Happy Birthday SharePoint (Officially an Adult !)

SharePoint, one of the most loved and widely adopted product of Microsoft turns 18 years today (March 18th 2019).


Since this historical product was officially started as SharePoint Portal Server in 2001, its now 18 years old full grown mature product which still dominates the global enterprise market as Microsoft keeps shipping undeniably innovative features very frequently.


SharePoint Portal Server 2001


SharePoint Online In 2019

This article with the entire history briefed nicely by Microsoft’s Bill Baer is so fascinating to read – https://blogs.technet.microsoft.com/wbaer/2015/02/12/the-sharepoint-journey/ 


Get Started with SharePoint Hub Sites (Part 01-UI)

Hub Sites in SharePoint Online is the new way of organizing your sites. Now what does that mean?


Based on the size of an organization, SharePoint admins create multiple sub sites to classify and organize content which usually aligns with the organization hierarchy (Department wise). There can be Team Sites and communication sites and yet, Hub sites can consist both these under one umbrella to help you relate them together based on any attribute such as Projects, Departments, Division, Region or whatever you have.

Let me put it in a simple way – Hub Sites will now help you to associate team sites and communication sites to provide a common navigational hierarchy, search, Logos and look and feel.

Hub sites allows you to standardize the site hierarchy. More importantly, it brings the consistency across all sites. Following are some of the characteristics of Hub Sites Capability:

Hub Sites[31203]

Some of the Hub Site characteristics are:

  • A Common Top Navigation (Global Navigation)

A common global navigation is maintained across all connected sites of the particular Hub site.

  • Consistent Look and Feel

Sub sites inherits their look and feel from the root (Hub site) which allows you to maintain a single branding across all your sites. In a simple term, all sites are associated, which means they resides under one Hub.

  • Scoped Enterprise Search

Search acts relevantly here. When you search for something in a Hub site, it performs the search within all the sites of that particular Hub Site.

  • Site activities

User activities happens within the associated sites which means, the engagements are specific to an defined area.

  • Content Aggregation

Automatically aggregates content and displaying from multiple sites. News Web Part, Sites Web Part and Content Web Part can be used in a Hub Site to aggregate content from the associated sites and display the content on the Hub Site’s home page. This reduces a lot of manual work that developers supposed to do to get this done in the earlier days.

Provisioning a Hub Site:

There are two ways you can create hub sites in SharePoint online (Yes ! for now its only supported in SharePoint online). However, there is no template to create a Hub site so you can’t simply create a one using the “New Site” option. Instead, these are the options you have.

  1. Create a New site collection and set it as the Hub site
  2. or Promote an existing site as the Hub Site and associate other site collections to it.

A SharePoint Team Site or an Communication Site can be converted in to a Hub Site. Ensure you have the “SharePoint Administrator privilege or above” in Office 365  to perform these changes.

Step 1: Create a Hub Site in SharePoint (New) Admin Center (UI)

To do this using User Interface, log-in to Office 365 and direct to New SharePoint Admin Center –> Click on “Sites” from the left navigation panel –> Active Sites –> Click on “Create


Pick “Communications” Site template and go for “Topic” Site design (for example). Define the Site owner and Site name etc.. and hit “Finish” to create the site.


Step2: Registering Hub Site in SharePoint

Now we need to register the Hub site we just provisioned. No big deal here ! just follow these steps.

Navigate to the SPO Admin Center –> Click on “Active Sites” and that shows you all the active site collections. Choose the one you just desired as the Hub and “Register as Hub Site” from the Hub Site Dropdown as shown below.


Fill in the name of the Hub and hit “Save” to complete this.


You will notice the status is update in a few seconds for this site.

status markeing

Customize Hub Site

We now have the Hub Site created, its time to little bit of tweaking to match organizational theming (logo, theme color, navigation etc..). Something similar to following, you can change the Hub site logo, site logo, theme, navigation etc.. so that it will inherit to the site underneath (Associated)

change look

To do this let’s go to the Hub Site –> Click “Gear” Icon on the top –> Hub Site settings.

settings marketing

You also can edit the Hub site navigation that appears on all connected sites based on the central navigation (Hub). These elements shall inherit from the Hub Site to connected sites automatically. Note: When you customize the Hub Site after connecting other sites in, it will take up to 2 hours to apply the changes in the respective associated sites.

Associating Sites to the Hub:

From the SharePoint Online Admin Center, click on the checkbox next to the site collection you want to associate with the hub, then from the Hub site drop-down list choose the “Associate with a hub site” option. From the list of all the hubs you have available in your tenant, choose the one you want to connect to and hit “Save”.


Choose the relevant Hub you want this site to be associated.


You will notice the status of the site is updated in a few seconds.

associate 3

Option2: You can also connect a site to an Hub Site using the “Site Information” section of the respective site.

In this case, I have a site called “Partner Engagement” and I have opened up that in the browser.

To do this, navigate to the site that you want to associate with the hub. Click on Settings gear Icon –> Select Site Information –> Choose the Hub Site Association and hit “Save”.

associate 4

You will immediately notice that Hub Site Characteristics have been inherited to the Associated site.

Moving sites across Hub Sites:

Hub Sites offers the flexibility to attach and detach (connect and disconnected in other words) associated sites. For instance, let’s say my organization decides to isolate Project management and the site needs to move from IT department to PM department. We can simply detach the site from this existing hub to a new hub.

Important Notes: However, this method only works for Modern SharePoint experience. Site collections that are in legacy mode won’t have this abilities so consider upgrading your experience soon if you haven’t !

Also, once you connect with an Hub Site, Navigation, Theme and Logos will be inherited automatically (That’s the whole idea !) to the newly connected sites.

  • You can’t associate a one Hub Site to another Hub Site (e.g. Hub A –> Hub B are isolated)
  • Also, an associated site can only be connected to one Hub Site

Dealing with the Hub Site Navigation:

Connecting a site collection to the Hub site, doesn’t automatically add links to the Top navigation of the hub site. By default, only the link of the Hub Site appears on top. You have to build rest of the Top Navigation manually in the hub sites.

Here is how: Navigate to the Hub Site –> Hover over to Top Navigation area –> Click on Edit –> Click the “+” sign to add a new link.
Click OK and –> Save.

In my case, I am adding an 3rd item to my global navigation of the “Marketing Hub.


A Finished navigation should look like this and it will reflect across all associated sites.


Connected (Associated) Sites will automatically contain a link back to the SharePoint Online hub site. You will also notice that you can’t change the theme of an associated site, because it inherits the theme from the hub site and that’s the whole purpose of this feature.

For instance, have a look at this site “Statistics” of my setup. It now has all the items in the Global Navigation inherited from the Hub.


Site Permissions:

When you connect a site collection to an Hub, it doesn’t impact the permissions of the associated site or the Hub. However, you have to ensure that all users who are going to join sites to the Hub site have appropriate permissions to the Hub, that’s it ! the rest shall remain the same.

Detach an associated site from a Hub:

You can disassociate a site being under a Hub if no longer needed. Your navigation and the logo will be gone after disassociating but the theme shall remain the same as it was inherited from the Hub. You need to manually set it to a different one.

To remove the existing hub site association, go ahead and select “None” in Hub Site association drop down list and Save it, simple as that !

Wish you could use PowerShell to do all these? Follow my article no 02 to get the same thins done via PowerShell.

DISCLAIMER NOTE: This is an enthusiast post and is not sponsored by Microsoft or any other vendor.

Convert Office Files in to PDFs using Microsoft Flow

I recently discovered an cool template in Microsoft Flow which allows you to convert any Office file in to a PDF in a simple tap of a button. This means, you don’t have to dig in through office applications anymore to get a file converted as a PDF, which is a very common scenario for most users.


As a result of continuous improvement of the cloud platform, Microsoft has recently released a new Flow template (works only on Office files as of now) in Office365 and we can now use this template to work as a simple workflow to convert any office file in to a PDF which may be stored in OneDrive of in a SharePoint Library.

In my case I have stored documents in my OneDrive. First and foremost, I’ll go ahead and add the Flow template.

Head on to OneDrive (or directly to the Flow) –> New –> Create from template


And then, just search for “Copy as a PDF” and click “Add” to add the Flow.


Hit “Continue


It will now display the parameters for you to customize (only if necessary, otherwise just leave with the defaults).


That adds our new Flow. Now to try it out ! Simple find any office document or create a sample one to test the Flow. I’m using a sample doc here. once you select the file and click the “Flow” dropdown menu, you will notice the newly added Flow is listed there. Just click it !


This will initiate the Flow. Simply hit “Continue


Hit “Run” to begin


And, right after a second or two, you will see the converted PDF is stored in the location you defined in the Flow parameters. Simple and yet cool isn’t it ? !


Until the next post, Keep Flowing !

Want to add a Flow button right next to every item in your library ? reading this post of mine will get you the knowledge to do it yourself.

DISCLAIMER NOTE: This is an enthusiast post and is not sponsored by Microsoft or any other vendor.

All new search experience in Office 365 will boost productivity


Unified and personalized search will surely enhance the productivity for all Office 365 users as it was announced at Microsoft Ignite last year.


Microsoft Graph and AI powered new interface is expected to supercharge your day to day experience with Microsoft tools. You will notice a significant change when you log in to office.com as these changes are currently being shipped to tenants. It has landed in my Targeted Release Tenant and i noticed the changes few days ago.


Global search is now in the suit bar and the search result experience is consistently same across the entire Office 365 platform. Also, the all new Office Apps icons are reflected in the Waffle Menu. Just a few more apps like Dynamics and Flow icons to have a new look and they will soon be updated too.

Results are personalized by default: As soon as you click on the search box, search engine is intelligent to display a prominent result in a dropdown based on your recent activities and engagements across the organization.

Search results will include global results across the organization. Through this update you will also find excel and other files.

search box is now capable of commanding the application that you are in. You no longer need to drill down through tool bars to access commands, instead type the feature name in the application to get the list of suggested actions.

Mobile App Updates:

The new SharePoint mobile app will reflect these enhancements as well. Search experience is a key element which has been improved and it will list down common questions, personalized results, and frequent searches of your organization.