We’re delighted to inform you that the development of our Lightning Conductor, Data Viewer and Social Squared web parts under the SharePoint Framework are complete. We are now busy working on our documentation, training content, and web site pages prior to the launch next month. This post is focusing on the Lightning Conductor, which is our SharePoint list content aggregation tool. Firstly, I will explain why we have invested so much time re-creating our Lightning Conductor within the new SharePoint Framework (SPFx). Register for our webinar to see these tools in action.
Lightning Tools originally created the Lightning Conductor web part in 2007 following a question from a student in a SharePoint development class that our founder Brett Lonsdale was teaching. The question was simply this: “You’re telling us that a good practice is to build multiple site collections, but if we do that, how can we aggregate the SharePoint lists across site collections? The Content Query web part doesn’t offer this capability!”. Brett got to work, and within a few months, we had our first Lightning Conductor web part built for SharePoint 2007. The advantages over the Content Query web part was obvious. Firstly we could aggregate across site collections, but also it was easy to build a view. You didn’t need to get your hands dirty with the XSL Style Sheets!
When the App model was launched for SharePoint Online, we rebuilt the Lightning Conductor under the SharePoint App Model and launched it in April 2014. The App Model was restrictive and the only way that we could perform the List aggregation from across site collections was to use Search. This meant that the Lightning Conductor was suddenly a little more difficult to use. Our users were required to know about Search and Managed Properties for their custom columns. In addition, SharePoint Online over the last 12 months has changed a lot! We now have Modern Lists, Modern Sites and Modern Pages. The way in which we create sites is changing. We now have the option of a flat structure rather than site collections, and we also have the offering of Hub sites. We therefore had to evolve the Lightning Conductor to work with this new site structure, whilst providing a modern responsive user experience, and taking advantage of the SharePoint Framework to make this the easiest content rollup tool available within SharePoint Online. So, let’s take a look:
New Quick Configuration
Within both our Full Trust and SharePoint Add-In versions of the Lightning Conductor, whilst they are both easier to use than the Content Query Web Part or the Content by Search Web Part, we wanted to make it even easier. If you want to perform a content aggregation within SharePoint on Documents, Tasks or Announcements, you can do so within 3 simple steps using the Quick Configuration mode:
To start the configuration, simply click Configure as shown below:
You will then be asked four questions:
1. What list data do you want to view?
2. How do you want to refine it?
3. Where should the data come from?
4. How should we display it?
Click Save, and you will have your content aggregated showing the most popular columns.
Of course, you may want to customize the view further. This can also be achieved without seeing the Advanced Dialog. Users can customize each column including Sorting, Filters, Advanced Filters, Column Order, Show/Hide Columns, Grouping, Conditional Formatting, and more as shown below:
Our conditional formatting has been vastly improved to go beyond just fore color and back color based upon conditions. We now offer similar capabilities to the Column Formatting that can be performed using JSON in SharePoint Modern Lists. Icons, Data Bars and general column formatting can be set within the Lightning Conductor without you having to type a single line of code.
Below you can see how easily the conditions can be applied, without the need for JSON code.
In the below screenshot, I have applied column formatting to the Priority column as well as the percentage complete:
It may be that you want multiple views to be displayed within your rollup web part, just like you can have multiple views displayed within a SharePoint list. The Lightning Conductor CSWP enables you to easily build additional views within the same web part instance. Each view instance can be the same, or different scopes and also the same or different list types or content types. For example, you may have a view to show Tasks from the current site, and then another view to show tasks from the current hub site and associated sites.
The advanced configuration enables users to be very specific about the scope of the content and how the content will be displayed. There are four tabs in the Advanced Configuration pane.
Web Part Tab
The web part tab allows you to specify the Data Source provider which can be Search or Object Model. The Object Model allows you to aggregate from all scopes including the entire tenant. Search offers a performance benefit but does not show immediate updates to your content as it changes. When using the Object Model, the Lightning Conductor runs 20 times faster than the predecessor (Lightning Conductor Add-In). Users can also specify the Display provider as being Grid View, XSLT or JSON. As per previous versions of the Lightning Conductor, the Grid View is simple to configure the columns to be displayed in a grid view layout, whereas the XSLT and JSON views allow you to customize the display however you like or to use one of our display templates such as the Calendar view.
Data Source Tab
The Data Source tab provides you with options for the scope of the rollup including Current Tenant, Current Site Collection, Current Site and Associated Sites, Multiple Site Collections, Current Site, Multiple Sites or Multiple Lists. You can then select the list type and also the content type of the type of items that you wish to return. There are other settings also, which allow for specific scenarios such as displaying the Task hierarchy.
The Display Tab is where you can refine your view, by specifying grouping, conditional formatting, and other display properties such as the column alignment and pagination.
Other Built in Views
The Lightning Conductor also offers built in views such as a Calendar View or Tiles view which are displayed below:
The Lightning Conductor Client Side Web Part SPFx will be available in October. Register your interest today by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or also by attending our webinar on the 4th October.