SharePoint Blog Comments Alert

I was asked recently how to setup an alert on a SharePoint blog so that the author of the blog would be notified when someone made a comment. Here is the solution, built with a SharePoint Designer workflow.

Before we begin, I’ll give a quick explanation of how the SharePoint blog is structured. SharePoint uses two lists to implement blogs and comments.

  • Posts contains the blog post with details including the blog post text, author, date, number of comments and number of likes
  • Comments contains the comment and is linked back to the Posts list via a lookup column

Building the workflow:

In SharePoint Designer, create a new Workflow on the Comments list in the blog site. Configure the blog flow to run when a new item is created.

  1. Create a workflow variable to store the Created By column of the Blog post associated with the comment. This is done using a lookup field.

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2. Create an email using the variable created in step 1 in the “To” field of the Workflow email template. You can also enter the name of the Blog post.

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That’s it! Now anytime someone makes a comment on the blog, the author of the blog will receive an email notification.

This solution will work for SharePoint 2010, 2013 and SharePoint Online.


Migrating the SharePoint Content Type Hub

Microsoft Introduced the Content Type Hub (CTH) in SharePoint 2010.  It allows the central management of Content Types access multiple Site Collections. Content Types are defined and configured in the CTH and published to other site collections.

I have recently migrated several SharePoint 2010 environments with Content Type Hubs to SharePoint 2013. The documentation on how to do this is a bit patchy hence this post.

Migrating the Content Type Hub

The Content Type Hub is dependent on the Managed Metadata Service.

  1. Restore the Managed Metadata database and Content Type Hub content databases to the SQL Server used by your SharePoint 2013 farm.
  1. Create a site collection for the Content Type Hub using the database restored in step 1.
  1. Use the following PowerShell script to create a new Managed Metadata Service. Replace the database name with the name of the database restored in step 1.
$applicationPool = Get-SPServiceApplicationPool -Identity "Managed Metadata Service Application"
$mms = New-SPMetadataServiceApplication -Name "Managed Metadata Service
Application" -ApplicationPool $applicationPool -DatabaseName "SP_MMDS_Database"
New-SPMetadataServiceApplicationProxy -Name " Managed Metadata Proxy" -ServiceApplication $mms -DefaultProxyGroup
  1. If the URL of your SharePoint 2013 web application is different to SharePoint 2010 you will need to update the URL in the Properties of the Managed Metadata Service Application using this PowerShell.
Set-SPMetadataServiceApplication –Identity “Managed Metadata Service Application” –HubURI http://yoursharepointsite/CTH

This will update the URL in the Properties page. Note that doing this will make all Content Types “unpublished” and you will need to republish them.

More tips:

The SharePoint Timer Jobs used to publish Content Types will have the default settings. If you want to publish / synchronise more frequently you should change these settings in Central Admin \ Monitoring \ Job Definitions. Look at the settings on these jobs:

  • Content Type Hub
  • Content Type Subscriber

Test publishing by going to the Content Type Hub and republishing a Content Type. If you get an error ‘No valid proxy can be found to do this operation- publishing of content type‘, check the URL of the CTH in the Managed Metadata Service properties.

Launching Stratos Technology Partners


Four years ago I launched Canterbury Business Solutions with two business partners. It’s fair to say that we launched in a rush and really didn’t have much of a plan. We just wanted to help out clients of our former employer. We wanted to do the right thing.

We grew our business, learning many lessons along the way, some good and some hard. We kept moving ourselves forward in a sort of zig-zaggy way gaining experience and having plenty of fun doing it our own way.

the only constant is change

As our business has grown and us with it, one thing is true. We needed a new name to take away barriers (some real and some perceived). We needed a strategy and we needed a vision. We sat down early in 2014 and started to think, about ourselves. What did we want out of this? Up until this point, we really had focused on our clients and that’s cool, but what about us?

A few months raced by and our vision started to become clear. We wanted to know what our clients wanted us to be. We asked them and right there was the answer to our first question. We wanted to feel like we add value to our clients, we don’t want to be just another contractor or vendor, we want to be an extension of them.

We started working on what that meant to us and to our clients. It has been a long process but I think we have uncovered our DNA and a bit of our clients DNA too. This has become the core of our values and strategy.

So, with that I say farewell to Canterbury Business Solutions and hello to Stratos Technology Partners (Stratos for short).

To find out a bit more, visit our new website here:

Surface Pro 3 and Office 365

Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella has set out a clear strategy to transform Microsoft into a Services and Devices company. This transformation has been in the works for a few years now with the team in Redmond reinventing themselves and the way they do things. So what does this mean for us?

Rather than explain the technical and business in’s and out’s, I thought I would illustrate the new way of working by telling you about my day. For those of you who don’t know me, I am a business owner and IT Consultant.

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The “cloud” is at the core of our business. Office 365 for email, calendars, collaboration and document management, Xero for financials, JIRA for managing software projects and Dynamics CRM to support sales and marketing. We eat our own dog food using the tools we recommend to our clients.

This choice has allowed us to build a business that can operate from almost anywhere. In our first few weeks, it was from a kitchen table. These days it is from our offices, home, client sites, café’s, airports and even the car parked on the side of the road! All we need is an Internet connection and we’re ready for action.

Productivity to us, means being able to “sell” our time efficiently. This means being able to work from anywhere. That’s where the cloud helps us.


SharePoint provides our team with document management and collaboration capabilities. It’s the place we go for templates, contracts, statements of work, project and client documentation. No matter where we are, we can access our documents. Office Web Apps ensure we can edit documents and spreadsheets if we are accessing SharePoint from a device without Microsoft Office installed.

We also provide some of our clients with portal access for sharing documents, ensuring we are all working on the right version. Our clients love it and so does our Project Manager.


OneNote might just be my new favourite application. It allows us to create and share “notebooks” with each other and our clients. Multiple people can contribute to the same notebook at the same time, making it a very useful tool for all sorts of tasks.

Notebooks are synchronised to SharePoint on Office 365 meaning they are accessible from anywhere that has an internet connection. The notebook can be updated from a web browser, laptop and even my iPhone.

Surface Pro 3

The Surface Pro 3 is Microsoft’s latest tablet / laptop device. The Surface Pro 3 has a larger screen, faster processor, better battery life and better keyboard than it’s predecessors. Unlike other tablets, it runs a fully functional version of Windows 8.1 Professional allowing it to run anything your Windows PC can run. I have a full version of Office 2013, various Windows VPN clients, Citrix, Vmware View, SharePoint Designer and Visual Studio. Did I mention, it weights in at just 800 grams?

The touch screen combined with Microsoft smart stylus (pen) and OneNote, makes the Surface a brilliant note taking tool. I can sketch up screen layouts and scribble down notes without paper. Now I have my notes with me anywhere I go rather than in a serious of paper note books and scraps of paper on my desk.

I should point out that I have used older Surface devices. The “3” is a major improvement and resolves any of the short comings of older devices. Better screen, keyboard and kick stand make this device a pleasure to use. Having said that, it still isn’t the perfect device for everyone, so try it before you buy it.


Combining “cloud” services with a versatile mobile device makes it possible to work from almost anywhere, with everything you need at your finger tips.

These tools combine to improve productivity by reducing downtime between jobs and ensuring we have the information we need when we need it. They make it easier to work from anywhere and keep us in touch with our team and customers.

That sums it all up for me. I’d be interested in hearing your experiences too.

SharePoint Double Authentication Issue

I struck and interesting issue on a SharePoint 2013 web application. I had configured the site to allow anonymous access but started getting multiple login prompts when after signing in to the site.

Developer tools in the web browser revealed an access denied error on the URL

The issue was resolved by disabling the “Require Use Remote Interfaces” setting on the web application as follows:

  • In Central Admin \ Web Applications
  • Select the web application
  • Choose Authentication from the ribbon
  • On each zone, remove the tick from “Require Use Remote Interfaces”
  • Click OK

Further details:

The double authentication prompt only occurred on specific activities e.g. editing pages.

In my case this problem occurred after extending a Web Application. In the primary web application I had customised the authentication settings (in IIS). These settings reverted back to defaults after I extended the web application via Central Admin.

Can I use Office 365 on a Mac?

I’ve been watching a little revolution taking place over the past few months. I’ve noticed a few people in my wider circle (human, not Google+) becoming a little bit “Mac-curious”. They’re starting to ask questions like, should I buy a Mac or a PC?

The answer is of course depends on what you want to use the computer for…A few years ago, if the answer was “work” then for 95% of people a PC was the right choice. My own recent experiences seem to make that line a blurry.

Word Online with Safari

In my day to day job, I am a company Director and an IT Consultant working largely with Microsoft Technologies with a major focus on SharePoint and Office 365. Here’s a few things I’d like to share about my experience of working with Office 365 from a Mac.

Using nothing more than a Mac Book Pro (13 inch retina display) and an internet connection at the office, paired to my phone and a variety of Wifi locations including home, airports and cafes, I can get my work done. No hassles, it just works!

I have Office 2011 for Mac installed locally, but actually I hardly need it. The Office Web Apps are great, far better than Google Apps (yep I’ve use them daily too). I love the Excel and Word Web Apps. Pair these two work horses with Outlook Web App and SharePoint and I can do almost everything I need for my day to day work. The experience is the same as if I was on a PC.

I can drag files from my local machine to a SharePoint document library. I can sync files locally using the Mac One Drive client. I can edit without compatibility issues. I can print without wonky formatting. It just works.

Office for Mac includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Lync. It has some limitations so do your homework, particularly if you need VBA or third-party add-on support.

I still have a few little things that work better on a PC, particularly connectivity into a few of my clients, however the Microsoft now providing a great RDS Client for Mac, I hardly ever need to boot into Windows.

I would like to congratulate the folks at Redmond for providing great Mac OSX support. I see this as a real positive for Microsoft as many of their services are now accessible to people using other platforms including iOS and soon Android support for Office. Nice one!