Summary Links Web Part Malfunction

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Have you ever tried to add new columns to a Summary Links Web part and got an unexpected result?  Well, this happened to one of the clients I was working with.

It’s a simple task. Right?

When the user changed the layout of the Summary Links Web part to five columns per group, instead of getting five columns across the Web part, the columns were stacked on top of each other.


It made no difference when it was changed to any value greater than one, the columns continued to stack on top of each other.


After some research, it turned out that it was related to the theme applied to the site.  In my opinion, this is very strange.  The site’s theme was changed back to an OOTB theme, and the columns behaved the way they are expected.


Happy SharePoint-ing!


Office 365 – Sharing with External Users

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When it comes to collaborating, Office 365 allows colleagues to check availability in Outlook, schedule a Skype for Business meeting, and share files in SharePoint, OneDrive for Business, or Office 365 Groups.  While sharing within your own organization is fairly simple, sharing with external users requires some planning.  External users can be anyone outside your organization; this can include partners and customers.  A technical description of an external user, is a user who does not have an account registered or licensed in your Office 365 tenant.

There are two types of external users – authenticated and anonymous.

Authenticated users are users with a Microsoft account from another Office 365 subscription.  Authenticated users can have the same permissions as any of the internal users within your organization.  You can assign a license to them.

Anonymous users are users who can access a folder or document via a shareable link.  Anonymous users can view, edit, or upload to the folder without having to log in with a username or password.  Anonymous users cannot access sites, and you cannot assign licenses to them.

Where do you start?

Before you can start allowing external users to access your data, you should consider the existing policies set by your organization.  Some of these policies may include:

  • Is external sharing allowed for anyone (anonymous) or just authenticated users?
  • Which domains should be allowed or blocked in Skype for Business?
  • What types of content that cannot or should not be stored in O365?
  • Who can (and should) extend an invitation to an external user?

You may also find that your organization does not have policies in place that address the sharing of content with external users except through e-mail.  If this applies to your organization, it’s important that your Office 365 tenant is configured to limit external sharing until the proper policies and controls can be put into place, thus limiting the risk to the organization.

What are some of the security risks?

While external sharing is a great way to extend your organization to your partners, suppliers, and perhaps even your customers, there are risks that must accounted for.  Some of those risks include

  • Accidental sharing of sensitive content
  • External users with full control might be able to share content with other unintended external users
  • Changes made by anonymous users cannot be tracked

While these risks, and potentially others, apply to your organization, there are processes, settings, and tools within Office 365 that can mitigate the risks and protect your corporate assets and intellectual property.

  • Implement and enforce governance for external sharing
  • Consider using Azure Rights Management (RMS) to encrypt and restrict sharing of the data
  • Implement Data Loss Prevention (DLP) policies to automatically detect sensitive data
  • Send links, not attachments
  • Grant minimum level of permissions to external users
  • Disable external sharing on site collections with sensitive data
  • Disable anonymous sharing

What can you share?

External sharing can be configured separately for the different capabilities in Office 365, but primarily for SharePoint Online, OneDrive for Business, Outlook, Skype for Business, and Office 365 Groups.

SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business: you can share an entire site, lists and libraries, and documents.  Keep in mind that the external users will need to authenticate to see all of these items while anonymous users can only see documents.  Additionally, SharePoint gives you the ability to limit users who can share with external users.


Office 365 Groups:

  • Conversations – no access to conversation history, but may participate by receiving an e-mail sent to the distribution list
  • Files, Notebook, and Site – you can share an entire site, lists and libraries, and documents
  • Calendar – no access


Exchange (Calendar): you can share free/busy information with time only, with subject and location, or full details


Skype for Business: you can schedule meetings or chat


When it comes to sharing, or collaborating with partners and customers, it is critical to include external sharing as part of your Office 365 governance and security planning.  Remember that a governance plan is not a guarantee for security compliance, users and administrators must observe and follow good practices and policies to minimize the risks.

SharePoint ReferenceError: ‘Strings’ is Undefined

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Earlier this week I ran across the most unusual error in SharePoint.  The strangest thing was that it impacted IE only while Chrome continued to work.

Here’s the site in IE:


And the same site in Chrome:


In the midst of troubleshooting, I did not get a chance to capture many screenshots. But the one thing I captured was the virus scan window; it popped up every time I refreshed IE browser window.


It was pretty obvious to me that it was not SharePoint as I was able to work in Chrome.  But I continued to comb through logs just to be sure.

After a couple of hours, the security team reported that they rolled back the Trend Micro pattern file due to the widespread errors reported globally.  SharePoint in IE was working once again.

Trend Micro released a new pattern to correct this issue.  It can be downloaded here.


SharePoint List Cell Borders

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I received a request from one of my clients to put borders around each cell in a SharePoint list.  There were no out-of-box styles that I could use to fulfill this request.  I ended up using a simple script for it.

The standard list with some content without any styling:


I added a Script Editor Web Part the page with the following code:

<style type="text/css"> {
border-right-width: 1px;
} > tbody > tr > td {
border: 1px solid black;
.ms-viewheadertr th {
border: 1px solid black;

The same list with borders:



Migrating SharePoint to Office 365 – Best (Recommended) Practices

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Microsoft Office 365 user population has recently hit 85 million commercial users ( As the user base continues to grow, we’ve seen a growing interest amongst our clients in moving their on-premises SharePoint farms to Office 365. The most critical part of a SharePoint migration project involves planning for the migration itself. With the different number of factors involved including the limitations of out-of-the-box migration options, this can complicate the project and introduce undesirable risk. It is critical to plan a SharePoint migration carefully and fully take into account all variables involved in the migration process.

Once a decision is made to move your SharePoint sites to the Office 365, you will need to consider – what does success look like to you? Whether the new platform is SharePoint Online or Hybrid, the following recommendations could be used as starting points for your migration.


  • If you have SharePoint On-premises, run the OnRamp for Office 365 Tool to assist you with discovery activities related to Office 365 deployment (screenshot below)


  • Custom domain – if you plan on using your own domain (ex:, make sure this domain has been verified
  • Make sure Office 365 tenant is ready – licenses, connectivity (network/firewall), and security must be in place
  • On-premises AD schema and forest functional level – MUST be at Windows Server 2003 or later if you plan on using Azure AD Connect
  • Prepare Active Directory before synchronize – run IdFix on your on-prem Active Directory and fix errors on accounts targeted to be synchronized
  • ADFS – if you consider deploying ADFS, you’ll need to use SSL Certificates
  • Take an inventory – this includes content, information architecture, design, and custom solutions
  • Decide what to move – take only what you will need – archive and delete redundant and/or legacy data
  • Prioritize and classify all content – tag content with metadata including Business Unit, and any other relevant data. Prioritize content with criteria such as business critical, important, nice to have, etc.
  • Select the right migration tool – Many commercial tools are available to assist with migrating to Office 365
  • Communication – some people tend to forget – make sure to communicate, communicate, and communicate


  • Start with a pilot migration – use a representative sample of data to confirm technical feasibility of the migration, and identifies gaps
  • Migrate in batches – for larger organizations, divide content in batches to migrate


  • Testing and validation – validates the success of the migration from the perspective of whether or not the infrastructure of the target environment meets the requirements of the business; this includes network latency, permission, custom solutions, etc. Repeat this process for each batch of the migration.
  • Transition of users – this includes ‘freezing’ the source environment, and perform one final synchronization of changes, and transitioning users to the target environment. Again, repeat this process for each batch of the migration.

In conclusion, migration of existing business content to SharePoint Online is not trivial. Ideally, organizations should spend time planning, discovering, and auditing the content, starting with the pre-migration checklist above. Lastly, whenever possible, comprehensive testing after each migration batch should be performed to minimize risk.

Centric has assisted many organizations with SharePoint and Office 365 upgrades and migrations. To learn more about how Centric Consulting can help with your upgrade or migration, visit us at

Upgrading vs. Migration to SharePoint 2016

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Choosing the right path to the new version of SharePoint, whether on-premises or online, can be overwhelming. Should you upgrade or migrate? It is important to understand that upgrade and migration are not synonymous. Some may disagree, but I truly believe that these are two different processes. Let’s get a better understanding of both options.


The technical terminology of upgrading is the physical transformation of a SharePoint content database from one schema version to the updated schema. The most common upgrade process is attaching your existing databases to the new SharePoint farm. The content remains the same, even though your new farm may be on a new hardware. From a non-technical perspective, it’s similar to remodeling your home – taking what’s old and making it new with a few more modern conveniences.



Migration is the physical move of SharePoint containers, data and associated attributes from one SharePoint farm to the new updated farm. The process is typically carried out with the aid of commercial tools. Again, using my non-technical comparison of a migration, it’s like moving from a house to a condo.


Now that we’ve seen the differences between the two, the next question is making the choice of whether to upgrade your platform or to migrate out of your current implementation.

Here are some examples of where an upgrade is recommended:

  • You’re running an out-of-support version of SharePoint
  • You need to upgrade the SharePoint farm operating system
  • Your site collections and content databases are properly architected
  • Your existing taxonomy / information architecture is well-formed and supports your current organizational structure

And here are some examples of when a migration is recommended:

  • The source document repository is not SharePoint
  • You’re migrating to SharePoint Online (Office 365)
  • You’re migrating from older SharePoint versions (SharePoint 2010 and previous)
  • Your taxonomy / information architecture needs to be redesigned
  • Content databases are too large and need to be split to improve performance or to meet your Recovery Time Objective (RTO) or Recovery Point Objective (RPO)

In summary, upgrade and migration are two different options. The best approach depends on your requirements, constraints, and business objectives. It is important to mention that certain considerations must be taken into account when deciding whether upgrading or migrating is appropriate for your organization.

Centric has assisted many organizations with upgrades and migrations. To learn more about how Centric Consulting can help with your decision to upgrade or migrate, visit us at

SharePoint On-Premises vs. SharePoint Online (Office 365) – Informed Decisions

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We are now seeing many organizations moving to Office 365, often starting with Exchange Online and Active Directory Federation Services in Azure. Companies that have already invested in SharePoint on-premises deployment are also considering moving to cloud as well. Before making the move to the cloud, take a look at some key decisions in the tables below.

We all know of the significant capital investment that comes with deploying SharePoint on-premises. Companies with on-premises deployments benefit from owning the environment and the full functionality of SharePoint. This also means that you are responsible for administering and supporting the environment. With this in mind, should you go down the Office 365 route?

If you’re not looking to pay for hardware and software up front or for the ongoing maintenance and support costs, buying subscriptions to Office 365 may be a better option. While the monthly operational investment will be a lot lower than the capital expense of buying infrastructure, over time the subscription costs can add up. However, benefits of Office 365 include more robust hardware and services including patching, backup and disaster recovery.

Where should you start?

Some key decisions for staying on premises:



You already have SharePoint deployed Large initial capital expense for hardware and software
The free version (SharePoint Foundation) is still available Cost of scaling up or out and disaster recovery
You can control when updates are applied Downtime required during patch/update
You have full control of solutions deployment SharePoint 2016 requires Software Assurance for new feature packs
SharePoint 2016 is not the last version of on-premises


Some key decisions for moving to SharePoint Online:



New features made available frequently Constant updates
No server maintenance Migration requires a third-party tool
Microsoft SLA for 99.9% uptime Custom deployment
Cost based on subscriptions Critical third-party solutions/tools are not supported
Redundant with multiple data centers Limited integration with internal services
Potential need for upgrading internet connection to account for the additional traffic required by O365

According to the research conducted by The Radicati Group, Inc. in 2016, market share for SharePoint on-premises is still higher than SharePoint Online as shown in the figure below.


However, my experience, especially in the past year, has shown a dramatic increase in the number of organizations considering SharePoint Online.

The bottom line is that your decision of where and how to host your SharePoint deployment might not be a simple one. There are many key decision factors and relevant considerations. The limitations of some cloud-based functionality may not be suitable for some companies, but this is likely to change as SharePoint Online matures. Regardless of which direction you want to take, both short-term and long-term costs must be taken into consideration.

At Centric, we have used this method and other tools to help customers understand the details and make the best business and financial choices. As always, please feel free to contact us at for any assistance you might need.

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