Standard and friendly date views

This tip applies mostly to task lists, but also applies to document libraries.

It is standard for SharePoint Online to present dates in a friendly format, such as Sunday, or February 15, Yesterday or Tomorrow.
SharePoint: friendly dates

Some people prefer to just see the dates themselves and don’t like seeing the friendly dates.

SharePoint: standard date

Here’s how you go about changing that.

Go to click on the LIST tab and click on list settings (in a library you would go to the library tab and then library settings.)

SharePoint: List Settings

Scroll to about the middle of the page to where the list of columns are, and click on the date field you want to change.

About midway down the settings screen you will see Display Format.

SharePoint: Standard / Friendly Date option

Change this setting as you need to, to set it to Standard or Friendly format.

Then choose SAVE


Moving document libraries between sites

Last week one of our groups presented an interesting challenge: how to move document libraries from two sites to a third one.

The challenge was to move these two document libraries without losing any of the documents or without losing any of the settings we had created.

Generally, there are two ways to handle a challenge like this.

  1. Create a document library in the new location, then download all the documents from old library and upload them to the new library.
  2. Save the original library out as a template including all the content, and then installing it as a new app on the new site.

I used both methods in accomplishing the challenge, the second method proving itself to be my preferred. While the process is fairly quick, because the second method requires assistance of a site collection administrator such as myself, in some cases it may be easier for you to recreate the library, especially if you do not have a number of custom features attached.

However, if you have bunch of columns and special settings, perhaps some custom views and, in the case of one of our document libraries, it also had a template attached, it just makes sense to save your library out as a template when you’re trying to move the content between sites.

For one-time implementations like this one, I just deleted the template after I had implemented it, but if there is a need to copy the settings for a list or library, you can leave them on the site and install it later as an app on any SharePoint site in the site collection. It can save your site owners a lot of time.

Document Library Changes

Over the summer rolled out new features and improvements for the SharePoint platform.

One of these was the document library, and I have captured screenshots of their introductory screens for your perusal.

When I heard about these features I got quite excited – especially about the link piece because I felt it was a major missing piece for the document library.

Before the change I had been struggling with us having documents in various libraries, and the only way to add a link to a document in another document library meant that we had to add a new document type. Unfortunately, doing so, then wiped out the out of the box ability to create new files. Now that Microsoft had added the link capability as an out of the box features, it is be so much easier for us to interact with our files.

The pinning feature is also a welcome feature, because we often have one or two documents that need to be highlighted, and we’ve had to do that by creating a column that promoted or sorted certain documents to be at the top of the list.

I’m already seeing some departments in our division taking advantage of this feature. Take a look at the screenshots below and explore your own sites’ document libraries to see how you can enhance your existing listings.

Document Library: New Look

Document Library: Edit Metadata

Document Library: Save Views

Document Library: Pin Files

Document Library: Create Links

Extracting the URL from Document Library’s Link type


Apparently in SP Online Document Library app, the Title field is not linked to the document. Last year, using Laura Rogers’ workaround, I created a workflow to extract the AbsoluteURL from the file name and attach it to the title of the file, which then got pasted into a new field called DocumentTitle.

Fast forward to Summer 2016:

Microsoft added the ability to add links to other documents into a document library. It generates a filename with a .url extension to hold the data. So now, the AbsoluteURL I was using in the workflow, is the actual file name of the URL listing (i.e. Employee Handbook.url) and not the URL of the file that is linked.
As an aside, Microsoft has not (yet) given us the ability to actually edit the link once we create the URL. Why, I don’t know, but it’s a one-time shot. If you need to change it, you need to delete the current one, and then add a new one, along with all the wonderful metatags.
The actual URL to the file or web address to which you want to link is hidden a new ShortcutURL field, and the contents of that field looks like this:
While I’m somewhat familiar with string manipulation, I didn’t know how to do this in a SharePoint Designer workflow, so I reached out to my awesome mentor, @duffbert, who sent me a screenshot of something similar he had found and then walked me through the logic. He is just awesome.

The solution:



Inside a new stage

  • Action: Set Workflow Variable
    • Name the variable: e.g. URLlink
    • Value: From the Current Item menu choose Shortcut URL
  • Action: Find substring in string (Output to Variable: index)
    • Substring = “Url”:”
    • String = “Variable: URLlink”
  • Action: do calculation
    • Calculate “Variable: Index” plus “7” (Output to variable:calc)
  • Action: Extract Substring from index of String
    (this line becomes Copy from string, starting at 0 (Output to Variable: substring)

    • String = “Variable: URLlink”
    • Starting at: “Variable calc”
  • Action: Find substring in string (Output to Variable: index1)
    • Substring = “}
    • String = “Variable: substring”
  • Action: Extract Substring of String from Index with Length
    (this line becomes Copy from string, starting at 0 for value characters (Output to Variable: substring1)

    • Value = “Variable: URLlink”, starting at “Variable: calc” for “Variable: index1” characters (Output to Variable: substring1)
  • Action: Replace Substring in String
    • String = \/ (backslash, forward slash)
    • String = /
    • String = “Variable: substring1” (Output to Variable: output)
Now, using the output variable, I can attach the File URL to the DocumentTitle field so when someone clicks on the Title name, it will actually open the file in the browser window, and not ask a user to download a funky Employee Handbook.url file.
The complete workflow now looks like this:

Content Types, Document Information Panel, and Content Organizer…. Oh my!

There’s so much I’m picking up in this class that is making me drool and think – I want to use that!

I am learning that as the SharePoint Business Architect and Administrator I have a lot of tools at my disposal that will help all of the site owners manage their sites better.

Content types

One of these is content types, where I can create Word, Excel, Powerpoint templates for DSA use that include some basic features, and then make them available for all of the SPOCK to use in the DSA departmental and committee sites.

Document Information Panel

This is what is referred to as a “hidden lever” on the content type window (I think – will have to go back and delve further into this), that shows the meta data fields in the desktop version of Microsoft Office. Next time someone opens a document, they can fill in the metadata right from within the document, and then that information will appear in the columns. Why is this cool? Because of the next feature:

The Content Organizer

This one should make our heads in HR drool a little bit. It’s where we can basically put all of our documents in a drop off library, and SharePoint takes that document and files it according to the rules you set up for it in the Content Organizer. Kind of like your outlook rules that route your emails? But on SharePoint Online. Imagine all of your benefit-related files just being moved to the benefit folder?  Or your forms? Definitely something worth knowing more about.