Microsoft retiring add-in model for SharePoint Online
Vladi Gubler
Vladi Gubler
November 28, 2023 | Administration


As you might have already learned, Microsoft recently announced the planned retirement of the add-in model in SharePoint Online. Starting by gradual removal of deployment abilities in 2024, by 2026, no add-in will be allowed to run in any tenant. SharePoint add-ins are supposed to implement additional 3rd party functionality, not available out-of-the-box.

Infowise Ultimate Forms is currently implement as two apps, that work in tandem:

  • Ultimate Forms (main app) - currently implemented as an add-in, it provides the backend functionality, such as Actions, Alerts, Print, etc.
  • Ultimate Forms Extensions - provides the visual user interface, such as forms, special column types and various web parts. This component is implemented as a SPFX Extension (the new and improved method of extending SharePoint) and is not affected by the announcement.

Although the main app is technically an add-in, it has very little dependence on the add-in model, primarily only in terms of its authentication layer. Fortunately, we have already added the ability to use Microsoft Entra (formerly known as Azure Active Directory) as a second authentication mechanism, thus making the process easy and painless.

Our plan is to upgrade and extend Ultimate Forms Extensions app to serve as the main app and access point (the "Design" button you all know and love :)), while using the code and capabilities of the current main app in the background, coupled with Microsoft Entra authentication mechanism. As approximately 99% of the work is already done, we do not expect the conversion process to be complex or labour-intensive, while also benefitting from the following improvements:

  1. Only one app would need to be installed and even that one could be made available to all sites from the app catalog, without the need to install in each site separately
  2. Azure ACS (Access Control Services), the legacy authentication layer of SharePoint apps is notoriously unreliable and can sometimes issue faulty or empty access tokens, as well as requiring to re-trust app permissions. Microsoft Microsoft Entra is much more reliable in this regard.
  3. Permissions for the app will be granted for the whole tenant once, in a central location accessible only to tenant administrators, without the need to grant for each site collection, as currently required with ACS.
  4. We will use this opportunity to upgrade the Extensions app to the latest version of the SPFX platform, making use of the latest features and capabilities.
  5. The installation wizard will be faster and more efficient, due to the need to only install a single app.
  6. Additional features will be eventually made possible, such as web part connections, specific action buttons in list toolbars, etc.
  7. As legacy app parts will be discontinued, there will no longer be confusion between them and their modern SPFX counterparts we provide.
  8. There will be no confusion arising from some customers installing the Office Store app version.

We expect to release a new version of Ultimate Forms by the spring of 2024. A special announcement will be published and will include upgrade instructions and any functionality changes that might be introduced. We expect the process to be seamless, simple and straightforward, and generally completely transparent to end users.

NOTE: our on-premises customers are not affected by the announcement.



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