Author Archives: Benjamin Niaulin

About Benjamin Niaulin

Product Manager at Sharegate and Microsoft Regional Director and MVP

Reasons your SharePoint Migration Failed – The Slides

In my latest article on Reasons SharePoint Migration Fail, I got a lot of very good feedback on the content presented. I decided to turn it into a Presentation. Hopefully this can be of some help to some of you looking at SharePoint 2013 in the near future and not sure what to watch out for. Again these are my thought and are not guaranteed for everyone in the world. But it should be an interesting presentation to look at.

I provide some useful links at the end of the presentation but I am not sure if they are clickable so here they are:

Supported Migration Scenarios

Introduction to SharePoint 2013

What might not work after you upgrade

Tools and Techniques to create a simple Governance Plan

Planning a SharePoint Migration

What’s new with SharePoint Analytics

Using the Content Search Web Part to Roll Up Sites

The NEW SharePoint Color Palette Builder Tool

In the past I covered 2 articles on the new SharePoint 2013 Composed Looks and Preview Files that mention theming and how it works:

Step-by-Step Create a SharePoint Composed Look
Understanding and Creating a Master Page Preview File

In those articles I talked about the new theming engine and how to create your own new Composed Look which was pretty cool. I also mentioned a tool that would help us build our SPCOLOR file or basically our theming file.

Our goal is to provide new color possiblities or “palettes” for the power user to choose from. Don’t forget that you can place these anywhere you want when building your own custom master page. Themes are not just for the out of the box look and feel. If I create my own Master Page and decide to allow the Power User to change the color of the top bar only, I can.


The new SharePoint SPCOLOR file builder tool

I have been waiting for this for a while, it was announced during a session at SPC12 in Vegas but never saw the day of light. This should be in everyones SharePoint Install in my opinion.

You can download it here:

SharePoint 2013 Color Palette Tool

An email on April Fools – SharePoint MVP 2013

Well I won’t lie, I feel like a 5 year old on Christmas day.

I woke up on Monday morning, which I took off for a long weekend. The memory will forever be engraved in my mind, comfortably seating on my couch laptop on my lap and phone on the table. I see my phone light up from a distance and see the beginning of an email… “Congratulations 2013 Microsoft MVP!” and I remember telling myself “wait what?” and jumping on inbox from my laptop.

SharePoint MVP happyness

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Video: Recap of the European SharePoint Conference #ESPC13

When I got back from the European SharePoint Conference in Copenhagen, I couldn’t resist… I had to talk about it. So I did a little video that does a very short recap of the events.
Obviously there was a lot more going on but I didn’t want to do a 3 hours long video 😛
Hope you enjoy this recap:

Exploring Copenhagen after #ESPC13

So the conference is over and you are still in Copenhagen. Well, so am I!
A few other SharePoint people are sticking around and we decided to perhaps get together and make it an exploration day. It’s always better in a group!

I have heard a few suggestions but there is no official plan yet so feel free to make suggestions when we meet. If there is something you absolutely want to see I am sure no one will object J

The few places:

-The Mermaid (bottom of the list for most)
-Meat district in the evening (turns into restaurants and bars with bonfires in middle of the street)
-and more that I can’t think of

Usually I would set up a meetup but since you need an account and I am not sure everyone is comfortable with that or tweeting with the right mention or hashtag I thought an eventbrite might work.

Register for the event

And I will send out emails tonight and tomorrow morning to make sure no one is left behind.

We will also be meeting on last day (today) of conference in community area 4:15pm

SharePoint Parties at the #ESPC13 European SharePoint Conference

Just arrived in beautiful Copenhagen for the European SharePoint Conference. I remember getting an email recently saying there was over 1500 registered attendees and that was last week. I am very excited to see all my European friends and some who have traveled from the United States or Canada like me for this conference.

European SharePoint Conference #ESPC13

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What does SharePoint 2013 mean to the Power Users?

Recently, we have been gradually exposed to SharePoint 2013. I mean sure, you might have been one of the 10,000 attendees at the Conference in Vegas but have you taken the time to sit down and analyze what a migration to SharePoint 2013 would mean for you? Previously, I have covered in a SharePoint 2013 migration series the different features and supported scenarios to help you get started. In this article, I want to focus on what SharePoint 2013 means to the Power Users.

It’s all just technology

If you are like me, you might get excited about the latest and greatest gadgets and features that come with a new version of a product. When SharePoint 2013 was announced I was looking at apps, the new Design Manager, how pages are coded, etc. However, to the Power Users in your company, it’s just another technology to help them do their job. And a big one that is bringing them a lot of work in fact. They are forced into the world of IT to provide solutions to the End Users. Columns, Tables, Site Columns, Web Parts, these are things they now have to learn and understand to provide the solution in SharePoint.

You can call it SharePoint 2013 now, it won’ t matter to them. They want a tool to help them do their job. SharePoint 2013 will only be good if it actually helps you increase the amount of work you do for the same amount of time it used to take you.

Why Power Users will love SharePoint 2013

I was lucky enough to be speaking in SharePoint Saturday St Louis on January 12th of 2013. My session was related to some of the benefits Search will bring to us. More specifically, the Content Search Web Part.

In short, the Content Search Web Part is the new and improved Content Query Web Part. If you don’t remember what that is, the CQWP allows you to query any content in your Site Collection and display it using reusable styles. It is one of the most powerful tools for a Power User in SharePoint 2007 and SharePoint 2010. Why? Because it allowed the Power User to provide no-code, reusable solutions throughout the company. The Content Search Web Part, takes it somewhere else. Instead of querying the Site Collection like the CQWP, it actually talks to Search directly. This means it has access to everything the SharePoint Search has been configured to Crawl.

The real power of the Content Search and the flexibility it provides

The real power of the Content Search Web Part is in its easy to use Query Builder and the Design Templates that go with it. You can learn more about that by downloading the slides I made available after the SharePoint Saturday.

Basically, it allows the Power User to build his own queries without knowing much about coding or managed properties. Ex: Get me all the blog posts in the company where the category is SharePoint. Or, Get me all the Tasks assigned to the user currently logged in. These are queries the Power User will be able to build in just a few minutes now.

Even better, it allows them to display the results using “Display Templates”. These are reusable HTML files that will give a look to the results of the query done above. It can show up as a slider, events calendar or even a full page. In SharePoint 2013, an entire page could be rendered as the result of a search on the logged in user.


Unfortunately, this is something that is only available on the On-Premise Enterprise version, though there is an expected release on Office 365. But I wouldn’t count it in the less expensive plans

So what does this mean to our Power Users that need this Web Part to build Sites in just a few seconds? Well, you can actually do mostly everything with the Search Results Web Part. It allows you to build queries and use display templates as well. There are a few differences however. The Content Search Web Part was really built to make it easy on the Power User to manipulate the content that comes out of this Web Part.

Happy Power Users

During my session on the Content Search Web Part at the SharePoint Saturday, I could tell by the reactions of the Power Users in the room how helpful this will be for them. Creating a Query based on search and styling it without too much effort, perfect!

Of course there are a lot more features in SharePoint 2013 that will alleviate the work from Power Users to provide specific solutions using SharePoint to their Business Users. The message I am trying to convey in this article is to remember that SharePoint 2013 is nothing but a technology that helps your business run better. To do that, it needs to help the Business Users quickly and with the least amount of efforts possible. I believe there are a few features that will help you do that in SharePoint 2013.

Which feature do you think will give your Power Users an advantage?