SharePoint Team Sites have been in SharePoint for around 15 years now and contain your SharePoint Lists and Document Libraries. As Office 365 has grown, we’ve seen new functionality such as OneDrive, Microsoft Teams, Office 365 Groups, and Planner. With all the new overlapping functionality provided by these features, it has been difficult to see a future for SharePoint Team Sites. Quite often SharePoint Team Sites have been compared with Office 365 Groups, or Teams. After the announcements at Ignite 2017 in Orlando it is clear that SharePoint Team Sites are not just here to stay, but have become the centre of Groups, Planner, Forms, and Connectors. Not only that, they have become a lot more powerful with some great new features such as Hub Sites, New Web Parts, and the ability to Groupify your sites!
SharePoint Team Sites can now be groupified (Not a term that we made up, but one used at Ignite to describe adding a SharePoint Team Site to a Group. Not only that, but through the new Admin Centre, you can see which of your SharePoint Team Sites have not been groupified. With a single click, you can notify Site Owners prompting them to add their Team Sites to an existing Office 365 Group.
There are some great new web parts such as Yammer Web Part, Connector Web Part, Embed Code Web Part, File Viewer, and News. The Connector Web Part alone can bring external data from over 100 different services like Twitter, and other connectors through Office 365 Groups. The Embed Code web part can be used to embed any embed code from the likes of YouTube to add content easily to your sites. The promise is that there will be lots of new web parts and the ability to search for web parts through the ‘add web part’ dialog.
We cannot wait to get to use this feature! Often you would have a set of SharePoint Team Sites perhaps for a department or project. Your aim is for each of the sites in the set to have a similar look and feel, consistent navigation, and aggregated content. It was time consuming to provision these sites and provide the similar look and feel for each one. Now, Hub Sites are introduced which allow IT Admins to nominate specific sites as Hub Sites. Other SharePoint Team Sites can then be associated to a Hub Site in order to inherit its branding and navigation. Not only that, a new search scope is available to include the Hub site and associated sites allowing for more relevant content to be searched. An aggregation of news from associated sites can be displayed at the Hub Site level. Improvements also include Site Provisioning, allowing you to provision new sites with custom look and feel to suit your requirements.
PowerApps and Flow
PowerApps forms can be displayed on pages and can include external content such as Charts, Bing Maps, and Data from PowerBI whilst Flow can now also work with OneDrive files. Flow and OneDrive will allow users to be notified of such things as files being modified and manager approval flows to be started.
Ever since the launch of SharePoint Designer 2013, and the Design tab removal, it has been difficult to style SharePoint lists and libraries. A new feature announced at Ignite now allows you to add conditional formatting to SharePoint lists. This means that you can now highlight content that you wish to stand out. Like for example showing Tasks that are High Priority in a different color. You’ll still have to get your hands a little dirty with code, but conditional formatting can now be applied to SharePoint lists. SharePoint List performance has been improved too! You can now have responsive lists that contain hundreds of thousands of items. The lists will allow for fast predictive filtering allowing users to find content more easily.
If you only really get a chance to interact with SharePoint through a mobile or tablet, you’ll be pleased to learn of some improvements to the SharePoint Mobile App. The New SharePoint Mobile App features include a Bookmark flag to save an article and a new ‘Me’ tab to get to items you’ve saved. There’s Recent View to see recently created list items and news, and the ability to navigate SharePoint Team Sites for News, and Content. These features are ready today and can be downloaded for the IOS and Android phones.
Search has become more personalized through Microsoft Graph. The Personalized Search which utilizes Microsoft Graph allows you to search content that is relevant to you based on how you work and who you work with.
With the updated User Experience which include file previews, you’ll be able to preview the file from within the search results. That’s not just a preview of the first page or slide, but the ability to navigate the document right there in the search results. This feature works with over 270 file types!
The new SharePoint Admin Centre provides improved usage reports, you can see Active Sites, Inactive Sites and File Activity. More Meta Data under Site Management allows you to find sites more easily and find those sites that have not been groupified.
Security improvements through the Admin Centre include Site Level Conditional Access policies. You can now set access policies based on how a user is accessing content (from what type of device). For example, using a Desktop computer, a user may have the permissions to download or print a document, but won’t be able to do the same if they use a tablet or mobile device.
Large Multi-National organizations may also want to store data in different countries or regions to meet residency needs. Multi Geo Support for OneDrive for Business allows you to extend your tenant to multiple locations. Users can be assigned or moved to these different locations. Policies can also be set specifically to each location. For example, you can block external sharing for users within a specific location, but allow external sharing in other locations.
Microsoft recognizes that organizations are at different stages of their journey to the cloud. Other improvements include a 1st party migration tool to help migrate SharePoint library content, file shares, and home directories to Office 365. They also announced full commitment to On-Premises by announcing a new Office 2019 client, SharePoint Server 2019, Exchange Server 2019, and Skype for Business Server 2019. The planned release is for mid 2018 with the preview available early next year.
What about for Developers?
There were a great number of developer sessions at Ignite with a lot of announcements regarding the SharePoint Framework SPFx. Why not join SharePoint MVP Andrew Connell in our webinar (2nd November 11am EST) to learn about all of those announcements. Register Here
With all the new announcements, there is a real buzz about SharePoint again, the future is looking bright with promises of more new announcements and the continued development of a product that is at the center of Microsoft technolgies. It is as popular among corporations and organizations as it has ever been with adoption and usage increasing at pace.
“In the last 12 months, we have added more organizations and more users to SharePoint in the history of the product. Over 300 thousand organizations are using SharePoint, it has grown more in the last 12 months than we added in the first 12 years of the product” – Jeff Teper, Corporate Vice President – Office, OneDrive & SharePoint at Microsoft