Microsoft Adding SharePoint News Enhancements This Month

Microsoft described coming additions to its News pages in SharePoint Online that will be arriving this month or the next.

News pages and SharePoint Online pages will be getting the option to target various audiences via an "Audience Targeting" toggle switch that's coming to Office 365 tenancies via a "late April" update. When Audience Targeting is turned on, News items get presented to end users "based on attributes such as their roles or locations in an organization," explained Chris McNulty, a senior product marketing manager for SharePoint and Office 365, in Microsoft's Tuesday announcement. Audience Targeting can tap into groups information associated with Office 365, Azure Active Directory and "dynamic groups," he added.

Microsoft is also improving SharePoint Online notifications with an update coming this month. With this feature, end users can get e-mails or alerts in the SharePoint Mobile App when people comment on their News pages or SharePoint pages. With a coming April Office 365 "targeted" release update (a release stage before general release), multiple comments happening within a short period of time will get "batched" together into a single notification. In addition, end users will get notified about the "like" tags that were clicked on a page. These improvements will roll out worldwide to Office 365 tenancies in "mid-June 2019," according to the announcement.

In "late May," Microsoft is planning to enable the registration of "Organization Assets" libraries using PowerShell for Office 365 tenancies getting targeted releases. Organization Assets libraries are repositories for images, such as photos and logos, that end users can grab for their SharePoint pages.

Also in May, Office 365 tenancies will get the ability to add "call to action" social media links on "Hero Web Parts." A Hero Web Part is the default image and text that show up on a SharePoint Communication Site page. Users will be able to add links to Yammer for internal communications or external links to "LinkedIn Elevate, Twitter or other social channels."

SharePoint Conference Next Month
Microsoft's news is arriving about one month before the SharePoint Conference 2019 event, happening on May 21 to May 23. It's a venue where Microsoft is likely to outline major SharePoint features to come.

A guide to the SharePoint Online 2019 keynote and sessions can be found in this post by Bill Baer, a senior technical product manager for SharePoint at Microsoft.

Microsoft Search
Baer also recently described Microsoft Search and the use of connectors to help end users find things. (For a walkthrough on Microsoft Search and setting it up, see this article by Brien Posey.)

Baer noted that there are Office 365 connectors that can be used to make content accessible within Microsoft Teams, Microsoft's workspace collaboration solution. It's also possible to build custom connectors for Office 365, which can leverage Microsoft Graph APIs to make data accessible for end users. In addition, Baer mentioned that Microsoft 365 administrators can use Microsoft's Business Connectivity Services to provide access to data that's not housed in SharePoint.

"Business Connectivity Services can connect to data that is available through a database, a web service, or data that is published as an OData source or many other types of external data," Baer explained.

Microsoft provides some support for Business Connectivity Services within Office 365. It's also possible to build custom connectors to use Business Connectivity Services and access external data.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.


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