Monday, December 9, 2019

Troubleshooting Search in SharePoint Online

coverOver the past years I’ve aggregated patterns and ways I use when troubleshooting why search results does not appear in the way you would expect. Some of it has appeared as blog posts, but for a while I’ve been thinking of putting it into a structured format.

Hence the book “Troubleshooting Search in SharePoint Online” was born. The book is a brain dump of my experience combined with help from others, and is means as a self-help book on investigating search issues before you go to the step of filing a support ticket. If you end up filing a support ticket, the process should be smoother as well as you should have aggregated good information on what you have tried so far :)

The focus is on why items appear or don’t appear, or are missing values etc., not why your KQL queries are not working as intended. Combined with my previous book on search queries, you should be armed with good tools to build and investigate search.

If you’re still using SharePoint on-premises, many of the concepts still apply, so it’s still a good read.

Where can you get the book? Head over to Amazon!

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Breaking SharePoint search since 2013 – a lesson into unintentional consequences of messing with out of the box managed properties


I’ll start this post with a revised version of “Mikael’s managed property rule of three”, now called “Mikael’s managed property rule of four”:

  1. Never ever mess with the out of the box managed properties.
  2. Use automatic/implicit managed properties if possible.
  3. Map crawled properties (the plain ows_columnname ones) to the RefinableXXYY re-usable properties if possible. And do give them a unique alias for easier management and use.
  4. Create a custom managed property as last resort – which is only possible for Text and Yes/No columns.

Following these four rules will make your life easier, and help out troubleshooting search issues you might encounter.

Sometimes you think you know it all and then SharePoint search throws you a curveball. It’s been dormant all these years as it’s pretty much an edge case, but knowing this trick you can effectively break SharePoint search experiences quite magnificently :) Sounds fun right?

Note: You need access to the tenant search schema to break search experience globally, or employ this on your own site collections for mayhem and otherwise rendering yourself unpopular.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Classic vs Modern and More Microsoft Search Questions Answered

imageOver the past several weeks there has been a number of community questions on classic vs. modern search in relationship to SharePoint and Microsoft Search across social channels. We selected the most common questions and created a Q&A article over at the Microsoft Tech Community to help answer those.

If you have comments or questions, scoot over to Tech Community and let us know.

Friday, August 23, 2019

I can see it! KQL in the house! HCWP love!

I’ve known this was coming for a while and I can finally see it in my tenant! KQL support for the highlighted content web part has finally arrived. Knock yourself out and surface content any way you want via search, (as long as the visuals cover your needs).

If you’re really crazy and bold, target the web part to a list/library and crank out your favorite CAML queries as well – not sure why you would ever go there though :D


Thursday, August 8, 2019

Update to using Microsoft Flow for approval of site pages

In May of last year I wrote a post which showed how you could implement approval of modern pages in SharePoint using Flow. That post was written before the edit experience implemented the Submit for approval button.


While the built-in approval is nice, Flow approval provides easy to use actionable messages which makes approving that much easier – no need for the approver to visit the page library to actually approve the item.

In my previous post I added a step to check for the Pending status of the page before invoking a Flow approval action in order skip the Draft and Approved states which should be ignored for the Flow itself. This means Flow will trigger more than actually needed – but that was the way to go last year.

Seems the SharePoint triggers have now been updated to support trigger filters, which means the steps can be optimized a bit.

Click the ellipses (…) on the trigger and pick Settings.


In the trigger conditions settings add the following to trigger only for items which are awaiting approval.



In order to use the content approve action you still need to get the correct ETag, which means the Get file metadata action has to stay.

A simple auto-approve Flow would look like below.


Happy Flowing!

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Search nugget - Grouping property restrictions within a KQL query


Figured I’d alert you guys to a small nugget I was made aware of, and which I have officially documented at

The gist of it all is that you can now use parenthesis on property queries.

<Property Name>:(<Expression>)

As an example:

author:"John Smith" AND author:"Jane Smith"

can be rewritten as:

author:("John Smith" "Jane Smith")

The other cool side effect of adding () around the property value is that the term(s) will be lemmatized. The query title:page return matches with the exact term page only, while title:(page) also return matches for the term pages.

Head over to the docs to read all about it and check out some more complex samples. Start adding those parenthesis, and may the search be with you!

Note: Works for SharePoint Online and SharePoint 2019 only.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

SharePoint Search Query Tool v2.8.4

Photo by Jason Wong at Unsplash

Get it at

Not a lot happening for this version - mainly UI improvements and support for query history.

Happy searching!

Friday, June 7, 2019

PnP Modern Search Web Parts June 2019 release is out

Get it at

Modern Search Web Parts v3.4.0.0

  • Updated to SPFx v1.8.2
  • Added query language setting
  • Translations
  • Improved loading placeholders
  • Improved hash paramater change handling

Modern Search Custom Renderer v1.0.1.0

  • First binary release
  • Includes example custom code renderer when Handlebars is not enough

Sunday, June 2, 2019

The conspiracy is real!

..or “I believe in Microsoft Search” :)

In February of 2016 I wrote a post titled "I Want to Believe" - Is Microsoft abandoning the enterprise features of enterprise search? where I discuss how Microsoft seems to have abandoned enterprise search, but I still wanted to believe they had not.

Ever since I wrote that article over three years ago I have slowly been building up to write a follow-up – trying hard to find the right framing for my thoughts.

For those who know me, they know I haven’t spent particularly much time on search related work the past years. Why? I have just about only been working with Office 365 and SharePoint Online and tinkering too much with search online has seemed like a bad idea – especially after the launch of modern SharePoint in mid-2017. My advice to clients has been to not spend too much effort on configuring search and see where things are going in the platform as you cannot control much in terms of functionality and user interfaces.

And just as I was about to write my follow-up article in January of this year about having lost the faith, Kathrine Hammervold of Microsoft contacts me for our semi-random-annual coffee chat on “the state of search”. This has typically been an informal chat where I get to give my feedback from the customer/consulting side of search. Except, I was not let in on the new agenda.

My very own Microsoft Search t-shirt and shoe laces!
Over the years I’ve been asked numerous times if I would consider joining Microsoft. It has always been unofficial as part of random conversations, and honestly I’ve been very comfortable working on the “outside” for Puzzlepart. This time around it was very concrete; Kathrine asked if I would be interested in joining the search team!

From what she told me over coffee I was very much intrigued on “the state of Microsoft Search” and my spirits instantly rose. Maybe I could help form the future and have an impact?

I have been with Puzzlepart since 2011 and I so love my job and my freedom. I had no intention of switching jobs what so ever that Tuesday afternoon, but after much thought and discussions with great friends in and outside of Microsoft I decided I had nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Monday June 3rd I’ll be starting my new adventure in a new office, working with many of the people I already know inside of Microsoft as well as get to know a lot of new smart people. Quitting Puzzlepart was certainly not easy and has been a tough choice emotionally. It’s by far the best place I have ever worked and these past 8 years have just flown by. I love the people, I love the work, and I love Puzzlepart’s approach to clients and projects – it’s possibly one of the best Office 365 consultancies to work for. Everyone matters and everyone has the ability to shape their future and to be heard - but be prepared to juggle two to three clients at any one time (cheaper for the client, for fun for you :)  And if you follow my blog you know Puzzlepart share a lot of the things they create for absolutely free on GitHub, as well as contribute to the Office 365 Patterns and Practices (PnP) work.

Which leads to: I honestly believe in Microsoft Search!, and that customers can get back some of the old flexibility we used to love in a modern way. In addition, modern AI driven features are constantly added to the mix, making search and search driven features even more ubiquitous than ever. It’s not about the tech, it’s about making the people who use the Microsoft platform even more efficient and innovative in their jobs.

“May the search be with you!”

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Approve a document in Teams using Adaptive Cards and Flow

Co-incidentally the same scenarios often appear simultaneously from different people at the same time, and this is one of them.

I’ve been assisting with random comments to a client who wants to start an approval on a document, and have that show up as a card with Approve/Decline buttons in Teams. And yesterday the good SharePoint/Flow man himself Chaks at Microsoft reached out with a similar scenario.

Chaks wanted to build a bot for this, and I asked if he had tried the Adaptive Card action in Flow, and have card buttons trigger an approval/decline action via a HTTP trigger. Turns out that adaptive cards via Flow in Teams does not support Action.Http. End of story.

Here I am, having told a client this should be easy, and Chaks telling me I can’t do it. Being me, that’s not acceptable, of course it can be done – and turns out my ego was right this time :D (it’s not always)

Start the approval Flow from SharePoint.

Adaptive card in Teams.

Important: Enable Major, minor versioning and approval on the document library. And I have not put any thoughts into licensing of actions in Flow if any for this scenario.

How??? Let me show you!