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SharePoint Migration Tool and Other Improvements Released

Microsoft announced a few SharePoint improvements last week, including the "general availability" of the SharePoint Migration Tool.

The SharePoint Migration Tool, announced as a preview back in September, is designed to help organizations move local SharePoint content in their datacenters, such as file shares or document libraries, to SharePoint Online or OneDrive Office 365 services, hosted by Microsoft. The tool "supports the smallest of migrations to large scale migrations with support for bulk scenarios," Microsoft's announcement explained. The general availability stamp means that the tool is deemed ready by Microsoft for use in production environments.

In addition, Microsoft also has a SharePoint Migration Assessment Tool that got some improvements this month. It's a command-line tool designed to spot potential issues before organizations move from SharePoint Server 2013 or SharePoint Server 2010 to SharePoint Online. The tool will now automatically detect the SharePoint Server version that's installed. It now tracks if there are any custom permission levels in the environment and any external lists. It also provides a list of SharePoint users and whether they "were able to be mapped to Azure Active Directory identities." Some of the parameters for running the SharePoint Migration Assessment Tool are described in this post.

Default to Cloud
Organizations running SharePoint Server 2013 in a "hybrid" configuration -- that is, they are running the server in their datacenters and also tapping Office 365 services from Microsoft's datacenters -- can tip the scales more toward using Microsoft's services via a "default to cloud" feature. When it's turned on, the default to cloud feature will direct end users to the Office 365 OneDrive service instead of their local OneDrive or Newsfeed, for instance.

Default to cloud is available for SharePoint Server 2013 users with the Oct. 2017 cumulative update release or higher. Microsoft also recommends installing the Dec. 2017 public update to use this feature.

The news this month is that Microsoft is planning to bring the default to cloud feature to SharePoint Server 2016 as well. It'll be "coming soon," Microsoft indicated, but the announcement didn't indicate when.

SharePoint Admin Center
The new SharePoint Admin Center, promised back in September, will be "rolling out to First Release customers beginning on January 22, 2018," according to a community forum post. Update: a Jan. 26 Microsoft post by Bill Baer, senior product marketing manager for SharePoint, indicated that the SharePoint Admin Center preview would start to appear on Feb. 1 for "Targeted Release customers."

In September, Microsoft had promised that the new Admin Center would show SharePoint and OneDrive notifications, as well as file activity patterns, active sites and service health information. It's expected to have a Recycle Bin to recover deleted sites. Users are also expected to get some compliance controls. However, some forum participants commented that the preview currently lacks "features and functionality."

SharePoint Online Previews
Last week, Mark Kashman, a senior product manager on the SharePoint team, described a couple of new capabilities that are rolling out now in preview form for Office 365 subscribers. They are arriving for organizations that get the so-called "targeted" SharePoint Online test releases.

One preview is the ability for IT pros to set up custom site designs for SharePoint Online Team Sites and Communication Sites. The other preview concerns enabling improvements for end users when they create pages and edit images.

Custom site designs for SharePoint Online are enabled by SharePoint administrators. They "upload custom site scripts and site designs" via REST and PowerShell APIs. The files, described as JSON objects, get stored in a "central, tenant-level gallery." Administrators can control which end users can use the specified site designs. They can specify which themes to use in the designs when end users create new Team Sites or Communication Sites.

For end users, Microsoft is previewing a page creation option that lets end users "start with a copy of this page." They don't have to start from a blank page. Another improvement concerns the Text WebPart, which now has controls for "size, bold, underline and spacing," as well as extended options to modify indents, font style and color, strike-through text and tables.

The Image WebPart has some improvements. It lets users crop or zoom into photo sections, and it lets them get Creative Commons-licensed images via Bing search. Other enhancements include a Promote button to alert end users of content and a Site Usage page. Likes, comments and views now get tallied at the bottom of pages as well.

About the Author

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

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