Speaking at UK Community Day – 23rd March


I’m delighted to presenting at the next UK Community Day on the 23rd March.  Do you want to come and join us with a great set of speakers including Steve Smith, Neil Hodgkinson, Penny Coventry, Heath Groves and Brett Lonsdale?  If you do come and register now on the site and we hope to see you there as we take SharePoint to the Battle Royal – SharePoint vs SharePoint Online!

UK COmmunity Day

SharePoint Community Day


Come and join us at our SharePoint Community Day taking place on the 23rd March, where our range of speakers pitch SharePoint On-Premises against SharePoint Online and cover all the bits in between.


This exclusive day will de-mystify a lot of the mis-understanding between SharePoint On-Premises and SharePoint Online and what options are available depending on what direction your business is heading.


The Community Days are delivered by speakers that are renowned industry experts and MVP’s.



When and Where?


UK Community Day ‘SharePoint On Prem Versus SharePoint Online

It’s a battle Royal’


23rd March 2017, Leicestershire


Free for you to attend!


Deactivate Sandbox Solution with PowerShell in Office 365


In recent days Microsoft have released a Visual Studio solution which allows you to control SharePoint Online sandbox solutions.

The solutions builds a DLL file which can be imported as a PowerShell module and then you can use it to Upload, Activate, Deactivate and Delete solutions from a SharePoint Online site collection.

The provided documentation is great however during my own testing I found that solutions were not getting deactivated in my SharePoint Online 2010 site collections.

You will most likely find your 2010 site collection is actually in SharePoint 2013 version (15.0+) however if you use the -environment “MSO_2010” presents an error.  If you change this to -environment “MSO_2013” you will find it works even though you site collection appears to be in 2010.

Click here to download the solution from the Microsoft code website.  You will have to Build the solution to get the DLL as the one from the download does not work.  Alternatively you can download it from here.

Happy PowerShell’ing

Import Module

Import-Module “c:Contoso.Solution.Cmdlets.dll”

Upload Solution

upload-solution -username “admin@xyz.onmicrosoft.com” -password “XXXX” -siteurl “https://xyz.sharepoint.com” -solutionfilepath “C:\Example.wsp” -environment MSO_2013

Activate Solution

activate-solution -username “admin@xyz.onmicrosoft.com” -password “xxxx” -siteurl “https://xyz.sharepoint.com” -solutionid “5BC8D9A8-AE5A-4CF8-8D25-03B239818193” -environment MSO_2013

Deactivate Solution

deactivate-solution -username “admin@xyz.onmicrosoft.com” -password “xxxx” -siteurl “https://xyz.sharepoint.com” -solutionid “5BC8D9A8-AE5A-4CF8-8D25-03B239818193” -environment MSO_2013

Delete Solution

delete-solution -username “admin@xyz.onmicrosoft.com” -password “xxxx” -siteurl “https://xyz.sharepoint.com” -solutionid “5BC8D9A8-AE5A-4CF8-8D25-03B239818193” -environment MSO_2013


Upgrading your Office 365 tenancy to Wave 15: Part 6–Profile Picture


During the upgrade of one our tenancies we have noticed that the profile pictures we uploaded in 2010 look slightly pixelated.


Looking into how the profile pictures work (SharePoint 2010: Where do my User Profile Photos Go?) we see that in 2010 created 3 images of your prolife picture.  These are

  • 32 x 32
  • 96 x 96
  • 144 x 144

In SharePoint 2013 these are different and are now

  • 48 x 48
  • 72 x 72
  • 240 x 240

What to make ensure a good experience through out or are missing images through out your SharePoint Online tenancy, get your users to upload a new profile picture.


SharePoint Design when consider BYOD – QR Code


One of the hot topics in the IT industry for 2012 was the subject of Bring Your Own Device and how these can be managed on a secure network, data leakage and the general day to day operation when user can do what ever they want with their admin permissions.

When considering one of our new design for education and SharePoint we wanted to make it easier for learner to get from the device they have in their hand to the information that was being projected on the screen or on another monitor.  Even though there is the whole subject of how you manage phones and tablets that pupils have at home we want to ensure that if they bring them into the classroom they are using them effectively for learning.

In our latest design we have added the ability for the school to have their own QR code in the top right of the environment allowing pupils to pull out their devices, scan the code and then access the information in lessons and access it on their device when they want it.

Click the image to see it larger

What do you think of this using QR codes this way?  Leave a comment below and let us know.

Build your own Report Abuse for students in your school: Part 1


Ever since the 7th February 2012 which was Safer Internet Day I have been wondering how I could build and share some kind of Report Abuse system in SharePoint that you could build into your own SharePoint environment.

Safer Internet Day was run to make kids and teenagers aware of what to share on the internet, how to behaviour in a safe manner and don’t be afraid to report abuse from strangers on the internet or by bullies in or out of the school.  There has been an awareness video made which you might find useful to demonstrate to pupils.

Building a report abuse area into SharePoint 2010 requires a few steps but it will allow there to be some key features

  • An area for students to report abuse
  • A page for students to see about the effects of internet abuse and the videos from the Safer Internet Day campaign
  • An secure area for selected member of staff to see the reports and get in touch with the student.

Create a new SharePoint Site

We need to create a new SharePoint site, something that is going to have a useful link that kids can remember.  Navigate to the top of your SharePoint site and create a new blank site classes ‘Report Abuse’.  Ensure the site has unique permissions as we need to set special permissions in the site to ensure anything that is reported is kept secure from other pupils.


You are left with a blank site and we need to start some SharePoint Features that will allow us to do everything we need in this series.

Go to Site Actions, Site Settings and then select Site Features under Site Actions.

Activate the following services

  • Metadata Navigation and Filter
  • SharePoint Server Standard Site features
  • Wiki Page Home Page

The main feature we are going to use is a workflow that takes a submitted form in the submitted list, copies it to a new list that is managed by a teacher and then deleted from the submitted list so other students can’t find it.

Create Report Abuse Content Type

Its important that we have consistency between the drop off of the reports and the logging of the report for member of staff to see and we can do this by making on content type and adding it to both lists.

The column we need which you can add in the same way are

  • Is this about you or a friend?
    • Type: Choice
    • Options: It’s about me, Its about my friend
  • Is this happening at school or out of school?
    • Type: Choice
    • Options: In school, Out of School, Both
  • Date it happened or started
    • Type: Date (no time)
  • What happened?
    • Type: Multiple lines (Plain Text)
  • How should we talk to you about what happened?
    • Type: Choice
    • Options: Call me from a lesson,  You will see your form tutor about it, let talk over email

Here is the process to create the first of these.  I’ll let you create the others

Go to Site Actions, Site Settings


Under Galleries, got Site Columns


Click on Create at the top and give the first column a name

Under Groups create a new group called Report Abuse.  When you create each of the other columns you will find Report Abuse in the Existing group drop down list.


The description box can be left blank but if you want to give the pupils a little more direction or an explanation of what will happen with the information you can do.

Enter the different choices into the box and set that the column has to contain information.


At the bottom of the page you will see Default Value.  This will have the first choice in the list but by deleting this it will mean the user will have to pick one of these.


Click Ok to create this column and then create all the others remembering to use the same grouping name.

Create the Content Type

When we have created all these columns we now want to create them into a content type so when we add them to different lists we have some consistency of columns.

Go to Site Actions, Site Settings


Under Galleries, got Site Content Types


Click on Create and call the content type Report Abuse

You will need to select a parent content type.  Select List Content Type and then Item.


Give this content type a new Group called Report Abuse.  It will help us to find it later on.

Now go into the content type and add the site columns created earlier.

Creating 2 custom lists

We need 2 lists, one will be used for students to submit and the other is used to monitor all the submitted reports by students.  We need to have different permissions on both of these lists so students have the ability to submit but don’t see the other list of other submitted reports.

The 2 lists are going to be called.

  • Report Abuse
  • Submitted Reports

Go to Site Actions and then More Options…


Find Custom List and create the first one called Report Abuse


When the list is created go to List Settings


In General Settings, go to Advanced settings and set Yes to Allow Management of Content Types.


Click on OK and you will be taken back to the List Settings page.  In the Content Type area on the page click Add from existing site Content Types.


In the groups you will see Report Abuse.  Add this Content Type which will include all the columns you have created.


Now click ‘Change new button order and default content type.


Uncheck Item


Now complete this same process for the Submitted Reports list

In Part 2 we will create the workflow that will take the submitted report and move it to a secure area for a teacher to use and track reports.

How many ways can you use SharePoint in Education?


There are many ways to get SharePoint 2010 in your school, whether you’re using it as part of a package from a supplier, using a hosting company to host your own SharePoint or using your EES license to host your SharePoint internally.

All of the successful SharePoint implementations I have seen are those that have integrated SharePoint into their daily school lives and don’t use it as just another web page that student and teachers use if they want to. There are loads of great examples of how schools use SharePoint in their school and have a 100% adoption rate but how can this be done for your environment?

I often talk to different schools about this very subject and I split the conversation into three different sections, management, learning and social. These three can be tackled by the school one at a time or all at the same time but each of these can help you integrate SharePoint into your school.

Whether you are looking at going with a third party hosting solution or building your own SharePoint, consider the following and ensure you can achieve these with the solution being provided.


Any process in your school, whether it’s the approval of staff external training, hiring of equipment from IT or keeping the staff calendar up to date it, has a process from the request to information staff of the change/approval. SharePoint can help in any of these and any other process that comes to mind. Let’s take a look at how two of these processes can be used within in SharePoint.

Example – A member of staff requested some Maths training.

Navigate to the CPD site on their SharePoint and click on ‘’new request’’ which opens up Microsoft Word. They fill in the request and click ‘’save’’ which saves the document back to the CPD site. In the background, SharePoint is doing its thing and has emailed a copy of CPD Request to your manager for approval. They then open their email and get a link to the document which opens up in Internet Explorer using Office Web Applications and shows them the request you have made. They are happy and so they click ‘’approve’’ in SharePoint which sends off the email the finance department letting them know to send a purchase order to the training provider. During this time, two other emails have also been sent, letting the Timetable Manager know that you will not be in school on that training day and therefore need to arrange cover. The other email is to let you know that your course has been approved and you can attend.

Example – You want to borrow some digital cameras from the ICT Support department.

Navigate to the SharePoint page they have setup. You click on ‘’digital cameras’’ which loads a page that looks similar to your Outlook calendar and you look for you the time you want. You can see that another member of staff has them already booked at that time so you decide to use them the next lesson. You have to fill out an online form that includes the date and time and the room you require them in. When you have submitted the request, an email is sent to the ICT support team who approve the request. The day arrives for you to use the cameras but you are worried you don’t know how to use them. Help is at hand. Go to the same SharePoint page the ICT Support department use to book the cameras, see that they are still booked and there is a help wiki that’s been setup on the cameras which shows you everything you need to know.



Pupils are given out worksheets all the time in class which, 9 times out of 10, are generated in Word or printed off the internet. Why give them something that can be lost, screwed up in the bottom of the bag or used as an excuse for not doing their homework?

SharePoint is a great tool for document storage and management. You can store any type of document and even edit Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote in your internet browser without having to have these installed on your computer or smart phone.


Documents can be tagged allowing you to easily find content with a same relevant name. As the English teacher, you can upload content for your Romeo and Juliet topic and tag all the documents with Romeo and Juliet included. With the right setup, it will automatically tag the documents with English and Shakespeare.


There is always and underlining question where to use social networking in a school. Personally I believe that students use it every day out of school, so we should be doing the same within the school and integrate into their education. SharePoint can help in many ways with an educational stance.

During the learning section of the post we talked about the ability to tag documents. In SharePoint 2010 we can use these tags within the User Profile services.


A student can subscribe to one of these tags allowing them to see content as it is uploaded. As a student, I am working on Romeo and Juliet in English and I see Romeo and Juliet in a Tag Cloud. This then allows me to see all updates made to this tag, giving me more information on each of my subjects as other use it in the school.

Each user has their own ‘’profile’’, allowing them to upload an image and give some general information about themselves. SharePoint allows us to manage this so don’t be worried if you don’t want photos. One of the features is the ability to say you are an expert in a subject. Link this to your tagging (like Romeo and Juliet) and a student can then use SharePoint Search to find the most relevant documents, the ability to filter and the most relevant member of staff who can help them on that subject.

SharePoint for All

Whatever the learning asset, document or process it can be done in SharePoint, don’t be afraid to ask someone on twitter or on a community forum such as Edugeek or the SharePoint User Group.

SharePoint Branding for Education


Over the past few months BFC Networks have been working hard to change the way SharePoint looks in the education space.  By default SharePoint is very bland and doesn’t love much in its role to engage users. 

At BETT 2012 BFC Networks were proud to have Microsoft use the design on their stand to demonstrate how SharePoint doesn’t have to look like it doesn’t out of the box but instead it look existing, engaging and relevant to the education sector.

We are announcing today that we are now offering the design to any schools with SharePoint 2010 allowing them to change their environment to look attractive for their school.  The design will be available in the BFC Shop in a few weeks times but orders can now be taken.

If you like the design and want to use it for your SharePoint 2010 please get in touch by emailing info@bfcnetworks.com and we look forward to hearing from you.

Team Site


Staff Portal Page


MySite Profile Page



Click image to see full view of the image.

Add a banner to SharePoint 2010


One of my most popular blogs is Adding a Banner to your SharePoint but is for SharePoint 2007.  Here is how to do it for SharePoint 2010.


Banner Image

You need to create a banner at the top of the page.  The image by default is replicated so I have created a large wide image which is 2500px by 100px you won’t see the replication.


Building the CSS

We need to create our own CSS file which will be uploaded with the banner image into the same folder.

On your desktop create a new file and call it newcss.css.  Open the file in notepad and add the below code.  When your site is loaded, SharePoint will also look at this CSSfile but first we must tell SharePoint to look at this file.


.s4-title {


    background:#F9F9F9 url('/SiteAssets/banner.jpg') repeat-x 0px 0px;








    padding:30px 0 0 310px;






Reference CSS in V4 Master Page

As mentioned above we need to tell SharePoint to load the new CSS file.

Go to Site Actions and Site Settings.  Under Galleries you will see Master pages.  You will now see a list of different files and search for v4.master.  Open this file in SharePoint Designer


We are going to add a line of code that will load the new CSS file.  Add the code to line 36 on its own line.

<link rel="stylesheet" href="/siteassets/NewCSS.css" type="text/css" media="screen" />



All we need to do now is upload the CSS file and the banner image.

Down the left hand side of your SharePoint page click on ‘All Site Content’ and open the Site Assets library.

Upload the CSS and banner image into this library.


When you next refresh your page you will be able to see your banner on the page.


Submitted Banners

Big thanks and congratulations to Paul Martin who submitted his banner to me.


Chat with SharePoint MVPs 22nd June 2011


The popularity of the ‘MVP chat’ has grown each time Microsoft have hosted the event online and this month won’t be any different when the doors are opened again for you to ask your technical questions.  It doesn’t matter if they are IT pro, dev or questions around project management a SharePoint MVP will be there to help answer your that annoying question you still don’t have an answer to.


Here is an extract from the MVP blog about the event

Do you have tough technical questions regarding SharePoint for which you’re seeking answers? Do you want to tap into the deep knowledge of the talented Microsoft Most Valuable Professionals? The SharePoint MVPs are the same people you see in the technical community as authors, speakers, user group leaders and answerers in the MSDN and TechNet forums. By popular demand, we have brought these experts together as a collective group to answer your questions live. So please join us and bring on the questions! This chat will cover WSS 3.0, MOSS, SharePoint Foundation 2010 and the SharePoint Server 2010. Topics include setup and administration, design, development and general question.’

You can join us on Wednesday June 22nd at 5pm UK time to chat with MVPs including myself. Learn more and add these chats to your calendar by visiting the MSDN event page http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/events/aa497438.aspx

SharePoint Learning Kit Scenario Guide–Whitepaper


SharePoint Learning Kit is currently used in many industries but it has mainly been developed to be used in education sector. This E-Learning Tool can bring a different element of learning to pupils giving them access to their marks on work automatically having submitted it to the server.

In this scenario whitepaper we will look at 4 different ways SharePoint Learning Kit can be used ranging from a single site to a whole school to multiple schools.


Download: SharePoint Learning Kit Scenario Guide whitepaper here