update cycle and moving towards a weekly cycle)


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