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How to get a free trial of Office 365 for home, business or enterprise

A free trial of Office 365 is a great idea if you’re:

  • Curious how it could help your team and want to do some testing as a group
  • Wanting hands-on experience with tools you’re interested in using
  • Needing to test something out in a safe, no-consequence zone before applying it to your actual environment
  • Studying for exams 70-346 or 70-347 (I recommend a Business Premium trial)
  • Considering changing licenses

Get a free trial today:

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Use Microsoft Stream to live stream your events

I just found out that Microsoft Stream now allows users to live stream events (preview). Once an event is finished, the recorded stream includes face detection so users can skip ahead to a certain speaker as well as automatic and searchable closed captions. Whenever you have an opportunity to stop paying for a third party product and use what you get included in your tenant, I think it’s worth giving it a try.

Note: Video tutorial at bottom of post.

Use Power BI to create a dynamic/live meeting room schedule

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I recently set out to create a “live” conference room schedule that could be presented constantly on an auto-refreshed screen outside conference rooms. This would replace printed schedules placed in holders outside the rooms. The following example uses a SharePoint calendar as the conference room calendar and can be refreshed constantly using Power BI’s scheduled refresh in O365 or Report Server.

Intro to conditional formatting & rules/validation when customizing SharePoint new item forms with PowerApps in Office 365

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This post will introduce you to some basic conditional formatting, rules & validation ideas you can implement today in your customized SharePoint forms using PowerApps. And don’t worry – if you start making changes to your form and don’t want to keep them, you can easily switch back to the original SharePoint form.

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

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!

“Edit in Word” (or Excel) not opening document in Office 365, or “Read-Only” status upon opening and trying to save changes

When working in Office 365 or SharePoint and you open a document for editing, you get two choices. Edit in Word (or Excel) or Edit in Browser. Editing in browser is typically a safe route but it doesn’t give you full functionality like the clients will.

The issue I’m discussing here is when a user tries to edit a document from SharePoint using the client (not Edit in Browser) the client opens to a blank, gray background (no document) or doesn’t open at all. This is likely an account conflict in syncing or accessing.

In other cases, the document may open, but as read-only. If that’s the case, it’s likely permissions-related. You might first check the user’s specific permissions in SharePoint. Sometimes because of broken (not inherited) permissions, or partial access to a site, users are able to edit in browser, but not in the client. If this is your situation, it could well be the cause.

Hopefully this is a simple fix for you, but as it’s become clear to me a number of times with this issue it can be quite complicated. I have a couple fixes, though the second is less ideal. If anyone else has run into this and would like to offer their experience, please do so in the comments.

Create old web part page instead of using SharePoint framework’s new page experience

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The new SharePoint framework has a lot to offer in the way of development possibilities and user-friendliness. Creating a page using their new default page experience seen above is much more intuitive, inherently mobile-friendly and easy to whip together some decent-looking dynamic content in just a few clicks. But this new experience doesn’t allow for adding web parts like you may be used to. And customizing layouts isn’t as accessible as it once was. The following few steps will allow you to create a page that utilizes familiar layouts (columns and sidebars) and web parts.

Show last modified date for a SharePoint list without using code

listmodified.JPGSo you want your viewers to know the last time data was refreshed or updated in your SharePoint list without having the list’s default “modified” column repeating the same date hundreds of times and taking up horizontal space.

There are a number of solutions out there to show the date a list was last modified using code. This solution provides an option best used with lists you bulk update, or copy and paste to replace all data regularly, but requires no coding. It basically pulls out the “last modified” date of your first list item and displays it at the top as seen above. This solution is not for you if you are updating only specific items within a list.