AuthorMohamed Derhalli

Use Power Automate For Free With Personal Accounts

Did you know that you can use Power Automate for free? Yes.. It’s available for free for personal accounts like Hotmail, Gmail, etc… To get started with it, visit one of these two links:

At the top of the page there is a try free link, when you click on it, you will see a textbox where you can type your email. Type your Gmail or Hotmail account there

Once you write your personal email and click “Start free” the page will prompt you to use a work or school account or continue with this personal email. Click Continue.

The next page will ask you to sign in with a Microsoft account or create a new one. If it’s your first time using your Gmail account to use a Microsoft service, you will want to click on “Create one”.

Now why are we creating a new account and how are we creating a new account with our Gmail email? In order to work with Power Automate, Skype or Xbox for example, you needed to use something called “Live ID” which is now named as Microsoft Account. You can use your Gmail account to create this Microsoft Account. Screenshots below show you the wizard that takes you through the process of creating this Microsoft account with your Gmail account. Note that later you will keep signing in with your Gmail account so this is just a one time process.

After the creation of the Microsoft account, you will be redirected to flow.microsoft.com and you can get started:

If you go to outlook.com and sign in with your Gmail, you’ll notice that you can actually sign in:

Now what can we use in Power Automate with our Gmail account? You can use all actions that are open for consumer accounts, for example the outlook connection, Twitter connection or Gmail connection and so on. You won’t be able to use things like SharePoint or Office 365 Outlook connection. Note that if you use the O365 Outlook connection for example to send an email, you won’t get an error however the action won’t run.

The power of Quick Links web part

One of the most used SharePoint web parts is the quick links web part, but I feel like people really underestimate its capabilities when it comes to how you can change its look in your SharePoint pages. For me, it’s one of those web parts that I call as Swiss-knife web parts.

The power of the Quick Links web part is in its different layout combined with how it adapts based on the section where it exists as well as the ability to include gif images which makes them attractive – when using the right gif image that is!

Quick Links web part has 6 layout options:

When adding a link, you can choose to include an icon or an image for that link. In the examples in this article I will be using a web part with 4 links for 4 different animals, each one with its own image.

Compact Layout

We can see the Compact Layout when used in a vertical section like this:

However when it’s used in a two columns section layout:

If you provide it the whole width, it will look like this:

Filmstrip Layout

Vertical Section

Two columns section layout:

One-third right section layout (added to the left):

If you provide it with the full width, it will show all four images and hide the arrows. If you add one more link, it will start showing the arrows again and allow you to scroll.

Grid Layout:

Grid layout in a vertical section:

Two columns section layout:

One-third right section layout (added to the left):

List Layout:

Vertical section: With no description – No Icons:

Two columns section layout:

Two columns section layout space with no icons:

Tiles Layout:

Fill space property

 It would look like this in a vertical section:

And two columns section layout:

Button Layout:

With descriptions – Fill color – No icon:

Two columns section layout, no outline, icon on top:

One-third right section layout (added to the right) :

As we see, the same web part with the same layout would look different depending on the section layout where it’s placed. How it looks in a two columns section would look different from one-third section.

I have a created a very short video to show different options that might give you an idea of the possible things to do with the quick links web part:

Quick Tip: Importing React In SPFx Web Parts

We’re used to importing React into our web parts using this syntax:

import * as React from "react";

But did you know we can also do it using this syntax:

import React from "react";

How’s that possible? Let us talk about the difference first.

import something from “library-name”; is used to import the default export from that library. A “default export” is that thing that is marked as “default” when exporting code from a module. For example, you might see in a module file an export that looks like this:

export default MyClass;

Now when importing it, you can do it with import myclass from ‘MyClassModule’; Basically, the import something from “lib-name”; is a short hand for this:

import {default as something} from "lib-name";

As long as there is a default export, you can use import something from ‘lib-name’;

Now how about the other syntax (import * as something from “lib-name”)?

This is written when the library does not have a default export, but rather exports multiple objects together; for example, you might have the export looking like this:

export { something1, something2, something3}

See? No default export there.. so you you will need to import all (*) from that module. Which is the case with React.. If you go to React’s source code on Github: react/index.js at main · facebook/react · GitHub you will notice that they do not have export default in their file. But.. why can we do it in SPFx web parts?

The reason is, starting with TypeScript 2.7, there is a property in the tsconfig file that allows the compiler to analyze the exported package and treat the whole package as a default export, so you do not have to write the longer syntax (export * as), this property is called allowSyntheticDefaultImports, and as long as it is set to true, it will allow you to do that!

tsconfig.json

Creating Organization Events Centre

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Photo Credits: https://unsplash.com/@erothermel

Holding events is a crucial task for any environment to keep employees up to date with everything taking place in the firm, however what do we do when we have too many departments, each having its own set of events? In this case an events centre to consolidate events is a good way to think about it, and this is what we did at BDO Canada!

Many companies like BDO have many departments, from Taxes, BDO Law, Industries, Digital office .. to IT, Marketing and Human Resources.. just to name a few! Each department has its own events going on and each department is its own hub site with more associated sites connected to it.

Our plan was to create yet one more site, name it Events Centre as part of the Intranet Home hub site that will show events across ONLY hub sites. For example, we have an Industries hub site, “under” that industry site we have associated sites such as Agriculture, Cannabis, etc..

You can use an Events web part on the Industries site to show events across the hub itself, this is a setting that’s available on the Events web part to show events across all sites in the hub:

Now what we want to appear on the events centre is a rollout of all “Intranet” events. To do that we created a content type specific for “Intranet Events”. To have that, we’ll need to create a content type inheriting from the basic Event content type and add it to each Events list and make it the default content type. On top of that, we want to have our own categories, because the categories that exist by default in the Events list don’t match our needs. So to achieve this, we used PnP Provisioning Templates in combination with PnP PowerShell.

PnP Templates will provision everything to the department sites once they are created such as any required site columns, content types, modifications to lists/libraries such as adding content types to these libraries, adding the custom event content type to the events list and making it the default, adding page templates, pages and so on.

The PnP PowerShell will do extra work such as changing the category column values (plus other extra stuff we needed it to do). Now we have a consistent structure for all departments created and all of them have the same content type. Back to our Events centre, we can place an Events web part for each category filtered by that categories name.

In fact we can use the category right without having to create a custom content type, but if you want to make your events scalable for later (for example, get all “Intranet” events in Search) then having your own events content type is very handy.

The end result of this would look like:

One catch is when you filter a category that contains a character such as “-“, you’ll need to replace the – with a space. For example, “Firm-wide” category will be filtered as “Firm wide”.

Notice that the categories don’t represent departments. They are shared across all departments in the environment. With the help of PnP Provisioning templates and PnP PowerShell Scripts we are able to keep this consistency across all departments.

Hope this would inspire you on the possibilities of things you can achieve with such a simple web part like the Events web part.

Feel free to reach out if you need to implement a similar functionality in your environment or if you have any questions, It’d be my pleasure to discuss it with you!

See you in Burlington, MA! #CollabDays

I will be speaking in CollabDays New England on October 9th for a talk about Microsoft Teams Development including Tabs, Messaging Extensions, Bots Webhooks and all the fun stuff!

The event is going to be in person, first one after the pandemic! See you there!

Speaking at M365 Chicago

A Taste Of M365 Chicago is taking place on June 4th and my session is going to be all about TEAMS!

In this session we’ll go through different ways you can extend Microsoft Teams, from Tabs to Connectors to Bots and MORE!
To register, you can use this link: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/m365-chicago-virtual-event-tickets-153973868987?aff=MohamedDerhalli

My session is at 12 PM EST. Looking forward to seeing you there!

Demo – How to easily create web parts with SPFx and PnP JS

My demo at the Microsoft 365 Community Call is now published. It’s about how to easily create fancy web parts with SPFx and PnP JS.

Here’s the demo:

Control Custom App Uploads In Teams

As discussed in the previous post, we can enable developers (and users) to upload custom apps to Microsoft Teams. However, sometimes (and most often) you don’t want to enable everyone to upload custom apps everywhere. This is where Teams enables you to have granular control on who can do what.

First step is to ask this question:

Did I block custom apps at all in my environment?

The very first option that you will need to be aware of is the “Allow interaction with custom apps”. This setting is found by going to the Teams Admin Center > Teams Apps > Manage Apps > Org-wide app settings:

Once this setting is enabled in your tenant, you can now move forward and control who can upload custom apps. If this setting is off, then you won’t have a way to upload custom apps to your tenant, so if you need to upload apps, you’ll need to make sure this setting is on. (Note, in cases when you want to stop uploading apps altogether to the tenant, you can always use this option to shutdown this capability)

Now with this option enabled, in order for a user to be able to upload a custom app, you’ll need to ask this question:

Is the user assigned a custom policy that allows him/her to upload an app?

The user will need to be assigned an app policy that has uploading custom apps enabled.

This can be done by going to Teams Admin Center > Teams Apps > Setup Policies. By default, developer tenants will have this policy enabled by default, but if you want to sideload apps in other tenants, you’ll need to have at least one policy where “Upload custom apps” is enabled.

Once you have the policy set to upload custom apps, go back to the policies list, select the policy, and add the user you want to grant this access to for this policy:

After you add the user to the policy. The user will be able to upload custom apps depending on the answer of the upcoming question:

Will the user need to upload personal apps only or teams apps?

If the user needs to upload personal apps only, then it’s all good so far and the user can do so. However if the user needs to upload custom apps to a Team and that user isn’t an owner, then the Team owner should enable the option for members to upload custom apps. This can be done on the Team settings itself:

For a better understanding for those who prefer visual sequence, you can consult the following diagram:

I hope this helps someone out there! Enjoy Teams App development!

Understanding App Sideloading In Teams

We hear the term “Sideloading” when it comes to Microsoft Teams, we even used to hear that when talking about SharePoint apps. So what does it mean to sideload an app in Teams and who can do it?

The “normal” way of uploading an app to the tenant in Teams is to upload it to the organization app store without sideloading (we’ll talk about sideloading in a minute). In the organization store, it will be available to the all tenant users to install. You can view all tenant apps when you click on Apps in the left-hand rail in Teams client, you will find your custom apps available for the current tenant under a section named: Built for [Tenant Name]

To upload an app to the organization store, you can do it from the same page, by clicking on “Upload a custom app” then click “Upload for [Tenant Name]”

You can also do the same from the Teams admin center by clicking on Teams apps > Manage apps > Upload:

Now.. what if we’re developing an application and we want to test it in the scope of a team or a personal scope? We don’t want to upload it to the whole tenant rather just to a specific team. That’s what sideloading does, it allows us to upload an application to a team or personally without showing it to the whole tenant.

This setting is controlled in Teams Admin Center, if you go to Teams Admin Center > Teams apps > Setup policies. You can create a new policy and ensure to enable the setting “Upload custom apps”. Upload custom apps is just the equivalent of “Sideloading”. After you create the policy, assign it to yourself (or any person that you would want to upload custom apps):

In developer tenants, you will notice that this option is already enabled through the “Global (Org-wide default)” policy:

After you enable the policy to upload custom apps and make sure it’s assigned to you, when you go to the Apps section in the Teams client, and click on Upload an app, you will notice the option to “Upload for me or my teams”:

Note that enabling sideloading might take sometime for the new option to show up in Teams. (up to 24 hours).

Also remember, you can control who can sideload apps in teams by assigning users to the new policy you created in Teams admin center. In the next post, we’ll go over policies and settings that enable us to have more granular control on who can upload apps to our tenant. See you in the next post!

Using Youtube To Create Fancy SharePoint Headers



As everyone knows, SharePoint now supports adding an image for pages’ headers by using the Extended header type.

Now what if we could have this header animated, from any Youtube video? We could use gif files as a background image, and we could generate these files using some tools to record a Youtube video and create our own headers.

I use a tool called: Screen to gif, which allows me to record the screen and generate my gif file.

For more details on how to accomplish this, watch the video below: