SharePoint conference “SPC” is one of the biggest event in SharePoint world which took place in Las Vegas this year focusing on SharePoint, O365, OneDrive and relative technologies including Yammer, Microsoft Stream and Power BI. It was an action-packed three days full of new feature announcements, workshops and learning sessions which started off with a keynote from Jeff Teper, corporate vice president for OneDrive, SharePoint and Office in which he introduced some of the latest and greatest innovations from Microsoft which allows organizations to improve employee engagement as well as empowering them to achieve more in the modern workplace with Microsoft O356. Below are some of the key features/improvements announced during the conference.
A place to call Home in SharePoint – Home Sites
Intranet portal is a way to keep yourself up to date with what’s going on in the organization but sometimes a lot of information can be of irrelevant to some users which can lead to losing interest. To solve this problem, Microsoft came up with the concept of an intelligent intranet in the form of Home Sites. Think of home site as your personalized window to the organization where you can see all the information relevant to you based on your role and position in the organization. It is built on top of a communication site which serves as a centralized portal for the entire organization and is used for organization-wide broadcasting. Home Site pages are integrated with Microsoft Search, and they support video playback via Yammer and the Microsoft Stream service.
Search anywhere and everywhere – Microsoft Search
The launch of Microsoft Search (GA) is one of the biggest highlights of the conference providing a unified search experience across Microsoft products and platforms and needless to say Microsoft has made a huge investment in improving User experience. Microsoft Search allows users to search their enterprise content not just within the hosted product but across all products, applications and search engine as well i.e. Bing. This will provide users instant access to the same insights, actions, and results from no matter where they are and the integration with Bing will allow users to simultaneously search for organization-wide content in Microsoft 365 as well as worldwide information bringing users the best of both worlds. Searching through Bing.com is also more secure as it protects your queries from the internet and makes them anonymized which providing you with the public web results. Microsoft Search has also become faster (10X faster in 2 years) and intelligent as it provides you relevant results in all office applications to help you with your work. Another great enhancement to Microsoft Search in O365 is Search Admin Centre which provides insights on search trends across the organization like top search queries and impression distribution.
More Powerful insights and reports – Power BI
There have been lots of new enhancements in the ever-evolving Power BI including support for OCR data in your O365 document libraries using SharePoint Online list connector, general availability of new and improved modelling view and features like Single select slicer, filter pane improvements, and some accessibility improvements making user interactions much faster.
Single select slicer has been completely revamped and is now supporting radio buttons and filter selection is also limited to one. Drop-down slicers are also enhanced to be auto close after selection after selection, making the interaction much quicker for end users.
Maps have also been a focus of improvement and Microsoft has introduced heat map support allowing all the locations dots in your map to be converted to the heat map. Map points have also become adjustable now so now you can make them smaller which will make it easy to click if there are too many points in a small area. Maps accessibility is also improved by making the location data points accessible using keyboard keys and selectable by pressing enter.
In the visuals category, there is a new visual tool called Power Slicer which is an advanced version of default slicer visual providing users with advanced formatting and layout options as well as allowing them to add filters in their report within the report page.
AxioWorks SQList continuously export SharePoint lists and libraries as normalised SQL Server tables with SQList by AxioWorks, making SharePoint data available to reporting tools like Power BI, Crystal Reports, or SSRS.
Driving the future of file sharing – OneDrive
OneDrive users are excited to hear a large list of new features and improvements announced by Microsoft and several demos were performed to showcase them as well. Most noteworthy announcements include the availability of differential sync across O365, browsers, and devices using Microsoft apps which will massively reduce network traffic. The OneDrive Web App is enhanced with a full-fidelity files experience for shared libraries, enabling you to sync files to your PC or Mac, work with metadata columns and custom views, and preview more than 320 file types as well as add comments on office and non-Office files. Another key feature added to OneDrive is the request files capability which allows users to allow external users to add files to a selected folder. This will allow everyone to upload files and they will only be able to see their own files. This will enable scenarios where you want to collect files from multiple users while restricting them to view only their files.
Enterprise social networking integration with SharePoint – Yammer
Microsoft has been working on improving integration of Yammer with SharePoint and in this conference, they announced several features to become generally available including Yammer Conversations Web Part for SharePoint which provides the capability to integrate Yammer chat in SharePoint pages allowing users to continue their conversations from within SharePoint. Yammer webparts also got a much needed rich text support for improved message formatting. In data compliance, expanded data residency for Yammer chats in EU countries has also become generally available to all O365 tenants in the EU region.
Stream videos in O365 – Microsoft Stream
Sharing content through videos and streaming is becoming increasingly popular not just in social media but also in organization weather it’s for delivering messages to the employees or creating knowledge sharing and learning videos. Microsoft understands the need of it and they have powered Microsoft 365 with intelligent and secure way of recording, uploading and sharing videos through their Microsoft stream mobile app available on iOS and Android. Stream webpart is also become generally available which will allow users to highlight Stream content in a SharePoint page for a single video, a channel, and now you highlight videos across all of Stream.
SharePoint Online Development just got Cooler- SPFx 1.9
SharePoint Framework has gained a tremendous amount of popularity among the SharePoint development community ever since it was launched and it keeps getting better as Microsoft continues to bridge the gap to open source community by adding support to all major open source development technologies most recent being Node.js 10 in SPFx 1.8.2. Microsoft announced a new version of SharePoint Framework SPFx 1.9 will be available soon which will include support for building sharable code modules using library components. A new Microsoft Graph Toolkit for the web will be available soon which will include some widely anticipated controls like log-in, file picker, and information display controls.