Archive for August 29, 2012

SharePoint 2007: Problems opening Excel files from a document library

While our current focus, in terms of SharePoint, is on 2010 and looking ahead to SharePoint 2013, we support several clients that have 2007 environments. Occasionally, these environments present us with some interesting challenges.

Recently, I was doing some work for a client that reported several problems opening Excel files from a SharePoint document library.

  • Users were being prompted several times to enter their credentials when opening the Excel file even though they were already logged in to SharePoint.
  • After an Excel file was checked out from SharePoint and then opened, the document would be empty. I checked the SharePoint drafts folder and the file was only a few KB instead of around 1 MB like it should be. Once the check-out was discarded the document could be opened read-only without a problem.
  • Users received an error message when trying to open an Excel file, “The file you are trying to open, ‘filename.xls’, is in a different format than specified by the file extension. Verify that the file is not corrupted and is from a trusted source before opening the file. Do you want to open the file now?”. This error seemed to be related to the previous problem but it did not come up every time a file was blank.
  • Users receive an error message when trying to open an Excel file, “Error: Updates are currently disallowed on GET requests. To allow updates on a GET, set the ‘AllowUnsafeUpdates’ property on SPWeb.”

None of these problems were consistent. They did not occur for every user or for every Excel file which seemed odd.

My first thought was to try to address the issue of the users being prompted for credentials even though they were logged in. I have seen this issue many times. The client has multiple domains so I assumed it might related to cross-domain authentication, however users in the same domain as the SharePoint farm were experiencing this problem.  Even so, I put the SharePoint site in the Intranet zone which often corrects problems like this but it had no effect. I also checked the Credential Manager in Control Panel to make sure there were no old credentials stored but again, this did not help. I even tried adding a registry entry “AuthForwardServerList” in the WebClient Parameters section. This related to an issue in Windows 7 that caused intranet sites that used fully qualified domain names to be treated as internet sites even if they were in the intranet zone. Unfortunately, this also failed to correct the problem.

At this point I decided to look at some of the other errors. As I researched the error about GET requests and AllowUnsafeUpdates I found some references to problems opening image library files when Blob Caching was enabled. I checked the web.config file to see if Blob Caching was enabled for Excel files and sure enough it was. I also found some information that indicated that Blob Caching caused the http headers to be changed and although it seemed like a long shot, I was hoping this might resolve more than just that one error. I removed the xls extension from the Blob Cache line and tested again.

Even though the errors had been somewhat inconsistent, I had been able to reproduce them, but after making the change to the web.config I could not reproduce them. Not just the one or a couple of them, I could no longer reproduce any of the problems. I asked the users who had experienced these problems to test and they also were not able to reproduce the problems.

SharePoint and Adobe Integration

SharePoint is a good document management system.  It makes editing documents very easy to do, that is, if you happen to be editing a document in the Microsoft Office format (DOC, DOCX, XLSX, etc).  Otherwise, you are left to download a copy, edit the file, and then upload it.  This happens to be fine since most documents are of the Office variety.

What about the PDF?  That’s a very common document format to work with as well, and saving it each time you want to edit a document can get cumbersome.  Thankfully, with the arrival of Acrobat X and Reader X (version 10.1), there is now SharePoint integration!

What is integrated?

SharePoint Server Menu Item

When opening the PDF from SharePoint, a SharePoint server menu item will appear in the file menu.  Depending on the file state, it gives you the option to check in the document, check out, discard check out and to update the document properties.


Check In / Check Out

If you have configured the SharePoint document library to use the check in / check out feature, you will be prompted when opening the PDF document if you want to Check Out and Open the file.  You also have the option to check out the file from the File menu from within Adobe Reader or Acrobat (as seen above).


If versioning is enabled on the document library, you will be prompted for a Version Comment when saving / checking in the document.

Document Library Properties

In the Adobe software, there is a “Prepare Document Properties” option under the “SharePoint Server” menu item.  This will allow the author to set the document library columns from within Adobe’s software.  In my example, I created a custom column named “SharePoint_Column”.  This appears in our edit dialog within Adobe.  Double clicking the “columns” allows the author to edit the value.



Configuring Integration

A few easy steps must be done in order to configure SharePoint for integration with Adobe, which can be found in Section 13 of Adobe’s Enterprise Administration Guide.  It entails downloading the PDF icon (if not present within SharePoint), and then updating the PDF entry in SharePoint’s DocIcon.xml.


<Mapping Key="pdf" Value="icpng.gif" OpenControl="PdfFile.OpenDocuments" />


After a quick iisreset, you’ll be updating changes in your PDF document directly to SharePoint without need to save the file first.

IT Topics Keeping You Up at Night

At BlumShapiro we are constantly looking for ways to provide value to our clients above and beyond the specific services we provide as part of an engagement.  Whether it’s helping a client decipher a new tax law, providing some insight into the state of the credit market or helping them solve a technology challenge, our clients have always appreciated the breadth of our knowledge and experience.

These interactions, however, have often taken place in a very ad-hoc, organic way, typically by the engagement partner, the client and the relevant partner expert getting together for lunch.  While this certainly won’t stop, we were looking for a way to formalize this activity, provide a forum for CFO peer interactions and to do so on a more regular basis.  Thus was born the BlumShapiro CFO Forum.

The BlumShapiro CFO Forum is a breakfast seminar series for CFOs and Finance Directors that:

  • Brings CFOs of large to mid-size organizations together across industry groups
  • Provides a forum for CFO peer interactions
  • Allows open discussion on hot topics and issues facing finance
  • Provides information CFOs can use today

Our upcoming forum is titled “IT Topics Keeping You Up at Night”.

With topics ranging from cloud computing to social-media strategies to data security, technology concerns are in the news daily. They’re also on the finance chief’s mind, according to CFO’s latest Deep Dive Survey, which asked more than 200 senior finance executives about their top technology concerns this spring.

“Data security ranks as CFOs’ top IT management worry, with 55% of survey respondents citing it as their number-one technology concern. Technology costs overall come in second, followed by data accuracy and integrity. Rounding out the top five: finding ways to apply IT to innovation and managing the cost and risk of employees’ mobile devices.” – CFO.COM

We’ll talk through these topics and attempt to bring some clarity and consistency to the importance and relevance of these within organizations. Are there other topics you should be concerned about, but not included in this list?  We think there are and you should know about them. Further, as this is a collaborative forum we will determine what resonates and plan for these topics in future forums.

These forums are by invitation only.  If you’re interested in attending, please contact us.

As a partner with BlumShapiro Consulting, Michael Pelletier leads our Technology Consulting Practice. He consults with a range of businesses and industries on issues related to technology strategy and direction, enterprise and solution architecture, service oriented architecture and solution delivery.