I want to start this article by making it clear that I am a big fan of “Modern Experience” in SharePoint Online. I sincerely love the SharePoint we currently have to work with. It has never been easier to build modern portals and areas that are integrated with the other services in Microsoft 365. What you put together also works on mobile devices and everything is intuitive and clear. With Communication Sites and Hub sites you can build a good intranet in a few days (assuming you have done a good planning in advance). New features and further improvements are being rolled out continuously and what is not available today may already be tomorrow.
Working as an Office 365 consultant is now a delight as long as you are able to keep up to date with what is now and what is coming. With that knowledge you are equipped to give your clients the necessary tips and advice.
Brief introductory summary
The functionality and working method I describe below was simpler in the past but otherwise everything is much better nowadays” 🙂
Just a few years ago, before Modern Experience was launched, relatively large development projects were often required just to build an intranet and when you were done, it was still not possible to use on mobile devices. You often had to build special solutions to satisfy the customer’s requirements, and suddenly when one update was rolled out one day, you often needed to correct the unwanted effects that the update brought.
I do not want to use the old cliché “It was better in the past” (because it was not) but some functionality was, in my opinion, better in the past. Below I give some examples of this:
Central maintenance of solution elements
Having a “code-free” Central maintenance of the elements the solutions are built up with. By this I mean the opportunity to make an update at a central location and when the update is done it is rolled out (fairly quickly) to all related Site Collections so that all Site Collections receive the same update at the same time.
The components of a centrally maintained solution
Managed Content Types
To be able to centrally manage “Content types” (document types with predefined fields / properties, Office templates, Workflows).
Managed Site Columns
To be able to centrally administer the Site Columns that would be included in the centrally managed content types.
Term Store has been (and still is) a good solution for central management of organizational metadata across all “SharePoint Site Collections”. The Term Store handled the Managed Metadata that would be available in our “Managed Site Columns” (of the Managed Metadata type) which, in turn, would be available in our “Managed Content Types”.
As i said, Term Store is still alive and can still, with advantage, be used for central management of metadata. Now the “Modern term store and terms analytics dashboard” is also rolling out to the SharePoint Admin Center and this should make it easier to administer the organization’s taxonomy and Content Types. This is something we can look forward to and enjoy.
What I miss
The only thing I miss now in Modern Experience is the ability to easily build Site Templates with the elements and structure I described above.
“Save as Template” was a neat feature. Once you had built a SharePoint site that contained the Managed Content Types and Managed Site Columns, you could just go under the site’s settings and select “Save as Template”. When we had this template, it was easy to provision new SharePoint Sites based on this template and you knew it then had the Content Types and Site Columns needed. An example of this is when building sites that would be used for project management.
Now I’m sure “friend of order” is thinking “What is he talking about? Now we have Microsoft Teams that we use for project collaboration and project document management”. My answer is, of course, that we have, but don’t we sometimes need to be able to use Managed Content Types and Managed Site Columns with Managed Metadata in Microsoft Teams?
“It’s not about choosing between SharePoint or Microsoft Teams. I lack this functionality whether it is SharePoint only or Microsoft Teams only. The relationship and/or differences are known”
It is easy to build a provisioning solution to roll out “Microsoft Teams Project teams” with predefined channels and settings, and we can even “automatically” insert necessary project documents into the predefined channels “Files”. What I want to be able to do is, when establishing a new Microsoft Team, be able to say that “This is a project team” and then our provisioning solution will use the SharePoint Site Template that we created and which contains the Managed Content Types and Managed Site Columns that we have defined as the default for projects.
Sure, you can do a lot with Site Designs and Site Scripts, but it requires that you can code and that you have a framework and routines for how changes are to be handled. A solution should also not be too complicated to manage and even though I work as a consultant I do not want to deliver solutions that the organization itself can not manage after I have done the handover. After all, not all organizations that have internal resources know about coding.
If You want to make your voice heard
UserVoice is a brilliant forum to make your voice heard (and you will be listened to). If you too feel that these functionalities, as I have described above, would have given you the opportunity to build solutions that were easier to manage, then I recommend that you go to SharePoint UserVoice and place your voice on the functionality you feel is missing.