This year’s rollout of SharePoint introduces several improvements, probably more than you’d be able to read about in one sitting. Exciting stuff! The new SharePoint features that are being brought to the table by Microsoft are features that are much desired and were highly anticipated. The 2019 edition brings many much needed UX improvements, such as giving the suite navigation the patented Office 365 “waffle view”, the ability to use special characters in file and folder names, increasing the file path limit from 260 to 400 characters and many more!
UX Changes and A New Recycling Bin
This year’s edition of SharePoint focuses heavily on UX changes and “Modernizing”. In the 2019 version, Microsoft brings to the table what they call the “Modern experience”. The modern experience focuses on aesthetics and introduces a SharePoint start page, Lists and Libraries, site contents, and a somewhat shared recycle bin!
I know what you’re thinking, a “shared” recycle bin sounds like a bad idea, but it can come in handy! Let’s say your teammate accidentally deletes an important document before going on his vacation, normally you just wouldn’t have access to that document and you’d have to start it from scratch all over again. With the shared recycling bin anyone who edits permission on the deleted items to make them visible can have it restored by a teammate! The new office 365 “waffle” starting page may be one of the most welcomed UX changes on this edition of SharePoint as it gives it flair, style, and a familiar face, as most people have already experienced this behavior in Office 365.
Lists, Libraries, and More!
Another welcome feature of SharePoint’s new 2019 edition is the update to Lists and Libraries. SharePoint features a List and Library that is optimized and more aesthetically pleasing than its previous iterations. It went from being bland, black and white with only file names and a small little sprite of a folded piece of paper to showing previews, adding a filter section with a drag bar, displaying teammates names with their pictures, and more.
Site Customization and Branding
The team site has some nice UX improvements as well. The new modern SharePoint features for team sites give you not only templates, announcements, calendar, and links, but also: News, Quick links, a document library, and site activity! The new 2019 Modern features allow for easier ways to perform site customization and branding. According to Microsoft you can “quickly and easily customize the colors of your SharePoint site by changing the theme to reflect your professional style and brand”. Another new feature that is geared towards making lives simpler for every day people, is the ability to share SharePoint files with anyone who has a Microsoft365 account. This could be potentially big. You can now send a file to a client you’re working with, and have them review it, even if they are not on Sharepoint
Handling Special Characters
One of my personal favorites is the introduction of being able to use special characters like # and % in the file names. This has always been something that has bothered me about previous iterations because instead of using relevant symbols I would have to change the file name to something that I invariably forgot. Another welcome feature was increasing the file path limit to 400 from 260 and amazingly increasing the storage space from 10gb to 15!
SharePoint has refreshingly updated its UI, however, it remains expensive and out of the reach of smaller to medium sized organizations. Those who want an alternative with similar capabilities, but a drastically lower price tag might want to consider SMB focused alternatives like HyperOffice. HyperOffice is a cheaper alternative that only costs 7-15$ a month depending on your needs and I would strongly recommend checking it out. All in all, the new SharePoint is a much-needed improvement to the outdated UX of the 2016 version. If you can afford the license it’s worth the buy!