SharePoint changes ahead: New document library

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Microsoft has delivered one of the first pieces they said they would with an updated UI for the SharePoint Document Library. The UI is that which has been tested on OneDrive for Business for months and announced on stage in Stockholm back in November to arrive along with many other changes to give life back into the SharePoint Team Site. This change allows us to get a glimpse of the future planned for SharePoint, let’s take a look at it.

Changes to the SharePoint Document Library

Before we dive into the future of SharePoint, let’s look at the new interface presented to us and point out some of what we see.

The New Document Library and the SharePoint People

  • New Quick Launch menu on the left
  • Updated Library Search that shows results almost instantly
  • Removed the Ribbon for a simpler and actionable menu
  • Added document “Pinning” to always have them at the top of the library
  • Easier wording for sharing content with “Get a Link”
  • Users can Right-Click to bring the contextual menu up
  • Library Views management added in a menu via an ellipsis
  • Save your current filtered and displayed columns as a View with the click of a button
  • New Details pane shows information like properties, versioning and more
  • Quick access to manage the properties of documents without navigating to a different page or form
  • Versioning shown as activity
  • Alert Me button put into evidence
  • Move or Copy files within the library
  • A new Grid View
  • Create Links to other files or anywhere really and have them available as a “file” in the library
  • A new image viewer to quick preview them from within your library

Here are additional screenshots showing some of these changes:

The Search in a Document Library

The New Document Library and the SharePoint People

Managing the Metadata on your files from the Details Panel

The New Document Library and the SharePoint People

Pinning files in your Library and managing them

The New Document Library and the SharePoint People

Changing which columns are being displayed

The New Document Library and the SharePoint People

Working with and managing your Library Views

The New Document Library and the SharePoint People

New ability to add Links to almost anything

The New Document Library and the SharePoint People

You can now add a link in your library and manage it as if it were a file like the others. However, at the moment of writing this I didn’t see a way to edit the actual URL.

The New Document Library and the SharePoint People

So What’s Going on with SharePoint and Where Is It Headed

I think the changes happening to SharePoint are going to be the hardest on the “SharePoint People”. Those working and invested on a platform that, let’s be honest, didn’t change too much since 2007. But slowly, this whole talk about about needing to change and adapt will arrive at our doors.

Though the change to the Document Library is on SharePoint Online with Office 365, there were a lot of discussions around this change from the entire SharePoint community. “Is it good? Where is the ribbon? Why didn’t I know as an administrator?” and I’ll go over these in a second.

Before I do, I want to stress that SharePoint needs to change to stay in the game.

We’re in a growing tech age where new solutions are popping everywhere and at a faster pace. Our end users often don’t want to deal with the administrators to do work and if they can subscribe, often for free, to things like Dropbox or Slack, Box, Salesforce, etc… you name it, it exists, they’ll gladly do it.

The traditional SharePoint isn’t going away, we’ve seen that and it’s why so much talk around Hybrid is being had. So that those organizations already invested in or where the culture still fits with the SharePoint model we’re used to, can continue.

But those going to Office 365, looking to subscribe and not worry about setting up Exchange Servers or SharePoint Servers with different types of sites and content types, etc… they need something they can start using, is easy to adopt and doesn’t require immense amount of support or architecture planning.

This new UI for the SharePoint Document Library is but a piece of the vision for a new “modern” SharePoint Team Site. And yes, I know that’s the Microsoft marketing being regurgitated there, but we do need a site that teams or groups can consume quickly. For the same reason, many of you create a folder in Dropbox, put some files in, maybe invite others and start working.

How This New SharePoint Document Library Impacts You and Your Users

At the moment, this change only affects those that have opted-in to Office 365’s First Release program. This means you asked to get updates as soon as they’re available and thus test out the new shiny toys before everyone.

Now having opted-in to Office 365 isn’t enough, the new document library is actually turned off everywhere by default. It’s left to the people using it, in their respective teams to choose whether or not they want to try it out, stay as it is or revert back after testing it out.

The New Document Library and the SharePoint People

Users can press the x to close it or check it out. This isn’t unlike many products we subscribe to these days both on a consumer level or business.

Could Microsoft have published a blog two weeks earlier to let the administrators know that this was coming? Absolutely, and I’m sure we are bound to hear a lot more in a few weeks when they do their online event on the Future of SharePoint.

But again, you have to have opted for First Release and then users of the document library have to opt-in to use it. I say this, but like you my first reaction was to run to my customers that are on First Release to make sure all is ok. And even those with a few thousand users were thrilled with the change.

This matched the reaction we had seen back in early November when Microsoft had presented this to MVPs under NDA.

How can you prepare for the upcoming roll out

  • Do you use any custom code or third party solutions that were integrated in the ribbon or the library?
  • If you have training material, make sure to update it.
  • Attend the May 4th live event to know more on where things are headed for this part of SharePoint.
  • Test and explore as much as you can in your First Release Tenant to be ready for when it hits your production.
  • Create a communication plan if this hits a very large number of users that have been using SharePoint for a while and may be resistant to change.
  • Check if you have any custom branding and its impact

Needless to say, things are changing. And though our traditional SharePoint is still there with a new SharePoint 2016, we also need this new Team Site within the SharePoint suite.

This was a first step of many in delivering that new SharePoint Team Site. And as Microsoft changed to keep up and adapt with the times, it’s important we do too.

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