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The Revelations of SharePoint or my recap of Ignite

First off, the event was huge! Ignite was able to draw over 24,000 attendees from all over the world and the content (ranging from SharePoint and Office 365 to Exchange and Azure) was top notch!  I really enjoyed getting to catch up with so many people in the community and help launch the new Nintex vTE (Virtual Technical Evangelist, read MVP program). It was a truly awesome experience! I’m still not sure about the musical selection for the Attendee Celebration though…

While there were numerous developments, so many in fact that you’ll simply need to visit Microsoft’s Channel 9 to get caught up, I’d like to focus on my post from last week where I threw a couple of things out there that I thought may come out of the sessions in relation to deprecated functionality and feature announcements as far as SharePoint 2016 and SharePoint Online were concerned. Let’s see how that panned out…

1. Don’t expect a forms announcement because Microsoft is focusing on platforms and not end user tools. *CONFIRMED*

Microsoft focused on “experiences” at Ignite. The various components of Office 365 (OfficeGraph, PowerBI, O365 Groups, OneDrive, Delve, etc.) will be easier to integrate with on-prem installations but the tooling for these systems was not discussed outside of Visual Studio.  Plus, not only was no replacement for InfoPath named, during one of the last sessions of the conference (UPDATE: The session recording has since been removed. But Bill Baer (Senior Technical Product Manager at Microsoft Corporation) confirmed this today during a SharePoint community YamJam) Mark Kashman said during his SharePoint UNPLUGGED session that there will be no SharePoint Designer 2016.

Gadzooks! So what does this mean for the would-be solution builder in SharePoint v.Next? Well, SharePoint Designer 2013 (not to mention InfoPath 2013), albeit deprecated, should continue to function in SharePoint 2016 and SharePoint Online. This doesn’t bode well for many enterprise IT shops that would like to be working with tool-sets that are not only supported but still receiving feature enhancements.

Some further speculation below. Perhaps…

  • Microsoft’s dev elves are still working hard on crafting some new tools for us.
  • Microsoft will be acquiring a firm that specializes in this area
  • An all new way of building no code apps is on the horizon (e.g. Project Siena)
  • Only time will tell as far as how Microsoft will proceed in this space. Stay tuned!

2.  Full trust code will still be supported in SharePoint 2016. *CONFIRMED*

This development came to light a week prior to Ignite during Bill Baer’s session at Microsoft Build 2015. Custom solutions and those that leverage the legacy workflow foundation, Timer Service, etc. will still be supported inside of SharePoint 2016. Additionally, SharePoint 2016 will require the now deprecated Windows Server App Fabric 1.1. Obviously, we can see that Microsoft is still very much pushing developers to adopt the app model for their solutions going forward.

To check out the entire SharePoint Roadmap session (Where you’ll learn about roles, the need for a discrete SQL instance and much more!), follow this link to Bill Baer’s “Evolution of SharePoint…” session. Oh and another interesting piece of news that goes hand in hand with this is there will not be a SharePoint Foundation in the 2016 release.

3. Migration, migration, migration! *CONFIRMED*

Microsoft announced its investments in SharePoint Online with the new Migration API. This will allow organizations to leverage blob storage to quickly move content in between environments (On-Prem -> O365 or O365 -> O365) without having to use CSOM. This is a much more efficient (and faster!) was to move content and addresses the realistic needs of organizations to embrace hybrid deployments. Check out the Ignite Session here: http://channel9.msdn.com/Events/Ignite/2015/BRK3153

Following on this news is the recent announcement of Nintex and Sharegate working together to offer on-prem customers a way to migrate their workflows to Nintex Workflow for Office 365. Additionally, users looking for ways to migrate legacy Lotus Notes apps with ease, Dell is now offering the ability to migrate a Notes database forms to a Nintex Form with virtually zero effort. Simply map your fields in the Dell Migrator for Notes to SharePoint 6.5 release and export a pre-built Nintex form!

Final analysis

These are exciting times for everyone working in the Microsoft ecosystem. There will be some uneasiness but overall I firmly believe that the functionality to build world class end user experiences will improve and allow for solutions to business problems that defy current thinking. Oh, and naturally, Nintex has solutions to these problems today.

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Microsoft Ignite is upon us so time to prognosticate!

It’s that time again, Microsoft conference season has begun!  I have had the luxury of working with some great technology and even more amazing people in the Microsoft SharePoint ecosystem over the year since we were all in the desert for SharePoint Conference 2014.  While there may not have been any earth shattering news over that past year, there certainly were some announcements that elicited joy (SharePoint 2016) as well as angst (SharePoint 2016* and the FoSL or Forms on SharePoint Lists cancellation).  This is what make this such an exciting space in the IT field to work in because it forces us to be agile so that we can quickly digest these changes and dynamically adjust our plans so that we can better serve our business customers.

*Seriously, how many folks are still in the middle of a SharePoint 2013 migration? 🙂

So, while we are going to hear an awful lot next week in Chicago about what plans Microsoft has around SharePoint, Office, Unified Communications and more, I wanted to take a moment to throw a couple of predictions out there about where I see Microsoft guiding us and why.

1.  Don’t expect a forms announcement because Microsoft is focusing on platforms and not end user tools.

In the announcements around the cancellation of InfoPath and FoSL, we see that Microsoft had deprecated these tools (for a myriad of reasons not the least of which is that InfoPath lead to some incredibly poor design decisions such as code behind, embedded workflows and logic, etc.) and at the same time talked up the virtue of various pieces of the Office 365 platform on which people can build amazing solutions such as Delve (OfficeGraph), PowerBI, OneDrive for Business, etc.

That being said, we see that Microsoft’s traditional IDE (Integrated Development Environments for my non-dev friends out there) is being released for free (Microsoft Visual Studio Community Edition) and the .NET code base is being ported to non-Windows platforms (.NET Core comes to Mac and Linux). This means that while Microsoft is betting big on adoption of these new technology, building solutions for them will be the province of traditional developers. But, I would expect some movement in this space in the not too distant future as we see traction gain through initiatives such as Microsoft Project Siena which focus on allowing non-developers in the business build apps.

2.  Full trust code will still be supported in SharePoint 2016.

In an attempt to avoid another IE6 debacle in the enterprise space (due to the abundance of custom apps that were built around Internet Explorer 6 and the pain inflicted on many a Corporate IT shop attempting to upgrade their browsers) Microsoft will maintain support for full trust code solutions in SharePoint 2016. This is a bold statement with Microsoft pushing the app model so hard but the reality is writing custom .NET solutions and pushing them out inside of SharePoint 2010 and 2013 has been incredibly easy and if Microsoft forces folks to ditch those apps then adoption will surely suffer.

[EDIT] So as I was putting together this post I found out (via an image tweeted from a session at //build2015) that yes, full trust code will be supported in SharePoint 2016.

3. Migration, migration, migration!

Since Microsoft has realized that while there are a fair amount of folks out there that will go “all in” with with cloud by moving to Azure and Office 365. There will still be a huge number of people that will opt to keep on premise installations of SharePoint, Lync, SQL and the like. So, what does this mean for all of the content? Well it means that hybrid is here to stay. With that paradigm in play people who have solutions built out all over the place, they will need to be able to move content between them with ease. We’ve seen this as a driver around workflow with the introduction of Nintex Workflow for Office 365 and having a number of customers using our on-prem tools wanting to move some or all of these solutions with ease. Hence the Nintex partnership with Sharegate to help facilitate on-prem -> cloud migrations. So, I would fully expect to see others attempt to capitalize on the need to easy move, manage and migrate data in-between these various disparate content repositories.

Final thoughts…

So far it looks like I’m 1 for 2, not too shabby!  Now I’m really excited to hear what announcements are made and to discuss these trends with all of the other IT Pro’s next week in Chicago at Microsoft Ignite. I will be there with the Nintex contingent (Booth #605 if you’d like to drop by and say ‘Hi!’) to share information around our awesome solutions (which fit incredibly well into the Microsoft cloud and mobile first story) and to revel in the community that makes my profession so enjoyable.

See you there!