Product overview by Vlad Catrinescu – requested by QIPoint, but thoughts are my own.
As SharePoint is becoming the central hub of information and publishing in enterprises across the world, employees rely on it daily to find required information for their day to day job. After numerous migrations, organizational changes and URL changes, your SharePoint might have broken links, which can cause frustration among your employees. Those links can be everywhere in ASPX pages, quick launch navigation as well as directly inside documents. Scanning the thousands of documents and pages and testing every link is impossible, but luckily, some SharePoint third-party vendors created tools for us to make sure we find those links with just a click.
In this blog post we will talk about one of those tools by QIPoint called SharePoint Broken Link Manager. Before continuing, here are a few words directly from the SharePoint Broken Link Manager Website
- No server side installation
- Supports scanning within file contents such as PDF, Text, HTML, MS Word, MS Excel, etc..
- Export report to SharePoint List, MS Excel, CSV, Essentials Lite Client (ClickOnce) Application [NEW!]
- Automatically Email Reports with a Built-In Scheduler
- Automatic Find & Replace
- Find & Replace supports Exact/Absolute URLs, Relative URLs, UNC File Share Paths, and wildcard/partial string replacements
- Inclusion & Exclusion Rules to fully customize what gets scanned
- Enhanced Caching of URLs to improve performance
- Customize Timeout Values
- Built-In mechanism for Site Owners to import user-defined list of URLs to fix/replace
QIPoint SharePoint Broken Link Manager Review
The SharePoint Broken Link Manager is a client side application, meaning that there is nothing you need to install on the SharePoint Server itself, and the application can be installed on any computer. This is great because there is less risk for your SharePoint Farm, and a department can decide to buy and use this tool, without affecting any other site other than the ones they have access to. The Installation is a simple Next, Next Finish, and once you finish installing it, you get to a dashboard similar to the one in the screenshot below. The first thing we will have to do is add the Site Collections we want to manage.
The Site Collection Adding Process is pretty straightforward, and you simply need to specify the URL, Authentication method as well as Username and password.
Once the site is added, it’s added for the whole “SharePoint Essential Toolkit” suite, which includes more than Broken Link Manager. In this review however, we will only focus on the Broken Link Manager tool. Simply Right Click on the site, and select “Broken Link Report”
A new tab will open, and you need to select the Scan Options, such as what items to scan, do you want to scan the List Item Attachments as well or not and more.
A bit lower on the Scan Options, we can also select to Find and Replace certain links. This could be useful right after a Migration from “oldurl” to “newurl”. However on this first scan, I will simply scan and not replace anything.
When replacing links, you also have the options to require versioning before replacing, as well as to preserve the important Author and Date. This is very important for all companies.
After running the job, we get a report of all the links in our Site Collection, what the URL is, what the display value is, when it was last modified, as well as the Author of the item where that link was found. The level of detail included is awesome, and very useful.
I love the fact that there is a lot of information in this report, however I think it could be a little more user friendly. As an IT Pro, I know what HTTP Status code 200, 503, 404 and they do help me know what is really happening, this might not also be valid for a SharePoint Intranet Manager without a more technical background. All the codes are explained in the user manual which helps, however I wish there was a view called “Broken Links” which only showed me the stuff needing fixing. I did filter on Error 503, and saw my two broken links.
I did find that there is an option you can select in the first page to ‘Only Show Broken Links’ in the report, this will then remove all valid ‘OK’ links and only show broken ones. Also, I discovered that I could drag and drop the HTTP Status Code column which would then group all the erroneous links in groups and also I could group by SharePoint Item Title, so then it was easier for me to locate the files and SharePoint Items that contain the broken links.
Once you know the broken links, you can open them to validate it’s broken directly from the report, and you can also open the SharePoint item (page, document, list item, etc.) where it was found, directly from the report! This can be really useful for a fast check before fixing it.
This is the reporting part of SharePoint Broken, now let’s look at how we automatically fix them. To test this, I have added links in the following locations:
- ASPX Page
- Link List
- Word Document
- PDF Document
In the Report Settings I have added the old value “oldhome” , and asked it to switch to “newhome”. If you just want to see what the change looks like, you can use the “Flag Only” check box, and that will show you in the report what it would have changed it to, but not actually change it.
I will also select “Preserve Author and Date”, so it doesn’t mess up my company metadata.
The tool was able to replace my links, in all the locations, inside the SharePoint pages, as well as the documents, which is pretty amazing. Other cool features include being able to export reports both in Excel, as well as in a small standalone application offered by QIpoint that doesn’t require an install. You can also schedule the jobs to run every week for example, and email you the report.
In this blog post, we have reviewed the SharePoint Broken Link Manager tool, part of the SharePoint Essentials Toolkit by QIPoint. This tool is aimed at Site Owners who want to make sure their Sites do not have any broken links that can cause a loss in productivity and user frustration. The SharePoint Broken Link Manager tool is a client side application, meaning that it’s installed on a client computer, and not on the SharePoint Server, therefore making it easy for a Site Owner, or Department to purchase it, without affecting other sites in the SharePoint farm.
During the review, I found the QIPoint tool to have all the features I would expect, and all the features worked great. What I would have loved is a bit more user friendliness for less technical users on the broken link report. Having the HTTP Status code is very useful, however a view called for example “Broken Links” that includes a filter on HTTP 404, 503, etc… Out of the box would have been amazing!
Other than that report, I really see this tool as being extremely useful right after a migration, as well as running on a schedule to make sure your SharePoint links always get to the right information. If you’re looking for a way to find and fix your SharePoint Broken links, make sure you check SharePoint Broken Link Manager by QIPoint! To find out more, click the logo below to go to the product site.