Category Archives: Yammer

Yammer provisioning rolling out in Office 365 admin portal

Previously if you were an Office 365 (E SKU) customer or partner with an Enterprise Agreement (EA) you could ask MS to upgrade your Yammer network to the Enterprise edition for no additional charge.

Starting today MS have added the ability to do this via the Office 365 admin portal directly.

This is a rolling release, and your tenancy might not have got the changes just yet. So hold tight.

Customers with Office 365 E plans, SharePoint Online + Yammer, or existing Enterprise Agreements and qualifying license purchases are eligible to activate Yammer Enterprise via their Office 365 Administrators portal.

You can do this in the Admin portal as shown below:

This should make the process a whole lot smoother and is another (small) step in the right direction for the integration of Yammer and Office 365.


Yammer and Office 365 integration gets tighter

Microsoft has been talking about faster releases in Office 365 and getting functionality out to its customers on a cadence they are not used to with on-prem software.  It’s great to see this happening albeit too slowly for some people.

Today is another example of small but important steps forward.

Christophe from the SharePoint team just posted about a new improvement in Office 365 that lets you comment on a document that lives in Office 365 and have that comment land in Yammer.

We had built an app called Share-It for Office 365 that does this, albeit in a less sophisticated manner.  You can read about that here:

Although I’m sad that Share-It for Office 365 in its current form has been superseded we have some new plans for Share-It that I hope to be able to talk about shortly deepening the integration options between the two system.  I can’t say i am upset they did this at all, after all the idea from Share-It actually came from the work I did with the SharePoint team during the last SharePoint Conference and it was very clear that eventually this same functionality would be baked in. It was no surprise at all.

It’s awesome to see the two getting small but important improvements like this!  Well done MS.

Read Christophe’s post here:


DIWUG article on SharePoint and Yammer

This month I was honored to be able to contribute to the Dutch Information Worker User Group (DIWUG) e-magazine.

The article is titled “SharePoint, Yammer and the social landscape” and basically covers the lay of the social landscape as it currently stands & what organizations can do now to help with the rift we currently see in SharePoint and Yammer social features.

The magazine is free and available to download here:

6-28-2013 12-31-29



Integrating SharePoint Online and Yammer – An app for that!

Way back at SPC12 (Nov 2012) the keynote included a demo that showed an example of the integration possible between SharePoint Online and Yammer that could be done with a little bit of development effort. I built that demo and decided to turn it into a real app anyone could use.

Some Background first: This surfaced in SharePoint Online by way of a new ribbon button that when pressed posted the selected document to Yammer via the Yammer Open Graph API.  It was shown pretty quickly and it was pretty easy to miss.  However, it demonstrated a few interesting methods of integration that are possible today using the new SharePoint App plumbing and Yammers pretty decent set of APIs.

The basic flow

1. In a document library a document was selected like this


2. Then in the ribbon a new “Post to Yammer” button showed up


3. When it was clicked it posted to the Yammer activity feed. 


The image above shows the hover over the activity. 

The activity feed shows a scrolling history of activity in the the Yammer network.  e.g. “Chris Johnson updated Product Catalog.docx”.  Its like that thing in Facebook that shows you all the music that your mates are listening to that they probably don’t know they are publishing to all their friends via spotify.  More on the Activity feed a little later on.

4. Clicking on the activity will take you a page in Yammer for that activity where you can Be Social™ and discuss the document, like it etc…


How it’s made

This app is pretty simple.  It’s a SharePoint Provider hosted application running in Azure Websites.  The SharePoint part of the app includes some xml to add the ribbon button to all document libraries.  When the user clicks the “Post to Yammer” button it sends some details about the document(s) to the backend of the app running in Azure. The backend code then uses the CSOM to call back into SharePoint to retrieve the name of the document and some other properties. Then the app directs the user through the Yammer OAuth authentication flow.  Once this is complete the app then is able to access Yammer on behalf of the user that signed in.

Finally the posting of the information includes posting to the Yammer activity stream using the OpenGraph APIs (JSON/REST based). It will also post to the main feed in Yammer too via the Messages REST API in Yammer. Both of these are easy to use and are fairly standard XML/JSON/REST based services.


Why is this interesting?

Recently there has been a bunch of noise about SharePoint’s current dual headed social story. 

  • In the red corner you have the social features in SharePoint (both on-prem and SharePoint Online)
  • In the blue corner you have Yammer.

The problem is that right now there is much consternation about how they don’t work nicely together. Things seem to be happening too slowly for some people.  The products are currently not integrated all that well. That is slowly changing, like the ability to switch from the NewsFeed to Yammer in Office 365 that rolled out the day of writing this post.  Those improvements will continue over time and eventually I think we will see the ability to totally replace the current out of the box social features with Yammer.

How on earth people think Microsoft can magically mash together one product with another overnight and make it all work perfectly is beyond me. It will take time people! Just because you think you could have done in overnight doesn’t mean it works that way in huge software projects … better stop this rant now before i get carried away.

The short story is that right now you have to pick one or the other.  My vote is firmly in the Yammer category. But at the end of the day there are many factors that will go into your decision either way and there isn’t a perfect answer.

There is no doubt that Microsoft will integrate the two products more deeply.  This could come in a variety of flavors including:

  • surfacing stuff that happens in Yammer in SharePoint more seamlessly (short term strategy),
  • totally replacing the existing SharePoint social features with ones backed by the Yammer in the cloud (more likely and what I would put money on, maybe with the ability to use the old stuff if you can’t use a cloud service)

Back to why this integration is interesting…

You can do things today to help with this situation.  The demo showed a very basic example of some custom integration using things we know exist today.

I smell a set up!

… and you would be right.  We are going to release this app to the store so that anyone with Office 365 can use it.  It needed some tweaks to make it work well in production & some branding changes. However in the coming days/weeks we will release it under the name “ShareIt”.


I am going to write a future post on how this app was created and it will include code to illustrate how to call the Yammer APIs.

Ultimately you should be able to follow along and learn about how you can leverage the SharePoint App model + Yammer APIs to help integrate the two products while we wait for MS to offer a nice compelling seamless integration at a yet to be determined point in time 🙂

Note: It is very likely that this app will no longer be needed once MS do their thing and integrate the products further.  I hope so to!


TechEd North America session wrap up


This morning at TechEd North America i did a session on Office and SharePoint 2013 App development.  In a nut shell it was 75mins of demos (8 or so).  It was a mix of things I have found handy developing Apps, things I think are going to play an important role in App development (SPA apps) and other things that I think are handy for those getting started with App development.

Here is a summary of the demos:

#1 SignalR:  Using SignalR in your apps backends for watching trace and debug information from your application. Great for when your code is running in Azure and you want visibility into what is going on.

#2 Token Caching: When you first are starting out with app development its not entirely obvious what all the tokens and parameters are that are passed to your app code. OR how to work with them.  This demo was all about showing a lightweight way to cache and store the tokens for use in subsequent pages.

#3 Use OAuth to access SharePoint from apps for Office:  This showed how to do “on the fly” OAuth from a task pane App in Excel.  This lets an application ask the user for permissions to SharePoint resources when needed. In the example i showed Excel, but you can do the same from a SharePoint app.

#4 / #5 The SharePoint cross-domain library: Two demos showing techniques for calling out to external services (in this case my blog) from JavaScript running in a SharePoint hosted app.  Also how to set up the CSOM for calling into the Host Web SharePoint site where you app is installed.  Both scenarios show cross domain techniques available.

#6 Bring Office documents into your SharePoint apps with the Office Web Applications:  Most people have seen the document preview windows you get in SharePoint search and document libraries that use the Office Web Applications. But you can also use these in your own Apps too.  Great way to show documents alongside your App content.

#7 SPA Apps:  Single Page Applications.  Very kindly Andrew Connell allowed me to show his recently built Learning Path Manager demo which showcases an App built using Durandal, Knockout, Bootstrap, FontAwesome, LinqJS and Toastr.  Finally SharePoint development has been possible using frameworks, tools and techniques that are moderns and current.  All the cool kids are doing this stuff and I think its going to be a very interesting option for SharePoint app development going forward. For source and more information please refer to AC’s blog post. 

#8 App CSS makes your app look like part of the experience: A simple demo showing how to use the Chrome Control and SP CSS in your provider hosted apps.  I skipped this in the session due to time.

#9 Elevate your SharePoint app’s permissions with app-only calls: No more running code in process as system!  The App model provides a fairly elegant way to elevate permissions without losing control of an apps privileges! Apps can make “app only” calls to SharePoint to do things that the App has rights to do, but not necessarily the user using the App.

#10 Yammer Integration – Bring your app to where users are by posting to the feed:  Yammer provides some nice APIs to work with.  For example REST APIs for posting the feed & OpenGraph APIs for posting activities.  I demoed an App called “ShareIt” that takes a document and posts it to Yammer. The app will hopefully be in the 365 marketplace shortly (free) and I hope to do a follow up “how it works” blog post on it + full source for the app.

Slides: (they are boring … just intros to the demos)

Demo files: The zip below contains the demo files for demos #1 – #6 and  #8 and #9.  SPA code comes from AC here and the ShareIt code (Yammer) will come out as part of my new blog on that App shortly.

The recording of the session will be up on Channel 9 in the next 24-48 hours i am told:

Happy App’ing!


Puget Sound SharePoint User Group presentation – Stop! Yammer Time.

Last night i was fortunate enough to present to the local Puget Sound SharePoint User group at the Microsoft offices in Bellevue.  I titled my presentation “Stop!  Yammer time”.

It was all about Yammer (no surprise there).  I ran through where I thought things were at with regards to the current overlap and confusion between the out of the box SharePoint social features vs. those in Yammer, some roadmap information about what to expect over the next year with regards to the integration of the two products and also a few bits for developers on what APIs are available.  I also demoed a sneak peak of an app for SharePoint Online that we are publishing shortly that lets people post information to Yammer from SharePoint (more on that soon in a future post).

I was also a little antagonistic (trying to get people questioning and thinking a bit more) with my analogy between SP vs. Yammer and the Matrix movies Red pill vs. Blue pill decision that Neo has to make.  Blue pill, stay blissfully ignorant that Yammer isn’t the future of all things social in SharePoint and other Microsoft products, or the Red pill, take the painful truth of reality now and get ready for the future albeit painful and a bit messy for the time being.

It was a fun session and i really enjoyed the opportunity to present.

My slides are below if you are interested in taking a look.  (they don’t really articulate a lot of what i spoke about outside of the slides, but hopefully it helps a little)