SharePoint Online (SPO) now offers two models for building sites. Classic SPO sites and Modern SPO sites leveraging the SPFx framework. Presently, there are still significant differences in capability between Classic and Modern – specifically in the arena of brand-ability, customization, third party integration and design output, but the demand or Modern SPO sites is increasing as some customers want to be able to leverage the ‘latest and greatest’.
Akumina, in the upcoming 5.0 release that was announced on May 22, will fully support both models. This allows Akumina to meet the demand of the marketplace for the most recent Microsoft capabilities and offerings, as well as for sites that provide a full featured and immersive and distinct experience, based on Classic SPO sites. Customers will be able to leverage one approach or the other – or in certain circumstances, both at the same time.
Akumina separates Content, from Function, from Presentation. This abstracted approach is what allows for:
- Easy integration with 3rd party systems outside the Microsoft ecosystem
- Easy adaption to a different Microsoft page rendering/compiling engines
Modern Pages and SPFx are not about new ways to manage content, they are about new ways to deliver capabilities into a page and bring that page to an audience.
Akumina’s support of both Microsoft page rendering models is not about creating a ‘new Akumina way of doing things’, rather, it is about adapting the Akumina widget technology to be delivered to an end user through either model – with complete feature parity – following Akumina’s ‘use the right tool for the right job’ deployment approach.
Classic vs. Modern Page Support
Akumina widgets being delivered in a Classic Page, branded with a personal left navigation, a main navigation mega-menu, a branded and personalized footer and 3rd Party integrations. In Classic, the user has complete control over the page.
Akumina widgets being delivered in a Modern Page allow for the selection of the Akumina widget, insertion into the editable areas on the page, but several of the core constructs of the page are locked down – such as left navigation, main navigation and footer – and 3rd Party integrations are restricted as of now.
Microsoft has been clear about their roadmap for the next 18 months and customers should not expect more brandability inside Modern Pages. In fact, some MVPs are pointing out that they are actually going the other way – in the recently released updated Modern Page Preview Microsoft has introduced a new required social footer on every single page. Important to note that the new page rendering system is designed to fall more in line with the multi-tenant aspect of the SPO workload – this limits the ability for customization and configuration on a customer-to-customer basis. More and more sticky and unmovable objects are being added to each Modern Page – this isn’t necessarily bad, it is just something that customers need to be aware of because it will dictate when you should be using which model based on specific needs and requirements.
Integrating Akumina with Modern Pages
Akumina is NOT a page management system. We are a component management and content management system – and by separating out the content, from the functionality from the design, we can accomplish thousands of experiences inside of a single page (think: single page app experience) versus the need for a complete page repaint every time I traverse to a new content set, a new widget set, a new functionality set or when presenting some new design elements.
Akumina is the first “Accelerator” product to fully support Modern pages with SPFx – and the capability is actually quite simple.
When a customer spins up a new Modern Page application of SharePoint Online, two packages are added to each site collection: Akumina Framework Loader and Akumina Widget Picker.
Akumina Framework Loader
In Microsoft’s world this is what they call an Application Extension – essentially this is what allows us to inject the Akumina Widget Framework into all Modern Pages.
Modern Page in Edit Mode with Akumina Widgets added
Modern Page in Edit Mode – Open Akumina Widget Picker
Akumina Widget Picker
In Microsoft’s world this is a client-side Webpart created using ReactJS and JQuery that enables the Widget Picker to be visible on all Modern Pages and allows an end user to easily select and configure which widget from the Akumina library is going to be used in which zone on the page.
All the Akumina Benefits in a Modern Page
With the ease of adding Akumina into SPFx driven pages also comes many of the benefits as well.
Akumina Widget Targeting and Audience Segmentation are still available as those are functions of the Akumina Widgets and don’t have any dependencies on the page technology (in this case SPFx) in which they are hosted.
As well as the same multi-view and management capability for configuring widget properties and easy access content editing.