This year at the SharePoint Conference, Laura Rogers and myself had the opportunity to present two express sessions. Our sessions were relatively short sessions, designed to quickly highlight key features with SharePoint 2013. One of the sessions was designed to cover five simple improvements in SharePoint 2013 that will make everyday tasks easier to complete. In this article we will be reviewing the five features that made it into my top five list!
1. Sharing Content
The first feature to make the list was Share. Within 2013 there are now easy ways for users to see who has access to the content they are reviewing, as well as a way for them to easily share the content with users. The Share features depend on the User Access Request settings being configured and they follow a process so that if a user doesn't have the permissions required to grant access that the request is first filtered through the site admin. This allows for users to quickly and easily share content with other users, but doesn't allow permissions to be granted on a whim.
With this new scenario a user really only needs to understand that they want to share data, click the link and enter the user's name. The admin will then get the request and then grant access or deny the request. 90% of the time in previous versions of the product it seemed like permissions where being managed correctly, but when that last 10% hit it could often result in a large mess that needed to be corrected.
Because of the risk, it was often required that only a small subset of users could manage permissions. This could cause issues because it became a large bottleneck of requests. With this new approach you get the best of both worlds because users can Share content on their own directly from the document or site and then the admin can intersect the request and ensure that permissions have been configured correctly. This is a great example of empowering the users to complete common tasks without assuming a great deal of risk.
2. New Task List Features
Second on the list was the features included in the new tasks list, specifically the timeline features. Gone are the days of a non-customizable Gantt list view that was difficult to read and process. Instead, with this release the SharePoint team and the Project Team worked together to provide us a way to view tasks in a configurable manner. An example is shown below in the image:
Any task in the list can easily be added to the Timeline view and then each task can be configured to have its own display style. All of the customization is done in the Ribbon menu that is only selected when you click on the timeline.
In addition to the easy customization options there are improvements with the way that the date format is displayed. SharePoint 2013 includes a setting for each column of the type data that allows for a display in what is referred to as the friendly display. This allows for dates to be displayed in very friendly terms such as “Tomorrow” and “Yesterday” or “A Few Second Ago”.
Having this enabled provides a very natural user experience. And finally, the last win to be highlighted in the task list is the fact that by default, without any configuration, conditional formatting is applied to the contents in the list. This allows for dates to be displayed in Red when they are past due.
3. Following Content
Third on our list of favorites is the ability to quickly follow content. For sites and documents within a site there is an associated Follow link that when used with add a link to the user’s personal pages, allowing them to easily return to the content at a later point in time. This functionality comes with the latest set of Social features that are available in SharePoint 2013.
But it is important to note that the following features goes beyond just saving a link to content. With the new Social features also comes the ability to Micro Blog, including the ability to tag a user in a post. When a user sees that they have been tagged in a post they are able to select an option allowing them to “Follow Up” on an item. Once they select this link to follow up a Task will be created for them in their personal page, which also will synchronize to their Outlook tasks.
4. Interacting with Search Results
The fourth item to make our top 5 was the ease of interacting with and working with the search results. With the integration of Office Web Apps into the search experience, users can easily see real time data of the content that has been returned in their search results. When a user completes a search they have the ability to see a full preview version of the document that they can interact with, without having to leave the search results.
5. Team Mailbox
The final feature in our top 5 is the ability to set up a group mailbox within a team site. Users are able to easily create a shared component in the site that allows for emails to be easily sent to a common shared address. Using these features allows for a team to have access to a shared email account that can easily be managed within SharePoint but still allow for users outside of SharePoint to interact with the team through standard emails.
Just a Few of the Many
This article summarizes just a few of the newest tips and tricks available within SharePoint 2013. The emphasis of this release is definitely about bringing refinement back to the basics. A new take on an old classic! One of the best selling points for moving to 2013 is looking at how all of the small wins and changes can have a big impact in your environment.
About the Author
Jennifer Mason is a SharePoint Server MVP that has spent the last several years providing consulting services around SharePoint Technologies. She is currently working with the team at Rackspace Hosting. Her focus has been on strategy, planning, governance and best practices for implementing business solutions using SharePoint Technologies. She is the author of “Microsoft SharePoint 2010: Creating and Implementing Real World Projects”, a resource for no-code solutions for SharePoint.