All posts by André Vala

Changing Lanes

After 10 years at Create IT, I have decided to take on a new challenge at a different company.
Since this blog is hosted in Create IT’s blog platform, I have created a new personal blog where I will be posting from now on. This is my final post in this blog address but the existing 10 years of content will remain here.

I’ll see you around!

SharePoint Is Back!

A while ago, some have predicted the death of SharePoint, stating that the SharePoint brand was not even present in Office 365 and that Microsoft would not release any new versions of the on-premises SharePoint Server. Today, on Star Wars day, Microsoft renewed its vows in a SharePoint-focused event appropriately called The Future of SharePoint and announced a ton of new features and an ambitious roadmap for its flagship collaboration platform. For a 10-year SharePoint fan such as myself, it was great to watch.

There is no SharePoint or Office 365 event that doesn’t start with a keynote full of usage statistics, and this was no exception. Seth Patton and Jeff Teper delivered some impressive statistics that show off the impact of SharePoint all around the world:

  • More than 200.000 client organizations
  • More than 190 Million paid seats
  • More than 1 Million developers
  • Solutions ecosystem worth more than 10 Billion USD
  • 2x usage growth in the last year (SharePoint Online)
  • 5x content growth in the last year (SharePoint Online)
  • More that 40% of all seats and 60% of new seats are SharePoint Online
  • Office 365 has over 70 Million active users, which makes it the largest productivity service in the world

The new features and capabilities were announced across four areas:

I’m not going to dive into each announcement because you can read all about it in the Office Blogs and in numerous other blogs and websites. Rather, I will highlight the ones that I found most interesting:

  • In Office 365, the Sites tile will be renamed to SharePoint. A simple change that is very significant since it reinforces Microsoft’s commitment to the SharePoint brand.
  • Microsoft is releasing a new SharePoint Mobile App for all platforms, starting with iOS. It is a simple but powerful new way to interact with SharePoint.
  • OneDrive will also get a Universal Windows Platform App
  • The new OneDrive for Business sync client will allow synchronization of SharePoint Online document libraries (which can already be done with the previous sync client)
  • SharePoint will allow copy/move of documents between OneDrive and document libraries, through the web interface
  • SharePoint Online will get a new homepage with some similarities with Delve
  • Team sites are getting an overhaul, with a new responsive UI
  • The content authoring on publishing sites has been completely overhauled with a much simpler and streamlined experienced
  • Office 365 Groups and Team Sites will have a 1-to-1 relationship, which means Team Sites will become the place where group members come to collaborate
  • SharePoint lists and libraries have a new UI, consistent with OneDrive look&feel
  • Microsoft Flow and PowerApps will be integrated into SharePoint lists and libraries
  • Microsoft is releasing a new client-side development framework called SharePoint Framework, which leverages new web development tools and technologies
  • Regarding security, privacy and compliance, Microsoft is also pushing ahead of the competition with the introduction of the Data Loss Protection (DLP) features, Customer Lockbox, dynamic conditional access policies and the possibility to Bring Your Own encryption key
  • Microsoft is also increasing the pace at which new features reach the on-premises version SharePoint, via the new SharePoint Server 2016 Feature Packs. These will be granular packages that will upgrade specific features in SharePoint Server, and will become available starting in 2017.

Overall, it was a great event with plenty of demos and announcements. For me, however, the highlight was Microsoft’s renewed focus and commitment to SharePoint as a platform and brand.

TUGA IT 2016 – Registration is open

Registration is finally open for the free Saturday of TUGA IT Conference 2016, on May 21st 2016.

Don’t miss the opportunity to attend the largest IT conference of the year in Portugal. A full day packed with technical sessions by local and international renowned speakers, spread over 9 simultaneous tracks dedicated to topics such as Office 365, SharePoint, Data Platform, Integration and Development. It’s a FREE event but places are limited so register now!
The conference program is not published yet because we’re making sure it’s awesome, but it will be very soon!

Also, don’t forget the amazing workshops for May 19th and 20th 2016:

Thursday, May 19th

Friday, May 20th

TUGA IT 2016 – Office 365 / SharePoint Workshops Announced

The TUGA IT Conference 2016 is really coming together now, with the announcement of the pre-conference workshops for the Office 365 / SharePoint workloads. It is nothing short of a stellar lineup with 4 fantastic speakers. Check the details below and register until March 31st to secure the early bird price!

Thursday, May 19th

On Thursday, there will be two half-day workshops dedicated to SharePoint / Office 365 Developers.

Understanding Office 365 Developers Patterns and Practices (4 hours) by Paolo Pialorsi
An absolutely essential workshop for any Office 365 or SharePoint developer, which will introduce you to the Office 365 Patterns and Practices project, and teach how to use the tools and guidance offered by this community and open source initiative. The fact that it will be delivered by Paolo Pialorsi who, besides being a renowned speaker, author, MVP and MCM, is also part of the Office 365 PnP team, makes this workshop a rare opportunity. Read more here.

Developing Apps with Azure AD (4 hours) by Radi Atanassov
Authentication has always been one of the most complex topics when developing client applications that need to call APIs secured with Active Directory. This is where Azure ADAL (Active Directory Authentication Libraries) comes to the rescue, making authentication much simpler for developers of any platform, be it Android, .NET, iOS or NodeJS. In this workshop, Radi Atanassov, well known MVP and MCM, will explain how you can leverage Azure ADAL when building apps that authenticate against Active Directory. Read more here.

Interested? Register for both workshops while there are still slots available.

Friday, May 20th

On Friday, there will be two full-day workshops, one for developers and another for IT Pros.

Working with a Supermodel for SharePoint Add-ins by Sonja Madsen
Sonja Madsen is one of the most experienced and well known SharePoint Add-In developers, with more than 30 Add-ins in the Office Store. In this full-day workshop, Sonja will go through the steps to build a SharePoint Add-In using modern web development patterns with a strong focus on client-side technologies. It will be great! Read more here.
Register for this workshop.

Building the Perfect SharePoint Farm: Infrastructure Best Practices Workshop by Michael Noel
A full-day workshop with Michael Noel is a dream come true to any SharePoint IT Pro around the world. Michael is the author of the SharePoint Unleashed books series and one of the most renowned speakers in the SharePoint space. In this workshop he will deliver a master class on how to build a multi-server, highly available and secure SharePoint farm. I’m pretty sure this wil be epic. Read more about it here.
Register for this workshop.

TUGA IT Conference 2016

The TUGA Association, the non-profit organization behind SQL Saturdays in Lisbon and Porto, is organizing the first TUGA IT Conference which will take place in Microsoft Portugal’s beautiful headquarters, in Lisbon, on May 19th – 21st. You can read all about it in the conference website, but I’ll summarize it anyway.

It will be a 3-day conference, focused on Azure, Office 365, SharePoint, Data Platform and Integration:

  • The first two days (May 19th and 20th) will be for full-day or half-day technical workshops
  • The third day (May 21st) will be for breakout sessions over several simultaneous tracks

With more than 500 expected attendees, this event will be one of the biggest IT events in Portugal, so be sure not to miss it!

Call for Speakers

If you’re an expert on one of the areas mentioned above and you want to share your knowledge with the community, submit your session by filling in the form.

Office Servers and Services MVP

Happy New Year!

2016 is starting off really interesting for me. Microsoft has presented me with the MVP Award for my contribution in the Office Servers and Services (SharePoint and Office 365) communities during the past year, and I’m incredibly honored to be a part of such a select group of individuals. I’m fortunate to know a few MVPs from all around the world and they’re all extremely dedicated and knowledgeable professionals in their respective areas.

Paraphrasing what my friend João Pedro Martins wrote when he was awarded his first MVP title, I hope my contributions to the community continue to deserve Microsoft’s recognition. Thank you.


the European SharePoint Conference 2015 was great!

The fourth edition of the European SharePoint Conference has now finished and it was bigger and better than ever. It took place in the wonderful city of Stockholm, in Sweden, from November 9th to November 12th. Like in previous years, the first day was dedicated to pre-conference full-day tutorials and the conference actually started in the second day. It featured a large exposition floor for sponsors to present their products and services, and also a community area with soapbox sessions during session intermissions and meals. The conference got over 1,500 delegates from over 50 different countries.

The programme team did a great job going through over 700 session submissions and putting together a stellar lineup of great speakers while also broadening the scope of the conference to include Office 365 and Microsoft Azure along with the SharePoint-related content. Congratulations to Wim Dierickx, Göran Husman, Adis Jugo and Nicki Borell. I was on the programme team last year and I know how hard it is to select the sessions and speakers, and put together a compelling programme.

The first keynote was delivered by Seth Patton, Jeff Tepper and Bill Baer, and this fact alone demonstrates how much Microsoft is invested in connecting with the community. The keynote was mostly focused on:

  • Usage and adoption statistics for Office 365
  • New and improved features that recently rolled out in Office 365
  • Near future roadmap for Office 365
  • What’s New in SharePoint Server 2016

Regarding usage and adoption, Office 365 has some impressive statistics:

  • Over 75,000 customers which account for more than 160 million users
  • 200% monthly active user growth
  • 7 Billion Office documents stored in OneDrive for Business, team sites and other SharePoint portals, which represents a 500% year-on-year growth in content
  • Runs on 30,000 servers, with 20,000 SQL databases, on 19 datacenters around the world.

As for new features and near future roadmap for Office 365, Jeff Tepper and Bill Baer shared that:

  • OneDrive for Business will now have a new rock-solid sync client (which has been in preview for a few weeks) and already has mobile apps for all devices. It recently got a revamped UI with a better browsing and sharing experience, and better tooling for IT management.
  • SharePoint Online has rolled-out improvements in collaboration, co-authoring and external sharing features.
  • The new Office 365 groups and their tight integration with Outlook 2016 is helping people to be more productive, adapting the technology to the users and not the other way around.
  • Delve and the Office Graph are also evolving, with new APIs and the new analytics features that are now in development.

The biggest announcement was the release of a second and last beta version of SharePoint Server 2016 before the end of the month, which will be nearly feature complete. The new features of SharePoint Server 2016 were already known since Microsoft Ignite a few months back, but it was still interesting to hear about the enhanced mobile experience, robust and cloud inspired infrastructure, and the compliance and data loss prevention features.

My session was about “Content Recommendation with SharePoint Search” and I think it was well received by the 100 or so attendees in the room, but having to deliver a session on the afternoon of the last day usually means I’m not going to enjoy the conference because I’ll be too worried fine tuning the slides and demos, and practicing the presentation until almost the end. If you’re interested in the presentation contents check the slide deck on SlideShare.

Nevertheless, I still managed to attend a few sessions by really good presenters:

  • Radi Atanassov (@RadiAtanassov) presented a great session on Office 365 Dev Patterns and Practices.
  • Chris O’Brien (@ChrisO_Brien) gave some fantastic tips on what you should and shouldn’t do when developing for Office 365.
  • Marius Constantinescu (@c_marius) showed us how to use Lightswitch to build cloud business apps in Visual Studio.
  • Nuno Costa (@ndocosta) and João Oliveira (@joaopcoliveira), fellow Portuguese Microsoft guys, delivered a brilliant talk on Office 365 governance with PowerShell and CSOM.
  • Rodrigo Pinto (@ScoutmanPt), fellow Portuguese MVP, got to present two great sessions: one on PowerShell Desired State Configuration and another one on techniques to migrate full trust solutions to the add-in model.
  • Edin Kapic (@ekapic) made complex topics such as authentication and authorization seem simple as he showed how to build a custom claims provider for SharePoint. Pretty epic stuff.
  • Knut Relbe-Moe (@sharePTkarm) dove deep into the Office 365 group and filled a room even on the last session slot of the conference.

It was a nice surprise to find Pedro Serrano and Daniel Pereira from Cave Digital showing off their Smart Governance product in the expo floor, and Alex Ferreira (@alexaem) and Tiago Duarte (@tduarte85) attending the conference. It’s always great meeting Portuguese friends when we’re far away from home.

Overall it was a great experience and the team in charge of the organization has done a tremendous job. If I had to point out three highlights of the event, those would be:

  • The venue for the awards gala, which was absolutely fantastic, and the venue for the conference. It will be very hard to top that next year.
  • The networking opportunities.
  • The speaker and session lineup, which included top Microsoft executives.

Next year the European SharePoint Conference will take place in Vienna, Austria, on November 14-17, and I hope I can be there again.

Collab365 Global Conference

This year’s 24-hour online conference is almost here! Like last year’s SP24, the new Collab365 Global Conference is a 24-hour online conference about SharePoint (and also about Office 365 and Azure) and it will take place on October 7th/8th. I’ll be presenting a session on “Building Solutions with Office Graph”.

This event is a huge undertaking and it has some impressive statistics:

  • 10,000 expected attendees (SP24 already got 9,000 last year)
  • 6 simultaneous tracks (Office 365, SharePoint, Azure, Business, French track and Spanish track)
  • Over 120 speakers from 6 continents
  • Keynotes by Jeremy Thake and Mark Kashman
  • 62 MVPs and 6 MCMs

You can expect a lot of great content about SharePoint 2016 and Office 365, and it’s FREE. If you’re interested in attending, don’t forget to register.

Microsoft Developer Tech Refresh

Next Monday, June 15th, Microsoft Portugal is hosting the Developer Tech Refresh 2015 event in Lisbon. It’s a developer focused event, with 20 sessions over 5 simultaneous tracks:

  • Windows Dev
  • Azure Dev
  • Office Dev
  • Data Platform / Internet of Things
  • Web

I will be presenting a session on “Office Graph” (and Office Delve) for the Office Dev track and my friend Jota will be presenting a session on “The new Azure App Service Architecture” for the Azure Dev track. It will be a great opportunity to learn about all the new stuff around Microsoft’s technology stack. Don’t forget to register, it’ll be worth it.