SharePoint 2016 First Peeks at Microsoft Ignite

​​​Day three at Microsoft Ignite in Chicago - lots of sessions, and tons of parties.  We were honoured to win the Best Implementation of a Governance or Security Solution for SharePoint at the Metalogix and SharePoint Best of Breed Awards last night for Extranet User Manager and our work for the Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies.  Details are in the News Release.

As expected, no earth shattering fundamental changes for SharePoint 2016.  Microsoft has been pretty clear that their first investments are in the cloud, and then those features come back into on premise.  Web content management has been a big focus area for us, and no announcements there.  No deprecation of features either, which is good news.  For our WCM clients who are still on SharePoint 2010, I would say it is safe to upgrade to SharePoint 2013 now, as that architecture is looking fundamentally the same in SharePoint 2016.

Three top sessions for me so far.  Decks and videos are available on Channel 9.

Bill Baer

Let's start with Bill's talk.  For those of you that haven't seen a session by him, you need to watch the video recording.  I often cheat and set the media player at 1.5 or 2 times playback when I'm watching sessions, but not with Bill.  He was rapid fire through the entire session with a huge amount of information.

Some of the key points for me were:

  • SharePoint 2016 is a converged codebase based on SharePoint Online
  • Certain features that are still on premise only have been backported from SharePoint 2013
  • Same hardware requirements, with newer OS and SQL requirements (including support for SQL vNext)
  • We can still do content DB attach upgrades, and still just from the previous version only (SP2013)
  • If you're still running site collections in 2010 mode on 2013, you'll need to upgrade those first before upgrading to 2016
  • SAML authentication is a first class citizen, and the preferred approach.  This is a big one for us, as it validates our bet on SAML as the core of our Extranet User Manager
  • Apps will trust the identity provider, which is also a direction we have been going
  • Lots of changes around performance and reliability
    • MinRole provisioning targets servers to specific roles
    • Ensure that requests are fully processed by the server that initiates the request
    • Zero downtime patching with much smaller packages
    • Support for 4x9 SLA
  • New boundaries and limits
    • DB size into TBs
    • 100,000 site collections per content database
    • List threshold > 5,000
    • Max file size 10 Gb
    • Removed character restrictions on filenames
    • 2X search scale increase to 500M items
    • Just the start
  • Performance improvements to file upload / download to support the large files
  • User Profile Service is moving out of SharePoint
  • Unified search provides a single hybrid experience across on premise and the cloud
  • This is how Delve will be provided to on premise
  • External sharing based on the Office 365 model

The hybrid search we don't need to wait for 2016 for either.  It will be released towards the end of this year as a 2013 update.

NextGen Portals 

Mark Kashman's talk on Next Gen Portals was also very interesting.  We've already seen Video Portals (announced last year at SPC) as the first example, which is now fully rolled out in Office 365.  These style portals will be a continued theme for Office 365.

The announced NextGen Portals are:

  • Office 365 Video
  • Delve People Experiences
  • InfoP​​edia
  • Custom

Office 365 Video I talked about last year in Office Video in Office 365. New features announced are:

  • HTML5 mobile playback in browser– Windows, Android, and iOS
  • Responsive player playback page
  • Office 365 for iPhone app
  • Built-in CDN – Better playback performance across geographic locations
  • More granular permissions per channel– Owners / Editors / Viewers
  • Related videos powered by the Office Graph
  • REST APIs for Office 365 Video [in preview]

Delve is something I'm very excited about.  The ability to find what people are working on and discover content, and to find people themselves in a larger organization, is a big deal.  Powered by the Office Graph, the people and experiences portal surfaces this.  A new profile page for people builds itself based on the Office Graph.  This is surfaced up not only in the portal, but also in new iOS and Android apps for mobile access.

InfoPedia is all about Knowledge Management.  Creating boards and micro-sites in Delve to customize that experience.  I missed the deep dive session on this, so I'm going to have to go back and watch that one after the conference.

Safe SharePoint Branding in Office 365

There was a heated debate back at the MVP Summit last November.  The message from Microsoft was don't change the master page, just use the theming options in Office 365 and SharePoint Online.  The problem with this is that in reality most publishing style corporate Intranets, clients want their brand in there.

In Vesa's session, while he still stated the preference was still to not have clients change their master page, they do support that model.  However, the argument still stands that as new features are released in Office 365 (which happens very often) they may either break the custom master page or not appear for those clients.

My main desire in changing the master page is to provide a consistent global navigation across the SharePoint portal.  I like doing this through term store navigation, but I'm not keen on pinning many copies across the term store to surface that in multiple site collections.  On premise we achieved this with a server side nav control that reads from the term store, and the same term store group can be used across multiple site collections.  Of course server side controls don't work in Office 365.

For our OACAS project in Office 365 (see the news release at the top) we created a client side nav control.  This is a JavaScript based client side control that uses JSOM to access the term store and build the top, left, and breadcrumb navigation controls.  We cache that in the browser's local storage for performance reasons, so we're not calling the term store on every page load.

What was nice about Vesa's talk, was he validated this approach for us.  He showed options for updating the look and feel without replacing the master page, and using a nav control with the same architecture as ours.  The options for look and feel he presented were:

  • Office 365 Themes
  • Theme
  • Alternate CSS
  • JavaScript embedding
  • Custom Master Page

JavaScript embedding was the "aha" moment for me.  With this we can embed our nav control into the site without requiring a custom master page.

One other very interesting section was using Heather Solomon's alternate CSS to make the Seattle master page responsive.  Check out for details on this.

Well that's it for now.  I'll try and provide another update as the conference wraps up.

1 Comment

Adriano Galeno on 5/20/2015 2:28:43 PM

Great overview. Thank you for sharing!

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