Where do you find news posts saved for later?

We launched our new intranet this week. Although it is vanilla SharePoint (and what a joy NOT to have complicated requirements and unmaintainable customizations) I have had to create some help materials for users, as we have some organization-specific information to share, and the Microsoft support documentation has not always been translated correctly.

One of the help items is “Where to find the news items you have saved for later”.

Saving is easy: click the label. When you see the post on the SharePoint start page, the label is on the card. When you have opened the item, you see the label on the bottom of the post.
Unsaving: click the label again.

The image to look for when you want to save a news post for later

But where can you find them later?

There is only one place where you can view your saved news items only. Most places I found also contain favourited documents and even other types of content. Most confusing!

Let me list the locations:

1. Clicking “Save for later” or “Saved for later”

When you accidentally hit the text next to the label you get a popup with your latest saved or favourited items.

If you click the text next to the label, you will get this popup

When you click “See all saved items” you get a page with all your darlings.

All my six saved items

You see this is a mixed bunch: news items and documents.

2. “My saved items” web part

We have this web part on our main news page, to make it easy for our colleagues to find their saved items. Again, it shows news posts and documents. (More info from Microsoft)

This web part shows news items and documents

When you click “See all” you get that page with all saved items. Mind you, while the overview above appears to be a page in the SharePoint landing site, this is now shown within the site where the web part lives.

All my six items, but now in the same site as where the web part is added

3. “Saved for later” on the SharePoint start page

In the left hand rail of the SharePoint start page, underneath “Following” and “Recent” there is a block displaying your most recent 5 darlings. I would have expected to have an option to “See all” here, but no.

The Saved for later web part on the SharePoint start page.

4. SharePoint mobile app: “News” and “Me”

The only place where you can list just the news posts is the SharePoint mobile app.

  • “News” shows all your news posts, and allows you to filter the saved items.
  • “Me” shows your recent and saved items, and in the Saved items you can again filter for news posts only.
This is the News part; you can filter for “Saved items” on top.
This is the “Me” portion. In the saved items (“Opgeslagen”) you can filter for just news items.

5. The Microsoft/Office365 landing page

Here is where it gets really confusing.
At work I see my opened news posts in the “All” tab of content, and in my Favourites tab when I have saved it for later. In my personal tenant I do not see those. I have been unable to find out why. 🀯

Saved news items do not appear in Favourites in my own tenant. I made the one shown here a favourite when it appeared on this page.

While we are on this page, let me inform you how to make something appear in your Favourites. On the All tab you will see all items (Lists, news, Forms, recordings, images) that you have recently looked at or edited. Hover over an item you would like to add to Favorites, click … and then “Add to favourites”.
(Remember you could briefly do this from SharePoint? That has been gone for some time)

How to make a content item a favourite so it is shown in the Favourites tab

It is a star icon, just like when you want to “follow” a site. 🀯
The Forms that you “pin” on the Forms landing page will also appear on the Favourites tab. 🀯

You can also make a List a Favourite from this page. But if you go to the List itself, and click the star near the list name, it will appear as a Favourite on the Lists landing page, but not on the Microsoft/Office365 landing page. 🀯

Well, this homepage functionality appears to be a bit messy. Does anyone know if this is being worked on?

In any case, did I miss a location where you can see your saved news posts? Let me know in the comments!

How to link from a SharePoint page

Did I tell you we are finally moving towards a SharePoint intranet?

We are currently training staff to publish pages and News on SharePoint. Many of them are very happy with the ease of creating pages and news articles, and the fact that you can so easily embed pictures and video. (The old platform can handle one picture or video per article)

One common question is: how do we create links from a page or News article?

Let’s discuss some options. Do you want to link to just one site, page or document? Of do you want/need multiple links on your page? And do they need to be functional and modest, just pretty or attention-grabbing? SharePoint has something for every occasion πŸ™‚

I have made examples in a Team site, but it works the same in a Communication site.

Link opening behaviour

You may want to know that links to content within your tenant always open in the same window. Links to content outside of your tenant always open in a new window. I have been playing around with different options that I found on the internet, but no luck so far.

Make SharePoint Online Menu Items Open in New Tabs! – Views from Veronique (veroniquepalmer.com)

How to open SharePoint Online Modern SPFX links in new tab | Code2care

Suggestions welcome, as sometimes you want to keep people on your page and the link is supposed to be only a side-step!

1. In text

When writing a news article or explanatory text you may want to link to additional information. You can do this in two ways:

  • Linking to a page within your site: type [[ and the list of pages in your site will pop up and you just select one. It will be added with the page name.
Type [[ and the list of pages will show, just click to create a link
  • Linking to anything else: select the text and click the link icon
This is the only option allowing you to open the link in a new tab!
The links will be shown in the text.

If you want your links to stand out, you will need to use a separate web part for that. You can use a two column section where you have a link in the column next to the text, for instance.

The following web parts all handle links in different ways. I will show you how they look in edit mode, what the editing options are and what the end result looks like.

2. Link

The Link web part shows a preview of one link. It depends on the website whether a preview is available. As mine does not have a preview (What! I need to work on that!) I have linked to another very useful website. You just paste the link and the only option you have is to add alternative text or not.

In the screenshot below, from left to right: the empty Link webpart, the web part with link and preview, and the edit options.

If you work with SharePoint, you should follow Gregory Zelfond’s site, sharepointmaven.com!

3. Button

Again, this is for one link, which will be displayed as a button in the colour scheme of your site. You can determine the alignment, but that’s all. Our intranet sounding board contains a number of therapists, and they have warned us against making pages too full of stimuli. So this is a good option if you want to have a quiet, non-overwhelming page.

The Button web part. Very straightforward.

4. Call to Action

If you want people to do something, like register for a webinar or subscribe to a newsletter, a Call to Action webpart may be the best option. It allows you to write an explanatory text (“Attend a webinar”), add the action with the link (“Register now!”), add a background image and align the text.
You pick the background image from the same source as header images for your news items – is there a word for that place? Let’s call it link-picker-page.

This is where you pick images and links from. But not all web parts use this as a source.

The button will be in your site’s colour scheme. If only you could change that black background, it is very visible and sometimes clashes with your colour scheme.

5. Image

You can create a click-through image by using the Image webpart. You will immediately go to the link-picker-page. This web part has an option to add a link, an overlay text (off by default) and to add a caption.

Before we move on to the multiple-link options, let me show you what the web parts look like on a page. I have used three columns, so you have an idea of the relative size. The size can vary depending on the number of columns – the Call to Action and Image web parts will fill the column width, but the Button will always be this size.

This is what the single-link web parts look like.

6. Hero

If you prefer your page to be visually interesting, the Hero web part may be useful. You can choose anything between one or 5 links (also depending on screen resolution and the number of columns in the section) and you start with adding the link (you will go to the link-picker page), then click on the pencil in the bottom of the image to add an image, a call to action for the first item, etc.
This web part consumes a ton of real-estate and I personally think it is too much imagery, too little content πŸ™‚
There’s a lot to this web part and there is good help from Microsoft available: Use the Hero web part – Office Support (microsoft.com)

The Hero web part has many options

7. Quick Links

Another good option if you want to display multiple links. You can go from large image tiles to modest buttons (as below). You can have as many as you like, and you have a ton of options (352 to be exact) to display them. Click “Add Links” and you get taken to the link-picker-page to add the link, then you can adjust things with the pencil underneath.
This is my favourite as it is versatile and you can keep it compact, yet nice looking. The number displayed horizontally will adjust to the column.
This is my blog about it: 352 ways to show Quick Links in SharePoint – Ellen’s Digital Workplace (wordpress.com)

The Quick Links web part has a lot of display options. The Button option is my favourite.

What do all these web parts look like? Below is an overview of all options used.

This is what all web parts look like.

8. Navigation

Of course there is also the navigation menu that you use to link to the main parts in your site. That does not look as pretty as the options above, but it will be shown all over your site, so it has its own merits.

Just click the Edit button below (Team site), or next to the navigation (Communication site) and you can add links, sublinks, move, edit and delete them.

The navigation – adding a new link

Navigation – moving, editing, deleting, indenting a link.

Conclusion

You have many options to select the web part that works for you. I understand it is not always easy to choose the best option, but in general I would say:

  • Keep it simple; visually pleasing but not cluttered.
  • Use Alternative text with images whenever possible – you do not know if anyone in your organization has a temporary or permanent loss of vision and they may want to use the Immersive reader to have the page or news read aloud to them. (I assume the Immersive Reader reads the alternative text – not sure!)
  • Think about the future. If your page is there for a long time, think about the number of links needed over time. Will this stay the same or do you expect more or fewer items needed next year? If you expect that your 5 links of today may be 6 or 7 next year, it may be better to use Quick Links from the start rather than a Hero.
  • Do not forget about your navigation; as it is visible all over the site, you may want to use that for important pages rather than a pretty link on your home page alone.

Have I missed an option? Would you like to say something else? Please comment – I love to hear about your experiences and thoughts!

Your very own SharePoint page

As we are currently working on a new intranet (SharePoint! At last!) we are thinking about “personal” information on the intranet. So I am looking into web parts that can be added to a page, which will present information especially for you.
Of course, you can add document library and list web parts with a default view of “Created by = [Me]” or “Assigned to = [Me]” etc. but that is generally for a specific site that you work in, rather than being applicable to anyone in the organization.

But there are a few web parts which can be used centrally, on an intranet page called “My Page” or similar, that shows information just for you.

1. My News

The News webpart allows you to show News from the site where the web part lives, or from selected sites. Quite a pleasant functionality, I must say. But you can also select “Recommended for current user” and that will show you YOUR News.

This looks as the same News that is shown on the SharePoint landing page, but it will bring it into the intranet, which saves switching apps.

Microsoft info: Use the News web part on a SharePoint page – Office Support (microsoft.com)

Select this News source to give everyone an overview of their personal News on the intranet

2. Saved for later

This web part will show you documents and News items that you have saved for later. It corresponds somewhat with the “Favourites” on the Microsoft365 landing page, but it will only take news posts and “real” documents, presumably from OneDrive and SharePoint.
And of course it shows the same content as the Saved for later web part on the SharePoint landing page.

There are a few display options to choose from while configuring.

Microsoft info: Use the Saved for later web part – SharePoint (microsoft.com)

The configuration

For comparison: above you will see the items shown in Saved for Later, below are My Favourites on the M365 landing page. You see that Forms, Lists and an attachment in my Outlook are not shown in Saved for later. That is a little inconsistent.

My Favourites on the M365 landing page. The highlighted items are shown in “Saved for later”.

3. Recent documents

This web part shows documents you opened or worked on recently. There’s not much to configure, just the number of documents. It corresponds to the “Recent” tab of the M365 landing page, but then if it would be filtered for Office documents.

Microsoft info: Use the Recent documents web part – SharePoint (microsoft.com)

Recent documents appear to show only Office documents, not recordings etc.

4. Sites

This web part can show your frequently visited sites. You can select the layout and the number of sites shown. It corresponds with your “Recent” list on the SharePoint landing page. In my experiment, it did not show a webpart title upon publishing, so I had to invent my own.

Microsoft info: Use the Sites web part – Office Support (microsoft.com)

The Compact view shows small icons, the Grid view is larger but takes up more space.

5. Conversations (Yammer)

This Yammer web part shows what’s on the Yammer feed. Use the option “Home Feed” to make it personal. My web part is empty, as I am the only person in my tenant and have written all messages, but I hope you will get the gist. πŸ™‚

Microsoft info: Use a Yammer web part in SharePoint Online – Office Support (microsoft.com)

The Yammer conversations web part can also be made personal

6. My Feed

This will show a variety of items, such as appointments and files that you have shared or updated. In my own tenant it does not show anything, so I have used another tenant, hence the blurred info. You will also see more of the Yammer conversations web part πŸ™‚

Microsoft info: Use the My feed web part – Office Support (microsoft.com)

My Feed and the options for configuration

7. Tasks?

I have heard rumours about a Tasks web part but I have not seen it yet, so I do not know if it can show your personal Tasks from Planner and ToDo.

“See all”

All web parts have a “See all” option to display more. This is all shown in the site where you are, and generally in a card format.
The only exception is the Conversations web part, where the option is called “View all” and takes you to Yammer.

What do I think?

In general, this is interesting functionality. Some of these web parts are already available in other places in Microsoft365, but it can give your colleagues a good overview of their stuff, and save time switching apps. It is not new – at an earlier employer we already had personal tasks web parts back in 2005, on SharePoint 2003. But that did not look as good and was not as easy to configure as this πŸ™‚

It can also help bring home the message that Microsoft365 is a fully integrated suite of tools.

The look-and-feel is quite pleasant, but be careful with the number of items you make available, and the layout, as it can easily become a very long page. Below a screenshot of what I ended up with, while finding out what was available.

Of course it will be interesting to see how people will respond to a page that has all their own information “on the intranet”. We need to inform people that the content will be different for everyone.

Are you using this in any way? Any thoughts and suggestions as for the perfect page layout? Please let me know – screenshots also welcome!

The end result, but I am sure this can be layed out a bit better.

SharePoint Holmes and the No-show News

The case

One of our Communication sites has changed hands recently. The former owner was very active in her site and we often referred people to that site as a showcase for Communication sites.
She left and someone else took over. The new owner attended one of our Webinars and told us she felt confident managing the site. Last week she asked for help – she had published a News item for the first time and although it showed on the SharePoint start page she could not find it in her site.

On the SharePoint start page, news item are displayed in chronological (First published) order. The item on the left is the most recent.
The homepage of the site in question. The latest item is nowhere to be seen.

The investigation

I remember seeing the post on my SharePoint start page and thinking “Ah, she did it! Good to see that that site is active again”. But I had not looked at the site.

  • I went to the site and there was the homepage, seemingly untouched since the last owner left. (see screenshot above)
  • I created a new page with the News web part and noticed that the new item was displayed in first position.
A new page with the News web part as is – the new item is in first position.
  • I checked the web part settings of the News web part on the home page.
  • After checking the web part layout and settings, I checked the bottom of the web part menu. And yes, what I suspected was true: ALL news items had been fixed on the page, blocking display of all new News items.
All 4 News items are pinned in a fixed position. This means that new items will be displayed below these.

The solution

That was relatively simple:

In web part editing mode, I clicked on each x after the News item’s title. The chronological order revealed itself, and the latest News became visible.

“Native web part” (in chronological order).

I think pinning all News items is not a good idea. I can imagine that you will want to keep one or (at the very most) two things visible for some time, but to fix them all in their place is defying the purpose of having a News functionality. Default is best, because it is news and it is supposed to change! Also, it can really puzzle your successor πŸ˜‰
And I personally keep forgetting how it is done; the functionality is a bit weird.

More on creating SharePoint News in my earlier post:

16 things to know about creating SharePoint News

And by the way…

I noticed that the web part picker no longer has an expand option. That means you can no longer have a large overview of available web parts. You can now choose between a grid and a list view, and you can search, or scroll.

About SharePoint Holmes:
Part of my role is solving user issues. Sometimes they are so common that I have a standard response, but sometimes I need to do some sleuthing to understand and solve it.
As many of my readers are in a similar position, I thought I’d introduceΒ SharePoint Holmes, SharePointΒ investigator, who will go through a few cases while working out loud.

New! The SharePoint app bar

“Hey, that’s weird, there’s only five News items on my SharePoint start page, not six,” I noticed the other day. When I looked a bit better at the page, I saw that something had been added on the left side of the page: the SharePoint app bar. At that moment, the only item that worked was the Home button, which led me to the SharePoint start page. Which, seeing that I already was on that page, was not a real advantage 😁. The other options showed an empty popup.

So, after asking around on Twitter, it turned out that more people had it and that they also saw empty popups, but Melissa Torres, the developer of this functionality at Microsoft, was so kind to confirm that it was populating, and indeed, the next day everything worked as it should.

Thank you, everyone who responded to my Tweet! πŸ‘‡

Many people responded to my Tweet, including Melissa Torres from Microsoft.

What does it do?

Here’s a nice explainer video from Melissa Torres. (Thank you, Phil Worrell, for sharing that)

  • This is the Microsoft documentation.
  • The app bar is displayed on the SharePoint start page and all sites with modern pages. We have some “classic” sites at work (well…modern but with a classic homepage) and it does not show on the home page but when you navigate to a document library you see it.
  • The app bar allows you to quickly move between content and sites, so when you in one site and need to go to another, you do not necessarily have to go via the SharePoint start page.
  • There are 4 buttons, see Tweet above, top to bottom:
    • 🏠 Home, which takes you back to the SharePoint start page, or, if your organization has a Home site specified, to the global navigation.
    • 🌍 My Sites, which shows your frequently visited sites and your followed sites
    • πŸ“° My News, which shows you about 8 recent News items
    • πŸ“„ My Files, which are recent documents you opened or worked on

Is the SharePoint app bar something to celebrate?

🌍 I was especially interested in My Sites. We do not have a SharePoint-based intranet yet, and we currently use SharePoint mainly for document management, generally in sites with limited permissions. We are slowly starting with communication sites and News, but the majority is “closed” sites. We have a custom web part showing “My Sites”, showing all sites you have access to, and I recently got some feedback that this was no longer displaying all sites. I wondered if this would solve that problem.

There is a Microsoft User Voice (what are these rumours I hear about closing that down?) asking for an out-of-the-box functionality that shows all sites you have access to, but that has been on the waiting list since 2017. Microsoft indicates that with a SharePoint intranet, there will be many sites everyone will have access to, so a list like that will be confusing rather than helpful. They suggest to use Following and looking at Recently visited sites, in order to create your own list. I will have some convincing to do, as the “All my Sites” is apparently popular functionality and now I need to tell people to “DIY”.
I know “Do It Yourself” is a Microsoft thing, but that does not necessarily resonate with everyone. πŸ˜‰

So, in that way My Sites is a bit of a disappointment, as it does not show “All My Sites” but rather “Recently/Frequently visited” and “Followed sites”. I think this is definitely useful but we will have to help people to make this useful for them. I can see the benefits of a quick switch between sites.

🏠 The Home button is at present not really useful, as there is a SharePoint button in every site to take you back to the SharePoint start page. When we have a Home site, and a global navigation, this button will be more interesting.

Every site has a link that takes you back to the SharePoint homepage

πŸ“° The My News option is nice, but to be honest, News is not THAT important that I need to be able to switch to it quickly when doing something else.

πŸ“„ My documents can be useful. I may need to find a certain document when working in a SharePoint site.

And this…

❓ I also wonder about what happened to plans for the SharePoint start page – about a year ago we were told that the left column would go away, but that never happened. I then thought that every “application landing page” would get the full list of Microsoft 365 apps, as we currently see on the Forms homepage, but that may also not be true.
So, perhaps the app bar will replace the left column? Oh well, we will see.

πŸ‘ All this may be a reason to get rid of classic pages!

πŸ‘Ž I am less happy with the fact that I can only see 5 news items on the start page.

What do you think?

SharePoint Holmes and the Disappearing Digest link

It has been some time that SharePoint Holmes’ skills were required to deal with a strange issue. But here he is again – this time with a mysterious issue with SharePoint News!

The case

Last time I mentioned a colleague who had started a new site, and who is very happy with the SharePoint News and the News digest. I had given her a short demo of creating both and emphasized that she needed to have at least 5 News articles before the link “See all” would appear on her News web part.

She called me some time after to ask why she did not see the “See all”. She had 5 news items but the link did not show.

No “See all” link on top of the News web part (left)

The investigation

I counted the News articles but yes, she had 6, so the link should be visible.

Perhaps it had to do with the page, one way or the other? So I checked:

  • Section colour – a wide shot but as she had used the dark section background perhaps there was a contrast issue?
  • The web part settings – you have a number of layouts for News items, such as a list or a Hub, and there are also some options per layout.
  • Number of columns – did perhaps a narrow column hide the link?

I just played around, changing the layouts and fiddling with the various options. Current SharePoint pages are so easy to change, that it is really not a lot of work, compared to the old pages!

The solution

Of course I should have trusted Microsoft that they know how to make sufficient contrast – the background colour had no negative influence.
A narrow column made no difference either – there is always room for “See all”. You see it in other web parts as well.
The web part itself was the culprit. There are actually TWO situations in the Layout when the “See all” does not appear:

  1. You use the Hub News layout – for one reason or another this NEVER shows the “See all”
  2. You deselect “Show title and commands“.
If you switch off “Show title and commands” you will not get the “See all” link

The latter was the problem in this case. My colleague did not like the extra space that the title took, so she had decided not to show that when she configured the page. When she hit 5 articles, she expected the link to show, as she did not realize that she had turned it off.
I can’t blame her, I only found out after she had called me!

The desired end result. You see it takes more space.

The tip

So, if you like the Hub News layout, or you want to hide the web part title, and you still want to create a News digest, you may want to do either of this:

  • Change the web part layout temporarily into another style, and go back to it when you have created your Newsletter
  • Create an additional page with a layout that supports See all, to create your Newsletters from.

I knew something would turn up as my 10th “Things to know about the SharePoint News digest“, so I have added it just now! 😁

About SharePoint Holmes:
Part of my role is solving user issues. Sometimes they are so common that I have a standard response, but sometimes I need to do some sleuthing to understand and solve it.
As many of my readers are in a similar position, I thought I’d introduce SharePoint Holmes, SharePoint investigator, who will go through a few cases while working out loud.

SharePoint News or List?

One of my colleagues asked me to help her with setting up a “news functionality” in a communications site. She had the following requirements:

  • nice and inviting looking, with images
  • easy to add news for two or three publishers
  • readers have the option to set an email notification

SharePoint News?

SharePoint News is excellent of course, but it does not lend itself well to notifications, as we have seen before.

Sending a News digest then? No, because the site owner does not know whom to send it to. The content is not confidential and the site is accessible for all employees. The content is not of interest for all employees, so sending it to “All Employees” is not a good option either. Any other option would need her to maintain users – but she has kept the site open so she does not have to maintain anything more than some publishers.

Same issue with a Power Automate action – although that works better than a notification, she does not know whom to send it to. And asking all interested people to create a workflow themselves would create a ton of support questions. “Low-code” is still “too much code” for someone who is not interested in creating workflows.
BTW, I have used the “Send a customized email when a new file is added” template for some time, which sends a link to a recently published News item.

A list, then?

So I decided to check something else. Whatever happened to the good old Announcement list, that I have used so often in earlier roles? And had I not recently seen a new list template with a large image on display?
I decided to check if one of these could meet all requirements. Besides, it would provide a good reason to play with the new Lists app πŸ™‚

Announcement list?

πŸ‘Ž There is no Announcement list template in a Communication site. I knew that the Communication site has fewer options, but I just forgot that this was also not available.

πŸ‘ When I started to work from a Custom List, I found that I could add a column to upload a picture. That must be new – I only remember the unpleasant option for “hyperlink or picture” that needs a link and a properly formatted image.

πŸ‘ The Custom List now also has a Gallery View option, which I used to create a News view, consisting of

  • Image (upload)
  • Title (single line of text)
  • Body (multiple lines of text)
  • Created (system)

πŸ‘‰ You will need to have the picture stored on your PC when you create a news item in this way. This means you can not use those lovely Stock Photo, Search on Web and Organizational Assets options you have when creating a News item, but I guess that for some people this may not be a problem.

πŸ‘ Looks nice when added to a page.

πŸ‘ When you click on an item from the page, you can read the item in full.

πŸ‘Ž Notifications work as expected, but instead of a thumbnail of the image, you see an unpleasant URL.

This is a notification email. The image does not display. The title (highlighted) is clickable and leads to the item.

Asset Manager list?

So, I decided to investigate that Asset Manager list template that I saw displayed in the new Lists app.
After a few tests, I removed all columns except:

  • Device Photo (which I renamed to Image)
  • Asset Tag (which in the List settings is called Title and cannot be renamed, single line of text)
  • Condition Notes (which is the only Multiple line of text field in the list). I renamed that to “Body” to be in line with the Announcements list.
  • I created a News view based on the Asset Gallery View and added that to the page

Well, it looked as if I just recreated that Custom List πŸ™‚ It behaved in exactly the same way as the other one.

Other observations about Lists

When you click “Create an app” from the Site menu, it leads you to the old page with the different list templates. When you click “New List” from the Site Contents page you go to the new List apps creation page. You can also select “New App” which will lead you to the “old” lists.
I hope this will get streamlined over time as it can be a bit confusing.

The “oldfashioned” apps when you click the gear wheel.
Clicking “List” will give you the new Lists options, and using “App” will give you the “oldfashioned” lists.

You will see a bit of the body text if you use “Plain Text” in the body. If you use “Rich Text” or “Enhanced Rich Text”, it will not display. I personally like the Rich Text, as it gives you just a few more options, but I guess you will need to decide what is most important.

The body text in the Announcements list is Rich Text, while the body text in the Asset list is Plain Text.

When you click on an item from the page, you see a reasonably nice page to read the full news item.
If you click from the list, you get a much more unpleasant view, huddled to the right with a “Show more” link for the body text, even if the text is not that long.

If you click on the title of the item from the web part on the page, you will get this.
When you click on the item from the list itself, you get this. You have to click on “See more” even though there is not THAT much text.

Conclusion

All three options can facilitate creating news items easily, once someone has set up those lists and web parts.

All options together on one page.

SharePoint News is superior in options for making great pages, and also has more display options for the web part, but the other lists provide better options for notifications, although the notification email is very plain.

Owner’s decision

When the site owner saw the SharePoint News, and the News digest, she fell in love instantly and decided that maintaining a Distribution List (yikes, but one of the few options to send a News digest quickly to a large audience) for her “core audience” was worth the extra work. The “core audience” can then distribute it to others.

Case completed πŸ™‚

VR image by Florian Pircher on Pixabay

Computer image by Sora ShimazakiΒ on Pexels

Chairs image by Skitterphoto on Pexels

Curses for intranet and digital workplace peeps

Curses-headerWith Halloween upon us, here are a couple ofΒ  fright-inducing wishes for people that manage or support your Office365-based intranet or digitalworkplace. Courtesy of your “Wicked Witch of the Dutch” πŸ™‚

This post has been inspired by Comms Curses by Helen Reynolds.

So, be aware if someone throws one of these spells on you.

Computer and network curses

  • May your bandwidth be forever restricted
  • My your wifi drop when you are presenting your new intranet to your Board of Management
  • May your migrations be throttled due to too much content being migrated at the same time
  • May your computer need a mandatory reboot in the middle of a global webinar that you are hosting
    This happened to me once. Thanks to whoever threw that spell on me!Β 

Office 365 Functionality curses

Office 365 has tons of good, well-designed functionalities that you take for granted. So what if someone curses you with sudden changes?Curses-MayAllVideos

  • May all your embedded videos start autoplaying at the highest volume when you open the page
  • May Search and Delve forget their security trimming
    As if their normal behaviour is not puzzling enough!Β 
  • May all pictures on your SharePoint modern pages be deleted
  • May all your Flows stop working without warning
  • May all SharePoint document and list item permissions be unique

Organizational curses

An organizational change can have an enormous impact on your digital workplace. Trust me, I have been there. So you can create a lot of panic and work when you throw an organizational curse someone’s way:

  • May your intranet need to merge with that of the organization that has just bought your organization
    Are you already looking forward to the discussions about who has got the best one?
  • May part of your organization be divested, making it necessary to move that part of your Office365 content to another tenant
    This happened at my earlier employer, and I tried to write about the project, but it was so much and so complicated that I stopped
  • May your CEO suddenly come up with the suggestion to replace Office365 with the platform of this nice small vendor that (s)he just met at this event
    Good luck with talking him or her out of that brilliant idea! CurseofCustomization
  • May your intranet owner insist on home page customizations
    I wrote The Curse of Customization about this
  • May all your SharePoint site owners leave at the same time without providing successors
    Divestitures or large reorganizations can do that
  • May your organization decide to cut your MVP-improvement budget, forcing you to stay at an imperfect and slowly declining level for the next few years
  • May your Office365 support and/or tenant administration be outsourced
    I wrote Ouch-Sourcing about this – and I may write more
  • May your introduction video, meant for employees only, go viral after being uploaded without hiding or security and being included in my Video Collection
    πŸ™‚

Microsoft curses

The havoc that Microsoft brings upon us now and then is reality rather than imagined πŸ˜‰ but just in case you want to scare your enemy, let’s go:

  • May Microsoft introduce new standard functionality that you have just custom-developed yourselfspnewsreader-header
    My previous organization had just spend a lot of time and money on a custom-built News solution, when Microsoft announced…News!
  • May the latest update turn your MVP into a NVP
  • May Microsoft roll out unwanted changes without warning or without the option to undo them.Β 
  • May all your employees suddenly be able to buy their own licenses. Oh wait… πŸ™‚
    You can still vote on UserVoice to block this!Β 

What to do when you have been hit by a curse?

I am working on the counter-spells but until now I have not been very successful…

Whoohahahahahahahahahahaha!

Curses-witch2

Pixel witch image courtesy of saphatthachat at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Noise image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Voodoo doll image courtesy of Kheat at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
News image courtesy of rawpixel.com on pexels.com
Witch with pumkin image courtesty of Lekkyjustdoit on FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

 

10 things to know as a SharePoint News reader

spnewsreader-headerIn earlier posts we have looked at SharePoint News and the News digest from the sender’s perspective. It is time to look at it from a reader’s point of view!

1. You can find SharePoint News in the following places:

  1. The site where it has been published
  2. The site overview (click “See all” on the web part after publishing 5 articles)
  3. News digests (Newsletters), consisting of the above, gathered with previews in an email
  4. The SharePoint app
  5. “News from sites” on the SharePoint landing page
  6. Β All “News from sites” if you click the “See all” on the SharePoint landing page

To avoid a very long post, I have compiled some screenshots in this deck. You may want to watch it full-screen:

2. You will only see News articles to which you have access.

The News digest is an exception – it can be sent to you and you may not have access to one or more of the articles.

3. The SharePoint web part on the landing page can not be configured or removed.

So if anyone is posting News articles and you have access, you will see them there, whether you want it or not.

Our project was a first and we did not want to show the News to everyone just yet. That is why we made the News site and the News digest available to a limited group of people only, even thought the content was not confidential. We simply did not want to confront people with something new which may be there only once. (In theory πŸ™‚ )

We received some comments of people in the target audience because it “obscured their view of the Frequent Sites”.

4. You can like a page and/or comment on it.

You will find the options at the bottom of the page. The author will receive an email now and then with the likes and comments. If you @mention someone, they will receive an email immediately. This is great for urgent remarks to the author, and also to inform a colleague about this article.

SPNewsreader-comment
Likes and comments are available. If you @mention someone, they will get an email.

5. You can save a news article for later.

This will come in useful when you do not have time to read it now, or in case you will want to keep it. There are 3 ways to do that:

  1. At the bottom of the post you will see an option to “Save for later”.

    SPNewsreader-savefrompost
    You can save an article for later by clicking the label at the bottom of the page.
  2. You can also click the label of any News article that you see on the “News from sites” overviews.
  3. In the SharePoint app you can click the … at the right of each article and select “Save for later”

    SPNewsreader-how to save
    From the Newsfeed in the app you can also save for later. Sorry – in Dutch πŸ™‚

There are 3 places to see your saved articles:

  1. On the News cards in “News from sites”, saved articles will show with a “filled” label as opposed to have the outline only (Is this proper English? πŸ™‚ )

    SPNewsreader-savedfromSPPage
    The highlighted label show that this News article is “saved for later”. You can (un)save on this page by clicking the label.
  2. On your SharePoint landing page, in the left-hand menu under “Saved”

    SPNewsreader-savedSPpage
    You will see “Saved” News articles in the left-hand column on the SharePoint landing page.
  3. In the SharePoint app News, under Filter (on top) you can select the “Saved Items”.

    SPNewsreader-appfilter
    Click the Filter and select “Saved Items”. Sorry for the Dutch! πŸ™‚

I would have expected this to be on Delve, together with bookmarks. But no.

6 a. The SharePoint app (iOS and Android) is excellent for reading News.

The Newsfeed (in order of First Published Date) looks great and your saved items are available in a separate place. (Click the filter on top to see only the “Saved Items”)
You can easily read the News in public transport or in the evening on the sofa!

I often hear that people “do not have time to read the news during the day”.

I also heard a story from a bank that made the News available on smartphones (this was pre-SharePoint News and app) and they saw a massive spike in views around 8 pm, when people were ready to settle in for the evening. Apparently employees do not mind spending private time on work-related News, as long as they can consume it at a time that suits them.

6 b. The Android app is very sticky when it comes to post-publication changes.

Both iOS and Android are fast to show freshly published News articles. But while the iOS app is fast to respond to post-publication changes (e.g. items being renamed, edited, depublished or removed) the Android app is very slow and can take several hours to change. Some unpublished or deleted items never even go away, providing you with a 404 (not found) message when you click them.
Android phones and fast-moving news such as IT outages and their fixes are therefore not a good combination.

7. Make it a habit to click on the title to open a News article.

Clicking on the image in the News Digest will only show you the image. Everywhere else you can also click on the image. Weird.

8. You will get notifications of new News articles in the app.

This happens when someone you work with frequently posts a new article. This is determined by the Microsoft Graph (the machine that also provides you with suggestions of documents, sites and people) based on your interactions, so there is not much you can do about it πŸ™‚

SPNewsreader-mobile (2)
Someone I work with has posted one (1) News article.

9. Alerts suck big time.

If you do not like to wait until you get a News digest or an app notification, you may think about setting an Alert. Please don’t – Alerts do not work.

Here’s what happens:

  • If you set an Alert based on “All changes” you will get two Alerts – one with the raw URL and one with the title, content and metadata. After that, you will get notified of all changes, of course.

SPNewsReader-alert1
First Alert you will get – yikes!

SPNewsreader-alert2
You get this one minute later.

  • If you set an Alert for “When new items are added” you get…nothing!
  • Update January 2021: Power Automate has a good option these days. I have been using the template “Send a customized email when a new file is added” and that works well.
  • Using a filtered view (Published items, “version contains .0”) did not solve the issue with Alerts or Flow. Besides, would any reader know that?

10. You can unlike a comment, but not news post.

Be careful with your likes on news posts: they stay there.
However, you can unlike a comment to a news post.

LikesNews
I have liked both post and comment, but can only unlike one.Β 

Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

10 things to know about the SharePoint News digest

After my massive list of things-to-be-aware-of when creating and managing SharePoint News, I though it would be good to share some lessons about the News digest (Newsletter) separately.

The News digest is a Newsletter created from News articles. It looks very nice in all browser and systems:

SPNewsDigest-Newsletteremail
The News digest as an email

This is what it looks like as a page:

SPNewsDigest-Newsletterpage
The News digest page or the “web version”.

So, here’s a few things that are not in the official support article but may be relevant.

1. You need 5 published News articles before you can send a News digest.

Frankly, this one drove me nuts. I knew I had seen Jasper Oosterveld and other people demo this functionality, so why did I not see the “See all” link on the homepage? Well, because I had only posted 4 items. Duh!

SPNEwsDigest-See all
The elusive “See all” link that allows you to send a News digest

2. The order is by selecting – the first article you select is on top.

This is independent of the creating or publishing order.Β  You can change the order of items after selecting them and clicking “Next”. Using the arrows you can then drag and drop the items into the desired order. The “x” will remove the item from the selection.

SPNewsDigest-moveitems
The yellow-marked icon shows “Move” and allows you to change the order.

3. You can only send this to an Office Group, Distribution List or individuals.

It looks like you can send this only to items which appear in the Global Address List.

I would have expected you could also use a SharePoint site user group (from this site) or a personal Group of Contact Persons from your Outlook, but no. In this case, it meant that our project manager had to add all people to a Distribution List. (We are not using Office Groups yet)

4. It is unclear (to me) what determines the logo.

  • If you do nothing the logo displayed will be the new SharePoint logo
  • If you replace the site icon by another image, the logo displayed will be the old SharePoint logo
  • Your organizational logo (the one in the Office365 top bar) does not show in the News digest
  • Both the support info and this blog by Juan Carlos Gonzalez Martin show that the site icon is displayed in the News digest.

I would like to know how this works, as I would prefer to distinguish the various News digests from one another by using a custom image. On suggestion of Juan Carlos I tested this with a modern team site (instead of a Communication site), but it did not work there either. That said, if there is one site template I would expect to allow more branding, it would be the Communication site!

There is already a number of User Voice requests out there for more options to manage the News digest look-and-feel.

At this moment Microsoft says in their support article that “It is not yet possible to make changes to the appearance of images, header area, or summary area of the email.” That gives hope for the future!

5. Your News digest will display the site’s name.

So make sure your site has a meaningful name.
This is of course another good way to tell the difference between this digest and another, but I still would like to have an image, too!

SPNewsdigest-logoandname
The logo (that I would like to be customizable), and the site name.

6. Access requests will be sent for the News article, not for the site.

If someone has been forwarded the News digest, clicks on the first item and then finds out they need access, they will send an access request to the News article.
You can click “Approve”, but

  • You will only give access to this specific article, so they will have to request access for the next article and the next, etc.
  • You will break the permission inheritance in the pages library, so every page will have its own permissions.
  • They will not see the header image because that lives in the Site Assets library, to which they do not have access.

I would suggest to treat the access requests as a general request for access to the complete SITE.
In our case, I have added a link to the Visitors group on the top of the site, so the project manager can quickly open the list and add new people.

SPNewsdigest-linkontop
Easy to reach for giving access.

He grumbled a bit but is IS a sign of success when people forward the News digest πŸ™‚

By the way, the access request email looks really nice these days. Sadly you can only Approve from the email if you are an Owner (not if you use a custom role, like we do) AND you can not give permissions for the complete site from this mail, only to the link requested.

SPNewsDigest-access
The new access request mail allows you to select role (but not Group) and Approve/Decline, for this specific News article.

7. Access requests will go to the original name of the article.

Have you changed the title of your News article after publishing? When you get an access request, the original name will be shown. If you have forgotten what it was, never mind – another reason to give access to the complete site! πŸ™‚

SPNewsDigest-accessrenamed
I renamed that article into “Share your best holiday pix” but the request goes to the old name 😦

8. You can send this to external users.

The email and the articles will look just as nice for your external partners as for your internal colleagues, including all logos and pictures. Of course your external partners can only read the full articles when your site allows external sharing AND they have access.

9. Your News digest may end up in the Spam box.

I have had to dig my beautiful News digest out of several spam boxes, for different email addresses 😦
So if your first News digests do not get the attention they deserve, you may want to ask around if people have received the emails. (and help them mark it as Not Spam)

10. The web part layout determines if there is a “See all” link

I only recently found out that the Hub News layout does not show a “See all” link, even when you have 5 items or more. Additionally, if you turn off “Show title and commands” in the web part, the link will not show either.

Next steps?

Overall, our audience was positive about the News digest and we have already received inquiries from another team.Β 

My next post will be about experiencing SharePoint News as a reader. Stay tuned!