Custom Forms in Classic SharePoint and Power Automate DLP Heads Up

On April 25th, 2020 we received message center notification MC210713 in our tenant indicating there was going to be a feature deprecation in SharePoint Designer impacting custom form creation.  If your organization has completely adopted the modern SharePoint experience this notification will not impact you in anyway. On April 23rd, 2020 we received message center notification MC210568 indicating there were updates to Power Platform Data Loss Prevention capabilities.  This update removes the “data governance blocker” for organizations that have yet to enable Power Automate nee Flow and Power Apps within their environment.  Ironically the latter announcement indicated the starting date of the Data Loss Prevention capability updates was April 22nd, 2020…nice timing there Microsoft😊. Feel free to read on to understand how the two are related, especially if your still using Classic SharePoint sites with customizations in your environment!

In “old school” SharePoint development it was not uncommon for Power Users and Developers to create customized forms using SharePoint Designer. We could easily use JavaScript/jQuery to manipulate data on list/library forms, and prior to that we could use XSL and Data Form Web Parts to do similar things. We never wanted to manipulate the out of the box forms, so we created custom forms (New, Edit and Display).  If you’re one of the folks that understands that last sentence and still support those types of customizations, this feature deprecation in SharePoint Designer is a big deal.

We’ve known for a while that Power Apps in Modern SharePoint was the way to go moving forward but in many organizations Power Apps was blocked due to the inability of IT to properly disable the connections to align with the governance and security measures put forth. This means many organizations are still using those custom forms and have yet to implement Modern SharePoint. Unfortunately, due to these recent changes, it will no longer be possible to add new custom forms. Per the wording of the message center update, your existing customizations will continue to function, but you will not be able to create new forms using SharePoint Designer. The big kicker is the deprecation was immediate  – aka you cannot do it right now. Microsoft’s take on this is below for convenience:

Creating Forms using SharePoint Designer is a legacy feature and we recommend users who were leveraging this functionality to now use PowerApps for this purpose. PowerApps is an easy and powerful tool that allows users operating in the SharePoint Online Modern experience to create and edit custom Forms for SharePoint lists and document libraries right from a browser window. PowerApps does not require traditional coding knowledge or any additional app downloads such as InfoPath.

*Note: SharePoint Online Classic users will need to temporarily switch to the Modern experience to access and utilize PowerApps; though, all custom Forms created in PowerApps are accessible by SharePoint Online Classic experience users.

While I completely agree with Microsoft on the above points, I do take issue with how this played out.  On 4/22 they gave us the controls to properly implement governance controls around the Power Platform, but we didn’t really know about it until 4/23. On 4/25 they disabled the ability to create new list forms and indicate we should be using the Power Platform and Modern SharePoint experiences.  Two days to put together the governance policies/controls and implement them just isn’t enough time. Some larger organizations’ change advisory boards operate on scales of months or years, not days. I’m sure the reason it was deprecated so quickly is the vulnerability in the code is severe, they even elude to it in the full message center announcement, but this really puts a lot of organizations using Classic SharePoint customizations in a bind.

Strongly suggest that anyone still in Classic SharePoint using customizations get in touch with their IT Governance and Security folks ASAP to get this hammered out sooner rather than later!

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