SPServices and Migration to SharePoint 2013

4 minute read

I get many great questions in the SPServices Discussions (that’s the best place to ask questions about SPServices, IMHO, not the MSDN forums, or StackExchange, or on the Documentation pages on the SPServices site, where I rarely see them). Some of them deserve to get wider exposure by becoming a blog post, and here is one of those.

The question came in today from jshoaf and was titled Migration to SharePoint 2013:

I’m new to SPServices and I’m using it to develop on SharePoint 2010.  I’m using SPServices 0.7.2.  My organization will be upgrading to SharePoint 2013 sometime in the future.  What will I need to do (if anything) when the new SharePoint server is installed to keep using the SPServices library?  Primarily I’m using GetListItems and Query operations.

and here is my answer:

Unfortunately, the answer will have to be the dreaded “it depends”.

The SOAP Web Services are still present in SharePoint 2013, though Microsoft has decided to deprecate them. What that will mean in reality is anyone’s guess. There are lots of deprecated pieces of functionality (think sandbox) that would very difficult to remove.

The bigger question is around what you do with the results and such. The DOM in SharePoint 2013 has changed, just as it did from 2007 to 2010. If your code is nice and modular and you are using clean selectors, I would guess that you will have to re-test, perhaps adjust the code, and most likely adjust the CSS.

Keep in mind that many of the adjustments may be outside SPServices itself and just in your own jQuery / JavaScript and CSS.

The upshot of this is that there simply can’t be a simple answer. The core of SPServices will work in 2013. My testing hasn’t been extensive enough to test every single operation, but the SOAP Web Services are there in 2013 and they work the same.

As for the value-added functions, it looks like the list forms in 2013 are essentially the same as in 2010 and even 2007. It’s mind-boggling, isn’t it? One would think – at least I do – that there were so many opportunities for improvement.  I was extremely surprised when this was the case going from 2007 to 2010, and I’m incredulous that the forms are the same going from 2010 to 2013. But so it is.

The good news about having those frumpy forms stay the same is that the value-added functions that enhance them will generally work. Again, my testing hasn’t been extensive, but the functions everyone know and love – SPCascadeDropdowns being the primary one – seem to work fine. Of course, the whole iitem creation and editing expereience has been widened so that there are more possible ways to accomplish them.

Another question I often get is “Have you rewritten SPServices for 2013?” The answer for that is “no”, as there isn’t really any need, based on the details above. However, if you decide to use SPServices with SharePoint 2013 and you run into issues, I *definitely* want to hear about them – post to the SPServices Discussions. I think SPServices has a good few years left in it, and I don’t want there to be bugs with 2013 or 2007 or 2010 if I’m able to fix them.

I’m in the midst of working on a new release of SPServices that will return jQuery .Deferred() objects (aka promises) from SPServices calls. (See SPServices 2013.01ALPHA4 Returns a Deferred Object (Promise)) One of the reasons I’m doing this is that it will bring SPServices forward to reflect better coding practices if or when you may decide to move to REST-based calls to SharePoint instead of using SPServices to make SOAP calls. In other words, even if you decide to stick with SPServices, you’ll be using an approach that will make it easier to move forward with SharePoint as it evolves.

Remember that SPServices is open source. I rely on you, the community that uses it, to let me know what works and what doesn’t. There is just not enough time in a day for me to test everything. If I hear about problems, I try to get fixes out as soon as I can, but this is free software, folks. The best situation is one where someone runs into a problem, they devise a fix, and I get the fix to incorporate into future versions. That was my understanding about open source when I got started with SPServices in 2009, but in reality, it just isn’t true most of the time. Wouldn’t it be nice if it were, though?

If you have thoughts or concerns about all this, by all means let me know, preferably in the SPServices Discussions. (Have I mentioned that is the best place to get help with SPServices) Comments here are always welcome as well.

[important]This is what I’m talkin’ about! This afternoon, I got a request for functionality along with the proposed fix. Take a look at the Add support to allow SPUpdateMultipleListItems to use folders item in the Issue Tracker. I’m adding it into the new alpha for the 2013.01 release right away. This is how you can get what you’d like to see in SPServices, for sure.[/important]



  1. “…list forms in 2013 are essentially the same as in 2010 and even 2007.” – You’re Kidding?
    Wow… I knew 2010 was pretty much unchanged, but to not improve the UI/UX in 2013 is just wrong… but then again; it justifies why 2013 still needs folks like us – to create custom solutions that keep up with the times…

    I knew that the valued added functions would continue to have a place in SP, specially items around the UI/UX… Although your webservices wrapper might go stale as organization move to 2013 (replaced with json services), the valued added functionality will continue to play an integral role in customizations.

    Re: code contributions to SPServices
    I have been a long time user of sourceforge.net to host development projects, but after trying GitHub, I have to say that for community based initiatives, nothing seems to beet it… They just make it dead simple (once you are setup) to make changes and contribute updates/enhancements/etc. I recently received my first “Pull Request” on github – its great knowing that all you have to do is validate a fix.
    Have you ever considered moving to github?

    • Paul:

      When I say the forms are the same, I mean the markup that makes it to the browser, which is really all we care about with scripting. I haven’t looked at every single column type, but the ones I work with daily seem unchanged.

      I’m actually set up to use github on the SPServices site, but I have no idea how to use it.
      Josh McCarty has helped me by posting new releases to github at cdnjs so I haven’t learned it but I know that I should. Everyone seems to make it sound like a no-brainer, but when I look at a github page, my eyes cross.


  2. Right, free and open sounds like a great idea on the paper, but in practice it’s not easy to make it work.

    This is even more difficult in the Microsoft world, where people have different expectations. That said, in other communities I am also seeing a trend to move away from a pure, free model, even if it is subtle (like ads more present, or donations required).

    Kudos to you Marc for having succeeded in creating a healthy community around SPServices!

    • Christophe:

      A lot of it comes down to attitude and motivation. I started working on the germ of what became SPServices because it was fun. No more, no less. As I got further into it, I realized I was learning far more than I could in many other ways. I never thought about making money from it early on because I wasn’t secure in my skills or the quality of the product.

      As SPServices became popular, it’s opened many doors for me. I consider the time I spend on it to be a corporate training and marketing expense. (My accounting guys give me crap about it, but I’m the boss.) Without SPServices, I doubt that I would be as skilled at what I do, be a Microsoft MVP, or have as much interesting paying work. It’s all good.

      As Mauro Cardarelli used to tell me when he pushed me to blog: Giving stuff away is the best marketng there is (or something like that).


  3. It is generous people such as you and Christophe that enable organisations such as the one I work for as a volunteer to enhance their end user experiences with SharePoint in ways they could not afford to do otherwise. If the organisation I am currently helping out with some SharePoint development (and I use that term loosely – I ain’t no developer) had to pay for those services and/or pay for commercial features and solutions they simply would not be able to. In my case it is the Police Citizens Youth Club organisation in NSW, Australia. A not for profit, totally membership funded plus grants and donations. Pretty worthwhile bunch and I am happy to help them, and I am happy that people like you and Christophe realise that newbies and non-programmers like me can actually make a contribution in the real world.

    Keep it up fellers, and thanks!


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