Microsoft Overhauls SharePoint Lists

The company has given its SharePoint content-organization feature a modern, more mobile-friendly look and feel.

Microsoft SharePoint Lists

SharePoint users will soon have a new way of managing their lists, which considering the tool's popularity, may affect how many organizations collaborate on shared content.

According to Microsoft's Chris McNulty, a senior product manager for the SharePoint group, more than 10 million SharePoint lists are in use across the company's cloud-enabled Office 365 productivity software platform. SharePoint lists are used to organize and collaborate on structured data on SharePoint sites.

In an update, currently available in preview and rolling out to Office 365 First Release customers in early August, Microsoft is "delivering a modern list experience that looks great and is responsive, accessible and easy to use on any device," McNulty wrote in a blog post. "The modern SharePoint list experience will be automatically available to all existing classic SharePoint Online lists."

Apart from a new, more streamlined interface that harkens to Microsoft's recent user experience (UX) work across Office, web services like and even Windows to an extent, the updated lists will allow users to make alterations in-place, such as adding columns and grouping data. Users also will gain the ability to view and edit item details without leaving a list, added McNulty.

The Quick Edit function supports bulk editing, allowing users to make changes to several items at once, thereby improving productivity, McNulty said. Finally, users will be able to append people, images and metadata tags to "enrich" static information contained in the lists.

Customizations made to classic SharePoint lists are supported under the new scheme. If an incompatibility is detected, the list reverts to the original look and feel, McNulty said. And fans of the classic experience needn't worry that Microsoft is abandoning them. The company has no plans to remove the classic interface "anytime soon," he said.

In another productivity-enhancing move, Microsoft announced SharePoint list integrations with Flow, the company's workflow automation app and IFTTT rival, and PowerApps.

The latter enables businesses to create and publish mobile and web-based business apps without writing code. "PowerApps is an enterprise service for innovators everywhere to connect, create and share business apps with your team on any device in minutes. And PowerApps helps anyone in your organization unlock new business agility," Bill Staples, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Application Platform unit, said in a Nov. 30 announcement.

In the new, so-called modern SharePoint list experience, users will be able to build mobile apps and forms from a list. Such lists can incorporate data from on-premises Exchange and SQL systems or cloud-based services, including Salesforce, Google and Mail Chimp, among others, said McNulty.

The update arrives months after the official release of SharePoint Server 2016. The on-premises software shares much the same codebase as SharePoint Online, its cloud-based counterpart. Microsoft plans to regularly issue upcoming enhancements in the form of Feature Packs instead of forcing customers to wait for the next major version of the software and allowing them to partake in some of the company's cloud-inspired innovations sooner.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...