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    Articles

    Bright, Shiny And New – But Is Modern SharePoint Fit For Purpose?

    SharePoint now functions in the modern mode, which is rather different from its classic version that we all know. The new release comes with some noticeable changes to layout and functionality. In this article, I am going to explore whether the new version is sufficiently polished for real-world use. 

    Key points:
    • What are the main features of modern SharePoint?
    • What does that mean for usability?
    • Is the new experience better than the classic version?

    Microsoft has been modernizing SharePoint for a few years now. It started with the introduction of the SharePoint Framework as a new way of creating web parts, then new pages and new types of sites. 

    The most recent SharePoint is now available for websites, pages, web parts, even Central Administration is built using the new modern experience. 

    But is it ready to be used in a real work environment? Let’s take a look! 

    What is modern SharePoint? 

    When you create a simple site in SharePoint Online, it uses the modern style by default.  You can compare it with the old one by switching views at anytime. All you need to do is click the “Return to classic SharePoint” link located in the bottom left corner.  

    SharePoint classic view

    Classic experience view

    Here it is – the good old classic style. If you are familiar with it, you’re home.

    Click “Exit classic experience” to get back into modern mode. 

    SharePoint modern view

    Modern experience view

    Modern sites offer you more space to view data, larger font, no Ribbon(!) and although they have fewer options, they look much cleaner. They are also mobile-ready, so you don’t need to worry about mobile experience anymore. 

    Top features in modern SharePoint 

    Let’s go over the main qualities of modern SharePoint in more detail and analyze what they mean for the user. 

    Mobilereadiness

    Modern sites are ready for mobile devices. By default.

    SharePoint mobile view

    Mobile mode view

    This is very important because we now spend more time browsing on mobile devices. Now you don’t need to put in additional development effort to adjust sites or pages to my work style. That’s a considerable improvement.

    Speed

    Modern SharePoint looks nice, but it is also fast. The SharePoint Framework renders all the elements at the user end, so they require less data to transfer. The local cache also speeds things up. 

    Groups 

    Modern sites are supported by Office 365 Groups. It is an excellent feature for teamwork and allows for many new possibilities – e.g., a shared mailbox, Exchange Calendar, and many others. 

    Modern web parts 

    You can now find modern web parts on SharePoint Online. They have new functions, capabilities (e.g., list web part) and features. We also have some new web parts ready for new types of work (e.g., for GitHub). 

    Webparts window

    Flexibility 

    Building new pages is now much more comfortable and more flexible. You can create a rich page with all the information you need in under a minute. You can change the layout, move webparts between zones or modify settings in seconds! 

    SharePoint page builder view

    Page builder view

    Agile updates 

    Microsoft deploys new features every few months! That is a perfect approach because we don’t need to wait 2-3 years for new types of sites or web parts.

    Latest update (February 2019) enabled Mega menu, Footer, compact header and more!

    List improvements 

    There have been many improvements to lists and libraries, including easier filtering (filter pane), conditional formatting (my favorite one!), PowerApps form editor,   

    Besides, the forms and workflow applied to lists and libraries are being modernized. PowerApps is almost as powerful as InfoPath forms designer, and Flow is replacing SharePoint’s builtin workflows.  

    SharePoint workflow view

    Conditional formatting

    Extension 

    When you need something that is not yet available, you can quickly develop it using the SharePoint Framework. It’s quite an easy method of creating new types of web parts or heavily modifying SharePoint visualizations. Plus, the SharePoint Framework doesn’t require creating any add-ins or heavy coding.

    Are there any issues with modern SharePoint? 

    Now you know all of my chosen pros of this platform. But are there any cons? Yes, there are a few.

    Rendering big lists 

    In many cases using the “List web parts” option can cause pages to load slowly. It’s very annoying and not great for user experience. 

    Missing functionality 

    This is one of the biggest cons for me. Some basic features are still missing, e.g., a full Calendar view, connected web parts, HTML web part… 

    These issues affect modern SharePoint quite visibly, and it’s hard not to notice their effect on usability. 

    Summary 

    Modern SharePoint offers a new type of visualization with some performance and functionality improvements. It’s easy to create basic pages, customize lists views, create clean sites and even Intranets. However, sometimes you will face a missing feature or dramatically slow pages. 

    Microsoft is trying to add the missing parts and introduce new features, so we should expect more and more improvements. So, is the service usable? I believe, on the whole, it is. And it will only get better with time. 

    What are your experiences with SharePoint? Do you have any questions? Get in touch and let’s talk!

    Key takeaways:
    1. Modern SharePoint is mobile–ready (no need for customization).
    2. Lists and libraries have many new features and enhancements.
    3. Some features are still missing (e.g. connected web parts).
    4. In specific scenarios, modern web parts slow pages down dramatically.
    5. Overall, modern SharePoint is better than classic in most areas.
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