PowerPivot thumbnails requires Windows Server 2012 GUI

Hello,

We found out a small issue with PowerPivot 2012 and SharePoint 2013 this week.

You may be aware that the PowerPivot for SharePoint is able to create snapshots/thumbnail previews of your document which is then used to display a nice little image in the carrousel view.
This fancy little feature is generated under the hood by an executable located in the bin folder of the SharePoint installation folder (C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\Web Server Extensions\15\bin).

While it works well under common context, it will fail in a particular scenario. I won’t give you all the different ways to troubleshoot this as Internet already as a ton of article around it but here’s one that is very useful :
http://blogs.technet.com/b/excel_services__powerpivot_for_sharepoint_support_blog/archive/2012/12/06/invoking-and-analyzing-the-getsnapshot-exe.aspx

Our scenario is as follow :

  • The server hosting SharePoint and Powerpivot is running Windows 2012
  • Windows Server 2012 is configured using MSI (Minimal Server Interface)

In this particular case, the “GallerySnapshot.exe” will crashes when processing the document.

 

 

 

 

If you look in the “info” file generated, you quickly find out that there is nothing relevant to help you. Here’s the content of the log file :
“<SnapshotCaptureLog serverUrl=”http://<webapp name>” workbookUrl=”http://<site url>/SharePoint/PpowerPivot/Book1.xlsx” fileNameBase=”thumbnail” snapshotCount=”26″ timeout=”600″ />”. That’s it ! Nothing else.

In the “GallerySnapshot.exe has stopped working” error window details, we can see a small hint of what’s going on : “Problem Signature 04: System.Windows.Forms”.

I performed the same exercise on a different server with the same result. I then intalled the windows feature Server Graphical Shell (Install-WindowsFeature Server-Gui-Shell) and restarted the server.

Once rebooted, running the GallerySnapshot.exe again with the same arguments went successfully.

To sum-up, if you require the file preview in a PowerPivot Gallery, you will necessarily have to configure your servers with at least the Graphical User Interface. Let’s hope Microsoft will remove this pre-requisite in a future cumulative update or service pack but until then, forget Windows Server 2012 MSI !

Sad, sad, sad.

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2 thoughts on “PowerPivot thumbnails requires Windows Server 2012 GUI

  1. Wesley,

    I am missing the getsnapshot.exe from the bin directory. Where can I download this required tool? I’ve reinstalled PowerPivot twice using the configuration tool for SP 2016 / PP 2016.

    1. Hi Aaron,

      Unfortuantely, I didn’t installed PowerPivot 2016 so I don’t know if they still use the same process to generate the snapshots. I can’t help you on this one.

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