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Microsoft Announces SharePoint Add-In Retirement — What Now?

Microsoft 365, SharePoint, Teams

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If you have been in the development space for any length of time, you will know that the only constant is continuous change. As different development methodologies, patterns, and best practices come into existence, we adopt new and better ways of delivering customizations and solutions.   

Microsoft development methodologies and technologies are no different. The company has made great strides in articulating changes coming for their various platforms, and how to transition into newer approaches that have been made available. Often, this transition occurs after a period of maturity for the new technology, giving developers a chance to learn the new approach and provide feedback. Then, the technology is updated to accommodate scenarios and solutions that may not have been realized in early releases. 

In this post, we discuss the SharePoint Add-In retirement announcement Microsoft shared on November 27, 2023.

Evolution of SharePoint Development: From Add-Ins to Framework

SharePoint development has seen a rapid transition away from the days of on-premises development into a model better suited for Cloud-based implementations, while embracing modern client-side frameworks and methodologies. SharePoint Add-Ins, also known as SharePoint Apps, were introduced with the release of SharePoint 2013, and were a significant shift in the development model for extending and customizing SharePoint sites, introducing the concept of SharePoint Apps as part of the newly introduced “App Model”. 

The introduction of SharePoint Add-Ins represented a departure from the traditional server-side solutions that had been present since SharePoint’s inception and allowed developers to build and deploy custom functionality in a more isolated and scalable manner.  SharePoint Add-Ins provided a way to extend SharePoint’s capabilities without directly impacting the SharePoint server or relying on server-side resources and libraries – a significant step in the realization of a more decoupled customization model. 

Since then, Microsoft has continued to evolve its development models for SharePoint, with a focus on modern client-side development approaches. The SharePoint Framework (SPFx) was introduced in May 2016, and provides a modern client-side development model for building customizations on SharePoint 2016, as well as SharePoint Online.

Key Features of SPFx

  • Client-Side Development: SPFx utilizes popular web technologies such as TypeScript and JavaScript, allowing developers to build web parts and extensions that run completely in the browser with no server-side code reliance. 
  • Responsive and Mobile-Friendly: SPFx solutions are designed to be responsive and work well on both desktop and mobile devices, providing a consistent user experience across different screen sizes 
  • Tooling Integration: SPFx integrates with modern development tools such as Visual Studio Code and Yeoman, streamlining the development process. It also leverages popular development frameworks like React and Angular. 
  • Tenant-Scoped Deployments: SPFx solutions can be deployed at the tenant level, making it easier to manage and distribute customizations across multiple sites within a SharePoint environment. 
  • Open Source: SPFx is an open-source framework, allowing the community to contribute and extend its capabilities. The use of open standards and technologies aligns with modern web development practices. 

Microsoft’s SharePoint Add-In retirement announcement communicated that the extensibility model is being replaced with SharePoint Framework. SharePoint Add-Ins will stop working in new tenants as of Nov 1, 2024, and for all existing tenants by April 2, 2026, including GCC and DoD Cloud environments. Microsoft recommends migrating all custom developed SharePoint Add-Ins to SharePoint Framework based solutions, including those acquired from the public marketplace. 

Navigate the Transition from SharePoint Add-Ins to SharePoint Framework with C5 Insight

For organizations with SharePoint Server deployed on premises, now is the time to consider migrating to the cloud or at least a hybrid-based approach alongside a transition of those customizations. In addition to the retirement of SharePoint Add-Ins, Microsoft has also announced the retirement of SharePoint Designer workflows and InfoPath, which are also often present with on premises SharePoint Server environments. 

Organizations that have developed and/or deployed SharePoint Add-Ins for their SharePoint on-premises or SharePoint Online environments will want to partner with Microsoft Solution Provider that can:

  1. Analyze and understand the business drivers for those customizations
  2. Develop a comprehensive plan for transition to modern capabilities
  3. Execute the plan strategically to reduce disruption

At C5 Insight, we accelerate business results through people-centric digital transformation

We help organizations transition on premise environments, such as file shares, SharePoint Server environments, Confluence, and the like, into M365 Cloud-based or hybrid environments. We have been utilizing the SharePoint Framework extensively for solutions developed for our clients when requirements demand capabilities beyond out-of-the-box functionality. We’re also well-versed in the Power Platform, implementing modern Workflow and Form-based solutions within SharePoint.   

If your legacy technology is slowing you down, or you are struggling to find a way forward after the SharePoint Add-In retirement announcement, contact us.  

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