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SharePoint Designer – Error: Could not save the list changes to the server

I was working with a client recently and tried to create a new form for a list within SharePoint Designer and received the unfriendly error:

Could not save the list changes to the server.


I had created list forms on this list before, so I began back tracking what has changed since I had created one on this list before.  One thing I did was change a set of Lookup columns within the list to point to new lists and removed the old lists where lookup columns used to point to.

When looking at the list columns I found the lookup column that didn’t have a list that it pointed to:


When you go into the column you will see again there is no corresponding list for the lookup:


I deleted the old column and REFRESHED SharePoint Designer.  If you just try to create the form without refreshing you will receive the same error.


Once I refreshed…Voila!


Hopefully if anyone else gets this error this post will be helpful!


InfoPath 2013 for Office 365 ProPlus

InfoPath 2013 is sticking true to the continuing support statements that were made about the software by releasing a standalone version.  For anyone who was running the Office 365 ProPlus edition of Microsoft Office, it was not possible to also run InfoPath.  Thankfully this has now changed and the standalone version can run side-by-side with Office and is now available to download from Microsoft.

Click the image below to download


I ran the install and everything worked great!

2015-09-08 09_01_20-Microsoft InfoPath 2013

Should I still be using InfoPath in my SharePoint or O365 projects?

To continue with a favorite consultant response unfortunately is “it depends…”  InfoPath is supported in Office 365 and is supported in SharePoint Server 2016 so it is not going anywhere soon.  This is a question that I hear a lot and I wanted to put down my high level recommendations.

  • Using InfoPath to edit list forms is just fine
  • Using InfoPath for short term form solutions is also ok
  • Using InfoPath for enterprise business process solutions or long term projects should be used as an exception

There are plenty other 3rd party or development solutions that would ensure better longevity.  If you want to discuss any unique scenarios, please reach out to us and we can work on a strategy that best fits your business needs.

Utilizing the new Related Items column via workflow – Part 2

This is a continuation from Part 1 of the blog post Utilizing the new Related Items column via workflow. In Part 1 I wrote about the scenario that I had in which I wanted to connect a document library and a custom list using both a lookup column and a Related Items column. This post discussed how to make the column visible so it can be added to a list or library. In this post I will discuss a strategy to use a SharePoint 2013 Workflow created by SharePoint designer to interact with the Related items column.

To solve my scenario of showing what documents are connected to the deliverable list, I added the Related Items column to the custom Deliverables list. My hope was that I could perform these steps when documents are uploaded to the deliverable documents library:

  1. A document is uploaded to the deliverable documents library and a selection of the matching lookup from the deliverable list is chosen.
  2. The related items field on the corresponding deliverable list is updated with the document that is uploaded.
  3. As more items are added for the same deliverable list item the related items are appended on top of each other.

I found the format for updating the Related Items column from this blog post by Pieter Veenstra. This is the format for a single record in Related Items:


This is the format for multiple Related Items:


I just needed to find a way to use variables to input this data. I created a list workflow that happened on change and creation that was able to successfully perform these steps using variables! Here is the overall workflow and I will break down the sections below.


Setting Initial Variables


This section first pauses for a duration to allow the document to be fully checked in and then sets 2 variables.  The first variable, v_relate_deliverable_intID, gets the ID of the current item lookup value. The second variable, v_temp_related, gets the current status of the Related Items column in the Deliverable list that corresponds with the current item lookup value.


This information is needed to ensure that we don’t overwrite any data that already exists in the Related Items column. This variable is then used in the IF statement. This statement checks to see if there are already Related Items or not.

If we need to add to already existing Related Items

The primary steps of this section build the variables that are needed to take the existing Related Items string value and add on the new document’s string value.


The first 2 Find statements get the index number at the beginning and the end of the existing Related Item string where the outside brackets exist. For example, a broken down version of an item with 3 Related Items where we want to add a 4th would look like this: [{Item1},{Item2},{Item3}]. The brackets are existing at Index 0 and 24. These values are stored in the variables v_index_1 and v_index_2. Our end goal is to get [{Item4},{Item1},{Item2},{Item3}].

The next 2 Calculate statements add 1 and subtract 1 from the index to be able to perform the substring actions. Continuing my example this sets the 2 new calc and calc2 variables to 1 and 23.

The next statement which starts with Copy from… is actually the action named “Extract Substring of String from Index with Length.” This takes the indexes that we calculated with calc variables and outputs it to the variable output. Continuing my example this variable would now equal {Item1},{Item2},{Item3}.

The next 3 statements are used to build the new Related Item string for the item that we are adding. The format should look like this {“ItemId”:”[%Current Item:ID%]“:WebID”:GUID”,”ListID”:”GUID”}. 3 statements are needed because of a restriction in SharePoint Designer workflows. When trying to put that into a Set workflow variable action you receive the error:

“Using the special characters ‘[%%]’ or ‘[%xxx%]’ in any string, or using the special character ‘{‘ in a string that also contains a workflow lookup, may corrupt the string and cause an unexpected result when the workflow runs.”

2014-10-20 22_07_23-https___my.jci.com_sites_enterpriseIT_unity_pmo

To get around this error, the strings can be built separately and then combined. v_temp_start = {“ItemId”: and v_temp_end = “WebId”:GUID”,”ListID”:”GUID”}. The next command sets the variable output2 to [v_temp_start][Current Item ID][v_temp_end].  This gives us the full Related Item string into a variable. Continuing on the example above we now have {Item4}

The final statement in this section combines the already existing Related Items with the brackets removed with the new Related Item and wraps them in brackets. It sets the variable v_related_items to [[output2],[output]] as seen in the screenshot below.

2014-10-20 22_21_06-String Builder

If there are no existing Related Items

The steps of this section use the same logic as above to get the string value needed for the new Related Items text. We just need to get the string [{Item1}] without manipulating any already existing Related Item text.

2014-10-20 22_24_12-https___my.jci.com_sites_enterpriseIT_unity_pmo

These steps are identical to what is used and are broken into 3 statements to avoid the “Special characters..” error.

Updating the Deliverable List

The last statement before the transition to the end of the workflow is an “Update list item” action that is used to take the newly created Related Items string and update the corresponding item in the Deliverable list.

2014-10-20 22_29_34-https___my.jci.com_sites_enterpriseIT_unity_pmo

We are able to perform this step because we have the Related Deliverable column on our document library which we have put in the variable v_related_deliverable_intID. That means our update action can state in words with a screenshot below:

Update the Related Items column to the variable v_related_items for the item in the Deliverable list in which the Current Item ID matches v_related_deliverable_intID.

2014-10-20 22_32_38-Update List Item

Wrapping it up

Part 1 of this blog series discussed the scenario of connecting a list and a library using both a lookup column and the new Related Items column. This would allow visibility to the the connected content from both the list and the document library. First we needed to make the Related Items column visible and able to add to a list. Part 2 discussed how to update that column using a SharePoint designer workflow.

Below is a final screenshot of a list item with Related Item links that were automatically added to it when a document was uploaded to a corresponding library.

2014-10-20 22_37_12-Deliverable Tracker - Incomplete - Internet Explorer

I also added some JSLink on the web part to display the actual related items instead of just a count. But that is for another blog post! (maybe part 3?)

Utilizing the new Related Items column via workflow – Part 1

This is part 1 of a 2 part serious about using the Related Items column in SharePoint 2013.

I ran into an interesting request recently that ended up with an interesting solution. The request that I had was based around connecting a list and a document library. I built a custom list that was used to track deliverables for a project and all of the information about them. At first all actual document deliverables were “attached” to the list item when it was completed. This was not a good approach as attachments are not crawled and indexed. To fix that first issue, I created a separate document library that would hold the deliverables and added a lookup column back the deliverable list. Here are screenshots of the list and library with the lookup column.

Deliverable List

2014-09-12 21_49_56-Deliverable Tracker - BR 1.1 - Program Benefits Definition - Internet Explorer

Deliverable Documents

2014-09-12 21_47_04-Deliverable Documents - BR1.1 - GPP Deliverable Signoff.pdf - Internet Explorer

This was a good approach to tie the list item and a document together. But then the next question was asked…

If I am on the deliverable list, why can’t I see what documents are connected?

While pondering an answer I recalled that there was a new column in SharePoint 2013 called Related Items. I had used that column in the OOTB (out of the box) way with such things as tasks and videos but I had never tried to manipulate it myself. So I first went to try to add that column to my list to test it out but it was not listed as an available column to add…

Getting the Related Items column

This column is part of the hidden group (_Hidden) by default which does not display in the site columns list. This column can be found via the Task content type and updated to a new group. These are the steps to unhide the column:

  1. Navigate to Site Settings and click Site content types in the Web Designer Galleries section.
    2014-10-05 20_44_11-Site Settings - Internet Explorer
  2. Under the List Content Types section click on Task.
    2014-10-05 20_48_54-Site Content Types - Internet Explorer
  3. Click on the Related Items task link.
    2014-10-05 20_49_40-Content Type - Internet Explorer
  4. Click Edit site column.
    2014-10-05 20_50_25-Change Content Type Column - Internet Explorer
  5. Change the Group settings from _Hidden to an Existing group (such as Custom Columns).
    2014-09-24 21_18_23-Change Column - Internet Explorer

The Related Items column can now be added to a list or library! So I went ahead and added the column to my deliverable custom list and was ready to start figuring out how to use this column effectively.

In the next part I will discuss how to work with the Related Items column via a SharePoint 2013 workflow created in SharePoint Designer.

Link to part 2

Utilizing the new Related Items column via workflow – Part 2