Microsoft have recently announced the availability of a new SharePoint Starter Kit open-source project, which can be used to demonstrate possibilities with the communications sites and group associate team sites in Office 365. Communications sites have great out of the box capabilities, but in certain cases, you might need to extend them based on your business or functional requirements. SharePoint Starter Kit is designed to demonstrate how you can extend out-of-the-box communication sites and group associated team sites with additional capabilities.
The announcement of the availability of this package was originally made at the SharePoint Conference 2018 and Microsoft have also demonstrated it few times in their community calls. You can find this open-source project from GitHub and you can reuse any of these assets any way you want in your own work.
What’s included in the SharePoint Starter Kit currently?
SharePoint Starter Kit contains multiple different capabilities designed to demonstrate how you can extend SharePoint capabilities using SharePoint Framework and other modern extensibility options. You can provision this package to any tenant in a matter of minutes as long as you have tenant administrative permissions. Here’s a high-level description on what’s currently included in the package.
- Tenant level provisioning logic using PnP Provisioning Engine – Automatic provisioning using PowerShell
- 3 site collections. One assigned to be a hub site and two associate to the hub site automatically from the provisioning script
- Contoso Site Designs for group associated team site and communication site
- 17 client-side web parts demonstrating different capabilities
- 7 SharePoint Framework extensions
- Sample LOB service to be hosted in Azure
- Sample content on the portal to demonstrate news and article capabilities
Actual SharePoint Framework solution is built using React and it’s using Office UI Fabric React controls and also PnP SPFx reusable controls for both property pane and content experience. Microsoft have also said that the solution will be further extended to also include many other demos from column formatting definitions to other extensibility options in SharePoint Online.
Future plans around the SharePoint Starter Kit
This is only the initial release and Microsoft are looking into extending this package during upcoming months to include additional demonstrations on how to extend SharePoint Online using modern capabilities. Here’s a high-level list of currently planned activities and improvements.
- Improve documentation and guidance on how to set up things for any Office 365 tenant
- Improve documentation on the provided components
- Provide details architecture design guidance for the existing implementation
- Improve existing demo content to include more real-life content and additional pages for more polished end-user experience
- Self-service website to provide automated provisioning of the solution to any Office 365 tenant to remove the requirement of using PowerShell scripts
Introduction video for the PnP Starter Kit
Following video contains a quick high-level introduction on the PnP Starter Kit and how to get started with this open-source package.
Frequently asked questions
Can I install/setup this to my own tenant?
Yes. You will need to be a tenant administrator as setup script operates on the tenant level for creating the needed site collections. Since it also adds other tenant level settings like taxonomy configuration, Site Designs, and a custom theme, you might want to use a test or developer tenant for testing and using this package, so that your production will not have additional configurations in the tenant level. Please see pre-requirements sections from the readme of the GitHub repository for the detailed requirements for installation.
You can get yourself a free developer tenant from the Office Dev Center by subscribing to Office 365 developer program. This developer tenant is automatically renewed if you use it for developer topics. Notice also that some of the capabilities in the package require your tenant to be a targeted release / first release tenant.
Can I reuse web parts from this?
Yes. The easiest way to just test some of the web parts is by adding the spppkg solution package from the GitHub to your app catalog. Notice that some web parts do require additional configurations and some of the extensions have a dependency on specific list structures to exists in the site collections, so experience might not be fully optimal. Notice that the solution package is configured to get automatically deployed in tenant level, meaning that all web parts are immediately available across the tenant when you have installed the solution.
Where can I get an Office 365 tenant which I could use for testing?
If you are a developer, you should subscribe to the Office 365 developer program.
Can I reuse scripts and code from this solution?
Yes. This is one of the key objectives of this work. You can use any of the provided assets any way you like in this package. We’d love you to also contribute back if you have a change and also provide us with feedback using the GitHub channel.
Is this meant to be competing with the “intranet in a box” vendors?
No. This is designed to demonstrate different extensibility and development techniques as an open-source package. As this is open-source, community-driven initiative, there’s no direct support or SLA for any issues which you might have. Many of the ISV solutions are also much more polished and fine-tuned capabilities and they provide direct support and consultancy for their solutions.
I’m having issues with setting up things – where to get support?
You can open an issue using the GitHub issue list for others in the community to provide you assistance. Also asking questions at the SharePoint Developer group in Microsoft Tech Community can be useful.
Can I contribute back to this solution?
Absolutely. Community contributions as Pull Requests are more than welcome. You can also provide input using the GitHub issue list.
Does web parts work in classic experience?
Yes. All client-side web parts do also work on the classic experience. SharePoint Framework Extensions do not, however, support this.
Will you be releasing updates on the package and how to know when those are out?
We will push frequent updates on the package as we keep on adding new capabilities and demonstrate new extensibility options in it. Any major updates will be shared using our typical social media channel with SharePoint and OfficeDev Twitter twees and Office Developer blog posts.
This looks like what was demonstrated in SharePoint Conference 2018 keynote?
Yes. This was indeed quickly also demonstrated in the SharePoint Conference 2018 keynote. You can see a recording of that keynote from https://aka.ms/watch/SPVS (registration required) or you can have a look at the introduction video from SharePoint Developer YouTube channel.
Why is the default color orange?
Default theme color of the SharePoint Starter Kit is indeed orange as that’s the favorite color of Vesa Juvonen. You can, however, change the used theme in a matter of few clicks on the site collection level, if you prefer some other color.