my world of work and user experiences

November 20, 2009

SharePoint 2010: Now we’re editing content

Filed under: SharePoint — Tags: , — frederique @ 02:19

The public beta of SharePoint 2010 has been released. See Mirjam’s blog. So now we are not only talking: we are getting somewhere. Three cheers et cetera, but let me get back from celebrating the news to pointing out specific functionality that is not just cool but really useful.

Content on the page
What we often want, not just in internet sites but also in intranet sites, is pages where we can publish content. We want to explain about our unique selling points, the benefits of green tea, the process of quality assurance or whatever topic is on our minds. And we want to do that explanation in text, with a readable layout. Accompanied by images that illustrate and clarify our point.

Content editor
In the “old” sharepoints we can do that, using things like Content Editor Web Parts and Image Web Parts. But you have to click deeply to get to your text. The Rich Text Editor functionality for layout is not that solid. And it is a real hassle to add a picture interlaced with the content: you go back and forth between your text and the picture library where you have to store your picture before you can use it on the page. MOSS 2007 was already better at this than SPS 2003, but still messy when you try to actually create interesting pages.

Editable pages

In the new SharePoint 2010, creating and editing content on a page is a lot easier, because all pages are implemented as wiki pages. So

  1. You create a new page, or click on Edit on a web part page like the homepage of the site.
  2. You put your cursor in the content field
  3. And you start typing.

SharePoint 2010 - Format

SharePoint 2010 - Format

The ribbon that we’ve already met in Office 2007 is now all over SharePoint 2010 as well. On every page, you get a ribbon that offers you the options that are relevant to:

  • you, given your permissions – no editing ribbons if you have only read permission;
  • the page you are on [at least, that is what I think and hope];
  • the element on the page you have selected – when I select the Announcements web part, I suddenly see the options to manage the announcement list and its items.
    [That means that you have to be careful where you put your cursor, or you will get lost in the ribbon jungle]

SharePoint 2010 Announcements web part ribbon

SharePoint 2010 Announcements web part ribbon

For a content element, the ribbon offers rich text functionality: fonts, bulleted lists, predefined styles etc. To see what it would do to your selected text, just hover over the style in the menu and you get a preview. Click to confirm, and the style has been applied.
[Personally, I am happy we still have a button Edit HTML source, so that I can save the layout when I get entangled in rich text options that try to think for themselves instead of listening to me.]

Inserting images
From the ribbon, I can insert an image, or anything else. Even a web part, which is not something that I’ve ever inserted into a Word document. But let me get back to the images.
I typically want to insert an image that I have not uploaded into the site yet, so select: the ribbon tab Insert > Image > From computer > Browse for the image and select the library where the image will be stored in the site.

SharePoint 2010 - Insert ribbon

SharePoint 2010 - Insert ribbon

SharePoint 2010 - Insert image

SharePoint 2010 - Insert image

The image lands on the page, I select it, and then I can manipulate it just like in Word. For example, by clicking the ‘make it smaller’ arrow, I can actually see the image shrink. [In my current sandbox I cannot enter a size manually, which cost me a lot of clicking to shrink my overlarge image. I hope I can just enter the size by typing the number in the public beta…

SharePoint 2010 - Resize the image via the ribbon

SharePoint 2010 - Resize the image via the ribbon

I can also position the image the same way as in Word: select left or right alignment, and drag and drop it to the right location.

SharePoint 2010 - Position the image via the ribbon

SharePoint 2010 - Position the image via the ribbon

Now I just have to remember that I do not see any Save buttons in the work-on-my-image mode, and that I need to click on the text or on Edit to be able to save it. Et voila! We have enabled the visitors to read & see what we want to convey to them right on the page.

It may not be perfect, at least not on the beta, but it is such a huge improvement of functionality that I need in my real life of intranet projects, that I am definitely happy.

NB : these screenshots were taken with the « secret» beta, because my colleagues are working on the installation of the public beta – installations always take some doing.

November 1, 2009

SharePoint 2010: Now we’re talking

Filed under: SharePoint — Tags: — frederique @ 00:57

I’m not a gadgety type of person and I don’t get excited about tools for their own sake. But I am excited about the new SharePoint 2010, because it looks like it is really going to make my work more effective, efficient and pleasant. It will allow me to create better information worker solutions for my clients, and of course help me in my own information work.

This assessment is not just based on Microsoft’s sales pitch, but also on some hands-on experience in a sandbox site. At Macaw, we’ve had the beta 1 version at our disposal for a few months, as members of the Partner Evidence Program, but it was still a “secret”. Fortunately, the veil has been lifted at the recent conference in Las Vegas and now we are allowed to talk about it. Unfortunately, we still have only that rather creaky beta 1 to play with, as we must wait until the end of November for the public beta.

I’ve worked for years with SharePoint 2003 and 2007, and these are quite useful, but they have limitations that drive me crazy sometimes. SharePoint 2010 undoubtedly has its own share of quirks and no system is perfect, but it does seem more mature. So what I am talking about here? I won’t try give a full list of what’s new and what’s hot here, but some examples are:

  • An interface that is more intuitive and less click-intensive. Web editing directly on the page, where you can enter text, lay it out and add pictures without counterintuitive detours. The Fluent User Interface a.ka. the ribbon offers you buttons for the actions that make sense in the context that you are looking at.
  • Tagging that helps you to find information relevant to your subject, as well as people who are experts in or at least interested in that subject.
  • Business Connectivity Services that integrate other systems into your working environment in SharePoint: not only can you see data from e.g. SAP but you can also add and edit data in such systems (if you have permission to do so of course)
  • Document management features including document sets, which allow you to manage not just single documents but also entire dossiers.
  • SharePoint Workspaces, in which you can take the content of your site offline, say, to keep working on a long flight.

This is going to keep me talking for a while…

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