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Productivity solutions

Skill: Create and configure productivity services

Beyond the core services and service applications of a SharePoint farm lie the productivity services, which extend different features out to users in the farm. These features range in scope from MS Office centric (Access, Visio, Word, PowerPoint, and so on) to hybrid components (OneDrive and the App Launcher), and finally to the newly introduced management components within the SharePoint Insights and Telemetry feature set.

Create and configure Office Online Server and optional SharePoint services

Extensible functionality is available in (but not fundamental to) the setup and creation of a SharePoint Server 2016 farm. Some of this functionality is provided by service applications, whereas other functionality exists in the form of an external, non-SharePoint environment.

This functionality is provided by:

  • Office Online Server Office Online Server is an on-premises server (not a SharePoint farm server) that delivers browser-based versions of Office applications (such as Microsoft Word). This functionality can be provided to Exchange Server 2016, Skype for Business Server 2015, Lync Server 2013, and SharePoint environments.

  • Microsoft Access Services Access Services enables the creation and customization of Access add-ins for SharePoint.

  • Microsoft Visio Services Visio Services allows users to share and view Visio diagrams in a SharePoint site. These diagrams can be configured to be updated by using information from various data sources.

  • Microsoft Word Automation Services Word Automation Services provides unattended, server-side conversion of documents into formats supported by Microsoft Word.

  • Microsoft PowerPoint Conversion Services PowerPoint Conversion Services (also known as PowerPoint Automation Services) allows for the conversion of PowerPoint files (.pptx and .ppt) to a number of different formats, including .pptx, .pdf, .xps, .jpg, and .png.

  • Microsoft Translation Services Translation Services allows for the automatic machine translation of files and sites. This is accomplished by sending these files to the Microsoft Translator cloud-hosted machine translation service, also used by the Office, Skype, Yammer, and Bing translation features.

Office Online Server

  • In Chapter 1, we discussed the planning and installation of Office Online Server. This server is an on-premises solution, exists out of the bounds of the SharePoint server farm, and can be configured to provide services to SharePoint, Skype for Business, and Exchange Server environments.

Configuration steps for this farm are largely unchanged from those required to set up Office Web Apps Server (replaced by Office Online Server), and can be broken down into three major groupings: installing prerequisites, installing Office Online Server binaries, and configuring the connection between Office Online Server and the SharePoint Server 2016 farm.

  • Install prerequisites Once the physical servers have been built for Office Online Server, additional components and configuration are required before the Office Online Server components can be installed.

    • Install .NET Framework 4.5.2.

    • Install the supporting operating system features required by Office Online Server.

    • Reboot the Office Online Server server(s).

  • Install Office Online Server This installation requires that you download Office Online Server binaries from the Volume License Service Center.

    • On the Office Online Server servers, run Setup.exe.

    • Obtain and install SSL certificates. If you are running split DNS, you will only need a single certificate; if you have different internal and external FQDNs, you will need two different certificates.

    • Configure DNS to point to the appropriate FQDNs.

    • Use the New-OfficeWebAppsFarm PowerShell cmdlet to build the new Office Online Server farm.

  • Configure SharePoint 2016 The newly created Office Online Server environment must be connected to SharePoint.

    • Use the New-SPWOPIBinding cmdlet to bind the two environments together.

    • Use the Set-SPWOPIZone cmdlet to configure the zone that the SharePoint will use to navigate the browser to Office Online Server.

    • Configure Office Online Server to allow HTTP OAuth connections (if required, not recommended for a production environment).

Microsoft Access Services

As was the case with SharePoint 2013, SharePoint 2016 hosts two service applications that provide Access Services functionality:

  • Access Services Access add-ins for SharePoint allow you to build databases in Access 2016 and then share them with other users as an add-in for SharePoint in a web browser.

  • Access Services 2010 Access Services 2010 is still provided for backward compatibility, and provides the ability to view and edit web databases that were previously created by using Access 2010 and SharePoint Server 2010.

Access Services in SharePoint 2016 provides a series of add-in features, including the following:

  • Cascading controls

  • Datasheet filter improvements

  • Related Item Control enhancements

  • Image storage and performance improvements

  • Office Add-ins integration with Access web apps

  • Additional packaging and upgrade functionality for Access web app packages

  • On Deploy macro action for upgrade scenarios

  • Lock tables from editing functionality

  • Download in Excel feature for datasheet views

The configuration of Access Services on a SharePoint server requires that a series of SQL Server Components be added to the SharePoint servers that host the Front-end role.. Once these components have been added to the SharePoint servers, Access Services configuration requires only five major configuration steps:

  1. Configure the SharePoint Server farm for Add-ins (covered in the last section).

  2. Configure SQL Server, used to store Access Add-in content.

  3. Create a Secure Store service application (covered in the next section).

  4. Create the Access Services service application (from either Central Administration or PowerShell).

  5. Configure Security.

Microsoft Visio Services

Prior to use, Visio Services requires that both a service application and the associated proxy be created. As is the case with many other service applications in SharePoint Server 2016, it is not necessary to attempt to start the Visio Graphics service prior to the creation of the actual Visio Graphics service application and proxy, due to MinRole service controls. When the Visio Graphics service application has been configured, the Visio Graphics service is activated automatically on SharePoint servers that host the Front-end role.

Creating the Visio Graphics service application

Creating a service application and proxy for the Visio Graphics service is fairly straightforward, requiring only that you select New, Visio Graphics Service on the Service Applications screen in Central Administration (alternately, you could use PowerShell for a scripted configuration).

Only four pieces of information are required to complete this process:

  • Name The name of the Visio Graphics service application.

  • Application Pool And Credentials Choose whether to reuse an existing application pool or create a new application pool, providing the managed account for security credentials.

  • Partitioned Mode Choose whether or not to run in partitioned mode; this is used in multitenancy environments.

  • Add To Default Proxy List Choose whether or not to add the service application’s proxy to the farm’s default proxy list.

Configuring the Visio Graphics service application

The Visio Graphics service allows you to configure two distinct sets of items: Global Settings and Trusted Data Providers. Configuring these items can influence both the performance and security of this service.

  • Global Settings This menu allows for the management of performance, security, and data connection refresh rates.

    • Maximum Drawing Size The maximum size in MB (default is 25) of a web drawing that can be rendered.

    • Minimum Cache Age The minimum number of minutes (default is 5) that a web drawing is cached in memory.

    • Maximum Cache Age The number of minutes (default is 60) after which cached web drawings are purged.

    • Maximum Recalc Duration The number of seconds (default is 60) before data refresh operations time out.

    • Maximum Cache Size The maximum cache size in MB (default is 5,120) that can be used.

    • External Data Allows the administrator to assign the target Application ID used to reference Unattended Service Account Credentials.

  • Trusted Data Providers A listing of trusted data providers available for use with Visio Graphics service, which includes SQL Server, Oracle, IBM, SharePoint, and Excel Web Services.

Microsoft Word Automation Services

Word Automation Services is configured in a similar manner to Visio Services, requiring that both a service application and the associated proxy be created. Note that it is not necessary to attempt to start Microsoft Word Automation Services prior to the creation of the actual Word Automation service application and proxy, due to MinRole service controls.

When the Word Automation service application has been configured, the corresponding Word Automation service is activated automatically on SharePoint servers that host the application role (as this application runs a batch process).

Creating a Word Automation service application

Creating a service application and proxy for the Microsoft Word Automation service is a fairly standard SharePoint service application install, but does also require a supporting database.

To begin creating this service application, select New, Word Automation service from the Service Applications page in Central Administration (alternately, you could use PowerShell for a scripted configuration).

Five pieces of information are required to complete this process:

  • Name The name of the Word Automation service application.

  • Application Pool And Credentials Choose whether to reuse an existing application pool or create a new application pool, providing the managed account for security credentials.

  • Partitioned Mode Choose whether or not to run in partitioned mode; this is used in multitenancy environments.

  • Add To Default Proxy List Choose whether or not to add the service application’s proxy to the farm’s default proxy list.

  • Database Specify the Database Server, Database Name, and Database authentication credentials.

Configuring a Word Automation service application

The Word Automation service provides several options having to do with both the document formats that can be converted by this service and tuning the performance (and service load) on the SharePoint farm.

  • Supported File Formats Which file formats can be opened by the service application.

    • Open XML Documents (such as .docx, .docm, .dotx, .dotm).

    • Word 97-2003 (binary) documents (such as .doc, .dot).

    • Rich Text Format (.rtf).

    • Webpage (.htm, .html, .mht, .mhtml).

    • Word 2003 XML Document (.xml).

  • Embedded Font Support Allows the choice of supporting embedded fonts in a document.

  • Maximum Memory Usage The maximum percentage of system memory (default is 100 percent) made available in the service application.

  • Recycle Threshold The number of documents (default is 100) converted by a conversion process before it is restarted.

  • Word 97-2003 Document Scanning Word 97-2003 documents are a binary format, and can carry hidden payloads; this setting decides whether or not these documents should be scanned prior to conversion.

  • Conversion Processes Specifies the number of conversion processes (default is 1) created on each server available to the service application.

  • Conversion Throughput Determines both the frequency in minutes (default is 15) with which conversions are started and the number of conversions to start (default is 300) per conversion process.

  • Job Monitoring Specifies the length of time before conversions are monitored (default is 5) and potentially restarted.

  • Maximum Conversion Attempts Specifies the maximum number of times a conversion is attempted (default is 2) before its status is set to Failed.

  • Maximum Synchronous Conversion Requests Specifies the maximum number of synchronous conversion requests (default is 25) that can be processed at a time on each server available to the service application.

Microsoft PowerPoint Conversion Services

PowerPoint Conversion Services is very similar to Word Automation Services in concept. It is a service application that is responsible for taking content of one type (in this case, .ppt and .pptx PowerPoint files) and converting it into one of several formats.

From a creation point of view, PowerPoint Conversion Services is quite a bit different than the Word Automation or Visio Graphics services, as it must be configured in PowerShell. It does, however, require that both a service application and the associated proxy be created.

Note that it is not necessary to attempt to start the PowerPoint Conversion service prior to the creation of the actual PowerPoint Conversion service application and proxy, due to MinRole service controls. When the PowerPoint Conversion service application has been configured, the corresponding service is activated automatically on SharePoint servers that host the Application role (as this application runs a batch process, similar to Word Automation Services).

Creating a PowerPoint Conversion service application

Creating a service application and proxy for the PowerPoint Conversion service is a very basic SharePoint service application install requiring that the following steps be carried out via a PowerShell script:

  1. Create the service application by using the New-SPPowerPointConversionServiceApplication cmdlet.

  2. Assign the service application to a specified Service Application Pool.

  3. Create a matching service application proxy by using the New-SPPowerPointConversionServiceApplicationProxy cmdlet and assign the proxy to a group (usually default).

After the service application has been configured, a local folder named PowerPoint Conversion should be created on each Application role server, and the WSS_WPG group should be given NTFS modify rights. The folder should be created in the C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\SharePoint\ path.

Configurating the PowerPoint Conversion service application

Unlike other service applications, the PowerPoint Conversion service application does not provide the ability to manage or set properties from Central Administration. In fact, a custom application needs to be created to use this service.

Configuring hybrid OneDrive for Business with Profile Redirection and Extensible App Launcher

Hybrid OneDrive for Business and the Extensible App Launcher are both part of the hybrid functionality present in SharePoint 2016.

  • OneDrive for Business OneDrive for Business provides services that had previously been considered part of the on-premises OneDrive for Business configuration (also known as My Sites).

  • Extensible Hybrid App Launcher The Extensible Hybrid App Launcher is a visual component in the interface that allows Apps (Add-ins) to be pinned to your session in Office 365; as these modifications are made, they are pushed down to the on-premises SharePoint 2016 environment.

Configuring OneDrive for Business with Profile Redirection

When configuring a SharePoint farm for a hybrid deployment, there are two options available from Office 365 in Central Administration:

  • OneDrive and Sites

  • OneDrive only

Regardless of the option chosen, the user will receive access to a OneDrive that replaces the on-premises version. The only configuration option available is the assignment of users to either an on-premises or cloud OneDrive via the use of Audiences.

Configuring the Extensible Hybrid App Launcher

The Extensible Hybrid App Launcher requires that OneDrive and Sites be configured on the Office 365 page in Central Administration. Once the App Launcher has been enabled, an administrator can log in to Azure Active Directory (either from the Azure Management Portal or from the Office 365 Admin Center) to configure new Apps on the launcher.

Two options exist for adding applications to the App Launcher:

  • Add An Application My Organization Is Developing Uses the Add Application Wizard to capture fields including the App Name, Type, URI, and Sign-on URL.

  • Add An Application From The Gallery Allows the user to search from and select an App in the Application Gallery.

In the case of applications added from the Gallery, each has a configuration menu that includes the ability to do the following:

  • Enable single sign-on with Windows Azure Active Directory, including a selection from the following choices:

    • Windows Azure AD Single Sign-On

    • Password Single Sign-On

    • Existing Single Sign-On

  • Enable automatic user provisioning to the App

  • Assign users to the App

Plan and install SharePoint Insights and SharePoint Server Telemetry features

SharePoint Insights allows SharePoint administrators to manage their on-premises infrastructure from Office 365 in a hybrid configuration. By using this service, Office 365 reports compile and relay information found in on-premises diagnostic and usage logs.

The Insights service taps local telemetry data to produce a dashboard showing SharePoint administrators which SharePoint features are being used and the actions users are taking, along with numerous advanced analytics about SharePoint use.

The Microsoft SharePoint Insights service will be configured in a similar fashion to hybrid OneDrive and Sites, from the Office 365 menu of Central Administration. The SharePoint Insights Hybrid scenario will be used to create the telemetry relationship between the on-premises SharePoint environment and Office 365. Should you attempt instead to start the Microsoft SharePoint Insights service from Central Administration, Services in Farm, you will be greeted with the following message:

Authentication for Hybrid scenarios is not yet set. Please start the service after SharePoint Insights Hybrid scenario is enabled on your SharePoint farm.