SharePoint 2019 is on the horizon. It’s slated to be released in the second half of 2018. Although SharePoint 2016 proved a capable business platform, there is always room for improvement. Let’s take a quick look at the features expected in the next iteration of SharePoint.

Microsoft lists the Key Features as:

  • Modern Sites, Pages, Lists and Libraries
  • Team News
  • SharePoint Home
  • Communication Sites
  • OneDrive Sync Client
  • Improved hybrid support and scenarios
  • New developer options
  • Improved support for business process with PowerApps and Flow

User Interface Improvements

Let’s face it. Native SharePoint, though functional, is quite ugly and dated. SharePoint 2019 hopes to rectify this by bringing in UI features from SharePoint online. There is a new home screen where you can find all relevant sites and news in a single location. SharePoint 2019 will have Modern Team and Communication Sites. This is a big improvement over SharePoint 2016. I’ve been a user of Office 365 for some time, and although it admittedly took me a little while to get used to the Modern UI, I have found the modern Lists and Libraries sleeker and more functional. One of the more interesting features is a Modern Sharing Experience.

Administration Improvements

This is the subject I’m most interested in. Users have either at this point adopted, or chosen not to, SharePoint. Some begrudgingly dive deep in their Enterprise’s SharePoint content only when necessary. Others enjoy the sharing, collaborative features SharePoint provides. So, really, administration is key. How easy is it to maintain? What new features, if any, will make SharePoint more manageable.

SMTP authentication when sending emails. The only thing to say about this is: it’s about time. If you’ve ever had to work with relays, you’ll understand what I mean.

Workflow Manager 2019. This replaces, obviously Workflow Manager 1.0. So even though PowerApps and Flow Integration are finally happening, Microsoft understands SharePoint workflows are probably here for good… at least for the next couple versions of SharePoint. I’m not really sure what specific features Workflow Manager 2019 brings, but suffice to say based off previous experience it will be a hybrid of a few really useful features, a lot of “why is this here” and some frustration when thinking “why did they remove this feature?”

PowerApps and Flow Integration. There will be deeper integration to allow for process automation using cloud technologies to connect with on-premise data in SharePoint 2019. This is another feature that – if successfully implemented – will make it easier to create more complex automation. The only downside is all the SharePoint Designer Workflow people will have to learn something new.

Hybrid Features

Despite Microsoft’s best efforts, not all enterprises have moved to the cloud. Conceding this fact one of the major improvements with SharePoint 2019 will be native support for hybrid configurations. Some specific features related to hybrid are: a new SharePoint Hybrid status bar, OneDrive in Office 365 by Default, and “Modern Search.” I have yet to read anything from Microsoft what specifically modern search means, but I’m hoping it resolves many issues of search being wonky in current hybrid environments.

I feel the UI improvements will make this seem like a big leap for SharePoint. Ultimately, I don’t think SharePoint 2016 brought that much more than SharePoint 2013. Of course, that could be a result of where I’ve worked, and what implementations I’ve seen firsthand. But the “modern look” should give SharePoint on-premise a well needed makeover. I’m not so sure the infrastructure features add too much value to most SharePoint implementations. The hybrid feature may be useful. But hybrid is something that has been promised previously, and all former attempts fell short of the mark (my opinion only). Hopefully they get this right, from both an administrative perspective and a user perspective. SharePoint 2019 should please most users with the improved UI. Administrators will probably be fine either way. It just depends on how the migration goes…

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