SharePoint Enhancements Bringing App Bar and Page Analytics to Microsoft 365 Subscribers

Microsoft on Wednesday described SharePoint Online capabilities arriving as early as April for Microsoft 365 subscribers that opt to get "targeted release" feature updates.

Highlights include the arrival of the SharePoint App Bar navigation element, SharePoint page analytics and the use of images in Events Web Parts, among other improvements.

Additionally, the Viva Connections desktop app was commercially released.

Last Saturday marked SharePoint's "birthday" of 20 years, where Microsoft recounted SharePoint's origins from an early project code-named "Tahoe." A replay of the birthday festivities, featuring avatars, can be accessed here. It was also revealed during birthday week that Microsoft Corporate Vice President Jeff Teper, known as the "father of SharePoint," is a talented multi-instrumentalist.

Viva Connections Desktop App
On top of the SharePoint news, Microsoft announced that its Microsoft Viva Connections desktop app for PCs is now released as a commercial product, having reached "general availability" (GA) status. Viva Connections for Teams was previously known as the Home Site app for Teams, according to Mark Kashman, a Microsoft senior product manager on the SharePoint team, in the announcement.

Microsoft Viva, unveiled in February, is a collection of four employee, human resources and company communications applications that surface in the Teams collaboration service. Right now, Viva Topics is the only Microsoft Viva app that's fully at the GA release state. The Viva Insights and Viva Learning apps are still at the private and public preview stages, respectively, according to Kashman in the recorded part of Microsoft's announcement.

The steps for installing the Viva Connections desktop app involve running PowerShell scripts, as described in this Microsoft announcement. The process definitely is not a simple software installation effort. However, Microsoft is promising to improve the desktop installation experience for IT pros sometime this summer, which is also when it plans to release the mobile (or Web-based) version of Viva Connections.

"This summer update will combine both the mobile and desktop configuration and deployment into the Teams admin console," explained Michael Holste, a Microsoft senior product marketing manager, in the announcement.

Also at that time, Microsoft is planning to introduce new "dashboard" and "feed" Web Parts for use with the desktop version of Viva Connections.

SharePoint App Bar
Microsoft 365 subscribers are getting the SharePoint App Bar for use across SharePoint Online sites using "modern" pages. It's not available for use with so-called "classic" SharePoint sites.

The App Bar, based on SharePoint Home Sites, is a vertical navigation strip hovering on the left side of the screen that provides quick access to the most frequently visited sites, news and files via "tab" icons. The content is personalized via the Microsoft Graph service. Only the global navigation item on the App Bar can be customized by organizations.

Organizations can disable the SharePoint App Bar in advance of arrival, but doing so will only delay delivery until Oct. 31, 2021, Microsoft explained in this "Introduction" document.

Other Arriving SharePoint Online Features
Microsoft 365 subscribers are getting an analytics capability that will show SharePoint "pages and news articles" access stats. This SharePoint Page Analytics feature shows the number of viewers, the number of page views and the "average time spent per user."

A "Focus Mode" toggle capability is arriving that empowers "SharePoint page authors and viewers" to simplify the appearance of a SharePoint page by "hiding the site header, site navigation, and global navigation bar with one click." Another click by the user will bring those elements back.

Microsoft also improved the Events Web Part in SharePoint Online to be capable of showing images for events. The Web Part automatically pulls the "image used in the title area of the Event page," which will display as a smaller icon when events are viewed in a list.

Non-SharePoint Additions
Microsoft's announcement included some non-SharePoint items expected to arrive this month for Microsoft 365 targeted release users.

One of those items is streamlined migration from Box storage to Microsoft 365 storage on OneDrive, SharePoint or Teams. It's a capability that will show up in the SharePoint Admin Center portal under "Migration Manager."

Microsoft announced the end of Delve mobile apps for Android and iOS devices will happen on June 1, 2021. Organizations and individuals should switch to using the Outlook Mobile app instead, the company advised.

A new "Integrate" menu navigation item for users of the Microsoft Lists service is coming. It will replace the Power Apps menu navigation item that's currently there. Clicking on Integrate gives end users access to a couple of menu options, namely "Power Apps" and "Power Automate." A future menu item option coming to Integrate in Lists will be a "Power BI" option, but the timing wasn't described.

About the Author

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


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