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We’ve been waiting a lifetime (dramatic?) for this feature. And now it’s here! Sort of.

Currently, with a new “Preview” action release in Microsoft Flow, we’re able to convert documents to PDF in OneDrive for Business via workflow. While this isn’t ready for SharePoint yet, we can make it look that way for our end users. Basically:

  1. When a file is created or modified in SP
  2. Create document in OneDrive for Business
  3. Convert document
  4. Create document in SP

It’s roundabout but we get exactly the result often requested: convert SharePoint docs to PDF automatically. Here’s how to set this up. A video walkthrough is available at the bottom of this post.

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Perhaps you, like me, built an exciting Microsoft Flow workflow and let it go into the wild without much additional thought. But at some point, you drop a lookup column into the mix and your Flow stops working. It tells you the field is not supported in query, even if that specific field isn’t being utilized in the Flow. I believe this has something to do with REST, but we won’t dwell on the cause – let’s get to the workaround.

The scenario I’ll be using is my cross-site publishing alternative using Microsoft Flow where I’m basically copying data from list items in one site collection to create new list items in a different site collection. This is helpful when someone does some sort of data entry once, and other people are then entering much of the exact same data. This copies all of the overlapping data to a new list item for the second site collection to reduce duplication of work.

It sounds simple but with a lookup column in the destination list we get the error. For this I’ll be using SharePoint Designer and Microsoft Flow (of course) in combination, though you could certainly try it all in Microsoft Flow. I just find parts of the process simpler in SPD. And while your origin data may be different (MailChimp, Twitter, etc.), and your exact scenario may differ, this workaround should still have value in concept.

You may have several forms or lists using dropdown menus across your site that you would have to update if, say, an individual resigned, or a department changed its name, or a building relocated. Manage this type of information (individuals, departments, buildings, etc. frequently used in lists and forms)  in separate lists that we’ll then use to create site-wide lookup columns to replace the many individual dropdowns across our sites that are repetitious. Basically, we’ll update the information in one place and know that it’s updated everywhere it’s needed across our site (or site collection if you’re familiar enough to go the extra mile with collection content types or Microsoft Flow, if your permissions aren’t at the site collection level).

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It’s not easy to show a list (or part of a list)  from one site collection on another. There are data view web parts you could try in SharePoint Designer, content search queries  and page viewers in SharePoint web parts and then some scripting methods you could try, but I, in my enterprise environment, had no luck with those. This method, however, utilizes Microsoft Flow and works flawlessly. Here are a couple great features:

  • Permissions are completely flexible. Set the “new” list to view only or whatever permissions you like while keeping tight control over the original. People will not be able to access the original list or site collection but they’ll see your up-to-date info you’re wanting to share.
  • You can set this up so it’s a one-way publishing experience so updates on list 1 show on list 2, but updates on list 2 don’t show on list 1 OR you can set it up two-way so each list will update the other, creating a shared list experience without allowing permissions to access each other’s site collections

So let’s get started!