Ignite 2015 Announcement – There will be no SharePoint Designer 2016

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

I was first made aware of this while driving to the airport on my way home to California. I saw a tweet from Benjamin Niaulin, an Office 365 MVP with ShareGate (and then his follow up post).

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.

Moving forward?

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?

I will be the first to admit that when working with SharePoint, my first tool is SPD. Two tasks I often accomplish with SPD are check out and check in branding assets and library files and I can also create specific lists tied to content types quicker than in the browser. I am sure many of you use SPD to manipulate workflows, content types, site columns, data sources and still may use it for HTML, CSS and JavaScript development. Although not as easy as with SPD, there is no need to panic. We will still be able to customize SharePoint.

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


  1. Cheri Bell says:

    I am concerned. As a power user (PM/BA) I don’t want to have to use VS to make changes that affect UX. Microsoft Product team lean toward coding and VS without considering alternatives. I read that people are using 5-6 different softwares/applications to take the place of what SPD used to be able to do. From 2010 – losing the Design view to not having any MS based solution to make changes to SharePoint. We are reviewing 3rd party offerings for Workflows, but if MS keeps going in this direction, IT teams will be looking at other content management systems to replace SharePoint.

  2. Ravivarma says:


    Yes as Tom Said, I have used SPD 2013 to create external list for BCS. Not sure we have same kind of ease in other tools to create external list.


  3. I’m not sure what the road map is. First they discontinued SharePoint Workspace which was used by many of our users and it was difficult to convince them about Microsoft’s plans. We have lots of workflows and branding done using SPD 2013 and upgrading to next version of SharePoint would need some thought if SPD 2016 isn’t released. SPD was a free product and VS isn’t hence there may be licensing costs involved.

    Again if SPD 2013 can still do the job on SP 2016 then that wouldn’t be a problem.

    • Unless they provide us enough tools, migrating to SP 2016 is going to be tough. I am trying to find out if SPD 2013 will work with SP 2013, but that may take months to answer. If I hear anything I will be sure to let everyone know.

  4. Hi Eric! Just like you I use SPD daily for misc design tasks, sure I do also have a set of tools installed like sublime, VS , web matrix and brackets I do use for different tasks. If I work in a Project let’s say togheter with some dudes I use VS for packaging and version Control or for creating apps etc, but I really like SPD cause its fast n easy, just to connect to the site and you have all master pages, page layouts etc and your ready to go with fast Ctrl-S -F5 in the browser. I will for sure miss SPD a great tool in this perspective!

    • Christian, I completely agree with you. SPD is my go to for quick Check in, check out, creating lists based on specific content types and workflows. I believe that with Mark’s definite “no”, that SPD 2016 is a no go, but I do have hope that replacement tools will be created. Maybe ones that are more reliable and won’t crash all of the time to boot.

  5. Hey Eric,
    Thanks for posting on this. We use SPD all the time for Project Workflow development, it seems as though we may need to begin brushing up on our VS skills… have you heard anything else about a lightweight app for management and development like SPD?

    • Reviewing how to use VS for workflows is definitely a good idea, but also, I suggest we wait for MS to make a few more announcements. It sounds from Mark that the product group knows this is an issue and they are working on an offering. Hard to say for sure what this will be. My hope is that they do not shut off SPD 2013 from SP 2016. That may be a long shot.

  6. Does that mean that a power user should use Visual Studio to create his workflows? Or do we need to buy a workflow engine (Nintex)?

    • Is Visual Studio really a power user tool though? I say no. That all being said, I think it is too soon to tell. When Mark made this announcement, a few minutes later he provided some insight into possible new tools the product group is working towards. Maybe other browser based tools, or tools from the Visio team. Who knows. If you want a well supported, feature rich system then sure, I think that Nintex offers a great tool. You know they will continue to support SharePoint 2016 and beyond and they have migration partners such as ShareGate, so it is likely your work can migrate as needed.

      Realistically? We need to wait 3-6 more months and see what they offer in the public preview in Q3/Q4.

  7. Any word on BCS? I’ve received quite a lot of interest in my BCS sessions using SharePoint Designer. Without it, there isn’t an easy way to create external content types with tools from Microsoft. I wonder if BCS is going away or if there will be a new BCS tool in the browser.

    • I do not think that BCS is going away, in fact I would venture it will grow up. We will have to wait and see what Microsoft’s answer will be but I bet Visual Studio will play a role.

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