The experience of SharePoint libraries is changing
Micrsoft is pushing update MC44849 which changes the user experience of libraries in SharePoint Online. They've communicated via the Message center and an article on Microsoft Office 365 Support. We've been expecting this update. For a while now we've grown fond of the new experience of the OneDrive for Business look & feel. It was to expect that this was the testing ground for the updating all SharePoint libraries to this new experience. That time is now.
Has my tenant been updated?
There are 2 ways to check whether your tenant has been updated. 1. The new experience setting has been added to the SharePoint Admin Center. Go to your SharePoint Admin Center and choose Settings. If your tenant has been updated, you should now have an extra setting: SharePoint Lists and Libraries experience.
2. When you load a library in SharePoint Online and there's a big notification banner waiting for the user. It tells "Document Libraries are getting a new look!". When this is shown, the update has been deployed.
View all the changes and new functionality in this short walk through video (3:30min) about the new experience for SharePoint libraries.
Most important changes
These are the most important changes that were deployed which have a big impact on the interaction and functionality of the SharePoint library;
If an library is displayed, the library is loaded in a screen similar to the default OneDrive for Business style (blue/white). It feels like you've left the (sub)site and are looking at the library in a different app/site. This can be confusing at first for users if they weren't informed of this change. A way to explain this, is by disconnecting the documents "source"(the library) of the site with the list view web part. The list view web part is a window to the source and the user opens the source which is presented in a different way.
The functionality of the upload doesn't change, via drag-and-drop or through the menu option, but the ability to upload complete folders and files is new. Microsoft has learned that a lot of users were still using the classic view of OneDrive for Businees, so they could use the "Open in Explorer" function and upload complete folders. So it makes sense they have included this functionality.
As said, the library is displayed in it's own environment, almost looking like a separate Office 365 App/Add-in. The top bar/global navigation have been removed, together with the breadcrumb and any custom styling/master page. But the quick launch/current navigation still remain on the left. That is the user's way out/back.
- Link as contenttype
With the update comes the possibility for a user to add a link as an item (*.url file). It's now a default item in the "new item" menu. This means an user can add a link to a file/site/etc and place it in the library. This helps in the battle to eliminate duplicate files which can run out of sync.
- Information pane
The live preview of a file and the display of a few properties have been moved from the item's context menu to the information pane, which slides out on the right when the "I" (info) icon is clicked. This pane shows the library's properties by default. When a file is selected, it shows the live preview of the file, the properties of the file (which can be edited inline), sharing options, version history and the file properties. Very usefull.
The user can now pin files and put them in the spotlight. It's like a featured image or document. If a file is pinned, a banner is added on top where the pinned files are shown as big live preview tiles. Add files there which are favorites, featured and/or important.
Have we a lost all navigation? Not quite. The quick launch / current navigation is still present on the left side. That's the ticket back to the site. Further more there is still the Office 365 app launcher.
Can the new experience be disabled? Yes. Via the SharePoint Admin Center you can disable this. go to the SharePoint Admin Center en choose Settings (direct link: https://[DOMAIN]-admin.sharepoint.com/_layouts/15/online/TenantSettings.aspx). Look for the sub header "SharePoint Lists and Libraries experience" and choose the "classic experience". This sets all document libraries to classic experience for the whole tenant.
Can I prevent the update from deploying on my tenant? No. You could delay updates by switching to a different service model. This will delay the deploy of updates with several months. But this also means that all other updates will be delayed as well. And you might not want to do so. Read more about service models on Technet: Change management for Office 365 clients.
Why is the new experience option enabled by default? Microsoft is innovating and wants you to join and make use of new features. This will at least stimulate users to take a look at first, while still giving the option (for now) to revert back to the classic experience. This stimulates usage and makes us think about a strategy on how to implement and communicate the new features.