SharePoint Online get's a new document library experience

A new user exerience is rolling out to Office 365 customers across the globe. This might be welcome news for some and cause some issues for others, especially if yo have created a lot of custom training material or made UI changes to document library pages.

At the end of the article we give some thoughts on what this means for you and also speculate wildly on things that we found in the new JavaScript source.

Ability to "pin" documents

Grid view

A grid view of documents with a smart preview that focuses on images for word, diagrams for excel and I assume something for other file-types as well. (I did some digging in the JavaScript sources, and there might be a possibility to more easily register handlers for other filetypes as well).

Move & Copy files

A better way to move files between folders in a document library. At the time of writing the "navigation" was broken, but I'm hearing reports that you can move files between libraries inside a site collection now. I know a lot of users that will love that functionality.

The ability to create links inside document libraries. These are .url files with a registered filehandler that let's you actually open them inside the browser in the way you would expect as a user. Notice the recent documents section, this seems to actually not be only your own documents, but documents from your colleagues as well. I highly suspect that this is based on the office graph and it's a great addition to the experience!

Alert me

Being able to easily configure notifications of changes in document libraries was always great, but hidden deep inside the ribbon which made it to cumbersome for a lot of users. Putting it front and center should let us see better adoption of this feature.

History

Being able to more easily see the history of files is another great addition.
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Image library that isn't awful

And lastly, a really really cool thing for a lot of our customers that use a lot of images in their work - A document library UI for images that work as expected. Really smooth carousel experience.

No "quick edit" for mass assigning metadata? Drag and drop instead!

In the new document library view there is no ribbon, so naturally there is no access to the "quick edit" functionality that takes away most of the frustration behind handling metadata for multiple files.

A way I found around this is to use the "group by" functionality.

Here we have a document library with a few tagged documents.

Now if we group it by the choice field "Choices"

We will get a new (really nice) view

Now the trick that I just noticed is that we can actually select a bunch of documents and just drag them to a category

Which will do exactly what we suspect. This is in my opinion a much smoother and more easily understood workflow than using "quick edit".

Sadly it does not seem to work with managed metadata fields (yet).

Nested groupings

We can also click into a category, making it behave more like a folder.

And what do you know, you can even group inside a grouping.

Worth noting

It's worth noting that the missing (global) navigation might be an issue for a lot of people. The way you navigate back to where you came from is by pressing the name of the site in the left hand navigation, not intuitive. Hopefully this is something that will be resolved shortly based on user feedback.

If you have made customization of your SharePoint UI this means that you need to review and adapt these changes before this rolls out to the general public. Or disable it in the SharePoint admin center.

Tom Roeleveld pointed out in a comment that custom actions deployed to the actual document library still works. In my testing custom actions deployed to the web does not work inside this new react interface (which doesn't even load SP.js anymore!)

Speculation

I also found a lot of interesting things in the JavaScript sources when de-minifying them (warning: speculation below).

  • Support for Groove Music/in library audio handling?
  • A new experience for the "site contents page" which will improve the handling of your whole sites content with a roll-up of documents from the web?
  • A new "feature framework" built on typescript/custom actions and requirejs?
  • Being able to more easily assign security permissions to folders in a document library with tools to audit permissions?
  • Support for geo-tagging images and rendering them on Bing maps?

Things are really shaking up in the Office 365 world. I like it. Assume that we will know more on May 4th.

What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments.