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Two big changes coming to SharePoint in 2018

Author by Drew Madelung

2017 has come to an end and just like a season finale to a good TV series on Netflix, Microsoft has left us ready for more. There was a whirlwind of changes and enhancements to SharePoint, OneDrive, and the overall collaboration space in Office 365 in the past 12 months. We saw huge updates like OneDrive Files-On Demand and smaller changes like the removed capability of HTML embedded in SharePoint Online calculated columns. The next big round of updates from Microsoft around SharePoint & OneDrive will be coming at the new SharePoint Conference - North America, which will be happening in Vegas this May. I hope to see some folks there!
The number of new things in 2017 was staggering but Microsoft left off with some exciting things coming early in 2018. In this post, I picked 3 of the biggest changes coming to SharePoint Online in Q1/Q2 of 2018.
SharePoint Hub Sites
SharePoint Hub Sites are an upcoming solution to SharePoint Online to help bring your related sites together. Throughout my time working with SharePoint there has always been a need to bring similar sites together. This was done using things like subsites, web parts, search, managed navigation, or custom development. What Hub Sites will do is automatically bring together team and communication sites and still allow these changes to be dynamic and user driven.
You will start from a modern Team site or Communication site collection that you declare as a Hub site. This creation process is IT controlled and you won't be able to nest Hub sites. Once you create a Hub site you can 'associate' or 'join' a site collection to the Hub. Once you join a site to a Hub, it will begin to bring together things as if the Hub was a parent.
When you establish a Hub site it will bring these things together:
  • Refined search scope
    • By default, when searching on any site in the Hub it will be include all sites within the Hub, not just the site you are on and not all sites.
  • Roll up of News and Activity
    • The modern News and Activity web parts will show you information across all of the associated sites when viewing these web parts on your hub site's home page.
  • Look & Feel
    • Whatever SharePoint 'Theme' and logo that is applied to the Hub site will replicate to all associated sites.
  • Cross-site collection navigation
    • A new navigation bar will be added to the top of all associated sites within a Hub. This will be the same navigation across all your sites that are a part of the Hub, so you will have more consistency.
You need to be ready for Hub sites as they will shift your existing and ongoing architecture decisions within SharePoint. They are currently not intended to be an overall Intranet solution but built more for a smaller collection of sites. I can foresee Hub sites being utilized in an Intranet scenario because of the unified cross-site collection navigation capabilities that has been drastically lacking in SharePoint for forever. I can't wait to start planning and building solutions with SharePoint Hub Sites in 2018.
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Connect existing sites to new Office 365 Groups - 'Groupify'
Office 365 Groups are the backbone of the membership service for modern SharePoint team sites. They provide who should have access and what role someone should have for your team site while also providing that same control for other workloads across Office 365.

Every Office 365 Group that is created automatically gets a SharePoint site to handle content. It was released in 2017 that if you created a site from the new SharePoint landing page that it would create an Office 365 Group connected team site, also known as a 'Modern' team site. This was great for new sites but didn't help all of us who have been working within SharePoint Online and wanted to take advantage of the power of a Modern team site.
In 2018 we will be getting the ability connect an existing classic SharePoint site to a new Office 365 Group. By "Groupifying" your classic site you will get things like a new shared mailbox, access to Planner, and the option to create a Microsoft Team. I am fairly sure the word "Groupify" was not the term the Microsoft marketing team wanted to use but this is how it has been discussed and will therefore always be known as "Groupifying".
The site will retain its URL, settings, and permissions. Classic pages will not be converted but modern pages can be manually built after it joined. Here are the steps that will happen when Groupifying:
  • A new Office 365 Group will be created, and your existing team site will be connected to it
  • The existing site content, hierarchy and permissions remain the same
  • Microsoft will help the selection of group members based on the existing site membership. No site permissions will be altered, the new Azure AD group will be added to the site
  • Group management is managed separately from site membership, but group members always have access to the team site. You can continue to add users to the site's owners, members, and visitors group to give them access to the site without granting access to other Group resources
We know this is coming soon as the latest version of the SharePoint Online Management Shell includes the new cmdlet for Groupifying -> Set-SPOSiteOffice365Group.
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Drew Madelung

Technical Architect