Office 365 Improvements Include Fluid Framework Preview Expansion, Visio Co-Authoring and SharePoint Perks
This week, Microsoft announced a bunch of product enhancement milestones for users of Office 365 applications.
Fluid Framework Preview Expansion
Microsoft announced on Wednesday that its Fluid Framework preview is "now available for all Office 365 enterprise customers worldwide."
The Fluid Framework, which adds enhanced collaboration capabilities across Office 365 applications, was first demonstrated in May at the Microsoft Build developer event. An early preview of the Fluid Framework was available last month for organizations getting "targeted" Office 365 updates, but now its release has been broadened.
Supposedly, user collaborations get enhanced on an improved scale among multiple users when using the Fluid Framework, which has its own user interface with so-called "components." Users collaborate by selecting these components from a menu, as illustrated in a video located at this Fluid Framework preview home page.
The particular Fluid Framework components currently available with the preview include the following items, according to the home page:
- Action Items: Keep track of tasks, assignees, and timelines in a table.
- Mention: Tag your colleagues using the @ symbol anywhere so they can easily find relevant sections.
- Table: Create a table that suits your needs.
- Date: Add dates to easily keep track of upcoming deadlines and highlight overdue tasks.
- Check list: Tick items off as you complete them.
Microsoft has previously described the Fluid Framework as a "Web-based platform and componentized document model for shared, interactive experiences."
The framework comes with a software developer kit that can be used to build collaboration solutions. It can tap into the Microsoft Graph, Office add-ins and the SharePoint Framework, according to a November description by Jeff Teper, Microsoft's corporate vice president of Office, SharePoint, OneDrive and Streams.
Visio for the Web Co-Authoring Rollout
Microsoft on Monday announced the rollout of a "real-time" co-authoring capability in its Visio for the Web application. It's available for organizations having "a Visio Plan 1 or Visio Plan 2 subscription."
The co-authoring capability lets users simultaneously edit diagrams. It uses a "presence indicator" to identify the various collaborators as the changes get made.
Excel XLOOKUP General Availability
Microsoft on Monday announced that its XLOOKUP feature in Excel had reached "general availability" commercial-release status for Windows and macOS users. It's also available for Excel on the Web users.
XLOOKUP allows users to search for a value "vertically and horizontally" within a spreadsheet. It apparently replaces Excel's VLOOKUP function.
"XLOOKUP is the successor to the iconic VLOOKUP function, which has been one of the most used functions in Excel," Microsoft's announcement noted.
Yammer and SharePoint Library Storage
Microsoft on Wednesday announced that Yammer data is now saved on SharePoint Online document libraries.
"It's taken us some time -- but we're excited to share that all new photos and files uploaded through Yammer in Office 365 connected communities are now stored in the communities' default SharePoint document library," Microsoft explained in the announcement.
The stored data inherits the security protections of SharePoint Online. Saving Yammer data in SharePoint Online document libraries also opens up other capabilities, such as "eDiscovery, data loss protection, in-geo residence for files at rest, and other custom policies" for the Yammer data. The SharePoint document library storage approach also helps end users find files. They can access these files when offline if the SharePoint document library folders are synced.
Microsoft cautioned that with this change, it's making a change to Yammer files APIs. It'll be favoring a new "/smallFileUpload API" while deprecating the "/pending attachments" API.
SharePoint Next Steps Feature
Microsoft last week described an expansion of its "Next Steps" help tips panel for SharePoint users. Next Steps can be accessed from a megaphone icon located on the upper-right side of SharePoint team sites, in both "classic" and "group-connected" team sites.
The idea behind Next Steps is to improve the "first run" experience of SharePoint end users when they are first learning to upload files or post news articles for viewing on a team site. Users also get tips on how to invite team members and how to add applications to a team site.
Microsoft also described some Office 365 e-discovery (eDiscovery) product improvements earlier this month, including new eDiscovery capabilities for Microsoft Teams and Yammer applications.
Microsoft is now rolling out the ability to put legal holds on Teams content. A new "conversation reconstruction" capability lets investigators "identify relevant chats by using targeted queries."
Yammer eDiscovery is now available. Microsoft is also previewing Advanced eDiscovery for Yammer, which will get the conversation reconstruction feature "later this year."
Other improvements coming in preview by "the end of this month" include an Advanced eDiscovery dashboard and "tenant-level reports."
Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.