This post was most recently updated on November 28th, 2019.Reading Time: 5 minutes.
Last week, Microsoft sent a surprise email to a number of customers. Delve blogs – the hated & loved self-serve internal blogging platform on Office 365 is getting axed. It doesn’t really come as a surprise at this point – the service was first announced in 2014, launched to some hype and appreciation (especially due to the new CMS – authoring canvas – which was a lot of fun compared to Classic SharePoint!) but has pretty much faded away after that.
Microsoft describes the feature like this:
The personal blog feature is now integrated with Delve, making it easier for you to access your blog posts, profile information, and a list of recent documents you’ve worked on all from a single location.
My favorite thing about Delve blog, especially back in the day, was the editor experience – authoring canvas – that at the time of launching was quite a breath of fresh air after Classic SharePoint experience!
Personal blogs use the new Office 365 authoring canvas. The authoring canvas provides a consistent content creation and editing experience across parts of Office 365, making it easier for you to create and publish content within your organization. For example, as you create or edit a blog post, your changes are saved for you.https://support.office.com/en-us/article/create-and-manage-a-personal-blog-0384a2a5-6b78-47fa-8ba6-de5396088d8b
This is fairly funny, though, considering that basically nothing else in SharePoint, Office 365 or anywhere else in Microsoft’s stack seem to use the same page editor or the same data storage… How’s that a consistent creation and editing experience?
I suppose the documentation describes the plans, not as much what actually happened.
Anyway, Delve Blogs never achieved that much usage, probably mainly due to being a fairly disconnected part of Office 365, and I suppose that’s the biggest reason why Microsoft is deprecating it.
This article is the first post in my impromptu, Delve Blogs -themed blog series.
- Part 1: Delve Blogs getting deprecated – what do? (this post)
- Part 2: How to export your Delve blogs content?
- Part 3: How to migrate your Delve Blogs content to Modern SharePoint?
The issue was first publicized by Tim Milan on Twitter. He’s kind of shortening it (it’s not Delve that’s dead, it’s Delve Blogs), but still. It sparked some interesting conversations and a bit of panic, too.
He got the info from Microsoft Premier Support, but info also reached some admins via email.
Multiple others have posted more information and commentaries about the topic as well. Nate Chamberlain was probably the first one to cover the issue with some next steps for customers to take.
But again – let’s take a step back, and first take a look at what the functionality is actually for.
What are Delve blogs?
Delve blogs are, technically speaking, special SharePoint sites that host users’ personal (but internal) blog posts. The content of the posts is stored in a special list on said site, as JSON. The file extension is .pointpub.
The posts are weirdly enough, surfaced to the users via a special application page called PointPublishing.aspx.
Looking into the JSON that’s stored on the list, it looks like Microsoft meant the editor to be very modular and to be extensible by 3rd party developers. I’ve had a feeling for a while, that this editing experience was an experiment on a more modern editing experience. Ultimately, I suppose the experiment failed, as the technical implementation of the editor for Modern SharePoint is so drastically different!
In any case, the blogs are going away.
Microsoft’s announced schedule for Delve Blogs deprecation so far:
- Beginning December 18th, 2019, tenants can no longer create new Delve blogs.
- Beginning January 18th, 2020, you can no longer create new posts in existing blogs
- Beginning April 17th, 2020, existing Delve blogs will be deleted and removed from Delve profiles.
So according the current timeline, Microsoft is disabling the creation of new sites with template “POINTPUBLISHINGPERSONAL#0” already in 3 weeks. In less than 2 months, all of the Pages-lists (the actual name is for whatever reason pPg, but it’s still called “Pages”) on those sites will be set to read only -mode. And next April
This schedule is pretty wild. Completely crippling a feature with only 2 months of advance notice is scary, but removing customer data with less than 6 months of a warning and no export options is pretty harsh.
What’s the scope?
This deprecation only concerns you, if Delve Blogs are in use on your tenant. And they might be, even if you don’t know it, as the functionality is enabled by default, and is completely self-serve.
Drew Madelung posted a pretty useful script for creating a report of Delve Blogs that are created on your tenant and saving the data as a CSV. I built on top of that to export all of your Delve blogs content – see that in the blog post below:
What to do next?
Once you’ve determined the scope of the issue, take a deep breath. Microsoft might be nuking your data, but you’ve still got a few months, and I’m not sure whether the schedule is set in stone either.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t prepare, though!
Essentially, you’ll need to inform your users and decide what you’re going to do with your existing blogs. Microsoft hasn’t promised a migration yet, and it’s definitely not a big interest for them.
However, while handling and transforming the data is kind of weird, and there isn’t even any Delve Blog -specific APIs available, you can still export the data from the lists using PowerShell.
I actually did create a PowerShell script for exporting all of the Delve blogs content on a tenant based on Drew’s script above. Using the SharePoint search service it should’ve been pretty easy, but at least for my tenant, the content wasn’t actually even indexed…
How fitting is that?
Luckily, you can also just transform the JSON from the list. I’ll be posting the script hopefully tomorrow. Let’s call it a lightweight migration solution for now :)
Alternatively, you can also just wait and see if Microsoft postpones the deprecation. You’ve still got a few months before the data is removed.
Your thoughts? Let me know in the comments section below!
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