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Build your modern intranet with SharePoint in Office 365 – Microsoft Ignite 2018 announcements

SharePoint powers your intranet throughout your connected workplace. And now is the time to modernize it building with SharePoint and Microsoft 365 – to reimagine the role of the intranet, powering employee experiences that inform, organize and engage employees and harness collective knowledge.

 

Microsoft disclosed many new announcements at this week’s Ignite 2018 conference (#MSIgnite) in Orlando, FL – including ways to:

 

  • Confidently build your modern intranet in Office 365
  • Further organize your sites with SharePoint Hub sites updates
  • Take your intranet on the go and engage with SharePoint mobile app updates

 

Outer-loop_001_communication-site.jpgExample SharePoint hub site used to communicate news and information to the Contoso Inc. product marketing team through their intranet.

SharePoint helps you create and broadcast your message throughout your intranet. Content is dynamic and immersive, including video and mixed reality. And the structure of the portal itself is dynamic, adjusting to changes in your organization and workforce. It’s about getting things done. Finding where you need to go—with effective navigation.

 

“Every time we had a design idea, we found a way to build it with SharePoint and Office 365—the possibilities are limitless. We iterated quickly, learning and developing at the same time, so we appreciate the intuitive, versatile features.”
- Cheryl Bartel, Manager of Platform Systems, Helmerich & Payne

 

We’re excited to share this with you for the first time and look forward to working with you as a trusted partner to achieve your desired outcomes. Let’s dive into the details of what was disclosed…

 

Build your modern intranet in Office 365

It’s time. It’s time to improve the performance from your intranet. It’s time to put the power of all your content, people and information in the pocket of each and every employee – especially when they are mobile. It’s time to improve your return on investment. Build your modern intranet on SharePoint in Office 365 and get the benefits of investing in business outcomes – reducing IT and development costs, increasing business speed and agility, and the up-leveling the dynamic and welcoming nature of your intranet.

 

We announced a lot of tech to help you along the way…

 

New megamenu layout for site and hub navigation - Increase the value and space of your site navigation. The new megamenu options allow for multiple levels of hierarchy at once - no fly-outs needed. This will enable you to better organize and showcase the related content and sites associated under that hub site.

 

Outer-loop_002_megamenu.jpgNew SharePoint megamenu shown being used on a communication site.

Personalized web parts – Give a personalized experience to your site and page visitors – so they see the content that is theirs, and meant for them to experience. When using personalized webparts, people will see their recent sites, their recent documents and news tailored for them. You can personalize any page or news article. When you add a personalized webpart to the page, it is aware of who is signed in and gives them a unique, relevant experience to the content and information you are promoting to them.

 

Outer-loop_003_personalized-webparts.jpgPlace powerful, personalized web parts on the page to show the user who is logged in their recent sites, documents and news tailored to them.

Audience targeting for News and Highlighted content webparts - You can better define what news articles and pages appear on the home experience of your site by configuring what is visible to specific groups. Each person will have a unique experience that complies with what you wish them to view without creating multiple audience-specific sites, you can serve them all from within a more centralized location with a personalized, targeted experience. Audience targeting support will be enabled in news, pages and other web parts so that you can define and target who best to reach with content and site experiences by using Office 365 Groups.

 

Outer-loop_004_org-news.jpgSharePoint news webpart showing organizational news coming from the News @ Contoso site.

As the rich capabilities of Organizational news move to production, you will empower all communicators to keep groups, departments and divisions up-to-date with team news. SharePoint News is a content distribution system that works across the spectrum of personal, team and organizational news and helps customers get their content to their audiences across SharePoint apps and experiences. News works across all modern sites in SharePoint – Team sites, communication sites and hubs.  And it enables you to get your message to the right people – even if the news is published on the internet using News links to bring it into the flow of where your people consume work-related information.

 

Sites: header layouts - Now, site owners can reclaim some of the vertical space at the top of the site and highlight the main page content instead. There will be three new choices: standard, minimal and compact.

 

Sites: adjust the footer of a site - When you change the look of your site, you can now add a site footer to showcase common information you wish to highlight at the bottom of your site.

 

Central asset library – provide easy access to your organization’s approved images that can be leveraged by everyone. When a person needs an approved image, or one that was purchased for licensed use throughout the intranet, they can click on “Your organization” and navigate files and folders of assets that are centrally managed for use in title regions and the Image webpart.

 

Outer-loop_005_central-asset-library.jpgChoose approved photos from Your organization when placing them on your site pages or news articles.

Web part: countdown timer – Site owners and members will now be able to show a countdown timer to important launch dates, key meetings, campaign ends, etc. on their site home page, within subpages and/or within a news article on team sites, communication sites and hub sites. Simply add the web part to your page or news and tap in the target date and time to count down to. And voila, everyone can see how much time until that important date and time.

 

Enable communication site experience at the root of a tenant – we know one of the most important sites of a your Office 365 investment is the root site, the default one that is created and has the shortest URL: https://[yourTenant].sharepoint.com. And now it’s time for this to be a real place to communicate. The default for new tenants will be that a communication site gets provisioned at the root site. Start the root off right, and the rest of your intranet will grow and flourish off of it. Note: existing tenants will also have options to enable the communication site experience at the root of their tenants. In 2018, we are rolling it out with a limited scope and will gradually cover more root site scenarios for existing tenants.

 

You’re not alone. Learn more about how to build your modern intranet in Office 365.

 

Further organize your sites with SharePoint Hub sites updates

Hubs let you organize your intranet and drive consistency. They are powerful tools – flexible, dynamic building blocks for your company intranet – connecting collaboration and communication. Associating sites together in a hub site enhances discovery and engagement with content, while creating a complete and consistent representation of your project, department or region. We’re pleased to bring new capabilities to further organize and promote content across your divisions.

 

Events web part rolls up events from associated sites - Like the News web part and Site activity, commonly used on the home page of a hub site, you can now leverage the Events web part to roll events up from associated sites so that the aggregated view of all events appears at the hub site level.

 

Outer-loop_006_news-rollup.jpgEvents from across sites can roll up and be displayed in a unique Events webpart of ALL associated events. Note: events are aggregated from different sites.

Create associated site from within hub site itself - Make governing sites associated to a hub site easier by having them automatically associated and created from within the hub site itself. You'll connect sites to hubs by using a new button right on the hub site itself -- when you tap it, you get our normal new site experience and the site will be automatically associated to the hub site.

 

Outer-loop_007_hub-site-create-site.jpgYou can create a site from within a hub site, and that site will already be associated to the hub site along with any applied site designs when it is initially provisioned. Note the "Create site" button in the upper-right of the hub site homepage.

Create, associate/disassociate, plus report on hub sites in the SharePoint admin center in Office 365 - The SharePoint admin center in Office 365 will now allow you to create SharePoint hub sites and associated other sites once the hub site exists. This also provides a view into hub sites as they exist allowing for common admin tasks like reporting, contacting and managing sites - now including hub sites from the admin center user interface. The hub site association column also lets you see the sites associated with a hub.

 

Outer-loop_007_hub-site-spo-admin-center.jpgSelect any team or communication site and convert it to a hub site or associate it to an exsiting one - in one click (#noPowershell).

Approval on association - A flexible approval process further empowers hub site owners and site owners to make requests and programmatically adapt to changes within their growing, dynamic intranet.

 

Learn more about hub sites in the SharePoint hub sites planning guide.

 

Take your intranet on the go and engage with SharePoint mobile app updates

Take your intranet with you to stay connected and informed about important content, news, sites and people while on the go – for those in-between moments.

 

We’re pleased to share the latest round of mobile innovations – all driven by customer use and feedback…

 

Document library access – As you tap into a SharePoint document library, you will stay within the SharePoint mobile app experience (for viewing and navigating) before taken through to the integrated OneDrive app - where you can perform richer actions on files. This same SharePoint document library viewing and navigating is coming to the Outlook Mobile app, too.

 

Outer-loop_008_SP-mobile-doclib.jpgA rich SharePoint document library experience within the SharePoint mobile app.

Organizational news support – As you tap into the SharePoint mobile app News tab, you'll now see support for organizational news - which brings greater control, process and reach to how news can be published and consumed throughout your organization.

 

Outer-loop_009_SP-mobile-org-news.jpgEasily see important organizational news with visible badges.

Create news links - With News links, you can now bring in news articles from external sources. And now you can do this from your mobile device’s share option - through to the SharePoint mobile app. Once you share it, the news article goes into the SharePoint news service as a new News article. And when a person clicks on it, they will be taken to the original source to read the article. Note: this feature will initially only be on the SharePoint mobile app for Android.

 

@mentions within comments - When viewing a news article within the SharePoint mobile app, you can now directly @mention a person from within your organization and they will be notified - aka, drawn into the article and your response to further engage on what's happening around you. Bring people into the discussion - @mention them.

 

Outer-loop_010_SP-mobile-at-mentions.jpgEasily @mention someone in a news article comment - with full Azure Active Directory lookup.

Create and stay up to date while on the go with SharePoint mobile apps: https://aka.ms/GetSPmobile.

 

Try more and more of what SharePoint offers, and let us know what you think

In all, we encourage you to build out and organize your intranet. Establish the sites you need and ensure your users can create the sites they need. Once established, associate them to hub sites to organize related sites and projects. As you progress year over year, keep creating and sharing dynamic, data-rich news articles.

 

If you didn’t catch Jeff Teper’s general session, “Content Collaboration in the Modern Workplace” at Ignite [9/24/18], I encourage you to watch the session, right now ;).

 

We want to empower you and every person on your team to achieve more. Let us know what you need next. We are always open to feedback via UserVoice and continued dialog in the SharePoint community in the Microsoft Tech Community —and we always have an eye on tweets to @SharePoint. Let us know.

 

—Mark Kashman, senior product manager for the SharePoint team


Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Q: When is this all being released in Office 365?

A: The above blog marks the disclosure of numerous feature and capability announcements. Our goal is to release all the items to Targeted Release customers in Office 365 by the end of the first half of calendar year 2019. You can expect future blogs and admin message center posts to raise attention to specific change management dates per each item to designate initial availability roll out in Office 365, with refined information about timing and duration of roll out.

 

BONUS IMAGE – full “Contoso Landings” sample communication site (header-to-footer):

Outer-loop_011_bonus-comm-site.jpgFull “Contoso Landings” sample communication site - including an embedded SharePoint spaces space :).

23 Comments
Established Member

Great to see these updates coming soon.  Our organization has fully embraced the modern experience for our Intranet and these features will help further our impact to internal audiences by providing them a personalized experience.  Very exciting!   

Senior Member

This is looking really good. Well done Microsoft. The modern experience is really starting to shine and I am already advising my customers to switch over to Modern Team sites, Groups, etc.

 

There are however still a couple of glaring and major issues with the Modern SharePoint experience and as a consultant, advisor, I face questions from my customers on a daily basis around these shortcomings in the current version of modern SharePoint sites.

 

Some of the key missing or broken features:

 

- Search. SharePoint Enterprise search (Managed Properties, Search Refiners, Best Bests, Ranking, Custom Search Results pages etc. etc. )is still not available in Modern SharePoint. See here where myself and others have discussed this and have been asking questions with no feedback from Microsoft more than a year ago: https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/Microsoft-Search-Blog/Find-what-you-want-discover-what-you-ne...

 

- Settings Pages (View All Site Settings as well as List Settings) still goes to the classic SharePoint settings pages and half the options /features there doesn't work or have no impact as they were all aimed at the classic SharePoint versions

 

- A whole bunch of SharePoint Apps (or types of lists) are still not available in the modern experience (Tasks doesn't work in Modern, Calendar doesn't have a modern experience)

 

- Subsites - We still cannot and from what I understand, won't be able to create Modern sub sites. Can someone confirm the reasoning for this?

 

- Page layouts. - I understand that there is a new direction with Modern Pages, but having a standard type of page layout was a key part of publishing features. Surely it's not too hard to bring that back.

 

 - Have the ability to hide the left nav

- Bugs - There are still a couple of bugs with the interface and I can see most of the major ones have been sorted. I

 

Other than that, keep it up.

Frequent Contributor

Similar to @Wicus van den Berg , the search offering inside Hub sites is still not great.  Indeed If we want to create a "super hub" that allows the default search scope to incluce sites not assoicated with the hub site, then this is not possible. We are having, to expose the enterprise search page to allow adhoc queries -  This is going to confuse our users.

Occasional Contributor

Great end user experience with the New megamenu layout for site and hub navigation.

But sometime to nice is not enough for big companies to adopt the new modern experience.

They need/want to keep control and deliver the user only content he's autorized to see (audience targeting could not be not enough).

So, what about security trimming in navigation links?

 

Senior Member

I'm very excited about mega menus and footers, as this stuff is important, and I have been asked repeatedly about it by customers, who notice the absence of it right away.

It's interesting to see the direction search is taking, with the customisation options you previously had in classic being removed, but additional smarts being used to improve the relevant of the default results. This seems to have what has happened with search on the public web, where search engines seem to be able to scarily predict what you are looking for based on previous behaviour rather than providing lots of 'levers and switches' for users to twiddle with to get the results they want.

Occasional Contributor

Thank you for including the PnP Starter Kit ideas into the mainstream SPO without the need for a custom deployment! I hope that the Starter Kit will continue to innovate and explore new options to improve the UI/UX! This is very similar to the Ideas team at Lego (former Lego Cuusoo). :)

Occasional Contributor

Great to see this features New Megamenu, create site from hub sites and automatically associate with hub site, approval...

Contributor
This is great! What i would like to know is when these features will be available so I can start planning for them. Is there some sort of matrix of what is available now vs what will be available in the next quarter on a per tenant basis? Or is there something already there?
Visitor

Will existing tenants be able to use a new communication site as the root site for SharePoint?

Frequent Visitor

 Nice wrap-up of the new features thanks for this... 

Microsoft

Hi @Wicus van den Berg. Glad the progress you're seeing is giving you the confidence to move and/or advise your customer on both modern experiences and SharePoint in Office 365 all up.

 

A few quick comments on your comments:

1. RE:Search - we published a new blog on blogs.office.com that highlights what we're doing with Microsoft Search launched #MSIgnite: 

https://aka.ms/SharePoint-Ignite-Search ; we do have extensibility plans on the roadmap as well. (Cc: @Naomi Moneypenny)

2. Settings - we're working as hard as we can to up-level all important settings to the new, modern edit panes you see inline.

3. Understood, and for some apps where SharePoint was the focus, we now have new services like Planner, Office 365 Groups, etc).

4. We do suggest people move away from subsites, though support them going forward if they exist, and if created now going forward, they would have a modern look, too. More guidance in the SharePoint hub sites planning guide: https://aka.ms/PlanningSPhubsites, and the new "Build your modern intranet with SharePoint in Office 365 resource center page: https://aka.ms/SharePoint-build-modern-intranet. 

5. Page layouts: we're working on page designs (like templates) to address these common scenarios.

6. Nav support will start with mega-menu, and then move to additional scenarios to further control how and if it appears.

7. Bugs will always crop up, and we'll keep exterminating 'em. Let us know when you see one.

 

Cheers,

Mark

Microsoft

Hi @Barbara Falchi - understood. There are big plans ahead for nav all up - and it will be a grow up on what we started. We gathered a lot of feedback at Ignite this year to help further refine and prioritize plans - including both security trimming in nav and for it to be tied to managed metadata; those were the two most common pieces of feedback. Cheers, Mark.

Microsoft

Hi @Fernando Melo. Glad you like the direction. We're focused on bringing what we announced in this blog - most by end of calendar year 2018. Consider this the disclosure moment, and we'll send more targeted communications when certain features begin to roll out into Targeted Release - the first stop in the released to production. Thanks, Mark.

Microsoft

Hi @Eric Wright - existing tenants will also have options to enable the communication site experience at the root of their tenants. In 2018, we are rolling it out with a limited scope and will gradually cover more root site scenarios for existing tenants. We'll share more details in the coming months. Thanks, Mark.

Senior Member

@Mark Kashman. Thanks for the response. Appreciate you taking the time going through my individual questions and addressing them.

 

Couple of comments based on your comments

 

1. Search. I'd love to have a play with it to see if it covers the basics of what we discussed in the other blog. Unfortunately the guidance on getting it setup is not working. If I follow the instructions to get it started, I end up on a different page (text below) as your instructions and cannot activate it: 

 

 

search error.PNG

 

2. Great

3. Understood, and for some apps where SharePoint was the focus, we now have new services like Planner, Office 365 Groups, etc).

So if I understand you right here, you're saying there's a chance these lists (such as Tasks) which has been a key part of building SharePoint based solutions might not ever be upgraded to Modern? This has some very serious repercussions for potentially thousands of apps built on this technology. I agree, Planner is great, but its not a SharePoint task list. You cannot create custom columns, views, content types, etc. etc. Microsoft might add that one day, but we're living in the now. My customers does not want to wait 2 years. Can you honestly tell me that you can reproduce a Task based tracking application built with a PowerApps and flow on top of it can be reproduced in Planner? 

 4. Subsites. It's not a big issue for me, but , many customers prefer a old school Information Architecture with a top level site and subsites. I know it's possible currently, but only as classic Team subsites
5. Page Layouts - Great. Looking forward to it.
6. Nav - Great.
7. Bugs. Yeah, the support experience isn't great at the moment. Very few or no actual tickets actually reach the product team. Tickets all just reach your outsourced O365 support team and die there. One support person actually advised me log a bug it under User voice and get as many people possible to vote for it as I had a better chance of getting it resolved there.. (Not even kidding)
Occasional Contributor

@Mark Kashman @Wicus van den Berg 

I have enrolled Cloud2 in Microsoft Search and have been trying it out today. It's great as far as it goes, but it still completely misses the point Wicus and I keep making, which is that Modern Search needs to respect and leverage the enterprise information architecture (so Content Types and site wide metadata. Without that it's just a better Google, rather than a clever SharePoint/O365 solution, and not suitable for enterprise use. It don;t see this need on the roadmap (though I could have missed it - still a bit jet lagged)

 

Our current approach is to use Modern Search at the team site and occasionally the Hub site level, but to revert to a customised classic search for all global (home page) search until this issue is adequately addressed. Clients can't understand why it isn't there already.

 

Nice meeting you both briefly last week btw.

 

Frequent Visitor

Will we be available to convert a previously made communication site to this view?

Microsoft

Hi @Simon Hudson & @Wicus van den Berg. Thanks for your thoughts collectively, and for trying out the new tech now and going forward.

 

Looping in a few folks to review your feedback and take it in account as they plan and move forward with this and future Search updates at every level and end point: @Naomi Moneypenny@Melissa Torres@Margrete Sævareid

Microsoft

Hi @Janie Néron - not 100% clear what you are asking, but a few things:

- Yes, a communication site can be converted into a hub site; more here: 

Create a SharePoint hub site using PowerShell (Register-SPOHubSite): https://support.office.com/article/creates-a-hub-site-92bea781-15d8-4bda-805c-e441e2191ff3

 

- Once the new features and capabilities come to the production environment, you can then further configure your communication site to take advantage of them - using new updated web parts, megamenu, audience targeting, headers, layouts, etc.

 

Let me know if that helps,

Mark

Frequent Visitor

Thanks @Mark Kashman.  That's what I wanted to know.  When will those new features be available?

 

Janie

Contributor

Hi @Mark Kashman,

Such good stuff happening, it is an exciting time to be immersed in SharePoint!  It is clear that Metadata and the Highlighted Content web part are a work in progress that is moving fast--it seems there is a new enhancement every time I interact with them. 

 

I have document libraries throughout my SharePoint ecosystem of sites that all use the same site columns and Document types.  I would like to use the highlighted content web part to reveal docs from across all sites, based on a common metadata column. 

 

Today, I can specify the filter and everything work A-OK with the source of 1 document library.  But when the scope is expanded (to This Site, All Sites in Hub, Select Sites, or All Sites), the Managed Property options no longer show my metadata columns--It appears that only "Default" columns are available when the scope is expanded beyond that one library.

 

I see this as important functionality to collect distributed docs and reveal them in a Gallery setting.  Galleries of all Forms, Job Aids, Templates, Reports, Proposals--are good use examples.

 

I know that I can create a Flow to copy all these docs to a central location anytime they are created or modified.  But that gets a bit complicated when dealing with docs that get deleted (at least complicated for my citizen developer mind).  I'd also lose any permission control, as that would reveal everything to everyone.  Alternatively, I know I can push for people to put them all in one place, but that is an ongoing challenge for all of us.

 

Is this expanded scoping something you guys are working on, or will be working on?

I'm very patient, and don't want to create a bunch of wonky solution options if it is something that you guys'll get to.

 

Cheers!

Meta-Beth  ;-)

Occasional Contributor

Great timing Beth as we have been battling with exactly this issue this week, both for a client build and for a tender that requires the same capability (it's a MUST HAVE feature, so we will probably lose it if we don't have a workaround). Like you, we have considered a Flow, but it's only a partial solution.

I got terribly excited when looking at News this week, thinking it was possible, only to discover, as you did, that useful filtering disappeared when more than one source is selected.

 

So much good stuff, to be tripped up by things like this.

What's the latest on this @Mark Kashman? It's been an issue for quite a while now and is really hurting the Migration to Modern story with Enterprise customer, alongside the similarly limited search experience

Contributor

RE: my earlier post

 

Connecting the dots between this blog post, and another blog post of more announcements from Ignite...

 

Webpart-to-webpart connections – Let web parts talk to other web parts and your pages and experiences become more dynamic with data and interactive. You will be able to configure web parts to get their property values from other web parts, including updating those values based on what is selected.

 

Initially we will support dynamic data in a few of our 1st-party webparts, with the intent to grow these capabilities through the SharePoint Framework - more and more web parts (talking to other web parts).

Am I coming at this wrong, in expecting to resolve with just the Highlighted Content web part?

 

Would the fix actually be to combine the Page Properties web part configured to reveal the column we want to filter on, and have that work to limit the scope in the Highlighted Content web part--to have them working together?

 

@Mark Kashmanwould this be the solution ?

  • Scoping the Highlighted Content web part to be all sites
  • Setting the Page Property to = the Metadata I want to filter on
  • Revealing that meta in the Page Property web part
  • Making a webpart-to-webpart connection

If this is the ticket, how's such a broad filter likely to impact performance, anything to worry about there?