Switch between modern SharePoint homepages using PnP PowerShell

This featured in Episode 44 of the SharePoint Dev Weekly podcast.

I’ve been working on a modern intranet project amongst over projects for the last 12-months. This has been more about the transformation of content and business processes, rethinking information architecture and reimagining a modern intranet than it has been about custom development.

I’ve been working on a modern intranet project amongst over projects for the last 12-months. This has been more about the transformation of content and business processes, rethinking information architecture and reimagining a modern intranet than it has been about custom development.

We’ve recently been testing variations in the design of a homepage with different audiences. This side-by-side comparison has allowed end-user feedback, performance and accessibility testing. The same approach has also been useful for previewing and testing the capabilities of new features (like the new Yammer web part). The challenge comes when you need to promote or switch over one of these variations as the new site homepage. The homepage is the page users are directed to when first navigating to a site or clicking on the site logo. It is like as important as the index.html or default.aspx page existence to a website. Note that these variations of the homepage permit testing of content and not site configuration. To test navigation, theme or similar we have separate sites and environments for this purpose.

To solve the problem switching the homepage from an existing page whilst preserving the home.aspx page name I’ve leveraged the SharePoint Pnp cmdlets to create a script that will rename or remove the current homepage (and can remove it through a toggle) and then rename an existing page to make it the new homepage.

Set-SPNewHomePage script demonstration
Demonstration of the Set-SPNewHomePage script in action.

Use my PnP PowerShell script to replace the home.aspx page

Alternative methods

Change the default homepage through SharePoint

Site Owners can use the out-of-the-box make homepage action to make any page the default homepage or welcome page. This is available from the toolbar in the site pages library. But this keeps the page name and means the default page is /sitepages/randompagename.aspx instead of the standard /sitepages/home.aspx that all sites have. From my perspective this is not great. Certainly, intranet-like sites should follow some basic content management principles. Call in a touch on the OCD side but consistently having a standard homepage is one of these for me.

Screenshot of setting a new homepage in the site pages library.
Screenshot of setting a new homepage in the site pages library.

Change the welcome page site property through Site Settings or PowerShell

Previously you could use the classic settings page (typically exposed by the publishing feature) or by browsing to /_layouts/15/AreaWelcomePage.aspx to make changes to the welcome page. This method no longer works and throws an error.

As with the make homepage action describe earlier this changes the default homepage to the use the page name you have provided and means the site won’t be available if users have bookmarked the site with the page name (/sitepages/home.aspx) in the URL.

Screenshot of the welcome page site settings page.
Screenshot of the welcome page site settings page.

What is my point? To this day can I still memory recall core settings pages. With these, you can quickly review or makes changes to settings pages rather than using the UI to navigate to them. This includes those that may no longer be exposed in the UI. Whilst my memory serves me well I don’t recommend this approach as these pages and settings are gradually being replaced with alternatives or removed by the SharePoint and Office 365 engineering team for a reason.

Instead, you can also use Pnp PowerShell to change the site welcome page property. I’ve provided an example script below.

As simple as my script is, it is the approach worth learning the most. I hope you find this article useful and as with all Pnp development effort. Sharing is caring!

#MSIgnite sessions available in a single spreadsheet

Update (31/01/15): Session spreadsheet updated and now includes 275 sessions.

Those involved with SharePoint, Office 365, Yammer, the communities and the wider industry will already know about the Ignite conference Microsoft has planned for May this year. Microsoft published the conference sessions on the Ignite website this afternoon, introduced through this Office Blog post.

The Office Blog post included a video from Julia White in which she shared what to expect from the conference. She also said in the video “without giving away too much, be the first to see a lot of new technology”, hinting that we will probably see the next versions of SharePoint and Exchange etc. The SharePoint Twitter account also shared the tweet below, with another video (#InBillWeTrust) confirming the next version of SharePoint (SharePoint 2016) will be shared during the conference.

The conference is just around the corner. At the time of writing this post, there are 272 sessions published on the website and I’m sure this will increase in the coming weeks and months. Over a year ago, I created a PowerShell script to help myself and others easily review all the sessions that were planned for the then SharePoint Conference (#SPC14).

You’ll be pleased to know I’ve done something similar again this year, although this year I’ve quickly gone about it using jQuery. I plan to create and share a bookmarklet but until then I’ve shared the first Ignite sessions spreadsheet for your viewing. The latest version of the sessions spreadsheet and jQuery bookmarklet are shared below.

MSIgnite Sessions Spreadsheet

Javascript via JSFiddle

Fingers crossed I can attend #MSIgnite and have the opportunity to meet the great people I met at #SPC14 again!

Working with SharePoint’s Second Stage Recycle Bin in PowerShell

I thought I’d share a PowerShell script that I’ve created to perform a few tasks against a Site Collection Second Stage Recycle Bin (SSRB) in SharePoint.

Remove-SecondStageRecycleBinItems.ps1
Remove-SecondStageRecycleBinItems.ps1

The requirement was to delete items that were older than a set number of days from the Second Stage Recycle Bin (SSRB). A record of each item deleted also needed to be added to a report.  But SharePoint can do this already I hear you say…well yes if a Site Collection quotas and the auditing features are used. In this scenario neither could be.

To display items in the Second State Recycle Bin in a table I used this command.

$site.Recyclebin | where { $_.ItemState -eq "SecondStageRecycleBin" -and $_.deleteddate -le $dateDiff} | Format-Table -Property Title, Web, DeletedBy, DeletedDate -Autosize -Wrap

Then to remove each item from the Recycle Bin I used the delete command.

$site.Recyclebin.Delete($_.ID)

The full script is shared below. Remember to review, rename and test this script before using it in a production environment.

One quirk I found while creating the script was that through the web browser, SharePoint reported the time each file was deleted correctly whereas, in PowerShell, the time was not honouring GMT summer time.

British Summer Time  in SharePoint vs. PowerShell
British Summer Time in SharePoint vs. PowerShell

Enjoy and delete carefully!

All #SPC14 sessions available in a single spreadsheet!

Update: Wednesday, 8th January 2014. This post has seen an incredible amount of traffic which I have found to be a very rewarding experience- thank you! I’ve lived up to my word and managed to export the speaker information. Both the spreadsheet and PowerShell script has been updated to include this information.

Something I have found frustrating with the SharePoint Conference 2014 website over the holidays is that you have to browse through the sessions as search results pages. It makes planning how I want to fill my days at the conference very difficult.

Spreadsheet containing all the SharePoint Conference 2013 sessions
Spreadsheet containing all the SharePoint Conference 2014 sessions

I also wanted to sit down with my colleagues to see if there are any particular sessions that interest them. Without all the sessions available in a format such as a spreadsheet this would become a very tiresome task.

There was no way I was going to do this by hand – at this time there is about 183 published sessions and 12 pieces of information per session that would require me to use copy and paste 4392 times and click between a browser and Excel 600 times…no thank you

Jumping the gun the a little maybe as I have yet to register (this is top of my to-do list when I’m back in the office on Monday and I’ll kick myself if this is available when you register!) but I broke out PowerShell and wrote a script to download all the information for the sessions from the SharePoint Conference (#SPC14) website to a spreadsheet – both of which you can download.

PowerShell script to export all the #SPC14 sessions to Excel
PowerShell script to export all the #SPC14 sessions to Excel

A spreadsheet of all the SPC14 sessions can be downloaded with this link and the script is available here.

By no means is this script particularly complex or elegant – but I really wanted this information in a spreadsheet and pretty fast so forgive me if it is not up to my usual standard…the key thing is I achieved what I set out to do and can share it with you all. The last piece of information which I’m still trying to export are the speakers for the sessions – I’ll update if I manage it.

I hope you find the #SPC14 session spreadsheet helpful – see you at the conference!

Using PowerShell with Windows Azure

If you’re working with Windows Azure and want to use PowerShell to perform management tasks you will first need to install and configure Windows Azure PowerShell as per this article “How to install and configure Windows Azure PowerShell“.

  1. Download and install the Microsoft Web Platform Installer
  2. Launch the Microsoft Web Platform Installer
  3. Select the Windows Azure PowerShell and then click install
  4. Launch PowerShell as an Administrator
  5. Type get-help *Azure* to see all the Windows Azure cmdlets – you will be asked to update help
  6. Download your Windows Azure subscription publish settings file by typing Get-AzurePublishSettingsFile or by browsing to the download publish profile page
  7. Save the publish settings file to a directory – in my case I store this alongside my Windows Azure scripts directory that I have synchronised with Dropbox
  8. Import the publish settings file by typing Import-AzurePublishSettingsFile <PathToPublishSettingsFiles>
  9. Check to see that you can are connected to your Windows Azure subscription by entering Get-AzureSubscription which should return information about your subscription.

Here are a couple of useful links to get you started – Windows Azure Management Cmdlets and Windows Azure Script Centre

That’s it – you should now be able to manage Windows Azure using PowerShell.