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Creating new column types in modern SharePoint lists and libraries

As we continue to improve custom experiences in modern SharePoint, we are pleased to announce improvement to the column creation experience in modern SharePoint lists and libraries.

In addition, to creating columns in the setting page for a list or a library, users will be able to create and customize the following additional column types by clicking the ‘plus {+)’ sign after the rightmost column on modern list or library views.

 

 

 

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 Adding a new columnAdding a new column

 

Read more about column creation in the help article, Create a column in a SharePoint list or library.   Administrators can choose to remain in classic mode in advance of the rollout by implementing the steps in this support article, Switch the default experience for lists or document libraries from new or classic

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We expect to start the rollout of this feature around July 25, 2017.   Please continue to watch the TechCommunity for the latest rollout news.  Thanks.

 

 

18 Comments

Is this really the right place to create columns?

 

Should columns not be created at the site collection level rather than the list level. This is where users in the past have done a lot of damage to their SharePoint solutions.

 

Isn't there a reason that the PnP provisioning team didn't really want to support list columns? Simply because it is better practise to create the columns at the high level of the site collection so that you only need to create one column rather than the same column multiple times across the lists.

 

Additonally, isn't it recommended to create content types and then add the custom columns to the content types?

Frequent Contributor

Hi @Pieter Veenstra - I thought the same thing.   I generally encourage the use and creation of site columns vs. list columns.  I agree with the reason you suggested:

  • Ability to add same column to multiple lists\libs.
  • Site columns are the type of columns used in Content Types.

I would add search to that.  It is my understanding that Site Columns (with values) are 'promoted' to managed properties.

That said - I would welcome a deeper discussion.  One of the challenges is that many quick reference cards, 'how-to' documents, video tutorials, provide examples of users creating list columns. 

 

 

 

 

 

Agree with both of you...it's like the best practices around metadata are not important anymore...and I don't like this

Frequent Contributor

To me, what you guys have described in your comments is the old way SharePoint on-premise worked. Problem is in this new world of Web Apps, cloud, ditigal transformation, and Saas solutions, anyone of your team can get an app off the self, configure it to meet their purposes and be running very quickly.

 

I think what Microsoft is doing here is great, it makes solutions flexible and dynamic, it enables digital transformation at every level of an organisation. By using the old method users had to come to an expert/admin to set up Content types, create a new site column. All the control sat with these people, this is not good for organisations in this new world. Everyone needs to be enabled to get on and do the job, work as they want to be able to work.

 

I've been an SharePoint Admin, developer and I am as technical as most, but what I see is that the only people that seem to struggle with this, are the techies, admins and people that want to control how solutions are built. This unfortunately won't cut it ... we must empower, we must enable, we must trust that people will use the technology in a way that will benefit thier organisations. 

what happens when the every day user contacts the technical person complaining about

- performance?

- Things not working as expected... 

- search not really working

- more complicated scenarios need to be addressed

 

quite often we have to tell those users. Oops it is too late now.

 

putting thought in you data infrastructure quite often makes sense.

 

of course we do want user to be able to do things that they want... but should we not guide them in the right technical direction.

 

 

maybe include in the add field dialog an option to select an existing field?

 

 

Occasional Contributor

Yes, with empowering those that know nothing about data structures normalization Etc comes difficulty in governance.

 

In the new world we have to view those as prototypes for rework (a step in agile development)

Regular Visitor

I think at a minimum, the option to control access to this function per location is necessary. We also use views, and not all views show all columns. What we've seen happening is that users want a certain field that already exists, but they think, "hmm, I want that 'date' column to show up," so they add a new Date column rather than switch the view or add the existing column (as Pieter suggests--great idea!).

 

I totally agree with Stephen--we need to empower users. But that doesn't mean all users are experts at IG in all situations. Sometimes data structures are created by teams through great discovery exercises, and all will benefit if the plan is followed by the whole team. One eager, well-meaning, but unfamiliar user can quickly ruin that. Control can empower users, too.

 

This new functionality is great is some scenarios. But we need at least the option to control when control is necessary. 

Occasional Visitor

While this kind of functionality is great for the end user  I have to agree with many of the comments above.

365 and SP is an enterprise platform but many of the the functions being rolled lack enterprise thought.

We made massive in-roads in the past 10 years in removing islands of data with SP...it seems we are creating islands of app data (teams, groups, planner, sway etc)

Enterprise content management is based upon a solid information architecture.....from an sharePoint perspective this starts with properly managemed columns and not throw-together taxonomy.

As I said, great for the end user BUT retro fitting proper info architecture down the line will be a nightmare

Contributor
If you want great info architecture in your org, train people on it, teach them why it is important and help them with it. However most people won't want it to be locked down and complex so I think this is great. If it's hard then people won't do it and will use something simpler instead, e.g. excel, and you lose any chance of control.

I would compare building intranets with building a house. Do we really want to empower users doing anything?

 

yes it is great if I can build my own house. But I need some training in electricity, water and basic construction for a good result.

 

of course I can build a shed, but if I want to build a house I would get an expert in.

 

The same happens with building sites in SharePoint. Anybody can create a list and this is great! But when looking at the bigger picture it doesn't really work getting a user to build a whole an intranet unless you keep the requirments limited. Yes, the basic bits will be there but adding an extention to what I have got, might not be that easy if the foundations are not right 

Frequent Visitor

I'm more interested in how you did those icons seeing as that functionality to do it via calculated fields has now been removed?

Contributor

I like this functionality for quick demonstrations and prototyping, but what's missing to make this truly useful from a global/enterprise Information Architecture perspective is:

  1. Suggest existing Site Columns of the selected data type
  2. When a new column actually is created, automatically remove spaces and other characters from the Internal name of the new column
    1. Same for the URL of new Lists and Libraries
  3. Ability to 'promote' List Columns to Site Columns
  4. Ability to 'promote' List Item schema to a Content Type

@Jim Duncan, a while back I created some PnP PowerShell script  to upgrade list columns to site columns. If there is any interest then I could look into making this do the job for all lists in all sites.

I would have to do some more testing with it but then I could share it within the PnP PowerShell project on GitHub 

 

 

Regular Visitor

I see no reason not to empower users. I have always worked with two streams in office 365. A corporate stream that is controlled and is built using site columns, content types and the like and the user stream that allows them to build and configure their office 365 group sites as they see fit. It's great Microsoft is giving users more power with these new columns, flows etc.

 

If you use Powershell to control your tenancy then it takes no time at all to fix any user column issues.

Regular Visitor

I've got to concur with most on this thread, it appears that SharePoint Online is being updated to solely support dynamic collaboration for small project teams with little (Read no) consideration for any form of corporate information architecture, metadata standards, classification, security, indeed any good practice Enteprise Information Management practices. It's like the bad old days where IT installed SharePoint and then anyone in the organisation could create their own sites, add everyone to the Owners group, create more sites, create more Owners, more sites, more libraries, more lists, more columns, etc. etc. We need to learn from history otherwise we are doomed to repeat it.

 

I'm trying to implement governance across our Office 365 environment, we are a small government agency circa 180 users, we need to provide a solution to allow teams to work together and break down our siloes, but we need to do it in a good practice way, so that we can meet our legal and regulatory requirements, ensure minimum security classification is applied, use standard enterprise taxonomies, content types, columns, so we can use standard business Workflows, provide oversight and so forth. Everything I've seen from SharePoint Online seems to be focussed on ad-hoc project teams, not corporate content management for medium to large organisations, this needs to change. At the moment it's like trying to herd cats.

 

Who in Microsoft can I communicate this glaring gap in the strategy too?

Microsoft

Hi all, 

 

Thank you for your feedback.  We hear you.

 

You're right that our focus over the past year has been to make it easy for small teams to get started with SharePoint and build simple information architectures and content management schemes for their teams to work smarter.  Aside from labels, we have not done a lot in the past year to enable better information governance management across a division or organization.  

 

We agree that it's really valuable to be able to manage content structure and governance across multiple sites.  Hub sites, a new Intranet building block that we announced at Ignite this year, will make it possible to manage navigation links, theme, and logo across all sites in the hub.  We're evaluating more site elements that should be configurable across sites in a hub: content types, metadata, views, templates, etc.  

 

Does this make sense, and do you agree that this is a sensible direction?  Keep in mind that the plan for hub sites is still being developed - nothing is set in stone.  But managing settings and structure across teams is definitely top of mind for us right now.

Regular Visitor

These new hub sites look great. When are they likely to start appearing on tenancies? Can we get access to them for beta testing at all?

Microsoft

First half of calendar year 2018 is our target.