By Cathy Dew
The MS Ignite conference was blizzard of announcements that can now be sorted into Wow, Excellent, Interesting and It’s About Time. Last week, we highlighted a slew of SharePoint features that will be released to general availability over the next 6 – 8 months. With this article, we over the rest of the announced features we are most excited about and think you should be watching for as a final release and implementing over the next year.
Lists & Library Features
One area that has seen the most movement and continues to do so, are the interfaces for Lists and Document Libraries. With the new Modern UI cemented into the list and library areas, the build out of more features and integration of the new apps continues.
Collect Info when Flow is Launched
One of the biggest pieces missing from MS Flow and its integration with SharePoint Lists and Libraries was the collection of information up-front when the workflow started. That will soon be changing, and you’ll be able to interact with the person starting the Flow.
Built-In Flows (Review/Feedback)
Microsoft will be providing some out-of-the-box Flows for SharePoint starting with the Review and Feedback Flow. This new Flow will be available for first release in December. Flow will also soon be working with Check-in and Check-out, giving you a new option for custom approval and publishing processes for libraries requiring Check-in and Check-in.
MS Forms is finally coming of age. Tighter integration between MS Forms and SharePoint Online means you can build native looking forms within SharePoint.
Even though SharePoint Lists & Libraries can hold 30 Million records, the effective limit is 5,000 without some careful planning and backend administrative setup. MS announced that the rollout of Predictive Indexing will assist user within the Modern UI to search and filter their very large lists without the previous headaches. With the update, SharePoint is designed to “sense” when fields used in sorts and views need indexing, and adds the indexes itself. This new feature is supposed to reduce throttling and data unavailability.
One of the bigger features missing from SharePoint Online is the wide variety of options you used to have with on-premise and custom columns. While not completely back, Microsoft has added the ability to add data visualization keys to columns, with very little code knowledge. Power users can now cut and paste JSON formatting scripts and add them to a column to highlight data based on the field value. Microsoft has pre-released the column formatting documentation.
With the cloud, your data is now also spread hither and yon, between public and private site collections, MS Teams / Office 365 Groups, and don’t forget OneDrive. Microsoft is trying to utilize a larger net, so that searches will encompass all your data storage points, and surface the most relevant options to you first. Think of the new search as Delve on Steroids. The whole new and improved search engine is backed by MS Graph, and therefore accessible, via REST API, to your applications too.
MS is also is touting search speed and interface improvements that should make your interactions with search less intrusive and more useful.
Microsoft has been pushing the new development tools hard and they are just starting to be ready for prime time. These next releases will be critical for Microsoft to drive adoption and achieve critical mass and support for their new tool sets.
Like MS Forms, MS Power Apps will become even more tightly integrated with SharePoint and, hopefully, soon make you forget about InfoPath completely. Page level integration, as well as, the ability to integrate SharePoint data with over 160 other online data sources could make MS Power Apps the gateway to your first low-code application environment. MS Power Apps will also have a new web part available for first release tenants in December.
Released just before Ignite, are Tenant Scoped deployments. Before the new release, you had to add your new SharePoint Fx webpart to each site collection. Now, when you deploy your app to the App Catalog, you can flag it for Tenant wide availability and have it automatically added to every site collection in the tenant.
SharePoint Fx Extensions are also now released for general availability. The important enhancements that developers have been looking for are: add a script to every page in a site (application customizers), custom rendering of files (field customizers), add custom buttons and toolbars, and context menus.
Those familiar with SharePoint Property Bags will welcome the addition of a Tenant level Property Bag. Storing key-value pairs in the Tenant Property Bag are currently only settable via PowerShell.
Packaging and deploying your SharePoint Fx solutions should get easier soon. Changes coming with the deployment options will allow the developer to package their whole solutions into one file, and SharePoint will deploy and host the assets within the Tenant’s Content Delivery Network.
MS Graph APIs
MS Graph is opening up more of SharePoint, and access to SharePoint lists is available via the Beta REST API URL. Currently supported is list navigation, and creating and updating list items.
File Handlers v2
For those diving into the murky development waters, an update to the File Handers within Office365 should be helpful. Again, using MS Graph as the gateway, you’ll have more robust access to file properties, meta data, permissions, and sharing options. You’ll also be able to build custom file handlers for file types not currently supported by Office 365.
One area that has seen a huge change in features and direction, is data governance. The original out of the box features on-premise SharePoint Admins had come to grudgingly accept have been replaced wholesale with new Office 365 Governance features at the beginning of the year. More are coming in the next 12 months.
Hybrid Content Types
Hybrid SharePoint installations are going to be around for a while. Since MS also announced SharePoint 2019 as supporting on-premise installations, companies are looking for tighter integration and administration between their local and cloud base systems. One of the biggest announcements in this area is the addition of Hybrid Content Types. Now Content Types can be created and managed company wide, both on-premise and in the cloud. This will allow further company standardization of content types and ensure that no matter where your SharePoint data is stored, you are managing the meta data for the files exactly the same way.
Event Base Document Retention
Currently Document Retention policies are time based. With the new Event based retention polices, the Office 365 Administrator can create document end-of-life events. Document removal can be triggered via events like project closure or contract termination
Multinational Data Residency Options
New Multi-Geo capabilities are being enabled as part of Office 365 and SharePoint Online, which will allow the Office and SharePoint Administrators to store data in targeted regional data centers by site and user. In addition, the storage location for search indexes can also be defined. This will greatly help global companies ensure compliance with international data residency requirements.
There was too much from Ignite 2017 to post in one Article. Revisit the first post on Ignite 2017 and check out the Ignite Panels and Breakouts:
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