All You Need to Know About the Latest SharePoint Online Character Support Update

Posted by Sophina Dillard on Tuesday, 9 May 2017 0

A relatively trivial update for some, yet a critically important change for others. Last month, Microsoft announced that the characters “#” and “%” will be now supported in file and folder names within document libraries for SharePoint Online and Microsoft SharePoint One Drive users.

What’s the Update All About?

Have you heard about the latest update to Microsoft SharePoint OneDrive for Business and SharePoint Online? Specifically, the one including support for # and %?

Well, according to Microsoft’s blog post:

“This will allow people to create, store, and sync files containing # and % characters whether those characters are used as a prefix or suffix to the file or folder name. # and % will be limited to use in file names in addition to SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business document libraries and related folders. The use of # and % outside of document libraries is not supported at this time.”

You may be thinking, okay, so what exactly is the big deal?

The problem with using these particular characters is that for web developers and code editors alike, they represent more than just labeling.  The # symbol can sometimes represent the end of a string in C, and the % symbol can represent a space between text within a page URL.
Don’t worry though, all of these dilemmas are apparently none to worry about. As explained by

Microsoft’s SharePoint development team:

“To remove the ambiguity around intention, and to avoid breaking backwards compatibility with existing APIs, we are introducing a strongly typed, rich-featured representation of URLs to better represent the true developer intention of a URL… Specifically, we’ve introduced a new class (Microsoft.SharePoint.Client.ResourcePath)… This class will be used to represent URLs across our APIs instead of string.”

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Long story short, in an effort to streamline this new direction of SharePoint Online character support, Microsoft is urging developers to evaluate their scenarios and the lineage of URL paths they have placed for existing solutions. In other words, developers will eventually have to switch to the new API (Application Program Interface) or suffer a multitude of consequences.

How is this Beneficial for Users?

People like having the freedom and functionality to be able to name files and folders as they please. The ability to use a # for numbers and relative hashtags within a document title, or the chance to use a % for percentages of work completion for a folder heading presents a tremendous opportunity.

According to Microsoft;

“Files are as unique as the people who create them and we’re constantly working in SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business to support a broad array of types of naming conventions.”
The tech giant wants to give developers freedom to better express their intent in URL creation for these file destinations. Providing them with less regulations or principles to follow, can allow for better labelling and increased work functions.

One thing to note from Microsoft’s blog post, “While SharePoint lists and libraries can have # and % in their URLs, there are no plans to enable their use through the SharePoint user interface at this time.” This just plays more into the fact that the logic behind this change isn’t for end users, but for developers and their style accordingly.

The Wrap Up

Taking what we learned from some of the other latest SharePoint updates, one question comes to mind:

Is the addition of these characters worth the headache of having to implement a new API?
The answer? It’s entirely subjective.

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Some developers will appreciate the added functionality of naming and labelling for files and folders, while others will see it as an extra complicating factor making matters more difficult while throwing an extra hurdle in the process of coding.

We will definitely make sure to keep an eye on this and see how this update dictates the future of SharePoint library creations.

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