New terminology in the Power Platform dataverse

Microsoft recently pushed several terminology updates to the Power Platform.

Dataverse is the new name of the Common Data Service, the database leg of the Microsoft Power Platform. Its lightweight version that runs in Microsoft Teams is now called Dataverse for Teams.

Earlier this month, Microsoft already made terminology updates:

Legacy termCurrent term
Entity, entitiesTable, tables
Field, fields
Attribute, attributes
Column, columns
Record, recordsRow, rows
Option set, multi select option sets
Picklist, picklists
Choice, choices
Two OptionsYes/No

Notice how the new terms match the Microsoft Lists terms.

Check out the Microsoft docs for more details.

Trick or treat? Group items by month in Microsoft Lists

Objective: get documents or list items grouped by month. It could be for example invoices, receipts, or meeting minutes. For the above screenshot, I used the “Travel requests” template available in Microsoft Lists.

The challenge is to get the months in chronological order rather than alphabetical order, for example January-February-March-April rather than April-February-January-March.

This post is actually an update for Microsoft Lists of a SharePoint trick I posted 7 years ago. It still works! For a full explanation of the trick see the original article. I’ll only repost here the final formula for the calculated column:

=REPT(" ",13-MONTH([Travel start date]))&TEXT([Travel start date],"mmmm")

In the above formula, “Travel start date” is a column of type date that comes with the Microsoft Lists template.

You’ll probably want the year too. For this you can use another level of grouping, or just include it in the formula:

=YEAR([Travel start date])&" -"&REPT(" ",13-MONTH([Travel start date]))&TEXT([Travel start date],"mmmm")

The result:

If you are not familiar with calculated columns, you can check out an introduction I wrote… 12 years ago. It seems that the rewriting of the official documentation is still in progress, when there’s an update I’ll share it on this blog. In the meantime feel free to post your questions below.

For a list of functions that can be used in formulas, see here.

Walkthrough: download in bulk your favorite resources from MS Ignite

Audience: end users.

Microsoft Ignite has poured on us tons of Microsoft 365 announcements, and thankfully tons of resources to help us get started. Your first step to access those resources is to head to myignite.microsoft.com. There, you can explore the sessions, and for each you’ll get access, in the right hand pane, to a number of resources.

Notice in particular the one that says “Download Resources”. It’s actually the exact same for every session, and lets you download a PowerShell script that in turn will help you download resources.

Great and easy for a techie. For the regular business user, PowerShell can be a little bit intimidating. However, it has become an essential tool in modern Microsoft 365, where some settings get released through PowerShell first, before being surfaced in the admin or setting menus.

So let’s turn this to our advantage, and take this opportunity to get started with PowerShell and at the same time get a copy of our favorite resources.

Disclaimer: this is NOT an invitation to start downloading and running any PowerShell script available from the internet. Scripts can be harmful, especially as they can leverage your credentials. Only use trusted sources and use your own judgment. We are going to trust Microsoft on this specific one.

Click on “Download Resources” to download the zip file, and unzip it. It should look like this in file explorer:

The instructions are in the readme, let me just use an example to walk you through.

  1. First, you need to identify the sessions you are interested in, using their session code located toward the bottom of the page. Let’s pick two of my favorites:
    DB158 (Collaboration announcements)
    DB154 (Project Cortex)
  2. Back in file explorer, where we unzipped, open PowerShell from the file menu

3. You’ll get a blue screen, we’re doing just fine:

Now you can type the PowerShell command and let the script download your resources – just make sure you have room on your computer as these include large videos!

.\Download-Resources.ps1 -directory . -sessionCodes "DB158,DB154"

4. You’ll be presented with a warning, just type R and enter to run once.

5. You can now follow the progress as files get downloaded

6. We’re done! If that was your first PowerShell experience, congratulations!

The MS Ignite Book of News

Looking for the most extensive coverage of Microsoft Ignite? Still hungry for announcements even after reading my previous post and exploring the Power BI reports? (I refreshed mine at noon PST btw)

Microsoft has published the Ignite 2020 Book of News, with the goal to cover all the announcements from the Conference. You’ll wish you hadn’t asked 😉

Thanks to Mark Kashman for bringing this to our attention in his own [always special] way.

MS Ignite: Day One Recap

As expected, Microsoft flooded us with announcements on this first day of the MS Ignite conference. I’ll only cover here my picks, on the collaboration and app building spectrum for desktop. There were a number of improvements on mobile I’ll need to get back to later. For a broader view, for example if you’re more into admin or compliance, I encourage you – just as I did yesterday – to directly browse my Power BI report. I refreshed it at 5pm PST, and won’t change until the refresh for day 2, around noon tomorrow.

I found out that there was another live report available, curated by John White. It offers a different perspective, so you can definitely explore both.

Remember that there are some contests with prizes going on. I already talked about Microsoft Mechanics Sweepstakes yesterday, but my preferred one is the Microsoft Ignite Cloud Skills Challenge which encourages you to learn.

Now to the announcements!

New Power Platform icons: the new look (see above) is more in line with the other products. You can check out the icons for yourself in your own Microsoft 365 waffle.

SharePoint Syntex: part of the broader Project Cortex, this app leverages AI and machine teaching to take on tasks such as document recognition and classification.

Project Oakdale: gives you a Power Platform like experience directly within Microsoft Teams, with the ability to create a table (up to 2 GB of data) and build a Power Apps app on top of it.
A benefit of this low-code approach, compared to a Microsoft list for example, is that it is scalable and can later be enhanced by developers.

Project Nucleus: Microsoft Lists hit back by bringing caching capabilities, promising fast response on large lists (bye bye 5,000 item limit) and the ability to work offline.

SharePoint global navigation: a new vertical bar positioned on the left hand side, similar to the experience you get in Microsoft Teams. You set it up on the Home Site.

SharePoint Framework: it now allows developers to build Microsoft Teams apps, in addition to the already available capabilities to build tabs and personal apps.

Microsoft Stream: videos are becoming first class citizens, benefiting from the same features as other files: external and anonymous sharing, integration with Microsoft Search, enhanced analytics, and new controls for security and compliance.

Microsoft Teams: a bunch of new features, including:

  • Upper limit of 25,000 members per team, instead of 10,000
  • Webinar registration
  • New search experience
  • SharePoint Home site in Teams
  • PowerPoint Presenter Mode
  • integration with github

Some more reading from Microsoft:
A new vision for Microsoft Stream
What’s New in Microsoft Teams | Microsoft Ignite 2020
Microsoft Lists Announcements

And to conclude this post, a selection of tweets with screenshots. Enjoy!
https://twitter.com/mkashman/status/1308424778252861440
https://twitter.com/Flow_Joe_/status/1308460764831784961
https://twitter.com/susanhanley/status/1308438094895603714
https://twitter.com/Path2SharePoint/status/1308495861156986880
https://twitter.com/jeffteper/status/1308429194418765825
https://twitter.com/Path2SharePoint/status/1308451066703302657
https://twitter.com/Path2SharePoint/status/1308429637970608129
https://twitter.com/Path2SharePoint/status/1308314373929091072

Back to blogging!

It’s been almost 6 years since my last blog post…

There are many reasons for the long silence, let me just expand on one.

The period from 2015 to 2017 marked a shift for Office 365, with the move to modern and an explosion of new apps. We found ourselves in a long transition period, with Office 365 promising a lot but not delivering so much initially. Remember the one-column template for modern SharePoint home pages? Surely, because that was the only option 🙂 Remember the shift of SharePoint calendars from classic to modern? Certainly not, because it never happened (we finally got a modern calendar view a few weeks ago, in Microsoft Lists). Loops in Microsoft Flow? Not an option initially. The list goes on.

From a development and customization perspective, there was also some back and forth (who remembers Client Side Rendering?) which left me wondering where to invest next. A side effect of modern + open source was to kill my SPELL initiative. The modern development tools were very different from traditional JavaScript, with the rise of TypeScript. The PnPjs library did exactly what SPELL did – abstract the 365 REST API – except that it was backed by Microsoft and a very strong community. Sure, SPELL had its own strengths and was especially powerful with older SharePoint versions, but who is still on SP 2010 or 2013 today? (oh! The workflows, sure, but that’s a different story).

Fast forward to 2020. Microsoft 365 has come a long way. It reached maturity 2-3 years ago and has become the ubiquitous platform it was meant to be. The past 3 years have been exciting, although they didn’t give me much time to breathe, even less take a week of vacation. Finally I feel I have caught up on (almost) all fronts. That is, until the new wave of announcements next week at the MS Ignite conference

The bright side for me is that both client side development and the “maker”/”citizen developer”/”fusion dev” paths I was promoting 10 years ago, along with a few folks (yes, Marc Anderson was already a community pillar at the time!), those paths have now gone mainstream, and it has become easier to convince people that they just work 🙂

12 years ago I started this blog to share my SharePoint tricks, such as the “HTML Calculated Column” and the “Easy Tabs”. Today we have new technologies, and I have some new tips that I am ready to share. An upcoming topic will be “Property Pane Portals”, a technique I recently came up with to set up SPFx property panes.

Still on SharePoint 2016 and distant from the 365 buzz? I’d love to hear from you. The SPELL product itself is not relevant anymore on modern cloud, but works on SP 2016. More importantly, now is a good time to bridge the gap between classic and modern before you move to the Cloud. Actually one of my first new posts will be about client side solutions built on SP 2016.

Stay tuned! And as an appetizer, if you haven’t checked it out yet, take a look at the Power BI demo I published to the Microsoft Power BI data stories gallery. I’ll have a similar report ready to track MS Ignite next week!