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Microsoft Pulls Plug on SharePoint Online Managed Code Sandbox

Microsoft announced last Friday that it is pulling support for a capability that lets organizations use a server-based sandbox to run managed code for SharePoint Online sites.

The announcement indicated that it's now no longer possible to activate "new code-based sandbox solutions." In addition, existing sandbox use will get disabled "in the coming weeks." The exact timing for this feature deprecation will show up in an organization's "Message Center and Service Health Dashboard."

Sandbox Support Deprecation
Microsoft had warned it would pull the plug on this feature more than two years ago. However, some SharePoint experts expressed surprise that notifications closer to the deprecation date apparently weren't issued. At least that was the view of Marc D. Anderson, cofounder and president of Sympraxis Consulting and a Microsoft MVP. He noted in a blog post that Microsoft's support staff seemed confused about the feature deprecation, too, because they initially had ticketed the issue as a "service degradation."

Using the sandbox with custom code was a way for organizations to run processes on a server instead of loading things down on the client side. Specifically, Microsoft is deprecating the use of managed code for this sort of operations support. For instance, an organization may have used C# or Visual Basic managed code to support InfoPath forms with this server-side sandbox capability. Apparently, that was a popular customization approach used with InfoPath 2010 and SharePoint Server 2010.

That custom-code approach is being killed off, but just for managed code. Microsoft's announcement explained that "we do not plan to deprecate or remove support for declarative (no-code) sandboxed solutions." Microsoft considers "declarative markup and JavaScript" to be "no-code sandboxed solutions."

Instead of using managed code and a server-side sandbox to support SharePoint sites, Microsoft prefers a client-side approach via its Add-ins model. Microsoft describes SharePoint Add-ins as "self-contained extensions of SharePoint websites that you create, and that run without custom code on the SharePoint server." This approach replaces the sandbox approach.

Microsoft's announcement on Friday offered some commiseration for organizations that are supporting "legacy solutions." Its Product and Customer Support teams are ready to help, the announcement indicated.

Modern Libraries and Lists Support
In other SharePoint Online support news, Microsoft MVP Jasper Oosterveld noted in a blog post that Modern Document Libraries are now showing "Follow" and "Share" action buttons. Microsoft had announced in June that it was just then starting to deliver the new Modern Document Libraries capability to its Office 365 subscribers. This feature is mostly bringing improvements for end users, making the interface look more like that of OneDrive for Business.

Microsoft had said that the old classic Libraries user interface would still be available for organizations "well into 2017" for those needing to support the legacy approach.

On the other hand, Microsoft isn't planning to remove the classic mode for Lists "anytime soon," although it is rolling out a new Modern Lists SharePoint Online approach for Office 365 subscribers at the beta test level, starting this week.

Right now, the early beta of Modern Lists doesn't support the sort of customizations, such as "XSLT, SharePoint Designer and JSLink," that some organizations may have been using, noted Wictor Wilén, a Microsoft MVP and Microsoft Certified Master for SharePoint, in a blog post. Wilén also expressed optimism that Microsoft wouldn't soon kill off the classic mode support for Lists. There's still no end-of-support announcement for classic Lists from Microsoft, though, he noted.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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