This week marks the beginning of a major transformation of SharePoint Online. On April 6th, Microsoft announced that changes were coming to the SharePoint Online document library experience. For some organizations this change will be welcomed, as it brings the UI more in line with OneDrive for Business and the rest of the Office 365 Suite. For others who have customized their document libraries, it will cause much frustration. Thus we begin the overhaul of SharePoint Online.
I imagine there will be many revisions to the UI based on user feedback before these changes get rolled out globally. Hopefully they find a way to incorporate the global navigation and fix some other issues. Until then I wanted to share a few noticeable changes that I feel move us in the right direction. This post will focus on the new mobile experience.
We’ve all dreamed of a world in which SharePoint would be natively responsive. In fact the uservoice suggestion is currently sitting at 933 votes. It seems like Microsoft is listening as the Patterns and Practices Team recently released the responsive UI package for SharePoint 2013 and 2016 now available on GitHub. My guess is that we will hear more about these changes on May 4th with Jeff Teper. For now, let’s look at this week’s changes to the mobile document library experience.
The “Classic” Experience
This is the experience we’ve had in SharePoint Online for a few years. The site is not responsive and not optimized for touch. If I wanted to do anything meaningful on the site I would have to zoon in and still would struggle to upload documents, access menus and perform a search.
So fresh and so clean, clean
It’s a thing of beauty! The buttons are large enough to press without any zoom. The menus are collapsed to only show relevant buttons with the option to expand when necessary. Not only has the site been made responsive, some new functionality has been added as well.
The quick launch navigation gets collapsed into the common “three-line” navigation menu. For now these are the only navigation elements available in the document library view. I have to imagine the global navigation will be added before this gets globally released.
There is a new option to add links inside a document library as well. These .url files will open in a new tab in the browser. What’s interesting to me about this new feature is that the links are not included as content types in the libraries. The legacy “link to a document” content type still exists and can be used alongside these new links.
The library views have become easier to manipulate in the new UI. Instead of creating a new view each time you wanted to re-order your metadata fields, you can now rearrange the columns on the fly. You can hide and move columns directly in the library view without having to configure a custom view.
Finally, we come to my favorite improvement. We now have the ability to access any folder in the breadcrumb in a simple and intuitive way. The current and previous folder names appear atop the document library, while any previous folder get collapsed into the new ellipses menu next to the breadcrumb.
These changes are long overdue. We are finally seeing a native design that is responsive and touch-friendly. It certainly has a long way to go for me to consider it ready for primetime, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction.