Crow Canyon SharePoint Blog

Forecast for 2017 – Continuing Improvements to SharePoint

February 2, 2017

SharePoint Development FrameworkLast year was, without a doubt, the biggest year for SharePoint in quite some time. For the SharePoint community, this was a welcome change from the years of a kind of benign neglect as Microsoft focused on Office 365. But in 2016, all of that changed; we termed it the “Year of SharePoint” as Microsoft made a series of important announcements throughout the year:

So now that 2017 is upon us, what can we expect in the SharePoint universe? Let’s take a look at two big improvements that are coming to SharePoint along with anticipated announcements as the year progresses.

2017: Continuing Improvements in SharePoint

Here we are one month into 2017 and Microsoft continues to build on the progress made last year. Microsoft is finally addressing how SharePoint Team Sites live side-by-side with Office 365 Groups. In addition, the company is making a major move on the development front by discarding the server-side approach and embracing an open-source client-side development framework. These two initiatives make up the main SharePoint stories coming in early 2017: SharePoint Team Sites and the SharePoint Development Framework.

Modern SharePoint Team Sites and Office 365 Groups Integration

Status: Ready for rollout
General availability: January 2017
SharePoint team sites will undergo some significant re-modelling and will become the go-to location for team-based collaboration. SharePoint will integrate with Office 365 groups, where every group gets the full power of a SharePoint Online team site. Team site content will feature news that is specifically related to your teams along with tailored content hand-picked by Graph (Microsoft’s AI engine). Creating new team sites now just takes a few seconds and can be done directly from SharePoint home — members can be directly added and classifications can be assigned. Lastly, the UI/UX of team sites have been optimized for mobile usage.

Prior to this integration, the relationship between Office 365 Groups and SharePoint Team sites was a bit complicated. Post-release, users can expect the following: when Office 365 group users set up a Group, they will get a shared inbox, calendar, OneNote notebook, a Planner for task management, and a full-powered SharePoint team site. Existing groups will retroactively receive their own team sites. The team site + group integration is a long-awaited improvement; previously, as groups grew in size, resources often had to be transferred to a team site. This update solves all of those issues by combining both technologies while making SharePoint more accessible.

SharePoint Development Framework

Status: Released to testers
General availability: Unknown (based on promptness of developer feedback)
The new SharePoint Development Framework, intended for developer tenant users, represents a transition to modern client-side development (instead of server-side) for Web applications with SharePoint Sites. The framework moves away from .NET and is based on open-source JavaScript along with support for developer tools like Yeoman and Gulp.

The Development Framework is an initiative by Microsoft to step away from old-school methodologies and embrace what today’s developers are doing. For the first time, building SharePoint solutions will not be limited to Windows and Visual Studio — Framework leverages a widely used web development stack, so solutions can be built on any platform such as OS X and Linux. Microsoft has stepped away from using a proprietary development model and has opted to build a framework that leverages tools widely used by developers on all platforms and stacks.

The extensibility of the SharePoint Framework is another compelling factor. A range of new APIs is due for general release this year (e.g., Office Graph) along with open source options. Ultimately, this will make a big difference to SharePoint enthusiasts who are not necessarily developers, as it will enable them to proactively contribute to their own SharePoint environments.

The Development Framework is currently going through the last stages of testing before its general availability. Later this year, a set of client-side Web Parts will also be released based on JavaScript templating technology: Image/image carousel, Embedded video, ListView, and Document hook.

2017 and Beyond

According to Mark Kashman, a Sr. Product Manager on Microsoft’s SharePoint team, an announcement will be made in the first half of this year that will enable users to “build more modern and broadcast-type Publishing Sites, not just Pages.” Publishing sites are typically used to create enterprise intranets, communication portals, and public websites.

Other anticipated improvements this year include:

  • More end-user friendly business applications based on PowerApps and Flow
  • Continued improvements/additions to the SharePoint Development Framework in terms of higher-end customizations
  • More comprehensive Web Parts to build out richer custom pages and portals
  • Continued development with Graph and Office 365 Groups
  • Increased responsively-designed mobile apps for all platforms that enable users to navigate Sites, Portals, Document Libraries, and Lists
  • Inclusion of Web Parts in News items and Publishing Pages
  • Performance improvements for Team Sites and portals

Conclusion

This year will witness the continued improvement of SharePoint as a collaborative platform that is able to integrate with an ever-growing family of Microsoft products. The focus has increasingly shifted to knocking down barriers and making SharePoint more accessible and user-friendly.

Would you like to learn about how your SharePoint environment can become a true business productivity platform? Let’s talk. Give us a call at 1-888-706-0070 or contact us by e-mail at sales@crowcanyon.com

Crow Canyon Systems has 16 years of experience assisting organizations in leveraging their existing infrastructure, rather than requiring new hardware & technologies. We specialize in building upon your collaboration platforms, such as SharePoint and Office 365, in order to give your Help Desk and Support Staff the tools they need to provide assistance without the need for additional infrastructure.

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