Microsoft has announced it is preparing a number of updates to streamline and improve the quality of hub sites created in its SharePoint workplace productivity software. The changes are mostly aimed at automating common tasks, but a few cosmetic and new user interface (UI) features should find their way into the release as well.
The first key point in the update will be the capability to create up to 100 hub sites in SharePoint, doubling the previous maximum of 50. Microsoft still highlights the importance for proper structural planning of hub sites within an organisation, but the new limit should allow for even more flexibility in creating collaborative virtual spaces. Considering recent updates to SharePoint and Office 365 have been targeted at improving the experience for remote workers, this is a timely new change.
Newly created sites will also benefit from a special scripting tool that automates provisioning and consistency. That means sites associated to a hub site will inherit its theme as well as permissions for content management and compliance policies.
To add a personal touch to SharePoint sites, users will now be able access a ‘change the look’ menu from preferences, which provides an option for header emphasis. A choice of lighter or darker colours allows for a quick visual reference as to the tone of each site.
A new option for distributing information from both internal and external sources aims to keep communication within sites flowing, without hitting obstructions such as a blocked page or incomplete resource. Users will be able to select the new ‘News link’ menu option and paste in a URL from anywhere on the web, which is then shown as a visual preview with a description of the site. The preview can also be edited to an author’s liking. Clicking on it will load the original source for viewing.
Several new web part layout options give extra choices for presenting content in an engaging way. These include four new selections under the Quick Links menu for lists, tiles, buttons and grid layouts. Each of these can additionally have their link icons visually tweaked and a written description can be added.
Finally, real time collaboration features will now show who else is currently working on a site page, and give other users their contact details. To prevent errors when people may become distracted while working on a page, a timeout kicks in if it is left unaltered in edit mode for more than five minutes.
Microsoft says these updates will begin to roll out through its Targeted Release program from early September, with the deployment expected to reach all SharePoint users by the end of November. As always, the company hopes the update will be met with user input on their experiences which can be left via its UserVoice survey and SharePoint community forums.
For more details on how Microsoft SharePoint can improve the productivity and performance of your organisation, get in touch with our friendly customer service team at WM Reply .