MicrosoftSharePointFutureWebcast2016.jpgJim Kane runs the Collaboration & Knowledge Management (CKM) Practice and manages the SharePoint consulting competencies at Paragon Solutions. In his ongoing SharePoint perspectives, Jim shares his views on SharePoint's evolution. 

I attended the Future of SharePoint virtual event hosted by Microsoft on May 4, 2016.  An interesting event, with a keynote address by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. I will not go into details on new features, as you can review at the Microsoft  Technet: New and Improved Features in SharePoint 2016.

What is more interesting, and also no surprise, is the deep tie in with Office 365, and the common features across environments. 

Clearly, Microsoft is working hard to keep SharePoint relevant. The new user interface features a much more modern graphical approach, and the ability to use graphics much more effectively on sites.  At least in the demo, device responsiveness appears to be addressed, from graphics to content access. Plus more features are coming. The Microsoft Office Blog from the SharePoint team includes a list of new features being rolled out in 2016:

Rolling out this quarter of 2016:

  • Access to SharePoint Online document libraries and Office 365 Group files from the OneDrive mobile app.
  • Intelligent discovery of documents from both OneDrive and SharePoint.
  • Copy from OneDrive to SharePoint in the OneDrive web experience.
  • OneDrive Universal Windows Platform (UWP) application.

Before the end of calendar year 2016:

  • Document analytics surfaced in OneDrive to provide insight into document usage, reach and impact.
  • Synchronization of SharePoint Online document libraries with the new OneDrive sync client.
  • Synchronization of shared folders with the new OneDrive sync client.
  • Mobile access to SharePoint document libraries in on-premises farms.
  • Move and copy files between OneDrive and SharePoint in web experiences.

NOTE: It seems, from the comments in the virtual event May 4, these new features will be released to SharePoint 2016 on premise as well. 

I did go to my personal Office 365 to check things out.

I did go to my personal Office 365 site and I turned on the new library UI features, which will take some getting used to initially.

In my opinion, the preview panel feature is much more clunky not as easy to use as the current preview panel in SharePoint 2013. The library functions are in different places as well. In the library, the user can select a grid view of documents or a list view. A panel can be opened on the left that updates the user about activities related to that document - who has edited, for example - and it provides a webview of the document. Users can see property information, sharing information and other information in that pane, which can be hidden by the user as well. 

Oddly, a right-click or click on the ellipses provides a list of functions, but many of those same functions are available across the top when the document is checked.

MicrosoftSharePointFuturePerspective2016.jpgProbably these make sense, but there is more to learn. Slow down - test out the new, take your time. 

It does appear that you can choose to display the new or classic look to the libraries - unless this is set by the administrator, which I think would NOT be a good idea. There was a small link in the left nav to return to the classic view of the library.

Those small perspectives aside, the new UI for sites/pages was very pleasing, and the old complaints about how ugly the SharePoint UI was are being addressed. The interface for adding graphics, apps, and other features into sites was very cool. It seems you can add BI apps and other apps into pages quite easily. 

There are a number of other developer and administrative related features described that I’m sure those audiences found interesting, though I stuck mostly to the UI and end-user feature information. There are new compliance features, the ability to identify content as sensitive, added abilities to handle characters in file names, and so on. And if I understood correctly, they are enabling some of these features to be packaged and loaded into SharePoint 2013 sites. 

Overall, I am excited about what Microsoft is doing with SharePoint.  

The latest changes show a commitment to SharePoint, a commitment to mobile and responsiveness, and flexibility in the UI that has not existed in other versions of SharePoint. That said, I would not suggest jumping into SharePoint 2016 RTM (release to manufacturing) right away. Let it get tested a bit first to shake out RTM bugs and such...then let's all jump into the future of SharePoint! 

 

Paragon’s Collaboration and Knowledge Management Practice includes a SharePoint Competency Center of Excellence. Paragon delivers support with strategies for effective use of SharePoint, solution configuration and custom development, and use of SharePoint for collaboration, knowledge management, records management, and enterprise content management. Learn more about Paragon's SharePoint expertise!

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