Like a train in full motion, SharePoint is not stopping its way to the top. The roadmap is, again, filled with exciting news, and previous announcements were delivered. It’s safe to say we felt the excitement at this year’s Microsoft Ignite. I know now that we must get back to work and start planning the road ahead of us. We’re not just changing products or adding new features, we’re completely revisiting how technology helps us evolve in the Digital Workplace together .
There were so many announcements, it’s hard to keep track of all of them. I’ve scoured each session's slides and videos to try to bring to you the roadmap in one place. Don’t hesitate to drop a comment below if you think I missed anything and I'll gladly look at it.
There are a few announcements that stand out and that will impact your day to day work, so let’s take a closer look at what was announced:
SharePoint Roadmap items that will impact how you work
- New SharePoint Hub sites – Create a logical architecture with your otherwise “flat” hierarchy of Office 365 Groups and Communication Sites
- It’s time to “Groupify” your existing SharePoint Site Collections – The move from Classic to Modern is here and it’s connected to an Office 365 Group
- Microsoft Teams is not a side project – There's now more investment to bring assets from other products, including SharePoint, into Teams
- Simplified Sharing – One-time use passcodes for external sharing and integration of the sharing menu within Windows 10 and Office Client Applications
- Improvements to Lists, Libraries and Pages – Conditional formatting, infinite scroll and many new Web Parts that meet today’s standards
SharePoint Roadmap for 2017 & Q1-Q2 2018
For Page Authors
For Site Owners and end users
For SharePoint Administrators
Top of mind for 2018
Office 365 Groups – “Groupify” SharePoint
An important message, it gives us a glimpse of the future of working with Office 365. We subscribe to a service that lets us get the work done, we don’t buy SharePoint + Exchange + Microsoft Teams.
We can finally talk about taking our standalone SharePoint Site Collections and connect them to an Office 365 Group. This should be top of mind for you in the coming months, get prepared and understand what your next architecture should look like.
Refresher on what is Office 365 Groups, available if you need to dive back into it.
As one of the Microsoft product managers kindly tries to explain “Disabling Office 365 Groups is like disabling Office 365”.
Fun facts on Groupify
It will be up to the Site Owners to connect their SharePoint Site Collection to an Office 365 Group, but administrators will also be able to do it in bulk using PowerShell.
The Site Template will not be touched nor will any of your settings or permissions. A new Office 365 Group will simply be created without the SharePoint piece. It will instead link your existing Site Collection.
Yes, only Site Collections and not sub sites.
Mapping of Site Owners and Site Members to Group Membership will be revealed later, but assurances that no breach of security through permissions will be made. Integrity will be maintained.
SharePoint Hub Site connects SharePoint Site Collections logically
I’ve had to keep quiet about this for too long now, and am very excited to finally be able to talk about it. It’s the simplest of features, but its value is immense.
In short, you create a Hub Site as a SharePoint Administrator and give it a few things: Name, Look and Feel & Navigation.
Then, you can go to any SharePoint Site Collection you have, including Classic Sites, and associate them to the Hub. These sites will inherit the look and feel as well as the navigation, which, by the way, will stay sticky at the top at all times.
Even better: while on the Hub site, you will see that it rolls up all of your Team News from across all your associated sites.
Finally, the search is configured to scope the results to these sites as well.
I don’t imagine we will hit the limit of 200 sites per Hub, but it’s good to know there is a limit.
This feature has already been requested numerous times by those worried by the very flat architecture Office 365 Groups provide. This way, we can now create a logical architecture around divisions, projects, business units, departments, etc…
A simplified and secure sharing experience all around
I recently talked to one of our larger customers about Office 365 and they said oversharing was one of their bigger concerns. Whether it is with External Users or with people within your organization, the fundamental basics are the same: don’t overshare.
Two announcements stand out to me in this scenario:
- Goodbye SharePoint External Users
- Unified sharing menu across productivity applications
Not sure if you caught on, but Microsoft showcased a very welcomed change to External Sharing. You can now ensure the person that received the email is the one who was granted access to your content. This is done with verification codes.
- You share with an email address outside of your organization.
- User receives an email with a link to your content and clicks to view it
- Microsoft's Authentication and Authorization process starts. If the email is not an existing External User (added in your Azure Active Directory by an Admin, or added as a Guest in an Office 365 Group) it will generate a verification code good for 15 mins to that very same email address. If the email belongs to another Office 365 tenant subscription (the user you shared to also has Office 365) it will simply federate and trust it.
- User goes back to their inbox to get the verification code number and uses it. That user can now access the content you shared with them without login in with a Microsoft “personal” account.
This is more secure than our traditional method of sharing with external users, but it’s important to note what we are seeing. SharePoint is going back to being SharePoint and is delegating the user management back to Active Directory.
On another note, I am thrilled to see the same sharing menu on Windows 10 files, in Office clients like Word and Excel as well as in SharePoint. Finally. However, we should watch out for the default sharing option : “Create a company link – anyone in your organization with this link can access the document”
Often, users will select this one and type in the email addresses they want to notify while sharing, thinking they are only sharing with these selected users.
Improvements to how we work inside of SharePoint
Can you feel the excitement! Just two years ago, I was still reading blogs on how SharePoint was dying because there were no improvements brought to the tool. Today, it is quite the opposite with some jokingly saying it’s moving too fast.
As the SharePoint and OneDrive team continue to blast through expectations, they finally are finishing up their foundation for what’s to come.
Hub Sites are about to come out, we’ve made a visual switch from Classic to Modern for SharePoint and are starting to look at Groupifying these old Site Collections.
Now – it’s time to look at how we use SharePoint to collaborate, and we’re starting to see these updates already.
New Web Parts are on their way, more column layouts for the responsive modern pages, possible new column types, conditional formatting of columns, slicers and filters and so much more.
Keep an eye out, it’s going to be another solid year for SharePoint and friends. Are you in?