What’s new in SharePoint 2016 for developers and pros?
Whenever organisations choose to deploy or migrate to SharePoint, they almost always depended on a team of SharePoint developers and experts to enhance and customise the platform and target it to their own needs. From creating workflows, branding and redesigning sites to tinkering with the architecture, SharePoint developers are a seriously useful lot. Because of this, they have always been valued by employers and by Microsoft – you’ve probably by now seen the classic video of a sweat-drenched Steve Ballmer extolling his love for “developers, developers, developers”.
So, when rumours started circling that SharePoint 2016 might be the final version of the platform, developers may have been a little concerned. Were the skill sets and knowledge they’d spent years building up about to become irrelevant? That fear seems unfounded, as Microsoft has indicated it expects the platform to be around for many years to come.
Now, while we know that SharePoint developers skills will remain important well into the future, this doesn’t mean you can be complacent. The recently released SharePoint 2016 includes many new features and capabilities that you should know about to ensure your skills remain as useful as ever. In order for you to be best prepared, let’s look at what exactly these features are, and see how they’ll impact you.
New openings and skills requirements for SharePoint developers
With SharePoint 2016, Microsoft has identified a growing hunger for mobile and cloud-enhanced experiences. So, a lot of the skills you’ll need will be tied in with these experiences. As a business that champions SharePoint developers and pros, Content and Code has been keen to explore just what this new approach to SharePoint will mean for our team and for the wider SharePoint community. Our main findings are as follows:
- Microsoft continues to encourage app development on any stack
In the past, developing apps or add-ins for SharePoint required extensive knowledge of the .NET framework and C#. However, in recent years Microsoft has been opening up to non-proprietary programming languages and the alignment of Microsoft technologies to common standards such as REST.
SharePoint developers can now use, among others, Ruby, C#, Java, PHP and Node.JS. This is a change in emphasis in SharePoint; developing is becoming more akin to general web development, rather than purely developing for a specific Microsoft tool.
Key take away: this opens up SharePoint to developers who haven’t necessarily worked with the platform before, meaning you can transfer skills learnt working with different technologies.
- Quicker, safer, easier SharePoint projects and releases
There are a couple of key improvements in how you’ll develop and deploy solutions on SharePoint. First, there is a move away from managed, server side code to client code, shifting the need for modular, performant client side solutions. This will allow for quicker, safer releases of SharePoint projects.
We’re also seeing greater integration between SharePoint and Azure, Microsoft’s cloud network. It will now be easier than ever to develop cloud friendly solutions, which will be especially useful if your organisation has opted for a hybrid model.
Key take away: this is good news – it should make developing then deploying solutions less of a convoluted process.
- Big enhancements around security
Another major change in SharePoint 2016 is in relation to security around user device and content management policies. The platform lets you manage applications with Microsoft Intune (formerly Mobile Device Management), and there are a lot of new tools for eDiscovery and Data Loss Prevention for all-round improved security.
Key take away: Microsoft wants to encourage productivity from any device, but this opens businesses up to additional potential risk. These security enhancements will make it easier for you to stay in control while letting staff access your servers from wherever suits them.
- Organisational analytics
Knowing how your SharePoint environment is being used is also the best way of improving it. The organisational analytics tool in SharePoint 2016 provides a lot more visibility and simplicity than in the past when it comes to auditing and reviewing how information is being used and viewed.
Key take away: it’s all about data. Microsoft want to make it easier for you to make the best decisions with your investment; organisational analytics will help you a lot here.
- Preservation of documents
The new Compliance Center in SharePoint 2016 may not be one of the sexiest new features, but for SharePoint developers, it’s certainly important. With SharePoint Server 2016, you can leverage features from the Office 365 Compliance Center.
Let’s say you want to create a new site. When doing so, you can now build your own policies and apply them to your specific environment. So if you want to delete a document(s) in a user’s OneDrive for Business site after a certain amount of time, you can. Likewise, if you want to preserve a document or email, the In-Place Policy Hold Center now gives you that option.
Key take away: The ability to control the data you preserve and delete will make many SharePoint developers and pros happy. With security and governance high on the agenda for many, these new features will help your company stay in check.
Whether you’re a developer or a pro user, SharePoint 2016 offers a lot of exciting new challenges and opportunities. By getting up to scratch with the latest improvements, you’ll be best prepared to work with the platform and bring a lot of value to your business.
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