The Future of SharePoint is All About You

This is not your grandfather’s SharePoint! SharePoint is alive and well, in the cloud and on prem, and it's all about you!

The Future of SharePoint is All About You

This morning (May 4, 2016), I had the pleasure of being in San Francisco for Microsoft’s “Future of SharePoint” event, which coincided with the general availability date for SharePoint 2016. This is the second time I’ve been in San Francisco for a major SharePoint event. The last time was in 2003, for the launch of SharePoint 2003. It’s amazing how far things have come in the past 13 years! The future of SharePoint is now – and the future is all about you and me – and making it easier to connect and collaborate and get work done in a way that brings the information we need to make key decisions to the places we need it, in the format we need it in, and on the device we are currently using. The future of SharePoint is all about people – and there should be no doubt that Microsoft is continuing to invest in providing great people experiences with SharePoint. While I am super focused on user experiences in SharePoint, and Microsoft has shown users a whole lotta love in the announcements today, developers are going to be pretty happy too – along with the folks focused on security and compliance. In fact, no matter who you are, if you have ever said, “I wish it were easier to [fill in the blank] with SharePoint,” you are probably going to get your wish fulfilled very soon.

There was a lot announced today. Too much to cover in one blog post – which is why Microsoft has a whole bunch for you to review! Here are links to the Microsoft blog posts released this morning. The posts also include links to videos that provide even more detail – so you’ll have plenty to keep you excited and engaged.

  • The Future of SharePoint – Jeff Teper’s post providing an overview of the future for SharePoint.
  • SharePoint Server 2016—your foundation for the future – A must read for on premises users. SharePoint on premises got a lot of love today and Microsoft made it very clear that they are very committed to on prem in addition to the cloud.
  • SharePoint – the mobile and intelligent intranet – One thing is for sure, this is not your grandfather’s SharePoint! A key theme of the announcements today was “your intranet in your pocket.” It’s really exciting that the new SharePoint mobile app will provide great user experiences for your pocket device – but your browser is going to be very happy too! Please take a look at this post in detail – because some of my very favorite aspects of today’s announcements are reviewed in this blog.
  • The SharePoint Framework – an open and connected platform – This is the post for developers. Microsoft is going to make it much easier for customers and professional developers to innovate on the great capabilities and features in SharePoint - and drive them to the next level. SharePoint is evolving to embrace current trends in development. The SharePoint Framework is a Page and Part model that enables fully supported client-side development, easy integration with the Microsoft Graph, and support for open source tooling.

In this post, I’d like to focus on a few of my favorite “people-related” capabilities featured among the announcements today.

New Document Experiences

Updated the “last mile” document experience. Many, many organizations have spent a lot of time and energy creating visually appealing “front doors” for SharePoint document library content. However, once you open those doors, you are still looking at a document library – which hasn’t changed much in appearance since SharePoint launched back in 2001. That’s all about to change. The new document library experience is going to delight business users because it will make it easier to find what you need to work on – on any device. In addition to making it easier to move and copy documents, there is a feature that I think is particularly awesome – the ability to “pin” important documents to the top of a view. Have you ever wanted to feature a document that doesn’t naturally sort to the top of a list and had to apply a “work around” by adding a sort order attribute or re-naming the document to start with a special character? Do you have one or two documents that are the most frequently needed or provide context for the rest of the library? This simple little feature will save you from having to create a complicated work-around. You can now “pin” the most important or frequently needed documents to the top of the list or, even better, pin the instructions or guidelines for using the library (think “in context” governance or training information) right where users need it. But wait, there’s more. Not only can you pin a document, you can also pin a link to a file or folder located in a different document library or website.

Learn more about how SharePoint Online document libraries have been updated in this article.

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Lists are also getting some love with a refreshed new look. Essentially, their look will be similar to the modern document library. These new experiences are more than just a spa treatment – the new experiences are about making it easier to get work done and find what we need to work on – on all of the devices we use to work.

New SharePoint Document Library Experience
The new SharePoint Online document library experience aligns with the visual user experience in OneDrive.

File sharing governance best practices made easy. Another feature I’m particularly excited about reflects the way most of us typically work – even if we know we should be sharing all of our documents in our SharePoint team site at each stage of the life-cycle. Our documents typically start out privately – on our local hard drive or in our personal OneDrive for Business library. Even though we can, I have rarely seen anyone create a document in SharePoint. The more typical behavior is to first create a document for ourselves and then once we are happy with it, we copy it to our team site. Yes, we typically copy, not move – even though we know we should really move so that we don’t have a different version on our computer than the team is working with in SharePoint.

OneDrive Copy to SharePoint
Copy from OneDrive for Business to SharePoint Online document library.

Why don’t we follow the practice we know is better (moving rather than copying) – and helps minimize version control issues? The most common reason is that it’s not really easy to move a document to SharePoint. It’s not even easy to copy a document from OneDrive for Business to SharePoint. In other words, the best possible practice for collaboration and sharing breaks down because the software doesn’t align with the way we work. In the next few months, Microsoft will roll out a feature that will allow you to copy a document from OneDrive for Business to SharePoint – quickly and easily. And, later in the year, the feature I’m really excited about will arrive – the ability to move a file as well! That will minimize the risk of having the “versionitis” disease spread in your organization – and help minimize compliance risk at the same time.

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