Digital Transformation Today

What Happens When SharePoint Goes Unplugged

Last week in Las Vegas at the SharePoint Conference, Microsoft hosted a session with the spunplugged1SharePoint product team, titled, “SharePoint Unplugged.” This was a full hour of straight Q&A. Attendees could tweet or ask questions live to the panel and learn more about where their pressing needs may be in the roadmap queue.

So, what happens when SharePoint goes unplugged? I was interested to hear what fellow conference attendees cared about and what they had to say.

The panel included:

  • Adam Harmetz, Group Program Manager for SharePoint
  • Navjot Virk, Compliance, Migration and SP Server 2019
  • Jeremy Mazner, Group Program Manager for Collaboration Experiences
  • Russ Moore, Engineering Director

The Q&A was random, but I’ve taken some of the juiciest questions and grouped them into areas of interest.

Sites in SharePoint

Site Design –

Question: In modern sites, will the product team be creating an easier way to templatize and speed up initial site set ups?

Answer: The product team will be introducing column formatting and will draw more capability to deploy site designs with better site management. This will also be associated with easier set up for hub sites.

Page Management Features –

Question: Is page templating in roadmap? OOTB templates or copy this page is not in the timeline.

Answer: These features are further out on the roadmap than other things.

Site approvals –

Question: Are site approvals coming?

Answer: Yes, simple Flow creations for site approvals are in the roadmap for near term.

Subsites –

Question: Any advice on the direction for subsites?

Answer: The panel concluded that subsites can have a negative performance impact (it is actually significant). Russ Moore advocates not using subsites. There is a Powershell script to remove the create subsite button. There will be no change in support, but the panel advocates the use of hub sites with organization sites. They admit that shared permissions and other things that subsites have that hub sites don’t will be hard to replicate. However, the dynamic nature of hub sites will be better for scaling and management. They will also allow for point in time restore.

Server 2019

Upgrading from SharePoint Server 2016 to 2019 –

Question: Is the upgrade path from Server 2016 to Server 2019?

Answer: If you’re coming from 2013 and plan to skip 2016, upgrading with a partner or migration tool will be the best path. SharePoint Server 2019 will be very different from 2016. With the Server 2019 upgrade you can keep the classic mode and then toggle and turn on the modern UX. It should help ease the user adoption transition.

Hybrid auditing –

Question: What auditing will be available?

Answer: Most auditing capability will be in the cloud. You’ll need to set up to work in a hybrid scenario to leverage capabilities on-premises.

Office 365 Features

A centralized home in Office 365 –

Question: Will the product team be providing a better landing page, or home page for users to land on? The issue is: there is the home, SharePoint home, an intranet home and people are looking for ways to hook it up to the waffle.

Answer: The product team suggests leveraging a communications site and customizing to suit the needs for a landing page.

Wholistic Search across Office 365 –

Question: Is it on the roadmap to index all of Office 365?

Answer: Yes.

Powershell –

Question: Are there plans to make it easier to leverage commands that currently are performed as Powershell scripts?

Answer: Commands currently executed using Powershell will eventually be pulled into the Admin Center.

SharePoint Features, Enhancements, Wishlist Items

Webparts for data –

Question: Does the product team have plans on enabling this?

Answer: Yes, the product team has the idea of drawing more data from with display in a webpart.

Data classification for security –

Does the product team plan on leveraging labels to control security and compliance and programmatically manage site types and classification labels to associate policies.

Answer: This is the current direction.

Hub Roll ups for News and Activity –

Question: How will news and activity roll ups work? Can you push items down in nested sites?

Answer: News and activities that push down are hard to manage and figure out, and nested hubs won’t work for that. The product team is working through design questions to push items down in nested hubs and caution to not expect anything around nested hubs in 2018.

5000 List Item Limit –

Question: How do you recommend getting around the 5,000 list item limit?

Answer: The product team says this limit is essentially gone. They are currently in progress for lists with over 20,000 items, and have manipulated the UX to display 5,000 and then index another set and have it ready/sorted/filtered, etc.

Change a URL –

Question: How can we change a URL? This is a big feature that we’ve all been wanting for Office 365.

Answer: The product team says it is in the backlog and hoping to share something before the end of the calendar year.

What did the SharePoint Product Team say No to?

  • No web publishing in the future, Microsoft wants to be the best in intranets and even extranets. If you want a public facing website, don’t look at SharePoint.
  • No managed paths in Office 365 Admin Center.
  • No hashtags in structured content. Before they can introduce hashtags in structured SharePoint content, they’ll need to work out unified search throughout Office 365.
    What did I ask about?

Audience Targeting – Audience targeting for news and activities was mentioned in the keynote (SharePoint Virtual Summit).

Question: When can we expect to see audience targeting coming out?

Answer: The product team was shy to commit, but said by the end of calendar year 2018, think end of Q3 and by Q4. Page metadata is part of that roadmap and it will be released within weeks.

In Conclusion…

You might be wondering about actual timeframes for some of these answers. I know I was curious based on the fact that some of these features have been wanted since the modern framework came out. We’ll need to keep an eye on the roadmap. For some of these features that are slated for Q3/Q4 timeframe, I expect that we’ll learn more at Ignite in September.

Coming out of this session, it was no surprise how many of the same challenges we all share in working with this great product. There was an appreciation for the hard work from the product team, and I could tell from the updates, there is a lot of excitement and buzz about the future of this product and how it supports our work. What are your challenges with SharePoint, Office 365, or SharePoint Server? Did any of these resolve questions you’ve had? What would you ask the SharePoint Product Team?

Leave your questions for the Product Team in the comments section below and I’ll see about getting them answered.

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