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Microsoft Planning Added Character Support for SharePoint Online File Names

Microsoft gave notice to developer partners working with SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business services that it is beginning efforts to phase in file-name support for the # and % characters in its application programming interface (API).

The process of adding support for those characters will be gradual. It will roll out as an opt-in testing process initially. However, Microsoft eventually plans to replace the current API method for SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business, which currently does not support the use of the # and % symbols for file names and folders.

"The existing API will be marked 'Obsolete' in the future and will eventually be removed," Microsoft explained in an Office Dev Center posting. The undated post didn't provide an exact timeline for when this switch would occur.

Right now, Microsoft wants its partners to voluntarily test an API with a new class, called "Microsoft.SharePoint.Client.ResourcePath." This ResourcePath-based class turns on text support for the two characters, which, for Web developers, typically indicate something other than text. For instance, the # symbol can indicate the end of a string, while the % symbol can indicate a space in a URL.

Microsoft's updated API promises to interpret those characters as text, but the switch will have "backward compatibility implications," and so Microsoft is highlighting the need for testing. It means that URLs may not work the same, for instance. Ironically, Microsoft's support for the # and % symbols in file names and folder names doesn't mean that end users should use those characters.

"Existing String-based URL APIs will still work as they have always, but because of backwards compatibility implications, they cannot be used with files with # and % in the name," Microsoft's announcement explained regarding the use of the new ResourcePath-based API. "Existing solutions will generally work as they have always -- at least, until users start to upload files with # and % in their names -- and that is where issues may start."

Microsoft is planning to offer opt-in trials for SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business tenants "over the next several weeks" that will have support for the # and % symbols as text. Organizations can still work with the old API if they want, although Microsoft's announcement "strongly" recommended an eventual switch to the new ResourcePath-based APIs since "existing String-based file APIs will be marked as deprecated" at some point.

Character support will be a bit nuanced with the new API. File and folder names will be able use the # and % symbols via the new API, but here are some exceptions, per Microsoft's announcement:

  • SharePoint list and document library can also have # and % in their URLs, but we do not plan to use # and % in list/library URLs created through the SharePoint user interface.
  • SharePoint sites (Web objects) and site collections (Site objects) can not have # and ; in their URL.

Microsoft currently is not planning to bring this API change to its SharePoint Server products, according to the announcement.

About the Author

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

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