SharePoint 2019 is finally here!
It is still not the RTM version, but we can already get a sneak peek of what the new version will bring since SharePoint 2019 Preview was recently announced by Microsoft after the Microsoft Inspire event that took place at Las Vegas from July 15th to July 19th.
SharePoint has come a long way and it is nothing but amazing to see the constant innovation that Microsoft has been introducing to the platform over the years!
With this release, SharePoint Server finally gets modern and includes a major set of the features that are already available in SharePoint Online. After the release of SharePoint Online back in 2013 and with the release of SharePoint 2016, Microsoft has adopted the “Cloud-first, mobile first” vision where all new features are first released to SharePoint Online and then gradually released to SharePoint On-Premises through new major versions that occur approximately every 3 years and through Feature Packs that were introduced in SharePoint 2016 and allow the latest Cloud innovations to be brought to the On-Premises world. SharePoint 2016 was the first major SharePoint On-Premises release that took advantage of the extensive Microsoft experience managing SharePoint Online and the second major version was just recently announced: SharePoint 2019.
SharePoint 2016 has brought us several major improvements over its predecessor. Here are some of its main features:
- New Hybrid Experiences like Cloud Hybrid Search, Hybrid Team Sites and the ability to use Delve as the User Profile Experience
- Major limit increases (ex: Search Index Size, Number of Site Collections, List View Threshold Increase with Automatic Index Column Creation)
- Feature Packs
- Durable Links
- Zero Downtime Patching
- Integration of the new SharePoint Framework development model (available with SharePoint 2016 Feature Pack 2)
Three years have passed with lots of new features released to SharePoint Online and it is time to take a look at what Microsoft is bringing us with the new SharePoint 2019 Preview release.
What’s New In SharePoint 2019
Lets’ take a look at the major features that the new version will bring!
The main focus of the new release is no doubt the inclusion of major parts of the Modern Experiences already available in SharePoint Online, bringing a responsive user experience and allowing access to SharePoint 2019 from any device (PC and mobile devices). Here are the major new features that were announced and that will be included in SharePoint 2019:
- Modern Team Sites
- Modern Communication Sites
- Modern Lists
- Modern Libraries
- Modern Pages
- Modern SharePoint Development Platform
- Support to the latest One Drive Sync Client
- Improved Hybrid Support
- Improved support for PowerApps and Flow
- Improvements on Large File Support, Character Restrictions and File/Folder Names
The following features are not going to be available, possibly in future Feature Packs:
- Hub Sites
- Site Designs and Site Scripts
- Site collection app catalog
- Power BI web part
- Most of the modern web parts available in SharePoint Online
As expected, some of major features in Office 365 will not be available and will remain as cloud only offerings:
- Office 365 Groups
- Microsoft Teams
- Microsoft Forms
- Delve (possible to integrate with SharePoint 2019 in a hybrid scenario)
- PowerBI (possible to integrate with SharePoint 2019 in a hybrid scenario)
Modern Team Sites
The major difference between SharePoint 2019 and its predecessor is that it will include some of the major UI improvements already available in SharePoint 2019. One of its core components are the Modern Team Sites. Team Sites have always been the major collaboration tool in SharePoint and will continue to be so but now with a modern and responsive user experience, allowing users to easily collaborate and share information within Teams and the whole organization. This is how a new Modern Team site will look like:
One major difference between Team Sites in SharePoint 2019 and their counterparts in SharePoint Online is that they will not be supported in Office 365 Groups and thus not taking advantage of some of the coolest collaboration features in Office 365 such as:
- Office 365 Group features including a shared calendar and integration with Outlook
- Ability to connect a Team Site with a Team in Microsoft Teams
Modern Communication Sites
Another major piece of the modern experience that will be included in SharePoint 2019 are the Modern Communication Sites. While Team Sites are all about collaboration and mainly people working on SharePoint Lists and Libraries and sharing information between them, Communication Sites are all about user engagement and having a way to easily share relevant information in an engaging way with a whole department or the entire organization. While in Team Sites, most users are active contributors, in Communication Sites most users will be consumers and there will be a restricted set of users that will publish information for a department or the entire organization to consume. This is how a new Modern Communication site will look like:
Lists are one of the core collaboration features in SharePoint, allowing users to work on and share information in a structured way, also allowing information from external systems to be presented in SharePoint. Modern Lists will bring the SharePoint Online experience to the On-Premises world, allowing users to interact with the information with a richer user experience, available across multiple devices and browsers. This is how a Modern List will look like:
One of the major advantages is the possibility to easily format column data using the conditional formatting features already available in SharePoint Online. Other major improvements that will be available later this year or in 2019:
- Row Formatting: Ability to create new formatting experiences for any List or Library with scripting
- Realtime List updates: Ability to see updates to Lists and Libraries instantly without having to refresh the page
- New Ways to create Lists: Ability to create Lists based on Excel, templates or other Lists
Libraries are the other main collaboration feature in SharePoint, allowing users to work on files (and add metadata) and easily share them with other colleagues in the organization. Modern Libraries will bring the same modern experience already available in SharePoint Online and will allow users to easily sync their files with their computers using the latest version of OneDrive for Business, thus allowing users to work offline and sync files to SharePoint once they get back online. This is how a Modern Library will look like:
In Classic SharePoint experience, pages are typically rendered server side and are composed by a set of web parts (native SharePoint web parts or custom developed web parts implemented using server side code in the language of your preference, typically C# or VB.NET). Modern pages are rendered client side and bring the power of client side web parts to give users a responsive user experience, available across multiple devices and browsers. Publishing modern pages is also greatly simplified and users can now create new pages with rich content quickly and easily, This is how a Modern Page will look like:
One of the best parts of Modern pages is the possibility to extend SharePoint using the new SharePoint Framework development model, allowing developers to build modern client side web parts and extensions.
Modern SharePoint Development Platform
With the release of SharePoint 2019, support to SharePoint Framework web parts and extensions will be enhanced. SharePoint 2019 will include SharePoint Framework 1.4 and will also include support to Webhooks that are already available in SharePoint Online. Here are the supported development options in SharePoint 2019 (this list may change until RTM version is released):
- SharePoint Framework client-side web parts
- SharePoint Framework extensions
- Column formatting
For more details on the new development options, click here.
Support to the latest One Drive Sync Client
Until now, OneDrive support was missing on the On-Premises world, while it is already present for OneDrive and SharePoint Online for quite some time. Fortunately, this will change since SharePoint 2019 will add OneDrive Sync Client support for both Personal and Team Sites, which will also include files on demand!
Improved Hybrid Support
As part of Microsoft’s strategy to gradually move costumers to the Cloud and SharePoint Online, started with the first stages of hybrid support in SharePoint 2013 SP1 and further enhanced in SharePoint 2016, configuring an hybrid environment will get even easier in SharePoint 2019 with the new features below, allowing organizations to leverage existing investments on On-Premises solutions while also taking advantage of all cloud innovations of SharePoint Online and Office 365:
- Hybrid configured during deployment: It will be possible to configure a hybrid SharePoint environment during SharePoint deployment
- New SharePoint Hybrid status bar: A new hybrid status bar will be presented in Central Administration once the SharePoint farm meets the minimum system requirements necessary to enable a hybrid scenario. Also, it will give you direct access to launch the SharePoint Hybrid Configuration Wizard
- OneDrive in Office 365 by Default: Setting up OneDrive for Business Redirection to Office 365 was already possible in SharePoint 2013 with SP1 and SharePoint 2016. With SharePoint 2019, when a hybrid environment is configured, users will be using OneDrive For Business in Office 365 by default
- Modern Search: Although in SharePoint 2016 we already had an integrated Search experience with Cloud Hybrid Search that allows SharePoint Online to store the search index for both Online and On-Premises results, the search experience was not totally consistent in a hybrid environment. SharePoint 2019 will take advantage of the improvements made in Office 365 search and will bring a better search experience for hybrid environments. Some of the major improvements in the search experience are:
- Users see results as they start typing and the results update as they type (Search as you type)
- The search results page shows an overview of search results, grouped by type and it will be easy to expand to see all the results of each type, for example people or sites
- On a people result, users can click the email address to quickly get started on an email to that person
Improved support for PowerApps and Flow
It isn’t quite clear all the improvements that will be included in SharePoint 2019 but there is going to be some deeper integrations with Flow and PowerApps to On-Premises data which will facilitate the creation of Apps and Flows that integrate with Line Of Business systems. The connection to On-Premises systems will be done through the On-Premises Data Gateway (that supports integration with several On-Premises data sources) and with the release of SharePoint 2019 several performance improvements will be included and there will be fewer restrictions than we had before.
Unfortunately, there is still not going to be native PowerApps and Flow buttons directly from On-Premises SharePoint Lists and Libraries.
Improvements on Large File Support, Character Restrictions and File/Folder Names
With SharePoint 2019, there will some important improvements on Large File Support, Character Restrictions and File/Folder Names:
- It will be possible to store files up to 15 GB in SharePoint 2019 document libraries. This is 5 GB up from the 10 GB supported in SharePoint 2016
- Support for # and % characters in file and folder names across document libraries in SharePoint and OneDrive for Business
- SharePoint 2019 will increase the URL path length limit from 260 characters to 400
While Microsoft continues to push customers to the Cloud and to Office 365, Microsoft is now releasing another major release of SharePoint Server that brings many of the major improvements made in the last three years in SharePoint Online to the On-Premises world. Meanwhile, the path in the Online world doesn’t stop and many exciting features are being announced, including the arrival of AI to SharePoint through SharePoint Spaces.
If you want to know more about what recent updates in the SharePoint world, I invite you to read:
- What’s new for your intranet in Office 365
- Announcing intelligent event capabilities in Microsoft 365
- SharePoint innovations transform content collaboration with mixed reality and AI
- SharePoint Virtual Summit 2018 Review
To get a broader vision of SharePoint evolution over the years, don’t miss Jeff Teper “Hitting Refresh on SharePoint” articles:
- Hitting Refresh on SharePoint and More – Part 1
- Hitting Refresh on SharePoint and More – Part 2
- Hitting Refresh on SharePoint and More – Part 3
- Hitting Refresh on SharePoint and More – Part 4
About the Author
SharePoint & Office 365 Senior Consultant | Create IT
Miguel Isidoro is a tech enthusiast, focused on Microsoft technologies, specially everything that is related to SharePoint and Office 365 and works with Microsoft and SharePoint technologies for more than 16 years, from SharePoint 2001 up until SharePoint 2016 and Office 365.
LinkedIn Profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/miguelisidoro/