Project Server 2016 IT Pro Preview – A Quick Tour

SharePoint 2016 PreviewEarlier today Microsoft announced the release of the SharePoint Server 2016 IT Pro Preview, our first introduction to the 2016 wave of on-premises products. Obviously a new drop of SharePoint is exciting enough, but this release is doubly exciting as it also includes the IT Pro Preview of Project Server 2016.

With 2016 there are some massive changes to Project Server, the first and most obvious one is that the Project Server bits are included in the SharePoint 2016 binary. What this means is that once you have installed the SharePoint Server 2016 Preview all the Project Server 2016 Preview binaries are also installed allowing you to configure the Project Server Service app within a couple of minutes.

Secondly, Project Server 2016 Preview includes the previously announced consolidated Project databases into the SharePoint Content DB. If you dig into the SharePoint Content DB nestled between the SharePoint tables are a set of Project Server schemas for the draft, published, version and reporting components that were merged into a single Project database in Project Server 2013.

Project Server schema in SharePoint ContentDB

So how does this work for multiple PWA instances you may ask? Well, you can point multiple PWA instances to the same SharePoint ContentDB and Project Server will use the same data structure for the multiple instances. On quick inspection it appears that a SiteId column has been added to the various tables to provide a key to extract the relevant info for a single PWA instance from the database.  Of course, you still have the ability to target different PWA instances to different Content DBs should you wish, but this consolidation makes backup and recovery much much easier.

Project Server 2016 Preview PWA Page

Finally, the preview also appears to include some of the newer features that would previously have been seen in Project Online, for example the new Resource Engagement and Capacity Planning bits are included. Over the coming weeks I will be investigating what other Project Online features have made it into the Preview other than the ‘New to Project Online’ tile that appears to have slipped through Smile

I will be posting some step by step run throughs of provisioning new PWA tenants and upgrading an existing 2013 database to 2016 in the coming weeks as well as a few deep dives into the SharePoint 2016 features (including the Work Management Service that still seems to be present).

To get started yourself with SharePoint Server 2016 Preview including Project Server 2016 Preview, head on over to http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=48712 and download the ISO’s.  Don’t forget to check out the SharePoint Server 2016 Preview Reviewers Guide at https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=48713 and the initial Technet pages outlining the creation and upgrade process at https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc303399(v=office.16).aspx

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Try the Project 2016 Preview today

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At Ignite a few weeks ago, Microsoft announced the public preview of the Office 2016 clients for you to download and start testing some of the great new capabilities these products include. At the time I was a little disappointed as the preview did not include Project ( or Visio) Sad smile

Today however Microsoft have finally added Project and Visio to the public preview for you to try out Smile

Now you can not only try the new versions of Outlook, Excel, PowerPoint and Word which have already replaced Office 2013 on my daily driver laptop, but now you can also start to use the new version of Project including cool new features such as:

  • Support for multiple timelines in the same view
  • Project App Write Back Support; and
  • The new Tell Me control, making it much easier to find and perform tasks in Project (and Office in general).

To grab the new Project 2016 preview (and Office 2016), head over to https://products.office.com/en-us/office-2016-preview, you can either get the excellent Click to Run version of the software associated with your Project Pro for Office 365 account, or scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the I do not have a Project Pro for Office 365 subscription, how do I install the trial version of Project 2016 Preview? link for details on the standalone version.

Happy Project 2016-íng!