Wednesday, March 28, 2018

SharePoint Modern Team and Communication Sites

Modern sites

What are modern sites?

·         SharePoint online introduces two modern site templates,  Team site &  Communication site.
·         Both site templates are responsive or mobile friendly. Modern sites are easy to create compared to classic sites.  Many modern web parts are introduced in modern sites to give rich look to the web sites.

Where to create modern site

·         Unlike classic sites, communication sites are created under SharePoint home page,  https://<domain>.sharepoint.com/_layouts/15/sharepoint.aspx by clicking on “Create site” option.

Who can create modern site?

·         SharePoint administrator gets to decide whether the “Create site” option should be visible to users or not and below is a snapshot of the option, it is under SharePoint tenant admin center à settingsà Site creation

After administrator configures the tenant for users to create modern sites, the “Create site” command will be visible under SharePoint site (https://<domain>.sharepoint.com/_layouts/15/sharepoint.aspx).

How to create modern pages

·         Pages can be created in communication site in 3 ways.
o   New option from home page bar


o   “Add a page” from gear icon


o   Add page in site pages

·         All above options will create modern site page in both team and communication site. Content type for page in modern site is “Site Page”.
·         When user click on new page option blank page will appear where user need to enter the page name. With the same name page will get stored in site pages library.


·         There is an option to add image to the page header to look more elegant by clicking on icon. Users can add background image to the page header from internet, from SharePoint, from file system.


·         User can remove the background image by clicking on icon.
·         User can reset the background to previous state by clicking on icon.

Web parts in modern pages

·         Users can add modern web parts to a page. Following are the available web parts to add.


Communication site

What is communication site

·         Communication site is a new template to create responsive mobile friendly web sites in SharePoint online.
·         Communication site is a separate site collection.
·         Communication site is useful to display large data such as news, events, static charts, images etc.
·         Script option is disabled in communication site. Communication sites are no script sites.

What are the options available for communication site creation

·         User will click on “Create site” option to create a new modern site on SharePoint home page. There will be two options available for the users to start with modern sites.
o   Team site (will discuss this in later section)
o   Communication site

·         Once user selects the communication site option there will be three options available to create site
o   Topic
§  Use this design if you have a lot of information to share such as news, events, and other content.
§  This design will contain home page with several web parts. These web parts are customizable. Some of the default web parts are
·         Hero
·         News
·         Events
·         Documents
·         Quick links
·         People
·         Comments
o   Showcase
§  Use this design to showcase a product, team, or event using photos or images.
§  This design will contain home page with several web parts. These web parts are customizable. Some of the default web parts are
·         Hero
·         Image gallery

o   Blank
§  Start with a blank site and make your design come to life quickly and easily.
§  Add the web parts whatever gives beautiful look to the site.

·         Each design option will give user a different look and feel.
·         In all above three designs same set of web part are available.

More about communication site

·         For any chosen design (Topic, Showcase, blank) template of communication site collection is “SITEPAGEPUBLISHING#0”.
·         There won’t be any office 365 group behind the scenes (What is relation between office 365 group and SharePoint site!! Let’s talk about this more in modern team sites).

Web parts in communication site

·         Hero web part: hero web part is a tile web part which will occupy full width. This is perfectly adapted for mobile devices. Once user edit hero web part then they can change the background image, color, title values for each tile.




o   All images and links in hero web part are static. There is no option to pull the images from any list or library.
·         News web part
o   News web part contains page references as link with thumbnail image.

o   Users will create pages in communication site and they will promote those pages as new. If users won’t promote pages as news then these pages will not appear under news web part.
o   To promote normal site page to news do the following steps
§  Create a new page with “site page” as page layout.
§  Add content to it and save the page and publish the page.
§  Once user publish the page, few more options will be visible to the user as below. Click on “Post as News on this site” option to promote page as news.

o   For news web part following customization options available once user edit the news web part

§  News source – user can select the source of the news. Either source is from current site (This site) or Select desired sites (Select sites)
§  Layout – user can select different layout options to make website look better.
·         Top story
·         List
·         Side-by-side
·         Hub news
·         Events web part
o   Events web part will show the upcoming events from the calendar list in current site.
o   Events web part will have rich user interface to display the events.

o   For events web part following customization options are available

Events list – select the calendar list
Category – Select category value to filter down the results. For eg. Anniversary, meeting, business hours etc.
Date range – following options are available for this option

o   To add a new event, click on “Add event” option.

o   New event interface looks as below


·         Highlighted content web part
o   Highlighted content web part will display the documents from various sources as “This site”, “A document library on this site”, “This site collection”, “Select sites”, “All sites”.
o   User can apply filter options to narrow down the results.
o   Highlighted content web part will have following customization properties.

o   Content:
§  This section will have following options to show the results.
·         Source – from which site the documents should come
·         Document library – from which document library documents should come. This option only visible when user select the source as “A document library on this site”.
·         Document type – to display only selected Microsoft document types as excel, word, pdf, ppt etc.
·         Type – to display document types as News, pages, Tasks, videos, images, issues, links, all etc. This option only visible when user select the type other than “A document library on this site”.


o   Filter and sort:
§  This option will have following options to narrow down the results
·         Filter – select filter condition to trim the results. Users can add multiple filters. Following options are available for filter.
o   Title include the words
o   Recently changed
o   Recently added
o   Created by
o   Modified by
o   Column name
·         Sort by – select sort option to sort the results. Following options are available for sorting.
o   Most recent
o   Author
o   Name
o   Title

o   Layout:
§  This section will have options for how to render the results.
§  User can select the layout template to render the results.
§  User can set how many results should display at a time


·         Quick Chart web part – this will allow you to add Pie or Bar chart to the page. Data for this chart is static data. No way to get from list. Maximum 12 data points you can add to this chart.




Navigation in communication site

·         Navigation in communication site as like classic team sites.
·         There will be a horizontal navigation in top where users (who will have the permissions) will add the new links.

·         Left navigation is visible or available only on SharePoint application pages such as site contents, site settings, lists, libraries. Users (who will have permissions) will add the new links to the left navigation.


How to access the communication site

·         Once communication site is created, site owner should add members to this communication site. Users can also share communication site to external users.

Limitations of communication sites

Communication sites are very easy to create and easy to add the content. Everything is good till now, but are there any drawbacks with communication sites. Oh yeah! There are drawbacks. Following points will give you clear understanding of limitations of communication sites
·         Some of the web parts in communication sites holds static content. So soon content become stale.
·         Always need to create separate pages to create news.
·         Once a page promoted as news then it cannot be demoted to normal page directly.
·         No much branding options available. Not able to customize master page.
·         No option to save the site as template by default as scripting is disabled on modern sites.

·         Some of the list templates are not available such as Picture library, Tasks list.
·         No option to save the list as template.

·         Communication sites are not suitable to build big intranet site.
·         Communication sites are not fully replacement for publishing sites.
·         Not possible to define custom page layouts.
·         Scripting is not possible on communication sites. Content editor and script editor web parts not available.
·         Only theme can be customized when comes to branding of communication site.

Questions on communication sites

·         Where to create communication sites?
-          As per design, any user, who is having permission to create sites, can create communication site. Users need to go to SharePoint home page https://<domain>.sharepoint.com/_layouts/15/sharepoint.aspx page to create new sites
·         How to decide between team site and communication site?
-          Communications sites are more useful when users want to show case information, tell a story, broadcast a message, sharing the content.
-          Team sites are useful when a group of people working on a project activities, to track the activity, information should be shared within the team only, to track the conversations, to track the files.
·         Branding options for communication site?
-          There are no much branding options available for communication sites.
-          Few of the available options are
o   Apply a custom theme or change the logo.
o   Apply an out-of-the-box theme.
o   Create custom site columns (fields) and content types.
o   Create lists and libraries.
o   Configure site settings, such as regional settings, languages, and auditing settings.
·         Sandbox WSP solutions will work in communication site?
-          Sandbox wsp solutions will not work in communication site as it doesn’t have the solution gallery to upload the solutions.
·         Can we make any other site page as home page for communication site?
-          Yes we can make modern site page as home page for communication site.
-          Navigate to site pages in communication site and select the desired page that want to make it as home page. Select the ellipses in the top bar and select “Make homepage” option.

·         What are the default security groups in communication sites?
-          Members, Owners, visitors are the default security groups available in communication sites

·         Script editor, content editors are available in communication sites?
-          Communication sites are no-scripting sites. So script editor and content editor web parts are not available.
·         What are the custom solution development options?
-          Users can create SPFx web parts to fulfil their custom business needs.
·         Publishing feature in communication site?
-          Publishing feature is not available in communication site. Users cannot active any features in communication sites.
·         How many page layouts are available in communication sites?
·         What is the content type for communication site page?
o   When you are creating page from home page then you can find below templates. These template you cannot find anywhere except from home page.

o   In the next screen you can modify the layout for each row level. To do this just click on + symbol on left side of each row, you can option as below.

·         Is it possible to upgrade classic pages to modern pages?
-          No, it is not possible to upgrade existing classic pages to modern pages.
·         Modern pages are available in classic sites?
-          Yes, modern pages are available in classic sites as well. Users can distinguish the classic page and modern page with the content type.

·         What master page does communication site is having?
-          Seattle.master is the default master page in communication site. To check the master page for communication site, open the communication site in SP designer and navigate to All filesà_catalogsàmasterpage and right click on the seattle.master file. Set as default master page option will be greyed out, means seattle.master was set master page.

-          But we cannot change master page for communication site. When user is trying to change master page, suppose for seattle.master to oslo.master it will throw an error as below.

Team site

What is team site

·         Team site is a new site template to create responsive mobile friendly web sites in SharePoint online.
·         Team site will be created as a separate site collection.
·         Team site is helpful for a work group or project team to collaborate on project deliverables, project plan, track status, exchange ideas and much more.
·         Script option is disabled in team site. Team sites are no script sites.

What are the options available for team site creation

·         User will click on “Create site” option to create a new modern site on SharePoint home page. There will be two options available for the users to start with modern sites.
o   Team site
o   Communication site (discussed in earlier section)

·         When user select the “Team site” option then user need to enter the site name and site description (optional).

·         When user typing the in “Site name” field, SharePoint will check for name availability and will display whether site with same name existed or not.
·         Also it will display the site address of the new site that is going to be created.
·         User can choose “Privacy settings” as public or private
o   Public – anyone in the organization who knows the url can access the site
o   Private – only members of the site are able to access the site

·         When user click on “Next” button will create a new site. In the next screen it will give option to user to add owners and members to the site. Adding owners and members to the site will send invitation email to those people.

·         Click on “Finish” button to navigate to the newly created site.

More about team site

·         When user create a team site with name, it will create an office 365 group in the backend.
·         To find newly created office 365 group easily, go to outlook or web mail (I am using web mail here for demo) and click on “Discover” under “Groups” option.

·         Search with the site name that was created.

·         This office 365 group will be associated to the Teams, planner for better communication between the group members.
·         User can easily navigate to the group conversation from the team site by clicking on the “Conversations” option in the left navigation.

·         Same web parts are available in team site as in communication site. Users can create news, add events, add highlighted content etc.

Web parts in Team sites

·         Team site’s home page will come with some set of web parts already added to the page. News, Quick links, activity, Documents are the web parts available. Along with these web parts users will have option to more modern web parts based on business need.

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