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

Problems Creating List Workflows in SharePoint Designer 2010 for Office 365 Sites

On a SharePoint Online site, when attempting to edit a previously created list workflow using SharePoint Designer 2010, I received the following error in Designer:

(SharePoint Designer cannot display the item…Most likely causes: The file has been deleted from the site. The site is encountering problems.)


I had never encountered this error before, so instead of editing the workflow, I tried to create a new list workflow. After entering the name of the new workflow and clicking OK in the window shown below, the window closes and nothing happens.


I thought maybe it was an issue with Designer itself, so I closed the application and went to clear out all the related cache. I started in the SharePoint Designer folder located in the AppData directory. In the ProxyAssemblyCache folder, I noticed something very interesting – two folders with what looked like different version numbers as their names.

(c:\users\*username*\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\SharePoint Designer\ProxyAssemblyCache)


The version corresponds to the April 2012 CU for SharePoint 2010. The number corresponds to the ​December 2012 Hotfix for SharePoint 2013! I haven’t opened a SharePoint 2013 site from this computer, so I was perplexed why this version number was being used.

So, I went back into SharePoint Designer to see if I could find more information, and noticed that the SharePoint version was 4, BUT it was 4 (! This is exactly how a site would report itself when it is hosted on a SharePoint 2013 server that is using the 2010 experience.

(SharePoint Designer site properties reporting version 4 ( )


So, without notifying anyone, it seems Microsoft has started to rollout SharePoint ‘Wave 15’ (2013) in SharePoint Online, but it is keeping these existing tenants on the 2010 experience. So, there is no way of knowing when you are converted over, unless you start having issues creating or editing list workflows in SharePoint Designer 2010 or you happen to look at your version number.

The “solution” is to install SharePoint Designer 2013 (, remove the ProxyAssemblyCache folders, and clear out any files in the C:\Users\dglenn\AppData\Local\Microsoft\WebsiteCache\ directory.

External SharePoint Online Users: Associate an email address with a Microsoft account (Windows Live ID)

– Invite External Users – SharePoint Online
– Associate External Email Address with Windows Live ID
– Login to SharePoint Online with a Windows Live ID Account

With SharePoint Online, site administrators have the ability to share their site with internal users, users who are within the same company and have an Office 365 account, as well as up to unlimited external users per Office 365 tenant. External users are defined as partners who are not a member of your company or your company’s affiliates. External users can use their existing Microsoft Online Services ID, if they themselves have an Office 365 subscription, or a Windows Live ID, which includes usernames in the,, and domains.

The details on how to turn on external sharing in SharePoint Online is documented on Microsoft’s site here:

The missing link in the documentation however, is detail on how external users are to associate their existing email address with a Windows Live ID. In step two of these directions, you will get those details with screenshots, as well as the correct URL used to associate IDs (the URL in Microsoft’s documentation, namely the SharePoint Online service descriptions, is incorrect).

After external sharing has been enabled, both from within the SharePoint Online Portal and then turning on the Site Collection Feature, as a site owner you will be able to share your site using the “Share Site” link shown in the image below.

Step 1

(Share Site – Invite new users to your site)



You will then be prompted to enter the external users email addresses into the invite. As you can see from below, you can add the external users to the default Visitors or Members groups. One item to note is you cannot change the subject of the email the user(s) will receive.

(Invite for external users)



The user will receive an email from Office 365 asking them to accept your invitation.

(Example of the email users will receive when invited to a SharePoint Online site)



Step 2

At this point, external users should not accept your invitation unless they already have an account to sign-in – see the start of this post for acceptable accounts.

If the external users do not have an account as described above, they will need to associate their existing email address to a Windows Live ID. It may be most convenient for them to associate their company’s email address.

NOTE: The service description for SharePoint Online, (located here: lists the incorrect URL to perform the association. The correct URL is:

After loading the site, as long as the user is not logged in using an existing Windows Live ID account, the user will be presented with a form to create an account, while associating their existing email address.

  • If a different page loads, i.e. a Hotmail inbox, the user needs to use the logout feature on the page that loads. Then, go back to so the page below loads.


The full form:


Upon successful completion of the form, the user will be warned that they must verify their email address.



The user will receive the email shown below. They will need to click the ‘Verify’ button in the email to complete the setup of their Windows Live ID account.


A confirmation window will be displayed in the user’s browser.


Step 3

It may take some time for Microsoft’s servers to sync with the new account. After waiting, the user should go to and ensure they are logged in – only then should the user click the “Accept your invitation!” link in the original invite email from your SharePoint Online site.



The account type selection web page will then open. The user will select the “Microsoft Online Services ID” icon to use their new ID.



Since the user is currently logged-in on the website, the login page after clicking the “Microsoft Online Services ID” icon should look similar to the one below. They need to now click “Sign in at Windows Live” under their email address.


The user should then be taken directly to your SharePoint site. NOTE: the email address you sent the invite to and the email address they used to associate with a Windows Live ID must be the same.

  • If the user sees the page shown below, they should use their new ID to login.