I recently replied to a tweet from Tom Arbuthnot talking about the insistence on making Wikis default in Microsoft Teams, and the go to technology for meeting notes within Teams meetings. I’m a massive fan of OneNote, and think it is by far the best tool for things like meeting notes, even in the more limited Windows App version rather than the older Office version which is being deprecated. And although this is pretty subjective and my own opinion it got me to thinking, why are they used so heavily in Microsoft Teams and where are they actually stored?
As you may well have seen by now, there is now a “Meeting Notes” button within Microsoft Teams meetings which allows you to create and collaborate on meeting notes from within the Teams meeting itself. This is very handy, but does it do everything we want it to? Not really. Although it is great that it is stored within the meeting itself, and accessible to everyone, it is difficult to remove that content from the meeting itself and distribute outside of Teams (I know Microsoft don’t want people working this way, but certainly until the world comes around to “Modern Meetings” this is just going to have to happen), and pretty key for me, it lacks the ability for true co-authoring of the meeting notes as whilst someone works on a section it is locked for all other users.
What’s with the Wiki?
After some digging – and when I say digging, I mean full on archaeological excavation – I found the meeting notes wikis are actually stored in two locations, first within the Microsoft Teams Data folder in the root of OneDrive in a .mht file and as hidden list items also stored in OneDrive. These lists aren’t visible in the site contents within OneDrive, and are only accessible if you go to the Site Settings page and look at your recently accessed resources, or know the GUID of the meeting you were in (this is included in the meeting invite link).
The first thing of note here is where the wiki is created – in the case of a one-to-one meeting, or a meeting held outside of a channel, this is stored in the OneDrive of the person who started taking the meeting notes not the owner/creator of the meeting. Although this seems counter-intuitive at first, it actually makes sense that if Person B starts making notes in Person A’s meeting, they don’t have permission to create and edit files in Person A’s OneDrive, so this would have to be created in their own instead, but as an administrator looking for notes made during a meeting this needs to be kept in mind.
For a meeting created within a Team there is a separate hidden document library within the Team called Teams Wiki Data and this is where that same .mht file is created, as well as the same hidden list. As far as I can see, other than where they are stored these artefacts that make up the list are consistent whether from a Team meeting or standalone meeting.
What’s with the list?
The list is made up of 37 fields you can see below. When broken down, the entries into the list work out like this:
Wiki = Wiki – Standard entry across all entries for all meetings.
Page = Meeting Title – taken from the title of the meeting sent out.
Section = The section title given by the user when making meeting notes. The section is the only entry that has
WikiContent and that is the HTML content the users write in their meeting notes. You can see the entries for me side by side with the meeting notes below:
OK, but why?
One of Microsoft’s big efforts over the last 2-3 years within Office 365 has been to improve the security and compliance capabilities within the products, partly in response to the introduction of GDPR, but also to reduce the barriers to entry for companies and sectors where there are greater compliance and regulatory standards that need to be met, which may previously have stopped them from migrating to the cloud. One of the key technologies here is Retention Policies. Thinking about how a retention policy might apply to OneNote, it’s hard to see how a retention would be applied to a notebook which has notes added at different times, and what/where do you remove it? It could just be one applicable word within a massive long page of content, so this approach actually makes quite a lot of sense!
Hopefully this starts to make sense of how and why Microsoft Teams meeting notes are stored within a Wiki, and where this data is if you ever need it.