At the Future of SharePoint event held earlier this year, Microsoft shared their vision to revamp the SharePoint user experience. During that event, corporate vp Jeff Teper outlined the company’s goal to “empower people, teams and organizations to intelligently discover, share and collaborate on content from anywhere and on any device.” We saw some of these changes from Microsoft with last month’s release of modern document libraries in SharePoint. Right on its heels this month is the announcement of modern SharePoint lists, along with the integration of PowerApps and Microsoft Flow. These new enhancements for modernizing SharePoint lists and libraries are being rolled out to Office 365 First Release customers, after which the features will be see by all Office 365 tenants.
What’s new with document libraries?
The first thing you’ll notice is that document libraries look and function more like OneDrive — which I think is a really good thing. Here at Beezy, we talk extensively about the impact of a strong design. Even the most functional intranet or collaboration tool will suffer from low end user adoption if people hate the user experience (UX). In this latest release, SharePoint libraries have been redesigned to fit the modern UX of OneDrive and the many other consumer-based file sharing applications available on the market. People are familiar with and enjoy working with these tools, and the new design is a conscious effort by Microsoft to deliver an experience that matches end user expectations.
Some of the highlights include a simplified command bar, the ability to pin important items to the top of the library for improved visibility, as well as the ability to copy and move files. You can also share links from other libraries, making the library a much more functional destination. But one of the new features receiving the strongest positive feedback is the ability to view and directly edit document metadata. Huge improvement!
The layout and navigation feel more familiar and comfortable than the older SharePoint UX. Click on a document, and the command bar opens. But don’t worry — custom commands that were developed for the ribbon will also move to the command bar. You can find out more about the latest library features in a post by senior product manager Chris McNulty (@cmcnulty2000) on the Office Blog.
What’s new with lists?
Lists have long been a powerful building block for individuals and teams using the SharePoint platform as a way to capture, track, and leverage their data. For example, I’ve used lists to build simple project management tracking capabilities for my teams, allowing me to quickly capture tasks, manage events, and keep track of assignments. As with libraries, lists will also receive a major upgrade this summer that make it easier to add and edit columns, sort and filter your data, and improving productivity through simple business processes with versions, approvals and alerts.
Making SharePoint more intelligent
With the massive Microsoft Ignite event rapidly approaching, we are going to hear much more about PowerApps and Microsoft Flow, which allow teams to connect data from your SharePoint lists and other sources, and then create and share business apps for any device within minutes. As PowerApps continue to mature, users will increasingly use it to create mobile forms and apps directly from their SharePoint lists without needing to know how to code, and along with the common connector framework in Flow, will allow teams to connect dozens of data sources on-premises and in the cloud. In many ways, this combination is the successor to InfoPath, helping teams leverage services like Exchange, SQL, Dynamics, Salesforce, Twitter, Wunderlist and more.
With these tools and even more advanced solutions from the partner ecosystem, this is the strongest mobility offering to date from the SharePoint team. Although many activities are still spread across separate apps for SharePoint, Outlook, Groups, Delve, and Yammer, the mobile UX is greatly improved — and moving in the right direction. You can read more about the latest SharePoint lists, PowerApps, and Flow news from the Office Blog, as well.
As a Microsoft partner, Beezy continues to work closely with the SharePoint product team and with the many regional sales teams at Microsoft to deliver an enterprise-class collaboration solution for customers. We leverage the out-of-the-box capabilities in SharePoint, extending and enhancing the platform to deliver many additional use cases. In the coming months, as these new list and library features become generally available, Beezy will continue to build on them to deliver the most comprehensive collaboration solution on the market.
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