Recap: SharePoint Saturday 2015 in Antwerp, Belgium

20 Apr
April 20, 2015

300 attendees on a Saturday – all “SharePoint-crazy”. Its my first visit to Belgium and I must say: I am impressed of the community and the spirit here. In the following I recap SharePoint Saturday 2015 in Antwerp.


From the start at 9:00am until the official end of SPSBE (SharePoint Saturday Belgium) at around 17:30 I had good fun. I apparently had to prepare my session on this Saturday, tests my demos and optimize my slides – so I could only attend one full session (see my summary here), but there was enough time for me to talk to community members, board members and other speakers – good times, good fun.

Some of the attendees stayed for the BBQ after the event – it was nice to share some ideas, get feedback – and well, the food was nice, too!

I must say, for a free event organized by a community, this was perfectly done – there is nothing I could rant about (and that’s almost impossible, because its free, right?). Good job @BIWUG (Belgian Information Worker User Group) – I am leaving Belgium impressed.

Thanks again to all the sponsors who made the event possible!

Speakers & Sessions

20 sessions and as many speakers from around the world attracted 300 attendees – not only from Belgium. In general the conferenced covered all kind of different topics, but the main themes were Office 365 with topics like development, governance, adoption, best practices, workflows, search, apps and solutions. Good stuff!

My Session: Search-Driven Applications with SharePoint 2013

I had a really good time presenting my content regarding Search-Driven Applications with SharePoint 2013 – I uploaded my slides, but the cool stuff is in the demos and I can’t make them available:

After the talk there were like 10 to 15 questions – some of them I would love to show you here:

Q: Do Query Variables work for Office 365 / SharePoint Online?

Yes, Query Variables are awesome and do work for SharePoint Online – see a reference here.

Q: How can I recrawl SharePoint Online User Profiles?

Once you changed the mapping of the managed properties, you need to tell SharePoint Online to recrawl the profiles. There is a PowerShell for that, see Mikael’s post.

Q: How to estimate and test load patterns for SharePoint search scenarios (e.g. in a publishing scenario)?

Estimation is tough, you need a lot of experience for that. And you need to know a lot upfront about the environment, the use cases, the users, … – if you don’t know that, you need to scale, test and adjust. One possible solution to test load patterns upfront is to use Visual Studio Test Manager and use the REST url to query for results. Then you can increase the load and see what could break and how to optimize.

Q: Some Chinese documents are not index properly, at least they are not presented to certain users. Why? 

I could only guess – multi-language is a complex topic. They guys tried a lot with forced language property, but without seeing and environment, well – good luck!

Q: Why didn’t you cover Display Templates in your session

Display Templates are awesome. Search is awesome. Apparently I only had 1 hour so I could not cover that much without loosing somewhere else. Of course they are an important part of a search-driven application that presents results within SharePoint. If you want to read more about Display Templates, go read Elio’s blog or Mikael’s blog – they have pretty good articles about them. Or look at my basic example here.


I totally enjoyed it – still I am a little tired because my friend Andy (@meligo) insisted to tour me around Antwerp! Thanks for having me! Smile

To sum it all up: That was my first international SharePoint Saturday – and it won’t be my last!

See you latest next year Belgium!

Improving SharePoint Search Experience – #SPSBE07

18 Apr
April 18, 2015

I think its my first time that I attended a search session for business users/decision makers – interesting times here at SharePoint Saturday in Belgium. Here follows a summary for “Improve SharePoint Search Experience” in my words.

Speaker was Elio Struyf (@eliostruyf) – he has some nice blog posts about search, go read them!

Elio on stage

Improve for everybody, don’t forget the novice users

There are different types of users in every enterprise, some of them are more mature with SharePoint, some do a search query with just one keyword – well, one of Elio’s key messages was that you should optimize the experience not only for the “educated” users.

Key tips

During his presentation Elio showed some nice tricks to improve the experience. Starting by enabling suggestions, optimize verticals, add and change refiners or improve the keyword search are really important parts of an optimized Search Center – default  means not optimized for your requirements, right?


neat keyword search solution

Expert users

For expert users there are plenty of options to drive adoption and create results that are important for the users – and help them tackle the information overload.

One good optimization is to enable search as you type (note: your IT admin will love you for that!) or to enrich the results with meaningful, additional metadata. For enriching you have multiple options, Elio explained Entity Extraction and Content Enrichment – both are very powerful concepts to provide better results.

Lastly Elio introduced Delve/Office Graph – the audience indicated that they know about it, but most of them don’t/can’t use them. As closing demo he showed that you can integrate Office Graph results into SharePoint results – good one, I need to keep that one in mind!


Solid session by Elio – good value for me. Its important to not forget the novice users, they can be important for your SharePoint adoption and are the “tomorrows” users of your platform. Thanks!

Retrieve Managed Account Passwords for SharePoint 2010 / SharePoint 2013

09 Apr
April 9, 2015

This is actually a repost and I do not want to claim any credits for this post – see the original here by Jason Himmelstein (<= thank you!!!). Why do I repost? I never find the PowerShell when I need it, even tho I have it in my almighty OneNote!

In this post I show you a simple PowerShell script to retrieve Managed Account Passwords for SharePoint 2010 / SharePoint 2013.


Imagine the following: The Search Crawler is not able to index certain items in a SharePoint site. The ULS is full of access denied errors, the Crawl Log tells you:

The sharepoint item being crawled returned an error when attempting to download the item

Basically nothing. So the first thing would be to access the site as Content Access account – but – nobody knows the password anymore. Maybe it was changed automatically, maybe the “one” guy left the company and there is no documentation – I have been in this situation countless times…!

The solution: the password recovery script

Just copy the following script and paste it into an elevated/admin SharePoint PowerShell:


Get Managed Account Passwords

Get Managed Account Passwords

The output is a nice table with all passwords in plain text – unexpected but nice, isn’t it?

Powershell Script to Efficiently Locate Large Files in SharePoint 2010/2013

23 Mar
March 23, 2015

Recently I had the request to locate all files that are bigger than 40 MB – and they were located in the entire farm across multiple Site Collections.  Easy you might say? Just use search and query for


Well, I said efficiently and thats the most efficient way – you are right! They key constraint here is that those files were excluded from search – so lets go for the PowerShell way.

The Script

Here comes the script that uses PowerShell to iterate over each Site Collection, every Web and every List – then uses CAML to query each list for items larger than the specified size. It works for SharePoint 2013 and should definitely work for 2010, too.

Enough words, here we go:


The result looks like this:

Get large files script in action

Get large files script in actionYou can easily export that to a csv file

You can easily export that to a csv file with:

$result | export-csv result.csv

I ran it again a quite large SharePoint 2013 environment (~1 TB, 1075 Site Collections) and it came back in ~5 minutes.


You see room for improvement for my PowerShell script to efficiently locate large files? If so, please tell me!

Its over! (My 2014 Review)

04 Jan
January 4, 2015

Traditions are traditions – at least when you repeat at least once, right? So last year I started to review my year with SharePoint – lets do it again.

Conferences & Social

2013 started great – after several attempts I convinced my company to send me to the very last SharePoint Conference in Las Vegas – and it was epic. Not only that I covered 30 SharePoint sessions, I met friends and new friends – I knew some of them via Twitter for a long time, but meeting in person is a totally different story, of course! If you wanna relieve my experience including my summary you can read my posts here.

On the speaking side, I submitted 10-15 sessions this year, some where accepted, some rejected. I was accepted in Zürich, Switzerland at Collaboration Days (international speaker, yay!) and in Duesseldorf at ShareConf, Germany – I had good fun and received good feedback. The most challenging speaking engagement was SP24 – even tho my session was pre-recorded. My inner devil forced me to record my session (50 Minutes) multiple times – in the end I did not need a script, even for the jokes ;)

Additionally I visted the User Group in Munich several times – of course I had a search talk there. Will continue that in 2015, for sure.

With Dave Hollembaek, we started an “informal gathering” / Stammtisch about Enterprise Search (we are not limited to SharePoint, but focused) in Munich – if you wanna join, please feel free!

More conferences are on my roadmap for 2015! 

Blogs & Comments

I spent some time with my little blog this year – new theme with mobile support and 31 blog posts – on the statistics side (I love analytics!) I had 78,783 views on my blog (82% more than 2013) and 133 comments (29% more than 2013) with 103 blog posts in total.


Posting Patterns 2014 - Ipost on Wednesdays

Posting Patterns 2014 – Ipost on Wednesdays

My most viewed posts:

1. #SharePoint 2013 – Create a Search Service Application and Search Topology with Powershell 53 comments 14,409 views
2. Install Office Web Apps 2013 for SharePoint 2013 – with PDF Preview 53 comments 12,536 views
3. Cache cluster is down, restart the cache cluster and Retry 11 comments 6,665 views
4. Installing SharePoint 2013 SP1 with SQL Server 2014 on Windows Server 2012 R2 – Picture Love Story 6 comments 6,465 views
5. Powershell: List all IIS WebApplications (.net version, state, identity) 19 comments 5,797 views

4. was published in 2014 – the others are older posts.

Where do all the visitors come from?

USAUnited States 22,490 views
GermanyGermany 6,237 views
IndiaIndia 5,177 views
UKUnited Kingdom 4,789 views
CanadaCanada 3,342 views

In total my blog was visited from 176 countries.

Search Projects

When I look at my projects of 2014 most of them were somehow SharePoint Search-related. My clients are obviously the best – so they gave my some pretty nice challenges, mostly integration of SAP or third party systems – or indexing huge volumns (90,000,000 items in 2 weeks). Thanks for the continued trust!

SharePoint Certifications

I only managed to pass two Certifications last year – but a new years resolution is to finish both my MCSE (only 70-332 missing!!!) and MCSD fpr SharePoint 2013. I tried to register for a training, but I was greated with:

After December 31st, 2014 if you wish to take a Microsoft certification exam, please visit the Microsoft Learning web site for further information.

So I tried to scheduled an online proctored exam – but Germany is not on the list… so I scheduled a on-site exam beginning of January. Yay!


  • 2015 will be the year of search! Again.

For 2014 I predicted that the Service Pack 1 for SharePoint 2013 will bring some major search enhancements – some under the hood features were added, but I am still waiting for the long “announced” push API. I hope to see Delve for on-prem installations, too – but I think that will stay a wish. On the other side, that will hopefully push some to the cloud – or hybrid at least.

  • Hosting on Azure for Dev/Test will even more accelerate – even in Germany.

I said the same almost last year. But I saw some changes, some new clients moved directly to Office 365 – some at least looked at it. Cloud is still not very popular in Germany, in 2015 I hopefully see some more traction.

Happy New Year!

I wish you all a healthy and wealthy Happy New Year. Hope to see you soon!