Thank you O365 Seattle!

Last week while attending the MVP Summit, I had the honor of presenting at the O365 Seattle meetup as part of their MVP night.

I presented O365 Column Formatting with Column Formatter. It seemed to resonate well and I think more people with take advantage of both O365 Column Formatting and the PnP Column Formatter.

Photo by Tom Resing

There were other great presentations by Kevin Crossman and Seb Levert along with a great Q&A with a full panel of MVPs from across the globe.

MVP Panel
Photo by Tom Resing

It was a fantastic event and I was grateful to be a part of it. My only regret is that I was on an early flight out and had to skip SharePint. Thank you to the organizers, MVPs, and all the attendees!


Thank you North American Collaboration Summit 2018!

Over the weekend I was able to attend and speak at the North American Collaboration Summit (Sharepointalooza) in Branson, Missouri. It was an extremely well run and attended event. It’s unbelievable to me that attendees were only paying $65 for content and experience that would cost $1500-2000+ elsewhere!

I spoke on Understanding SharePoint Patterns and Practices (PnP). I love this topic because it allows me to show off amazing stuff that always has immediate “Monday” value. People always leave this session with at least one or two things they’ll start using as soon as they get back to work. SharePoint PnP is awesome but it can be difficult to know about everything that is available.

I was able to demo:

  • SharePoint PnP PowerShell
  • Remote Provisioning
  • Site Designs with Remote Provisioning
  • PnPJS
  • Column Formatter

I even demonstrated how to do the simplest (but still very much appreciated) contribution by live fixing documentation!

Thanks to everyone who attended. I got a lot of great questions and once again people were really impressed with what PnP has to offer! Awesome event, awesome sponsors, awesome speakers, and awesome attendees!



Using SharePoint PnP PowerShell Modules Side-by-Side (2013, 2016, & Online)

Applies to SharePoint 2013, 2016, O365

Are you using SharePoint PnP PowerShell yet? Why not!?! Developers, IT Pros, and Power Users can all benefit from the SharePoint PnP PowerShell modules. The cmdlets wrap up a bunch of complex CSOM and REST calls into 280+ awesome commands. If you’re not using SharePoint PnP PowerShell you’re doing things on hard mode.

Installing SharePoint PnP PowerShell is super easy. You just choose your target version (2013, 2016, or Online) and install. If you’re on Windows 10 you can literally type Install-Module SharePointPnPPowerShellOnline into an administrator shell and you’re done.

But what if you’re like me and have multiple versions you need to target? I find myself needing to switch between SharePoint on premises and online all the time. Unfortunately the modules are often not cross-version compatible due to the different CSOM versions supported between the products. Something as simple as Get-PnPFolder against a 2013 site using the Online module won’t work and the errors aren’t always super obvious:


For a while I’ve just used the Uninstall-Module command and just switched between them that way. This has struck me as dumb for a while now so I finally reached out to The Father himself, Erwin van Hunen, and he responded right away:


Awesome! Here’s how to do that (with screenshots!):

Install All the Modules

Although you can install all the modules, you can only have 1 active within any given session. So if you want to switch modules (once you’ve already loaded one) you’ll need to close and reopen PowerShell.

Option 1 – SharePoint On-Premises as Default

If you install the modules using the PowerShell Gallery they will be installed into the default modules path. As a result, when you use a PnP PowerShell Command the first module will be auto loaded (but the other 2 won’t because of conflicts). This appears to be alphabetical. So if you installed all 3 then the default module will be 2013. If you want to use the Online module instead, you would simply run Import-Module SharePointPnPPowerShellOnline before running any PnP PowerShell Commands.

You can’t just run the simple install command for each module. You’ll end up with some version of this error on your second module:


You’ll need to use the -AllowClobber parameter:


You can then check what versions you have installed using this command:

Get-Module SharePointPnPPowerShell* -ListAvailable | Select-Object Name,Version | Sort-Object Version -Descending

Now you can use any of the modules without having to uninstall/install first! By default you’ll be using 2013 (or 2016 if you skipped 2013) which may match your use case perfectly! You can always use the Import-Module command to target one of the other versions.

Option 2 – SharePoint Online as Default

To have the Online module be the one that is auto loaded when you use a PnP PowerShell Command but still have the option to load one of the on premises modules, you should only install the Online module through the PowerShell Gallery:


You can then check what versions you have installed using this command to ensure you only have the Online module installed here:

Get-Module SharePointPnPPowerShell* -ListAvailable | Select-Object Name,Version | Sort-Object Version -Descending

To install the other module(s) you’ll use the Releases page to download the corresponding msi installers:


Just run these as normal to get these installed. Once the module(s) are installed, open System Properties from your control panel. Under the Advanced tab, click the Environment Variables… button. Under User variables, find the PSMODULEPATH variable. If the path(s) to the PnP PowerShell modules are the only values you can just delete it. Otherwise, you can edit it to remove those paths:


Now when you run a PnP PowerShell Command the Online module will be auto loaded (default). If you want to use one of the on premises modules instead, you have to run Import-Module PATHTOMODULE before running any PnP PowerShell Commands.

Unfortunately, the module path can be pretty long. For instance, here’s mine:

Import-Module C:\Users\ckent\AppData\Local\Apps\SharePointPnPPowerShell2013\Modules\SharePointPnPPowerShell2013

That’s not very convenient! Fortunately, the Windows PowerShell ISE provides snippets that can make it much simpler. You can create snippets using the New-IseSnippet command:

New-IseSnippet -Title " PnP2013" -Description "Imports the SharePointPnPPowerShell2013 Module" -Text "Import-Module $env:LOCALAPPDATA\Apps\SharePointPnPPowerShell2013\Modules\SharePointPnPPowerShell2013"

I put a space before the name so it would be at the top of the snippets. You can then access the snippet from either the script editor or the ISE prompt by pressing Ctrl-J:



Now you can use the Online module by default but quickly load the on premises module as needed without having to uninstall/install all the time!

Thank you SPS St. Louis!

I had the honor of speaking at SharePoint Saturday St. Louis (in fact, I’m writing this from the speaker’s room). It was a great event!


My Sessions

I presented Getting the Most out of SharePoint Patterns and Practices (PnP). You can find the slides below.

Our goal was to introduce everyone to what’s in PnP (and to get them to use it), teach them how to stay up to date, and to encourage participation (even just documentation updates or submitting bugs).

There were some people that had never even heard of PnP and others that were using at least some portion. Everyone was really engaged and we had a lot of great discussion. I love showing off all the cool stuff in PnP and watching people be really amazed about the tools and resources they didn’t even know were available to them.

I also presented Understanding SharePoint Framework Extensions. These slides are also below.

Tons of excitement for SPFx Extensions, although it’s clear that the story of when and where to use these isn’t well known. There were lots of great questions and I even found a way to sneak in a demo of Column Formatter (whoops?).

SPS St. Louis was a really great event and the organizers should be very pleased with how well everything came together. Thanks to all the sponsors, organizers, speakers, and attendees! See you next year!


Join me at SharePoint Saturday St. Louis on January 20th!

I will be presenting Understanding SharePoint Framework Extensions AND Getting the Most out of SharePoint Patterns and Practices (PnP) on Saturday, January 20th, 2018 in St. Louis as part of SharePoint Saturday St. Louis!


Mark Rackley and Stephanie Donahue will be presenting the keynote, Transforming Your Organization into a Digital Workspace and there are tons of other really great speakers!

At 9:10 i’ll be talking about SharePoint Patterns and Practices (PnP):

The SharePoint Patterns and Practices (PnP) is an open source initiative coordinated by SharePoint engineering – but what does that mean and why should you care? PnP has tons of tutorials, videos, samples, documentation, and tools (as in amazing, ground-breaking tools). If you haven’t heard of it or if you thought it was just one or two things, you’re doing SharePoint development on hard mode!

In this session we’ll dive into what’s available, how to get started, how to stay up to date, and even how to contribute. You’ll leave this session knowing not only what PnP is, but you’ll be ready to start taking advantage immediately! It doesn’t matter if your using On-Premises or Online, you’re sure to learn something new and likely amazing.

Then at 2:45, we’ll dive into the exciting world of SharePoint Framework Extensions:

SharePoint Framework Extensions are being touted as the replacement for Custom Actions, JS Link, and more – but what are they really? Whether you’ve started experimenting with the SharePoint Framework or not, come find out exactly what the Extensions are, when to use them, limitations, and advantages. SharePoint Framework Extensions are not only powerful and flexible tools to customize SharePoint, when it comes to modern pages, they’re the only way.

SPS St. Louis is sure to be a great event. If you’re even remotely in the area don’t miss out on this opportunity for free training and a chance to meet people who are also passionate about SharePoint and doing awesome stuff.

Column Formatting Client-Side Web Part: Column Formatter

Applies To: Office 365


This solution is now officially a part of SharePoint PnP! Please use this repo for all updates, issues, contributions, and more. Whoo Whoo!

Modern listviews support the addition of custom formatting for most field types. This is an awesome feature designed to make custom formatting simpler and less administratively difficult than packaged solutions.

Unfortunately, the tooling is still very minimal. Users are given a simple text field within a panel to paste the JSON code and a preview and save button. The panel is clearly not designed to enable editing meaning that not only do users have to write code, they have to find someplace to do it.

The official suggestion is to use VS Code which will provide some auto completion using the standard schema. However, there are several downsides to this approach:

  • Requires a desktop client to be installed
    • Non developers that may have hung on past the initial mention of JSON are mostly gone by now
  • Once you do get VS Code up and running and begin editing your JSON:
    • The intellisense and syntax checking are very limited
    • There is no preview of your format
    • While some examples exist, there’s still a huge learning curve

I previously released a verbose schema which makes editing in VS Code a lot easier, but still doesn’t solve the preview problems, learning curve, or the need to use a tool outside of O365.

Column Formatter


Column Formatter is a SharePoint Framework client-side webpart I’ve created using React and Redux. It’s designed to give the full power of VS Code editing while providing easy to use templates and wizards all within the browser! The goal is to make writing and applying Column Formatting easier and quicker for both developers and end users.

Development Details

I originally set out to make an Application Customizer SPFx extension that would sit directly on the modern listview page. Unfortunately, there aren’t APIs available (at least that I could find) to load the CustomFormatter library on the page if none of the columns are using it yet, nor a way to trigger applying the formatting to the listview without actually changing the field’s CustomFormat value.

So I’ve extracted the CustomFormatter library into my project and am faking it by providing it only the dependencies it actually needs. While this gives me full control to enable “as you type” live preview of rendering, it also means that things could get out of sync with O365 development. For now, I’ll do my best to keep things updated but ultimately I’d like to be able to load the office CustomFormatter module on demand.

Similarly, I had to extract the styles of the modern listview and the unique classes for CustomFormatter.

The editor is a custom build of the Monaco Editor (the editor that powers VS Code). Getting this built as a module that worked in SPFx was a real challenge, but worth it because of the immense power it adds.

This was my first experience with Redux. It was hard to wrap my head around at first and there is a significant amount of boilerplate code required (largely to play nice with Typescript), but I wouldn’t do any React webpart of even minor complexity without it! It simplifies state management and makes additional iterations of features much easier.

What’s next

There are a few templates and wizards included currently, but there are way more that could be added. I plan to keep adding these and am open to both pull requests and suggestions.

Wizards make it easy to generate Column Formatting without writing any code
Templates provide you with starter code and sample data

I have submitted this webpart as an entry in the Hack Productivity 3 hackathon (Go vote for it, please!) which is why it’s currently hosted on my github. I’d like to get it included in SharePoint PnP if they’re open to it, although I’m not sure where it should go just yet.

More Information

You can find a lot more details about features and how to use Column Formatter in the ReadMe in the repo. I also created a demonstration video that covers a lot of the features:

Thank you SPS Detroit!

Over the weekend I had the honor of speaking at SharePoint Saturday Detroit. It was a well organized and well attended event. I had a great time and the feedback I got from attendees was extremely positive.

The event was held at Wayne State and the campus was covered in squirrels. Including totally black squirrels which I’d never seen (and assumed were rats at first) so of course I took a video:

Here’s a picture somebody else took:

A1FN14 / Black Squirrel

SharePoint is cool and all, but those squirrels were great!

My Session

I presented Getting Started with the SharePoint Framework. You can find the slides below. Here was the outline:

  • Setup Steps 1 & 2
    • Installing NodeJS LTS
    • Installing VS Code
  • SharePoint Development: A Brief History
    • SP 2016 Development Recommendations
    • Office 365 Development Recommendations
  • The Modern Experience
  • Setup Step 3 & 4
    • Installing Yeoman & Gulp
    • Installing the SPFx Generator
  • An Introduction to the SharePoint Framework
    • Client-side Web Parts
    • SPFx Extensions
    • Tool Comparison
    • The SharePoint Workbench
  • Building Your First Client-Side WebPart
    • Running the Generator
    • Trusting the Dev Certificate
    • Exploring the Local Workbench
    • Adding a Custom Property
  • SharePoint Patterns & Practices
    • What’s in PnP (Selective Highlights
    • Staying Up to Date with PnP

If you have any questions about what I presented, or the SharePoint Framework in general, you can comment here or reach out on Twitter anytime. It was really tough to fit everything above into a 45 minute session so although it was a bit rushed, I think it went over pretty well and people seemed genuinely excited to get started with SPFx!


SPS Detroit was a great event. Thank you to all the sponsors, organizers, speakers, attendees, and squirrels!