Why Modern Is the New Black!

Jennifer Mason

by Jennifer Ann Mason on 5/4/2016

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Document libraries, Lists, Microsoft Flow, Mobile SharePoint App, PowerApps, SharePoint 2016, SharePoint Landing Page

The new SharePoint 2016 is like that little black dress

It might be a little odd, but when I keep hearing about all the new things coming to SharePoint, I can’t help but notice that the word “modern” is used over and over again. As a joke one day I was telling my husband that I think the concept of “modern” list, libraries and even pages’ experience is like the new little black dress in the SharePoint world. He blamed it on me watching too much Project Runway over the weekend, but I can’t really shake the thought. After seeing what they presented today at the Future of SharePoint event, I stand behind my assessment – the modern experiences are going to become the new way of doing things! Before long they will become the new classics! We got our first glances at the modern experiences a few weeks ago when the new document libraries view hit first release, but after today we see that it was just one piece of the larger puzzle (or humor me as I say it, “It was just one item in our new spring collection.”) Ok, enough with the lame fashion references; let’s move onto the heart of the matter and talk about what we can expect in the future!

Modern document libraries & lists

I think this announcement by far has been my favorite! I can’t tell you how many times in training I have been asked “why is it so hard to add metadata?” or “why can’t I easily move things around?” These are everyday problems that in classic SharePoint typically require training and most importantly – require us to change our behavior so that we can do what doesn’t come naturally when working with content in SharePoint. In so many cases, you have to add extra things to the classic experience just to make it friendly and easy enough to use. With the new modern experiences, many of the common requests I have heard are now possible.

Modern SharePoint document libraries

I love that you can pin documents to the home page of the library and that you can easily see a specific items metadata and document preview while still in the context of the library. This will make finding and working with data much simpler. The best part is that they are starting small and allowing you to grow into the new modern experiences. This will allow you to test things out and explore which style (classic or modern) will be best for you.

Mobile SharePoint app

It is hard for me to get to this point in the post and not call the mobile app my favorite new feature! I have been lucky enough to get access to some of the early releases of the iOS app and I can honestly say that it has become a part of my daily routine. I travel a lot and I do a lot of work away from my desk, not in front of my monitor. Having access to the SharePoint app has allowed me to quickly and easily find content within my companies’ intranet site and within the team sites I host to push data to my immediate team. The first time I loaded the app I was surprised at how easy it was to configure and to use and can you believe that the first release will support connections to multiple domains! To a consultant with many domains, that is simply a dream come true!

The SharePoint 2016 mobile app will be very useful

The SharePoint mobile app.

Microsoft indicated that the mobile experience should hit iOS this quarter and by the end of the year we should see it arrive on Android and Windows. It will work with both on-prem (2010 and higher) and Office 365, and a user can connect to multiple environments. The SharePoint mobile app is designed to keep you connected to what matters most while you are on the go.

SharePoint landing page (modern sites page)

Next up we have the new and modern SharePoint landing page. This one should start to hit first release this quarter and will be a replacement to the current Sites tab that lives in the app launcher. It will continue to have the same logo, but will be updated to say SharePoint. To many of us, this is a very welcome change that feels like a step back to our roots! While the name is a step back, the design of the new SharePoint page is only moving forward. This new page is designed as an entry gateway to your environment, and is meant to guide you to the information you need most as well as allow you to quickly and easily create new sites.

SharePoint Sites get renamed to SharePoint.

The new SharePoint landing page.

From this page you will see the content that you are most active with and the content that is recommended to you through Office Graph. In addition to being able to see content that is generated for you, you will also be able to access content that is pushed to you from your organization. Search is the final wrapper to pull things together and provides a one-stop gateway to all the content within your environment. The page is visually appealing and is designed to provide you clear jumping points into the content that matters most to you.

PowerApps & Microsoft Flow

The final thing I wanted to cover from the keynote is the implementation of PowerApps and Microsoft Flow. Microsoft introduced PowerApps awhile ago through the preview and we have just started to see the potential they have within the organization. Let’s face it, we live in a mobile world and creating beautifully engaging mobile apps shouldn’t be limited to just developers. PowerApps is the future and today we got to see a few more milestones along the way! Just last week we saw the announcement of Microsoft Flow and now today we learned that Microsoft Flow and SharePoint Lists will be integrated – allowing us to create flows directly from SharePoint lists. While this still isn’t a full replacement for InfoPath and SharePoint Workflows – we are starting to clearly see the direction Microsoft is taking. We are truly going to be able to build complete mobile solutions that connect to multiple backend data sources. The things we build can be easily managed and maintained and don’t require code to develop. We are still in the early stages, but it is clear that Microsoft is making steps forward and this will be the future for no-code apps within SharePoint.

Microsoft PowerApp and Microsoft Flow

Using Microsoft Flow as part of a mobile app

Now we wait!

This blog has been a quick summary of some of the main highlights of the event – and all that is left to do now is simply wait for things to be made available. From the announcements today, it appears that we can expect to see many of the changes hit the streets later this quarter in an MVP (minimal viable product) format, followed by additional features and functionality within this calendar year. Things are exciting in the SharePoint space, and for a product that so many have claimed is “dead” it is certainly alive, thriving and continuing to grow. It’s like a new spring line has been shown on the runway and now we simply wait for it to be available in the stores! The future of SharePoint is bright and I can’t wait to see what Microsoft has in store for us next!

Learn more about the topics in this article and more at Unity Connect Online, June 20-23, 2016. Jennifer is a conference chair picking sessions and will be a speaker at that free event. Sign up today!

Topic: SharePoint 2016

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