ESPC17 Day 2 – Conference Started

Sebastian SchützeSebastian Schütze
This entry is part 2 of 4 in the article series European SharePoint Conference 2017

So this is day two for me, but the official start of the conference. Mainly I will be covering only sessions that I have attended. Furthermore, it also depends on how interesting the session was. If it was not or I left earlier, then I knew most of the stuff already or it was hard to follow for me because of several reasons (it can bus does not have to be the speaker’s skills).

But before I start with the ESPC17 session recap, I wanted to mention about a charity that is happening here. A team of four trained rowing men (they call themselves Nuts over the Atlantic) wants to go over 3000 miles over the Atlantic for charity. Specifically, it is about a men’s health. The company behind is the global charity Movember Foundation. They are focused on projects that deal with prostate cancer, mental health and suicide prevention. the organization team of ESPC17 gave them a chance and they asked for donations to make this project possible. I donated and I think this is a good cause!

So now back to the other stuff that also was happening here! 😉

KEYNOTE: Accelerate your digital transformation with SharePoint and OneDrive

There where a couple of news and announcements. Most of them were somewhat known. The speech was given by Jeff Teper (Corporate Vice President of Office, SharePoint and OneDrive) and Stephen Rose (Senior Product Marketing Manager OneDrive). Mainly there where some juggling with numbers of growth and success of SharePoint and Office 365.


OneDrive “files on demand” are now available since last month. This hasn’t been possible for OneDrive for Business. Furthermore, new UI features are rolling out currently. New previews are possible with the browsers. Over 270 file types are enabled with previews and thumbnails. For Example, you can view real-time 3D files as a preview.

Also, secure external sharing is now possible with non-MS accounts. A one time token is generated on sharing and send to the external user. After logging in with the token, no login is required anymore for that user. This token also can’t be forwarded.

Team Sites

Team sites will have a lot of changes over the next year. More and more webparts will be added. One example is the MS Forms integration into a webpart for modern pages. Also, they give a huge recommendation to use more communication sites rather than email to send information. They even have a great way of engaging in a discussion under the news itself

New Search Experience

The search team made a huge change in the search results UI. Search is redesigned and now shows you predictive results, when you click on the search box. Moreover, the results are redesigned as well. This is all currently or soon being rolled out as well.

Update: Here is a link explaining the new search exprience: https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/Intelligent-Search-Discovery/Find-what-you-want-discover-what-you-need-with-personalized/ba-p/109590

KEYNOTE: Transforming Your Team to Deliver Productivity as a Service

The speech did not have too much technical news, but a great message delivered by Benjamin Niaulin from ShareGate. He said, “Productivity as a service” should be the goal. But what does this mean? Essentially it means to raise the productivity in a more flexible and non-static way. It means also to transform into the new possibilities online and not just “move” online.

My thoughts on that?

I have to say that companies do not use much of the tools that are out there. Especially for O365, there seems to be a problem in changing to the new tools. Ok, they know how upload documents and have them synchronized, but do people really use the interconnected possibilities? Not really. One part is, of course, the fast-changing technology and growing knowledge. But a bigger part is more the missing trust and fear of change. If people in those companies overcome this, then all new possiblities can be a game changer for the company.

The Self-healing Environment – PowerShell DSC for Your SharePoint Ecosystem

This session is a really interesting one. What is DSC (Desired State Configuration)? It is actually configuration as code, which also includes the infrastructure in a certain state at a certain point in time. For that, you use PowerShell (minimum version 4). Basically, what you get are a declarative PowerShell script with

This contains all the configuration of a certain system. Instead of going forward and create the current state from scratch (for new infrastructure) you could use Reverse DSC to get a configuration snapshot of the current system. It could mean you could get actually a documentation of the system at a certain point in time.

For SharePoint, there is also a Reverse DSC possibility. So what does it help you? You could much easier duplicate your quality/test stage from the productive SharePoint farm. You could also create a fully configured development environment. It is actually better than ARM templates because it contains configuration on the software level and not just hardware. For SharePoint, it could come down to what web and site collections are used in the SharePoint. But be aware this is not a backup tool for the content, but only the configuration!

And here are some Do’s

and of course, Don’ts

The session overall was very informative given by Andreas Krüger (Comparex AG).

PowerApps: Build the Next Level PowerApp

This was a business level session, but good for an introduction into PowerApps held by Bram de Jager. The main key for me as a developer here was actually the fact that PowerApps connectors use the Open API (with swagger). Open API is an API standard. XML documentation is generally done in the C# code and with this open API standard it can be used to generate the API documentation for public use. So you code documentation IS your public API documentation.

And by the way: Flow and PowerApps use the identical set of connectors and APIs. There is no difference in them. They are actually just two different “UI” approaches with different use cases.

Azure for Office 365 and SharePoint Developers – The Best Bits

This talk was given by Chris O’Brien. The room was so packed, that the ESPC17 team decided to have another session the next day. But what content made this session so popular ?

So he generally spoke about:

So, not going too deep into these topics (would be a long long post), I share the table, that he presented to put the table connecting the use case on O365 with the corresponding Azure technology he suggests to use.

What?  How?
Do something on a schedule  Put code in Azure Web Jobs/Functions
Build apps (Office 365 app/SP provider-hosted add-in)  Deploy app files to an Azure app
SharePoint site provisioning  Deploy PnP Partner Pack to Azure
Run code on a button click  Use Azure Functions + JavaScript
Store data not suited to SP lists  Use Azure SQL Database
Store files for my app  (e.g. JS for SPFx web part)  Use Azure BLOB storage (and CDN if appropriate)
Implement SharePoint web hooks  Use Azure Queues and Functions
Implement authentication on a custom web app  Implement Azure Active Directory (AAD) auth

Managing Data Recovery in SharePoint

This was a very low level (level 100 IT-Pro) presentation, which is okay of course. I went in there to verify if my understanding is coherent with best practices and how it actually works.

It could have been also more or less a half power user half admin topic.

He covered the following point:

Recycle Bins

A first main point was that the two stages actually are very connected when it comes to expiring times. Because there is a standard total of 30 days total for both (not each stage) stages, you need to keep that in mind. This means when the first stage items stayed there for 30 days and they are deleted, then they will not get into the second stage! Furthermore, if you have a deleted item in the first stage and move it to the second after 7 days, then this item will only live for another 23 days in the second stage.

SharePoint Backup and Restores

Basically, this was just talking about standard SP backup and restore functionalities with PowerShell and the CA UI. Nothing special there. The only important tip that he gave was to increase the number of threads of the backup when you are doing nightly automated backups. since nobody is in the office, you can use more resources.

SQL Backups

First of all, he said “NO” to the simple recovery mode for SQL backup. I can’t remember the full explanation, but he said that in this mode you would actually lose an enormous amount of transaction logs. The simple model is NOT backing up all logs. You should perform a SQL Server backups of transaction logs by yourself.

Night Events

Of course, after the conference fun, come more after-conference fun. I enjoyed myself so much during the speeches that I had to relax to some post-conference stuff.

Jameson Distillery – Valo

I and some ex-colleagues I met here were invited by valo (#valolove !) to the Jameson Distillery to get a nice tour and to enjoy some good whiskey. Three times distilled and tens of years old. I don’t drink whiskey but compared to other booze it tasted very good! Nice canapé and mixed drinks, also with the mentioned whiskey. I had nice talks with Hans Bender (Mr. OneDrive) and also other Speakers like Michael Einig or Benjamin Niaulin. We got nice valo heads and kept them when we went to the ship party from dox42

Boat Party – Dox42

The dox42 party was also very nice. Guinness and a ship. Had some nice talks with them. Even though I decided not to recommend dox42, when we had to evaluate mainly between Foxit and the dox42 solution, we could talk about the points which led to that decision. We both came to the conclusion that the use cases at that point are too different.

Sebastian is an Azure Nerd with focus on DevOps and Azure DevOps (formerly VSTS) that converted from the big world of SharePoint and O365. He was working with O365 since 2013 and loved it ever since. As his focus shifted in 2017 to more DevOps related topics in the Microsoft Stack. He learned to love the possibilities of automation. Besides writing articles in his blog and German magazines, he is still contributing to the SharePoint Developer Community (and PnP SharePoint) to help to make the ALM part a smoother place to live in.

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