In this SharePoint Online tutorial, we will discuss SharePoint Online modern experience. In detail, we will discuss what is SharePoint modern experience? Differences between the new and classic experiences for lists and libraries and Switch the default experience for lists or document libraries from new or classic.
Also, we will see how to customize modern experiences in SharePoint Online? what is the impact of modern UI on both end-user as well as developers in SharePoint?
Can we get the modern experience in SharePoint on-premise? Can we switch from classic experience to modern experience or vice versa? What are the features of the SharePoint online modern document library or list etc?
One of the great things about using Office 365 is that you will get new features regularly. Office 365 team is coming off frequently with new features or functionality in Office 365 SharePoint online.
Video Tutorial: Learn about SharePoint Online Modern Experience (Modern UI)
Below is a video tutorial explains, SharePoint Online modern experience (Modern UI).
What is SharePoint modern experience?
SharePoint modern experience is whole new user experience in SharePoint Online Office 365. It has a fresh look and is responsive in nature which works very well in mobile devices. SharePoint modern experience is supported in SharePoint Online as well as SharePoint server 2019.
SharePoint Online modern experiences are:
- SharePoint home page in Office 365
- Most lists and libraries
- New SharePoint team site and communication site home pages
- New pages
- Site contents
- Site usage
- Recycle Bin
SharePoint modern experience has lots of advantages, like better & updated user experience, faster page loading, more intuitive, and responsive design. We will discuss in detail about various advantages of modern team sites, lists, and libraries as well as site pages.
Microsoft is highly recommending to use modern experience in SharePoint Online or SharePoint server 2019.
SharePoint classic and modern experiences
This section will discuss SharePoint classic and modern experiences in detail. First, we will discuss SharePoint modern team sites.
SharePoint Home Page – Modern
The modern SharePoint home page which is fully responsive, you can find and access SharePoint sites very easily. You can also see sites you are following, Recent sites which are created in your Office 365 tenant.
In the News from the sites section, you can see news from sites that you are following. Apart from this you can see frequent sites and suggested sites in the SharePoint home page.
Apart from this you can also create a site and create news post from the modern SharePoint home page.
Apart from this, you can also search by using the modern SharePoint search box, where you can search for sites, files, etc.
The modern SharePoint home page looks like below:
SharePoint Modern team sites
In organizations, team sites are used to improve collaboration within teams. SharePoint modern team sites are more collaborative than class SharePoint team sites. Modern team sites are fully responsive and look perfectly in all the devices like Desktop, Laptop, Tablet, and mobile devices.
Below are a few advantages and disadvantages of the SharePoint modern team site.
Advantages of SharePoint modern team sites
- The modern team site is not new, Microsoft released modern team sites in 2016 and are integrated with Office 365 groups. You can read an article on Office 365 groups.
- Modern team sites are responsive by design and they are much faster to create compared to classic team sites and use by an end-user. End users can open the modern team site in any device, it is fully responsive.
- It contains native news, quick links, and activity capabilities.
- Modern team sites come up with a modern list and libraries which support Microsoft Flow and PowerApps.
- It has modern page editing capabilities as well as it has the updated site contents page.
Below is how a classic and modern SharePoint team sites look like.
Create SharePoint modern team site
We can easily create a modern team site in Office 365 SharePoint Online. From the App launcher click on SharePoint icon like below:
Then click on + Create Site like below:
Then choose Team site like below:
Provide the Site name, Office 365 Group email address will be taken automatically, site description and whether you want to create a public site (anyone in the organization can access) or Private (only members can access) site.
Then you can add additional group members like additional owners and additional members like below:
Once you click on Create, it will create the new modern team site quickly. You can see the home page for the site with News, Quick links, Activity, Documents, and Comments like below:
Customization supported and not supported in modern team site in SharePoint online
One question comes up is whether we should start using modern team sites over the classic team site in my organization? Well, there are lots of things to consider before making a decision. Basically what is supported in modern sites and what is not supported, because lots of customizations are possible in classic team sites but not in modern sites.
Customization supported in modern team sites
- We can apply out of box themes as well as custom themes and also we can change the logo.
- We can add site columns, content types and also we can create lists and libraries.
- We can configure site settings, such as regional settings, languages, and auditing settings.
Customizations NOT supported in modern team sites
- The above things are not just only things you required in an organization. Below are the things which are still not supported in modern team sites. And if your organization required these things then think before taking a decision to move to new modern team sites. Custom page layouts or master pages are not supported in modern team sites, neither you can use classic Seattle.master or oslo.master master pages in modern team sites.
- Sandboxed solutions are not supported.
- You can not open a SharePoint online modern team site using SharePoint designer 2013.
- Some of the popular web parts are not available in modern team sites for end users.
Can I convert existing classic team sites to modern team sites?
If you have not done any customization in your classic team sites and you want covert the existing classic team site to a new team site in SharePoint, it is not possible. But you can use modern lists, libraries or sites pages by enabling at the tenant level as well as at site level. You can read an article on:
By default, if you have enabled the option to use modern features in existing classic sites then whenever you will create a new page, it will create the modern page with the option to change the welcome page to the modern page. Also, you can set a new “modern” page for a “classic” SharePoint site programmatically by using CSOM or REST APIs.
I have also written a detailed article on how we can set a modern home page in classic SharePoint site in SharePoint Online Office 365. You can have a look at the below article.
Differences between the new and classic experiences for lists and libraries
In details, we will discuss here the difference between the new and classic experiences for both lists and document libraries in SharePoint online.
First, we will discuss SharePoint modern libraries and then we will discuss modern lists.
SharePoint Modern Libraries
Now we will discuss new SharePoint online modern document libraries. Modern Documents libraries have a new rich look, easy to use, loads faster and it is fully responsive. So it is highly advisable to use the new interface rather keep using the classic experience.
Below how the classic and modern library looks like:
Below are a few new features of a modern document library, we will check all the new features in another detailed post.
Features of SharePoint Modern libraries
- If you are using OneDrive, then you will like the modern document library user interface, because the modern document library has a similar user interface like OneDrive. It is very much intuitive specially create folders or uploading files.
- You can highlight important files by using the “Pin to top” feature.
- One clicks away to add columns to the new document library. Adjust the width of the columns by simply dragging the column. I remember we need to do lots of scripting to achieve this before. You can read an article: SharePoint 2013/2016: Change Width of List Column using Designer and jQuery
- The ribbon has been replaced by a command bar that provides intelligent commands relevant to the tasks. All the ribbon customizations you have made before will appear in the new command bar. So your business customizations will not be lost.
- Select the file(s) and then from the command bar itself, you can move or copy files to a different location.
- Mobile browsers have the same features as the desktop, making SharePoint productive for every user, whether they interact via mouse, keyboard, touch, or screen reader.
- Navigate from list view to Tiles views or vice versa very easily. Create new views easily from the View Options from the command bar.
- Easily filter records based on modified date from the Filters pane easily.
- Select any file and by using the details pane, you can easily see details about the file like file details, who has access to the files, meta about the file.
I have also written below two articles:
- Top 10 New Features of Modern SharePoint Online Document Library Part 1
- Top 10 New Features of Modern SharePoint Online Document Library Part 2
Now the question comes whether as an organization we should move to new modern document libraries or not. Well, depends on what kind of customization you have done in old classic SharePoint online document libraries. Because modern document libraries do not support more customizations like classic document libraries.
Note: Both classic and modern SharePoint online document library experience will coexist. And also you can anytime switch from classic experience to modern experience and vice versa.
Here we will check what are the customization options are possible in the modern document library and what are customizations are not possible in SharePoint online modern document library.
Customization possible in Modern libraries
Below are the customizations are possible in a modern document library in SharePoint online, but in future, more customizations will be supported.
- Modern document library supports declarative custom actions for menu and command actions. The buttons will appear in the command interface.
- Custom branding is supported
- PowerApps and MicrosFlow integration
Customization NOT possible in Modern libraries
But below are few customizations are NOT possible, so we need to understand according to our requirement.
- JSLink based field or view customizations are not possible in SharePoint online modern document library.
- Custom CSS via AlternateCSSUrl web property is not possible. JSLink customization was quite popular among developers.
- Custom master pages, Minimal Download Strategy (MDS) and SharePoint server publishing are not supported.
- InfoPath has a huge impact on the new modern document library, Customization using InfoPath is not supported.
So if you have any library which has customized using InfoPath, then you can not move as it is. Few of the above things are possible using SharePoint’s new development framework, SharePoint Framework (SPFx).
SharePoint online Modern List
Like modern document library, modern lists has lots of new features. Like document libraries, modern lists looks great and is fully responsive and very easy to use in any devices.
Below is how classic and modern SharePoint list looks like:
Below are few features of SharePoint online modern list.
Features of Modern List
- Very attractive new & edit list forms.
- One click integration of PowerApps and Microsoft Flow. You can directly create and launch flow from a SharePoint online list. By using PowerApps you can build mobile forms and apps directly from a SharePoint list, without needing to write code.
- Just one click away to add columns to list, sort, filter, etc.
- Export to Excel in Google Chrome and other browsers, in the classic experience you need a browser like Internet Explorer which support ActiveX.
- Modern SharePoint online lists look great in SharePoint mobile app.
Most of the customization which is supported or not supported, you can have a look at the library section above. It is almost similar to SharePoint online modern document library.
Switch the default experience for lists or document libraries from new or classic
Microsoft provides options to Switch the default experience for lists or document libraries from new or classic.
I have written a detailed article on SharePoint Online Switch from classic experience to modern experience (List & Document Libraries).
Features that cause the new experience to automatically switch to the classic experience
Below are the features that cause the new experience to automatically switch to the classic experience in SharePoint.
- External data columns
- Geolocation columns
- Publishing columns (Publishing HTML, Publishing Image, Publishing Hyperlink)
- Limited-access user permission lockdown mode
- List templates other than Document Library, Custom List, Announcements List, Links List, Picture Library, Asset Library, Promoted Links, Form Library and Wiki Page Library
- JSLink code on fields
- CustomActions on the list that include ScriptBlock or ScriptSrc properties
- A list view page with any web part other than the list view web part
- Document set welcome pages
Communication sites in SharePoint
SharePoint also introduced a new communication site in SharePoint Online as well as in SharePoint server 2019.
Communication sites are used to communicate information with others. In classic sites, we used to use publishing sites. Though there is a difference between publishing sites and communication sites still in modern SharePoint experience we can use communication sites for the same proposes. In SharePoint communication sites, you can share news, reports, statuses, and other information, etc.
Few major differences in communication sites and publishing sites are:
Publishing sites depend on publishing features in SharePoint and it will have master pages and page layouts. But communication sites will not have any master pages and it does not rely on publishing features.
A publishing site will have subsites, but in communications, sites are designed not to have any subsites. It uses modern pages and web parts.
A typical modern communication site looks below:
SharePoint Modern Pages and web parts
SharePoint pages and web parts are very important in SharePoint. Modern pages in SharePoint are very fast and easy to build responsive pages.
Similarly, modern web parts are very easy to use, fast and look great compared to classic SharePoint web parts.
We need to remember that we can not use classic web parts in modern web part pages, similarly, we can use modern web parts inside classic web part pages in SharePoint.
Below is how your classic SharePoint web part pages and modern site pages look like.
Supported Browsers for modern experience in SharePoint
Below are the browsers which are supported SharePoint modern experience.
- Latest version of Mozilla Firefox
- Latest version of Google Chrome
- Latest version of Safari
- Latest version of Microsoft Edge
- Internet Explorer 10 and 11
Until when the classic mode will be supported in SharePoint Online
If you have lots of customization in your SharePoint online page, list or libraries, then you might have thinking till when the classic mode will be supported. Well, there is a specific date declared from Microsoft but you should start analyzing and trying to migrate to the new interface. Till some more time, both classic and modern experience will coexist.
What about modern experiences in SharePoint on-premises servers?
Microsoft has released modern team sites, list and libraries in SharePoint server 2019, which is the latest version of SharePoint on-premises and is already released for production use.
Impact on InfoPath in modern UI in SharePoint online office 365
Let us see, what is the impact of modern UI inside SharePoint form library in SharePoint online.
SharePoint Form Library
Microsoft designed SharePoint form library, especially to store Microsoft InfoPath form. InfoPath forms are nothing but XML files which usually opened in Microsoft InfoPath. We can also directly publish an InfoPath form to a form library in SharePoint online.
Impact on InfoPath forms inside SharePoint online form library
I have a form library, where I have published an InfoPath form. The modern UI is enabled in the form library. So the form looks like below. You can see how the forms are showing in .xml extension in the Name column.
Now when I click on the form, to open it which ideally should open in InfoPath in a browser, instead it opens the file as an XML file which looks like below:
Just to let you know that the above things happen when a modern experience is enabled in the library.
Now I have disabled the modern experience in the library and you can see the form library looks like below. And the forms look like InfoPath (.xsn) forms.
This time If I click on the form to Open it open in InfoPath in the browser itself.
So if you have any sites where InfoPath form is there and published to the form library. Plan things before enabling modern experience for the form library in SharePoint online.
You may like following SharePoint modern experience tutorials:
- Difference between classic search experience and modern search experience in SharePoint Online Office 365
- Add Calendar List in the Modern SharePoint Online Site Pages
- SharePoint Online Team site Vs Communication site
- Quick Chart Web Part in Modern SharePoint Online Site
- How to Add List View Web Part in SharePoint Online Modern Site
- Hero Web Part in SharePoint Online Modern Site
- Hub Sites SharePoint Online Office 365 Tutorial Download PDF Free
- Add People Web Part in Modern SharePoint Online Office 365 Site
- View in File Explorer is missing in SharePoint Online Modern document library
- SharePoint interview questions and answers
I hope this article will be helpful to know SharePoint online modern experience or modern UI in Office 365. Also, I have explained differences between the new and classic experiences for SharePoint Online lists and libraries and how to switch the default experience for lists or document libraries from new or classic.
I am Bijay a Microsoft MVP (8 times – My MVP Profile) in SharePoint and have more than 15 years of expertise in SharePoint Online Office 365, SharePoint subscription edition, and SharePoint 2019/2016/2013. Currently working in my own venture TSInfo Technologies a SharePoint development, consulting, and training company. I also run the popular SharePoint website EnjoySharePoint.com