In this Post I list three lessons that I learned the hard way. I believe these lessons will be helpful to people who are trying to use Office 2016 client applications in conjunction with SharePoint and OneDrive. I also think that Microsoft would be well advised to look at these issues and fix the issues.
I am working with a new client. It is a startup in the Bio Tech industry and they are trying to get used to using MS Word in conjunction with SharePoint Online (Office 365.) Everyone is at a different skill level, but they need to collaborate in writing documents and it is extremely painful getting everyone on the same page (no pun intended.) The company has a dozen people who have the following mix of environments:
- About 50/50 on PC vs Mac
- Numerous browsers are in use (IE, Edge, Firefox, Chrome, and Safari)
- Some external people, who brought their own version of Office to the party (Home & Business)
The people in the company were in crunch mode, so we decided to use a vanilla library with all the defaults, no special features selected on the library. We decided to try to leverage Simultaneous editing. A number of users had used this feature in Google Docs and they loved it. Well it was a mistake to try to use it with MS-Word.
- The first thing that we noticed was that the person who had the MS-Word SKU Home & Business could not participate.
(It took me one entire week to verify with Microsoft Support that simultaneous editing is not supported by the Home & Business SKU)
- Second we noticed that the experience was not reliable for people who were on a Mac.
We finally decided to ditch it and not have people editing documents simultaneously.
Lesson # 1 Microsoft, please get the Simultaneous Editing Working Perfectly
Next, we decided that we wanted to make people Check Out files when they opened a file for editing. We did not want to make people go through the steps:
- Check Out the File
- Open the File
- Save the File
- Check the file back in.
Instead we decided to have them click on the filename, which caused the file to open and show the famous yellow bar in Word, which presents a Check Out button.
How simple could it get?
We selected the following settings for the library:
- Open in the client application
- Require Check Out
Well Microsoft, guess what?
- By default the modern view is turned on. When you click on the file name, it launches in Word Online. It does not respect the "Open in the client application." WHY NOT, MICROSOFT?
- Okay, so we forced the library to open in classic mode. Now when you click on the file name, it opens the files in the client application. Um... Not so fast. It does open it in the Client Application (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint) if you are opening the file in Edge or Internet Explorer, but not in Firefox, Chrome, or Safari. COME ON MICROSOFT!
Lesson # 2 Microsoft, please get Modern View working better before you foist it on us and please deal with browsers in a consistent manner.
One more really annoying thing. I have to confess that I do not understand Office's authentication model. However I know a problem when I see it. Occasionally, when people open an Office file from SharePoint or OneDrive, the Office application launches and opens the file, but the application is not "properly logged in." It shows that it is actually logged in, but it will not allow the user to save back to SharePoint or OneDrive. The solution is to "Sign Out" of the Office application. Once the user signs out, they need to sign back in. Next the application needs to be closed and needs to be relaunched by opening the office file again from SharePoint or OneDrive.
This is particularly disturbing to my clients, because they open files and work on them for quite some time before they try to save them. Suddenly when they try to save the file, they are told they cannot save the file back to SharePoint. I must make sure to alert every user of this issue. If I do not, and people run into this issue, they get incredibly angry, and I do sympathize with them.
Lesson # 3 Microsoft, there is something strange going on with Office authentication. I have worked with support and they do not understand the issues. Please figure out the issues and fix this.