Before we can make search call to Microsoft 365 in our code – we need to be authenticated.
There are many kinds of authentication flows Microsoft supports. For more details – please refer to Microsoft Identity Platform documentation but in short – there are two kind of authentications – as current user and as daemon application and in both cases we need an application registration in Azure.
Briefly here is what you need to have for your custom application to authenticate to Microsoft 365:
You do not need Certificates or Secrets for authentication as current user.
Configure Secrets or Certificates for daemon apps
Daemon apps (aka service apps, also called background jobs) – all kind unattended access scenarios do not require configuration under Authentication blade – but require Secrets or Certificate. You’d need to be familiar with certificates, as certificates considered as more secure way to authenticate and some authentication flows allow secrets, but some require certificates.
So for daemon apps you need a secret and/or certificate:
Here is how I configure daemon app for PowerShell.
Having an app configured as above – you should be able to authenticate against Microsoft 365 Graph API, but should not have access to resources, as app is not authorized yet.
Why do we need to implement search in our applications?
Use-cases for search on behalf of current user
Along with the usual ones – where you just need your app to search for some data and bring it to user – there is one different scenario I’d like to share:
You need to quickly detect content in SharePoint that is open for everyone
Brute force solution – getting detailed permissions report for all SharePoint sites might not be a feasible option, especially in large environments – it is a very resource-consuming task and might take days and weeks. So consider the following…
Since search is security-trimmed – a user can get only search results he/she already has access to; but what if we create an account and do not grant any SharePoint permissions or group memberships to this account, and then we’d search for everything on behalf of this account? That would mean that all what search returns represent content that is shared with everyone. There are some tricks and gotchas – here is the separate article on the same.
Use-cases for unattended search
What are the use-cases when you need to search in your daemon app or background job? Be aware that when you search on behalf of application credentials – search is NOT security-trimmed and your query would run against ALL SharePoint content… Here are some possible scenarios.
Let say you want some data is never shared with anyone and never appeared in search for anyone
Or you might want to investigate what is the location some specific data is available at
Imagine you are building sites classification system and you use indexed custom site properties – so you are able to refine search results based on site metadata to get list of specific sites (adaptive scopes used in retention policy are based on the same mechanics)
Automation – let say you have a requirement to configure every tenant site in some ways – for instance – add some hosts to allowed domains to embed video or set some site properties based on who created the site or activate or deactivate some features and so on – how would you do that? You’d probably have a scheduled job that runs let say every hour against only new sites – sites created during that last hour. How would you get these recently created sites? Search with Graph API is the only nice solution today.
Below is how do I search Microsoft 365 content programmatically from PowerShell using MS Graph API, PowerShell PnP, Microsoft Graph module, MSAL library being authenticated as user or daemon application. Let me focus on SharePoint content here but you can use the same technique to search through other Microsoft 365 services. Also, I’ll be using PowerShell but same ideas should work for other platforms/languages – Python, C#, node.js etc.
To search on behalf of currently authenticated user we need delegated “Sites.Read.All” API permissions. I recommend you to add both Graph API and SharePoint API permissions as different libraries might use different API’s under the hood. Ensure you add delegated “Sites.Read.All” even if you already have “Sites.FullControl.All” as by some reason “Sites.FullControl.All” does not always work for search.
Here is how an app API permissions to search as current user should look like:
For unattended search – e.g. search on behalf of daemon app – we need application “Sites.Read.All” API permissions. Again, I suggest both Graph API and SharePoint API permissions added. Here is how an app API permissions to search as daemon app should look like:
Ensure you got admin consent for API permissions.
In case you have incorrect permissions in your app – Microsoft Graph will be kind enough to inform you exactly what you need. Example:
“Access to ChatMessage in Graph API requires the following permissions: Chat.Read or Chat.ReadWrite, ChannelMessage.Read.All. However, the application only has the following permissions granted: Sites.Read.All, User.Read”
Assuming we have configured apps – let us get started with
Microsoft Graph API
Microsoft Graph API allows search through all the Microsoft 365 content – including Exchange e-mail messages, Yammer (Viva Engage) and Teams chat messages and surely OneDrive and SharePoint content (please refer to the original doc).
Authenticate as current user to Search with Graph API
I use MSAL.PS PowerShell module to get token, then I build a headers variable
If you are getting error message “SearchRequest Invalid (Region is required when request with application permission.)”:
that’s OK, just modify your body to include region like this (“region”: “NAM” for North America or “GBR” or …). Also, I can modify body with from/size for paging (technique used to iterate through search results if there are many) and return just specific fields to decrease traffic and improve performance:
For daemon app authentication we need a certificate configured in Azure App and installed on the user machine. Daemon app authentication code sample (please specify your tenant id, app (client) id and certificate thumbprint:
Microsoft recently (Oct 2023) announced Microsoft Graph command-line interface (CLI) tool – mgc. Microsoft: “The Microsoft Graph PowerShell command-line interface (CLI) acts as an API wrapper for the Microsoft Graph APIs, exposing the entire API set for use from the command line”. Example:
mgc users list --filter "displayName eq 'John Smith'"
Meantime there is a Microsoft Graph PowerShell SDK (PowerShell module Microsoft.Graph ) since 2020. Example:
Get-MgUser -Filter "displayName eq 'John Smith'"
So, what is the difference? Why Microsoft provides two similar tools? What are the use case scenarios, functionality and scope of each one?
how to connect to SharePoint list from Azure Data factory and
how to deal with connection error code 23201 “Failed to get metadata of odata service, please check if service url and credential is correct and your application has permission to the resource“
You are configuring Azure Data Factory pipeline. You want to connect to SharePoint List as a data source.
To establish connection to SharePoint site you need to provide Site Url, tenant Id, service principal Id and service principal key:
Service principal here could be
SharePoint app-only service principal registered at SharePoint site
Azure registered app
In both cases you get “service principal Id” – which is App Id or Client Id and “service principal key” which is app secret (client secret).
Note: in Sep 2023 Microsoft implemented update to all Microsoft 365 tenants. According to the update, by default only tenant administrators can create or update ACS service principal by default. If site collection admin starting from Oct 2023 can register SharePoint app-only spn via appregnew.aspx or provide ACS-based permissions via appinv.aspx – that means tenant admins switched this back.
So, if registering a new SharePoint app-only service principal is still available for your tenant – you can get service principal Id and key from SharePoint via appregnew and/or provide ACS-based permissions via appinv – and there should be no problem connecting to SPO list from ADF.
If a site collection administrator or owner tries to register app in SharePoint with appregnew.aspx or provide permissions to the app with appinv.aspx – and he/she gets: Your SharePoint tenant admin doesn’t allow site collection admins to create (update) app permissions. Please contact your SharePoint administrator:
that means registering service principal in SharePoint is disabled. In this case Microsoft recommend using Azure application registration – with MS Graph API Sites.Selected and SharePoint Sites.Selected API permissions configured, consented by tenant admin and with access to specific SharePoint site provided by SharePoint admins (refer to this article for more details).
If you obtained service principal Id and key as Azure Registered App – connection to SharePoint site from Azure Data Factory does not always works. When you configure connection and click test – you might get an error:
Failed to get metadata of odata service, please check if service url and credential is correct and your application has permission to the resource. Expected status code: 200, actual status code: BadRequest, response is :
<p class="heading1">Request Error</p>
<p>The server encountered an error processing the request. See server logs for more details.</p>
So the issue above is a combination of two controversial circumstances:
Microsoft discourages using SharePoint app-only service principals and disabled ability for site owners to register SharePoint app-only service principals and provide ACS-based permissions in favor of Azure Registerd Apps with Sites.Selected based permissions.
Azure Data Factory still require ACS-based permissions
If Microsoft disabled ability for site owners to to provide ACS-based permissions for the app – that does not mean it is fully disabled. It turns out – SharePoint admins are still able to register SharePoint app-only principals and provide ACS-based permissions.
The recommended steps are:
register Application in Azure (not in SharePoint) to get App (client) Id this could be done by user from Azure App Registrations (or, if this ability is disabled by tenant admin – there must be a way for users to request an application registered in Azure)
provide to this App Id ACS-based permissions at the target SharePoint site via appinv.aspx – this is done by a person who got at the same time two roles
SharePoint admin role enabled and
The specific site collection administrator permissions
Actually, the only you need is to provide any ACS-based access for the application. Even to another site, web or list. You can also remove this just provided ACS-based access. It seems like the moment you click “Trust” when you provide access via AppInv.aspx – something is triggered in Microsoft Identity Management token issuing mechanics so Azure Data factory connection starts working (assuming Sites.Selected access was provides).
Surely connection will work if you provide only ACS-based permissions (with no Sites.Selected permissions), but this is what we all want to avoid by any means.
More fun! Connection to entire site will start working even if you provide SharePoint app-only (ACS-based) permissions to some specific list. Though later, when you try to ingest data – you will be able to ingest only this list data.
Environment this is tested:
Powershell module used to enable/disable 16.0.24120.12000 Microsoft.Online.SharePoint.PowerShell
Microsoft implemented Sites.Selected API permissions for Azure registered apps in 2021-2022 as a preferred way to access specific SharePoint site with application credentials. Microsoft recommend using Azure registered apps instead of SharePoint App-Only service principals and “softly” push developers toward Azure registered apps. Microsoft recently (Aug-Sep 2023) implemented an update and pushed it to all existing Microsoft 365 tenants – so that ability for site admins to register service principals at sites is turned off by default.
So starting Aug-Sep 2023 site owners/admins cannot register and provide ACS-based permissions for apps to their SharePoint sites.
There is a new feature published at Microsoft roadmap site:
Microsoft 365 admin center: Manage ownerless Microsoft 365 groups and teams
Teams, Outlook groups, Team Sites etc. powered by Microsoft 365 Groups supports two roles: members and owners. Members can collaborate with others in the group through files, emails, messages etc. Owners manage the group membership and monitor content and conversations. When employees leave an organization or switch projects internally, it results in their existing user accounts getting deleted. If such employees were group owners, keeping track of their groups becomes critical to ensure accountability within the organization. We have introduced a new ownership governance policy to help automate the management of ownerless groups by requesting active members to become owners of the group. Admins can define who is eligible for these notifications and configure what notifications and how often these notifications are sent to active group members. Users, who are members of the ownerless groups can simply accept or decline request via the actionable email message.
Feature ID: 180749
Added to roadmap: 10/10/2023
Last modified: 10/10/2023
Product(s): Microsoft 365 Admin Center
Cloud instance(s): GCC
Release phase(s): General Availability
But based on the feature description – all looks exactly as what we already have for years as “Microsoft 365 ownerless groups policy” which you can configure under Microsoft 365 Admin Center -> Settings -> Org settings -> Microsoft 365 groups