SharePoint On-Premise to SharePoint Online – New Page options

If you are planning to move to SharePoint Online and have customised or allowed users to customise site pages (especially in ‘publishing’ sites), you need to be aware of the new page options in SharePoint Online.

If you are completely familiar with the new SharePoint Framework (SPFx), you don’t need to read any further. This post is aimed at Site Administrators and Site Owners who have edited or ‘customised’ their SharePoint site pages – and organisations that have customised pages.

Background

Microsoft released the new ‘modern’ SharePoint site pages in 2017. These pages are based around HTML5 and provide different page editing options. To put it simply, existing site pages do not ‘work’ in modern pages; the only way to view them is using the ‘classic’ SharePoint experience.

What has changed

The most significant change, from an editing point of view, is the removal of the ribbon menu. Yes, that’s right, no more ribbon, what you see below no longer exists but has been replaced by completely new functionality described below.

SP2013Ribbon3

SP2013Ribbon1

SP2013Ribbon2

 

Instead of a ribbon menu, in SharePoint Online, pages are made up of a set of web parts each with their own options. To add one of these new web parts, you edit the page, then (a) accept the default or choose a layout per section (see below), then click on the + in the middle top of that section to add the web part you want to add.

These options described below.

Why is this important

In SharePoint 2010 and SharePoint 2013 you could copy an entire page content and paste it to another page. You can’t do that with SharePoint Online modern pages.

This means that all pages will have to be ‘re-built’ unless you plan to keep users on the ‘classic’ look for a while.

Creating a new page

Even creating a new page is new. To create a new page in team sites, you click the gear/cog icon, then ‘Add a page’. For non-Communication sites, you can choose a layout from the new web parts – see below.

SPOAddPage2

If you create a page from a Communications site, you get the option to choose which template you’d like to use:

SPOPageTemplates

The first thing you then have to do is give the new page a name. (Hint – use hyphens between multi-word page names, then go back later, edit the page, and remove them. It makes for a cleaner URL).

SPONewPageBanner

Once added, the only page ribbon options are shown below::

SPORibbon1

 

Adding web parts

On every new page, choose the layout or web parts is based on clicking the + sign as you can see above directly under the page naming section, or the image below

SPOWebPart1

As noted above, SharePoint Online ‘modern’ pages are made up of multiple web parts that can be placed in five different page layouts.

The page layouts are:

  • One column
  • Two columns
  • Three columns
  • One third left column
  • One third right column

These are – more or less, similar to the options in ‘Text Layout’ in the old ribbon menu, although there are now fewer options.

While a page can have multiple layouts, you should look at how a mobile device will render that view. To do that, simply reduce the page size layout on the screen to the same size as the mobile device. The page will render accordingly.

The web parts that can be placed within the page layouts, and their relationship with the old ribbon menu, are as follows:

  • Text
    • Similar to a INSERT – Web Part – Content Editor Web Part but with the default black font text only.
    • Formatting options are Headings 1 – 4, Normal text, Pull quote
    • Bold, italic, underline
    • Dot points, numbered points, left, centered, right aligned text
    • Hyperlink (similar to INSERT – Link)
    • No font or size or colour options
    • No subscript or superscript or strikethrough
    • No highlighting
    • No images (this means that images are somewhat unnaturally separated from the text)
    • No tables. If you wish to add a table, create it in Word and copy and paste it in.
  • Image
    • Similar to INSERT – Picture.
    • Displays the image with a name, it is not possible to add a hyperlink to the image.
    • If you want a hyperlink with an image, create a link using either the Link web part or the Quick Links web part and add the image.
  • Document
    • New feature
    • Displays a document on the page.
  • Link
    • Similar to INSERT – Link
    • Places a link on the page.
    • The link can include an image.
  • Embed
    • Similar to INSERT – Embed Code
    • Embeds code on the page.
    • Use to embed a YouTube or other video that will play on the page.
    • No Java Script (as you could in SP2010/2013 – you will need to do some research to see what’s possible and what’s not).
  • Highlighted Content
    • Similar to a library or list web part
    • Displays a range of content types from the site (‘most recent’ by default), the site collection, a document library, or all sites.
    • Allows a range of searches, filters, sort and layout options
  • Bing maps
    • New feature but similar to embedding a Google or Bing map using embed.
    • Embeds a Bing map.
  • Document library
    • Similar to a library web part
    • Displays content from a document library.
  • Events
    • New feature.
    • Displays events. Not good for detailed calendars with multiple items per day.
  • Hero
    • New feature
    • Displays content with links in 1 – 5 titles, or 1 – 5 layers.
  • Image gallery
    • Similar to Picture Library Slideshow Web part
    • Use to display a set of images that you select, not necessarily from an image library
  • List
    • Similar to a list web part
    • Displays content from a list.
  • News
    • Similar to a blank page.
    • Display news (separate pages).
  • Office 365 Video
    • Deprecated
    • To be deprecated in favour of Stream)
  • Stream
    • New feature
    • Displays embeded videos stored in Stream
  • People
    • New feature but similar to Site User web part
    • Displays clickable links to site users
  • Power BI
    • New feature
    • Displays Power BI content.
  • Quick Chart
    • New feature
    • Displays a very simple column or pie chart, based on figures entered from the page
  • Quick Links
    • Similar to a links list web part
    • Displays links to other content. Links can include (small) images
  • Site activity
    • New feature
    • Displays a list, by last modified date, of content created on the site.
  • Yammer feed
    • Similar to Yammer feed embed
    • Displays a Yammer group feed.
  • Group calendar
    • New feature
    • Displays items from an Office 365 Group calendar

Things you cannot do any more (or maybe shouldn’t)

There are a number of things you can no longer do any more unless possibly via the SharePoint Framework (SPFx). But, the fact that you need that to re-create those things using SPFx suggests you may want to consider whether those items are still relevant or useful. My advise is – don’t assume, but keep an open mind.

The things to keep in mind are:

  • Most of the Format Text options from the old ribbon are now contained in the options contained in the Text or Layout web parts.
  • There is no web part that allows you to create tables. These will have to be manually inserted. This means you cannot edit them on the page, it’s display only.
  • ‘Upload file’ is no longer available. Instead you would use a link or quick links, or perhaps even display the document on the page.
  • Search is now a single search box at the top left. There really isn’t a need for additional search boxes, but some may need them.
  • Many of the existing web parts have gone or been replaced by other options including Highlighted Content.

Summary

All of the new page editing options are a massive improvement on most legacy web parts and options. However, many organisations are likely to have built quite complex pages based on these old options.

Accordingly, some thought needs to be put into how the content of existing SP2010 and SP2013 pages will be migrated to the new environment, especially to take advantage of new mobile device access.

 

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