Inside the Teams Wiki

Where’s My Wiki?

A couple of day ago, I was asked where did Teams store its wiki data. The question came about because the Wiki wasn’t searchable in Teams, which seemed odd for an Office 365 component. The idea behind the Wiki is that it’s a place where team members can share notes in a somewhat more structured way than exists in channel conversations. You can discuss Wiki contents in conversations by either including @ mentions in the body of its text or by starting a conversation linked to the Wiki.

The Wiki is a default tab that’s added to every channel after it is created. You can rename or remove the tab if you don’t want it, which often happens when an organization uses OneNote for note-taking.

Teams Wiki Data

Some quick investigation revealed that Teams stores wiki content in a document library of the SharePoint team site belonging to the team where the content is created. Although each channel in a team gets a wiki tab,  Teams doesn’t create anything in SharePoint until the first time that someone opens the wiki. At this point, Teams creates a folder named after the channel in the Teams Wiki Data document library in the team site, which you can see through Site Contents (Figure 1).

WikiContents
Figure 1: The Teams Wiki Data document library in Site Contents

If you open Teams Wiki Data, you’ll see the folders for the channels in the team where wiki content has been created.

Wiki Sections and Pages

Within the channel, a Teams Wiki is composed of sections and pages, just like OneNote. You can insert text (with a limited set of styles, images (from Teams, OneDrive, one of the cloud storage locations configured for the team, or your workstation), hyperlinks, or a table. You can also create bulleted and numbered lists and highlight text.

EditingWiki
Figure 2: Editing Wiki content in Teams

Overall, text formatting for wiki content is limited too and is like the editor used to compose messages in Teams. You won’t write War and Peace in the wiki, but the editor is perfectly adequate for simple composition.

Wiki Files in SharePoint

Each page in the wiki is represented as an MHT file stored in the document library. The saving mechanism for the wiki is interesting because the files stored in SharePoint don’t report updates. At least, their modified date doesn’t change and the reported timestamp is when the page is created. All of the sections in a page are in the same MHT file.

WikiFiles
Figure 3: Wiki files in SharePoint document library

It’s possible to add multiple Wiki tabs to a channel (to confuse users). All the pages for all the wiki tabs end up in the same folder for the channel.

Error opening Wiki Files

If you try to open a Wiki MHT from SharePoint, Word Online is the suggested application. But if you proceed, you see the error:

This page is automatically updated from the Wiki in Microsoft Teams. Any changes made here will be overwritten. To edit this page, open it in Microsoft Teams.

The reason why this block on edit exists is that the MHT files are just pointers to items in a hidden SharePoint list (Figure 4) where the actual content is stored. You can find this list through Site Contents. When the wiki opens a page or section it fetches the content from the list (you can see the HTML formatted text in the wikicontent field shown in Figure 3).

TeamsWikiHidden2
Figure 4: Wiki content in a hidden list

No Search

To come back to the original question, any content you enter into a Teams Wiki is invisible for search purposes. You can’t find it in Teams or by using SharePoint Search or Delve. This is rather a mystery because Microsoft makes a big thing of being able to search for content across Office 365, but perhaps it’s a feature that’s “coming soon.”

To learn more about Teams and the tabs you can create for channels, read Chapter 13 of the Office 365 for IT Pros ebook.

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