Tuesday, September 22, 2015

App Launcher Visibility: SharePoint 2016 IT Preview

Microsoft has introduced App Launcher providing a new navigation experience in SharePoint 2016. It provides a quick access to the apps.
After executing the post-setup configuration wizard (psconfig.exe) of SharePoint 2016 IT Preview, the App Launcher was not visible on Central Administration site. I created a new web application with single site collection. When I accessed the new site collection, App Launcher was not visible.

At this moment, I have not created any service applications. Clearly I am not having all the functionality of SharePoint 2016 IT Preview in place to expect it to surface all UI components. I concluded that App Launcher might have some dependency on one (or more) service application(s).
I came across three scenarios which affected the visibility of App Launcher even after creation the service applications. This post provides more insight to each of the scenario.

Scenario #1: App Launcher not visible when no service application is created.
There are multiple service applications available in SharePoint. Which service application(s) the App Launcher has dependency on? Looking at the service applications list, I thought my farm should have App Management service application. I created App Management service application.
[Note: Before creating App Management service application, I created some of the basic service applications (i.e. State Service, Usage and Data Collection Service, Secure Store Service, Subscription Settings Service) along with Search service.]
Even after creation of App Management service application, the App Launcher was not visible.
Being curious, which service application make the App Launcher visible, I started looking into the SuiteNav feature and the related assemblies for the control rendering. The investigation led to below method in disassembled assembly.

The App Launcher will not be visible unless and until we have configured the My Site Host Url in User Profile Service Application. [Note: If you create User Profile Service Application in partition mode, you’ll not be able to configure the My Site Host Url.]
I created User Profile Service Application but still the App Launcher was not visible. I checked service connections group. The User Profile Service Application proxy was not selected for the default service connection group.
I added User Profile Service application to the service connection group

And…it’s there! It started showing the App Launcher in Central Administration.
  1. App Launcher has dependency on User Profile Service Application.
  2. App Launcher requires User Profile Service Proxy in the web application’s service connection group.
  3. App Launcher will not show up if partition mode parameter is used to create User Profile Service Application [Not Tested. Reasoning: User Profile Service does not provide my site related configuration if the service created with partition mode.] It does not mean that App Launcher will not be available for multi-tenant farms. I will keep it open to explore more this topic.
Scenario #2: App Launcher is visible on Central Administration site but not on the other web applications.
The site collection, which I created initially, is not showing the App Launcher but the central administration site is showing it. Both web applications have the same default service connection group. I tried creating new web application and new site collection, it also had the same problem. I spent many hours after my work schedule on this.
With prior experience with old SharePoint versions, a thought came to my mind “Does it has anything to do with availability of root site collection?”. In both web applications, I have created the site collection on “/sites” managed path. There was no site collection on the root (“/”) of the web application.
Quickly I created the root site collection and … it’s there!
  • App launcher will not be shown if there is no site collection created at the root of the web application.
Scenario #3: App launcher not visible on central administration site after IIS Web Site binding changes.
I have updated the IIS web site binding to “xyz.pqr.com”. I browsed the central administration site from Internet. I could access the site but the App launcher is missing from the site. But the site collections from other web applications were showing it when accessed from the Internet.
This one was very quick as I have intentionally avoided to specify the AAM configuration for the central administration web application. I added the AAM public URL and it started showing the App Launcher on the Central Administration site when accessed from the Internet.
  • AAM configuration should be in place when we are accessing site from non-server machine and using fully qualified domain URL.
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