Ready for Ignite

On my way to Atlanta for what I’m expecting to be an epic event for the SharePoint and Office 365 world.  This past may the future of SharePoint was revealed at a much smaller and intimate event in San Francisco on May 4th.  Over the course of the summer we’ve seen a number of changes hit in rapid succession and many folks have seen only a few of the new innovations.

 

Big Wins to Date

  • The OneDrive for Business mobile app delivered on the ability to access SharePoint libraries on the go
  • Modern Document Libraries improved the efficiency of editing page meta data and refreshed the core user experience for managing files in SharePoint
  • Modern Lists have a slick new ux that makes editing items and meta-data faster
  • Great PowerApp performance against SharePoint lists makes real mobile app experiences a reality for SharePoint, even during Preview
  • Human workflow Exchange Approvals in Flow are fast and perfect.
  • Cross system integration is easy with systems that have flow connectors
  • A common on-premises gateway for PowerBI and PowerApps to integrate corporate data sources
  • External members of office 365 groups are critical for enabling cross company collaboration.  This doesn’t yet support planner and powerbi, but hoping to see it soon.
  • The refreshed SharePoint site contents page starts to give users actionable metrics about site usage

 

Some New Challenges

  • Uploading new versions of files in the Modern Document Library is an unintuitive step backwards
  • Client side customizations to document libraries need to be redesigned as urls instead of JavaScript, reducing functionality
  • Modern Pages and Modern Experiences can’t be extended (think content panda, sharepoint videos, or a number of the analytics tools)
  • Flows are tied to individual users rather than lists introducing complexity trying to manage solutions used by more than one person
  • No good way to extend SharePoint user interface without building a full custom solution.. there’s no current replacement for JSLink and Display Templates that i use every week.
  • For those of us using exchange in hybrid mode, connecting Modern Team Sites to Office 365 Groups is a mixed bag since hybrid users can’t edit group properties and have to use workarounds like using Planner or the Outlook Groups mobile app to managing users.  If groups are going to be central to SharePoint, you MUST enable users to edit them with just a SharePoint license.  We don’t care that the outlook team wrote them.

 

 

Potential for Greatness

  • Modern pages are fast and easy to edit, but not yet viable with a single column layout and no ability to customize look and feel.  I hope to hear more about future publishing and branding plans this week.
  • The SharePoint framework is a real modern development story but is waiting for visual studio support and support for anything other than modern webparts right now.  Want to see some new announcements on timing for GA of webparts and preview of pages and list apps
  • Modern Team Sites with News, Pages, Modern Lists and Libraries tied to Office 365 groups feel like they are almost real.  Would love an update on when we get these
  • Site classifications in SharePoint to let you tag a sites data sensitivity or business impact and reuse hopefully reuse this in future conditional access logic.  Imagine requiring two-factor auth for high business impact sites when not on the network.
  • The SharePoint mobile app finally gives users access to SharePoint sites from a mobile client, but having to switch over to OneDrive to access files feels like a fragments half-hearted effort.  The Outlook Groups app was much a cleaner user experience.  Want to hear about how this is evolving into something businesses will be excited to rollout.
  • Still waiting for the PowerBI content pack for Office 365

 

Overall, I’m incredibly exciting by the pace of innovation and excited to see what the team has been hard at work on over the summer months.  For topics areas that didn’t get much love at the May 4th event such as development, customization, branding, and publishing i’m hoping this is the place where Microsoft takes us all on a deeper dive and hope we start to see some of these items continue to become real this calendar year.  If you’re at ignite, please feel free to reach out @bostonmusicdave on twitter