Microsoft unleashed a torrent of product announcements and improvements at its third annual Ignite conference at the end of September. In addition to 25,000 attendees, Ignite featured nearly 1,700 sessions across a spectrum of hot topics, from machine learning and cloud technologies to virtual reality and quantum computing.
Related: Managing executive blogging on SharePoint Online.
Those seeking innovation and energy were not disappointed, and this is especially true for SharePoint Online and the Microsoft 365 stack. If the new capabilities presented at Ignite are any indication, the enthusiasm and momentum behind SharePoint will guarantee its future stays bright.
Below are four of the most exciting features, all of which will be shipping to a SharePoint environment near you soon.
SharePoint Hub Sites
If there was one true crowd pleaser for SharePoint users at Ignite, hub sites were it. Hub sites present an entirely new way of organizing your intranet with just a few clicks of the mouse. Team and communication sites joined to a hub inherit shared navigation and a consistent look-and-feel, and each hub will receive its own landing page that rolls up news and important activity from its member sites.
And as your business changes and grows, so can hub membership. Simply navigate to the site that needs to relocate to a different hub, choose the hub from a list, and click “Save.” Within moments you’ve reorganized
your intranet. The only downside is that we’ll have to wait until early 2018 to see hub sites in action outside of Microsoft demos.
Click here to learn more about hub sites.
Search has always been one of the most powerful aspects of SharePoint, and coming out of Ignite, there are a slew of new features to get excited about. Microsoft is promising improvements to SharePoint search that will guarantee more fine-tuned, personalized results displayed on a clean and streamlined results page.
Clicking into the search box will open a list of recent documents, increasing your odds of finding what you need without typing a word. And in addition to pages and documents, search will now also serve up news and list items, and even contact cards for people relevant to your search query. Most intriguing, images uploaded to SharePoint will be automatically scanned for searchable text, allowing receipt scans, white board screenshots, business cards, and more to appear in your search results.
Click here to learn more about what’s coming to SharePoint Search.
Flow is well on its way to democratizing workflow management, with a user-friendly interface that any user can master. But where Flow’s ease-of-use previously came at the cost of a slimmer set of capabilities, it now boasts an impressive and robust feature set. Finally, Flow is in position to replace SharePoint Designer as the workflow management tool of choice.
Flow enables both the simple (approval workflows) and the complex (data processing and transformation) across a list of 175 (and growing) different services, from OneDrive and Outlook to Facebook and Slack. Workflows aren’t just for SharePoint any longer. Among the new Flow features previewed at Ignite are:
- Detailed flow analytics that can be surfaced through a Power BI dashboard.
- Approval flows requiring multiple individuals to sign-off, along with customized approval emails.
- A vibrant stable of connectors, such as the connectors that can automatically convert OneDrive for Business files to PDFs, or the LinkedIn connector for sharing messaging and content with a professional audience.
Click here to learn more about Microsoft Flow.
Improved Lists and Libraries
Many improvements to lists and libraries are on the horizon. Here are some of the highlights.
- Column Formatting. Column formatting will empower users to apply great-looking custom formatting to lists and libraries without the help of a developer. Anyone with the drive and curiosity to learn the JSON-like framework that controls formatting will soon be able to add styling of all kinds, from color coding and cell borders to icons and hyperlinks. For those who don’t have the time to master the column formatting syntax, copying and pasting from someone who does couldn’t be easier.
- Predictive Indexing. Say goodbye to the dreaded 5,000-item list view threshold. Whereas previously any single list or library view in SharePoint could not exceed 5,000 items without suffering performance degradation, SharePoint Online will soon leverage Predictive Indexing to quickly and intelligently index any list or library view containing up to 20,000 items. This means that large lists and libraries will require fewer custom views, and your users will be able to interact faster and more easily with even greater amounts of data.
Click here to learn more about what’s coming to SharePoint lists and libraries.
With so much information crammed into one week it would be impossible to summarize it all, so go check out some sessions for yourself on the Ignite YouTube channel.