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:
- When a file is created or modified in SP
- Create document in OneDrive for Business
- Convert document
- 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.
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:
Of 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
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!
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.
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!