It was general consensus for Bonzai Intranet team members, that the unveiling of SharePoint's new content publishing experience was one of the most noteworthy learnings at Microsoft Ignite 2016. During the session, Andy Hoan and Dave Cohen, Senior Program Managers at Microsoft, demo'ed the yet to be released content publishing experience in SharePoint.
It blew our minds because it is one of the most modern experiences from a UX perspective, that Microsoft has designed for SharePoint to-date. For SharePoint users, it will change the way you share information via team sites, the amount of colleague-created content you consume, in addition to the frequency at which you create content. Why? Because it's simple, it's intuitive and it's beautiful.
Hoan and Cohen broke down the new SharePoint publishing experience with 4 key changes:
- Easy creation of powerful, beautiful looking pages to communicate ideas and information using the new authoring canvas and a gallery of web parts.
- Mobile responsiveness that is built in from the start for responsiveness across devices of all sizes and pages that are fast and fluid.
- Intelligent content sharing with Microsoft Graph so that relevant pages are delivered to the people that need them and so people only see information that is essential to them.
How have web parts changed to make them modern?
- They are easily configurable, reusable and purpose-built components for specific business scenarios.
- They add functionality to SharePoint page experiences with a dynamic and easy-to-use authoring canvas.
- They are context aware for devices and content (responsive from the get-go).
- They provide real time interaction with data on the page meaning that you see the results of the changes you made instantly without having to refresh the page.
After explaining the new experience, the program managers demo'ed the authoring canvas for us. From what we witnessed, here are the changes that will make the biggest impact in the way you publish lists, document libraries, pages and apps in SharePoint:
- To begin with, Microsoft has centralized the navigation for creating new pages meaning that it is something you see (+ New) as soon as you enter a team site.
- Once you are in the new authoring canvas you immediately pick-up on how intuitive the experience really is.
- Similar to content publishing in WordPress templates, additive tiles allow you to select and build a layout of your choosing.
Currently, with the publishing canvas it is a linear process of adding web parts on top of one another to build your page. The web parts that are available to do so are:
- Textbox with a rich text editor—add headings, subheadings, paragraphs, hyperlinks and all other common options available in rich text.
- Images which you can resize, hyperlink and add captions to.
- Documents of any file type—choose from recent options, those on the site or upload directly from your desktop.
- Document Dashboards—add a section for the most recent documents from the site, site collections or all sites. You can tailor what documents appear by file types, file names, most viewed files, trending files and most recent files.
- Office 365 videos—videos you have uploaded to OneDrive embedded with the MS Stream player
- Highlighted Content—you can embed content from anywhere on the web with native controls from wherever it is from (ie. SlideShare, YouTube, Sway, etc.).
- Power BI—its as simple as copying and pasting the dashboard URL. Data renders in real time with live updates once published.
- News List and News Headlines—the team at Microsoft has addressed the content distribution issue in SharePoint. To do so, they have developed two different news rolls ups so you can embed news streams to share personalized news, site news, and organization-wide news.
- PandaPoll—allows you to quickly publish short, multiple-choice polls right on your page. Respondents are shown survey results immediately in a pie chart format.
- Site Activity—add in feeds that display site activity from all users.
- Yammer Feed—embed Yammer feeds for live updates on conversations that take place relevant to your page.
What's on the Roadmap for SharePoint's Modern Page Experience?
In addition to demo'ing the new content publishing experience, Hoan and Cohen also shared the exciting new functionality that is currently in development. Below the roadmap updates is an example of how beautiful SharePoint users will one day be able to make pages look.
- Editable team site homepages.
- Theming and branding enhancements.
- Added webparts: Link previews, Bing Maps, Image Galleries, Quick charts, group calendar and more!
- Multiple column layouts so you can put web parts next to each other or span rows and columns...think of it like a grid where you can put parts where ever you want.
- Content interaction capabilities: comments with threaded conversations, like buttons to convey content popularity, and sharing capabilities to your Yammer Community or social media.
- Page analytics for the author to understand how people are reading content, how many people are sharing content, how many views content receives, and what events possibly caused viewership increases.
What Does this Mean for Out-of-the-Box SharePoint Solutions?
With SharePoint's new client-facing applications and better out-of-the-box functionality, many have asked how this effects out-of-the-box SharePoint Intranet solutions like Bonzai? Does it replace them? The answer is simply no, it only makes them better. Why? Because the new content publishing experience in SharePoint is an added functionality, rather than a pre-built intranet architecture. What this translates to is that publishing content in out-of-the-box SharePoint Intranets will only get better.
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