December is upon us – the lights, the music, the shopping; but don’t let that distract you from the exciting things happening in the world of Office 365! There is something for everyone – new options for site branding in SharePoint, the ability to manage MS Teams in the Teams & Skype Admin Center, new MS Teams Administrator roles, licensing updates for PowerApps/MS Flow, and a way to restrict users from creating Office 365 groups. Continue reading “WHAT’S NEW IN OFFICE 365 (DECEMBER 2018)”
Microsoft is very permissive when it comes to creating Office 365 groups. The default is that everyone can create Office 365 groups. Users can create groups from several different applications, and each user can create up to 250 groups. With this kind of freedom, things can get out of control pretty quickly. Before you know it, your environment can have a plethora of Office 365 Groups that may not be useful or even used. Sometimes the old adage is true – just because they can, doesn’t always mean they should.
October was a great month for those of us in the IT Pro space in Office 365, especially with the SharePoint Online Admin center enhancements. Unfortunately, we have yet to see the Teams Administration Dashboard in our tenant or any of our customers tenants but hopefully by typing this up we will assure ourselves of sticking our foot in out mouth and it will pop up. While many of the “big” developments from October are geared towards IT folks, there were still a couple noteworthy updates for the user base as well.
Side-note: If you plan to be in or around Chicago, IL in the beginning of December and want to increase your knowledge on Office 365/SharePoint head over to the SharePoint Fest Chicago event being held 12/3/2018 – 12/7/2018. Don’t let the name mislead you, they cover a lot of SharePoint items, but you will also see many other Office 365 applications covered as well as Azure topics. The event has different levels of sessions for end users, power users, IT professionals and developers so it really is for everyone. Continue reading “WHAT’S NEW IN OFFICE 365 (NOVEMBER 2018)”
Microsoft Ignite was held September 24-28 in Orlando, Florida with more than 1600 sessions on all that Microsoft has to offer. This session, by Dux Raymond Sy, covered guidelines for proper governance of Microsoft Teams. Dux makes basic recommendations but cautions listeners that Azure Active Directory P1 is a requirement for some of the features he highlights.
Overall, it was an informative session. Dux does a great job explaining the relationship between Microsoft Teams and Office 365 Groups; and breaking down governance into 3 manageable areas: provisioning, operations and information cycle. Continue reading “Review of How to Ensure Operational Governance for Microsoft Teams Session from Microsoft Ignite 2018”
I’ve been working in SharePoint for an eternity and in Office 365 long enough to know better yet here we are. We had a customer request a dirt simple MS Flow to dump an Excel from SharePoint to a local file share on their network so that it could be pulled into a 3rd party tool. We had just done something far more complex for a similar size/type of customer, so I just glanced at the Flow Pricing page to make sure the on-premises data gateway was listed for Office 365 as I’m always paranoid about licensing, sure enough it was there. Verified permissions were good to go and I was confident we could knock this thing out in an hour…wrong! Continue reading “Office 365 Licensing Finally Got Me”
I didn’t actually attend the summit, but rather took advantage of the fact that Microsoft is generous enough to make all of the sessions available on-demand. The Advanced Expressions for MS Flow session, led by Stephen Siciliano, was chock-full of information on the various types of advanced expressions available in MS Flow, suggested uses for these different types, and real-world demos. Using advanced expressions can seriously kick up your MS Flow game, so I highly recommend becoming familiar with these gems.
Advanced expressions are function expressions that can be written in a compose action or inline in a conditional. When an advanced expression is written in a compose action, the result of the expression can then be used in other areas of your flow. On the other hand, if the expression is written in a conditional, the result of the expression will be used to determine to which path the flow will continue. In this case, the expression must begin with the @ character, and the expressions that can be used here include equals(), and(), or(), not(), less(), lessOrEquals(), greater(), and greaterOrEquals().
However, I may be getting ahead of myself. You may still be asking “Where do I find advanced expressions?” So, let me start there. Once you create an action, click on “Add dynamic content”, in the pop up, there are tabs for “Dynamic content” and “Expression”. Click on “Expression”. All of the advanced expressions are listed by type. They also include a short snippet description to assist you in determining what they do and how you might use them. It helps that most of their names are fairly descriptive as well.
The beauty of advanced expressions is they give you many more options for working with your data; and therefore, you can create flows that can do more for you. With advanced expressions you have the power to manipulate and generate data in the following ways:
Converting Data Types
- MS Flow automatically converts some data types. For example, integers will automatically be converted to strings. What this means is that the data will be available both as an integer and as a string in the data content.
- Other, less obvious, conversions can be written as an expression by the flow author. For example, if you need to convert a base64 encoded string to a string, you would use base64ToString(). There are advanced expressions for converting to string, floating point, integer, boolean, base64, Data URI, URI component, binary, array, JSON object, and XML content.
Working with Strings
- There are expressions for joining two strings, concat(); extracting a chunk of a string, substring(); or replacing sections of a string, replace().
- If you need to convert the case of a string, you can use toLower() and toUpper().
- Finding the location of text in a string is easy with indexOf() and lastIndexOf().
- Lastly, if you need to check if a string starts with or ends with a value, you can use startsWith() or endsWith().
- Doing simple arithmetic, or even advanced arithmetic, can be achieved with the arithmetic expressions. These include:
- add(), returns the result of adding two numbers
- sub(), returns the result of subtracting two numbers
- mul(), returns the result of multiplying two numbers
- div(), returns the result of dividing two numbers
- mod(), returns the remainder after dividing two numbers
- Advanced arithmetic is possible, because you can use expressions within expressions. For example, if you want to complete a + b / c, your expression would be add(a, div(b,c)).
- Min() and max() are expressions that return the minimum or maximum value from an array of numbers.
- There are a bunch of advanced expressions for manipulating date/time. These include, but are not limited to, expressions for:
- Returning the current timestamp as a string, utcNow()
- Adding times together, addMinutes(), addHours(), addDays(), etc
- Converting time zones, convertTimeZone(), convertToUtc(), convertFromUtc()
- Formatting date/time into a string, formatDateTime()
- Returning a segment of time from a timestamp, dayOfWeek(), dayOfMonth(), etc.
- The two most helpful examples of expressions that generate data are:
- guid(), returns a globally unique string
- rand(), which returns a random integer within the specified range
The if() expression can be helpful if you are simply trying to add styling or set a value based on a condition. You can write a simple if() expression rather than add an additional layer of conditions into the flow. Multiple layers of nested conditions can become confusing and can get short circuited if a missing property gets referenced.
Properties that are not set or return as null will cause your flow to fail. To avoid this, use the coalesce() function in conjunction with the ? character. The idea is to set a default value for the property that will be used if the property returns as null. This looks something like this: coalesce(body(‘Get_record’)?[‘content’], ‘Default Value’).
There are also some really cool advanced expressions for working with lists/arrays, and workflows. I encourage you to poke around in the Expression tab to see what else is available. In the session, Siciliano also briefly discussed asynchronous actions (using 2 triggers in the same flow), working with other flows (using the Flow Management Connector), and calling nested workflows (use this to break up larger flows into smaller chunks). As I stated earlier, this session was chock-full of information. It was well worth the time spent. I’d like to think my Flow game has been kicked up a notch as a result.
Time flies when you’re having fun and that means Ignite will be here before we know it. As expected Microsoft has already started to lay the ground work for some of the talking points at Ignite with their feature and enhancement announcements in August and will likely continue that trend through September.
Office 365 Roadmap Transitioning to Microsoft 365 Roadmap
When Microsoft first rolled out the Microsoft 365 package (Office 365, Windows 10, and Enterprise Mobility & Security) there was a lot of confusion around what the differences were between Microsoft 365 and Office 365. In fact, we still get questions about this regularly and with this latest change that trend is likely to tick upward. In mid-September 2018 Microsoft will be moving the Office 365 Roadmap to a new location on the web and adding Microsoft 365 features. Continue reading “WHAT’S NEW IN OFFICE 365 (SEPTEMBER 2018)”