Alexander’s Blog

April 10, 2014

How to Enable Enterprise Mode in Internet Explorer 11

by @ 8:05 am. Filed under Articles, Browsers, Tips & Tricks, Windows 7, Windows 8

For those of you who are running Web apps that were written for older versions of Internet Explorer (IE), such as IE 7 or IE 8, Microsoft has introduced a new “Enterprise Mode” in Windows 8.1 Update and Windows 7 devices. This mode is a compatibility mode that allows Web apps written for older versions of IE to run in IE 11. However, this mode is not enabled by default but you can enable this mode using the Group Policy as described later in this article.

Some new features in IE 11 don’t play well with the older apps. For example, even though IE 11 gets a significant performance gain by using the new tab switching feature, this feature can potentially cause some navigation errors on older third-party toolbars. Therefore, IE 11′s Enterprise Mode turns this feature off.

According to Microsoft, the Enterprise Mode includes the following features.

  1. Tool-based management for website lists. You can use the Enterprise Mode Site List Manager tool to add individual website domains and domain paths and to specify whether the site renders using a modified browser configuration that’s designed to avoid the common compatibility problems. You can download the Enterprise Mode Site List Manager tool from the Internet Explorer Download Center.
  2. Improved app and web site compatibility. Through improved emulation, Enterprise Mode lets many legacy apps run unmodified on Internet Explorer 11, supporting a number of site patterns that aren’t currently supported by Internet Explorer 11 doc-modes.
  3. Centralized control. You can specify the websites or apps to interpret using Enterprise Mode, through either an XML file on a website or stored locally. Domains and paths within those domains can be treated differently, allowing granular control. Additionally, you can use Group Policy to let users turn Enterprise Mode on or off from the Tools menu, and whether the Enterprise browser profile appears on the Emulation tab of the F12 developer tools.
  4. Integrated browsing. When Enterprise Mode is turned on, users can browse the web normally, while the mode changes automatically.
  5. Data gathering. You can configure Enterprise Mode to collect local override data, posting back to a named server. This lets you spread out the compatibility testing, by picking key users and gathering their findings to add to the central site list.

There is much more to Enterprise Mode. For example, you can add Web sites to your site list, edit the compatibility mode for specific Web sites, or export your site list so you can transfer your data and contents to someone else. Microsoft has the following useful resources documented in this article. I am posting the links here because Microsoft frequently changes the URLs to the pages on its Web site without any redirection, which means you may not be able to find these links because they will be broken, as I pointed out in my article Lack of Proper Redirection of URLs on Microsoft Sites.

Turn on Enterprise Mode and use a site list How to turn on Enterprise Mode, using a site list.
Turn off Enterprise Mode How to turn off Enterprise Mode.
Turn on local control and logging for Enterprise Mode How to let your employee’s turn on Enterprise Mode locally and use Enterprise Mode as part of the F12 Emulation tools.
Fix font rendering problems by turning off natural metrics How to turn off natural metrics.
Add sites to the Enterprise Mode site list using the Enterprise Mode Site List Manager How to add websites to your site list.
Add multiple sites to the Enterprise Mode site list using a file and Enterprise Mode Site List Manager How to add several websites to your site list at the same time, using a text or XML file and the tool.
Edit the Enterprise Mode site list using the Enterprise Mode Site List Manager How to edit the compatibility mode for specific websites.
Export your Enterprise Mode site list from the Enterprise Mode Site List Manager How to export your site list so you can transfer your data and contents to someone else.
Import your Enterprise Mode site list to the Enterprise Mode Site List Manager How to import your site list to replace a corrupted or out-of-date list.
Delete sites from your Enterprise Mode site list in the Enterprise Mode Site List Manager How to delete a website from your site list.
Remove all sites from your Enterprise Mode site list in the Enterprise Mode Site List Manager How to delete all of the websites in a site list.

 

Enabling Enterprise Mode Using Group Policy

You can either use Group Policy Management Console in Windows Server to enable Enterprise Mode or use the registry. Even if you don’t have a Windows Server, you can enable this feature on your Windows client computer using the local Group Policy, as described below.

  1. On Windows 8.1 left-click the Windows icon on the taskbar and select Run, type gpedit.msc and then press Enter. On earlier versions of Windows click Start, Run, type gpedit.msc and then press Enter. This starts the Local Group Policy Editor.
  2. Navigate to User Configuration -> Administrative Templates -> Windows Components -> Internet Explorer.
  3. In the right hand pane locate Let users turn on and use Enterprise Mode from the Tools menu.
    Enabling_Enterprise_Mode1
  4. Double-click the setting and select the Enabled radio button.
    Enabling_Enterprise_Mode2
  5. In the Options area, type the location (URL) of your site list into the site list text box, e.g. “SiteList”=”http://localhost:8080/sites.xml”. For more information, check out the TechNet article Add sites to the Enterprise Mode site list using the Enterprise Mode Site List Manager. If you don’t type anything in the text box users will still be able to enable the Enterprise Mode, you just won’t get any reports (through post messages) about the Web sites for which users turn on Enterprise Mode using the Tools menu.
  6. Close the Local Group Policy Editor.
  7. At the command prompt type gpupdate /force to apply the Group Policy.
  8. Restart IE 11, or open a new IE 11 Window.
  9. On the main menu in IE 11 click Tools -> Enterprise Mode.
    Enabling_Enterprise_Mode3
  10. To verify Enterprise Mode is enabled, you can go back to Tools -> Enterprise Mode. If there is a check box next to the Enterprise Mode option then the mode is enabled, otherwise it’s disabled.

Once the Enterprise Mode is available to users in IE 11, they can turn it on or off by simply going to the Tools -> Enterprise Mode and using it as a toggle switch.

Enabling the Enterprise Mode Using the Registry Editor

Another way to enable the Enterprise Mode is to use the registry editor. If you are not comfortable with modifying the registry, don’t use this method. Incorrectly modifying the registry can potentially be disastrous.

  1. From Start, Run type regedit.exe to start the registry editor.
  2. If you want only the current user to use Enterprise Mode, go to the HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main\EnterpriseMode registry key. If you want all the computer users to run Enterprise Mode, use the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main\EnterpriseMode version of this registry key.
  3. Type the location for where you plan to store your Enterprise Mode site list file, e.g. “SiteList”=”http://localhost:8080/sites.xml”. As mentioned earlier, this step is optional and only applies if you want to get the reports. If you use this option, just make sure that all your managed devices have access to the location you enter, otherwise they won’t be able to access and use Enterprise Mode and your site list. For more information, check out the TechNet article Add sites to the Enterprise Mode site list using the Enterprise Mode Site List Manager.

Copyright ©2014 Zubair Alexander. All rights reserved.

April 2, 2014

SharePoint Online Management Shell – Use PowerShell to Manage O365 Site Collections

by @ 6:00 pm. Filed under Office 365, SharePoint, Tools/Utils

Microsoft has a new tool called SharePoint Online Management Shell. This includes a Windows PowerShell Module to manage your SharePoint Online subscription in the Office 365 environment. According to Microsoft, the focus is around site collection management.

System requirements include the following:

  1. Windows 7 Service Pack 1
  2. Windows 8
  3. Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1
  4. Windows Server 2008 Service Pack 2
  5. Windows Server 2012
  6. PowerShell 3.0

You can download the tool here.

March 20, 2014

How to Fix the Disabled “Connect to Outlook” link in SharePoint 2013

by @ 7:34 am. Filed under Articles, SharePoint, Tips & Tricks, Troubleshooting

If you have run into a situation where the Connect to Outlook link is disabled on the ribbon (see screenshot below) then you can use the workaround in this article to enable the link. But first I would recommend you read my article Minimal Download Strategy Feature in SharePoint 2013. What does that have to do with the grayed out link on the ribbon? A lot.

ConnectToOutlook_grayed_out

If you look at the URL it will look something like this: https://www.contoso.com/sales/_layouts/15/start.aspx#/Lists/Calendar/c alendar.aspx. In SharePoint 2013 there is a feature called Minimal Download Strategy (MDS). This feature improves performance of your sites. By default, MDS is enabled on Team sites, Community sites and a few other sites in SharePoint 2013. Once this feature is enabled on a site, all pages for that site are rendered through the /_layouts/15/start.aspx page. That’s why the URL I mentioned earlier includes /_layouts/15/start.aspx.

Depending on your configuration and environment, you may notice that once MDS is enabled and you see /_layouts/15/start.aspx in the URL, the Connect to Outlook link in SharePoint 2013 calendar will be grayed out (i.e. no longer available) . I haven’t seen it broken in Office 365 SharePoint Online but that version is very different than the SharePoint on premise, such as SharePoint 2010 or SharePoint 2013.

Workaround

While there are multiple reasons why the Connect to Outlook link in the ribbon can be grayed out (e.g. using a custom list, MDS being enabled, browser-related issues, etc.) one quick and easy workaround that works is the following.

  1. Go to the Calendar.
  2. On the Calendar tab click List Settings.
  3. Copy the Web address, e.g. https://www.contoso.com/sales/Lists/Calendar/calendar.aspx.
    Web_address
  4. Paste the URL in your browser and press Enter.
  5. Go to the Calendar tab and click List Settings.
  6. You will notice that the Connect to Outlook link is now enabled.

ConnectToOutlook_enabled

So all I told you was to simply remove the _layouts/15/start.aspx#/ in the URL. Why does this break the Connect to Outlook feature, I have no idea. If you do, let me know so I can update this article and share it with everyone. What I do know is that by removing _layouts/15/start.aspx#/ in the URL you will be able to use the Connect to Outlook feature.

Original URL: https://www.contoso.com/sales/_layouts/15/start.aspx#/Lists/Calendar/c alendar.aspx

Modified URL: https://www.contoso.com/sales/Lists/Calendar/calendar.aspx.

By the way, in my case I was using a Team Site template in SharePoint Server 2013 and I haven’t activated the SharePoint Server Publishing feature on that site. However, the SharePoint Server Publishing Infrastructure feature is enabled at the Site Collection level. I enabled it just to get the enhanced Navigation link in the Site Settings. The Minimal Download Strategy feature was turned on (i.e. activated) by default on my site because I was using the Team Site template.

I have successfully tested this workaround on the following browsers:

  1. Internet Explorer 9
  2. Internet Explorer 10
  3. Internet Explorer 11
  4. Firefox 28.0

How About a Permanent Solution?

Well, if you don’t like the workaround and are looking for a permanent solution read on. What I discovered is that if you enable and disable three features in a certain order, you can actually make the Connect to Outlook link available at all times and there won’t be a need for the workaround. Frankly, I haven’t tested this solution in multiple environments and long enough to declare it as a “solution” but I am able to duplicate this in my production environment consistently.

Here are the three features that you need to experiment with. Obviously, don’t try this in a production environment unless you have tested it in a test environment.

a) MDS.
b) SharePoint Server Publishing Infrastructure at the Site Collection level.
c) SharePoint Server Publishing at the subsite level.

I have four goals:

  1. I want the SharePoint Server Publishing Infrastructure enabled at the Site Collection level so I can get the Navigation link in Site Settings -> Look and Feel at the Site Collection and the subsite level.
  2. I don’t want the SharePoint Server Publishing feature enabled at the subsite level.
  3. I want the MDS feature enabled at the subsite level because it speeds up my SharePoint pages.
  4. I want my Outlook Calendar to have the ability to Connect to Outlook.

Here are all the steps I used to fix my problem and achieve my four goals.

  1. At the beginning MDS is enabled on my team site and my Connect to Outlook link is disabled.
  2. What I do is enable the SharePoint Server Publishing Infrastructure at the Site Collection level. This is only my scenario because I like the more flexible Navigation button in the Site Settings -> Look and Feel. At this time my Connect to Outlook is grayed out in my subsite but I do have the Navigation button both at the top level site (a.k.a. Site Collection) and the subsite level. Goal #1 met.
  3. I then activate SharePoint Server Publishing at the subsite level. This automatically deactivates MDS at the subsite level where my Calendar is. Of course, the Calendar is no longer grayed out because MDS is no longer enabled and my URL doesn’t include _layouts/15/start.aspx#. You need to remember to refresh the page. I want MDS enabled so I can take advantage of this nice feature.
  4. I then activate MDS at the subsite level in my Site Settings, Manage site features under Site Actions. This is really a fake activation because even though it shows as activated when I look at the Calendar URL it doesn’t have _layouts/15/start.aspx#.
  5. I then deactivate SharePoint Server Publishing at the subsite level in my Site Settings, Manage site features under Site Actions. Because I disabled SharePoint Server Publishing feature (which doesn’t work with MDS), now I have truly enabled MDS because I now have _layouts/15/start.aspx# in my Calendar URL. Goal #2 and #3 met.
    NOTE: You have to refresh the Calendar page. Sometimes F5 or manually refreshing the page is not enough. You need to go out to the root of the site, refresh the page, then go back to Calendar and refresh the page. If you still don’t see the _layouts/15/start.aspx# in the URL change, close the browser, restart it and go back to the Calendar again.
  6. If you refresh the Calendar page you will notice that your Connect to Outlook is no longer grayed out. Goal #4 met.
    NOTE: You have to refresh the Calendar page. If you don’t, your Connect to Outlook link will still be disabled.

Disabling MDS Feature

I don’t recommend disabling MDS but if you must then check out my article Minimal Download Strategy Feature in SharePoint 2013.


Copyright ©2014 Zubair Alexander. All rights reserved.

March 18, 2014

Minimal Download Strategy Feature in SharePoint 2013

by @ 5:01 pm. Filed under Articles, SharePoint

Microsoft has introduced a new feature in SharePoint Server 2013 called the Minimal Download Strategy (MDS). In this article I would briefly talk about what this feature does and how it has changed the way SharePoint pages are loaded.

The MDS feature improves performance of your SharePoint sites in many ways. Although SharePoint 2010 made some improvements, SharePoint in general has been very slow at loading pages. One of the reasons why SharePoint has been slow is that it loads the entire page for every single action that the user takes. In SharePoint 2013 Microsoft has introduced MDS. With this feature, initially SharePoint takes a bit longer to load the site but once it has been loaded you will notice that navigating around the site is so much faster than any of the previous SharePoint versions.

If you are interested in all the gory details about this feature then you should read Microsoft MVP Wictor Wilén’s article SharePoint 2013 – Introduction to the Minimal Download Strategy (MDS). If you are a developer then you must read Wictor’s article. According to Wictor, by default, MDS is enabled on Team sites, Community sites and a few other sites in SharePoint 2013. Once this feature is enabled on a site, all pages for that site are rendered through the /_layouts/15/start.aspx page. As Wictor explains in his article:

“The start.aspx page has a specific JavaScript object asyncDeltaManager (defined in start.js). Basically it parses the URL, looks for the # sign and takes the path following that and dynamically loads that page. Subsequent requests to pages are dynamically loaded through the asyncDeltaManager object. Once a link is clicked it will invoke a method in the JavaScript object which creates the MDS URL and appends the query string parameter AjaxDelta=1. A request is created and downloaded asynchronously and only the “delta” is returned to the client and assembled and rendered using JavaScript.”

In simple words, once the page has been loaded, all subsequent requests only load the delta (i.e. parts of the page that have been changed) which makes the page load faster. As I mentioned earlier this feature adds /_layouts/15/start.aspx to the URL. Unfortunately this seems to break (disable) the Connect to Outlook link on a SharePoint calendar. You can read my article on a possible workaround: How to Fix the Disabled “Connect to Outlook” link in SharePoint 2013.

NOTE: MDS is not enabled on the publishing sites in SharePoint 2013 because it is not compatible with publishing sites.

The MSDN article Minimal Download Strategy overview lists the following benefits of MDS.

Using MDS provides several benefits, including:

Speed: This is the main objective of MDS. When you are using MDS, the browser doesn’t have to reprocess the chrome user interface (UI). MDS also reduces the payload compared to a full page load.

Smooth transitions: By updating only the areas that change, you draw the user’s eye toward these areas, as opposed to a full page load where the whole page “flashes.” When the whole page is updated, the user must parse it in its entirety to detect what is new. Users have an easier time navigating a site that only updates the areas that changed from the previous page.

Browser navigation controls: Other AJAX-based systems confuse the previous and next buttons in browsers. Because MDS updates the URL in the browser window, the previous and next buttons work just as they are supposed to.

Backward compatibility: The MDS engine either provides MDS navigation immediately or detects when it isn’t possible. In the case where MDS navigation isn’t possible, a full page load occurs instead. This process is called failover, and it ensures that all pages render properly regardless of whether they contain MDS-compliant components. MDS also works nicely with search engines because the href attribute of anchor tags uses the regular, non MDS-formatted URLs. Instead, the MDS engine in the client captures the onclick event and uses it to communicate with the server.

Some Interesting Observations

If you want to know if a site has MDS enabled simply look in the URL. If the URL has _layouts/15/start.aspx# then the site has MDS enabled. If you enable SharePoint Server Publishing at the site level, which requires that you first enable the SharePoint Server Publishing Infrastructure feature at the Site Collection level, you will notice that the URL for Calendar will no longer have _layouts/15/start.aspx#. This is because, as stated earlier in this article, MDS is not supported for publishing sites.

One interesting thing is that if you go back and disable SharePoint Server Publishing at the site level, you will notice that MDS is automatically enabled. That’s nice. If for some reason you don’t see MDS activated, you can manually activate it.

In my article How to Fix the Disabled “Connect to Outlook” link in SharePoint 2013, I shared a workaround for an issue that a lot of people have experienced. Interestingly, I discovered that if you enable and disable the following three features in a certain order, you can actually make the Connect to Outlook link available at all times and there won’t be a need for the workaround.

  1. MDS.
  2. SharePoint Server Publishing Infrastructure at the Site Collection level.
  3. SharePoint Server Publishing at the site level.

For more detailed explanation of how, you can read my article that I just mentioned above.

How Can you Tell if MDS is Lying to You?

Another interesting thing I discovered is that if SharePoint Server Publishing is activated, which disables MDS, you can manually activate MDS and it will get activated. However, this can be very deceiving because in reality MDS is not activated. You can call it a fake activation. Why is it fake? Because the URL will not include _layouts/15/start.aspx#, which means MDS may tell you that it is activated but it is not really working. In this scenario, the only way to activate (i.e. enable) MDS is to disable SharePoint Server Publishing.

Disabling MDS Feature

I don’t recommend disabling MDS but if you must then here’s how you can disable it. Note that this is a site level feature that is not available at the site collection level.

  1. Go to site settings.
  2. Go to site features.
  3. Deactivate Minimal Download Strategy.
    MDS

WARNING! Disabling MDS will make your SharePoint site become very slow and therefore I do not recommend it. Only disable MDS if you have a justifiable business reason or a technical issue.

References

SharePoint 2013 – Introduction to the Minimal Download Strategy (MDS)

Introduction to Minimal Download Strategy in SharePoint 2013

Minimal Download Strategy overview


Copyright ©2014 Zubair Alexander. All rights reserved.

March 12, 2014

Free Windows 8.1 Courses for IT Pros from Microsoft

by @ 12:58 pm. Filed under Training, Windows 8

Here is a list of free Windows 8.1 courses from Microsoft Virtual Academy as of today.

Windows 8.1 Modern LOB Application Deployment

Migrating from Windows XP to Windows 8.1

Windows Performance Jump Start

Windows 8.1 To Go

What’s New in Windows 8.1 Security

Porting Unity games to Windows 8.1 & Windows Phone

What’s New in VDI for Windows Server 2012 R2 and 8.1

What’s New in Windows® 8.1 for IT Professionals

Windows Application Compatibility and Migration

Utilizing SysInternals Tools for IT Pros

Enhanced Windows Data Encryption Training

Troubleshooting Windows 8 Startup and Resource Consumption

Troubleshooting Windows 8

Windows 8 Security Insights

Windows Intune for IT Professionals Jump Start

Windows Intune – Planning

Windows Intune – Manage & Operate

Planning and Preparing for Windows 8

Exploring Windows 8

Deploying Windows 8

Operating and Managing a Secure Windows 8 Environment

Windows 8 for IT Pros Jump Start

 

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