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ThreeWill put out a lot of content in 2019. In this post, I’d like to highlight the most important 2019 modern digital workplace blog posts. These are the most visited articles. Click on the title of the post to read the original article and read a short introduction below the article’s name. If you are looking to learn more about what was important for a 2019 modern digital workplace, this article will be helpful to highlight some important content posted during this year.

Our Most Important 2019 Modern Digital Workplace Posts

1. Using the $expand OData Query Option in SharePoint 2013

Recently, as part of some of the work for porting the Fab 40 to the new SharePoint 2013 App Model, we needed to expand some of the user information for the currently logged in user.  Sounded simple at first, since I assumed the OData REST query to the SharePoint list would return the information.  Unfortunately, it was not that easy, and the whole SharePoint 2013 OData implementation still seems a bit opaque to me at this point.  Since it is still clear as mud for me, here’s my attempt an an explanation of the $expand query option, and some of the challenges I ran into when using it with SharePoint 2013.


2. How to Merge Excel Table Data Using Microsoft Flow

Microsoft Flow has been available for over a year as part of the Microsoft 365 “ecosystem” of applications. It is an online workflow service that can automate workflows across a multitude of apps and services. Common uses of Flow include notifications, copying files, collecting data, and automating approvals. One interesting aspect of Flow is that it caters to both power users and developers.

Like others, I had seen multiple “cute little demos” that seemed pretty cool, but I was skeptical that I could leverage it for a “real world” business problem without a big investment of time. As the old saying goes, I wasn’t sure “the juice was worth the squeeze” – but I was wrong.

I decided to try and use Flow for a task that I encounter on a regular basis and I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to create something that really saves time and provides business value. I’m providing a blog on my experience to encourage other “doubters” to give Flow a try.


3. Microsoft 365 Groups vs Azure AD Security Groups

We recently had a client who was ready to streamline the security of their SharePoint Online site and change it from ‘Everyone’ access to groups of people with more specific access. Our recommendation to them was to use Azure AD groups so that the groups would be global and could be both centrally managed and used across site collections.

As we moved ahead with it, they had the groups added with the appropriate members. We then granted SharePoint permissions to the new AD groups by adding them into the appropriate SharePoint groups and removing the reference to ‘Everyone but external users’.

At first all seemed to work ok but as the week progressed, random problems started cropping up that we couldn’t explain…


4. Sending Reminder Emails Using SharePoint Designer Workflows

A client of mine recently had a need to send Reminder emails at certain intervals. For many people, the best way to achieve such a behavior would be with a timer job. However, there are no timer jobs in O365, so with an eye to the cloud, I set out to find another solution.





5. How to Convert Strings to DateTime Data Types in Microsoft Flow

Being a consulting firm, you can imagine we do a lot of reporting. One of my responsibilities as the Solution Sustainment lead at ThreeWill is to provide monthly Sustainment usage reports to our clients. It typically involves massaging time tracking reports into more friendly formats. This process can be a bit time consuming, so I set out to automate the process and implement Microsoft Power BI reports.

I decided to use Microsoft Flow for the automation and was challenged to import the reporting data into Azure Table storage. Our reporting data does not contain unique fields that could easily be used as Row Keys and I wanted to make the process self-healing (avoid duplicate data while also being able to reprocess a report), so I needed to query the Table for existing entities by date. This required storing the date as a DateTime data type in the Table. If I didn’t need to query the Table by date, I could have simply added the date as a string and shaped it on the consumption side in Power BI.


6. Freeze Column Headers in SharePoint Like in Excel

Have you ever been asked to freeze the column headers in SharePoint like you can in Excel? If so, then read on as I found there’s a nifty little way to handle this after one of our clients asked if it was possible. Their quandary was that they had a couple of lists with lots of numerical columns and it was hard for them to keep up with what they were seeing




7. The 4 Options You Need to Know About SharePoint Online Backup and Restore

With Microsoft 365, Microsoft ensures some level of service by providing financial incentives if they do not meet a certain amount of uptime (if you are interested, see the Microsoft Online SLA or a good blog summarizing the SLA).  Microsoft also ensures that your SharePoint Online data isn’t lost for any reason.  Internally they manage backups on their own, but they do not provide any interface into accessing or restoring those backups.




8. User Photo Sync Behavior in Microsoft 365

In O365 there are a plethora of ways to view and configure user profile images.  If these images were stored in a single location, this would not be a problem.  But, it turns out that they are not and that the rules for how these images are synchronized across the various data stores is a little complicated.  So, the purpose of this post is to shed some light on how this works today




9. 5 Steps to Getting Started with SharePoint Development

So, you’re just starting out in the world of software development? Or maybe you’ve been at it for a while and are simply ready for a change. Well so was I … and what a great change it’s been!

If it was Groundhog Day and I got a do-over, would I do it again? Absolutely!! But there are a few things that I wish I had known before starting this journey, and that’s what I want to share here, hoping it will help you to be a little more prepared than I was to make the jump.



10. Finding TaxonomyHiddenList

Recently, I needed to view some additional information about the meta-data defined for a client. I tried using SharePoint Designer 2010 to view the TaxonomyHiddenList, but the list does not show up for some reason (if I am missing something, someone educate me please).

Some digging in PowerShell to get all lists for a given site gave me enough information to go on and then by simply pointing my browser to [site url]/Lists/TaxonomyHiddenList/AllItems.aspx I was able to get the information I needed.

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