Today, Microsoft sent out a bulletin to SharePoint Online users notifying them that they would begin rolling out the Fall 2011 Service Update. This is the much vaunted update announced at the SharePoint Conference 2011 that includes BCS services. For those that don’t already subscribe, the list of new features can be found below (copied from the official email).
Business Connectivity Services (BCS) <WCF Connector> *Enterprise plans only
Enables connecting to external systems via web service based endpoints
External Sharing: Windows LiveID support
Allows Office 365 tenant administrators to invite external users to a site collection. They sign in with a Windows Live ID-based user name and password.
Windows Phone 7 “Mango” (official support and http:// connectivity)
Windows Phone 7.5, codenamed “Mango,” now enables both small business and enterprise Office 365 customers to access SharePoint Online lists and document libraries from their Windows Phone.
Recycle Bin: deleted site self-recovery
Self-service ability to recover sites from a site collection’s recycle bin
Browser support: Internet Explorer 9
Adds official support for the Internet Explorer 9 (IE9) browser
I have been doing quite a few 2007-2010 upgrades lately, and suffering the appropriate slings and arrows. A recent upgrade resulted in a few issues, the strangest one was that Microsoft Access could no longer open a SharePoint list.
For quite some time now, Microsoft has been able to read and write data from SharePoint lists as if they were active Access tables. This is distinct from Access Services, which ships with the Enterprise version of SharePoint Server. Access Services lets you “convert” your entire Access application to a SharePoint site at which point the Access client is no longer required (for a user).
Our situation was much simpler. We were dealing with a Power user that was good with Access, and had leveraged the list read/write capability quite heavily with 2007. However, after the upgrade, Access 2007 couldn’t open some of the lists that it could previously. Compounding this problem was that Access 2010 didn’t have this problem on the lists in question. The browser could also open these lists just fine.
The answer to this one came from what appeared to be a different problem. Some of the other lists in the site couldn’t be opened by the browser. Instead, the user received the message “The query cannot be completed because the number of lookup columns it contains exceeds the lookup column threshold enforced by the administrator”:
SharePoint has a bad reputation for “Unknown Error” messages, but this one is really quite good. This one pointed squarely at the list throttling features available in SharePoint 2010 that of course weren’t there in 2007. Basically, 2010 allows an administrator to throttle, or prevent poorly performing functions from slowing down the system for everyone. One such expensive operation is performing lookups, and the default limit is set to 8.
Dina Ayoub has a good post here on the throttling features if you would like to learn more, but the important thing to note here is that this setting affects not just lookup fields, but Person/Group and Workflow Status fields as well, so if you have 8 or more of them, the list will simply stop working.
This setting is scoped to the application level, so if it is changed, you affect all site collections in that application. (It also means that you can’t change it at all in Office 365.) You set it through the Resource Throttling settings in Central Administration. Once in CA, click on Application Management, highlight the application to be changed, and in the General Settings dropdown, pick Resource Throttling.
Scroll down to the section titled “List View Lookup Threshold”:
Here, you can simply increase its value to where you need it.
Changing the values should be done with considerable care. These throttling features were implemented for very good reasons, and changing them risks overloading your SQL server. A much better approach would be to go back and rethink the design of your list, if that’s an option. If it isn’t then this is a decent plan B. You can always buy more hardware…….
So this fixed our post upgrade list issue in the browser, how does this relate to our Access problem? Well, it turns out that they were one and the same, just manifesting differently. It seems that Access does something when it opens a list that adds a few more lookup type items to the Query, or at least it behaves that way. It also appears that Access 2010 and Access 2007 behave differently in this regard. In the end, increasing this value sufficiently solved the Access problems.
I haven’t found anything definitive out there, but anecdotally at least, you should be aware that when you use Access to open up a SharePoint list, you pay a “”List View Lookup Threshold” penalty.
The documentation provided with Office 365 combined with the new interface make configuration of it much simpler than with BPOS. However, it isn’t without a few small bumps. I ran into one of these when I was setting up our own organization to use the Lync features. One of the requirements was to add two SRV records to our external DNS, as per the image below:
There are actually some great guidelines and walkthroughs for setting this up with specific registrars, such as GoDaddy. However we’re using DynDNS, which is not one of the ones documented. Fair enough, I can find my way around a configuration screen, but the problem was that our DNS provider is somewhat old school. The SRV records are considered advanced (and therefore assume that I know what I’m doing with DNS), so instead of giving me nice, clearly defined fields like TTL, Port, and weight, I am presented with a single TXT field entry screen.
This is fine if you’re a DNS expert, and know how to construct the strings, but I’m not. After a fair bit of hunting around, I was able to sort out the following syntax for adding the requisite SRV records:
1 100 443 sipdir.online.lync.com.
1 100 5061 sipfed.online.lync.com.
Take special note of the period at the end of the data field – this is in fact required. Once these values were added, we were off to the races with Lync – which is awesome by the way…
Your mileage may vary depending on your DNS provider, but hopefully it will help if you’re in a similar situation.