New version for Ultimate Forms Extensions
A few years ago Microsoft started rolling out support for the new, Modern user interface for SharePoint Online (as, subsequently, for the latest on-premises versions). It presented a completely new, up-to-date look & feel, functionality and capabilities, bringing SharePoint in line with other modern web applications.
Modern UI required a new type of web parts and customizations, incompatible with the old way of doing things. These new components, based on SharePoint Framework (SPFx), a client-side development framework running directly in your browser, opened a door to new, exciting opportunities for both developers and end users.
Our product, Ultimate Forms for SharePoint Online, was first released over 5 years ago, prior to SPFx being introduced and was designed to support the old, classic UI. Once SPFx came along, we were eager to support it as well. That's why we developed Ultimate Forms Extensions, a companion add-in that provides support for Modern UI:
- Client-side web parts - replace the existing app parts and add new ones, that were previously impossible to implement due to the inherent limitations of the old app part infrastructure
- Column customizers- provide support for our custom column types, such as Color Choice, in modern list views
- Modern forms - allow you to develop the next generation of our forms in Form Designer
- Toolbar extensions - add our buttons to modern list view toolbar (such as our ubiquitous Design button)
- Application extensions - add another layer of security by disabling editing list items through the side bar when custom forms are applied to the list
Why did we need a new add-in?
Couldn't we just add the new features to the existing one? Unfortunately, no. The SPFx solutions require a brand new add-in package format that is incompatible with the existing one. The new package creates a .sppkg solutions, while the previous one creates .app file.
Can I just install Extensions without installing Ultimate Forms?
No, Extensions is not a stand-alone app. It's just the extension of Ultimate Forms features into Modern UI. It cannot be used on its own.
New version of Ultimate Forms Extensions
SPFx is a brand new infrastructure and as such, is constantly undergoing upgrades, new versions are being released all the time. When we first released Extensions a couple of years ago, SPFx was still pretty young and used infrastructure components that were available at the time. Since then, several new versions have been released. Recently we decided that it was time for us to upgrade Extensions to take advantage of these upgrades in the underlying infrastructure components.
That's why we released version 18.104.22.168. It uses the latest versions of TypeScript, React, SPFx and Fluent UI and opens up exciting new capabilities, such as tighter integration with Microsoft Teams.
Normally, we make changes to Extensions on our side and they become immediately available to you, without any action required of you. The actual code of the add-in resides at an external location that we are able to update whenever we need. You've been enjoying bug fixes, improvements and new features without having to perform any manual updates whatsoever!
But this time we do need you to upgrade the actual solution package. Due to the way SPFx solutions are designed, the solution file references the SPFx version it supports, so once we move on to the next version (which is obviously rare), you need to perform the upgrade the .sppkg file.
Do I have to upgrade right away?
As all new bug fixes and features will only be made available to the new version, upgrade is advisable. The old version will not stop working at any point, so you can schedule the upgrade when it is convenient for you.
How complex is the upgrade?
It's actually ridiculously simple, especially when the add-in is made available to all sites through your app catalog (which is the recommended approach). Download .sppkg file here and upload to your app catalog. Grant permissions in the pop-up prompt and you're done.
If you didn't make the add-in available to all sites through the catalog, you will need to upgrade each site that uses the add-in individually through Site Contents.
NOTE: for a brief period of time there was a typo in the .sppkg file name. Instead of saying Infowise Ultimate Forms Extensions, it said Utlimate :). Just delete the old file from the catalog if you see that there is one with the typo in the name as uploading the new one will not override it and you will receive an error saying that you already have a solution with the same ID.
Will anything break?
No! We tested the new package extensively and all the features are working as expected. In fact, there have been several bug fixes implemented!
Sync to Teams
You might notice a new button in App Catalog that says Sync to Teams. It's a new feature in SharePoint Online that allows client-side web parts to become available to be added to tabs within Teams. One of the features of the new version is the infrastructure update that allows us to leverage this capability. Using this feature, you can create tabs within Teams that host one of our web parts.
And as always, we are here if you have any questions or comments!
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