Microsoft Releases First SharePoint Server Feature Pack

Faster than originally planned, the first batch of feature updates for SharePoint Server 2016 includes improved administrative logging and app launcher customizations.

Microsoft

Making sure its customers don't fall too far behind the technology curve, Microsoft announced earlier this year that it would use a string of upcoming Feature Packs to help SharePoint Server 2016 keep pace with its rapidly evolving, cloud-based counterpart, SharePoint Online. The first Feature Pack was originally set for an early 2017 release, but in September the company said it was ahead of schedule and planned to release it sometime this month.

As promised, this week Microsoft announced the release of Feature Pack 1 as part of the November 2016 Public Update for SharePoint Server 2016. Among the new features is administrative actions logging, which offers IT departments more visibility into the configuration changes made by SharePoint administrators.

"SharePoint administrators spend time troubleshooting administrative changes to their on-premises environment that can result in failure conditions or other undesired effects," blogged Bill Baer, senior product manager for the SharePoint team. "To aid in troubleshooting, especially in the increasingly common multiple administrator set-ups, we have added logging around key SharePoint administrative actions performed either through the SharePoint Server 2016 Central Administration website or through the SharePoint Server 2016 Management Shell."

Feature Pack 1 also contains a OneDrive API integration for seamless file operations and management between SharePoint and Microsoft's cloud file storage platform. Plus, users will notice that the software inherits the newer, more modern interface found in OneDrive for Business that allows for drag-and-drop file management and one-click sharing and uploading.

Other features include two new MinRole server roles for small and midsize SharePoint server farms and customizable tiles in the App Launcher. New hybrid auditing and taxonomy capabilities are available in beta.

Over at SharePoint Online, Microsoft announced it had enabled new capabilities that allow users to quickly create SharePoint team sites that are linked to Office 365 Groups in mere seconds.

From the SharePoint homepage in Office 365, users can click on the Create Site button to kick off the process. "A two-step creation wizard will fly out from the right," after which users select whether a group is public or private, the team site's classification (general purpose, internal use only, etc.) and its owners and members, explained the Microsoft SharePoint team in a Nov. 8 announcement.

A host of new admin controls help organizations keep a tight rein on the new feature. "Admins can manage whether Create site appears at all, and when it does, admins can adjust who sees the Create Site button and what their provisioning experience should be (classic, modern or custom)," stated the company.

Editable team site homepages allow users to add, remove and reorganize a site's web parts on the fly, and new in-place navigation editing capabilities can be used to add web links to the left-hand navigation column and adjust their placement. A wizard-driven list and document library creation experience (New > List) reduces the time it would otherwise take to dig through menu items.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the Internet.com network of...