Left navigation intranet is so last year!


I have always been a defender of using the “OOB” Out Of the Box tool of a product before it comes to adding some custom code to it. However, let’s be honest, for years SharePoint was not great at it when only using out-of-the-box features. I even gave a talk in the past where we discussed how to gain the love back from users.

Image result for sharepoint team siteIn the SharePoint world, “Team site” was the default layout for any SharePoint Intranet for years, and still are. Left navigation being super boring, especially when more than 15 links and scrolling 2 meters down the page! So most companies ended to customise their site so much that the next version of SharePoint meant to do it all again.

But with the latest SharePoint modern sites and pages, it’s sleek, minimalist,  MODERNSITE.pngclean and .. well, not clunky anymore! SharePoint owners are now super excited to use them as their intranet pages.

There is just one problem:

we haven’t been told how to use these as the “top level page” of an intranet. The first page that user will see when they click on the SharePoint homepage: https://mydomain.sharepoint.com.

Thanks to this blog article by Jimmy Hang and reading the comments, I have summarised how to do so. And I can confirm to have repeated the steps in 3 different tenants, therefore, no, Microsoft did not remove the ability to use these “workarounds.”

  1. Delete Top Site

    the top site collection of SharePoint already exists (as a boring team site), go to SharePoint admin and delete it (if empty ;-).

  2. Recreate top site collection without selecting a template

    Do not select any template, use the option “Custom / select template later”


  3. Create a modern communication site anywhere

    Create a new site from the new SharePoint Admin Center or from the “SharePoint” site list, if this option is not disabled for your tenant.


  4. Enable to run custom scripts on self-service sites on your tenant

    Preferably from PowerShell for quasi-immediate effect.

    Connect-SPOService -Url https://mydomain-admin.sharepoint.com -credential me@mydomain.onmicrosoft.com
    Set-SPOSite -Identity https://mydomain.sharepoint.com/sites/CommunicationTemplateOnly -DenyAddAndCustomizePages 0
  5. Save this communication site as a template

    Adding /_layouts/15/savetmpl.aspx after the site URL

  6. Open top site collection

    When prompted for a template, upload the template file to solutions, activated it.

  7. Create the site using that template

  8. job done!

But remember, if Microsoft decides to change only one small parameter in the root site or the template, it may break, so don’t do it in a live environment.


[Nintex Workflow] Add user to Site Collection Administrator group with REST API


Helping people to automate their workplace is my passion and lucky for me I also get paid to do so !

This week I was finishing working with a partner to improve the (poor) automation steps required by Matter Center, which no-one can really complain because Microsoft made it open-source.
Matter Center documentation requires to create each client as a new site collection in PowerShell, but this is not quite possible if the users registering these new clients on a daily basis are regular Office 365 users and not SharePoint Administrators.Thanks to a few Nintex Workflows we managed to do all the configuration in the background.

Thanks to a few Nintex Workflows we managed to do all the configuration in the background.
Today’s post is not about the site collection creation so I will spare the details, but in summary and very high level, I developed 4 workflows, 1 CSOM Javascript to be executed on the browser, and 1 Nintex Form of course for submitting the new client on desktop or mobile.

Now this quick blog post is regarding the challenge that we had to add the user as a Site Collection Administrator of that newly created site collection.

Since there is no mention of the sort in https://community.nintex.com it may useful for someone, so here it is:

  1. Create a new Nintex workflow in an Office 365 site list.
  2. Download and Import the .NWP workflow file available here to replace the blank workflow
  3. Edit a few of the actions at the beginning of the workflow to set the variables (I never hard-code UserName and Password for instance, so you will see a few Lookup to a different list to get the value, which you can replace since they will be showing an error once imported into your list)

Note: In this workflow, the “user” I am adding to the Site Collection Administrators group is actually the “CreatedBy” of the list item, which may sound strange since the user running that workflow may be the CreatedBy. However this is NOT the case (refer to above point: we do not want all users to be SharePoint admins!), here is how you should sequence the workflow to start:
1) After the List Item is created, a first workflow (run by CreatedBy) i.e. called “Start and Call workflow 2” and in the workflow we just add a “Start Workflow”

2) then within that first workflow we just add a “Start Workflow” making sure that this action is bein executed in an “App Step” in order to use “elevated privilege”.


3) finally all the actions are happening in Workflow2 (which you imported in step 2)


Hope this helps someone.


Back to SharePoint basics: create a list for leavers


I receive too often this request (from my sister this week;-):

Can I create something in SharePoint to let my colleagues log their own holiday so that I can later export that list to Excel ?

So here is a quick video with step I made, following this should give you just that.

Add to this the out-of-the-box SharePoint Alerts and you will receive a notification each time a new leave is registered.

Nothing much to it, no workflow approval plugged-in, but nice and simple SharePoint OOB No-Code solution that is quite often overlooked.

(sorry for the Audio which is not great, as I said, it’s a quick and dirty tip)

Sharepoint 2013 “mark task complete”


A great new feature in 2013 is the ability for a user to “mark task complete” straight from the task list without having to edit the item and click.

Screenshot below illustrates what this is


The issue I had today is that -somehow- the column to tick that task was actually not showing anymore from the task views. The list is definitely a Tasks list but the content type although originally inheriting from the out-of-the-box Task parent Site Collection CT has some custom columns in the site Content Type level.

Cause of issue (why the column was gone): not found yet, may be the “completed” column was edited by a user with design rights, but the formula inside was correct.

Solution: that’s the bad news.

  • Re-adding the column again didn’t work as it would not show the column as a Check Box magically but as a value “Yes/No” .. not useful.
  • Recreating the view and making it exactly like an out-of-the-box task view did not work, same as above.
  • Only solution was to re-create the list fully, and re-add the Custom Task Content Type, then remove the default “Task” Content Type. Once done task can be copy across if needed, as long as there no workflow in progress users will not be disturb as you may even change the URL to the original list later on.

Not a great finding on this feature I am afraid, but since nothing came up on a quick internet search I thought I would share it.

Have you ever wondered how to re-use this “mark as complete” in a fully customised list (not tasks App originally) ? One would think it’s the whole point of having such column, to be able to re-use it somewhere else, right. I could not.

Anyone  ?


Am speaking at #SPSUK next week


Just a quick post since I forgot to mention that I will be speaking at SharePoint Saturday UK next week, this is the 9th November and in the middle of Leicestershire (I had to check on Google Maps myself again).

To make the session a bit more lively I will be presenting with my friend and Sharepoint Architect Ben Ahmed the latest in Business Intelligence and open data stream from Enterprise Systems such as CRM.
Anything that has “power” prefixed is on the menu: PowerQuery, PowerPivot, PowerView and even PowerMaps 3D). A very exciting subject to make boring data actually beautiful and interesting in just a few clicks !

SharePoint Saturday is usually a great day where subject-matters people sacrifice one family day to learn and socialise with others, this one is going to be really cool as we are now getting the benefits of months of real business stories of SharePoint 2013 and Office 365.

More info about the event here http://lanyrd.com/2013/spsuk.

Don’t be fooled by InfoPath login prompt


A short sharing since I was amazed of the quality of feedback I received today from InfoPath and could have spent hours on this.


  1. Create an infopath form (here 2013, but may be the same in previous versions as it hasn’t moved that much at all since 2007)
  2. Publish it to Sharepoint (2013) as a Content Type
  3. Bang ! Infopath prompts for a login/password for the Webs.asmx web service
  4. Infopath publish error
  5. Entering any login still fails.

After a bit of thinking I went back a few step on that Publishing dialog box and noticed that I pasted some text that my client wanted to see displayed and it was just that: InfoPath didn’t like to transform the Description of the form or Sharepoint refused it because some characters were incorrectly formatted.

Avoid characters

So don’t be fooled by InfoPath / Sharepoint, the error doesn’t always lays where you think it is.