Alerts/notifications for SharePoint site newsfeed webpart posts & replies

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One of the greatest business value features of a site newsfeed webpart would obviously be to know when people are participating, asking questions, etc. This way moderators or other interested parties could go in and respond in a timely manner. And while there’s no straightforward way to get these notifications from the webpart itself, there’s a workaround. Follow these steps once you have a newsfeed webpart on your site (by default, most team sites have them already).
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Embedding or publishing Power BI reports in SharePoint so non-licensed individuals can view

Note: This, like many O365 things, is rapidly evolving. If you’re aware of better practices or new updates to licensing, feel free to mention it in comments.

I’m currently at SharePoint Fest Seattle where Chris McNulty, Sr. Product Manager for Office 365 and SharePoint at Microsoft, mentioned (as I understand) there could be changes coming to licensing that would allow more people to consume Power BI reports in a friendlier (more affordable) licensing structure. This would be amazing because currently:

I can create reports. People can’t view data in those reports in a secure way because the entire organization isn’t licensed for Power BI per person above the “free” license.

Specifically I, with a Power BI Pro license, can create reports and place those in SharePoint’s new page experience Power BI web parts (in Preview) but other people (with free or without Pro licenses) cannot view them. They see the following:

powerbiviewerror.PNGOf course, to me as the creator and properly-licensed individual, I see the report perfectly embedded as it should be. And not every organization can afford to license every single user appropriately to be able to simply view embedded reports. Especially if consuming reports (not sharing or building) is the only function they need in the Power BI realm.

In this post, I’ll cover:

  • How to embed Power BI reports the normal, easy (but license-exclusive) way
  • Why the webpart (normal, easy way) is cooler than embedding a script
  • How to embed the report in a (less secure) way so that non-licensed or free-license individuals can actually view and manipulate the data

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SharePoint workflow “access denied” error sp.utilities.utility.SendEmail solution

If you’ve found this post by search, you’ve likely already gone into the workflow settings for a particular list or document library item and have clicked the info icon (infocon) next to “Internal status” and found that your workflow is “in progress”, but has an error: “Access Denied. You do not have permission to perform this action or access this resource.” Peering into the bulk of the message, you see a helpful tidbit that includes sp.utilities.utility.SendEmail. This could be from a number of causes, but here are the summaries of three possible solutions. Note that the first solution is still required even if you try B or C below. I’ve only included the second and third solutions as additional possibilities if the first doesn’t solve your problem.

A common question, before we begin, is what level of permissions any individual needs to be able to send an email or start a workflow generally. It doesn’t matter so much if you’re using Impersonation or App Steps, but the quick answer is a minimum of Contribute level permissions is good.

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Starting a SharePoint Designer 2010 workflow within a SharePoint Designer 2013 workflow

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Sometimes you’ll into situations where a SharePoint Designer (SPD) 2010 workflow is the only way to go in order to make something work. In May 2017, I gave a presentation at SharePoint Saturday Baltimore and shared the following slide of functions only possible by using a SharePoint Designer 2010 format workflow.

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Unfortunately, you may have loads of conditions and stages already built in a SPD 2013 workflow by the time you realize you need some of this 2010-exclusive functionality. No need to fret, however, because we can start that necessary 2010 workflow from wherever we need to within our 2013 workflow, as if it were just another ordinary step.

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Solution: Converting lookup values to text and working around SharePoint error “lookup list is in another web”

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Lookup columns aren’t friendly to a lot of things. Power BI reports, calculated columns, creating new items via workflow when both lists have lookup columns, if/then statements, etc. Especially when your lookup column is looking up to a list from another site, not the same subsite in which you’re working.

A previous scenario required that I create a new item in a different site’s list when conditions were met in the origin site’s list item. Both lists used the same lookup column, and I received the “lookup is in another web” error when trying to do a direct copy via workflow, from lookup column to lookup column. The solution ended up being creating a new item in a temporary, lookup-free list that received the lookup values just as text. Then SharePoint Designer copied those over to the final list, which received the text and happily converted it back to the appropriate lookup values. See the full solution here.

This post will focus on the same error message, but this time is triggered by a SharePoint Designer workflow in a different scenario where we just want to convert our lookup values to text so we can use them for various purposes.

To save you time, I also tried (and failed) at these potential solutions before finding success:

  • Setting workflow variables to the lookup values and trying to set the variables to text values, or use the variables in my if/then statements to create new text values (this defeats the purpose of using lookup columns, of course)
  • Using a number of combinations of Microsoft Flow and SharePoint Designer to get the data from the lookup column extracted then “pasted” back in as text

So let’s get to the solution. Feel free to comment with your scenario specifics – I’ve had a lot of experience with this error, and would be happy to help.

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Automatic, regular data refreshing for Power BI reports

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One of my favorite features of Power BI is the ability to have published reports automatically refresh data on a schedule. This is great for “setting and forgetting” your reports, knowing wherever you publish them they will be showing the most recent data for your clients. I feel like it used to be depending on your license, you could be limited to how frequently you can refresh (max of once per day), but you can refresh nonetheless. And this may have changed, as I couldn’t find (in my brief search) any confirming statement.

Let’s set up that scheduled refresh!

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Automating item-level permissions in SharePoint document libraries and lists

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Item-level permissions come in handy for a number of situations. Here are some examples and food for thought:

  • Travel plans are submitted to a list, but only those in people columns (supervisor, director, traveler) are allowed to see or find the plan by search.
  • Allow “content owners” to edit documents, and everyone else to view only.
  • Allow non-admin individuals to set editing permissions for documents or list items by populating a people column

Using a SharePoint Designer 2010 Workflow and an impersonation step, we can:

  • Add list item permissions
  • Inherit list item parent permissions
  • Remove list item permissions
  • Replace list item permissions

This tutorial will use the “replace list item permissions” action. Whenever you’re replacing permissions, you must remember to INCLUDE YOURSELF or admin individuals in the replacement permissions or you won’t be able to access the content or help with troubleshooting. Let’s begin!

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SharePoint solution: “Coercion warning: user or group does not have a valid e-mail address”

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While there are likely a number of causes to this problem, I’m writing in regard to a specific scenario in which a SharePoint Designer 2010 workflow automatically replaces item-level permissions for a document based on the contents of a people column. It’s possible this solution will apply to a different scenario, however, so read on.

The people column’s settings are multiple selection, people AND groups as can be seen here. This is absolutely fine (multiple selection, mixing of permission groups with individuals). You may just note the warning in red in the screenshot below:

“Earlier versions of client programs might not support a Person or Group field that allows multiple selections. Adding this field might block those programs from saving documents to this library.”

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In your workflow, just make sure you’re returning your people column “As String” and not any of the semi-colon delimited options. That’s all there is to it. Publish the revision and run the workflow again (and you may need/wish to go in and end any workflows that errored out but are still “running”). Best of luck!

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Microsoft Flow approval of Twitter tweet and Facebook post submissions via SharePoint list

This tutorial works for any Microsoft-Flow connected social media platform, but we’ll specifically go through the steps for setting up a Twitter tweet and Facebook post submission system. We’ll be utilizing Microsoft Flow’s new “Approval” feature. Here’s our (and maybe your) scenario.

  • We want to allow broader participation in social media content, while still maintaining a close grip on the quality and management of our platforms. This is more inclusive, increasing engagement and also giving you more eyes and ears throughout the organization while maintaining control
  • Individuals will submit their ideas (can be via direct email to a list, a form, PowerApp, etc. – we’ll use a list)
  • Social media manager or team will approve or reject submissions which will then be automatically posted to the applicable social media network if approved. See bottom of post for additional challenges to enhance this system.

Let’s get started!

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Date calculations using “Today” in SharePoint lists for years of service, days without incident, etc. (includes using blank date values)

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This is a fairly simple solution that takes a date column, compares it to another date and gives you an answer in years (or days, or whatever you want). You’ll need to already have date columns to work with, and if comparing the date to today (years of age, membership, service, etc.) you’ll need a today column (hidden from the view above). This previous post will help you rig a “today” column that is always accurate without needing to update list items manually. Of course all of the following solutions work for any two dates (i.e. day span of vacation request), I’m just sharing specific examples that would involve “Today”.

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