Improving SharePoint Lists – Roadmap 2018

Microsoft used the recent SharePoint Conference to introduce numerous improvements to SharePoint lists scheduled for 2018. About one third of these are available now, with the reminder scheduled to be delivered by the end of December 2018.

Here’s the list of coming changes (with one adjustment from the Microsoft blog post to make it correct):

– Flow for Cognitive Analysis – Process any text for sentiment, key phrases, translation or moderation [Available Now]
– Row Formatting – Create immersive formatting for any list or library with scripting [Available later 2018]
– Image Analysis – Create immersive formatting for any list or library with scripting [Available now]
– AI for Images – Teach the cloud to recognize new objects for auto-tagging [Available Now]
– New ways to create lists – Create lists based on Excel, templates, or other lists [Available later 2018]
– Quicker list editing – Edit list content in place, and paste data from other sources [Available later 2018]
– Link list items – Connect list items to Planner, Outlook calendars, locations, and more [Available later 2018]
– Realtime list updates – See updates to lists and libraries instantly without refresh [Available later 2018]
– Analyze lists with Power BI – use Power BI to automatically mine list data for patterns and charts [Available later 2018]
– Build Microsoft Flow workflows with Visio – Model a new process in Visio and export it to Microsoft Flow to activate and run custom processes [Available July 2018].
– Add file upload to Microsoft Forms – Add a custom question to allow users to supply a file to upload to SharePoint

(I changed the description of the “Analyze lists with Power BI” one, since the original blog post incorrectly repeats the explanation from an earlier item on the list)

My Viewpoint
1. Lists and libraries are the fundamental building blocks of most SharePoint sites. Anything that improves these capabilities – makes them better, allows them to address new situations, enhances basic capabilities, and improves usability – is a good step forward. There’s a lot in the above list to like.

2. Realtime updates plus realtime triggers to Flow events will speed the pace of happenings within lists. No more refreshing the screen waiting for something new to arrive; now it will arrive and be displayed immediately, and if necessary (if it meets pre-set conditions), will cause an automated action to take place.

3. It is good to see the ability to create a new list based on an Excel spreadsheet. With Excel being the main competitor to SharePoint for list-based information, simplifying the transition from one to the other – and giving a faster pathway to gaining access to all the benefits of lists versus Excel – is a long overdue improvement.

4. Many of these changes will call for new education and training to help people take best advantage of them (to increase capability and competence). What should we now rely on a list for? What’s our unique value add? Where do we intervene and create a human moment, or apply human wisdom and intuition rather than relying on an AI curated answer.

5. We’ve come a long way since I wrote Seamless Teamwork in 2008 for Microsoft Press on SharePoint 2007.

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