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5 features of SharePoint 2016 you might not have heard of

Author by Drew Madelung

There is a lot of information out there about the key new features of SharePoint Server 2016 being released this year such as MinRole and built in Data Loss Prevention (DLP). I wanted to highlight some of the smaller new features that I am excited to begin working with.

  1. Special characters & updates for file names
  2. Automatic Index Management
  3. Simplified SSL for Central Administration
  4. Site Folders View
  5. Updated Mobile Experience

Special characters & updates for file names

In previous versions of SharePoint there has been a very strict collection of characters which were not allowed in file names. This was always a very large issue when planning migrations from network/file shares up into SharePoint. Here is the OLD list of special character restrictions vs new for SharePoint 2016 and the highlighted changes.

Restricted in SharePoint 2007/2010/2013

~ # % & * { } \ : [ ] ? / | "

Restricted in SharePoint 2016

# % * \ : [ ] ? / | "

Other great file name changes include:

  • Ability to store files that contain a GUID
  • File names that start with leading dots
  • File names longer than 128 characters

Automatic Index Management

If you have been around SharePoint at all you are most likely familiar with the 5,000 item list view threshold. Hopefully you are not currently running a farm where the admin has cranked this up due to end users asking. This limit was designed to mitigate lock escalation within SQL. Each view request for a list is a query against SQL that could throw hit this threshold.

To resolve this issue in SharePoint 2016 a new process of auto-indexing has been put together. Bill Baer wrote a great post about this called "Navigating List View Thresholds in SharePoint Server 2016 IT Preview." Here is a quick break down:

  • There is a new timer job that is called Large list column index management that runs daily by default. From Bill Baer's post, the timer job
    • " examines the views in Lists that exceed 2,500 items. In the event a view definition would benefit from a column index, one is programmatically created. For example, if a view includes a filter for "WHERE A=1 AND B=2", the Timer Job will create an index on either column A or column B. The specific choice depends on the other view definitions in the list, with the goal of minimizing the number of indexes created. "
  • List view automatic index management is set via list settings and enabled by default. This setting allows the timer job to manage the automatic indexing.

  • Automatic indexing can also be managed through PowerShell. Trevor Seward put together the scripts to do this in his post "SharePoint 2016 Large List Auto Indexing"
  • Views must exist with filters in place and fields that are eligible to be indexable must also exist.


Simplified SSL for Central Administration

In SharePoint 2013, it was possible and should be recommended as a standard practice to configure SSL for Central Administration. In 2013 this involved; configuring CA and enabling SSL over port 443 via PowerShell, adding a certificate, configure bindings, and configure internal URLS. The reason it had to be done this way was because when you would run New-SPCentralAdministration with port 443 parameter in 2013 it would not understand you wanted SSL.

In SharePoint 2016 this has been fixed and the following PowerShell parameters have been added:

  • New-SPCentralAdministration -Port <number> -SecureSocketsLayer
  • Set-SPCentralAdministration -Port <number> -SecureSocketsLayer
  • Psconfig.exe -cmd adminvs -port <number> -ssl

The certificate still must be assigned in IIS after CA has been built but the alternate access mapping URLs will automatically be updated. Also if you specify port 443 from the beginning, SharePoint can now handle this appropriately.

There are now even less excuses to ensure that you are running CA under SSL. There are still credentials being passed as plain text!

Site Folders view

It has been pretty obvious that updates were coming to OneDrive for Business faster than they were coming to SharePoint in Office 365. As things progressed these changes have moved into SharePoint. One area that we are seeing this in on-premises is on the left navigation of the users OneDrive for Business site collection.

  • The Site Folders view will show you a list of sites that you're following.

  • And once you select a site you will see the document libraries on the site.

Updated Mobile Experience

SharePoint 2013 included device channels and a minimal mobile view. The experience was nothing great and I have never worked with a client that actively used it. Knowing this is a "Mobile First, Cloud First" world, Microsoft made some enhancements to the mobile experience of SharePoint 2016. What we receive in SharePoint 2016 is still pretty rudimentary but the touch interface is much improved. The new experience still revolves around viewing content via lists and library navigation with the ability to move out of the mobile view.

Let's just say there is still an area for improvement but it's good to know we are moving in the right direction! Thanks to Ben Niaulin's blog "What's new in SharePoint 2016" for the pics!


Drew Madelung

Technical Architect

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