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

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] – 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.

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, 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!

SharePoint Saturday Nashville 2016

I will be presenting at #SPSNashville on May 14th on the topic Business Intelligence with SharePoint & Power BI. I will show how to create BI solutions using SharePoint, Excel, Power BI, and a new Microsoft tool Flow.

Join us!

I had a great time presenting at SharePoint Saturday Nashville. I had a great group of attendees and we discussed SharePoint list interaction with Excel, Power BI, and Microsoft Flow. I am not posting my slides because I didn’t really show content on slides – I used demonstrations the majority of the time to show the power of the tools.

We walked through creating a BI solution that included a SharePoint helpdesk site – one solution used Excel and Power Pivot to build dashboards, the second used Power BI to display and manipulate the helpdesk data, and lastly we used Microsoft Flow to improve the functionality of the solution by pulling in even more content.

The rest of the day was fun and filled with some awesome content from other speakers, delicious hot lunch from Just Love Coffee, and snacks with the sponsors.

SPSNashville 2016 Attendees
SPSNashville 2016 Attendees

The last session of the day was a question and answer time with Microsoft CVP Jeff Teper.

There were a lot of great questions and Jeff was genuinely excited to see all the SharePoint professionals giving up their Saturday to learn and build community. A few bits of information I noted that Jeff shared:

  • There will not be another SharePoint-branded conference put on by Microsoft anytime soon. Microsoft’s Ignite conference will be the focus and they are attempting to put more focus on SharePoint at the conference.
  • Approximately 300,000 Android users start using OneDrive every day
  • Jeff acknowledged some missteps and wants to fix them – the first being that navigation will be coming back to the new document library look in SharePoint
  • Microsoft knows it did not handle correctly the delivery of the message around how the newly announced SharePoint Framework effects existing developed add-ins. This will be fixed in the weeks ahead.
SPSNashville 2016 Jeff Teper
SPSNashville 2016 Jeff Teper

The day ended with a lot of giveaways – we counted over 20! We also announced that attendance was up 79% over last year!

The Future of SharePoint Captured

Yesterday, May 4th 2016, Microsoft hosted “The Future of SharePoint” event in San Fransisco, USA. The host was Jeff Teper, corporate vice president for OneDrive and SharePoint, and along with other Microsoft presenters, Teper showcased the road-map for the SharePoint platform – both on-prem and in the cloud.

Along with announcing the general availability for SharePoint 2016, Microsoft highlighted new SharePoint features and functionality. You can read all about the event and the announcements on the Microsoft Office Blogs post. I will in the days and weeks ahead, cover the new functionality with real-world examples.

Before the event, Microsoft used the Twitter hashtag #FutureOfSharePoint to promote the event. Whenever I attend events, I use Twitter as a way to interact with the speakers and other attendees. For this event, I followed the Twitter hashtag and setup a ‘column’ within Tweetdeck to show all tweets for the event. For this event though, I did something new to track the social interaction Microsoft Flowduring the event. Microsoft released Microsoft Flow, an online product that allows anyone to “create automated workflows between your favorite apps and services to get notifications, synchronize files, collect data, and more.”


I setup a flow to capture all tweets containing the hashtag #FutureOfSharePoint and saved them to a list on my SharePoint Online site.

Flow to capture #FutureOfSharePoint tweets
Flow to capture #FutureOfSharePoint tweets

It worked really well and I started looking at the data to see if I could see any trends. The first thing I checked was who sent the most tweets during the event – this included tweets the users had written and RTs they posted. There was a clear winner:

Jennifer Mason posted a total of 103 tweets during the time I was capturing. Her explanation for sending so many:

Jennifer wasn’t alone, we were all really excited and it does show throughout all the tweets. The Twitter activity over the course of the event was great to see and I will keep looking into the data.

John White (@diverdown1964) shared a link to a Power BI report that he created, presumably with help from Jason Himmelstein (@sharepointlhorn) and Dave Feldman (@bostonmusicdave).

You can get access to the web report by clicking here. Make sure the FutureofSharePoint hashtag is selected at the top right of the report.

#FutureOfSharePoint Active Twitter Users
#FutureOfSharePoint Active Twitter Users

I am really excited for what SharePoint 2016 will bring & you can learn more at SharePoint Saturday Nashville on May 14th, 2016! It is the first chance after the Future Of SharePoint event that you will get to meet and speak with a large group of platform MVPs and industry experts at a local SPS event. Register now!

Building Business Intelligence Dashboards with SharePoint Data – December 1st 2015

I will be co-presenting at the Nashville Business Intelligence User Group meeting this month. We will be walking attendees through creating dashboards using Power BI and I will be focusing on using SharePoint data.

I will show how to use Excel to create dashboards within SharePoint web part pages – first with an export of a SharePoint list and then an import of a SharePoint list into Excel. We will discuss the benefits and drawbacks of each method.

I will then show linking to the same SharePoint list data using the Power BI Desktop application and then publishing it to Power BI.

The meeting went really well – Tammy Clark started off showing how easily Power BI could connect to Facebook data.

I went second and used a SharePoint list I created with Helpdesk data to create dashboards using Excel and SharePoint web part pages. I then moved onto Power BI and ended with showing the cool iOS Power BI app (although it took some time to get it to project from my phone onto the screen).

Power BI iOS App
Helpdesk sample data within Power BI iOS app

Dan Evans then made a couple of announcements about Cortana and Power BI integration. Kerry Tyler finished off the night rocking our Power BI world with a demo that had us saying “wow!” 🙂

Nash BI December 2015 Meeting
Business Intelligence User Group Meeting Attendees

We finished the night at a new restaurant around the corner called Tupelo – fried green tomatoes, pork egg rolls (they were fantastic!!), and chicken and biscuits were enjoyed by all!

Tupelo Honey Cafe
SQLFamily Night at Tupelo Honey Cafe