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Tag Archives: SharePoint Collaboration

SharePoint 2013 Tips – Part 5 Co-Authoring and OneDrive

In my final post of my five part series on SharePoint 2013 tips, I’m focusing on co-authoring and OneDrive for business. You can also read my last four blogs here:

  1. Part 1 Scale, Sprawl and Control
  2. Part 2 Sharing, Sending and Storage
  3. Part 3 SharePoint Branding and ILM
  4. Part 4 New Collaboration


Co-authoring, or letting multiple users edit a document simultaneously, was introduced in SharePoint 2010. But there were all sorts of rules – Excel only worked with the OWA browser client, whole PowerPoint and Word only allowed co-authoring from the desktop “rich” client.  In Office 2013, it doesn’t matter – you can mix and match multiple clients simultaneously.   Everyone can see the changes as they are made – and you can see who else is editing and see when updates are posted.   For example, in Word, the window chrome at the bottom of the screen is informative:

SharePoint 2013 Tips – Part 3 Branding SharePoint & ILM

To date in my SharePoint 2013 tips series I’ve discussed information architecture at scale, site sprawl and version control in part one and sharing and sending documents as well as storage in part two. Today’s third part of my series I’m discussing branding SharePoint and Information Lifecycle Management.

Decorating SharePoint

No more blue boxes. Literally.  SharePoint “branding” used to be a more esoteric science of hand tooled features and CSS files.  SharePoint 2010 introduced the seldom-used ability to define custom site themes by using PowerPoint.  That was an interesting step (no one ever used it), but now you can make key changes directly from the browser using Composed Looks.

With Composed Looks, a site owner can restyle a site with custom layouts, fonts, colors and background images.  Here’s the editing screen – you get here from the Site Settings menu option.  Or just pick “Change the look” from the setting “gear” icon in the top right of the screen.

SharePoint 2013 Tips – Part 2 Sharing, Sending and Storage

Last week I published part one in my series on SharePoint 2013 collaboration focused on information architecture at scale, site sprawl and version control. Today I’m discussing sharing and sending documents as well as storage.

Sharing and sending

Redundant content proliferates when copying files is simpler than moving them.   As a result, in 2003 when users had documents to share with a broader audience, they would copy them to places those users had access, leaving behind older versions each time.

In 2013, there’s a better way.  When you save a document – to your Personal Site or a team site, you now have a simple way to share it with everyone – a Share menu item.   Share allows users to keep one version of the document, bringing new, selected users to it instead of shipping the document to the users.  And if users don’t have authorization to change permissions, Share requests are routed to administrators for approval. 

SharePoint 2013 Tips – Part 1 Scale, Sprawl and Control

Over the next five week’s I’ll offer advice and tips on SharePoint 2013 collaboration. Today’s blog focuses on information architecture at scale, site sprawl and version control.

“Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.” – Yogi Berra

In many ways, that’s become SharePoint’s problem in its second decade.  We take it for granted.

Now, don’t feel bad for Microsoft.  SharePoint has an enviable track record of sustained double digit growth, with hundreds of millions of users on premises and in the cloud.  Now on its fifth major release, SharePoint 2013, SharePoint offers peerless document-centric storage and collaboration on a platform most enterprises already own.

It hasn’t been a seamless rise, though. The first version of SharePoint Portal Server 2001 offered web-based document storage, but it was primitive and low capacity.  It wasn’t until SharePoint 2003 that enterprises began moving substantial content from legacy file shares into SharePoint.

Screen shot of SharePoint Portal 2003SharePoint 2003, from

However, while the platform has continued to grow and evolve over the past decade, many business user expectations haven’t moved on from the days when Kid Rock ruled the music charts:

  • All documents on a site had the same permissions
  • One library per site
  • A different site for each kind of content
  • Documents described with naming and titles, not metadata
  • Maximum of 2 million documents

But that’s not SharePoint today.  Let’s look at some of the tools and tips that make it a far more powerful tool for collaboration.   Pretend that the last ten years never happened, and SharePoint 2013 is the first version of the platform you’ve used.  Where to start?  What have you missed in the last ten years?

Let’s get caught up.  We’ll start by looking at baseline changes in architecture, permissions, communications and versioning.  Then we’ll look at how you can add color to your documents with user interface design and metadata.  Finally, we’ll conclude with a review of SharePoint’s new collaboration features, like co-authoring.

SharePoint’s collaboration foundation

Information architecture at scale

Ten years ago, most SharePoint farms were organized as hierarchies, limited to Active Directory logins.   You had a corporate home page, a few departmental sites, and most “Team Sites” were temporary collaborative spaces, set up as children of a parent department.

  • Home Page (One big site collection)
    • US
      • HR
      • IT
        • Project1
    • Marketing
    • Department1
    • Department2
      • Team2
      • Project3
        • Project3 Archive
      • ProjectX
  • Europe
    • Etc.


SharePoint 2013, on the other hand, has the capacity to handle vastly increased amounts of content, and to have multiple libraries on the same site – with granular permissions possible for each document.   In addition, multiple hybrid authentication schemes leveraging “claims” make it possible to unify internal AD users and external stakeholders on the same sites.   These collaboration areas are likely to be independent site collections[1], so sharing there doesn’t require giving permission to child or parent sites.  It also allows for a “flatter” information architecture.

Getting rid of site sprawl

SharePoint ‘adoption’, at one point, was mostly about pointing people to the right subsection of the site.  And if there was another team that needed similar information, people copied those files to the other site.  In the example above, if the IT department was supporting ProjectX, it was likely that some of the ProjectX documents were added to the IT site to make them “easier to find”.  Many enterprises kept all their sites in one massive site collection – leading to great security complexity.  Also, because of authentication complexity, internal and external stakeholder seldom shared the same sites.

As a result, you’re more likely to see site structures like this:

  • Internal Home page
    • Divisions
      • US
      • EMEA
  • Departments
    • HR
    • IT
    • Marketing
    • Department1
    • Department2
    • Documents
    • Collaboration Home page (Web Application)
      • Projects (Managed path)
        • Project1 (Site collection)
        • Project3
        • ProjectX
  • Teams
    • Team2

In this example, the division and department sites are, more than likely, publishing content to be used INSIDE the enterprise.

Finally, SharePoint 2010 and 2013 introduced a new site template – the Document Center. Document Centers are designed to be large scale, common document repositories for 250,000 documents or more.  Whereas SharePoint 2003 required a new site for each library, leading to LOTS of small libraries, you can store thousands of documents in the same place, and use security, dynamic access, and filters to generate focused views of the content.

One version of the truth

SharePoint 2013 is a high capacity platform.  Expansions in SQL and storage optimization, along with tools like Remote BLOB Storage create nearly limitless capacity for enterprise documents – up to 4TB under the right conditions.    But that’s no reason to allow SharePoint to proliferate with redundant or obsolete content.

Have you ever seen a file share, or even a library, with files named:

  • 2009 Proposal
  • 2009 Proposal_AKedits
  • 2009 Proposal_Final

If you add those files to SharePoint, all three can be edited independently.  It’s far better to keep all three “linked” as part of one logical document.  Versioning can be enabled for any library in SharePoint, allowing you to see who edited the file, what changed, and when.  Once enabled, the context menu […] can bring you to the version history inside the browser.

Screen shot of SharePoint Version History

And once enabled, the versions are also surfaced inside Office 2013’s ‘Backstage” controls (the colored leftmost tab in the UI.

Screenshot of Versions and Check Out

From Office or the browser, you can review, compare, or rollback older versions.  In more advanced use cases, you can also require documents have to be “checked out” before editing – ensuring only one person can make changes at a time.  You can still maintain a clean interface because you’re not showing redundant copies of the same thing – but they’re all still there, stacked “behind” the current file in Version History.

In part two, I’ll look at sharing and sending documents as well as storage.

[1] Or you could use Dynamic Access and use metadata classification to define security.

HiSoftware Top 5 Content Compliance and Security Resources for 2013

Decorative image of 5It’s been a busy 2013 at HiSoftware. Over the past year, we have blogged around a number of topics to offer advice on how to help you solve your compliance and security problems. Our blogs can help any organizations from risk managers to web developers as they seek to improve content compliance and security. For those of you using SharePoint, there are a number of topics to help you leverage the full benefits of collaboration while keeping sensitive content secure.

As we look back on 2013, here you’ll see our top performing blogs for the year that can help you as you develop your compliance and security strategy for 2014.

HiSoftware to Present at SharePoint Saturday Sydney

Sydney Opera HouseSharePoint Saturday Sydney (#SPSSYD) is coming up this weekend at the Cliftons Sydney. If you’re attending, be sure to stop by the HiSoftware table to learn more about our solutions to rein in compliance and secure sensitive content in SharePoint for improved collaboration.

We also invite you to join our Chief Product Officer, Mike McAuley, for our session during the event.

The Top 10 Security Challenges for SharePoint Collaboration

When: 19 October 2013; 1:00pm – 2:00pm

Where: Room 2

For more information go to:

In addition to laying out the most common challenges to secure collaboration, we will showcase our award-winning solutions for content-aware compliance and security in SharePoint. Stop by our table any time during the day to ask us how we are helping organizations including Dunross & Co and Windham Professionals manage their security and compliance issues and improve collaboration in SharePoint. Talk to us at the event to find out how we can help you tackle your governance issues.

Top Security Challenges with SharePoint Collaboration

PadlockIn today’s business environment successful companies rely upon the rapid and efficient exchange of information. Collaboration between employees is a critical part of this equation and a key driver for increasing competitiveness and productivity. Effective collaboration requires timely access to information— both structured (databases) and unstructured (file systems, online content and communications).

Many companies have invested in SharePoint for managing their unstructured information. However, few have realized the potential efficiencies and productivities that SharePoint offers because of concerns about the security of the information stored in it. Worse still, many continue to maintain legacy document management systems to store sensitive information and continue to incur the associated software maintenance, labor and hardware costs. This drastically reduces the ROI on their SharePoint investment.

Are you SEC Audit-Ready?

If the SEC came knocking on your door today, are you confident your organization is audit ready? Could you comply with the Gramm Leach Bliley Act (GLBA)? Show how regulated users are monitored? Prove that you are preventing exposure of clients’ personal information or confidential corporate information? Could you do all this in your SharePoint Collaboration environment?

Will Collaboration Expose your Business?

Opening up your business to social media collaboration carries significant risk. Major brands have experienced issues with social media strategies that encourage customers to share with them, most recently Coca Cola.

How to Prevent SharePoint Mistakes

Reading Mathew J. Schwartz’s article in Information Week, ‘10 SharePoint Security Mistakes You Probably Make,’ there were a few items of particular interest.

  1. The first was on the discovery that in the case of Bradley Manning leaking 250,000 U.S. State Department cables, the forensic expert “discovered Wget scripts on Manning’s computer that pointed to a Microsoft SharePoint server holding the Gitmo documents. He ran the scripts to download the documents, then downloaded the ones that WikiLeaks had published and found they were the same, Shaver testified.” (Source: Wired, Forensic Expert: Manning’s Computer Had 10K Cables, Downloading Scripts)
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