Office 365 Identity Management

I often used to stumble around in understanding the Office 365 Identity Management process and hence I spent some time today trying to do some research on this topic and gained some knowledge about the Identity management process followed in Office 365.

Now this post is for those who are new to Office 365 and would like to understand how the identity management process works and what are the three main models involved in it.

There are basically three main models that can be used for Office 365 Identity management and it’s up to you and your business to analyze and choose the one which suits your need.

Office 365 Identity management models:

  1. Cloud Identity
  2. Synchronized Identity
  3. Federated identity

IM 1

Now, let’s take a look at these models …..

Cloud Identity:

In this model users are created and managed in Windows Azure Active Directory (WAAD) i.e. In the Office 365 Admin center on the “Users” tab.  There is no connection to any other directory.  This is the simplest model as there is no integration to any other directory.  Each user has an account created in the cloud which does not synchronize anywhere else. Also the password created for this account will be verified by Azure Active Directory and the password policies applied for these accounts is strictly limited only to the Azure Active Directory. However, note that you will still typically need additional on-premises credentials to gain access to a local workstation and local resources. These accounts can’t help you to login to a PC or access a printer that has been joined to the domain.


Synchronized Identity:

In this model users are created and managed in the on-premises directory and then get synchronized to Office 365 so they can access Office 365 resources. Typically this means running the DirSync appliance or in some cases FIM with the Windows Azure Active Directory Connector.  The newer builds of DirSync allow for the user’s password hash to be synchronized up to Office 365. However, please note this does not say clear text password. So using this model users can logon to Office 365 using the same credentials as on-premises with no additional infrastructure. The user enters the same on-premises password as they do in the cloud and during the sign-in this password will be verified by Azure Active Directory.

Note: This is a one way sync from on-premises AD to Azure active directory and hence any change made to a user’s synced account in Office 365 won’t be valid.

Sign-in procedure:  The web browser is redirected to the Office 365 sign-in service, where you type the user name and password for your work account. The sign-in service authenticates your credentials and generates a service token, which the web browser posts to the requested service and logs you in.

IM 3

Federated Identity:

This model is similar to the synchronized identity but with one change to that model: the user password is verified by the on-premises identity provider. This means that the password hash does not need to be synchronized to Azure Active Directory. This model uses Active Directory Federation Services (AD FS) or a third- party identity provider. This is often referred to as single sign-on.

Sign-in procedure: Federation relies on directory synchronization so that WAAD is populated. When the authentication request is presented to Office 365, the service will then contact the on-premises ADFS infrastructure so that AD is responsible for authenticating the request.

IM 4

In addition to these there are many third party identity providers that can be used to implement single sign-on, please take a look at this TechNet link to know more about them: _


Step-by-Step Installation of Microsoft SQL Server 2014:

Alright, for those who are already working as SQL DBA’s this is nothing new and this should  just be a piece of cake for you guys. For those who are new to SQL, please consider this article as a primer for SQL Server 2014 installation.

Prerequisites for installing SQL Server 2014:

  1. 32- bit computers not allowed
  1. The minimum operating system requirements for the SQL Server 2014 are one of the following:

–>Windows Server 2012

–> Windows 8 RTM

–> Windows Vista SP2

–> Windows Server 2008 SP2

–> Windows 7 SP1

–> Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1

  1. .NET Framework 3.5 is required.

Listed below are the steps to be followed to install SQL Server 2014:

  1. Download SQL Server 2014 SP1 from the below mentioned link

  1. Once you’re done downloading the ISO file, please extract it to your preferred drive location and keep it ready for installation.
  2. Run the SQL Server 2014 setup as shown below .Make sure that you’re running it with elevated permissions as shown in the image below.


4. Please select “installation” from the list of options given in this screen.


5. This screen shows the types of installation available. Let’s select the first type i.e.  “New SQL Server stand-alone installation” as shown in the image below.


  1. Click on “Run” in the next screen.


7. Since I’m running an evaluation version, I’m going to keep the option as evaluation in this screen.


8. If you want to participate in the CEIP program, then put a checkmark in the box highlighted in the image below .If not just accept the license agreement and click next.


9. The “rule check”  is in progress as shown in the screen below.


10. Now if you want you’re SQL server installation wizard to look for any new updates, please put a checkmark in the box shown in the image below. The most preferred and suggested practice is to not check that box as it’s good to have a look at those updates in the Microsoft website and then run them manually . Hence I’m not checking that checkbox here.


11 . You might get an error as shown below . That’s a common error which you would get since I didn’t check the “Check for updates” checkbox .I’m just going to ignore it and proceed further with the installation by clicking next.


12. The set-up files are getting installed as shown in the image below.


13. Now you can see the below mentioned screen displaying warnings about the domain controller, .NET Application Security & Windows Firewall .Now if you’re performing this installation in a test lab its ok to ignore these errors and proceed further.However,if you’re performing this installation in a production server its mandatory that you fix these issues . Since I’m performing this installation in a test lab I’m just going to ignore this error and proceed further with this installation by clicking next.


14. The next screen gives you an option to choose which feature components to install, please click on “SQL Server Feature Installation” and click next.


15. Please select the evaluation features for this instance by checking the appropriate check box. Now how this works is if you want this instance to just have the “Database Engine Services” running, then please check the check box for “Database engine services” alone . Similarly if you want “Analysis Services” as well as “Reporting Services” running in the same instance, then check those check boxes as well.


16. Once you’re done choosing the required features for this instance the installation wizard will calculate the required disk space and will display it and shown in the above image.


17. Once you’re done choosing all the necessary features make sure that you  check the “client connectivity tools”  and “management tools”  (SSMS) check box and click on next. These tools are mandatory to manage SQL Server.

18. You will see the next window where the operation proceeds further as shown in the image below.


19. Now once that’s complete and the operation is successful you will be taken to a window where you’re supposed to make the “Instance Configuration” . Now in SQL Server its very important that you understand the two different types of instances

a) Default Instance –>Choosing the “default instance” will pick up the server name/PC name in which you’re performing the installation and will proceed further with the installation.

b) Named instance–>Choosing the “Named instance” option will ask you to name the instance and the same name will be assigned to the “Instance ID” as well.

To access a default instance once it is installed  using SQL Server Management Studio or any other program, you just need provide the computer name. To access a named instance, you will need to provide the name of the instance in the form of “Computername\nameoftheinstance”

It’s always preferable to go with “Named instance “option so that you would be able to differentiate between instances if many instances are installed in the same SQL server.


  1. Once that’s done the next screen (shown below) will ask you to specify the service account details for all the features that has been chosen , please specify the appropriate username and password as required . Now ,since this is my test lab, I’m going to stick to the defaults. It also gives you the option to choose the “startup type” .It can be either “Automatic” or “Manual”.


However there are couple of things to notice here, if the computer is not part of a domain, use a local user account without Windows administrator permissions. You can create this account using Control Panel -> User Accounts. Please provide a strong password to this account since SQL Server setup will required it on this “Server Configuration” page.

Use a Domain User Account if the service must interact with network service or access domain resources. This account should be pre-created by a domain administrator in AD.

  1. Make sure that you’re providing the credentials correctly or else you would end up getting a “validation error” as shown below.
  2. Once that’s done the next screen will ask you to specify your “authentication mode”. You have two authentication modes in SQL Server namely 1. Windows Authentication and 2. Mixed mode (Windows + SQL) authentication. If you choose Windows Authentication then users who are created within SQL server won’t be able to access SQL, so the best and recommended practice is to go with “mixed mode authentication”.


23) Once you’re done specifying the “authentication mode” please click on “Add current user” button as shown in the image below and this will make the current user who is running this wizard as the SA (i.e SQL Server Admin).


24) You can also add few more users to the “SQL Server Administrators” group by clicking on the “Add” button next to “Add current user” as shown in the above image.

25) Once that’s done , please click next and this will take you to the ‘Analysis Services Configuration “ wizard , please specify the “ Analysis Services administrator “ detail as shown in the image below and click next .


26) The next screen would give you the path for the “Data Directories”, you can change this path if required.


27) The next screen would be for “Reporting Services Configuration”, I strongly recommend to go with the second option (i.e. Install Only) as once the installation is complete you can configure “Reporting services” later using the “Reporting Services Configuration Wizard”.


28) Finally, On the Ready to Install page, review the summary of features and components for your SQL Server installation. To proceed, click Install…


You would also notice  the “Configuration file path” which has the “configurationfile.ini” and this file can be used later if you want to create a different instance of SQL Server with the same configuration.This file basically holds all the configuration information for this instance of SQL installation.

29)  Once you’re done reviewing the summary of features, please click on Install as shown below and you would notice the installation proceeding further.


30) Finally you would get a window as shown below which displays the status of our installation and if everything ran well you would notice a bunch of green tick marks. You can view the “summary log “ file if you want which will give you the complete information of the installation.


31) Now that brings us to the end of the SQ Server 2014 installation and you can open “SQL Server Management Studio” to access it.


If you’re also looking for the new features in SQL Server 2014 , please check this site : _

SharePoint Online: Features & Limitations

  1. Number of items that can be synced: You can sync up to 20,000 items total across all synchronized libraries. This includes One Drive for Business libraries, Team Site libraries, or both. This includes folders and files. Separately from the overall sync limit, there are limits to the number of items that can be synchronized for each library type.You can sync up to 20,000 items in an One Drive for Business library. This includes folders and files.You can sync up to 5,000 items in a SharePoint library. This includes folders and files. These are libraries that you find on various SharePoint sites, such as team sites and community sites, libraries that other people created, or that you created from your Sites page. You can sync multiple SharePoint libraries. Any team sites that you sync will also count against the overall 20,000 item limit across all synchronized libraries.
  1. Size limit for syncing files: In any SharePoint library, you can sync files of up to 2 gigabytes (GB).


  1. Character limit for files and folders:  These limits apply to files and folders that you add to a synced library folder for uploading to SharePoint. In SharePoint Server 2013, file names can have up to 128 characters. In SharePoint On line, file names can have up to 256 characters. Folder names can have up to 250 characters. Folder name and file name combinations can have up to 250 characters.
  1. Invalid characters : 

The following characters in file or folder names aren’t supported when you sync OneDrive for Business with SharePoint On line:











Additionally, a file or folder name that begins with a tilde (~) isn’t supported.

5. Unsupported folder names: When you sync One Drive for Business with SharePoint Online or SharePoint 2013, a folder named “forms” isn’t supported at the root level for a list or library. This occurs because “forms” is a hidden default folder that’s used to store templates and forms for the library. Additionally, a folder that contains the string _vti_ is reserved by SharePoint, and isn’t supported.

The following folder names can be synchronized in One Drive for Business and SharePoint On-line. However, if they’re synchronized, they won’t appear when you view the library on the SharePoint Online or OneDrive for Business webpage. With some of these restrictions, you may be unable to add files or folders that have these characters while in the OneDrive for Business folder. However, if you create the files or folders outside OneDrive for Business and then drag those files or folders into the OneDrive for Business folder, the files and folders will sync but the files won’t appear on the webpage.






















6. GUID strings as file names

The GUID string structure is supported in SharePoint Online.

The following GUID string structure isn’t supported for file names in SharePoint 2013:

‘{‘ + 8 hexadecimal + ‘-‘ + 4 hexadecimal + ‘-‘ + 4 hexadecimal + ‘-‘ + 4 hexadecimal + ‘-‘ + 12 hexadecimal +’}’

For example, a GUID that matches this structure resembles the following:


7. You can’t upload files that have a *.tmp or *.ds_store extension, and you can’t upload desktop.ini, thumbs.db, or ehthumbs.db files.

8. Additionally, you can’t upload files whose file types are blocked on the SharePoint site. If your organization is running SharePoint Server, the list of blocked files may vary, depending on what your administrator sets up. If your organization is running SharePoint Online, the default list of blocked files is fixed and can’t be changed. To see a list of the default blocked files, go to the following Microsoft website: _ File types that cannot be added to a list or library

9.Outlook PST files

Whereas PST files aren’t actively blocked by OneDrive for Business, syncing PST files that are in an open state isn’t supported. If you decide to sync PST files (for example, an archive PST file that you don’t load or view in Outlook), they can’t be in an open state at any time by any application while they’re in the OneDrive for Business sync folder. A PST file that’s connected to Outlook will be updated regularly and therefore if synchronized, can result in too much network traffic and growth of the Office File Cache on your local drive.

 10.OneNote notebooks

Because OneNote notebooks have their own sync mechanism, they aren’t synced by the OneDrive for Business sync client. You can upload OneNote notebooks to a SharePoint Online page. However, they won’t sync with through the OneDrive for Business sync client application. Additionally, if you add a OneNote notebook to a local folder that syncs with SharePoint Online, the notebook won’t sync with the SharePoint site and may cause other sync errors within the local folder.

Open files can’t be synced. Any file that’s currently open by an application (for example, an Excel .xlsx file) can’t be synced by OneDrive for Business. To sync the file, close any application where the file is currently being used, and then sync the file.

12. Lookup columns in a library:

.The SharePoint Online or OneDrive for Business library can’t exceed the lookup column threshold. For more information, go to the following Microsoft Knowledge Base article:

2927386   “We couldn’t sync this library” error when you use the OneDrive for Business sync client

“Fix it” tool to help in renaming files and folders to prepare or fix the naming of items in a local folder or OneDrive for Business folder

13. To get files to sync successfully, you may have to rename a wide range and large number of files if their names contain unsupported characters. This Fix it tool for Windows automatically renames files and folders whose current names contain any unsupported characters. The tool also generates a report of those changes and of any files that are violating other restrictions that are called out in this article, and shows which folders were scanned by the tool.

14. Supported changes by this tool apply only to SharePoint Online. SharePoint Server 2013 may have a separate set of restrictions that were set by your administrator.

15.The Fix it tool currently performs the following tasks on the OneDrive for Business folder or local folder that you specify:

Removes unsupported characters from file or folder names. For example, a file that’s named This%is%a%test.doc will be renamed Thisisatest.doc.

If an item has only invalid characters, it will be renamed Invalid Renamed File. If the item is a folder, it will be renamed Invalid Renamed Folder.

If a file or a folder is renamed, and the renamed file or folder conflicts with an existing item on the same directory path, the item will be renamed by appending an <x> to the name. The <x> placeholder represents is an integer, starting with the number 1, until all rename actions are completed for that folder.

For example, assume that a folder has two files that are named HelloWorld.doc and Hello%World.doc. Because % is an unsupported character, the second file is renamed HelloWorld.doc. To avoid duplication in the same folder, the name of the renamed file will be changed to HelloWorld1.doc.

In addition to file names being changed by this Fix it tool, several other rules are run to check for any additional limitations that you may encounter when it’s syncing. A report that documents the issues that were found is generated and put on your desktop for you to review. A new log file will be generated every time that you run the Fix it tool.

16. The Fix it tool won’t change file and folder names that have unsupported characters or generate warnings in the log file for the following items:

OneNote notebook names

Open files

Lookup columns

Maximum path character count for an uploaded file

(The character count is not validated.)

17. External Users

Per MS: “An external user is a person who has been granted access to your SharePoint Online site, but who is not a licensed user within your organization. External users are users who are not employees, contractors, or onsite agents for either you or your affiliates.”

Maximum number of external users: 10,000

External users cannot create their own My Sites or OneDrive Pro

Cannot change their profile, edit picture or see tasks

Cannot be an administrator for a site collection

Cannot access search center or execute searches against “everything”

18. Missing: Search Control and Index

Unable to set crawl schedules

Unable to initiate crawl (default is ~5 minutes)

Unable to create custom solutions against Search Index

Unable to add entity extraction (custom refiners)

Unable to enhance relevancy (custom ranking models)

No federated search

19. Missing: Cross site publishing

Per MS: “Cross-site publishing is a new publishing method that lets you create and maintain content in one or more authoring site collections and publish this content in one or more publishing site collections by using Search Web Parts. Cross-site publishing complements the already existing publishing method, author-in-place, where you use a single site collection to author content and make it available to readers of your site.”

20.Missing: Content by search

(Content by search allows content to be displayed in a web part via search.  One of the top features of SP13.)

21. Unavailable SharePoint Services

Access Services 2010

PerformancePoint Service

PowerPoint Automation Service

State Service

User and Health Data Collection Service*

*(Office 365 provides separate health info in admin center)

Word Automation Service

Work Management Service

Microsoft Foundation Subscription Settings Service

22. Branding Limitations

Adding a custom design to the internal site “Team Site” is a bit counter intuitive.  The option to select a “MasterPage” is not available under “Site Settings.”  You must upload the MasterPage to the MasterPage gallery, along with a “Preview” file.  Then, you must create a “Composed” look.  From there it will be available under the “Change the Look” feature.

Fix for the “search issue” in August 2015 CU for SharePoint 2013 :

As mentioned in my previous post about the “search issue” which is caused by the August 2015 CU for SharePoint 2013, we were finally able to find the fix for that. We tried the steps as mentioned in Stefan’s Blog and we were finally able to get rid of the search issue which was a great relief.

Please try the below mentioned steps, 

Once done running the August 2015 CU for SharePoint 2013, please run the below mentioned command on all the servers in the farm to get rid of this issue.


PSConfig.exe -cmd upgrade -inplace b2b -wait -cmd applicationcontent -install -cmd installfeatures -cmd secureresources

Running this command should help you to get rid of the below mentioned error which you would get when you try to execute a search query in the SharePoint Search center.

Field or property “TimeZoneId” does not exist 

Reason for August 2015 CU to fail silently while you’re trying to run the package file: _


Managing “User property fields” in SharePoint 2013

Managing “User property fields” in SharePoint 2013:

We happened to work on a project where we were supposed to fix the FIM sync errors related to “User property fields” in our SharePoint Farms. The user property fields in the SharePoint user profile were not displaying the values properly and as a result of that we were not able to see the details (i.e. City, Address, Location etc.…) in the user property fields. It was just blank and it failed to write the information from FIM to the SharePoint user profile .This article describes the steps which we performed in our Q & A environment to overcome this issue.

Issue Description:

SharePoint user profiles were not displaying the user’s details such as City, Address, Location,company etc.. … in their profile and it just remained blank as show in the image below.


 Root cause:

The root cause of this was nothing else but the default character limit which was specified for these “User property fields” was not adequate enough and hence FIM failed to write these information to the SharePoint user profile. Basically, in our environment FIM does the job of creating user profiles by retrieving the user’s information from Active Directory and it pushes the user profile to SharePoint. Since the supported character length of these user properties was less in length it didn’t display the values in the user property fields.

 “User property field” character length comparison :

Before Increasing the Character length   After increasing the character length
Address–> 25 characters Address–> 100 characters
City–> 25 characters City–> 100 characters
Company–>100 Company–>100
Department–>250 Department–>250
Office–>250 Office–>250
Title–>150 Title–>150
First Name–>250 First Name–>250
Last Name–>250 Last Name–>250
SPS-Location–>25 SPS-Location–>25


*We changed the character length of the all the user properties less than 100 to 100.



We went ahead and increased the character length of these user properties in the SharePoint User Profile Service application so that FIM starts to write the values to the SharePoint user profile. Now the catch here is, we can’t edit the property in the user profile as the length setting is greyed out and it cannot be changed. So the only way to change the length is to go ahead and delete the property completely and recreate it by increasing the character length to suit your needs.

Steps performed to implement this change:

  1. Open the Central admin with your farm admin account.
  2. Navigate to the Manage service applications option and click on User Profile sync service.
  3. Once you click on the “User profile sync service “click on the “Manage” button in the top ribbon.
  4. This should take you to the “Manage Profile service” UI and then click on ‘Manage User properties” under “People” section.
  5. This would display the list all the user properties in your SharePoint farm.
  6. Click on the drop down arrow on the property which you want to delete and click on “delete”


  1. This would delete the user property and now you can go ahead and create a new property by clicking on “Create new property” option.
  2. Specify the “Name”, “display name” and length for the new property as shown below.


9. Specify the privacy settings for this property here.


10. Specify the display settings for this property here.


  1. Once done, click on “Ok” and this will create the new user property for you.
  2. Once the next sync job completes it will start displaying the values in these fields as shown in the image below.


       After completing this activity the SharePoint user profile started to display the values correctly in the User property fields and after making this change we were able to notice some change in the ordering of the user properties in the SharePoint profile page UI .So basically what happened was, it changed the order of these properties in the profile page UI so that the recently created new user properties got added to the last.

However, this change didn’t have any impact on the “Contact” section which is displayed on the user’s “My site” .The user property fields ordering didn’t change there as that’s a BR custom code which is taking  care of the ordering .

On the other hand the other lesson learnt was, we can’t delete the “SPS-Location” user property to recreate it. The reason for this is, it’s a default property and is checked on rendering the “My Profile” page .If this property does not exist, the page will fail and throw an error stating that the property is missing. To know more about this, check this article.

Updating the user property fields in Danaher Connect:

As shown in the following illustration, user profiles can be composed of properties that are imported from a directory service, imported from business systems, and supplied by users.


For example, a directory service could supply important information that is needed across the organization, such as users’ account names, work telephone numbers, titles, and work e-mail addresses. Business systems could supply business-related information, such as the customer accounts or product lines managed by each team member. Users could supply supplemental information about themselves, such as their areas of expertise or hobbies.


We were finally able to get this issue fixed in our DEV farm by deleting and recreating the “user property fields” as that’s the only option to increase the character length.

September 8, 2015, update for SharePoint Server 2013 (KB3085481)

Finally is good to see Microsoft addressing most of the known issues in the Sept 8 ,2015 update .

September 8, 2015, update for SharePoint Server 2013 (KB3085481)

Improvements and fixes

  • Improves the hybrid user experience to let hybrid user profiles be redirected to their profiles in Office 365. Learn more.
  • Improves the translations of some terms in multiple languages to make sure the accuracy of the meaning.
  • Updates English proofing tools.
  • Fixes performance and correctness issues in Windows Azure plugin.
  • Fixes the following issues:
    • After you go to the Per-Location view settings page, some custom views aren’t displayed on the ellipsis menu for the list view web part.
    • When you attach a picture to your reply post for a trending tag in My Site, you experience an error if you have not followed the trending tag.
    • The Show more posts link does not work as expected on the Everyone page of Newsfeed in My Site.
    • When a user profile is deleted from My Site, an email is sent to the user’s manager. However, this email contains a link to the user’s root My Site which no longer exists. In addition, you receive the following error message:

User not found.

    • When you try to search something in a SharePoint Server 2013 list that has a rich text column, HTML tags instead of the content of the column are displayed in the search result if the column name contains special characters.
    • After you type multiline text in a rich text field of a list, the text is unsearchable separately.
    • If the number of items in a document library exceeds the list view threshold, you can’t update or delete a document set in the document library.
    • Some text in pdf files is extracted incorrectly (for example, trim line endings in encrypted documents).
    • Some text in pdf files is extracted and indexed incorrectly.
    • Unicode text in pdf files that contains some special characters may be interpreted incorrectly.

PowerShell Command to identify the quota size of all the site collections per web application

The below mentioned power shell command is used to get the quota size of all the site collections per web application .Now , its a known fact that there are couple of ways to do this , but this command is very simple and neat and gives the result as expected .I was able to find the Power shell command to get the list of all the site collections in a farm and its quota size in the internet ,but the problem with that is, its also going to display the “My sites” as well in the result and it might take a while consuming heavy server resource to pull all the results from the farm .This command below is specific to a single web application and you just need to specify the web application url which you need . Please try it for yourself…..If you’re into a situation where you need to pull up the quota size of all the site collections in a single a web application , then this is the right tool for that.


Get-SPSite -Limit All | Where-Object{$_.Webapplication.url –like “”} | select url, @{label=”Size in MB”;Expression={$}} | Sort-Object -Descending -Property “Size in MB” | Format-Table –AutoSize

Detailed Description: 

The above mentioned PowerShell Command is used to identify the quota size of all the site collections per web application in SharePoint and will display the size in Megabytes.

Parameters to specify in the Command:

  1. Web application url
  2. Limit All – Please include this if you want the command to display the list of all site collections in the web application, else you would be getting only few results.

DNS Records

An “A” record, which stands for “address” is the most basic type of syntax used in DNS records, indicating the actual IP address of the domain. The “AAAA” record is an IPV6 address record that maps a hostname to a 128-bit Ipv6 address.  Regular DNS addresses are mapped for 32-bit IPv4 addresses.

The “CNAME” record stands for “canonical name” and serves to make one domain an alias of another domain. CNAME is often used to associate new subdomains with an existing domain’s DNS records.

The “MX” record stands for “mail exchange” and is basically a list of mail exchange servers that are to be used for the domain.

The “PTR” record stands for “pointer record” and maps an Ipv4 address to the CNAME on the host.

The “NS” record stands for “name server” and indicates which Name Server is authoritative for the domain.

An “SOA” record stands for “State of Authority” and is easily one of the most essential DNS records because it stores important information like when the domain was last updated and much more.

An “SRV” record stands for “service” and is used to define a TCP service on which the domain operates.

A “TXT” record lets the administrator insert any text they’d like into the DNS record, and it is often used for denoting facts about the domain.

SharePoint 2013 Trending Tags Webpart: How this works?

I recently happened to work on an issue where the “Trending Tags” web part which you see in your SharePoint My site wasn’t working as expected in our environment and we had to get that fixed.

This post is mainly intended for those who have now idea about the “Trending Tags web part “ and for those who have this functionality broken in their environment and see a notification as shown below .

Trending tags

What’s the Trending Tags web part all about?

For those of you who are not aware of the “Trending Tags web part” , this is nothing but a web part which is displayed on the bottom right corner of your SharePoint “My site” page and it displays the most widely used top 5 #Tags in your SharePoint environment .

Where can the # Tags be used?

This can be used by user’s on conversations while posting new updates on their Newsfeed/Site’s Newsfeed  and also while replying to someone’s post . A #Tag can be followed and once it’s followed it brings all the conversations related to that #Tag to your Newsfeed.

How does this web part work?

The contents displayed on this web part is mainly based on the search content sources and search crawl. So for any given reason if this not working in your environment, then please make sure that you check your search content source is being crawled properly.

Which crawl does this web part depend on?

This is not specific to any specific crawl .If you’re environment is using continuous crawl which runs every 15 minutes, then the next continuous crawl will pick this #Tag and displays it in the web part or the value of the total number of times this(i.e. specific #Tag)  has been used will increase .For instance, if it’s a new #Tag it will display that as 1 use in the web part .If that specific #Tag has already been used by others then it will simply increase the usage count . However , please remember that this web part will only display the most widely used top 5 #Tags in your environment and if you don’t see the one which you mentioned in a post then it’s pretty obvious that the #Tag which you used ranks lower than the other #Tags which are displayed in the “Trending Tags” web part .

Note:  Don’t panic if you still see the “Tagging’s been quiet lately. No trending tags right now” notification in the web part even after confirming that your search crawl is running well .This could be simply because that no one in your environment is using #Tags .

What happens behind the scenes?

As I already mentioned earlier, I happened to work with my PFE on this and he was able to help me understand how this stuff works behind the scene.

Listed below is the point mentioned in his blog and please go through it if you’re curious to know how this works:

Listed below is what happens behind the scenes on this webpart:

1.When you browse to your SharePoint mysite, the trending tags webpart appears.

2. The web part checks the Distributed Cache to see if data is there about trending tags, and renders it, if there’s data. If there isn’t, it queries search for the most recent tags AND puts that data into the DC.

a.The search query will only find tags that have been crawled/indexed, so make sure your crawls are running. Any type of crawl should be sufficient.

b.To see what search sees for trending tags, see the next section.

3.The Trending Tags data lives in the DC for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, the data expires and is evicted from the cache. New data will not enter the cache until the PeopleManager.GetTrendingTags method is called. From what I can tell, only the trending tags web part calls this method. It’s a client side call/CSOM, so you could call it manually if you have a need.  a.PeopleManager.GetTrendingTags  :

4.The activity feed timer jobs do not appear to call this method, so they will not update trending tags data in the cache if run manually. (They shouldn’t need to do this work)

Finding trending tags via search:

1.Download the SharePoint 2013 search query tool :

2.Set Connection String and authentication info. (You can run this tool anywhere since it uses CSOM)

3.Enter the following query text. Modify date/time to desired. (the webpart shows the last 7 days)a. ContentTypeId:0x01FD* write>=”2015-07-01 00:00:00Z”

4.Add the following to the Refiners box. By default we show up to 20, most to least popular.​Tags(filter=20/0/*,sort=frequency/descending)

5.Click the run button and view the results

6.The refinement tab will show the tags. The “Refinement Name” and “Refinement Value” show the actual tag. There is a GUID in front of it.

Issues with August 2015 CU for SharePoint 2013

We happened to patch our Q&A environment with August 2015 CU and we noticed few issues while installing the CU and also while testing the farm after the successful installation of the August 2015 CU for SharePoint 2013 . It’s a know fact that starting from SharePoint Server 2013 , it is no longer necessary to install the Foundation CU before the Server CU .The server CU already has the fixes for the foundation version and hence you can directly install the SharePoint Server 2013 CU .Now, lets talk about the issues which we noticed while installing the CU …..

Link for the CU :_

  1. The August 2015 CU for SharePoint 2013 doesn’t get installed properly when you attempt to do so .It fails for the first time giving no clue of what caused the failure to happen and once again it fails in the second attempt .Finally, if you try to run it for the third time it installs smoothly without any error .This is weird but at this point Microsoft has accepted this as an issue and hasn’t announced any fix for this yet .

It’s good to see that Microsoft has already documented this issue :_

2. Now the second issue is with the “Search” .As you must be already aware that the August 2015 CU is mainly focused on hybrid search. The August 2015 CU seems to cause some trouble to the search centre after its installed .

Steps to repro the issue which I’m talking about related to search:
1. Go to search and type a user’s name in the search box .
2. When the results are presented , retype or change the query and run a search again , this time you will get an error which says “Field or property “TimeZoneId” does not exist and also a correlation ID related to that error . You can repro this if you try to toggle between the “Result sources” i.e. “Everything” and “ Associates “ in the search page.
3. You won’t get this error when you do the search query for the first time , just try to repeat it again and toggle between the “result sources” and then you will notice this error. Also if you switch between different user names in the search box you will notice this error .

Looks like many users have noticed this issue and this issue was supposed to be fixed with the July 2015 CU and it hasn’t been fixed yet.  Please check the “comments” area in the below mentioned blog to know more about this :

3. I carried on my testing once again and found another issue as well . Looks like Microsoft has reported this as a Bug and no fix has been announced yet . Please check the link below to know about this issue :

Hope Microsoft comes up with a fix for this bugs ASAP .