How to get your Office 365 version number

Last week, the Office 365 home page of one of my customers suddenly turned blank.

In the past, my first reaction in this situation was to ask the user what they had changed, and fire the developer tools on IE or Chrome. I often work with power users, and as they say, they know enough about SharePoint to be dangerous!

These days however, my first move is to check the Office 365 version number.

In Office 365, Microsoft is now pushing minor updates on a regular basis, without your consent or even letting you know. Result: my customer’s Office 365 is different from my own Office 365, and also different from his neighbor’s Office 365.

What happened in my customer’s case is that he was on version while I and others were still on version The page went back to normal within 24 hours, so I guess there was a bug with the release and Microsoft fixed it.

A similar case happened 3 months ago, when Marc Anderson reported on his blog a change in SharePoint pages that I couldn’t see. It turned out that here too the version he was using was different from mine.

With Office 365 rolling release model, such situations are becoming common, and when you report an issue to your advisor you should expect a “it works on my cloud” reply. So my recommendation, whenever something unexpected happens on your Office 365 pages, is to check the version number as part of the debugging process. How? Simply by appending /_vti_pvt/service.cnf to your SharePoint domain. In my case for example, to get my Office 365 version number, I would type the following url:

If you’d like to have that url handy on your site, simply add a link, for example in the quicklaunch, with /_vti_pvt/service.cnf as URL (no need to include your domain name).

If like me you work across multiple Office 365 sites, you can add a bookmarklet to your usual browser. In Chrome for example, go to the Bookmark Manager, add a page, and the URL field enter:


Side comment: I’d really like Microsoft to use us advisors, rather than the end users, as guinea pigs, and push Office 365 updates to us first!

For all SharePoint end users: a Print Preview bookmarklet

Continuing the series started last week, I am releasing today a Print Preview bookmarklet:

The instructions are the same as for the expand/collapse bookmarklet, but instead of +/- buttons you’ll get a Print Preview icon next to each Web Part title. Click on the Print Preview icon , and the Web Part will be displayed alone in the page. Then if you click on the Back icon , you’ll get back to the SharePoint page.

Note that today’s bookmarklet is bigger than the one from last week, and will not work on older browsers like IE 6.

This is work in progress, and I am releasing it as version 0.9. I am interested in your suggestions on how to improve it.

The code is actually derived from the Easy Tabs’ Print Preview tab. I adapted it to work at the Web Part level instead of the Web Part zone level.

For all SharePoint end users: an expand/collapse bookmarklet

In the past two years, I have published multiple solutions for site owners, allowing them to enhance their SharePoint sites without the need for server side deployments.

These solutions, however, can’t be used by the majority of the SharePoint population: end users who only have read or contribute rights. To remedy this, I am going to release in the next months solutions open to all SharePoint users.

How do these solutions work?

All browsers allow you to save URLs. This feature has different names: favorites in Internet Explorer, bookmarks in other browsers like Firefox and Safari. What is less known is that these Favorites/Bookmarks can also include code. In this case they are called bookmarklets (or favelets).

If you select a bookmark, the browser will load the corresponding page. If you select a bookmarklet, the browser will remain on the current page and run the script. It is as simple as that.

Warning! Bookmarklets can contain malicious code. Only use bookmarklets from trusted sources.

The first bookmarklet I am releasing today allows you to add expand/collapse buttons to the Web Parts present on a SharePoint page. It works in both SharePoint 2007 and 2010. I compacted the code to less than 500 characters, to make it compatible with older browsers.

Try it, now!

First, you need to grab your bookmarklet. Go get it on my SharePoint User’s Toolkit:

Once you have your bookmarklet, head out to a SharePoint home page and apply it. Again, you only need read access, so you can try it out on the home page of the Chicago User Group (SP 2007), or the San Diego User Group (SP 2010), as I did:

For site owners, I’ll publish a slightly different and more robust version that can be included in the page ( it won’t have the 500 character limit constraint). Actually there’s already one available on my blog, but, as the code is already two years old, it is time for a new release.

Have fun!