Pulling It All Together with the Site Aggregator Web Part

We saw last time how I can easily see all the documents in the current site that I last modified or created with the Relevant Documents web part. However, what do I do if I want to see all of my documents in any one of several different sites? Do I have to navigate to each of these sites and open a page with a Relevant Documents web part?

Fortunately, there is an easier way! The Site Aggregator web part allows me to view my documents stored in any number of sites from a single place, sort of.

After reading my last blog article, I’m going to assume you know how to add a web part onto a page in your site. (If you skipped that blog, you can always go back to it at: https://sharepointmike.wordpress.com/2015/06/27/) As with the Relevant Documents web part, the Site Aggregator can be found in the Content Rollup category for both SharePoint 2010 and SharePoint 2013. After adding the web part to the page, it looks something like the following:

At first, I may be puzzled by the text telling me to click on the “Add New Tab” icon. The first thing I should know is that each site that I want to pull documents from will be displayed separately and that I must choose the site I want to view by clicking on a tab/link across the top of the web part. To add a new tab, I need to click on the icon that appears in the top right of the Site Aggregator that looks like a drive icon with a yellow asterisk in its upper right corner.

This button displays a dialog that lets me enter the name of the site that I want to view. For example, the following figure shows a reference to a demonstration school site. Note that the URL does not point to a specific page. Rather it is the URL of the site only. Also notice that the URL must end with a slash ‘/’. The second property in this dialog is the name that will appear in the tab/link across the top of the Site Aggregator.

When I click the Create button, the Site Aggregator shows the contents of all libraries in the selected site and lets me click on the document name to open the document directly or by clicking on the location, to go to the document’s library.

So far, that works pretty much like the relevant documents web part. The feature that makes this web part different is that I can click on the Add New Tab to add another URL to a different site. In fact, I can add several new tabs as shown in the image below which includes separate tabs to view the documents found in each of the individual grade sub-sites for this virtual school.

Notice how the tabs/links can actually require more horizontal space than the size of the page. When this occurs, double angle brackets appear at the beginning and end of the row to allow me to horizontally scroll through the tabs. I can also use the down pointing arrow to the right of the Add New Tab button to open a dropdown menu of the available tabs.

If I open the web part properties as described for the Relevant Documents web part, I will see the properties that I can modify for this web part. As before, I may want to change the title for the web part that appears at the top of the web part.

Two additional unique properties to this web part are in the View and URL groups. The View group has a single property that lets me control the number of characters that appear in the tab/link before ellipses replace the balance of the characters. According to the documentation, this feature can be used to control the number of characters used in the label. I believe that in SharePoint 2010, I must allocate 2 characters of this number to the ellipses to determine the actual number of characters displayed. For example, a value of 10 allows for 8 characters plus the ellipses. In SharePoint 2013, this property seems to be ignored in my test site. But that may just be my site. What do you get?

The URL group prompts me for a character string that it will add to the URL provided when I define a new tab to specify exactly what is returned by the web part. The default string: _layouts/MyInfo.aspx uses a predefined view that displays content from the site library that shows documents that I modified or created.

However, it also appears possible to replace this string with others. For example I could enter the string: _layouts/SiteManager.aspx.

This string opens the Site Content and Structure view which displays all the documents in all the libraries for the site.

Note that I can navigate to other sites as well as the current site by using the leftmost panel and then by selecting different views, quickly determine which documents I have checked out, have modified, are pending approval, or are still in draft mode.

In future months, I may examine some of the other lesser used web parts and explore their use.


I Like Your Moves

Moving Files between SharePoint Libraries

You may occasionally encounter the need to move a file from one SharePoint library to another. While there is the brute force method (download the file to your local machine and then upload it back to the new library which may be in a different site), there are at least two other easier methods.

For the first method, you need to know the URL of the library to where you want to move the file before you begin the process. Then follow these steps.

Step 1: Navigate to the library containing the file you want to move. For the purposes of this article, I’m going to start from a library in our team collaboration site to move a file to our intranet site. The specific starting and ending destinations are not the important issues here. Rather the technique is what is important.

Step 2: Locate the file you want to copy or move from one library to the other and hover over the right side of the document’s Title. Click the down arrow to open the document menu as shown in the following figure and select the option: Send To and then select Other Location from the secondary fly out menu.

Step 3: This opens the Copy dialog in which you need to specify the destination library or folder as well as the filename to be used in the destination library. (If you do not know the URL of the destination library, you may need to close this dialog and find that URL first. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.).

Step 4: Note that the default location is the site in which the current library resides. If you simply want to copy a file from one library to another library within the same site, you can just add the library name to this URL. If the library name has spaces, you must replace each space with the characters %20. The following figure shows that the file is being copied to a library named: “Server Training”. It also shows that the name of the file will be changed to ‘Add a new user role’. (Yes, this means that you can create a copy of a file in the same library by giving the copy a new name.)

Step 5: When you click OK, the Copy Progress dialog appears. You can review the information on the copy here before you press OK. After you click OK, the copy proceeds and if successful updates the Copy Progress by showing the text string that: The copy operation was successful.

If you wanted to move rather than copy the file, you must go back to the source library and manually delete the original copy of the document.

If the copy fails either because you entered the URL incorrectly or you do not have Add rights to the destination library or there already was a file in the destination library with the same name, you will get a message that the copy operation failed.

This method may be okay if you only have a few files to copy, but if you have a large number files, copying them one at a time from one location to another can be time consuming. A better way to transfer multiple files from one location to another may be to open the library using Explorer. To do this, follow these steps.

Step 1: Open the source library and display the Library ribbon. In the Connect & Export group, locate and click on the Open with Explorer command/icon. (I could be wrong, but I believe you must have Internet Explorer on your local machine for this to work.)

SharePoint opens an instance of Windows explorer that looks just like the display of any local folder from your desktop, but displays the contents of the SharePoint site.

Step 2: In a similar fashion, open another tab on your browser or even another browser instance and navigate to the destination library. Again open the library and then click Open with Explorer from the Connect & Export group of the Library ribbon. You should now have two separate instances of Windows Explorer open, each displaying a different SharePoint library. Now either close or minimize your browser windows to get them out of the way.

Step 3: Arrange the two Windows Explorer instances so you can see the source file as well as the destination library.

Step 4: Now simply click on the file or files you want to move and drag them from the source window to the destination library.

Note, as the image below shows, you can even copy SharePoint files back to your local computer by opening Windows Explorer from your local computer and navigating to the folder where you want to copy or move the files.

If you just click on the files and drag them from one window to another, the files will be copied. However, if you drag the files by pressing and holding down the right mouse button while you drag the files, when you release the mouse button you will be prompted with the following dialog.

In this menu Copy here is bolded because that is the default option. However, by clicking the Move here button, you can copy the files to the new location and then have the original files from their original library automatically deleted.

You can even create shortcuts to the files and place them on your desktop by pressing the right mouse button and dragging the files from their source to the Desktop within Windows Explorer and then select Create shortcuts here. Your copy of Windows Explorer may also support other options like the ability to create a zip file from the copied files and placing just the zip file in the destination folder.

That’s all for this week.

C’ya next time.

Someone Is Following Me

So last time I showed you how to share access to documents in your SharePoint document library. If you are only allowing others to view the documents, you may not have any additional concerns. However, if you grant them edit access, you might be interested in knowing if or when they make changes to one of the documents. More importantly for them, they may want to follow your document to know when you or someone else has made a change to it. One way that you (or they) can do this is to follow the document. While today’s discussion will focus on following documents, you can also follow sites, tags, and people.

If after you read this document, you do not see the buttons to follow documents (or sites or people) contact your SharePoint administrator. They may not have turned on this capability in Central Administration. Note that your SharePoint Administrator can also limit the number of people, documents, or sites that can be followed.

The following figure shows a document library with one of the documents selected by clicking on the ellipses to show the additional features dialog.

By clicking the FOLLOW command at the bottom of the dialog, I can receive notices on my Newsfeed page when this document is changed, even if only the properties of the document have been changed such as the document name or other metadata value. After clicking FOLLOW, SharePoint immediately confirms that I am following this document by temporarily displaying a message box in the upper right corner of the screen.

To check my newsfeed for updates to anything I am following, click the Newsfeed button on the My apps dialog (click the grid to the immediate left of the Office 365 banner).

In the center of the Newsfeed page, you should see a list of the most recent activity in the items that you are tracking. In this case, there is only one item showing. However, after marking several documents, people, sites, and tags to follow, this list can be rather large. Notice that in this case, the text tells me the name of the person who acted on the document, what they did, and the name of the document. If I hover over an entry, an ‘X‘ appears on the right side and clicking this icon will remove the item from my feeds list. They will also automatically be removed after several days. However, since this information is only stored in cache, if there is a reboot or an iisreset, the list can be truncated sooner.

On the right side of the Newsfeed page, you can see a summary of the number of people, sites, documents, and tags that you are following. If you click on any of these (that have a value greater than 0), SharePoint shows a list of the items you are following.

If I were to click on the number ‘2‘ above ‘documents’ above, I can see information about the two documents that I am following. I can click on a document name and SharePoint assumes that I want to open the document. If the document happens to be a Word document, Word Online opens the document in view mode. Of course, I can choose to edit the document either online or on my local machine by clicking one of the options in the Edit Document dropdown. I can also stop following a document by clicking the Stop following link beneath each document name and address. Similar options exist for displaying and following people, sites and tags.

If I were to click on the Stop following link, SharePoint gives me a chance to confirm that I really want to stop following that item or I can cancel from an accidental click on the link.

Before ending for today, I want to clear up something that may be confusing as you create your sites.  You may have created a team site to work on in SharePoint Online and you may see a web part with the title Newsfeed in the lower left of the default page. (You can see this in my January 24th 2015 post http://bit.ly/1EkTWoa).  Do not confuse this Newsfeed web part with the Newsfeed app I referenced above in your My Apps dialog.  They are not the same.  In fact, the team site Newsfeed is actually more of a traditional Internet newsfeed in which you can post information pertinent to the site and allow others to respond or comment on it.  Do not look here for references to sites, people, documents, or tags that you are following.

That’s all for this week. Next week I’ll close this mini-series with a review of using alerts as an alternative to following a document and explore some reasons why I might choose to follow some documents while preferring to receive alerts on others.