Beware the Office 365 Group -Based Site Regional Settings!!!

This is a quick post, yet it’s still an important one. We’re using more and more Office 365 Group -based SharePoint sites these days. Even when you know you aren’t going to use some of the goodies you end up with, this type of site is making more and more sense.

<addendum data-datetime=”Sun May 14 2017 10:56:53 GMT-0400 (Eastern Daylight Time)”>
Several people have asked me in other forums the basic question: “So what?” If all dates and times are stored in UTC, does it really matter what the site’s Regional Settings are? Frankly, that’s got me a little bit stumped.

It certainly feels wrong that the site’s settings don’t match its primary locus, but since team members can span the globe, what’s the impact?

I know I struggle as a developer to show everyone things in the right date/time based on their settings, and it feels like the platform doesn’t give us great tools for this. What other issues does it raise? Please add your thoughts and issues in the comments. I’m interested in things other than the usual “The people in Redmond don’t realize that we’re not all in their timezone” stuff – which is basically all I’ve pointed out here.

BUT, there’s a simple problem that can have longer-term ramifications. The default time zone for every new Group-based site we create is PDT, also known as UTC-08:00. You have to go into Site Settings to change it manually for every site you create this way. Since a lot of my clients are in EDT, this is tedious.

I’m guessing no one in Redmond even notices this, because PDT is their time zone. I spot it every time I create a new Group-based site during a migration because Sharegate warns me the time zones of the source and destination sites are different when I start to copy content across. (Yay, Sharegate!)

If you happen to be a non-US person, then ALL of the regional settings are likely to be wrong for you. I’ve checked, and there is no way to change the default here – unless it’s a VERY recent change.

Here are some Office 365 UserVoice suggestions you can run off to vote for:



Reconciling Changes While Moving Content in SharePoint – “Flat” Views

Lots of times when I’m working on a content migration in SharePoint – almost always with Sharegate! – some stuff happens. Probably the most common thing is that someone edits content in the old location before we manage to shut off permissions. People – yeesh!

Here’s a little trick that not a lot of people know about that can really help. As we all know, folders are bad except when they aren’t. Oftentimes, Document Libraries have a lot of folders containing a lot of documents, for better or worse. If you want to hunt down documents someone has changed during a migration, you can set up a “flat” view, sort by Modified (descending) and see what they have been up to.

Here’s how…

Go into Library settings (how you get here will vary based on SharePoint version) and create a Standard view – or more likely start with one of the existing views, like All documents.

Give your view a name (I like Temp – because I’m probably going to delete it), scroll down to the Folders section, and expand it. Click on the Show all items without folders radio button and save your view.

Now you’ll see ALL the documents in a “flat” view (assuming you don’t have any filters set). You can add/remove any columns in the view, but the key thing here is you can sort ALL documents by things like Modified date (descending) in the UI to look for stragglers.

The ‘MVP Thoughts’ Series – Live from Sharegate World Headquarters

2015-11-18_17-30-46Last month a handful of SharePoint and Office 365 MVPs (now Office Servers and Services MVPs, but who’s counting?) gathered at Sharegate‘s offices in Montreal to help them with their next series of Damn Simple videos. Stay tuned for those.

After all the silliness – I mean serious cinematography – Jennifer Roth (@jennifermason), Corey Roth (@coreyroth), Fabian Williams (@fabianwilliams), and I sat down with the great Benjamin Niaulin (@bniaulin) to talk about Office 365 and SharePoint. You know – the usual. Each time a bunch of us gets together, though, the conversations tend to go in different directions. It’s even interesting for me to watch these, as our opinions often change over time.

I’m not sure how many segments we ended up with, but I’ll keep adding them here as they come out. If you’d like to read the transcripts instead, follow the title links.

MVP Thoughts: What to Expect From SharePoint 2016

MVP Thoughts: SharePoint Workflows & Forms in Today’s Environment

MVP Thoughts: What Should SharePoint Developers Focus On?

SharePoint and Office 365 in the Modern Workplace

Office Graph API & Groups Seen By Developers

Coming soon:

Today’s SharePoint Developers’ Challenges

Moving Lists from Hosted WSS 3.0 to Office365 – The ShareGate Way

The other day I did a post in which I was grousing about what a pain it is to move individual lists from a 2007 environment to a 2010 environment. Even worse, I wanted to move the lists from a hosted WSS 3.0 environment at FPWeb to Office365. Because of this, there was no access to the back end, and it was a one-time move, anyway. I did figure out a really messy way to do it, and my prior post outlines that if you’re interested.

[notice]I’m going to stick with my premise that portability is one of SharePoint’s Achilles’ heels. We absolutely have to get to a point where there are better answers to these questions than “hire a developer” or “buy a third party tool”.[/notice]

GSoft GroupBen Niaulin (@bniaulin) at GSoft Group saw my complaining on Twitter and reminded me that as an MVP I could get a copy of their Sharegate product for free. BTW, GSoft fielded an awesome Iron SharePoint team called the SHAREPOINT G-NIUSES at the recent SharePoint Summit in Toronto. I was there to see what they came up with, and I was impressed. Check them out if you need SharePoint Services in Canada (or anywhere, I suppose).

SharegateI was certainly willing to try Sharegate out, of course. Setting it up and getting it running was a snap. The user interface is really nice – something that I think many end users would be totally comfortable with. Ben wanted to give me a tutorial up front, but I figured that wouldn’t be a fair test. I wanted to see if I could figure it out myself, just with the existing help.

My first challenge was that I couldn’t figure out how to copy the structure of the lists from WSS to Office365. It was clear how to move the content, but not the structure. I caved and pinged Ben. Apparently, this was by design.

In Ben’s words:

Sharegate is currently a Content Migration tool, you need to have the destination library there.

The idea is that when migrating from SharePoint 2007 to 2010 many new features and structures exist. What  may have been a lookup column could become a Managed Metadata column in 2010 instead. That’s what we focus on, migrating the content, for now.

This wasn’t a big deal, though, because I was interested in moving only about a dozen lists, and the structures weren’t that complex. I had hoped to be able to move the structures *and* content, but I just bit the bullet and built the structures (that I hadn’t built already based on my prior, manual method) by hand.

Here are some screenshots that show how straightforward it was to move the content. The first step, which I don’t capture here, was simply to connect to the source and destination locations.

Next you select the source “container”, in my case, an individual list.


Then you specify the destination “container”.


Once you’ve made those choices, you can see all of the items in the source which you can migrate.


I wanted to move everything, so I just clicked the “Select All” link.


The next prompt let me choose between an easy and a more powerful route. I just wanted to go the Full copy route, as I was moving the content wholesale. The option on the right, which I poked around in but didn’t use this time, gave me a *lot* of control over how the content moved. I could remap fields, change values based on conditions, all sorts of stuff. The other migration tools I’ve looked at also do this, but I really liked the interface in Sharegate.


Next came a warning about mapping the permissions. Since I didn’t have access to the back ends, I couldn’t install the Sharegate Extension. This meant that the permissions wouldn’t go across. This was something else I didn’t care about, so I simply clicked Continue.



And voila, the content moved across, with a nice progress indicator telling me how things were going. It wasn’t a lot of content, so it was pretty quick.

Lather, rinse, and repeat for each of my other lists and I was all set.

All in all, it was a pretty painless experience. I think that Sharegate’s UI is one of the big selling points for it. Also, since it doesn’t try to be too many things (like some of the products out there), the process was streamlined for basically the exact path I wanted to take. If you’ve got some content to migrate from one place in SharePoint to another, give it a look.

And thanks, Ben!