Microsoft Collaboration, CTO viewpoint, and New York

The blog for Office 365, Power Apps, Flow, SharePoint, cloud, ….. plus a little NYC

5 tips for SharePoint Designer workflow troubleshooting

Written by Peter Ward on November 25, 2017 – 12:34 am -


SharePoint Designer isn’t the best at reporting errors, but there’s a few tricks that help with the troubleshooting process.


  1. When there are odd errors that make no sense, click on the Information icon see image below.


This error log gives a good breakdown of the workflow errors and shows what’s causing the problem.


This is great at identifying the wacky problems that break Designer workflows.



  1. Use the Log action in the workflow commands. I sprinkle these throughout the workflow, so I can see the sequence of actions taking place.


  1. If you ever have an issue of workflows saving an item multiple times, make sure the Automatically update isn’t selected in the workflow settings.



  1. Similar to point 2. Start and finish with a Log command and use String Builder.



Notice that I’m stating the user who’s running the workflow. This is useful with identifying permissions issues of how the workflow is being run.


  1. When creating local variables use sense names. See figure below:


With Strings, the variable starts with : str

Numbers: num

Date: d


For a seasoned developer this is obvious, but it doesn’t always translate into SharePoint Designer variables.








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Smart Phone Security and anti-virus software

Written by Peter Ward on October 24, 2017 – 6:54 pm -

A lot of people ask me about this and although it’s not my professional technical strength (I make my money with SharePoint), but I do take this matter seriously.

These are my thoughts and recommendations for some quick preventative tips:

There are many AV software companies out there, such as: McAfee, CA, Symantec, Bitdefender, Kaspersky, Trend Micro, and Microsoft Security Essentials.

None of them are perfect and free with Windows 10, so that’s one good reason to upgrade and most have antivirus, malware, spyware, and adware protection, as well as other vital functions, including Phishing Protection (very important these days).

Microsoft does make it into Garter’s Magic Quadrant

Other tips for personal IT, I would recommend:

  1. Keep your systems and applications up to date!!!  This is one of the most important thing you can do, and the easiest.  This applies not only to Windows/MacOS/LINUX, but also your iPad/iPhone, Android Cellphone, Firewall, applications, etc.
  2. Backup your data to the cloud, but be sure the solution provides these three things as a minimum:
    1. Encryption
    2. Ransomware Detection and Prevention
    3. Two Factor Authentication
  3. Enable “Two factor” authentication on all bank accounts, then investment accounts, company systems, etc.  Two factor includes applications such as Google Authenticator, Microsoft Account, Authy, etc. Two factor also includes texting to your cellphone, but beware, cellphones are being hacked more and more.
  4. Install web browser plugins (NOTE: some will slow down performance, but that’s the price you pay for security):
    1. IBM Rapport (Trusteer) on your computers used for online banking, and NEVER bank on any other computer!
    2. uBlock Origin (or AdBlock Plus)
    3. HTTPS Everywhere
  5. WiFi – Use a VPN, such as or
  6. Learn more about phishing attacks.
    1. Sign up and educate yourself and your staff and family. Full disclosure, I sell and “add value” with a  turnkey solution to thru a service, “TouchstoneSecure”.  There are lots of other services you can subscribe to for “Cybersecurity Awareness Training”.
    2. Do not to open or trust email, texts, or mail from any business, period.  Always independently contact the company separately (e.g. call the number on the back of your Credit Card, or the number published on the company’s website).
  7. Practice safe passwords .  I am not so strict, as this is difficult, so I do something slightly different, I use two words with numbers and characters in between, e.g. Foreignword1711!other, where foreignword is a foreign language word, 1711 is YY/MM, !, and another is a word that might relate to the site where the password is used.  For example, for Microsoft, I might use Ct@k@h1711!Microsoft, and for Amazon I might use Ct@k@h1711!Amazon (Ctakah is Russian for Glass).  The nice thing about this is, when I need to change the password, which might be every month, only one or two charactesr change, e.g. Ct@k@h1712!Microsoft. Use your imagination!
    1. Dashlane is a great password management tool, you can really get the complex passwords to go crazy.
  8. Run a Security suite, such as Defender.
  9. Protect your cellphone by:
    1. Change your online account password and pin.  Case in point:
    2. Keep it up to date!

                                                                     i.      Android Settings, System Updates.

                                                                   ii.      iPhone (connect to a secure wifi, one with a lock symbol), Settings, General, Software Update.

    3. Enable security on your Android phone:

                                                                     i.      Encryption

                                                                   ii.      Screen lock, secure lock

                                                                 iii.      Turn off notifications

                                                                 iv.      Secure Startup Settings, Lock Screen and Security, Secure Startup

                                                                   v.      Auto factory reset upon x number of password attempts Settings, Lock Screen and Security, Secure Lock Settings

                                                                 vi.      Lock SIM Card Settings, Lock Screen and Security, Other security settings PS be sure to change the default SIM PIN!

                                                                vii.      Enable Security Policy Updates

                                                              viii.      Enable “Find My Device” and configure to allow for erasing all data or

                                                                  ix.      Consider “Pinning” an application if you suspect it isn’t completely safe.

    4. Enable security on your iPhone


                                                                   ii.      Verify encryption

      iii. Use the bitdefender’s free tools:

      They have a phone locater and wipe feature.

      PC Home scanner. This scans hidden backdoors to your PC.

  10. Fingerprint Login – This is a controversial topic, I leave this up to you.  I use fingerprint login personally, the convenience is outweighs my risk, but I also practice many other things to minimize the risk.

And for those who think they have their cybersecurity under control, happy reading:


Gartner Report :

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Teams Versus Groups

Written by Peter Ward on September 10, 2017 – 11:42 pm -

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Four Questions To Ask Before Hiring Your Next Tech Salesperson

Written by Peter Ward on July 30, 2017 – 6:22 pm -

This was an article that I wrote for Forbes:

Being one of the owners of SoHo Dragon, a software application development company, I’m somewhat involved on the sales side of the business, and we have been interviewing a few salespeople to help grow the sales pipeline.

One secret that every tech company should know is that members of the technical staff should be a part of the interview process with a salesperson so that IT feels appreciated and truly understands how its output can be sold.

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My deli 

Written by Peter Ward on July 16, 2017 – 10:36 pm -

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Nyc from lic

Written by Peter Ward on July 16, 2017 – 10:35 pm -

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Sharepoint Saturday NYC coming up

Written by Peter Ward on July 7, 2017 – 2:20 am -

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Yoga Day in NYC 2017

Written by Peter Ward on July 2, 2017 – 1:18 am -

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Increasing the speed of Office 365 search crawl

Written by Peter Ward on July 1, 2017 – 11:48 pm -

With SharePoint on premise there’s plenty of search options to increase the frequency of the search crawl, to the search results show up quicker.

– Increase the incremental search periods

– Add on an app server to take on the additional search horse power

– Target sites or site collections that require quicker search crawls

The list can go on….


But with Office 365, this ability isn’t there..

Chris O’Brien has a good explanation on this: waiting-for-search-crawl-in-office-365 with some work arounds, but queries can break.


One approach I discovered was to set the server resource quota to 10,000. By default it’s 300. This setting can be found in the SharePoint Admin Center.



When I did this I was getting search results in 5-10 mins after a document was uploaded.











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The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” by Marie Kondo

Written by Peter Ward on June 10, 2017 – 11:36 pm -

Just finished reading this book….

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Marie Kondo is a Japanese organizing consultant who developed the KonMari Method, which consists of gathering everything one owns by category and keeping only those things that “spark joy.” Kondo’s method transcends the typical “tidying how-to,” as it aims to cultivate a lifestyle that encourages one to cherish the things that bring true joy—a refreshing alternative to today’s mass consumer society.


A very organized person





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