Still haven’t made the move to SharePoint Online? Neither have I… but as each year passes the amount of available features continues to grow at exponential speed. And the number of services that you can integrate is staggering. I’m attending SharePoint Fest again this year in Seattle and I found that if I only attended sessions that were dedicated to SharePoint on-premise then there would be several lulls in my schedule. I’ve had short previews of SharePoint Online (SPO) and even read some detailed descriptions of new features on Microsoft’s website. But until today I haven’t had much urge to attend SPO sessions at the conference knowing that the company I work for won’t buy into it (yet). But today I decided to fill some of my schedule lulls with some sessions dedicated to SPO.
One session in particular got me super jazzed and now I want more! It was titled “Get Inspired and Discover the Modern Experiences You Can Build with SharePoint in O365“. Many of the speakers in the sessions at this conference are vendor sales engineers or consultants. However, this session had two speakers from the Microsoft SharePoint team and in the room sitting in the audience with us were three other team members including a couple of the SharePoint Program Managers. This session was very little PowerPoint and almost all live demo. (yay!) They started out by opening up the Microsoft SharePoint Look Book and then introduced us to the SharePoint Provisioning Service.
They demoed how quickly you can spin up a new site filled with sample content using the provisioning service. I was itching to see what features they were going to dive into once the site was provisioned. I think it was my lucky day because they dove into one of the features that I’ve been longing to get my hands on. NEWS. This feature is fairly new in SPO and I believe has been released to SharePoint Server 2019 on-premise already (if not soon). When you create a modern site it comes with the News feature by default. On the modern home page, you can quickly add a new News Post or News Link. In the News Post there are several web parts available to help make your news article stand out.
- Header – this has several different style options, one being color block which when used in conjunction with a black and white photo, creates a pop to pull in your readers.
- Countdown Timer – Have an important date coming up that coincides with the news post? Use the timer to show a countdown in real time. You can even add text below the timer to describe what its purpose is and an image in the background to make it pop.
- Button – Want to put a button on your post that will lead your readers to even more great content? Add a button web part and title it Learn More.
- Call to Action – this web part has a block that you can add a background image, text and a button.
- Other features (not web parts) – drag and drop photos straight from your computer into the news post; Organization Assets (publish images, logos, files that are relevant to your entire org for reuse on any site); save post as a template (this will make it easier to post news quickly in the future and keep a consistent look on all your posts).
This is just the tip of the iceberg. SPO has a ton of new features. There are many articles out there explaining them such as this New and Improved Features in SharePoint 2019 and SharePoint Roadmap Pitstop-February 2019, so I won’t go into all the details but it’s worth investigating if you’ve been holding out on looking at SPO. And, in addition to SPO features, you can integrate directly with services like Teams, Flow, PowerBI, Tableau, Salesforce, Dynamics, Pipedrive, Facebook, Sage, OpenText, Citrix, Box, and Trello… just to name a few. 😉
So, what do you do if you’re like me and all you have at work is SharePoint on-premise but you want to evaluate those features. Well you have two free options; sign up for an Office 365 Business Premium trial which I think gives you 30 days. Or sign up for an Office 365 Developer Subscription which gives you access in 90 day chunks up to a year (and maybe more).
Start playing around in it. Get your feet wet. See what’s out there. Let a little of those online services into your bubble.
Special Note: There are so many people that inspire me in SharePoint land but this season, I especially want to thank the following SharePoint Fest session speakers for inspiring me to step outside the bubbled walls of the company that I work for and follow my instincts. And for showing me some pretty wicked SPO/O365 stuff: Debjani Mitra, Michelle Koike, Benjamin Niaulin, Daniel Glenn and Drew Madelung. Oh and to my co-workers who continue to encourage my enthusiasm!