SharePoint Online

Creating a SharePoint Hub Site

Hub Site functionality is rolling out to “Targeted Release” Office 365 customers now, so it I thought I’d give it a quick test.

Step 1: Check you are on “Targeted Release” in the Office 365 Admin Console > Settings > Organisation Profile.

Step 2:聽Go to SharePoint Home from the App Launcher and create a new Communication Site. Microsoft recommends using a Modern Communication site.

Step 3:聽Register the new Communication site as a Hub Site (via PowerShell)

Step 4:聽Create a new Modern Team or Communications site to test with

Step 5:聽In the new site, choose ‘Site Information’ from the settings cog (top right) and select the Hub Site created in step 2 and 3.

To test the functionality I created a news article in the site I created in step 4 and after a few minutes the news article appeared in the Hub Site.

Done!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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SharePoint Hub Sites Coming soon

Microsoft has officially announced Hub Sites via the Office 365 Message Centre, the first real news since Ignite in 2017. Hub Sites are designed to dynamically connect closely release sites, bring together similar projects, manage related assets and present activities in a single place.

Hub Sites address one of the big pieces of the puzzle when it comes to building a modern SharePoint environment. Modern Communication and Team sites can be associated with a Hub Site, providing a way to present content from these sites in a single place.

  • Roll up news from Communication sites
  • Consolidated view of site activities from associated sites
  • Search scoped to the sites associated with the Hub Site
  • Display ‘site cards’ similar to the SharePoint home page (click SharePoint from the Office 365 App Launcher)

Sites that are associated with a Hub Site can inherit configuration including:

  • Navigation
  • Theme
  • Logo

Some additional details of Hub Sites is included in the FAQ’s and Hub Sites blog comments:

  • Hub Sites can’t be associated with other Hub Sites
  • Hub Sites are create by a SharePoint Admin
  • Site Owners can join a Modern Team or Communication site to a Hub Site
  • You can unjoin from one Hub Site and join another easily
  • Permissions do not flow down from Hub Sites
  • News cannot be filtered. All News rolls up at this stage
  • The SharePoint Mobile App will be updated to support Hub Sites

There isn’t much documentation on Hub Sites available yet, but Microsoft are set to release new resources over the next few weeks including general documentation for setup and configuration, along with intranet strategy and planning resources. This documentation is general released at the same time the feature starts rolling out.

The new capabilities Hub Sites bring to SharePoint Online will encourage more organisations to consider Modern SharePoint over Classic.

This Webinar by Mark Kashman, is a great overview of Hub Sites

Hub Sites are due to start rolling out at the end of March 2018 with all organisations having this feature by the end of May 2018.

 

Migrating Access Services from SharePoint Online to On-premises

Microsoft are ending support for Access Services in SharePoint Online from April 2018. This means anyone using Access Services has to make a choice and very soon about what they do as support ends. There are several possible choices:

Option 1: Move back to SharePoint 2016 On-Premises. Note that older SharePoint versions are not supported. This provides similar functionality but means you’re moving from the cloud back to either on-premises or a hosted SharePoint environment.

  • Using Microsoft Access (Desktop), connect to the Access Web App
  • Choose Save As, choose Snapshot to export the App and related data to a local file
  • In SharePoint, go to the App management site and import the App
  • Add the exported App into a SharePoint site in your SP 2016 farm

In addition to deploying back to either an on-premises or hosted SharePoint 2016 farm, there are other options to consider.

Option 2: Converting to SharePoint Lists. This option is really only suitable to relatively simple solutions and you lose much of the functionality Access Web Apps have that lead you to use them in the first place.

Option 3:聽Convert to PowerApps. This is a redevelopment and is worth considering bearing in mind that there are functionality gaps between the old and new solution that may need to be worked through. Read more here.

Option 4: Convert back to a desktop Access database. The benefits of using a web based solution are lost, but it may be the option of last resort for some.

Further information that is useful for anyone using Access Web Apps can be found in the roadmap.

 

SharePoint Migration Tool

Microsoft has made Migrating to SharePoint Online a little bit easier by releasing the SharePoint Migration Tool (SPMT). At the time of blogging the current release was version 0.2.75.1, the leading zero is a good clue that it鈥檚 definitely still in development and may be missing some of the things you really need. Having said that, it does solve some common migration issues and it does it for free!

Here鈥檚 a short list of things the SPMT will do for you:

聽聽聽聽聽聽 Allows you to copy a folder on your file server to a library in SharePoint

聽聽聽聽聽聽 If the source folder contains sub-folders it copies them too

聽聽聽聽聽聽 Retains created and modified dates

聽聽聽聽聽聽 Retains names of the creator and last modified

聽聽聽聽聽聽 Does incremental copies

聽聽聽聽聽聽 Allows setup of multiple source and destinations in a single job

聽聽聽聽聽聽 Source can be a file server (or local disk) or SharePoint on-premises

SPMT

There are a few short comings to be aware of in the release above:

聽聽聽聽聽聽 You cannot copy photos on your source server to an image library in SharePoint Online

聽聽聽聽聽聽 You cannot name a migration job which makes finding the job to rerun later can be hard

聽聽聽聽聽聽 You cannot schedule a migration job

聽聽聽聽聽聽 If you close out, you need to run the tool and log in to Office 365 again

I鈥檓 sure many of these things will be sorted out soon. Even with these limitations the SPMT is still a very useful tool and will help with some of the basic problems with dragging and dropping files to SharePoint.

Download the SharePoint Migration Tool here:

http://spmtreleasescus.blob.core.windows.net/install/default.htm

 

Upgrading to SharePoint 2016 : 101

How do we upgrade to SharePoint 2016? This is a question I鈥檝e been asked a lot lately.

Before I answer the question, I usually start by asking one of my own. Have you considered moving to SharePoint Online? Some people have a very good reason for choosing to stay on-premises but many don鈥檛. Let鈥檚 consider both scenarios.

Scenario 1: Staying on-premises

The simplest option is a Content Database migration. This is the same tried and tested method used to upgrade from older versions of SharePoint e.g. SP2010 to SP2013. If you are moving from SP2010, you will need to do an interim upgrade to SP2013 first, just for the content database upgrades.

Steps:

  1. Install a new SharePoint 2016 Farm. If you need high-availability or want to take advantage of mini-roles to reduce downtime during patching, you鈥檒l need a minimum of 4 SharePoint servers. If that isn鈥檛 needed then a single server farm is possible, but do your homework before going down this path.
  2. You may also need to upgrade your SQL Server depending on the version.
  3. Once installed, create a new Web Application
  4. Restore the Content Database(s) from the SP2013 farm to the new SQL Server
  5. Install any third-party solutions. Mega Menus, Workflow tools, Custom web parts etc
  6. In Central Admin, attach the new database to your new SP2016 web application. SharePoint will automatically upgrade the database schema during this process, which can take time, especially if the database is big.
  7. IISRESET
  8. Test everything

You may decide that an in-place upgrade isn鈥檛 practical or possible. In this case, you can setup a new farm and then use a migration tool (DocAve, MetaLogix, ShareGate etc) to move the content across. This can be a time consuming process but is worth consideration if you need to restructure content or if you have a lot of customisation that you don鈥檛 want to bring across as part of the upgrade.

Scenario 2: Moving to SharePoint Online

Moving to SharePoint Online often requires more planning upfront. There are some things you can do in SharePoint server, that can鈥檛 be done online or require a rethink. Here鈥檚 a short list of common differences, but there are others that may apply too:

–聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 Server side solutions cannot be deployed to the cloud

–聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 Site Collections can鈥檛 use explicit paths (URL鈥檚 to sites may change)

–聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 You cannot change the URL from https://mytenantname.sharepoint.com

–聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 User Profile Sync back to Active Directory is not supported

–聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 SQL Server Reporting Services integration is not supported

–聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 Email enabled document libraries are not supported

–聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 Many third-party mega menus aren鈥檛 supported (yet)

–聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 Integration with other systems may need to be updated

This is by no-means a full list, but it does give you an idea of where pain could start.

You will need to develop a strategy for migrating content across.

–聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 What content are you migrating?

–聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 How much content is there?

–聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 What tool are you going to use?

I highly recommend using a migration tool such as Metalogix, ShareGate or DocAve. Unless you have a trivial amount of content, these tools will save you time. They can map metadata from your old site to the new one or copy entire sites and site collections across. All of these tools handle version history and system metadata such as created date and created by.

Steps:

  1. Identify what you will be migrating and determine if it includes features that may not be supported. Workarounds or alternative solutions may be needed to address those issues.
  2. Ensure Azure AD Connect is setup and syncing users and groups
  3. I recommend that you move Exchange across before SharePoint if possible. There are some things in the Delve profiles which work better
  4. Setup you SharePoint Online tenant
  5. Create site collections
  6. Use a migration tool to copy over the sites, lists and libraries from on-premises.
  7. Setup navigation
  8. Check site security

You can do this process in stages e.g. pre-copy the bulk of the content and then migrate over the changes before you 鈥榞o live鈥.

I should stress that in many cases you will have other challenges to address as you migrate sites across. Give yourself time to test and find solutions for those things that don鈥檛 migrate nicely.

Moving to SharePoint Online will give you many advantages over the long term and reduce the amount of infrastructure needed for your SharePoint farm. For many of us the chances are you will move to the cloud eventually anyway, so why delay?

If you have any good tips, please share in the comments below.