SharePoint Embedded - Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

In this article, I answer some of the frequently asked questions I've received about a new service from Microsoft 365 - SharePoint Embedded.

By Last Updated: July 15, 2024 6 minutes read

I published two articles and associated videos introducing a new service from Microsoft 365: SharePoint Embedded. The name of this service tripped some people up thinking “Embedded” in the name implied this was a mobile solution

SharePoint Embedded = SharePoint on your watch?

SharePoint Embedded = SharePoint on your watch?

That was my first reaction when I saw the final decision for the name of the service, but it isn’t a mobile solution…

SharePoint Embedded, a new service from Microsoft 365, enables the creation of document-centric apps with a custom UX using SharePoint for document storage. A few weeks ago I published two articles with associated videos on my YouTube channel about SharePoint Embedded:

SharePoint Embedded - overview & example scenarios

SharePoint Embedded - overview & example scenarios & YouTube video - SharePoint Embedded, a new service from Microsoft 365, enables the creation of document-centric apps with a custom UX but using SharePoint for document storage.

This explains what SharePoint Embedded is and gives an overview of some example scenarios.

Complete Tutorial on Building SharePoint Embedded Apps

Complete Tutorial on Building SharePoint Embedded Apps & YouTube video - Build document-centric apps in this tutorial with SharePoint Embedded. Leverage SharePoint’s document libraries & more Microsoft 365 capabilities!

This is a step-by-step tutorial demonstrating how to create a sample SharePoint Embedded application.

Since then, I’ve received a bunch of questions and many of them were asked multiple times, so I wanted to address these frequently asked questions in this article!

So here we go!

Does this mean that my company can set up M365 with SP Embedded Storage and then invite external users to upload files to it? As long as I create an application that my external users have access to, then there’s no need for any M365 subscription or license paid by the external users for accessing the data that sits in the Embedded Storage? In other words, the storage is configured and all costs are managed by my company? - question

palamundsen
palamundsen

That’s correct. That’s a single tenant scenario like what I mentioned in that section.

If you have the M365 subscription, and you create the web app that leverages SharePoint Embedded, then the users using your custom app won’t pay for any storage, nor will they need any licenses to interact with the application that’s storing documents in your M365 tenant. You are responsible for paying the metered usage of SharePoint Embedded (based on storage & API calls made by your app).

I am curious, with Azure Purview, the sensitivity labels can span across Azure Storage as well. Is there a delineation as to why a dev s/would prefer using SPEm over Az Blob for the app if they can extend the same data gov. controls? - question

Ali Salih
Ali Salih
Founder, Ephesus Tech

It’s not just about gaining what Purview & Azure Storage offers, but additionally what all the SharePoint features, including ECM offer offerings like records, holds, compliance, retention, etc.

You get the document collaboration features SharePoint offers that you don’t get from Purview / Azure Storage, like versioning, co-authoring, the Office web clients (Word, Excel, PowerPoint), etc, and integration with Power Automate workflows.

All the content in SharePoint Embedded Containers can optionally be exposed to search with a flag (i.e.: Microsoft 365 Content Discovery), so content in one’s tenant can be found when looking for an Outlook email attachment, search results, or easily shared in MicrosoftTeams.

While it’s not there in the public preview of SharePoint Embedded, you’ll be able to leverage any/all investments in new AI capabilities Microsoft 365 has talked about adding in SharePoint Premium.

Are the documents stored inside SPE available to Copilot? Will they be available to classic services like search results, recent documents, my documents, or similar? - question

azadpeymaparham
azadpeymaparham

Yup… it’s just SharePoint so yes they can be exposed in all the native SharePoint scenarios (search, recent docs, Office backstage, etc.). But app developers can elect to NOT expose the content as well. It’s not automatic… by default this is disabled. This is referred to as Microsoft 365 Content Discovery… it’s configurable on an SPE app-by-app basis and set by the app developer, but by default it’s set to disabled.

Can SPE be used to collect documents from customers & then consume internally? - question

Mihkel Moorats
Mihkel Moorats

Sort of… you don’t “use” SharePoint Embedded to collect documents. SharePoint Embedded is a new service offering from Microsoft. It’s just SharePoint without the web UX - you create the UX. So, you can create an app that stores documents in SharePoint (via SharePoint Embedded) and yes, other users in the same M365 tenant can consume those files internally.

… But to do that, internal users would also need to create a separate app to consume these files uploaded by customers? How would customers authenticate to use SPE apps? - question

Mihkel Moorats
Mihkel Moorats

No, internal users don’t need to use the internal app (not necessarily). The files are already in the same tenant, so they can be found via search, they just aren’t surfaced in the SharePoint UX like document libraries (because they’re in a separate storage partition), provided Microsoft 365 Content Discovery is enabled on the SPE app.

The custom app you build uses Microsoft Entra ID for auth.

Any plans on the roadmap to include SharePoint Lists? - question

Anthony White
Anthony White

No, not heard anything about that. I doubt it tho as this is only intended for documents.

But, think about the scenario… why would you want that? If you have tabular data, in my opinion you should store that within your own application’s database, not in a SharePoint list. Lists are intended for users to store simple content with a built-in UX. If you’re building a custom application, the list doesn’t have much to offer.

Remember, the content in SPE apps is ONLY accessible via the Microsoft Graph API… you don’t use the SharePoint web UX because it doesn’t expose content from the SharePoint Embedded partition. So, even if it did support lists, you’d still have to build the UX to interact with the list content.

So, from my POV, it makes much more sense to use a database, like Azure Cosmos DB, Azure SQL Database, or another database solution.

Will SharePoint Embedded run inside a SharePoint site collection? - question

Marcelo Ribeiro
Marcelo Ribeiro

The premise of your question is off - no, this doesn’t run inside a site collection. This IS SharePoint, except without a UX. You build the web app to interface with the storage. The storage is SharePoint, it’s just separate form the rest of “your SharePoint” and all data access is done via Microsoft Graph.

Is version history supported? - question

Gordy W
Gordy W

Yup… your solutions have access to ALL the features SharePoint document libraries have to offer.

What questions do you have?

I’m excited about this new development opportunity we have in building custom apps and using SharePoint as our data storage mechanism for document-centric solutions. Remember, Microsoft is still working on this service and we’re still just in the early part of the public preview.

Over the last few months I’ve enjoyed working with the SharePoint Embedded team at Microsoft and learning more about this new service. What questions do you have for the SharePoint Embedded team?

Drop a comment below!