When Microsoft first announced SharePoint 2019 at Ignite last year, not many details were given. All we’ve known is that SharePoint 2019 would have “a subset of Office 365’s features.” That all changed today at the SharePoint North America Conference in Las Vegas (and the accompanying virtual conference).
Now that the cat’s out of the bag, let’s dive deeper into some of these announcements and features.
Since the days of its humble beginnings, OneDrive has come a long way, but it’s been lacking on-premises. Soon that will be a thing of the past, as SharePoint 2019 will add OneDrive Sync Client support for both personal and team sites (including files on demand!). You will also be able to use push notifications. These features have existed in the cloud for some time, but now on-premises users will be able to take advantage.
The Modern Experience
One of the big disadvantages to SharePoint 2016 is that it does not have a lot (if any) of the modern SharePoint features. Luckily, a large chunk of the efforts put into 2019 were focused on bringing the modern experience on-premises. The following features will be available:
- SharePoint Home: If you’re familiar with Office 365, you should recognize the SharePoint home screen. Find all the sites and news relevant to you in one place!
- Modern Team and Communication Sites: Probably the most expected feature in SharePoint 2019, modern sites will indeed be here, complete with most of the features cloud users know and love.
- Lists and Libraries: You can’t have modern sites without modern lists and libraries!
- Pages, Web Parts, and Authoring: Classic SharePoint pages haven’t been the most user friendly to create and edit, but now with the modern features, anyone can quickly create content. Most of the modern web parts will be there too.
- Suite Navigation and App Launcher: The familiar Office 365 “waffle” menu will be there too.
- Modern sharing experience: You could always allow users outside your organization to access content inside SharePoint on-premises, but that was typically done either by allowing anonymous access, or giving them a SharePoint license. Office 365 of course has a much more robust sharing experience, which is now coming into SharePoint 2019.
Administration / Infrastructure Improvements
Nerds like me who enjoy administration and infrastructure things have not been left out. There are quite a few improvements there, such as:
- Direct links in Central Administration to SharePoint documentation: No more searching the depths of the internet to find the documentation you need.
- SMTP authentication when sending emails: If you’ve ever had to set up a relay and fruitlessly test over and over again until outgoing mail starts to work, you’ll love this one. Now you’ll be able to use actual authenticated SMTP (including Office 365) to send out your emails.
- Workflow manager 2019: SharePoint workflows are not going to go away anytime soon. Realizing this, Microsoft will be releasing Workflow Manager 2019 to replace Workflow Manager 1.0. It will have all of the features 1.0 had, and then some. If you can’t accomplish what you need in Flow, Workflow Manager may be what you need.
- Deeper PowerApps and Flow Integration: Speaking of Flow, there’s going to be some deeper integrations with Flow and PowerApps. Everything will still need to be done through the gateway, but there will be performance improvements and fewer restrictions than before. There still won’t be native PowerApps and Flow buttons though.
Of course Hybrid is going to be a big deal. 70% of SharePoint seats are in the cloud, and that can’t be ignored. It wasn’t super difficult to configure and manage in 2016, but it’s even easier in 2019 with the new features below:
- New SharePoint Hybrid status bar: Monitor the health of your hybrid configuration at a glance with this new feature.
- Direct links in Central Administration to the Hybrid Configuration Wizard: In SharePoint 2016, you had to go through a few hoops to get to the Hybrid Configuration Wizard. Now you just click a link directly on the front page of Central Administration.
- OneDrive in Office 365 by Default: This one seems like a no-brainer to me. When you set up a hybrid environment, users will be using OneDrive in the cloud by default, rather than on-prem.
- Modern Search: Search has had many improvements in Office 365, and up until now that experience hasn’t quite been consistent when in a hybrid environment.
- Use of # and % characters in file and folder names
- Increase URL path limit to 400 characters
What Isn’t Included?
Not everything available in Office 365 today will make it into SharePoint 2019, for various reasons. Here are a few:
- Hub Sites: This one hurts a bit. If you’re familiar with hub sites, it’s likely you love them already. They fundamentally change how you should structure your SharePoint sites. Unfortunately, they are still too new and untested to make it into 2019. Of course that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t flatten your site structure…
- PowerBI: You can still export your SharePoint lists and bring them into PowerBI for analysis, but the new PowerBI web part that exists in Office 365 is not coming to on-premises in the near future.
- Most of the newer web parts: Microsoft was able to jam a lot of new stuff into SharePoint 2019, but not all of it. Any web part in Office 365 that has (preview) next to it will likely not exist on-premises, especially the ones that heavily rely on the cloud (like the aforementioned PowerBI web part).
What about the Old Features?
Some of the old features many organizations still use regularly will be available, though not necessarily in the same capacity, such as:
- The BI Stack: You’ll still be able to install and use the ol’ BI stack, but it’s going to be deprecated.
- Newsfeed: The newsfeed will still work, but it’s going to be read only.
- Authentication: If your organization uses some other authentication, such as ADFS, or any other SAML provider, you can keep doing that here. No SAML 2.0 is expected at launch though.
How will migrations work?
Microsoft is going to release some tools and features to make migrations easier. What kind of features you may be shouting at your screen? These kinds:
- Assessment Tool: There will be a new migration assessment tool to analyze your SharePoint farm before you do your migrations. It’ll work on SharePoint 2010 and above, and will have features such as site usage analysis and identity mapping.
- Migration tools: The SharePoint Migration tool has been around for a bit, and it’s steadily improving (list support is already there, and 2010 support should be soon). Of course, the third-party migration tools will all work too.
- SP Admin center integration: One cool feature I’m excited about is the integration of migrations with the SharePoint Admin center. There will be links to perform some of the migration tasks directly from there.
Other than that, migrations will work largely the same as they do today (the planning is much more important than the technical piece).
When can you start using SharePoint 2019?
As Microsoft announced at Ignite last year, they are still on track to release SharePoint 2019 public preview this summer, with a full release this fall. Is your organization planning on using SharePoint 2019? Which features are you most excited about. Tell us in the comments!
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