[ #Office365 ] NextGen Portals at MS Ignite, part 1 : the big picture

First article from a series of 4 on [ #Office365 ] NextGen Portals at MS Ignite :


This was one of most expected and greatest topic presented at MS Ignite 2015.

What is it all about? I would say this is an ambitious on-going engineering effort to redefine the whole web publishing engine of SharePoint.

1. Context

The “legacy” publishing engine in SharePoint has proven to be highly customizable and to be able to provide a great variety of portals but it was at a cost of a not so easy learning curve. Moreover, it is now coming from the 2007 version without major redesign so it is somehow challenging to handle new needs like:

  • Mobile trends like BYOD,
  • Social feeds,
  • Search driven content,
  • Seasonal contribution,
  • Cloud deployment,
  • Speedier time!

So NextGen Portals are the proposed solution to handle these challenges.

2. Strategy

The idea is to provide a new framework that will allow to easily and quickly provide portals with much less customization efforts than are needed with the “legacy” publishing engine. It’s important to note that Microsoft is committed to maintain the custom portal platform we used to know in SharePoint.


So on the previous slide, the NextGen portals are on the green arrow where the legacy publishing engine is on the blue one.

The four pillars of the NextGen portals are summarized on the following picture:


They are:

  • Ready-to-go : the idea here is to have very few or even no customization
  • Mobile : the portals will embed natively responsive design and apps to access them
  • Social : the portals will embed ways to interact via Yammer
  • Intelligent : that means powered by Office Graph

They will also leverage many of the unique capabilities of Office 365, as represented on the bottom of the slide. This point allows to share content and experiences between several different portals.

In this video, recorded for SPS Paris, Mark Kashman explains these main aspects :

3. What type of portals can you expect?

Microsoft has identified typical portals patterns that they will expectedly provide as a sort of NextGen Portals.


At this time there are four types of NextGen Portals annouced:

  • The Office 365 video portal (that I already commented on this blog) was already said to be the first step in the NextGen portals journey
  • Blogs embedded in the new profile page powered by Delve

         (with a demo of the authoring experience which will be the new authoring experience for all pages at 41’ of this session)



           With auto saved of modifications in the pages and similar mobile experience:



  • Microsites which are (as the name says it) not really “portals” but rather a quick way to publish content, leveraging the new authoring canvas.


  • Codename “Infopedia”, a NextGen portal for Knowledge Management inside the company (with no committed roadmap for that yet)



4. What are the new building blocks?

From the lower level to the highest, you have:

  • Boards (coming from Delve) that are lightweight way to collect information. They are composed of cards (that I already commented here) and which an easy way to collect and curate inks and documents.
  • Modern Pages, also named Articles. They are already deploying (for First Release Tenants, via the new blog experience in Delve powered profile page). So you can already give feedback on Authoring canvas embedded in it.

· clip_image017



Articles also natively embed controls like that to like, comment, share and see the number of views :


Or metadata like with this controls at the bottom of the page:


  • Microsites: which should allow information workers to build their own sites without IT. It is the modern way to groupe pages on a similar subject in Office 365. By design, all the pages are created responsive and will scale and resize smoothly from smaller to bigger screens.

Microsites are a natural way to organize pages. They provide sections to group them.


It will be very easy to authors to create new sections:



Microsites will come in First Release in the coming months. Sway is inspired by the same design principles than Microsites. A demo is accessible at 30’ of this session or at 26’ of this one.

  • At the highest level, you obviously get the portal itself, with (at least) its specific home page


This slide summarize the whole thing, from a KM perspective :


5. Why build a portal on top of SharePoint Online?

A question that could soon come is why build a portal on top of SharePoint Online? This slide is an answer. This is because the platform embed so much built-in functionalities that it would take so much time to try to recreate even only a part of them.


6. What is the roadmap?

There wasn’t such a thing as a roadmap slide. So I had to construct it from all the information I gathered. At this time, four flavors of NextGen portals are announced:

  • Office 365 video (100% deployed now)
  • Blog (currently deploying on First Release, via Delve Profile page)
  • Microsites (will come in FR in the coming months)
  • Codename Infopedia (with no committed roadmap yet)

This gives us the following updated roadmap (be aware that this slide is mine NOT from MS)


Another important area of evolution (described at 57’ in this session) is the integration of these new tools with Sway.


In a few words, both team could benefits from the other works and you can expect integration in both ways, but no commitment on this yet. For example:


7. Custom NextGen portals

No commitment on this neither, but it is expected that at some point people will want to use the building blocks to build their own portal. NextGen UX *may* become open source in the future.


8. Feedbacks

For any feedback on Office 365 NextGen Portals, you can go to this page: http://aka.ms/NGPFeedback




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