Convert SharePoint documents to PDF using Microsoft Flow

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Edited Dec 10, 2018 to include “for a selected item” function in modern sites.

Can you convert SharePoint documents to PDF without leaving SharePoint? Heck, yeah!

Basically we’ll create this flow:

  1. “When a file is created or modified” in SP -OR- “For a selected item”
  2. Create document in OneDrive for Business -OR- OneDrive
  3. Convert document (OneDrive action in Flow)
  4. Create document in SP

It’s a bit of a hack but we get exactly the result often requested: convert SharePoint docs to PDF automatically. Here’s how to set this up. A video walkthrough using the “created/modified” trigger is available at the bottom of this post.

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Dealing with &#39 and &amp in SharePoint Designer document library workflows

If you’re using a document Name field in a workflow but it’s not working as expected, it could be because there are apostrophes () or ampersands (&) in document names. In this case, SharePoint evaluates apostrophes () to &#39semicolon and ampersands (&) to &ampsemicolon As you can see here, most other punctuation evaluates perfectly well:

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Note: This problem only occurs when using apostrophes and ampersands in document names, in document libraries. And we can fix the issue without needing to rename the files.

Document names cannot contain these punctuation marks: \ / . : * # “

Regular lists and document library fields aside from the Name field shouldn’t experience this issue. But if you’re using & or in your file names, and calling those file names in workflow, here’s how we can make it work:

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OneDrive and SharePoint sync issue: “You now have two copies of a file; we couldn’t merge the changes in [filename]” appended with computer name

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If you’ve seen a similar notification, I empathize with your pain. I don’t know that there is one solution to this problem, either, so I’m going to share a number of them we’ve used and hope that one (or all) of them will help you.

Basically a file is added through file explorer (a cloud library in OneDrive or SharePoint being synced locally to your computer) but then after a moment a notification appears which says “You now have two copies of a file; we couldn’t merge the changes in [filename]” and then the filename is appended with your computer name again and again until eventually the filename is too long and is harder to delete. Let’s not get to that point.

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Solution: Using a Yes/No checkbox in a Microsoft Flow condition statement

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It’s not uncommon to want to use yes/no checkboxes when building Microsoft Flow conditions. [Field] is equal to “Yes” or [Field] is equal to true won’t work because it reads the Yes or true as a string rather than a value. So when the flow runs, even if the checkbox is checked (true), the run history says the expression result was false.

Fortunately it’s a simple two-step fix. Follow these steps to be able to use yes/no checkboxes as conditions in your flows:

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Show more or all views in a classic view SharePoint list

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By default, you’ll see 3 views in a SharePoint list. Using simple javascript, we can make sure our users see that fourth or fifth view as well, reducing the number of clicks it takes for them to get to the data they need.

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Speaking at SharePoint Saturday Kansas City on September 16

I hope to see some of you this Saturday at SPS Kansas City, where I’ll be sharing an overview and demos on using workflows to improve business processes. Here’s what you can expect from me:

spskc2.pngLet Microsoft Flow and SharePoint Designer Workflows Do the Work

Your team members would appreciate getting some time back. Give it to them in ten minute increments here, thirty minutes there by using Microsoft Flow and SharePoint Designer to build them thoughtful workflows that range from simple one-steppers to more complex and conditional multi-stagers, even across site collections. We’ll cover specific HR and Accounting scenarios in this session based on real-case experience at KU Libraries, including automation of some onboarding and off-boarding processes, simple automated management of otherwise complex item-level permissions, travel plan submission and approval, receipt submission and reimbursement tracking and more all through utilizing workflows to save you and your colleagues time.

Change SharePoint “Save” button to “Submit” in new item forms

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“Save” isn’t as familiar/intuitive to non-SharePoint users as language such as “Submit” can be. Change “Save” to “Submit” by adding a script editor or content editor web part (CEWP) to the newform.aspx page for your list.

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Keep custom headers, footers, CSS, etc. from loading in SharePoint modal dialogs

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When writing your own custom headers and footers, you probably don’t want/need that script showing in modal dialog windows too. It can look sloppy or accidental and may wrap oddly, as seen in my example above.

Luckily, it’s an easy fix.

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SharePoint Calendar Cleanup: Use one workflow to remove Outlook “Copy:” prefixes, standardize location names and delete canceled events

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We’ve all been there. One location on a shared calendar will be referred to by multiple people as 20 different things. Johnson Building Room 214 can be entered as “214,” “Johnson 214,” or “J214” to name a few. Canceled events stay on the calendar, sucking up real estate and waiting for someone to delete it manually. Items copied from another calendar make you pay for the convenience of a simple copy and paste by adding the “Copy: ” prefix to the item.

But with a single workflow, we can fix all of these and make our SharePoint calendars look more professional and polished without making more work for end users. This post will cover how we can use workflow to standardize naming of locations with workflow, delete events once they’ve been canceled and get rid of Outlook’s “Copy: ” prefix. You will need SharePoint Designer and appropriate permissions to create workflows to complete the following steps:

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Sending emails via SharePoint Designer workflow to external recipients using Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, etc. addresses

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SharePoint Designer 2013 workflows verify email recipients as valid SharePoint users. If they’re not on your site they likely won’t be able to receive an email from a 2013 workflow depending on your setup. Even though the workflow publishes, the recipient could be removed before the message is sent. You may also get this error message when creating the workflow:

“The selected user(s) may not be valid on the site this workflow is published on. If a recipient is not a valid SharePoint user, he or she will not receive workflow emails.”

More often than not, this will be triggered by any yahoo, gmail, hotmail, etc. address but can also sometimes occur with addresses within your organization if they’re not in your AD and properly part of your site. I recommend copying yourself in testing to be sure the message is sent to external users if you think you’ve successfully made external addresses valid SharePoint users.

But to be certain you get around this 2013 obstacle, simply use a 2010 workflow. SharePoint Designer workflows built on the 2010 platform do not verify addresses. And if you’ve already built a complicated masterpiece in 2013, no need to fret. You can always create a 2010 workflow just for the email and start it within your 2013 workflow.

Update 9/1/17: If that still doesn’t work…

Most likely your recipients, then, aren’t being looked up in an item field (perhaps the same address will be used for all workflow instances). In your workflow before the email step, “Create a workflow variable” and set it to the person(s’) email address(es). If multiple, type as semi-colon delimited. Set the variable type to string. Then for the To: line in the email, use a workflow lookup to that new variable.