Using the SharePoint 2013 social Newsfeed on other sites than the MySite host

The “Newsfeed” found on MySite, is a web part with the same name, and can easily be added to other sites if you enable a hidden feature. From what I can tell, this work fine, but not perfect.

The reason I don’t feel this is a perfect good solution is due to a bug within the web part. The bug is a bit hidden if you haven’t tested all the features within the the feed. This bug has not been fixed at the time of writing, and also present in Office 365.

Enable the “Newsfeed” web part

To enable the social newsfeed on another site, first you have to activate a hidden feature named “MySiteLayouts” in PowerShell (replace the URL with your site):

Enable-SPFeature -Identity "6928b0e5-5707-46a1-ae16-d6e52522d52b" -Url http://sp2013

Now the WebPart we are looking for, Newsfeed, is available at the current site under the “Social Collaboration” group:

mysite-newsfeed-1

The “Newsfeed” now appears as expected, and we can start using it without any more configuration. If you place both the Newsfeed and Sitefeed on the same page, then the Newsfeed won’t load. Not that I can find any good reason why you even would think of doing so… well, I tried… 😉

The bug I mentioned above is hidden in a popup-notification when you create a new task to follow up a social post.

Reproducing the bug in the newsfeed

Post a new message to the feed, and open the context menu on the message by selecting “…”. Choose “Follow up”.

mysite-newsfeed-2

A popup in the upper right corner will appear like this example:

mysite-newsfeed-3

If you now try to click the link in the popup like it states, then you get in trouble:

mysite-newsfeed-4

You will end up with this spinner. From the URL, I assume that this feature was designed for a relative linking to the MySite host. The same bug can also be found in the “Sitefeed” web part.

Summary

It is possible to use the standard “Newsfeed” from MySite on other sites in SharePoint. Even if the feed appears to work pretty fine, there is a bug hidden below the “Follow up” function. This combined with the feature being hidden, using the feed in other ways than Microsoft intended us to do might not be a risk free alternative.

So instead of trying to re-engineer a social intranet site somewhere else, why not build the intranet on the MySite Host? I have also explored this approach, and might share more details here in the future.

Export-SPWeb fails with “These columns don’t currently have unique values”

During a content database migration from SharePoint 2010 to 2013, we also had a requirement to move a few sites (SPWeb) to new locations. The plan was to first mount the Content Database on the SharePoint 2013 farm, create an evaluation upgrade site collection and then export the content from the upgraded site using “Export-SPWeb”. This operation failed, and after several retries it seems like this is not supported.

PowerShell command to export site:

Export-SPWeb http://sps:8080/ -Path "C:\Backup\sps-8080.bak"

This error was found in the log file:

[13.01.2014 10:26:58] FatalError: These columns don't currently have unique values.
[13.01.2014 10:26:58] Debug:    at System.Data.ConstraintCollection.AddUniqueConstraint(UniqueConstraint constraint)
   at System.Data.ConstraintCollection.Add(Constraint constraint, Boolean addUniqueWhenAddingForeign)
   at System.Data.ConstraintCollection.Add(Constraint constraint, Boolean addUniqueWhenAddingForeign)
   at System.Data.DataRelationCollection.DataSetRelationCollection.AddCore(DataRelation relation)
   at System.Data.DataRelationCollection.Add(DataRelation relation)
   at System.Data.DataRelationCollection.Add(String name, DataColumn parentColumn, DataColumn childColumn)
   at Microsoft.SharePoint.Deployment.ListObjectHelper.GetNextBatch()
   at Microsoft.SharePoint.Deployment.ObjectHelper.RetrieveDataFromDatabase(ExportObject exportObject)
   at Microsoft.SharePoint.Deployment.ListObjectHelper.RetrieveData(ExportObject exportObject)
   at Microsoft.SharePoint.Deployment.ExportObjectManager.GetObjectData(ExportObject exportObject)
   at Microsoft.SharePoint.Deployment.ExportObjectManager.MoveNext()
   at Microsoft.SharePoint.Deployment.ExportObjectManager.ExportObjectEnumerator.MoveNext()
   at Microsoft.SharePoint.Deployment.SPExport.SerializeObjects()
   at Microsoft.SharePoint.Deployment.SPExport.Run()
[13.01.2014 10:26:58] Progress: Export did not complete.

Solution

This problem seems to occur once you have created an evaluation site within the same content database. Deleting the evaluation site does not fix the problem unfortunately.

  • Restore site collection from backup to a new content database
  • Export data with Export-SPWeb from the site, but avoid using an evaluation site.

It is possible to run Export-SPWeb both when the site collection is in 2010-mode and naturally after upgrading it to 2013 as long you stay away from creating an evaluation site.

Summary

If you plan to reorganize the content in the same operation as a content database migration from SharePoint 2010 to 2013, avoid using an evaluation site as it leaves your entire site collection in a state where content cannot be exported. With this experience I now always take a extra site collection backup before using creating evaluation sites (which itself is a excellent feature).

Preparing the users MySite after a upgrade from SharePoint 2010 to 2013

A common part of a migration from SharePoint 2010 to 2013, is to include the MySite user profile and personal site collections. Both the User Profile and Managed Metadata service applications must be migrated first. After the web application has been created, and the content database(s) has been reattached, the MySite host must be upgraded to 2013. This can easily be done either from the web page or with PowerShell. All customization to the branding will be lost as the Master Page is reverted to “mysite15.master”, and you will be required to create a new Master Page based on this one to keep a custom branding. In 2013 the user will now be presented with a dialog with 1-2 options the first time they visit their MySite after the upgrade. To avoid unnecessary interruption and confusion, I think it is a good think to prepare the MySite so these choices is already set for the user from a company policy.

What will it look to the end users?

Scenario 1: The user only has a user profile, and no personal site collection

mysite 2

This gives the user the option to have some of the options regarding the social features in their user profile activated. It could be better to set this for all users, and give them a guide how to changes it afterwards instead. Most people won’t care, and keep the default settings.

Scenario 2: The user had both  a user profile and a personal site collection

mysite 1

In the last option, SharePoint has detected that the user has a site collection, and that one or more document libraries exists within it. Keeping this option without being aware of what it does can end in trouble.

For a personal site collection with no customization, this probably will work out fine. But if you have created personal document libraries, or even having custom solutions with their own document libraries, this must be handled differently.

What happens if I choose “Ok” (as ALWAYS)?

If the document library “Shared Documents” exists, it is automatically mapped to the folder “Shared with everyone”. All other document libraries are created as new folders. A few libraries are always ignored; Style Library, SiteAssets and FormServerTemplates.

For testing purposes it is possible to run the initial setup multiple times as long you clean up the “Documents” library to only contain the “Shared with everyone” folder.

After the files have been moved to SkyDrive, the original library is removed. SkyDrive itself is stored in the “Documents” library with the hard coded URL “/Documents”.

Permissions are not copied, so if you had libraries, folder or files with unique permissions set, these must be reapplies manually after the merge.

It can be a bit tricky to test and get a good understanding of what will happen, but luckily this one-time dialog can be open up and reapplied as many times you want by using this URL: http://mysite/_layouts/15/InitialSetup.aspx?IsDlg=1&HasMysite=1

To simulate the last option in the dialog box, switch the query attribute “HasMysite” between 0 and 1.

Disabling the default “Let’s get social” dialog

Found a hint at this blog, but it didn’t for some reason work for me: http://www.ilovesharepoint.com/2013/03/get-rid-of-mysite-lets-get-social-dialog.html.

By adding the value to the AllProperties, instead of Properties bag of the SPWeb object as suggested in the article above, the dialog was suppressed.

$web = Get-SPWeb http://mysite/
$web.AllProperties["urn:schemas-microsoft-com:sharepoint:portal:profile:SPS-O15FirstRunExperience"] = "Off";
$web.Update();

Just as a reminder when you are removing this dialog, you should make sure the default MySite configuration that is correct for your organization.

Enable social data for existing users

For all new users, these settings are configured and managed by the service application. For existing users, a policy to enable social data can be applied with PowerShell.

mysite 3

$site = Get-SPSite -Limit 1
$context = Get-SPServiceContext $site
$profileManager = New-Object Microsoft.Office.Server.UserProfiles.UserProfileManager($context)
$profiles = $profileManager.GetEnumerator()
$profiles | where {  $_.ShareAllSocialData($true); }

Summary

After migrating MySite from SharePoint 2010 to 2013, new features including Social and SkyDrive requires end-users to take action. This article discusses what these options include, and how you could set the policy up front, and suppress the dialog from appearing at all.