Pre-req installer may not progress past IIS configration.

I’m pissed. Like, in disbelief pissed. Kinda like my buddy Tracy:

Anyone seen this KB? The Products Preparation Tool in SharePoint Server 2013 may not progress past “Configuring Application Server Role, Web Server (IIS) Role”

The KB lists 2 possible workarounds: 1) Install a hotfix; or , 2) Run a whole bunch of PowerShell that requires the OS .iso readily available. I’ve tried both with little to no success. I especially see issues when it comes to the AppFabric and Distributed Cache.

So you can imagine my disbelief when the true workaround is to Install the IIS role first before running the Pre-Req installer. Do that and the pre-req installer runs just fine (at least on Server 2012). Son of a…

Slacking & a story

I know I’ve been slacking on this whole blog challenge thing. CRM has been taking up more and more of my time along with SharePoint going gang busters. Not to mention it takes real effort to put blog posts (even 300 word posts) together. I have several fellow tech bloggers that I’m amazed at who can put together several stellar posts a week when I have trouble just getting one together.

Rob Collie – – is one of those bloggers in particular. He puts out 2-3 blogs A WEEK and they each are all excellent as far as I’m concerned. I had the opportunity to meet Rob at #SPC13 and he is as engaging and smart in person as he is on his blog. I even got the opportunity to have drinks with him and a whole host of Microsoft Program Managers. So the story goes like this . . .

On Monday morning of the SharePoint conference I get an e-mail from Steve: “Go have dinner with this guy,” along with a link to a blog post (LINK). I’d heard Rob’s name mentioned but never really followed his blog much or considered myself a PowerPivot expert by any stretch. I had spoken on PowerPivot in SharePoint and how to set it up, but as far as using it I felt I was still a relative n00b. But Steve is a smart guy and has never steered me wrong when it came to tech or drinking so I figured what the hey. Shot Rob an e-mail and heard back within an hour or two. Instructions for Wednesday night was to stroll on down to the Experts Exchange and then go with a group of Microsoft BI folks to dinner. Sounded pretty cool.

Monday and Tuesday flew by. On Wednesday I was starting to get pretty excited and anxious all at the same time. I may work on a BI team, but I was far from a BI expert. My advice to myself was “stick to what you know lest you sound like an idiot in front of people smarter than you.”

After the conference wrapped for the day I headed down to the Experts Exchange. This is a pretty cool event at the conference where Microsoft Program Managers, MVPs, and MCMs meet with conference attendees and answer their biggest questions. It was pretty sad that Microsoft BI only had 2 tables while other Products/Topics had far more. At the BI table was Rob and several other program managers: Diego and Kay (rhymes with Hi).

We started talking about PowerPivot and SharePoint and service architecture. It was immediately apparent to me that all 3 of the guys were beyond experts at this material: THEY DESIGNED IT. Diego was a Program Manager for the Excel team and Kai was a Program Manager for the SSAS team. Very smart, very cool dudes. They broke down the architecture of PowerPivot and SharePoint to its most basic level and even took time to answer my pitiful questions.

After Experts Exchange it was time for dinner. I figured the place would be PACKED. Went over to Red Square in Mandalay Bay and sat down with a small group of about 10 or so. Not what I was expecting. I figured the place would be full of people clamoring over each other to talk with Microsoft’s BI brain trust, but sadly it looked like I was the only Microsoft customer that took Rob up on his offer. I felt like Wayne and Garth at the Aerosmith concert. Rob sat next to me, across from me was Jen Underwood, and to my right was a Senior Program Manager on the Excel team. Holy sh^t! I was a simpleton among geniuses. I – sadly – did not catch everyone’s names and nor could I keep up with all the genius talk. It was just nice to sit there and be a fly on the wall while BI experts solved the world problems. Only here these folks did have the ability to solve the world’s problems. Pretty surreal if you ask me.

After a few hours the party’s attendees started to trickle out one by one. I was determined to be the last guy there. The folks at the other end of the table meandered down to me. Come to find out they figured it was only Microsoft employees and Rob at this thing. Astonishing how they didn’t think anyone would be interested in attending. Boy were they dead wrong.

Search adventures with SSRS in Integrated Mode

At Trek we’re all about the BI. Just so happens I sit within the BI team so it was no surprise when Steve wanted to go with all the BI tools. PowerPivot and PerformancePoint were already setup before I got there. With SQL 2012 we get an overhauled instance of SSRS in Integrated mode and the newly introduced Power View. SSRS is now a Service App rather than a separate application so it makes deployment a lot easier. I won’t bore you with the details of installing as you can find all sorts of other bloggers walking you through the steps. What most bloggers don’t cover are the details of searching for .rdl’s.

Installation is pretty easy and getting your report libraries up and running are relatively straightforward. We even managed to create a few shared data sources and reports the day we went live. Real “Ready, Fire, Aim” type stuff. We happened to do the install on a Friday so we didn’t really put everything through its paces until Monday. When we began emailing links to rdl’s around we started getting complaints that users couldn’t see these reports. In addition, rdl’s weren’t showing up in search results.

Now what?

Posted this to the technet forums: LINK. Nauzad was pretty helpful in his reply in pointing me in the right direction. Come to find out, rdl’s are not extensions SharePoint search crawls by default. That’s an easy fix. Navigate to Central Admin > Manage Service Apps > Search Service App > File Types > add “rdl” and you’re golden. Kick off an incremental crawl and you should start to see rdl’s showing up in your results.

But I also noticed that only Full Owners, Site Collection Admins, and Farm admins were seeing reports in search results and in the libraries themselves.

Based on my research for the search issue I found that Report Libraries rely heavily on Publishing. Because of this, only those with Full Control rights and Site Collection Admins or Farm admins will see the rdl’s until they’re published, but it doesn’t stop there. You also have to publish the data source file as well. After some trial and error we figured this all out.

It’s relatively easy to get around the publishing requirement. Navigate to the Library Settings > Advanced Settings > check the box for “all users can see draft items.” Doing so will make all reports and data sources viewable as well as surface all reports in search regardless of published status.

For now, we’ve made the intentional decision to leave publishing on as it will allow use to security trim who has access to publish (accurate) reports and provide layer of oversight.

SharePoint’s REST API and PowerPivot will change your life

Make sure – before you read any more of this post – you have ADO.Net Data Service Update for .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 installed in your environment. Linkage:

Now with that out of the way, let me say again, the SharePoint REST API and PowerPivot will change your life.

Slap this into the URL Address bar:

From there you’ll be presented with a list of all the lists and libraries that are compatible with the REST API. Grab the list you’re interested in and tack it on to the end of the above URL like so (case sensitive so be as exact as possible): Name]

You should then be presented with an ATOM feed (looks something like an RSS feed). You may or may not see much, which is fine. The background XML has all the metadata of the list/library you’ll need.

Next, fire up Excel with the PowerPivot add-in installed. Open the PowerPivot window and select “From Data Feeds.”


Paste in the URL above (e.g. Name]) and then click Next. It’ll chew on that for a second. Then click Finish. The list will now be imported into memory (i.e. PowerPivot does its thing). Keep in mind here that the REST API only imports 1000 items in at a time. However, for a lot of lists and use cases this is more than sufficient. [See update below.]

Close the PowerPivot window. Go back to Excel and click Insert > Pivot Table/Chart. Then click the “external data source” radio button and then click “Choose Connection”


Find the PowerPivot Data connection you just created above and click Open. Then click OK.

From here you can add all the Values, Slicers, Filters, etc. you want.


Now how will this change your life? The applications of this are endless. One example could be a project list sliced and diced to your users’ liking and displayed via Excel Services web part. Users get the familiar Excel look and feel while you can rest comfortably knowing that they’re not manipulating your list data. You get far more control over the look and feel too as opposed to PerformancePoint. In addition, you get the ability to integrate outside data as well (try integrating TFS or Oracle data in PerformancePoint). Winking smile

But why not just use SSRS? Good question. Not everyone has access to SSRS. That takes a considerable amount of time, energy, resources, and cash to get that going. But again, with the ability to use slicers and allow your users to see what they want, when they want, that alone makes this a pretty powerful feature in your bag of tricks.

Anyone else tried this? Any other use cases come to mind?

UPDATE 4/20/2012

So only 1,000 items will show up in the ATOM view; however, PowerPivot can pull ALL the items down. VERY COOL! I tested it on a list with +32K items and PowerPivot had no problem.

Large Lists and Datasheet view in 2010

I’ve been in a never-ending battle with 2 large lists (29K items). I migrated the lists from MOSS, which took a GREAT deal of time, patience, and effort (topic of another blog post). I got the lists migrated, views setup, and permissions all where they needed to be. The views consisted of datasheet views since the users of these lists were used to doing massive uploads at once. I got it all setup and thought “job well done.” Well not really…

Shortly after everything was setup users noticed that they would be hit with the list view threshold of 5000 items. This setting is a global setting, and one that you don’t want to change. Just trust me on this. But their views worked fine in MOSS. What gives?

…taken from:

In MOSS there was no limit on datasheet views like there is in 2010 (note highlighted text above). My guess is that datasheet views were treated like Standard views meaning it would filter on un-indexed columns no problem. SharePoint 2010 queries a little differently than MOSS did so if you have a filter in a datasheet view that should return 100 items based on an un-indexed column, but the list has 10,000 items, you’ll hit the list view threshold since it is querying all 10,000 items. Adding an index will alleviate this issue.

You’ll want to index the column that the view is filtering on. In this case it was the “Status” column. I added the index, SharePoint crunched on it for about 5 seconds, and then I tested it with several real users and a test user. The lists are as good as new!

Publishing blog posts to multiple blog sites with Word: a test

I was testing out blog functionality with a coworker (@Nathan_Locke) and he asked an interesting question: Is there a platform available that will let you publish to multiple blogs at once. My first idea was Word. Fairly simple tool to use (although it writes seriously jacked HTML) and on the surface it appears as though it will publish to multiple blogs at once, or at least let you publish to one then publish to another several seconds later manually. Note: Blog posts to WordPress require images to be uploaded first.

So I’m going to give this a shot. But before I do that, I ran across this interesting Warning while registering my WordPress account with Word:

So I get the gist of what’s being noted here: since I’m not sending this via a secure channel there is the possibility of someone intercepting my username and password. Should I be leery of publishing content this way?

Where’d my InfoPath options go?

Real quick post here.  Working with a business partner who wanted to create InfoPath forms. Easy enough right? Oh but wait, she doesn’t have the option. Is there a configuration in CA to modify? Is it a down Service App? What do I do!?!

Well, for one I knew it was a site setting or feature since other site collections allowed users to use InfoPath. So I figured I’d start at the site collection features. Navigate down the page and lo and behold:

SharePoint Server Enterprise Site Collection feature

I go ahead and hit Activate. It chews on that for a minute or two and after that you should see this:

SharePoint Server Enterprise Site Collection feature activated

Now my user can create any and all InfoPath forms they want.

Side note: I know this isn’t the sexiest post, but I found it to be one of those “Gee, I wonder how I turn that functionality on” and figured someone else might run into the same issue.