Salamander Active Directory – Feature focus – Working with Office 365

As we are seeing more and more schools moving towards Office 365, I thought I’d share what Salamander Active Directory can do for you.

Getting users into Office 365
Salamander AD has always been able to provision your users and groups into your local Active Directory and this doesn’t change with a school using Office 365.

We recommend that you use DirSync to push your users in to Office 365, but we can manage them once they are there.

By Leveraging the Office 365 PowerShell command-lets Salamander Active Directory can license your users based around their status in your MIS.

Obviously, it can assign different licenses to students and staff, but it could also assign different licenses or service plans to 6th Form, or to Teaching Staff etc.

Location and other settings
The capabilities of Salamander isnt restricted to Licensing. We regularly set the location for users, and set mailbox settings on mass. If you need something doing to a lot of users in Office 365, Salamander Active Directory can probably do it for you.

For customers using Sims, Faciltiy CMIS or iSAMS we can also push your Pupils and Staff timetables into Office 365 mailboxes as we can in a local Exchange environment.

Have a look at my post on Exchange Calendar with Salamander

Already a customer?
As with all the Features for Salamander Active Directory, these are available to any Salamander Active Directory, new or existing.

SalamanderSoft and Office 365
As Authorised Education Resellers for Office 365, we can offer you advice and support whether your looking to move to Office 365 or are already there.

Drop me an email for more information, or just to have a chat:

Office 365 – Changing a Username

Recently, i’ve been doing quite a bit of work with clients who have needed to change their usernames in Office 365 for one reason or another and have having difficulty.

In some cases they have managed to update it through the portal, but more often than not, its not quite worked properly and they have needed to change the User Principal Name manually using Powershell.

The good news is that its really straightforward to do. Infact, it’ll probably take you longer to get connected to Office 365 than it will to change the User Principal Name for a user.

Changing a single users User Principal Name
Once your connected (see my blog post on connecting to Office 365) you can simply run the powershell:

#Changing the UserPrincipalName for a single user
Set-MsolUserPrincipalName -UserPrincipalName "" -NewUserPrincipalName ""

This will do simply that, load the object for the user and change their Upn.

If you wanted to do that with variables to make things a little tidier you can:

#Chaning the UserPrincipalName for a single user - using variables
$oldUPN = ""
$newUPN = ""
Set-MsolUserPrincipalName -UserPrincipalName $oldUPN -NewUserPrincipalName $newUPN

Changing more than one
This works really nicely, but last week I had a customer who wanted to change around 30 for various reasons, so I had them make a CSV file to hold the details in 2 columns:


Once they’d generated this file, I simply used the below to change the User Principal Name for everyone in the CSV.

#Using a CSV File to change the UPN's
$path = "c:\pathtomycsv\upnChanges.csv"
Import-csv -path $path | 
foreach-object `
  Set-MsolUserPrincipalName -UserPrincipalName $_.oldUPN -NewUserPrincipalName $_.newUPN


Access Web Apps in Sharepoint Online – An overview

One of the many features of SharePoint Online is the ability to have Access Web Apps in your SharePoint sites, allowing you host some of your data in the cloud.

Previously this has been a complex task, using requiring a specific set of skills, but not with Access Web Apps.

Creating a new Access Web App
The first thing that should be said is that you still need Access 2013 installed on your computer. More to the point, someone will. The Access Web App you build has to be built using Access 2013, but once its built it can be used by anyone with access to the SharePoint site, regardless of the device they are on.

Creating your first web app is straightforward. From your SharePoint Site, you can go to the ‘cog’ and select ‘Add an app’


Once you’re here, on the of options you’ll get is the Access App. Clicking this will simply ask you for a name. You can also upload an access app you made somewhere else.


Once that’s done and you try use it, you’ll get presented with a holding page asking you to open the app in Access to start building. Once you’ve opened your app in access, you’ll see a familiar interface, similar to any other new Access 2013 database.

Building your database
I’m not going talk much about creating databases and managing access databases in this post. Instead, I’ve just created a tiny 2 table database as a sample to have a play with.

I’ve been using Access for year (since Access 2003), and have worked with some very large, complex databases, so I didn’t find this difficult. But, I don’t think anyone will.

It is really quite easy to build a basic Access Web App using Access 2013. Some of the more advanced features will take some work, but there is plenty of support and documentation available for those looking to take it further.

There are also loads of templates to get you going or, as I’ve done you can start with a completely blank database and built it yourself.

As with any other Access Database, you can also import data from another Database, spreadsheet or other source.


Using your Database
Once you’ve got your database built and you launch the app, you’ll be able to use your forms just like any other web app, and very quickly be able to add the data.

Each table automatically gets a list view and datasheet view which will be available in the web app.



Not everyone needs Access
One of the major advantages here is that you can anyone with access to the SharePoint App will be able to use the database. You need Access installed in order to design the database, but the app can be used by anyone, reducing the licensing requirements along with the need to train other users on

Where is my data?
When working with an Access Web App, the data is stored in an Azure SQL Database for your app, and there are a number of ways you can access this data, which I have covered here: Accessing your Access Web App’s Data

They won’t be for everyone, but Access Web Apps are an easy, quick way to start getting data into the cloud. I’d definitely recommend that you investigate it further before making any decisions. It may just be the thing you need.

Features available in access web apps
For some more information on the differences between and Access App and an Access Database have a look at this post:

Accessing your Access Web App’s Data

Maybe you’ve been using Access Web Apps for a while now and have got to the point as I have where i want to do something more with the information. I want to be able to report on it, export it, play with etc.

Immediately there’s a bit of an issue, where are all my export options, my reporting options? They aren’t there.

Access Web App’s has been built, unfortunately, with no native reporting, which means I need another method for getting to my data.

Where is my data
Firstly, we need to consider where the data is actually stored. When you add your Access App in SharePoint, and new, dedicated Azure SQL Database is created for it.

If you open your Web App in access on your desktop and go to the ‘info’ tab, you’ll be able to see where the database is stored.


Accessing the data
In the ‘info’ tab, you’ll also notice that there are 2 other options

Report on my Data
This option will create local access database which links to the table in the web app’s Azure database.

This will also you to use the full power of the Access Reporting services on your data.

This option will allow you to manage how your web app’s data can be accessed. There are a number of options here, so you need to carefully consider what is best for your app and the integrity of the data inside it.


Accessing my Data from outside of Access
I’m only looking to report on my data and don’t need manipulate it in anyway, so I’ve opened connected and enabled the ‘Enable read-only connection’.

Once this is enabled, the option ‘view read-only connection information becomes available to be viewed, which will give you the Server name, database name and the credentials needed to connect other software to this database.

Accessing your Data from SQL Management Studio
Now you have enabled the connection, you can access the data from lots of differnet places, including SSMS (SQL Server Management Studio)

To this you need to specify the server and credentials as you would normally, but as this is server we don’t own or have any control over, you also need to specify the exact database you wish to work with from the ‘Connection Properties’ tab.


Once you are connected, you have access the Database as you would normally and can work with it.


Note: As the whole web app is stored in the SQL database you need to be very careful not to mess with any of the tables that don’t look like your data.

Accessing your data from Excel
Similarly, you can use Excel to access this information using the ‘From Data Connection Wizard’



OneNote is now Free… Everywhere!!

One piece of news that I picked up on last week is that Microsoft was going to make OneNote free for all, from every device. Well, this morning, that became a reality, alongside OneNote for Mac.

OneNote had been available on iOS, Windows Phone and Android for a while now, but this is the first time its been available for Mac OSX, and about time too.

This has probably been the most underrated Microsoft Office product for some time, and like many I was sceptical about its use a couple of years ago. Now though, I can’t live without it.

OneNote Cloud API
Alongside the release of the free version, comes the news that the OneNote service now includes a new Cloud API, which will allow the development of more and more apps to work with OneNote and make this product even better.

Theres already a whole bunch of apps for OneNote, and I’m sure this list with expand greatly over the coming weeks as developers get hold of it.

Do more with OneNote today

For more information:

MS Office Blog – OneNote now on Mac, free everywhere and service powered
MS Office Blog – Introducing OneNote for Mac
WinSuperSite – Introducing OneNote for Mac