Category Archives: SharePoint Designer 2010

SharePoint Lists: Used, Abused and Underappreciated

This session was presented at SharePoint Fest – Denver 2012

Abstract: No matter which version of SharePoint 2007 or 2010 you’re using (Foundation, Server, Enterprise, or SharePoint Online) you’re almost certainly using one or more lists or libraries. These containers form the core for almost all functionality in the SharePoint platform. Yet, most organizations are not fulfilling the potential these lists offer to users and consumers. Are your users still looking for documents by using the default views? Are they navigating a library the same way they used the file share? Learn some of the tips and tricks used to improve your users’ experience and help them find the content they’re looking for more easily.

  • Learn best practices for creating, configuring, and using lists
  • See examples of list and library web parts used to display list content more effectively
  • Create list views that increase user adoption and effectiveness

You can see the slide deck (or a very close variation) here on Slide Share:

Office 365 as a SPD Learning Platform

SPD = SharePoint Designer, currently in the 2010 version.

In my previous post about using Office 365 as a learning platform for SharePoint, I briefly mentioned SharePoint Designer.  But, we could have spent a lot more time talking about it than that – hence this follow-up post. 

In the previous post, I mention using Office 365 because its very inexpensive and easy to spin up for any user, giving you the ability to learn and try things you might not be able to in your production environment.  Well, is even more true with SharePoint Designer. 

Creating new sub site, new lists, tweaking list columns and playing with views are all things you can do in your SharePoint environment and they are *mostly* non-impacting on your production environment – if you play with them the right way and don’t affect your users.  SharePoint Designer has a little higher risk level, can be a little more invasive/impacting on uses, and some environments have it disabled – so you’re not even able to use SPD in your current sites. 

Enter Office 365 and SharePoint Online.  Now you not only have a great way to use and ramp up on out of the box browser-based capabilities, but you have a fully-functioning site that SharePoint Designer can plug into – without risking your production environment and content.  You can now build and demo functionality that you can show your colleagues, bosses and IT/SharePoint team to demonstrate the value that can be had with SPD created solutions. 

Top things to check out with SharePoint Designer using your new Office 365 account (in my humble opinion):

  • Conditional Formatting – If this value is lower than X, then display this field with red text, show this funky icon, etc…
  • Data Views – Format list views in ways you can’t with the browser-based configuration capabilities. 
  • Condition/Action Driven Workflow – Create basic and more complicated workflows that aren’t available in the pre-created workflows.
  • Adding and Editing forms – Very quickly add or edit NewItem and EditItem forms.  For example remove fields or reformat the form to make it more intuitive for users. 
  • ‘Designery’ stuff.  Smile – Yea, not my bag, but can’t talk about SPD without mentioning it’s capabilities of managing and tweaking the site design. 

There is more, but that’s these are the top items that come to mind for me and deliver a lot of value in the business cases I’ve seen. 

Plus – SharePoint Designer 2010 is free. So check it out.

Office 365 as a SharePoint Learning Platform

Want to learn about SharePoint core list and library functionality in your own playground?

I’m doing two SharePoint 101/Intro to SharePoint talks this week. One for a local company’s internal user group and another longer one for the Minnesota SharePoint User Group.  One was 2007-centric while the other was 2010-centric.  As I go through the content, it never ceases to amaze me how a basic understanding of the core concepts of lists is invaluable to working with SharePoint – regardless of the version and how many of the wiz-bang features you are implementing in SharePoint.

So, that brings me back to a topic I’ve been meaning to raise for a while now in regards to Office 365. Unless you’re in the IT department at your company or have connections, you may not have easy access to a ‘sandbox’ where you can try out different SharePoint capabilities without potentially effecting production data.  Yes, there was definitely ways you can do and try some things, but at the end of the day, you want to play around and production generally isn’t the best place to do that.

Enter Office 365.  With the current version of SharePoint Online offered, the comparison to on-premises functionality is pretty good, especially when talking about the core features I’m talking about.  Yes, there are differences, but if your intent is to get a baseline understanding of Lists, Libraries, Views, Columns, SharePoint Designer (SPD) capabilities, out of the box and SPD workflows, and more – SharePoint Online is a great place to do it.

I don’t want to get into the detailed feature comparisons in this article, but P1 is analogous to SharePoint Foundation while the E3 plan is closer to the SharePoint Server/Enterprise features.

It’s REALLY easy to spin up an account and have a SharePoint site ready to play with.  You don’t have to have your own domain name (.com address, etc.) or really anything else to get started.

Office 365 is FREE for a 30 day trial, so you don’t really have any excuses.  If you want to keep your site around, you can pay as little as $6/month (for a single user) or $10 $8/month (also a single user, in the E1 plan, which you can downgrade to when your E3 trial ends).  Thinking about that as training costs – it’s nothing.  Now, you have your own private (and supported) environment where you can try things out without needing to bug IT for a site, list or whatever AND when you put something cool together you can easily show it to your boss or co-workers.

Now, you’ve got an Exchange email account and a Lync account you can play with as well (topics for another day…).  The Exchange account doesn’t need to be configured on any client devices if you don’t want – it can be fully accessed via the O365 web interface which could be useful if you’re experimenting with SharePoint workflows and don’t want to clutter up a real mailbox.

If you do want to add a real domain name to the account, it’s pretty easy as well – the O365 documentation is pretty helpful.  Only note I’ll make here is to not use a domain name that you are currently using as a Windows Live account as there may be some conflicts there – another topic for later.

So go get the trial of either the Small Business (P1) or Mid/Enterprise (E3) plan and get started now.  It’ll make you a better SharePoint user.  Don’t forget to read my previous post about picking your domain name before signing up…  Smile


*Just a day after I wrote this Microsoft went and added/changed some things – namely they LOWERED the price of the Enterprise licenses which makes it even harder to decide between the two.  Find out more HERE

SharePoint Designer 2010 Error

I was working on a project where I need to create additional forms for a SharePoint 2010 list. 

The list is a custom list with a number of fields added – nothing fancy (yet). 

I open up SharePoint Designer from the list ribbon and select New form, enter a name and hit OK, only to receive the following error:


“Could not save the list changes to the server.”  This translates into “something happened and we don’t have any more details for you.  Virtually useless. 


There are a lot of posts and forum entries out there for this, many of which were resolved with things like cleaning out the recycle bin.  Not so in my case. 

Just for kicks, I wanted to see if the problem was on my end.  I opened up an Office 365 site I had easy access to and repeated the same process of opening a list, then jumping into SPD from there to add a new form and it worked flawlessly.  So, pointers back to something on the server-side. 

Back to the server.  Next, I tried editing the existing forms.  Normally I like to leave the existing stuff alone, but I was early enough in the process where it wouldn’t make a big difference for me to delete everything and start over if I messed anything up.  Anyhoo – I got another error message:


And clicked “Details”, which gave me the following:

“soap:ServerServer was unable to process request. —> Value does not fall within the expected range.”

This error was more helpful and turned up some better information.  I found the following forum post related to the latest error:

The URL for my web application was listed as:  “http://servername/”

The URL that I have been using to access the environment looks more like “”.  Per the suggestion in the forum post, I added an alternate access mapping of the long name for an intranet zone, refreshed my browser, opened the list in SPD and was able to create a new form. 

Hopefully this post will help someone with the same issue find the resolution more quickly…