Archive for category: SharePoint Toolbox

ShareCamp 2015 – Recap

01 Jun 2015
June 1, 2015

Germany’s latest and greatest SharePoint community event was last weekend (30.05.2015 & 31.05.2015 at Microsoft in Munich) – and it was awesome, once again!

ShareCamp Session Vote

ShareCamp Session Vote


200 attendees!

ShareCamp & Community

What is so special about ShareCamp? Easy question, it is entirely community-driven. On both days, Saturday and Sunday, there is a session vote before the “conference” starts. So the attendees prepare presentations and do a short intro during the vote – if more than 3 people raise their hand there will be a session and there were lots of em. 6 tracks in parallel if I recall it right. And the concept works for many years now, more than 200 attendees had a good time this year! Not to mention the SharePint party. The good thing here? No only experienced and known speakers get the chance to present their ideas. And not only the mainstream sessions get voted – there were a lot of close to or far way from SharePoint sessions. And I met a lot of old SharePoint friends that are spread over the country – good to see ya! 🙂

Alegri Team @ ShareCamp

Alegri Team @ ShareCamp

Sessions & Discussions

So what sessions did we have this year? A lot of them. Here is a list of the sessions I attended or prepared.

1. Azure Search vs SharePoint Search (2x)

On Saturday I held a presentation about Azure Search. The title was on purpose a little bit baiting, you can’t compare the incomparable here and that’s good. But I started with a brief overview what SharePoint Search is, how it evolved and talked about its strength and weaknesses. Then I switched over to the brand new Azure Search I evaluated for a client project. And showed a demo app that is (Sourcecode) available here. Basically I showed the entire Azure Search workflow from service & index creation, pushing documents via SharePoint to Azure Search – and the options you have to get items back out of it. I had good fun. So much, that I presented the session again on Sunday 🙂 Here I showed a second demo (available here) that indexed a local folder and pushed the filenames and paths to Azure Search. Does that sound familiar? I tried to cover some of the typical SharePoint content sources: SharePoint Content and Fileshares. It’s not even close what I showed but similar.

I received some good questions during the talk (out of my head in my words):

  • Where is the content? The content will be stored in Azure Search / Cloud.
  • Can you index Office Documents? Yes, but you need to extract the content of the files.
  • How about item security? If you want them, you have to build them. Azure Search has a different focus than SharePoint Search – keep that in mind. Different product, not a replacement!
  • Can you push items to the cloud? YES!!!
  • How you get the items back? You get them via the REST interface and they are transported as JSON.
  • Can you combine SharePoint Search and Azure Search? Not out of the box – you would need to create an opensearch provider that translates the JSON to opensearch compliant XML.
  • Is it ready yet? Yes, definitely. But I have the feeling Azure Search will improve rapidly in the near future.

My slides (German most of it) are available here – but as usual they are not as good without the demo.

Expect some blog posts here, I really like Azure Search!

2. Governance & JavaScript Solutions – how does that fit together?

My second session on Saturday with my colleagues Marco Schmucker and Matthias Edom – we talked about the blessings and curses of JavaScript solutions – what you can do and what it will cost you/your clients. The entire session was based on the scenario that you upgrade you SharePoint to a next version and should estimate how much effort you have to put into it – and what could essentially break. And we discussed with the audience, we gather a lot of different aspects and experiences. Good fun!

Scripting and Governance session

Scripting and Governance session






Slides will be available once I get the link.

3. Provider-hosted App Framework

I am slightly interested into SharePoint Provider-hosted apps and all areas around it. Maybe because I recently started to learn MVC. Maybe because I like the idea of having all the great stuff outside of SharePoint. But in this session Christian GroĂź (Solutions2Share) showed what framework they use to create their apps. I was really surprised to hear what they experienced over the last year and what it means to build a product – and how important logging, supporting and ticketing is. Good stuff, I hope they will release it as open source sometime in the future…

4. SharePoint Toolbox

The ShareCamp evergreen, I think it’s the 4th time that we had this session at a ShareCamp. I am into tools and this session is about tools – so what could go wrong?! My friend Henning Eiben moderated a really entertaining session with lots of idea sharing and tool discussions. I think we gathered and introduced about 50 tools – commercial or Open Source that every SharePoint developer or IT-PRO should know. ULSViewer, SPDockit, CamlDesigner, SPServices, CKSDev, SearchQueryTool, LogParser, AutoSPInstaller family, SharePoint Patch Service – just to name a bunch!

Dont be a fool – use a tool!

Henning collected a lot of the tools in a delicious feed – go take a look!

6. Provider Hosted Apps Hackathon

I prepared nothing for it – and expected a lot of this session – fun most importantly. We only had one hour to “create” something that looks like an SharePoint app. So what did we do? We decided do a simple app that shows two buttons and asks the key question: “How was your day today?” So we had two buttons with good and bad. The strech goal here was to ship a minimal viable product that simply stored the value in a SharePoint list – in one hour impossible? Damn right. But during the hour we talked and discuss a lot about the problems we face with Provider-hosted apps, whats good and bad – and what challenges & opportunities we see. We almost got it working tho, very close to storing the results – soooo close! 🙂

6. Azure Workshop

I only attended the very last 15 minutes. Too bad, it must have been awesome. At least I heard that many of the attendees said it was their highlight. Okay Patrick Heyde (Microsoft) had some advantages: Firstly he had 3 hours to show how to provision a SharePoint environment on Azure and the experiences he collected over the past 4 years in his role – and he “bribed” the attendees with 75€ Azure vouchers to play with it. Too bad there were so many sessions in parallel – there will hopefully be a next time!

In general I think there should be more sessions that have more time – I would love to talk about SharePoint/Azure Search for a day… or two 🙂


The weekend was packed and I learned a lot – I totally enjoyed it. I am really looking forward for next year!

Thanks again to all sponsors, organizers and speakers – Germany’s SharePoint community would not work without you!

ShareCamp raffle - lots of prices and gadgets!

ShareCamp raffle – lots of prices and gadgets!

SharePoint Search: What Managed Properties do my Items have? (Or: Search Query Tool v2.2. – the missing manual)

01 Jan 2015
January 1, 2015

Creating Search Driven Applications is very easy with SharePoint 2013 – sometimes.

For a really simple example you need 6 steps for SharePoint content (read detailed article here)

  1. Add some columns with values to a list
  2. Full crawl
  3. Create a Managed Property with the corresponding mapping
  4. Full Crawl
  5. Drop a Search WebPart (Search Result WebPart, Content By Search or one of the other options)
  6. Create a query that fits your needs

Bam! Easy, performant solution* and almost maintenance free (*depends on your query).

So? Where is/are the Problem(s)?

Most of the time its a challenge to create the search query (read this: Search Queries explained, 12 parts!) – for the most queries you need to understand what properties you have and can use to answer the business needs. For that you always have the same challenges:

  1. Are the items in the index already?
  2. Can you see it / who can see it?
  3. What properties are available for those items?
  4. Are the properties available on all items?
  5. How often do the items change?
  6. Ranking? Why is that item higher ranked?
  7. What should be visualized and how?
  8. Does my query work (at all)?

And of course many more.

So how to tackle some/all of the problems? Search Query Tool to the rescue!

First of all, there is one tool that gives you a head start: Search Query Tool for SharePoint 2013 (free, codeplex). It is so nice, I had to contribute some time and love, too.

In the following I will show some of the main features of it that help me almost daily:


Search Query Tool 2.2

Search Query Tool 2.2

  1. REST URL with all selected parameters – awesome to create JavaScript apps or apps outside of SharePoint
  2. Query Options – so many and really interesting options. You don’t want Phonetic Queries? There are plenty of different options here, almost all have a descriptive tooltip. Some of the fields have a tiny box right to a textbox, click on it for some useful default values. Quite handy if you don’t know how to put values in.
  3. Result Tabs – you get all the results here:
    1. Status: How many results (with and without duplicates) where delivered in what time.
    2. Raw: Unformatted JSON results (ugly, most of the time I skip that tab) – response headers are sometimes interesting in the case of an error.
    3. Primary Results: 99% of the time I am in this tab.

      Primary Results - shows the standard and selected properties

      Primary Results – shows the default or the Select Properties

    4. Refinement Results: What refiners do you get with the current query. You have to use the Refiners box in the Query Options (2) to see some results.

      What refiners would you get for the current query?

      What refiners would you get for the current query?

    5. Secondary Results: Skipping that most of the times, kinda useless IMHO.
    6. Suggestion Results: You have to use a suggestion query for that.
      Share suggests SharePoint

      Share suggests SharePoint


    7. Debug – I cover that in a future blog post.
  4. All connection options. Very useful to test search with different accounts. You can save the connection information via the menu File >> Save Connection Properties.
  5. The advanced options. I always enable the experimental features!
    1. They enable a preview in the tool for supported files (office and web pages)

      Preview for supported files (OWA is a requirement)

      Preview for supported files (OWA is a requirement)

    2. And most importantly it adds the button that I use most of the time: View all Properties
      The "magic" view all properties link

      The “magic” view all properties link

      The dialog showing all available properties

      The dialog showing all available properties

      The dialog shows all Managed Properties of the selected it. For that it needs the Property Workid, so make sure its in the Select Properties field (otherwise the tool will yell at you!).
      There are differences for SharePoint Online – maybe they will patch it so on-prem faces the same challenge. But once again Mikael Svenson has a solution for that.

Final words

Quite a lot of features for a FREE tool – but for Search challenges it’s really essential. Did I notice it has a freshness boost generator? Or did I mention that it supports the Office Graph Language (GQL), too?

Can you solve all problems with it? I hope so – if not, please drop me a comment or directly on the discussion page.

SharePoint Toolbox: Color Palette Tool for Sharepoint 2013

16 Dec 2013
December 16, 2013

Another episode of the toolbox – who thought this would happen again?


In this episode I show how to use the Color Palette Tool for SharePoint 2013 and show how easy it is to create Themes for SharePoint 2013 with it.

Video: English / German



Side Note

I bought a new microphone – a SAMSON Go Mic – and I am really happy with it. Do you like the sound quality?