SharePoint Dashboards using Power BI – Nashville Excel & Power BI User Group

I am presenting at the Nashville Modern Excel user group on April 13, 2017 – come join us! My talk will focus on using SharePoint to build business intelligence dashboards with Power BI and Excel.

Register on the user group site: Nashville Excel & Power BI User Group

[UPDATE]
Thank you to everyone who attended my presentation – what a great group!

It May Be Time to Stop Building Access Web Apps

For years now, power users have created solutions using Access Services within SharePoint. These solutions have often been the backbone of many business processes for small to medium-sized organizations. Now that Office 365 is widely available and is fairly cost-effective for those organizations, we have new options to solve those business needs.

Microsoft PowerApps is a new member of the Office 365 family and now that PowerApps is generally available within Office 365, Microsoft is recommending to organizations that solutions built with Access Services be migrated to the PowerApps service.

Access Services & Access Web Apps shipped with SharePoint 2016 and will continue being supported as part of the SharePoint product life-cycle.

Moving forward, information workers should build their apps using PowerApps on top of SharePoint lists to give the feature-rich solutions their users need with the full on-going support of Microsoft and the tech community.

Update – Postpone the SharePoint Online Public Site Deadline

Last December I posted the news that Microsoft will allow Office 365 admins to postpone the removal of their Office 365 public sites – which are special SharePoint Online site collections that can be used as an internet site for companies.

There wasn’t a big announcement on how to actually do the postponing, which is understandable as Microsoft would rather you not keep your public site so they don’t have to support it.

To postpone the deletion of your SharePoint Online public site, go to the SharePoint admin center – the URL location is in the format: https://[ReplaceWithYourTenantName]-admin.sharepoint.com/_layouts/15/online/SiteCollections.aspx – and go to the settings page. For the setting “Postpone deletion of SharePoint Online public websites”, select I’d like to keep my public website until March 31, 2018.

Postpone Public Site Delete Option
Postpone Public Site Delete Option

As the setting notes, you will have until March 31, 2018 to find a replacement for your public internet site. Don’t wait! Start a project now to make the change so next March doesn’t sneak up on you. Contact me if I can help with your transition.

Securely Embed Power BI Reports in SharePoint

The business intelligence landscape in SharePoint has a new and improved story to tell with Power BI! Join me on April 13th at the Nashville Excel & Power BI User Group – I present a session on Power BI Dashboards in SharePoint Online.

The presentation will be heavy on demos as I walk through the BI options in SharePoint – using list views, Excel, and Power BI – to tell great data stories. I will also show the awesomeness of the Power BI mobile app on iOS!

The meeting is free and lunch is provided! Register: Nashville Excel & Power BI Meetup

Postpone the SharePoint Online Public Site Deadline

In October 2012, Microsoft released a feature called SharePoint Online Public Sites, which allowed the creation of a public-facing, anonymous ‘SharePoint-ish’ site. It wasn’t a full-featured SharePoint site – public sites had limited features, including static pages and generic theme capabilities – enough to make it useful for small companies with no web development resources. Microsoft targeted small and medium-sized business with this feature and it promised an easy to use method for generating content and modifying the web pages.

Sample SharePoint Online Public Site

However, the feature wasn’t used by a majority of Office 365 customers and caused an abnormal amount of customer tickets. So in early 2015, Microsoft announced that the SharePoint Online public website feature would be discontinued as of March 9th, 2015. Office 365 customers that already used the feature at that time would be able to continue using the public website feature for 2 years after the March 9th date. The change is outlined in the KB Article 3027254.

The message has been consistent from Microsoft since the first announcement – move away from the public website feature because it will be turned off. Period. Almost two years have passed – the deadline is fast approaching and we are now hearing more customers looking for alternative web platforms. On December 9th 2016, Microsoft put out a message via the Office 365 portal to remind customers of the upcoming deadline.

Reminder: SharePoint Online Public Websites are going away

However, this time the message had a new detail that other communications did not, an olive branch of sorts.

In January 2017, we will have a process in place allowing you to postpone the removal of your SharePoint Online public website.

That is good news for anyone who has yet to move their site to a different host. While we don’t know what the process will be or how long customers will be able to postpone the removal of their public sites (more information will be announced in January 2017), it is good that Microsoft listened to their customers and is giving them some extra time to make plans – if two years wasn’t enough 🙂

Nashville SharePoint Users Group – October 11, 2016

I am excited to be presenting at our local SharePoint users group next week! I am presenting “Microsoft Flow: The Successor to SharePoint Designer Workflows”.

I will introduce the service and give examples of how it is used to build workflows. I am also trying something new – I will pick out at least one suggestion from the audience to use as the example demo after my presentation!

More information, including the registration link, is on the Nashville SharePoint Users Group website.

[UPDATE]
The presentation slides are here: Microsoft Flow The Successor to SharePoint Designer Workflows Nashville SUG

Thank you to everyone who attended tonight & for the great interactive session!

I had a great time and we had a lot of giveaways!

Use Microsoft Flow to Send SMTP Email

Microsoft Flow is a new product from Microsoft and I am finding it to be a very useful tool. Flow can be a very convenient resource for sending email alerts when something I set as a ‘trigger’ happens. It is also a superior product to ‘IF This Then That’ products because of Flow’s ability to have many steps and conditions. Flow can be used to send email in several ways, but today I will cover how to set up a custom SMTP connection. Flow is in Preview, so some screens or options shown on this post may change.

NOTE: I am going to show how to set up an SMTP connection to GoDaddy’s email service, but any SMTP service that allows connections will work.

First, go to the GoDaddy website and log into your account. Then, click on your name (#1 below) and then select the Visit My Account link (#2 below).

Godaddy account
GoDaddy account

Once you are on your account page, click on the Manage link next to the email listing.

GoDaddy email link
GoDaddy email link

Next, find the account you will be using for your email relay. Select the drop-down menu (#1 below) and then click the Email Setup Center link on the menu (#2 below).

GoDaddy email acount selection
GoDaddy email account selection

When the Email Setup Center page loads, make note of the Outgoing server (SMTP) settings.

GoDaddy smtp settings
GoDaddy SMTP settings

Then head over to the Microsoft Flow website and login. Once you have logged in, click on the person image in the top-right corner (#1 below) and then select My connections in the menu (#2 below).

Microsoft Flow access connections
Microsoft Flow access connections

Select the Add a connection link at the top of the Connections page.

Microsoft Flow add a connection
Microsoft Flow add a connection

When the connection types load, select the SMTP link.

Microsoft Flow SMTP link
Microsoft Flow SMTP link

Then fill out the SMTP connection settings with the information you noted earlier from the GoDaddy Email Setup Center. I am using port 80 and not using SSL encryption in the example below, but you should use security best practices when configuring your service. Click the Create connection link when finished.

Microsoft Flow SMTP settings for GoDaddy
Microsoft Flow SMTP settings for GoDaddy

Once the connection is created, create a new Flow. Create a trigger, in the example below I am checking for a Tweet. Then Add an action, and type email (#1 below). This will filter the list of actions to only show email items. Then select the SMTP – Send Email action (#2 below).

Microsoft Flow add SMTP step
Microsoft Flow add SMTP step

Then enter the required information for the email. In the example below, I am sending an email to test@example.com, with an email subject of “New Tweet Appears – [The Tweet text]”, and an email body of “There is a new Tweet by [who created the tweet]!”.

Microsoft Flow SMTP step settings
Microsoft Flow SMTP step settings

Finally save your Flow and give it a test. I have found that it might take a minute for the Flow to start checking Twitter, but you should receive an email any time the condition you set is met!

Happy Flow creating!