One of the most important features of SharePoint is the document library. SharePoint is a document management system since 2001, so the document library is one of the key features. Initially the only instance of the document library was within team sites. In later versions and in Office 365 there are other locations to store documents, like OneDrive for Business.
The user interface of the document library hasn’t changed much since SharePoint 2007. Yes, in SharePoint 2013 drag-and-drop was introduced, the UI has been polished, but in basis the UI was the same. And the confusing part is (was?) that the document libraries in SharePoint looked different than e.g. Onedrive for Business. That has now changed! Last week Microsoft silently released the new user interface for the SharePoint document library view. Office 365 tenants that were configured as First Release received a brief message in the Office 365 Admin Center, and updated print screens were published on the Office site. The feedback on forums and Yammer was positive and negative. People were very happy with the improved user interface, but weren’t happy with the lack of information why, a list of changes, and some annoying bugs were present. The good thing is that over the weekend Microsoft has pushed fixes for most of the bugs and replied quickly to all feedback posted on Yammer.
We have made sweeping improvements to the SharePoint document library experience. What follows is a summary of the changes we have made.
1. UX alignment with OneDrive. Core experiences are aligned between OneDrive, OneDrive for Business, and SharePoint document libraries. No more having to learn different ways of doing the same things depending on what type of library you’re looking at. Aligning user experiences and code sharing with OneDrive has allowed us to address some long-standing usability issues – for example, you can finally upload folders in the browser!
2. Responsive design. In the past, there has been a big divide between when you can do in document libraries on a desktop browser, and what you can do in a mobile browser. This is true no more – all document library features and scenarios work as well on mobile as they do on desktop.
3. Group file enhancements. Previously, Groups got a simpler, stripped down version of document libraries as their place to store files. Now, groups get full-featured document libraries – including content types, metadata, custom views, and more.
4. Modernized metadata entry. You don’t have to open a full screen form anymore to get full-fidelity property editing on items. Metadata population is quicker and more seamless using the details pane. Required properties have historically been a major hassle – after uploading, you get a big form in your face, and if you dismiss the form, items are left checked out to you, which means that nobody else in the library can see them. We no longer check out items that have missing required properties on your behalf, and we give you a gentler notification that there are missing fields instead of taking over the entire screen.
5. Group By. Historically you had to know how to use the Manage View page to configure a view to group by metadata value. Now you can do this from the main document library page by using the column dropdown.
6. Column resizing. You can click and drag to change the size of your columns in the list view.
7. Save View. Custom views are powerful, but historically you had to use the Manage View page to create or customize a view. Now – we let you use the list view controls and simply click “Save View” to make that view available to everybody else in the library.
8. File pinning. Sometimes you want to use custom metadata, sorts, filters, and custom views to show a certain slice of items in a library. Other times, you just want a button to make certain files always show up at the top of a view, so it’s guaranteed that other people will be able to find them easier. To do this, you can access the context menu and click “Pin” to pin it at the top of your current view.
9. Activity and notifications. It’s easy to keep up to date on changes in your document library using the Recent Activity feature in the details pane
10. Links. Use links in document libraries to keep track of relevant resources that live other places. Links to internal files work great, links to external web pages do, too!
Please note that this new UI is only available in Office 365. At some stage this may become available in SharePoint On-Premises.