MVP Take: Deprecating features in SharePoint – are you prepared?

4 min read
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We sat down with three of our MVPs Tobias Zimmergren, Erwin van Hunen and Waldek Mastykarz to chew the fat – among many other things, there was an interesting segment about deprecating features within SharePoint, the impact they can have, and how one can find out when or if the deprecating features in question will have an effect on your SharePoint environment.

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Tobias Zimmergren is a 10 year Microsoft MVP and works as product Owner at Rencore. He plans, architects and develops software and distributed cloud systems.

Tobias: “I know that in the cloud, and this comes from a lot of the interviews I did in recent days with many of our customers, one upgrade blocker we talked about was the User Interface. You stay on classic and you cannot upgrade to the modern SharePoint experience. Moreover, you partially lose the return on investment [ROI] because you cannot use the mobile view. Furthermore, when Microsoft announced the deprecated feature HTML inside calculated fields in SharePoint Online, quite a lot of people and organizations were affected by this deprecated feature as it could essentially change how lists were rendered – the way they look and feel. Customized lists, customized workflows, etc. completely stopped working and had a huge impact on SharePoint environments.”

“You cannot choose to run an upgrade in SharePoint Online – the upgrade runs automatically, and you have to cope with it. It is a good idea to keep an eye on the Microsoft message center as it announces updates in good time before a rollout actually happens so you can mitigate it, but I think, and coming back to the point of mitigating risk, and as a follow up question – I want to ask you guys, we need to follow practices… we keep saying follow best practices, follow what the community is doing, what Microsoft suggests, but what are the best resources to find this information?”

Erwin van Hunen is a Microsoft 5 year MVP, Microsoft Certified Master, and Microsoft Certified Solutions Master and works at Rencore. He is currently a Rencore product Owner and a core member of the SharePoint Patterns and Practices (PnP) team.

Erwin: “My recommendation is, giving the fact that I am part of the PnP [Patterns and Practices] core team, is to join the monthly PnP and bi-weekly calls we offer because that’s where you will hear about all the new things and all the best approaches. There is a saying that there are no customization best practices, but these are definitely good practices. You can sit back, relax and listen for an hour and you will hear early announcements on topics. As it happens, we demo things in those calls which will be released maybe 6 months later, so you can really get an idea of what’s happening and coming up.”

Waldek Mastykarz is a 10 year Microsoft Office Development MVP and Product Owner at Rencore. He reinforces our product development and is also a member of the SharePoint PnP Core Team

Waldek: “The only thing I can add is that I see there are two parts. The first part is the official announcements and these are always in tech communities or office blogs. An example of content is: in 2 years time, we’re going to deprecate ‘X’. Then there’s the second part and let’s call it the practical side – the reasoning why and additional info that helps you understand why things are going to happen and what impact it has on your SharePoint Online tenant.

That’s PnP. Ideally, you want them both. You want to know upfront when things are going to change, that might affect you and then another thing is you might want to understand why things are going to change because sometimes things are clear – this feature is going away, but sometimes things are more complex like this is going to change – but it will only affect you if ‘X’ and ‘Y’ happens. For example, regarding the deprecation of Azure ACS which would affect you, but it turns out that it’s not going away completely, just deprecated over time, but SharePoint wise, things are going to work. So, people were first scared, but actually, there is no immediate action needed.”

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Matthias Seidel

Matthias, or Thias for the sake of distinguishing from all the other Matthiases here at Rencore, is the VP of Marketing at Rencore. He is passionate about helping make Microsoft 365 admins' lives easier by evangelizing about Rencore's mission, vision, and products.