SharePoint 2013 Hosting – Modify User Profile Properties on SharePoint Online 2013 using SPServices


Sometimes people ask me why I’m still bothering with the crufty old SOAP Web Services in SPServices. After all, there are REST and CSOM to play with and Microsoft has decided to deprecate the SOAP Web Services. In cases where you’re implementing on Office365 and simply can’t deploy server side code, SPServices can sometimes be just the right tool. It’s easy to use and it gets stuff done that you need.

So I will tell you about updating User Profile data and shows you how to easily make those updates on Office365 using SPServices.


The Use Case

SharePoint 2013 users need to modify (specific) user-profile-properties client-side without having to navigate away to their ‘MySite’ site and swift through rows of user properties.
(Following is an mock-up showing a simple interface to update a user profile property via CEWP)


Simple interface to update Fax number from a CEWP. (Basic demo)

The Usual Solution

In the SharePoint 2013 universe there are 2 ways to read/write data client-side. CSOM and REST. Unfortunately CSOM and REST are not fully there yet when it comes to matching the server side functionality. In this specific case, one could use CSOM or REST to retrieve (read) User Profile Properties but there is no way to modify (update) these properties from client-side. Here’s Microsoft’s official position.

“Not all functionality that you find in the Microsoft.Office.Server.UserProfiles assembly is available from client APIs. For example, you have to use the server object model to create or change user profiles because they’re read-only from client APIs (except the user profile picture)”

Hence The Dirty Workaround

So our workaround is SOAP, the forgotten granddaddy of Web services. The User Profile Service web service, from the SharePoint 2007 days, has a method called ModifyUserPropertyByAccountName which functions exactly as it sounds. But since SOAP can be a bit intimidating & ugly to write, we’ll use SPServices, “a jQuery library which abstracts SharePoint’s Web Services and makes them easier to use”

So here’s how we’ll use SPServices to modify User Profile Properties. The method is applicable to SharePoint 2013 & 2010 (online & on-prem) versions.

1. Reference SPServices library

You have two options here. You can either download the SPService library and reference it locally or reference it from its CDN:

2. Create updateUserProfile() Function

The following function simulates the ModifyUserPropertyByAccountName method on the User Profile Service web service.

3. Invoke updateUserProfile() Function

This function takes 3 parameters.

  • userId: Your userID. The format is “domain\userId” for on-prem and “i:0#.f|membership|<federated ID>” for SharePoint Online.
  • propertyName: The user profile property that needs to be changed
  • propertyValue: The new user profile property value


Note: The above code works but notice that you are passing a hardcoded userId.

To pass the current userId dynamically, we can use CSOM’s get_currentUser(). But since that’s based on the successful execution of ClientContext query, we need to “defer” invoking “updateUserProfile()” until we have received current userId. Therefore we’ll create a Deferred object as follows:

Now when we invoke updateUserProfile(), it will execute getUserLogin() first, implying that the ClientContext query was successful :

4. Full working code

Steps to replicate the demo

  1. Copy the following code snippet and save it as a text file (.txt)
  2. Upload this text file anywhere on your SharePoint site (e.g. Site Assets). Remember its path.
  3. On the same SharePoint site, add/edit a page and insert a CEWP (Content Editor Web Part)
  4. On the web part properties of CEWP, add the path to the text file under “Content Link” section
  5. Click Ok, and save the page.


You can only edit the user profile properties that are editable (unlocked) on your MySite. Certain fields like department are usually locked for editing as per company policy