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Microsoft Bringing Metadata Navigation to SharePoint Online

Starting on June 12, Microsoft will roll out metadata navigation capabilities to "modern" SharePoint List and Library pages, the company said recently.

The move will help to shift SharePoint end users more toward the so-called modern Lists and Libraries user experience. The change, previously described as one of the many action items to come during Microsoft's May SharePoint Virtual Summit event, likely applies to SharePoint Online users, who get updates regularly rolled out to them as part of their Office 365 subscriptions. It's not clear from the announcement if it'll apply to SharePoint Server users.

Microsoft is planning to release Feature Pack 2 for SharePoint Server 2016 this fall, which will bring some online features down to the server version of the product. It's unclear at this point if the metadata navigation feature will be included, though.

The current hierarchies seen with the "classic" SharePoint user experience with List and Library pages aren't with compatible with the new metadata approach, according to Microsoft's announcement. Here's how the announcement described that situation:

Classic document libraries have used page elements on the left side of each page to enable hierarchical "drill-down" and "Key Filters" on live view of document libraries. However, the classic metadata navigation elements are incompatible with modern user experiences. The updated filters pane now makes metadata navigation compatible with modern list and document library experiences.

The filters pane with the new metadata navigation capabilities actually resides on the right side of the screen. It's basically a checklist. The elements that appear in the checklist depend on user's context. End users can customize these checklists, if wanted, by selecting the filter icon.

The columns that end users will see on modern SharePoint List and Library pages are based on the metadata settings. Some of the metadata content is automatically generated in the background via "machine learning," according to Microsoft.

If an organizations is using classic SharePoint List and Library pages, then the metadata associated with those pages will get "automatically added to the filters pane" for the modern List and Library pages when this new feature rolls out to subscribers. The metadata feature addition will "unlock modern experiences for thousands of users" and the pages "will stay in modern mode," Microsoft's announcement promised.

IT pros can enforce classic mode settings in advance of this change. However, end users can always override those settings if they want, according to a Microsoft support document:

As a document library or list owner, site owner, or administrator, you may want to switch the default experience back to the previous (classic experience) for a time. Keep in mind that users can change the experience in specific libraries or sites back to new if they choose. A change to settings at the library and list level overrides changes at the site, site collection, and tenant level.

In other Office 365 news, this time for developers, Microsoft announced last week that it has published the Microsoft Graph Explorer tool as an open source project on the GitHub software repository under an MIT license. Microsoft Graph Explorer is a browser-based tool for developing simple applications. The tool taps APIs used with the Microsoft Graph, which is the search technology underlying various Office 365 applications. Microsoft Graph Explorer is currently at the beta test stage.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.