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Reinvent business process in SharePoint and OneDrive

Microsoft 365 drives digital transformation, giving organizations the opportunity to accelerate and optimize business processes. Today, we are announcing a new series of capabilities for SharePoint and OneDrive, integrated with PowerApps, Power BI, Microsoft Flow and Microsoft Forms, that allow people to create and share custom forms, applications and workflows that automate processes.  

 

Microsoft Forms allows anyone to create surveys and simple forms inside and outside organization boundaries.  Custom forms with PowerApps and column formatting allow designer to build beautiful experiences for multiple data sources or just a single field.  Mobile interfaces for PowerApps and Flow can now be shared in the browser views for SharePoint sites for a more consistent user experience. Power BI is integrating new capabilities for generating reports from data wherever it lives.  And SharePoint lists are being optimized with predictive indexing to accelerate lists with millions of items.

 

This week, we’re announcing the rollout of exciting new capabilities for Office 365 business applications: (First Release dates in [BOLD].)

  • Custom forms with PowerApps.  Solution creators can build rich forms inside SharePoint that blend data from lists with over 160 online and on premises data sources. [October November 2017]
  • Flow for OneDrive.  Now, you can build and launch Flows directly from inside OneDrive to automate processes for your personal files.  [October 2017]
  • Column formatter.   Allow power users to add rich formatting and interactivity to data in SharePoint lists and libraries.  [October 2017]
  • Predictive indexing.  SharePoint automatically sorts, queries and indexes your information so it’s even easier to work with the largest lists and libraries.  [Now]
  • Flow launch panel.   When a flow is launched, an inline panel prompts the user to enter information, that can then be used by the flow (e.g.  adding optional steps such as logging or alerting.) [October 2017]
  • Document/item review.  A built in Flow allows you to route a document for review and feedback.  [December 2017]
  • Custom approval action.  Build custom processes with Flow, to approve and publish content for libraries requiring formal check in and approval. [November 2017]
  • Power BI & Forms web parts.  Add simple forms and interactive data visualizations to any SharePoint page. [October 2017]
  • PowerApps web part.  Add PowerApps to any SharePoint page. [December 2017]
  • Let’s look in more detail at some of these:

 

Work with the largest lists and libraries with predictive indexing and queries

SharePoint lists have long been used for planning, tracking, collaboration and data management.  They’re used to track everything from t-shirts and lunch orders to NASCAR race standings and public health programs.  Up to 30 million items can be kept in a SharePoint list.  But until recently, storing more than a few thousand items required careful planning and administration.

 

Predictive indexing changes that.  As lists grow beyond 5000 items, SharePoint senses the fields used in views and sorts and automatically adds indexes without user intervention or throttles.  The modern user experience is also optimized to use those indexes, when available – and to retrieve data in sets to avoid throttles and unavailability.

 

Visualize column data with column formatter

SharePoint lists can be tailored to support almost any content or business application need.  But until recently it has required special skills – custom development –to customize the formatting of fields and columns. 

 

Today, we’re introducing new, low-code capabilities that open custom formatting to non-developers too.   Data bar graphs, color coding, red-yellow-green KPI icons, or interactive icons for email and Flow can be easily added to any list or library.

Column formatterColumn formatter

The column formatter lets people cut-and-paste JSON formatting scripts from our SharePoint Patterns and Practices site or other online examples as column properties.  Over time, we’ll make the SharePoint column formatter a no-code solution, as easy to use as Excel. But this first step enables power users—or at least “super power users”—to take advantage of this powerful new capability early.

 

Custom forms with PowerApps

As we announced earlier this year, power users can use PowerApps to build customized SharePoint forms - which previously required InfoPath or custom code.  Customized forms launch in the SharePoint list in a dynamic, responsive panel.  For a consistent user experience, the default forms will now open in the same panel.

 Custom forms with PowerAppsCustom forms with PowerApps

Almost any user can use PowerApps to customize the default forms for viewing and editing SharePoint data.  And the customized SharePoint forms can take advantage of the full capabilities of PowerApps – no code connectivity to over 150 data services such as Google, Dynamics, Salesforce, Box, Twilio, and Mail Chimp.  

 

[7 November 2017 UPDATE: the custom form rollout is close to starting; First Release is expected to start in mid-November.  Thanks for your patience.]

 

Later this year, we’ll also rollout the PowerApps web part, so you can embed any PowerApp on any SharePoint page.  PowerApps supports most of the scenarios that organizations addressed with InfoPath, and lets you take advantage of new cloud-first, mobile-first, connected capabilities to create custom forms and digital experiences.

 

Enrich user experience with new SharePoint web parts

We are also simplifying the process of integrating business apps with SharePoint pages.  New web parts for Microsoft Forms, Power BI and PowerApps allow designers to combine those experiences on any SharePoint page.

Microsoft Forms and Power BI on SharePointMicrosoft Forms and Power BI on SharePoint

 

Flow Launch Panel

Microsoft Flow brings makes it easy to streamline and automate business processes in SharePoint, across Office 365 and beyond.  Flows can run automatically, based on a trigger event, or you can launch a flow for a selected item or document. 

 

Today, we announced a new feature that lets you add values to a flow before it runs.  For example, a “Request new equipment” flow might ask you to select a desktop, laptop, or a tablet, and send that selection to the team responsible for handling the request   You are prompted to enter information in a panel that opens directly inside a list or library.

Flow launch panelFlow launch panel

In-the-box Flows for streamlined collaboration

Many documents require a quick review before they’re shared or further processed.

 Send for reviewSend for review

We are building a send for review flow into every SharePoint library, so you don’t have to custom build one.  People can route a file to another user for feedback and review.  Built with Microsoft Flow and integrated with the Flow approval center, signoff Flows are trackable in SharePoint as well as the Flow admin consoles. 

 

For more formal approvals, such as document or page publishing, we’re also introducing a custom action to the Flow designer that will approve and publish a file.  You can use this action to create a custom flow that can be triggered automatically by an event or launched from the command bar.

 

Summary

Innovations across SharePoint, PowerApps, Microsoft Flow, Microsoft Forms, and Power BI give organizations unprecedented ability to build no/zero/low-code applications that can connect to over 160 data sources and services.  You can empower everyone -- not just developers – to create solutions that streamline processes, solve problems, and improve productivity. Empowering everyone to be a solution creator is an essential ingredient in digital transformation.

If you’re at Ignite this week, learn more at our session “Transform business processes with SharePoint, PowerApps, and Microsoft Flow” URL Tuesday, September 27 at 4:00PM.  And you can always learn more about Office 365 business apps in SharePoint and OneDrive on our resource center (https://aka.ms/sharepoint-bizapps).  Thank you.

21 Comments
Regular Contributor

The column formatter looks great! Can't wait to get that one.

Regular Visitor

Any chance the enhancements to custom lists will include the ability to do a "search and replace" feature?

Trusted Contributor

@Chris McNultythanks for putting the release dates in Bold at the top of the article. That is helpful, it would have been been great if everyone had done something similar.

Regular Visitor

Love those new features, but please make the title column auto-adjust to a smaller default size (it's always too wide by default) or have the columns width have default values configured in the view setting.

Microsoft

@Ben Girard that's very much on our to do list!

Occasional Visitor

When will adding document to a custom form attachments according to image above be released?

Microsoft

@Pär Åberg I'd look for this by year end, thanks!

Trusted Contributor

@Chris McNultyI have to assume that the only reason we must use JSON to apply column formatting is that the UI is not yet ready. Give that it is still under development, I would like to suggest that the column formatting tool work in the same manner as the Rules creation tool provided in Power Apps https://powerapps.microsoft.com/en-us/tutorials/working-with-rules/.

 

Having consistent user experiences to perform the same task would decrease the learning curves and should decrease the development effort at MS. 

Microsoft

Thanks - we're looking at that as well as Excel as successful models for a formatting user experience.  Really encouraged by the huge positive response to this feature!

Occasional Contributor

Umm its now November and I'm on Pause waiting for the Bold October items to be released.

I have heard that there have been some problems. @Chris McNulty can you update?

 

It's a little bit frustrating as I have to replace a very big and complicated Access Web App.

 

Will Microsoft be extending the retirement date of Access Web Apps due to these release delays, after all PowerApps and SharePoint Lists is the recommended replacement. Everyday these new feature's are delayed is having a knock on effect.

 

I really don't want to have to build InfoPath forms to then have to rebuild using PowerApp forms - InfoPath after all is also in the bin.

 

Hope to here from you soon

 

Will

Microsoft

Thanks - the current plan hit a brief delay, but we expect First Release to be underway in mid-November.  We have no plans to change the Access Web Apps removal date; PowerApps can still be built against lists and embedded in SharePoint pages today (although without the inline forms integration).  Hope this is useful information.  

Regular Visitor

This is all very exciting!!  Since we're talking about  continuing improving the UI, I have one big request.  Detach the SP list column header and make it stick to the top of the browser as you scroll down.  Exact way it's done in freezing the top row in Excel!!   Then our users will see no reasons not to use the list vs Excel. :)

Microsoft

Great suggestion!  Please consider adding it to user voice so we can measure feedback on ideas like this.  I like it!

New Contributor

@Chris McNulty Has the flow launch panel rollout completed - for the first release tenants? We do not see it in our tenant.

Microsoft

@Dhirendra Yadav First Release for the Flow launch panel is still underway...no timeframes to share.

Occasional Visitor

 I like the predictive indexing for list columns, but my biggest problem with large lists is that it's impossible to delete list columns/apply indexing when the lists exceeds a curtain treshold (i believe it's 20,000 for SharePoint Online)

At this moment i have an "orphan" column in a list:

i can't find a way to delete the column (lookup field), because my list have more than 20,000 items. (and have around 14 lookup columns)

Regular Visitor

Barry - what if you made your list into a template without data.  Make 4 copies.  Copy in 5000 records, in each one, so you have all your info, and then in each copy delete the lookup fields.  Then stitch the lists back together.

Occasional Visitor

@Stephen MorleyThat would be rather difficult, because there around 4 other lists that have a lookup-field referencing to the list.
The only way to solve this problem is indeed to remove all the data, change the list and put the data back.
But this kind of problems is why i think working with SharePoint Online and enterprise data is quite an challenge.

Regular Visitor

Hmm, you probably can't export to Excel easily if it's that large. We use Metalogix Content Management tool for moving large lists around, and it keeps the metadata intact.  Maybe you could get a trial version of that?

Frequent Contributor
@Barrie - I know your issue is not the same, still this might give you an idea: http://sympmarc.com/2017/03/27/deleting-a-very-large-sharepoint-list/
Trusted Contributor