Today was a great day for those of us that work within SharePoint. If you did not participate then you truly missed some great information about the future of SharePoint and Office 365. The event was similar to the May 4th event from last year, albeit completely virtual this time. 

The emphasis of this event was SharePoint, SharePoint and a little more SharePoint. In reality this was Microsoft showing us all that they have listened and made updates and feature changes that will benefit us as the end user. Jeff Teper’s blog posts from today are found here.

If for whatever reason you were not part of it, you can catchup on the tweets here.

To begin the list of updates, let’s start with the announcement that was made previously about Office 365 files On-demand. This was announced 5 days ago; the blog post can be found here.

The key for this feature is that the files are not just dropped on your devices just because you choose to sync, instead you only get the base reference or marker to the file and once you choose to either “Always keep on this device” you will always be using the cloud version of the file. In addition to Files On-Demand, OneDrive Offline Folders lets you save folders to your device and open them when you don’t have an internet connection. Changes made by other users to the files while you’re offline will automatically be updated when you have an internet connection again. 

Though this was not announced today, as you look at some of the announcements, you can see this was part 1 of the extensive list.

 

Here is the list of features that were announced today:

  1. Feature Pack 2 for SharePoint 2016 On-premises coming soon
    1. SharePoint Framework (SPFx) coming to On-premises
  2. Share folders from within SharePoint Online team site document libraries
  3. Share files from windows File Explorer, or Finder on the MAC
  4. New Sharing controls added to the OneDrive Admin Center
  5. Connect existing SharePoint Online sites to Office 365 Groups
  6. Add Office 365 Groups resources to the navigation and pages within SharePoint
  7. Add SharePoint pages to Microsoft Teams
  8. Document submission and approval can now be using a new approval flow
  9. Trigger sharing flows in lists and libraries
  10. Embed PowerApps forms inside lists and libraries within SharePoint
  11. Communication sites now available within SharePoint
  12. New page layout designs within Modern Pages
  13. New web parts added for modern pages
  14. New Personalized search
  15. Build new communities with SharePoint and Yammer
  16. Modern SharePoint Online Admin experience
  17. New site management page to include all SharePoint sites connected to Office 365 Groups

These are just the core list of features and functions that were announced today. I have selected a few of these items that for me were great decisions and will benefit not just my clients but also my own use of Office 365 and SharePoint. As a note, also the Yammer group at Microsoft have also made a few announcements for their SharePoint integration.

Modern SharePoint Online Admin experience

With the modern UI being stamped all over Office 365 and SharePoint Online, it should come as no surprise that it has made its way to the Administration Experience.

New site management page to include all SharePoint sites connected to Office 365 Groups
To add the administration changes, you can now see the sites that are connected to Office 365 Groups!! Just had to run some PowerShell to do this and figure out which ones were which, now it does it!!

Share folders from within SharePoint Online team site document libraries
Having the ability to now share specific folders in team sites using the same mechanism that is used for other parts of SharePoint Online will greatly improve the overall user experience.

Share files from windows File Explorer, or Finder on the MAC
The sharing experience has been simplified, so you can share a file or folder with specific people or send a link that enables anyone who needs access, inside or outside your organization. In addition, you can now control how long a link provides access, and you can easily view and modify the permissions you have granted. The new sharing experience is the same, whether you share on the web, in Explorer on Windows 10 and Windows 7, or in Finder on Mac. 

Windows

Mac

New Sharing controls added to the OneDrive Admin Center
I am a great advocate of adding better controls, deeper granularity so that as an organization you can control data flow and access to data. These new sharing controls will allow you to do exactly that.

Connect existing SharePoint Online sites to Office 365 Groups
This one is huge, most clients I have worked with have asked this question a million times. Can we just connect the group to an existing site, well the answer is now YES!!

 

Document submission and approval can now be using a new approval flow and Trigger sharing flows in lists and libraries
These two were really a no brainer. With Microsoft Flow fast becoming the workflow capability of Office 365, it made sense that we would see deeper integration into SharePoint. The ability to now use a predefined Approval flow and also trigger other flows from the content is a big step in the right direction.

Approval Flow

Trigger Flows​


Embed PowerApps forms inside lists and libraries within SharePoint
I remember all those years ago sitting in a conference session waiting to hear the new forms story for SharePoint, to be told there was nothing. Then out of the blue PowerApps appeared as a separate service. All of a sudden though it has been integrated to SharePoint Online and is fast becoming the form tool for that.  Personally, allowing the forms to be embedded within lists and libraries had to happen, and it did ☺


Communication sites now available within SharePoint
This topic has been around for a long time, rumors of new sites for communications, and the ones that make the intranet a beautiful place again. However, you could never find any details about it from anyone. Today however it became a reality. The ability to create very engaging sites from specific layouts and then use that as the face of communication within your organization will ensure that when you as a company need to build an Intranet, it is now going to be within Office 365.

New page layout designs within Modern Pages
This is one of my favorite announcements. Having worked with the modern UI for some time, I have always struggled with the single column layout, who build pages that way? Not me or any client I have ever worked with. We like pages that have multiple layouts, different columns so we can create the look we need. Hats off to Microsoft for listening to the feedback and now announcing that multi column layouts are here!!

There were more announcements of course and more details will be coming out soon from Microsoft too. Though I only talked about a few things, the wider picture and message from Microsoft is that we as organizations can bet on Office 365. 

And that is a wrap, all the official announcements can be using the links below.

The Office Mechanics videos that talk about some of these can also be found here: