The SharePoint Conference North America 2018 in Las Vegas is the place to be this week if SharePoint is critical to the collaboration strategy at your organisation. For those not able to attend in person, a complimentary webcast of the two-hour keynote was streamed live, but of course, you miss the hundreds of sessions on offer during the three days of the conference.
During the keynote, Jeff Teper and his team recounted recent updates to SharePoint Online, previewed coming changes, and made a splash with some new ideas.
Here’s the key five points I took away from the content-packed keynote:
- Microsoft continues to find cool ways to leverage the Microsoft Graph, a background service that analyses what people are doing and creates connections between people and content. The ultimate realisation of the Graph vision is when experiences in Office 365 – for example, search in SharePoint, inviting collaborators into a Microsoft Word document, or sharing a document in OneDrive with others – just always seems to put the right person or search result at the top of the list. If the Microsoft Graph seems to be reading your mind and inferring your intent, then it is working as designed.
- Microsoft continues to improve the “meat and potatoes” of SharePoint – document libraries and lists. One of the demos showed real-time updates to the items in a list, without having to refresh your screen. Another showed the coming addition of document library capabilities – such as group and conditional column formatting – to the document library web part. The first increases the here-and-now usability of SharePoint lists and libraries, because you never have to refresh the screen to see what’s new and changed. Changes by others are automagically displayed, for both existing and new items or documents. The second increases the consistency of the user experience across SharePoint; capabilities available to the user in the full document library experience will also be available through the associated web part.
- Microsoft Teams will be receiving more SharePoint goodness over coming months, including column formatting for lists and libraries and the ability to include SharePoint pages within a Teams workspace. The addition of SharePoint pages has been announced already, but it will remove a design annoyance currently in place of having to link to a SharePoint page as a bland web page, not as a full SharePoint experience. Once again, everything is trending towards greater consistency, similarity, and integration across the destination experiences in Office 365. What works in one place should work in all places.
- Microsoft previewed SharePoint spaces, a new mixed reality way of browsing and consuming content in a SharePoint site, with support for navigation using HoloLens and other headsets (see image above). SharePoint spaces are intended to be as easy to create as a PowerPoint slide deck – click new, select a template, and start adding content. New 3D-aware web parts are offered, to enable the design and navigation process to be as seamless as possible. For lists and libraries that are image heavy, or that make sense to be visualised rather than read, SharePoint spaces is a great innovation. While updates to lists and libraries address the common everyday tasks of using SharePoint, mixed reality options create a whole new plane of coolness to explore.
- People matter – and individuals count. There were quite a few years when the SharePoint dream started to fade and languish, and it seemed like it was the end of an era. And then Jeff Teper came back as the champion of the SharePoint dream at Microsoft. He and his team have charted a new and expanded course for SharePoint, and in light of the continued momentum and innovations, the dream and reality of SharePoint is again firmly established.