There was a post that went up last Friday, July 29th, 2016, on the Office Dev Center blog that let us know that they were Removing Code-Based Sandbox Solutions in SharePoint Online. Unfortunately, there’s no date on the post, so quite a few people I shared it with doubted its relevance. But if you go up a level, you can see it was posted on the 29th.
Here at Sympraxis, we’ve never used Sandbox solutions (client side rulez!), but this quick shutdown seems to be hitting many people hard. I would have thought there would have been series of reminders, maybe a countdown clock, and some targeted emails to people who are still running this type of solution to help them prepare for the eventuality.
There’s been an active discussion on reddit, confusion in the SharePoint group on Facebook, complaints in the SPYam Yammer network, etc. In other words, the communication either didn’t hit or it hit too late.
Even worse, it seems as though the support people had no idea this was going to happen. As late as last Friday afternoon, this was considered a service issue, with updates coming into the Office 365 Admin Center to explain why it was happening.
I really try not to be publicly critical of my friends at Microsoft (I know some of you may find that hard to believe!), but this one could have been handled far better. Microsoft is learning how to be more open, and this is one place where I think they are going to learn some things. There may be good reasons why this shutdown is happening ex post haste, and letting us know what those reasons are would be helpful. With SaaS, whether we like it or not, we’re all riding in the same ship. When it springs a leak, not just the women and children need to know it’s time to head to the lifeboats. And it’s August, when not that many people are running at full steam.
There are clear ways to solve this for your own organization, and good articles explaining how to go about it. But you don’t have a lot of time (we’re hearing as little as 30 days, at least in the rumor mill), so you’d better get cracking!
Update 2016-08-01: Check out this post from Dave Feldman (@bostonmusicdave) about getting some non-code solutions to activate: Sandbox Solutions removed from SharePoint Online–Here’s the fix for your Visual Studio developed WSPs to get them to activate. It seems as though the change to SharePoint Online may be blocking some solutions it shouldn’t.
Update 2016-08-02: Apparently, some people are seeing a message like this in the Admin Center. If you aren’t sure if you have sandbox solutions, be sure to check!
MC73347 in the admin center:
We’ve detected that you are using a code-based sandbox solution with your tenant account. Please be advised that we’ve moved forward on our plans to remove code-based sandbox solutions as previously announced in 2014.
As part of the removal process, activation of new code-based sandboxed solutions, as well as updates of existing solutions are no longer available. In approximately 30 days, currently running, code-based sandbox solutions in the SharePoint Online environment will be disabled.
Update 2016-08-03: Be sure to read my follow up post New Script Available from Microsoft PnP: Generate list of sandbox solutions from SharePoint Online tenant