Does SharePoint 2016 need “Don’t Panic” in large friendly letters on its cover? Based on a few recent, panic driven conversation I’ve had with others, it may help. As far as I can tell, a bombshell of an announcement, if it could be called that, was made in the last time slot, on the last day of Ignite 2015 in Chicago.
There will be no SharePoint Designer 2016
— Benjamin Niaulin (@bniaulin) May 8, 2015
I must admit my first reaction was this must be a mistake. There was no word of this during all of Ignite, and for something like this to come at the end of the event, maybe it was by design? The announcement was made approximately hour and twenty minutes into a session given by Mark Kashman, Senior Product Manager at Microsoft, entitled, “SharePoint UNPLUGGED! Questions Answered on Anything You Heard This Week”.
The session is now available at Channel 9. Skip to timestamp 1:20:50 and listen to the quick question, “Is there going to be a SharePoint Designer 2016?“, followed quickly by Mark’s answer, “Oh, that’s an easy one to answer, No“, followed by wow’s and cheers. Interesting.
Update: I am no longer able to find the session at Channel 9, but I was able to still view the recording directly from the video. This might be temporary, I am not sure.
So why do I say don’t panic? First reason, well, don’t. Everything will be ok. There are available tools and methods to work with SharePoint and SharePoint 2016 will be no different. Mark made the followup point that there is still Visual Studio, and let’s not forget PowerShell, the browser and design manager. Also, SPD was often causing more harm than good. SPD was not the greatest designer tool, and don’t forget we already lost the design view back with 2013.
I find it interesting that SPD 2013 may still be used with SharePoint Online. Throughout Ignite and even before, we were told that SharePoint 2016 is being built on the same code base as SharePoint Online and contain much of the same functionality. It is reasonable to believe that SPD 2013 will work with SharePoint 2016. Yes, we have been unable to use different versions of SPD with different versions of SharePoint, but I believe it possible that Microsoft will not shut us completely out of SharePoint 2016. I may be way off base, time will tell.
Why are you still using SharePoint Designer?
Worst case, what are our replacements? As Mark pointed out, there is a canvas for workflows, Visual Studio. If you are still using SPD for branding, start looking at other tools such as Notepad++, Sublime Text, SASS, grunt and other compilers. Hook into SharePoint by mapping your Master Page Gallery as a network drive. The browser, Visual Studio, or PowerShell may be used for content types, site columns, data sources, etc. I am well aware there are shortcomings that may not be fully addressed, we will have to wait and see exactly what comes from Microsoft.
And who knows, Microsoft has been known to change their mind. There may yet be SPD 2016, but I would not count on it as we saw the writing on the wall with what happened to SPD 2013. Best we keep our eye on the ball and prepare ourselves for no new version of SPD. As I hear more I will let you know. I know this is going to continue to be a hot topic over the next few months, next few years even.
What are your thoughts? Will this change the SharePoint equation for you? What tasks do you think you will be unable to accomplish with SharePoint 2016? Let me know.
And please, don’t panic. We will get through this together. Oh, and please don’t shoot the messenger.
Apologizes to Douglas Adams