At Ignite—Microsoft announced lots of new features for SharePoint and OneDrive. Most of these new features are categorised under the name ‘Modern Experiences’. Microsoft is adding much effort in those modern experiences—which includes innovations that empower people, teams and organizations to intelligently discover, share and collaborate on content from anywhere and on any device.

So what are those modern experiences?

Microsoft started their journey with modern experiences late 2014 with the introduction of Office 365 Groups. Groups in Office 365 let you choose a set of people that you wish to collaborate with and easily set up a collection of resources for those people to share. You don’t have to worry about manually assigning permissions to all those resources because adding members to the group automatically gives them the permissions they need to the tools your group provides. In 2016 Microsoft started with the introduction of modern lists and libraries. PowerApps and Flow where added later on—so these could be used in lists and libraries. Late 2016 Microsoft introduced Microsoft Teams—the new chat-based workspace in Office 365. Microsoft Teams is an entirely new experience that brings together people, conversations and content—along with the tools that teams need—so they can easily collaborate to achieve more. At Ignite in September 2017—Microsoft added lots of new features to their EnterPrice Content Management (ECM) capabilities. Where lists and libraries—in the beginning—where lacking the capabilities of the ‘classic’ lists and libraries—they begin to grow up now and can be fully used.

I use classic sites, how can I use these modern experiences?

A question I get a lot from customers or colleagues is: how can we leverage all these new capabilities and use them in our classic sites?
Well actually—as the image of this blog post shows—there are 3 ways in order to leverage the new capabilities and each way is a little more advanced.

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3 ways in order to leverage modern experiences to your classic sites.

I. Add modern lists/libraries and pages

Within a classic site you could start using the modern lists/library functionalities right away. At tenant and site level you could configure which one to use: classic or modern. It is always possible to switch between both. Some list/library types are only available in classic mode yet, like the Calendar list. So in order to start using the new capabilities, turn it on in your tenant or do this for certain site collections.
Modern pages can also be used within classic sites by activating the Site Pages feature:

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Site Pages feature (Feature ID: b6917cb1-93a0-4b97-a84d-7cf49975d4ec).

After activating the Site Pages feature (site feature) a Site Pages library becomes available with the possibility to add Site Page pages (Content Type). If the Site Pages library was already available (team site)—that library will be used. By using the SharePoint gear icon and select ‘Add a page’ will add a new Modern page to this library. When you use the publishing feature within your classic site—the ‘Add a page’ option will not always work and instead adds a publishing page. In order to add a modern page—go to the Site Pages library first and click ‘New’ or ‘Add a page’ from there. The newly created page can be set as the starting page of the site and content can be added. This way—classic sites get tons of the new capabilities available. It is an easy starting point for getting classic pages modern again.

II. Connect classic site to a new Office 365 Group

At Ignite the announcement—to connect an existing (classic) site to a new Office 365 Group—was made (Groupify). With this new feature it will be possible to create a new Office 365 Group and connect the existing classic site to the group—instead of creating a new site for the group. All existing permissions within the site will be kept and the available permissions will be handed over to the Group permissions. This way you are able to extend the capabilities of your existing classic site with Office 365 Group services like group mailbox, calendar and cross app navigation for your group. So if your users of your classic site want to use these Office 365 Group services—this will be the option to use without migrating your site to a new group. Connecting classic sites to a Office 365 Group capability is targeted to begin rollout within the first half of calendar year 2018. So be patient.

Note: it is announced that only site collection root sites can be connected to an Office 365 Group. This will not be an option for sub sites.

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Connect site to new Office 365 Group capability.

III. Cross-group integrations

When your classic site has become an Office 365 Group or you use Office 365 Groups—it is now possible to use other cross-group integrations like Microsoft Teams or Planner. This way you could leverage these new ways of working and organising your work for your current site. In order to connect an existing Office 365 Group to Microsoft Teams—from Microsoft Teams add a new Team and use the option to ‘Add Microsoft Teams to an existing Office 365 Group’ within the interface:

ConnectTeam
Connect an existing Office 365 group to a Team.

When you are at this stage with your classic site—you can use all the modern experiences within Office 365. There are also APIs available to create Teams programmatically—but that is for a next blog post.

Summary

At Ignite Microsoft announced lots of new modern experiences. If you are using classic sites at the moment and want to give your users the ability to use those modern experiences—be sure to plan your journey and find out what is the best way to make the modern experiences available.

Want to know more?

Please contact me at robert.schouten@wortell.nl

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