Hidden gems at Ignite: A conference guide from the SharePoint product team


Hi everyone!  My name is Adam Harmetz and I run the Program Management team for SharePoint team sites, portals, biz apps & dev platform.  I’m thrilled to be spending time with the community next week in Atlanta – the fantastic SP community is one of the main reasons I’m still working on SharePoint after joining the team 11 years ago.


I sat in on over 17 hours of Ignite content reviews this past week – there is a fantastic amount of great content and the team is working overtime to get everything ready for the show.


Of course, as you’d expect there are the various overview sessions (like Jeff Teper’s SharePoint keynote) and here’s a handy graphic Mark Kashman and I are using in our talk that highlights the major overview sessions in each aspect of the modern Intranet:

2016-09-22.pngWhat I wanted to share here was how you can get beyond the overview sessions and into some of the deep dives that often don’t get as much attention.  We are doing some unique new types of talks this year and new types of speakers (designers, developers, security experts, accessibility drivers).  If you are looking for the hidden gems or interesting spin on a topic, these suggestions might help:


  1. Behind the scenes: How we engineer SharePoint.  Last time I was on a cruise ship, I paid extra to take the tour of the engine room and the bridge.  I’m the type of person who loves to peak behind the curtains, and I know there are many of the same type of people coming to Ignite.  We have two sessions for you here: BRK3246 Looking behind the scenes at how we're making SharePoint's front end/UX modern, responsive, ... looks at the client-side, SharePoint Framework-powered front end UX architecture (where the speakers are a design developer and a director of engineering!) and BRK3031 Peak Behind the Scenes of running and building SharePoint Online talks about deployment and back end tech from Zach who manages all our COGs and hardware purchasing.
  2. MVP + Product Team == Awesome.  There are a ton of MVP talks and of course a lot of talks from the product team, but in a few cases, we decided to team up and join forces!  Tejas and Eric are describing the latest How To guidance in branding with BRK3025 – Learn Best Practices for customizing and branding team sites.  And I’m teaming up with Laura Roger to talk about the new experiences through the lens of customer adoption with BRK2041 – Get the most out of the new SharePoint.
  3. AMAs!  I visited the Exchange conference (MEC) a few years ago and was impressed by some of the talks they did where the engineering team just took questions from the audience for the entire time.  We figured we’d try it so on Thursday a bunch of us leaders across product, design, and development will answer whatever you ask with BRK2295 – Unplug with the experts on SharePoint and OneDrive.  The MVP community is doing something similar with BRK225: Learn from MVPS: panel discussion on all things SharePoint.
  4. Build it live on stage!  SharePoint has a long tradition of having a bit of fun with a session where we get multiple people up there building cool sites live on stage.   It’s a great way to let the product itself do the talking.  This time, Jeremy and Emma will be building a team site from the very first “create site” click.  Check out BRK2247 – Watch us bring together the best features a team needs to get the most out of the modern S...
  5. Go WAY deep with the new SharePoint Framework.  In BRK4015 – Build Client Side Webparts for Microsoft SharePoint, Chaks is going to go as detailed as you can go with SPFx (frankly, I didn’t even know there WAS such a thing as a 4000-level session code!).  We did a similar talk at our internal TechReady conference in July and it was ranked the very top Office session of the entire conference.
  6. Meet the Security Experts.  Five minutes – let alone 75 minutes – with Matt Swann will change your worldview about the cloud.  Honestly, if you ever work with him, you’ll see he’s one of those people you’ll remember working with when you look back on your career.  Hear from the guy in charge of SharePoint security directly in BRK3032 – Learn how SharePoint safeguards your data in the cloud
  7. Talk to coders!  Our director of engineering and the development manager of a large chunk of our UX investments will be laying down the knowledge in BRK3026 - Learn how to build a fast, responsive portal in SharePoint Online.  Part of coming to Ignite is hearing directly from those who write code – and together Russ and John have decades and decades of experience.
  8. Change Management: We’ve heard you!  Many of you (including on this very forum), have given us feedback about what you expect from us as we roll out new UX.  We added a session on it to both share our strategy and continue the conversation and feedback.  If you have opinions on how we roll out new functionality, join Zohar at BRK2297: Learn how we move fast without breaking things by managing change in SharePoint Online
  9. SharePoint Dev’s Secret Weapon: PNP.  Vesa was recently sharing with me the usage and community engagement stats from the SharePoint Patterns and Practices site and github – they floored me.    It’s such a great virtuous cycle and we are starting to bring some of the scenarios from PNP directly into the product based upon our learnings.  If you are a SharePoint dev, you must go to Vesa’s BRK2115 – Learn about PNP and the new SharePoint Framework.
  10. Geek out on very specific parts of the product.  What would a SharePoint conference be without some sessions that dive incredibly deep into one aspect of the product?  Three stand out to me here: an entire session just on doclibs with BRK2043 Review SharePoint Document Libraries: what’s new, what’s coming, and when to use what, a session just on the various ways you can create site templates with BRK3027 Learn best practices for creating and managing Site Templates, and a session on our new mobile apps with BRK2037 Explore what’s coming with the SharePoint apps
  11. Accessibility and Inclusive Design.  At Microsoft, we take designing for all needs and abilities seriously as a core part of our processes.  This year at Ignite, we are starting to open up and talk about that work a bit more and provide guidance for you.  Melissa, who has been running our accessibility efforts in SharePoint for many years now, has some great guidance in BRK2214 Ensure your intranet sites are inclusive for people with disabilities.

There are a lot more talks at the conference, of course (188 tagged with SharePoint) – including some great talks from the community.  I didn’t include the community talks here because I didn’t help prep for those, but they are some of my favorite personally to attend myself.


If you have any questions about how to maximize your time at the conference next week, feel free to leave us comments!

13 Replies

Hey @Adam Harmetz,


I'm glad you posted this overview - I've received questions all week about what sessions to recommend, and I suppose this post is where I'll point them now. 




This is awesome! Thanks for posting this!

Very nice to bad i am not attending but will watch it if possible online!

Thanks for posting these in an easy to read/find format. Much appreciated!

Love the build it live on stage idea. Will need to check that one and the release management session out, soon. Thanks for posting the summary, @Adam Harmetz!

sadly , none of these links work for me. The original ignite ones are gone now and the techcommunity ones are access denied.

such a shame , was looking forward to reading those.
This post is from Ignite 2016. Tom’s link to Aarons’s blog is the best for 2017!
best response confirmed by David Leveille (Steel Contributor)

This was so helpful at MS Ignite, @Adam Harmetz - thanks for sharing. I really enjoyed the behind the scenes and inclusive design sessions. Well done!

1 best response

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best response confirmed by David Leveille (Steel Contributor)

This was so helpful at MS Ignite, @Adam Harmetz - thanks for sharing. I really enjoyed the behind the scenes and inclusive design sessions. Well done!

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