Contents tagged with Office 365

  • yo teams: a full Microsoft Teams extensibility Yeoman generator

    Tags: Microsoft Teams, Bot Framework, TypeScript, Yeoman, Office 365, Gulp, Git

    A couple of weeks back I published a Yeoman generator to build Tabs for Microsoft Teams. Since then I've continued to add stuff to it as the Teams team has continued to add features to their extensibility story. So, this generator is not only for creating Tabs, but now also for adding Bots and Custom Bots to Microsoft Teams. With that I decided to rename the generator to yo teams (generator name is generator-teams).

    I'm very thankful to the over 600 downloads within less of a month, and all the positive feedback, the issues and PR created. Keep it coming.

    What's new?

    The two big new features of the generator is the ability to add either a reference to an existing bot that you want to use (your own, or any bot in the Bot Framework directory) or to create a bot from scratch, using the Bot Framework. You can also add a custom bot, which is a Microsoft Teams specific webhook that acts like a bot, which can be used by specific Teams only and you don't have to add it to the Bot Framework - perfect for those internal smart bots you want to build.

    yo teams

    The source code has also gone through some heavy refactoring with sub-generators and all. There's more to come…

    Both the Bot and Custom bot uses the JavaScript/TypeScript implementations of the Bot Framework and you have some boilerplate code to get started, including readme files of the essentials.

    If you have any issues, or feedback, or problem or just feeling chatty, then use the Issues list on Github.

    What do I need to do?

    If you already used the old generator, uninstall it with npm uninstall generator-teams-tab --global and then install the new generator with npm install generator-teams --global. All your current solutions will work, but I recommend you to, if you feel like it, to "move" all your code over to a newly created project.

    The old npm package is deprecated and you will get a warning if you try to install it.

    The Github repository has been renamed, but the old one will still redirect you to the correct location. You can find it here: https://github.com/wictorwilen/generator-teams

  • Congratulations to the Microsoft Teams team on an excellent delivery

    Tags: Microsoft Teams, Office 365

    A big round of applause for Microsoft and the team behind Microsoft Teams for now being general available (GA) worldwide. Today, they lit up the Teams icon in the Office 365 waffle for all tenants (unless your admins are being boring and has turned it off).

    image

    It's been awesome to be a part of this preview journey, which started last summer. Avanade was selected as one of the TAP members, in a preview program shrouded in a secrecy I've not seen at Microsoft before. Our IT department slowly trickled it out, so that we had a chance of learning how Microsoft Teams could fit into our organization and our way of working. A big thanks to David who have mastered the preview program internally.

    When Microsoft Teams was unveiled to the public, back in November, we did our first point-of-view based on our experience so far. Since then I would say that the way we work has changed dramatically. Many of our teams and interest groups has quickly adopted this new chat-based workspace - not just for chatting but as the preferred channel for communication and collaboration. It fits our style of work perfectly, given how spread out our teams are and the different time zones we're working in.

    Personally I've been way more effective in my work since we started to adopt Microsoft Teams. The number of unnecessary e-mails has gone done dramatically, my inbox is not flooded with simple questions, or links, or things that can more easily be expressed through a chat. One thing that has surprised me is how much more we use the ad-hoc chats compared to what I've expected, we don't all have to be online at the same time - you can easily go back and see what's been discussed while you were away or in a meeting. Sharing of files and notes is so much easier now and it allows us to have an ongoing discussion about them.

    It's been a blast discussing Microsoft Teams with my clients. And I'm thrilled that some of them now are leading with "Teams first" - that is you create a Team, not a SharePoint team site, not an Office 365 Group. You get them for free with Teams anyways. This will change the way collaboration is done for enterprises going forward, without doing trade offs for compliance, governance and security.

    This is the first release of many to come. And they number of features that has popped up over the last few months are incredible. And I'm sure we will see some more productivity enhancers going forward.

    Once again, thank you to the team behind Microsoft Teams.

  • yo teams-tab: A Microsoft Teams Tabs Yeoman generator

    Tags: Microsoft Teams, Office 365, Yeoman, Git, Gulp

    I'm happy to announce that today at SharePoint Saturday Munich I presented a new Yeoman generator for building Microsoft Teams Tabs projects. Tabs in Microsoft Teams is a great way to extend the user interface and to do integrations to other systems and provide visualizations. Tabs are based on a JavaScript framework, a set of web pages and a manifest describing the Tab. It requires a set of manual steps to both build out the pages, configuring CSS, hooking up the JavaScripts, deploying it all to a web site hosted in the cloud, writing the manifest, packaging the manifest into a zip file and more.

    With the Teams Tab generator you can in an easy manner scaffold out the project and get a build and deployment pipeline, and be up and running in a few minutes.

    yo teams-tab

    The project that will be created is a TypeScript based project with a set of Gulp tasks to build the project and package the manifest, and optionally a built-in Express server to host the web sites and configuration so that you can with a simple command deploy your project to an Azure Web App.

    How to get it

    The generator is published as an npm package and you use npm to install it. The following command will install it as a global package for you to scaffold your Teams tabs.

    npm install generator-teams-tab --global

    How to use it

    To create a new Teams Tab all you need to do is open up a command prompt and use Yeoman to create the project. The generator will ask you a set of questions and your project will configured based on those.

    yo teams-tab

    How to use the project

    The project contains all source code you need to build and deploy tabs. Use Visual Studio Code or whatever text editor you prefer. The source code is divided into two areas. The first one being the actual tabs (pages and scripts), located in ./src/app You will find one folder called web which contains the web pages required for a tab; such as the actual tab page, the configure page and remove page. In the scripts folder you will have the TypeScripts file in which you build the logic for your tabs. For instance the actual main tab page, tab.html, has a corresponding tab.ts TypeScript file. You'll get it…

    In the ./src/app folder there is also a TypeScript file called server.ts. Note, this file only exists if you answers yes to the question on using Express to host the Tab. This file is the server side node.js web server. If you need to modify the paths or want it to do fancier stuff than just client-side scripting this is where you start hacking.

    There's also a folder calle ./src/manifest which contains the Tab manifest. A json file you might want to configure. And that folder also contains the two images you need to have for a Tab.

    The tab project

    How to build it

    You build the tab by using a simple Gulp task that will transpile and bundle your TypeScript into JavaScript and sets up the web server. Just use the following command to build it

    gulp build

    Once you've built it you can follow the instructions in the README.md file to deploy it to an Azure Web App.

    The manifest for the tab is created by using another Gulp task:

    gulp manifest

    This task will create a zip file that you use to upload to your Teams team and it references the specified web site hosting the tabs. The file being created is located at ./package/tab.zip

    This is great, but I want to…

    I know, you want to have more stuff in the generator. It's all available on Github for you to grab and hopefully come back with suggestions. Go git it here: https://github.com/wictorwilen/generator-teams-tab

    I'm looking forward to feedback and I'll keep updating the generator in line with what the Teams team are doing with their JavaScript framework, which is currently at 0.4.

    glhf

  • SharePoint Framework has now reached General Availability - such a great journey

    Tags: SharePoint Framework, Office 365, SharePoint

    Let me start with congratulating the SharePoint Framework team on an amazing job and an amazing journey reaching this GA milestone.

    The SharePoint Framework plays a significant part of the SharePoint future, yes - this is only the first version with a lot of new features on the way, and it is a part of the new SharePoint wave. I've haven't seen this interest in SharePoint for many years and I'm glad I'm still in this business. Delivering top notch collaboration solutions for our clients at Avanade. The SharePoint Framework will make it easier for us to customize SharePoint and it will also bring a lot more value for our clients in the end allowing them to stay evergreen and not being tied into "workarounds" and pesky SharePoint Designer hacks or arbitrary JavaScript snippets.

    I'm extremely glad that I've been a part of this journey, seeing the team making the awesome stuff they've done. For me it started back in the fall of 2015 when we we're shown some very early ideas on where to go next and also some whiteboard sessions where we had an open and frank discussion about what the requirements were from the field. This openness is something that I think has made the difference this time and made the SharePoint Framework into what it is. All discussions was kept very secret and I'll tell you it was hard not to cry out to everyone how excited I was on the progress.

    Early 2016 I was part of the first DevKitchen, where we had the opportunity to use SharePoint Framework for the first time. The team had only in a couple of months created something that actually worked! It was very satisfying to build that first web part (I do think that I was the first outside of Microsoft that actually built a client-side Web Part!).  The framework had its quirks and issues back then, but they kept the speed up and delivered. A few more DevKitchens were hosted and finally in May they revealed the SharePoint Framework to the public.

    Just after the summer everyone could get their hands on the first public release of the SharePoint Framework and the SPFx Team opened the floodgates of feedback through their Github repository. It has been fantastic to see all the support, wishes, bugfixes, samples and documentation that the public (and specifically Waldek) has produced to support the SharePoint Framework. And how fast and agile the team has responded to all the requests and issues. This is how Microsoft should build more stuff!

    I've tried to do my best giving feedback as a consultant, developer and things my clients need. I'm particular proud of the enterprise guidance documentation that I've helped with. I absolutely love being part of this community.

    Now, we're here, within a few weeks all tenants in Office 365 should be able to use the SharePoint Framework to build great stuff and awesome client-side Web Parts. We're already in the midst of porting our solutions to take advantage of the SharePoint Framework and getting it in the hands of our clients.

    Thank you to the SharePoint Framework Team - I'm so looking forward to what's happening next. See you in a few weeks in Redmond ;-).

    Let's make SharePoint great again!

  • Configuring Office 365 Groups creation the right way

    Tags: Office 365, Office 365 Groups, Azure AD

    Over the last few days the issue on how to prevent users to create Office 365 Groups has popped up in all sorts of conversations. This blog post will show you how to do it in the correct way, and serve as a future reference. I'm not the only one who have blogged about this, it's in many places including official documentation. But in many places both scripts and some caveats are either wrong or outdated. One post covers this topic really well, and in a good and correct way and it's this post by John P. White - Disable Office 365 Groups, part 2. Read it! This post however will show you how to do it in a more direct way, using PowerShell.

    Background

    We used to prevent end-users from creating Office 365 Groups (from now on referred to as only Groups) using an OWA Mailbox policy. Even I have a blog post on that topic. But this way to do it is outdated. That mailbox policy only applies to Groups being created from OWA (Outlook Web Access, Outlook on the web…whatever) and Outlook. It did not prevent people from creating Groups using Microsoft Teams, Planner, StaffHub, PowerBI, Dynamics 365 and what not.

    How to do it properly

    Instead of continuing to building the settings on the Mailbox policy setting, this setting has now moved to Azure AD. You can even see it in the "new" Azure Portal, although it doesn't really reflect the real settings and not all settings.

    Azure AD Settings for Office 365 Groups

    The way to do it is to use PowerShell and essentially follow the official documentation. The problem with that article however is that it contains a few errors, is not updated, has some weird scripts and is just to darn long to read through. So, here's a my PowerShell for this. You can find the complete script in this Gist.

    Prerequisites

    To be able to run the PowerShell you need to install some stuff

    • The Microsoft Online Services Sign-in assistant
    • The Windows Azure Active Directory Module for PowerShell - and here's a big thing. You MUST (at the time of writing) only use the preview version, with version number 1.1.130.0-preview found here. Do not try to download the higher version with version number 1.1.166.0 - it will not work.

    Now, we got that out of the way, let's get to the fun stuff.

    Scripting FTW

    First we need to log in to our tenant using an admin account. I prefer to use a the Get-Credential method over the dialog option, makes everything more smoother.

    # Store the credentials in a variable
    $creds = Get-Credential
    
    # Connect to the Microsoft Online services
    Connect-MsolService -Credential $creds 
    
    

    The next thing is to make sure that users are allowed to create Groups, we'll limit it later. Make sure you use the script below and not the one in the official article as they have spelling errors on the variable.

    # Get tenant setting (misspelled in official docs)
    Get-MsolCompanyInformation | Format-List UsersPermissionToCreateGroupsEnabled
    
    # If false, then use the following
    Set-MsolCompanySettings -UsersPermissionToCreateGroupsEnabled $true
    
    

    To limit the users allowed to create Groups we need to have a security group with members in Azure AD. And we need the Id of that group, so we'll grab it with some PowerShell:

    # Retrieve ID of Group that should have the option to create groups
    $group = Get-MsolGroup -SearchString "Group creators" 
    
    

    The settings we need to set are contained in an Azure AD object, created from a template. We retrieve that template using the following command and create our settings object like this:

    # Retrieve the Group.Unified settings template (assuming you have not done this before)
    $template = Get-MsolAllSettingTemplate | Where-Object {$_.DisplayName -eq "Group.Unified"}
    
    # Create the settings object from the template
    $settings = $template.CreateSettingsObject()
    
    

    Once we have the settings object, we can start setting properties.

    • EnableGroupCreation - should be set to false. We negate the tenant setting here, and we'll override it soon again for the specific security group
    • GroupCreationAllowedGroupId - this is the Id of the security group that are allowed to create Groups
    • UsageGuidelinesUrl - a URL pointing to your usage guidelines. Optional, but recommended
    • GuestUsageGuidelinesUrl - a URL pointing to usage guidelines for external users. This link will be shown in the external sharing e-mails and should of course be on a public available location. Optional, but recommended
    • ClassificationList - a comma separated list with your classification labels. Optional. Currently the first one in the list will be the default one. (does not work in all tenants at the time of writing)

    There's some more properties that you can take a look at, and over the last few weeks even some more popped up (without any documentation).

    # Use this settings object to prevent others than specified group to create Groups
    $settings["EnableGroupCreation"] = $false
    $settings["GroupCreationAllowedGroupId"] = $group.ObjectId
    
    # (optional) Add a link to the Group usage guidelines
    $settings["UsageGuidelinesUrl"] = 
      "https://contoso.sharepoint.com/Pages/GroupUsageGuidelines.aspx"
    
    # (optional) Add a link to Guest usage guidelines
    $settings["GuestUsageGuidelinesUrl"] = 
      "http://contoso.com/usageguidelines"
    
    # (optional) Add classifications to be used for Groups
    $settings["ClassificationList"] = "Public,Internal,Top Secret"
    
    # Verify
    $settings.Values
    
    

    Now we have the settings and all we need to do is to add them to Azure AD:

    # Add the settings to Azure AD
    New-MsolSettings -SettingsObject $settings
    
    

    And from now on, only members of the security group can create Office 365 Groups using all endpoints such as Planner, Teams, PowerBI, Microsoft Graph REST etc. BUT StaffHub still ignores this setting!!!!! Aaargh!

    Need to update the settings?

    If you need to update the settings, or there are new properties that you want to configure, then use the PowerShell below. The one(s) in the official documentation is really weird written…

    # Retrieve settings
    $settings = Get-MsolAllSettings | Where-Object {$_.DisplayName -eq "Group.Unified"}
    
    # Check the values
    $settings.Values
    
    # Update a property
    $settings["GuestUsageGuidelinesUrl"] = "http://www.wictorwilen.se"
    
    # Save the updates
    Set-MsolSettings -SettingId $settings.ObjectId -SettingsValue $settings.GetSettingsValue()
    
    

    Summary

    That's it. It's not rocket science. Looking forward to further settings and also a proper UI in the Azure portal for the lazy people.

    The PowerShell is a bit weird though, should have had a review by the PowerShell team before going into the production in my opinion.

  • The end of my Office 365 Roadmap updates

    Tags: Office 365

    As many of you have noticed I have not been posting my What's new on the Office Roadmap updates. Well, I've been on a vacation not trying to think of Office 365 to start with, and then also, I'm ending my series of these posts. Sorry.

    I have to start with saying that I love the amount of changes we see now in the Office 365 service. The team(s) is/are doing an amazing job with kicking out new features and updates in some areas. Our favorite SharePoint is killing it with features at the moment, and more is to come. And do believe this will continue for the foreseeable future.

    Why? Why, do you do this? There's plenty of reasons for me ending this series. It's been going on now since March last year (which is way longer than I expected) and it was exactly 50 posts! So plenty of updates has been going on.

    First of all it still takes me humongous amounts of time compiling each post, figuring out what's changed, what each change actually means, filtering out false changes, going back to my old change posts, coping with errors in the changes etc etc.

    But most importantly the reason I stop doing this is that the Roadmap does not really reflect the changes going on (yea I know, Roadmap and changes are not the same). Using the Roadmap as a guide on what's to come is not that accurate that I hoped, sorry. And the #1 reason that I started this series was to get the Office 365 team to understand that we need a Roadmap where one can see changes, one that you understand the changes and one that you can trust, otherwise there's no point! There's no point giving you examples, there's to many. After a year and half very little has happened…

    I'm going to miss it though. I've had some fantastic online and offline support of these posts and I enjoyed adding some personal touch to my "analysis". Some liked it, and some despised it to the extent that I'm actually persona non grata in some "communities". I'm probably to close to the truth and far to many people have hard to understand irony…

    Nevertheless…if you still want to find out what's happening on the Office Roadmap site, the PowerShell script I had scheduled is available as a Gist on Github.

    Thanks for all the support!

  • What's new on the Office Roadmap - 2016-05-20 - SharePoint Saturday Stockholm Edition

    Tags: Office 365

    Happy Friday and welcome back to another Office Roadmap update. This time the day before the big SharePoint Saturday, here in beautiful Stockholm, where we all are going to indulge on the goodness that was announced a couple of weeks back at the SharePoint Futures event.

    Lot of new stuff in the mobile space this time around.

    Changes 2016-05-20

    Launched

    • Windows Universal App: OneDrive UWP (Universal Windows App) are now launched and live (new)
    • User Activity Reports: Compliance center improvements for OneDrive/SharePoint on document views/edits/downloads etc (from in development)
    • Intelligent Discover for Android: Discover (Office Graph) view in the Android OneDrive app (new)
    • Mobile Access to SharePoint Online for iOS: Access your SharePoint files from the OneDrive app (new)
    • Office 365 Groups: easily add users from a distribution list to a group: this is cool, now you can add all members from a DL to an O365 Group instead of one user at a time (new)
    • Self-service NGSC setup and goove.exe takeover: Simplified setup for NGSC (Next Gen Sync Client). Finally. Goove.exe (giggles) (new)

    Rolling out

    • Office 365 Groups: scripts to migrate Distribution Lists (DLs) to Groups: Some sweet scripts for migrating DL's to O365 Groups (new). Funny it's listed as rolling out, the script is there! What's missing.
    • Project Online - Developer Samples: Project Online goes Github: http://aka.ms/pppmapisamples (new)
    • Project Online - OData performance improvements: and when they have some sample code, they of course want it to perform (new)
    • SharePoint home in Office 365: the new SharePoint Home tile is being rolled out. Check /_layouts/SharePoint.aspx in your tenant. (from in development).
    • Office integration added back to NGSC: improved office integration in the NGSC (Next Gen Sync Client) (new)
    • Improved image attachment viewing in Outlook on the web: Always nice to see improvements to the web client, it's now way ahead of the desktop one, this time big thumbnails and side by side view (new)

    In Development

    • Annotating and inking for Mac: Draw using your mouse on you Mac - cause you suck and don't have touch on that shiny thing (new)
    • Copy and move to SharePoint:
    • Intelligent Discovery for iOS: Discover (Office Graph) for the iOS OneDrive app (new)
    • Intelligent Discovery for Windows Phone: Discover (Office Graph) for the Windows Phone OneDrive app (new). Anybody want to buy a couple of Lumias, I have several as paper weights.
    • Mobile Access to SharePoint Online for Android: Access SharePoint files and not only OneDrive on your Android OD4B app. (new)
    • Mobile Access to SharePoint Online for Windows Phone: Access SharePoint files and not only OneDrive on your WP OD4B app (new)
    • Office 365 Groups: Exchange Admin Center (EAC) UI for migrating Distribution Lists (DLs) to Groups: Evolution of the migration scripts mentioned above. You will soon be able to migrate from DL's to Groups using a single button in the Exchange Admin Center. Nice! (new)
    • OneDrive for Business Shared folder Sync: this is a nice new feature. If someone shares a folder with you from their OneDrive you will be able to sync them (new)

  • What's new on the Office Roadmap - 2016-05-13

    Tags: Office 365

    imageHey, happy Friday the 13th! Here's a small Office Roadmap update for all of you Jason fans!

    Not that many changes this time around, but still interesting, and a lot of Outlook 2016 for Mac releases.

     

    Changes 2016-05-13

    Now Launched

    • eDiscovery Case Management, Hold & Permissions: the new eDiscovery features are now fully rolled out (from in development)
    • Enter full screen view in Outlook 2016 for Mac: the full screen view for Mac Outlook as announced in January are now out. (new)
    • Find a meeting room in Outlook 2016 for Mac: and so is the possibility to find a meeting room on your Mac (new)
    • Office 365 Groups: ability to update privacy type: you can now as a Group owner change the privacy type of your Groups (public or private) (from rolling out)
    • One-click Archive: The on-click archive feature in Outlook on Mac are now also fully rolled out (from rolling out)
    • Outlook 2016 for Mac two step authentication: And you can also log in using two factor authentication on your Mac (new)

    Rolling out

    • New editor for Outlook 2016 for Mac: And if you're lucky you might even be getting the new editor in Mac so you can use "more fonts and colors". (new)
    • Project Online - Removing the upper limit on number of PWA instances per tenant: after this update you will be able to have unlimited number of PWA instances, was previously only 7. (new)
    • Right to Left language support in Outlook 2016 for Mac: and if you write your stuff from right to left you can now use Outlook 2016 on your Mac, without writing backwards (new)

    In Development

    • FastTrack | Dropbox to OneDrive for Business Migration: If you are using Dropbox you can soon get help from the FastTrack center to get yer files out of there (new)
    • New usage reports for SharePoint, OneDrive and Mailbox Storage: the new admin UI will get better and improved reports for storage usage in SharePoint and Exchange. (new)
    • Office 365 Usage Reporting APIs: and not only that, you can suck that data into your own apps as well (new)
    • SharePoint mobile app for iOS: Nothing new here, it's just a rename from "The new SharePoint mobile app" to "SharePoint mobile app"

  • What's new on the Office Roadmap - 2016-05-06 (Future of SharePoint edition)

    Tags: Office 365, SharePoint Framework

    The Office Roadmap updates with the new announcements from the Future of SharePoint event has arrived (they arrived May the 4th to be precise). I'm back from the event and San Francisco and I'm full of the energy that the SharePoint team transmitted.

    You should specifically take a look at the In Development part here. That's where we got the new and fresh stuff from the Future of SharePoint event.

    Changes 2016-06-06

    Now Launched

    • Delve Analytics: Do you want all the details on how and when you work Delve Details and an E5 subscription is all you need (from in development)
    • Drive Shipping and Network Based Data Import for Office 365: Fast Track is getting more and more mature with import options (from in development)
    • FastTrack | Box to OneDrive for Business Migration: Still using Box? Get your files over to OneDrive with Fast Track (from in development)
    • FastTrack | Expanded language support: More languages available in the FastTrack (new)
    • FastTrack | Power BI onboarding support: And Fast Track Power BI is now live (from in development)
    • Multiple timeline bars in Project Online: This must be one of the features that's been jumping back and forth the most on the roadmap (from rolling out)
    • Office 365 Groups: multi-domain support: This is one of the most important feature releases of Groups. Read this article for full details and configuration options. (from in development)
    • Office 365 Reporting Dashboard: Better reporting in the admin center (from rolling gout)
    • OneDrive for Business Recent Files to Sway: Easier access to your OneDrive docs in Sway (from in development)
    • Skype for Business App SDK: Get your coding skills on and build some Skype Apps (from in development)
    • Skype for Business Mac Preview 1: The long awaited Skype Mac client is not out. Feedback on it has been moderate at best though (from in development)
    • Updated people profile experience in Office 365: The Delve profile page is now fully rolled out. I wonder if Delve will stay as the document discovery feature or if it just will be renamed to "My Profile" or "People" or something, which would make total sense(new)
    • Yammer user profile update from Azure AD: The one-time sync from Azure AD is now launched. Wonder if we ever will see a proper sync? (from in development)

    Rolling out

    • Basic Chat: Basic Skype chat from the Skype icon in mail - it doesn't say that it's web based, but I guess it is(new)
    • Office 365 Groups: usage guidelines: A very important update, this allows you to modify the usage guidelines for Groups (another feature copied from Yammer) (from in development)
    • SharePoint Online - modern document library experience: The new doc lib experience, mayhaps rolled out a bit early and without any guidance (new)

    In Development

    • eDiscovery Case Management, Hold & Permissions: more permissions control for eDiscovery and compliance stuff (from rolling out)
    • New AutoCAD file format support in Visio: AutoCAD file support in Visio… (from rolling out)
    • Office 365 Groups: search Groups files using Office Delve: Searching should now show documents from Groups (new)
    • SharePoint home in Office 365: Finally Office 365 and SharePoint will get a proper home page. The Sites tile will be renamed and now point to this page. You can read more about this feature here. (New)
    • SharePoint Online – Client-side Web Part for Existing SharePoint Pages: The new customization features announced at the Future of SharePoint Event. Client-side Web Parts created using the new SharePoint Framework on existing SharePoint pages. Read my post about it here (new)
    • SharePoint Online - modern lists experience: A new lists experience, very similar to the new doc lib experience. A great and modern looking UX. (new)
    • SharePoint Online - SharePoint Framework: The new client-side framework that will be used to make the future customizations and development of SharePoint. This is the Framework that Microsoft will build the new "NextGen" portals and the one we will use. There's much more to read about this here. (new)
    • SharePoint Online - Site activity and insights on the Site Contents page: Each site will get its own set of statistics that shows you how the site is used and what activities are going on (new)
    • SharePoint Online – Webhooks on SharePoint Document Libraries: One of the first new extensions to the SharePoint APIs. I'm glad they are using standardized Webhooks, instead of some weird remote event receivers. Hopefully we'll get the same for lists (new)
    • The new SharePoint mobile app for iOS: Announced as the "Intranet in your Pocket". The new SharePoint App will first come for iOS (actually I'm already using it) and then later for Android, and if Windows Phone is still alive by the end of this year those two users might get it as well (new)

    Cancelled

    • Class Notebook: limit sharing and deletion of section groups: This is just weird, this was rolled out the other week and is now all of a sudden cancelled (from rolling out)

  • Web Parts are back at the center of SharePoint development!

    Tags: SharePoint, Office 365, Web Parts

    Today at The Future of SharePoint event Microsoft have announced the next iteration in SharePoint development - the SharePoint Framework. As one of the old ones who started with the Digital Dashboard Resource Kit, to the COM+ event handlers in SharePoint 2001, over to custom built DDFs, to WSP's to Apps and Add-ins - this new framework is a very welcome change.

    For years SharePoint Developers have been forced to walk in shame in the outer rims of the developer guild. It's been so hard to get over the threshold and once you were over it, there was very few who actually returned to a normal life. I've been struggling for years to get ASP.NET or web developers to get on over to SharePoint development with no luck. The Add-in model did not help in any sense here and just introduced new pitfalls and confusions.

    Introducing the SharePoint Framework

    Last year at the MVP summit we were introduced by Jeff Teper (I'm so glad that he's back on the team) that they had some cool things cooking in Redmond. He, and the team, told us that they were here for the long run and that they were building something new that would supersede the current existing extensibility model. And in February this year I went over to Redmond to try this out with my own set of hands at an event called the DevKitchen. This event where we all were introduced to this new model is one of my top moments in my Microsoft developer career and the interaction we had with the engineers was just phenomenal, looking forward to the next one Dave! I do believe that our trial and errors and feedback made the end result so much better.

    What we got our hands at that DevKitchen was the new extensibility model, now called the SharePoint Framework. In my opinion this is an evolution of SharePoint, adapting to a more modern way of building applications. It's not replacing Add-ins, and they are not replacing WSP's and server side code. It's another tool in our toolbox - albeit it might be the one I will use first hand from now on.

    This new SharePoint Framework consists of a couple of different parts. You can read more about it in Bill Baers post - The SharePoint framework - an open connected platform.

    Web Parts are back!

    The one thing that excites me the most about this new SharePoint Framework is that Web Parts are back, with a bang! Web Parts was what brought me into SharePoint. In the previous millennium we built our Web Parts using VBScript and was pure client side code, until they appeared in SharePoint as a server side component, and then adopted in ASP.NET as a standard feature. Unfortunately Web Parts has had some very dark times, and that was when the Apps/Add-ins entered the scene and introduced App Parts - an abomination.

    Well, let's forget the past and look at the new client-side Web Parts. Web Parts are back as a client side thing. Client-side Web Parts are now built in (preferably and initially) in TypeScript. They are very similar in construct as you know Web Parts; they can be initialized, persisted, have properties and of course a way of rendering them. These new client-side Web Parts will live side by side with the old and traditional Web Parts.

    Fun fact is that I think I was the one, external from Microsoft, that actually built a client-side Web Part that worked.

    Using client-side technologies isn't something new, the only new thing here is that we now have a proper and supported framework for it. Client-side technologies isn't perfect either, with access to the DOM we are given great powers, but we do this all the time today.

    The SharePoint Framework is all built on open technologies and you can use whatever platform you prefer. The initial release of the SharePoint Framework will be built for TypeScript, node.js  Yeoman and npm. These are four technologies that you should read up on before the SharePoint Framework is starting to roll out this summer. All you need to build you solution is then an command prompt and Visual Studio Code.

    Since this is all client side rendering (ie JavaScript) you can use any framework of your choice; Knockout, Handlebars, jQuery, React, Angular 1.x and 2 you name it.

    The very first client-side Web Part

    Just to give you an example on how these client-side Web Part works and so that you can see how similar they are to the Web Parts we are used to build, here's how you would create a simple client-side web part.

    Disclaimer: things below here can most certainly change until GA of the SharePoint Framework.

    To prepare your environment you need to install node.js and npm and the Yeoman generator, which will take care of the project scaffolding for you. Then you download the specific SharePoint generator using Yeoman and start the scaffolding (exact command to be determined; hopefully yo sharepoint).

    What you get is the a set of files, just like when creating a new project in Visual Studio. All code files are TypeScript files and the Yeoman generator will create one specific file for your Web Part TypeScript class. This TypeScript class will inherit from a base class as follows:

    export class FutureOfSpWebPartWebPart 
       extends BaseClientSideWebPart<IFutureOfSpWebPartWebPartProps>{ 
        ...
    }

    As you can see, my client-side Web Part extends the BaseClientSideWebPart abstract class. The generated code also includes overrides of some of the methods. Also notice how there's an interface definition passed in as an template argument to the base class:

    export interface IFutureOfSpWebPartWebPartProps { 
        description: string
    } 

    This interface is used to define the properties of your Web Part, in this case only a description property of the type text.

    client-side web part in TypeScript

    In the generated file there are by default three overridden; the constructor, the render method and a property called propertyPaneSettings. For this post, let's just focus on the rendering of the Web Part.

    public render(mode: DisplayMode, data?: IWebPartData) {
        this.domElement.innerHTML = 
           `The Future of SharePoint is <b>awesome</b>!`;
    }
    

    This method is responsible for rendering the client-side Web Part, and in order to do that we have access to the actual DOM element, through the this.domElement object. WIth that we can manipulate the DOM as we will and in this case just insert HTML directly into the element. We can also in this method setup any bootstrapping we want for our favorite framework, we can check the mode to see if we're in edit mode or not, and we can get properties using the data argument.

    Once we're done building our client-side Web Part we of course would like to take it for a test ride. And now over to something really cool. Remember building Web Parts and you need either your own virtual machine or an Office 365 subscription with internet connection. No more! You can sit on an airplane (like I do now) and just run the gulp task called serve. This task will wire everything up, start your browser and open up the Workbench, which is a local offline canvas for the new page model and you can work with your client-side Web Part. If you need any changes to it, just modify the TypeScript file and the task will take care of compilation and reload your browser. Can't be easier.

    Client-side Web Part in the Workbench

    Of course this method has no access to SharePoint data or the Graph, so you need to work with mock data - which generally is a good idea anyway!!

    Then when you're ready to go test with live data you can use the Workbench that will be present in SharePoint (not available until later this summer I'm told) and there's also gulp tasks for packaging it properly so that you can either upload and host your client-side Web Part script files in either a CDN or in SharePoint itself.

    I think this is more or less exactly what I've been longing for in this area. SharePoint team - you nailed it!

    Make sure to check in this video by Daniel Kogan in which he walks through the new framework, page model and how to to build a client-side web part.

    Client-side applications

    There's also a concept called client-side applications. This is the new way of customizing lists and libraries. In a nutshell you register a client-side application for a list or a library and then you are solely responsible for rendering the user interface, in a similar fashion as above. Can't wait to see what awesome stuff people builds with this. But, that's for someone else to write about, or me at another time.

    Impressed?

    How do you feel about this? I think this is a fresh re-start of the SharePoint oil tanker and I welcome all the new thinking in this space. Yes we have to re-learn quite a lot of stuff, but I love that. And honestly people, SharePoint developers has been the laziest group of developers out there (except some Cobol veterans) and been very afraid of changes (remember when all people screamed for their life when the App model came?). Get out of your comfort zone, learn new stuff, build cool stuff and enjoy SharePoint land once again.

    SharePoint is back and Web Parts are back!

About Wictor...

Wictor Wilén is the Nordic Digital Workplace Lead working at Avanade. Wictor has achieved the Microsoft Certified Architect (MCA) - SharePoint 2010, Microsoft Certified Solutions Master (MCSM) - SharePoint  and Microsoft Certified Master (MCM) - SharePoint 2010 certifications. He has also been awarded Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) for seven consecutive years.

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