It May Be Time to Stop Building Access Web Apps

For years now, power users have created solutions using Access Services within SharePoint. These solutions have often been the backbone of many business processes for small to medium-sized organizations. Now that Office 365 is widely available and is fairly cost-effective for those organizations, we have new options to solve those business needs.

Microsoft PowerApps is a new member of the Office 365 family and now that PowerApps is generally available within Office 365, Microsoft is recommending to organizations that solutions built with Access Services be migrated to the PowerApps service.

Access Services & Access Web Apps shipped with SharePoint 2016 and will continue being supported as part of the SharePoint product life-cycle.

Moving forward, information workers should build their apps using PowerApps on top of SharePoint lists to give the feature-rich solutions their users need with the full on-going support of Microsoft and the tech community.

Postpone the SharePoint Online Public Site Deadline

In October 2012, Microsoft released a feature called SharePoint Online Public Sites, which allowed the creation of a public-facing, anonymous ‘SharePoint-ish’ site. It wasn’t a full-featured SharePoint site – public sites had limited features, including static pages and generic theme capabilities – enough to make it useful for small companies with no web development resources. Microsoft targeted small and medium-sized business with this feature and it promised an easy to use method for generating content and modifying the web pages.

Sample SharePoint Online Public Site

However, the feature wasn’t used by a majority of Office 365 customers and caused an abnormal amount of customer tickets. So in early 2015, Microsoft announced that the SharePoint Online public website feature would be discontinued as of March 9th, 2015. Office 365 customers that already used the feature at that time would be able to continue using the public website feature for 2 years after the March 9th date. The change is outlined in the KB Article 3027254.

The message has been consistent from Microsoft since the first announcement – move away from the public website feature because it will be turned off. Period. Almost two years have passed – the deadline is fast approaching and we are now hearing more customers looking for alternative web platforms. On December 9th 2016, Microsoft put out a message via the Office 365 portal to remind customers of the upcoming deadline.

Reminder: SharePoint Online Public Websites are going away

However, this time the message had a new detail that other communications did not, an olive branch of sorts.

In January 2017, we will have a process in place allowing you to postpone the removal of your SharePoint Online public website.

That is good news for anyone who has yet to move their site to a different host. While we don’t know what the process will be or how long customers will be able to postpone the removal of their public sites (more information will be announced in January 2017), it is good that Microsoft listened to their customers and is giving them some extra time to make plans – if two years wasn’t enough 🙂

Convert SharePoint 2016 Trial to RTM License

It is generally a good idea to try software before you purchase or implement it fully. We have already seen a great interest in SharePoint Server 2016 and we have installed the trial version many times to give the ‘try before you buy’ experience to our clients.

Once you decide to go from the trial license to the ‘full’ RTM version, the process to convert your license is simple and is the same as it has been in earlier SharePoint versions. The license conversion starts on the Central Administration site – you can do this via PowerShell, but we will be using the GUI this time.

Select the Convert farm license type link found within the Upgrade and Migration section.

Convert SharePoint License
Convert SharePoint License

On the Convert License Type page, enter your SharePoint Server 2016 Product Key (it will be in the format: XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX) and then click the OK button.

Convert License Type
Convert License Type

After waiting a few moments….

Working On It
Working On It

if you entered a valid key, you should see the screen below.

Conversion Operation Successfully Completed
Conversion Operation Successfully Completed

When you return to the Convert License Type, the new type will be shown.

Enterprise Client Access License
Enterprise Client Access License

 

SharePoint 2010 Site Experience With SharePoint 2016

While testing an upgrade today, I was reminded of a requirement when upgrading to SharePoint 2016 using the database attach method – you must upgrade all site collections to the SharePoint 2013 experience before you attempt to attach the database to a SharePoint 2016 farm.

My test today is using a SharePoint 2010 content database and attempting an upgrade to SharePoint 2016. I first performed a database attach upgrade with a SharePoint 2013 farm, then performed the Test-SPContentDatabase PowerShell command on the database from my SharePoint 2016 farm.

SharePoint 2010 experience with 2016 Upgrade
SharePoint 2010 experience with 2016 Upgrade

It is important to notice that the LegacySiteDetected error shown above is an UpgradeBlocking error, meaning the upgrade will fail if you proceed. Following the direction listed in the Remedy section will fix the issue, but it does require working in the SharePoint 2013 farm to upgrade the site’s experience to 2013. More information on how to perform that operation can be found here: Expand Upgrade a site collection to SharePoint 2013 [TechNet]

SharePoint Saturday Nashville 2016

I will be presenting at #SPSNashville on May 14th on the topic Business Intelligence with SharePoint & Power BI. I will show how to create BI solutions using SharePoint, Excel, Power BI, and a new Microsoft tool Flow.

Join us! SPSNashville.org

[UPDATE]
I had a great time presenting at SharePoint Saturday Nashville. I had a great group of attendees and we discussed SharePoint list interaction with Excel, Power BI, and Microsoft Flow. I am not posting my slides because I didn’t really show content on slides – I used demonstrations the majority of the time to show the power of the tools.


We walked through creating a BI solution that included a SharePoint helpdesk site – one solution used Excel and Power Pivot to build dashboards, the second used Power BI to display and manipulate the helpdesk data, and lastly we used Microsoft Flow to improve the functionality of the solution by pulling in even more content.


The rest of the day was fun and filled with some awesome content from other speakers, delicious hot lunch from Just Love Coffee, and snacks with the sponsors.

SPSNashville 2016 Attendees
SPSNashville 2016 Attendees

The last session of the day was a question and answer time with Microsoft CVP Jeff Teper.

There were a lot of great questions and Jeff was genuinely excited to see all the SharePoint professionals giving up their Saturday to learn and build community. A few bits of information I noted that Jeff shared:

  • There will not be another SharePoint-branded conference put on by Microsoft anytime soon. Microsoft’s Ignite conference will be the focus and they are attempting to put more focus on SharePoint at the conference.
  • Approximately 300,000 Android users start using OneDrive every day
  • Jeff acknowledged some missteps and wants to fix them – the first being that navigation will be coming back to the new document library look in SharePoint
  • Microsoft knows it did not handle correctly the delivery of the message around how the newly announced SharePoint Framework effects existing developed add-ins. This will be fixed in the weeks ahead.
SPSNashville 2016 Jeff Teper
SPSNashville 2016 Jeff Teper

The day ended with a lot of giveaways – we counted over 20! We also announced that attendance was up 79% over last year!

The Future of SharePoint Captured

Yesterday, May 4th 2016, Microsoft hosted “The Future of SharePoint” event in San Fransisco, USA. The host was Jeff Teper, corporate vice president for OneDrive and SharePoint, and along with other Microsoft presenters, Teper showcased the road-map for the SharePoint platform – both on-prem and in the cloud.

Along with announcing the general availability for SharePoint 2016, Microsoft highlighted new SharePoint features and functionality. You can read all about the event and the announcements on the Microsoft Office Blogs post. I will in the days and weeks ahead, cover the new functionality with real-world examples.

Before the event, Microsoft used the Twitter hashtag #FutureOfSharePoint to promote the event. Whenever I attend events, I use Twitter as a way to interact with the speakers and other attendees. For this event, I followed the Twitter hashtag and setup a ‘column’ within Tweetdeck to show all tweets for the event. For this event though, I did something new to track the social interaction Microsoft Flowduring the event. Microsoft released Microsoft Flow, an online product that allows anyone to “create automated workflows between your favorite apps and services to get notifications, synchronize files, collect data, and more.”

 

I setup a flow to capture all tweets containing the hashtag #FutureOfSharePoint and saved them to a list on my SharePoint Online site.

Flow to capture #FutureOfSharePoint tweets
Flow to capture #FutureOfSharePoint tweets

It worked really well and I started looking at the data to see if I could see any trends. The first thing I checked was who sent the most tweets during the event – this included tweets the users had written and RTs they posted. There was a clear winner:


Jennifer Mason posted a total of 103 tweets during the time I was capturing. Her explanation for sending so many:


Jennifer wasn’t alone, we were all really excited and it does show throughout all the tweets. The Twitter activity over the course of the event was great to see and I will keep looking into the data.


John White (@diverdown1964) shared a link to a Power BI report that he created, presumably with help from Jason Himmelstein (@sharepointlhorn) and Dave Feldman (@bostonmusicdave).

You can get access to the web report by clicking here. Make sure the FutureofSharePoint hashtag is selected at the top right of the report.

#FutureOfSharePoint Active Twitter Users
#FutureOfSharePoint Active Twitter Users

I am really excited for what SharePoint 2016 will bring & you can learn more at SharePoint Saturday Nashville on May 14th, 2016! It is the first chance after the Future Of SharePoint event that you will get to meet and speak with a large group of platform MVPs and industry experts at a local SPS event. Register now!

SharePoint 2010 Workflows on a SharePoint 2016 Farm

[This is a quick post – it will be updated with more information soon]

During a recent client meeting, I was asked if SharePoint 2010 version workflows, developed on a SharePoint Server 2013 farm, will continue to work if the server farm is upgraded to 2016. SharePoint Server 2016 has not been released at the time of this writing, but we do have the Release Candidate to test with, so I went about testing.

On a SharePoint Server 2013 farm (version ​15.0.4719.1002, which is SP1 with May 2015 CU) I created a SharePoint 2010 version workflow and associated it with a document library. I took a SQL backup of the content database and restored it as a database named Site_SP13_to_SP16RC.

On the SharePoint Server 2016 Release Candidate (RC) machine, I ran the Test-SPContentDatabase PowerShell cmdlet to check the database for any issues that might be encountered during the upgrade.

Test-SPContentDatabase 2016 RC on SharePoint 2013 Database
Test-SPContentDatabase 2016 RC on SharePoint 2013 Database
The cmdlet ended without even a peep – which is a good sign. So, I performed the upgrade and it ran without error.

Mount-SPContentDatabase 2016 RC on SharePoint 2013 Database
Mount-SPContentDatabase 2016 RC on SharePoint 2013 Database
I loaded the newly upgraded site and was greeted by an old friend…

Working On It
Working On It
…and he (Working on it) stayed a while. It took several minutes for my simple team site to become available.

The website loaded and it was ‘wonderful’ ha! (see site name).

SharePoint 2013 Site Upgraded to 2016 RC
SharePoint 2013 Site Upgraded to 2016 RC
The workflow I created on the SharePoint 2013 farm is configured to kickoff when the document is modified or a new document is added. So, I simply changed the title of the Test document that was already in the library. The workflow successfully started and did assign a task as it should. However, I noticed something on the workflows screen for the document – within the Completed Workflows section, the history of the workflow when it ran on the 2013 farm was listed. This isn’t a huge surprise, but it is really nice to see that the history is there after upgrading!

Workflow History SharePoint 2016 RC
Workflow History SharePoint 2016 RC
In summary, a SharePoint 2010 workflow (a very simple one in this case) created on a SharePoint Server 2013 site, will continue to work when upgraded to a SharePoint 2016 RC farm via database attach.