SharePoint Server 2019 is just around the corner and it already promises to bring a lot of improvements to the businesses around the world. It is a modern and flexible collaboration platform and it will re-invent and simplify the way we work in a team and in the projects. On-premises SharePoint is not dead! And won’t be for a long time. The public preview will be available in summer 2018 with the general availability date set for sometime during the second half of 2018.
So, what’s new? A lot. For a quick overview, you can go through the slides of the presentation I just delivered at European Collaboration Summit 2018 in sunny Mainz in Germany. Within this article, I will try to cover the announced features so tag along for a couple of minutes.
With SharePoint 2016, we brought a ton of architectural improvements around hybrid scenarios, capacity, provisioning and patching, all that in form of search improvements, database optimizations, MinRoles and Zero Downtime Patching. For developers, we introduced cloud Add-in model, new client and server APIs, client-side rendering, remote event receivers, support for SharePoint Framework and lot more.
With SharePoint 2019, we shifted our focus toward end users and information workers and we are bringing the modern user experiences and innovation straight from the cloud. We divided our efforts in the three main pillars to improve how we share stuff and work together, we put a lot of thought in how do we inform and engage our users and we did improvements around providing new and modern options to support business process transformation.
Sharing and working together
Starting with sharing and working together, SharePoint Server 2019 brings you some really exciting features.
In SharePoint 2019, you will have a modern, simple and fast site creation experience to create your new team sites and communication sites. Within seconds, your site will be up and running, supported by the fast site creation feature that is available now for OneDrive, Modern Team Sites and Communication Site Templates.
Modern team sites
Team sites are one of the oldest and most used artifacts in SharePoint. And now, they got redesigned and modernized. Similar to SharePoint Online, the new modern team site will have an updated experience for document libraries, lists, pages and news, that are easy to customize and, very important, mobile ready.
Important to note here, on-prem modern team sites are not group connected sites. Groups are Azure Active Directory construct and because we don’t have them on-prem, the groups will not be present on the on-prem environment
Also completely redesigned, responsive and mobile friendly. Modern sharing experience gives you very easy control on who you want to share that content with, being with specific people or with anyone in your organization. The sharing e-mail template is completely redesigned and follows the new SharePoint design principles. In addition to the browser, new sharing experience will be available form the Office Web Apps and latest rich office client.
The same applies to the lists. In addition to being responsive and mobile friendly, you will be able to modify the list structure live, directly from a list view, without the need to get into a settings page. We are also bringing column formatting, adding the ability to edit multiple items at the same time as well as detailed pane to get detailed information about list items without needing to leave the list view.
Modern pages are responsive and look great on every device. No more pinching and zooming to read the stuff from a SharePoint page! Modern pages provide a rich authoring toolset, making it very easy to create a content.
Next-gen OneDrive sync client
You’ll be able to sync the content from your on-prem document libraries by using the OneDrive sync client. For SharePoint 2013 and 2016, you will still have to use OneDrive for Business sync client (groove.exe).
With SharePoint 2019, you will also be able to sync the content to your mobile devices.
Inform and engage
SharePoint Home contains information about all sites relevant to you, just like it does in SharePoint Online. In cloud, it’s powered by Graph, for on-prem we redesigned to use search instead. In the hybrid setup, SharePoint Home feature will take you to the SharePoint Home in cloud, which provides you with the information from both on-premises and cloud farms. Note though, that SharePoint Home completely works on-premises and doesn’t required cloud connectivity. It will make use of it though, if it is present.
With Communication Sites, you can communicate to the broader set of audience across your organization, using all content creation tools given you with the modern pages. My team is using communication sites to completely reduce the e-mail traffic by announcing the features of the tools we are developing and publishing metrics and reports within our Communication site.
Team News feature gives you the tools to write engaging stories and share them with your team by creating beautiful and eye catching posts around announcements, people news, status reports etc.
Stay engaged on the go! SharePoint Mobile app will give you an option to connect to your on-premises SharePoint farm to access the content anytime and anywhere.
Search provides contextual results, while you’re typing, based on the number of factors, some of which are defined by your team and work you are doing. Although not the actual AI, it will try to mimic it, to provide you with the content which is most relevant to you.
Project Server 2019
Project Server 2019 brings improvements in the area of accessibility, performance, team tasks, reporting granularity, notifications, APIs and much more.
Transform business processes
SharePoint has a very good history of supporting various business processes throughout the years. It excels in it because it is a platform with very rich extensibility options. With SharePoint 2019, we are extending the options with Power Apps and Flow integration.
PowerApps and Flow
Integration between SharePoint Server 2019 and PowerApps and Flow will be available via an on-premises data gateway.
A new version of Workflow Manager will be shipped with SharePoint 2019. As we are aware that there are a lot of SharePoint 2010 and 2013 workflows out there, supporting various business processes, they will be still supported by the product.
Let’s go through a few things SharePoint 2019 will bring for the IT professionals.
Search will be on-boarded to the Hybrid Picker. Also, Hybrid Picker will be available from both Central Administration or Office 365.
Finally! You’ll be able to specify credentials for the authentication to the mail server, by either using PowerShell or Central Administration. No need for the anonymous connectors anymore. This improves the security aspect and reduces the need for the infrastructure weak spots, which could be eventually misused by malware or for spam.
We added support for # and % characters in the file name, completing the work to support all Windows supported characters. This is an important aspect as it will make life easier to everyone using OneDrive client for syncing the content to and from SharePoint. As a part of that effort, we also extended the max. URL length to 400 characters.
We are also removing dependencies from IIS 6, making SharePoint 2019 future proof and ready for the new versions of Windows Server.
If you are about to upgrade, consider moving directly to SharePoint 2019. Yes, technically you would need to make a move from SharePoint 2010 to 2013, from 2013 to 2016 and then from 2016 to 2019.
Get the beta bits as soon as they get out and start planning your migration processes. Test them, test your customizations and business processes, identify issues. Fix. Repeat. Participate in identifying issues and report them back to Microsoft. We are already handling scenarios we can reproduce and taking care of it. But maybe, just maybe, there is a scenario which is specific to your business and with which you have an issue. Reporting it early gives us the opportunity to analyze it and fix it, before releasing the product and long before you start with your final migration.
Maybe there are customizations on your side which will need an attention. Anyway, my advice to you is to use a time from the public preview release to the general availability to draft a clear path toward the migration, to make the final migration as fast, easy and painless as possible.