Nathaniel Granor is a Program Manager on the SharePoint Engineering team, focused on user experience.
I’m kind of obsessed with space. I wanted to be an astronaut when I was growing up. I even went to Space Camp – twice. That’s probably why I think of SharePoint as its own universe. Instead of stars and planets, SharePoint is brimming with sites and documents and lists.
In previous versions of SharePoint, we gave each user a place, called My Site, to store personal files and interact with social features. My Site used to be “just another site” – an extra solar system in a galaxy far, far away.
In SharePoint 2013, we’ve changed My Site. It’s now your own personal spaceship – a tool to help you navigate the collections of people, data and content stored in SharePoint. We’ve split My Site into three areas or “hubs,” each one orbiting around the most important thing in the SharePoint universe: You. These three hubs are available in a global navigation bar at the top of every page in SharePoint and Office 365.
The first hub, called “Newsfeed,” is focused on people and activity. The main page of this hub features the SharePoint newsfeed, and allows you to add your own personal SharePoint apps, like Tasks.
The second hub is “SkyDrive Pro,” a place to store your files in the cloud.
The final hub is “Sites,” which will help you keep track of the SharePoint locations most valuable to getting things done.
To power these hubs, we’ve introduced a concept called following. In SharePoint 2013, you can follow people, documents, sites and tags. When something is important or interesting, follow it. We’ll show you information about the things you’ve followed in your newsfeed. Also, we’ll keep track of those things and give you easy access to them from the three hubs.
In Office 365, Newsfeed, SkyDrive and Sites are joined by links to other products in the service, like the Outlook, Calendar, and People hubs from the Outlook Web App.
In the rest of this post, we’ll take a look at the contents of the Newsfeed, SkyDrive Pro and Sites hubs.
The “Newsfeed” hub is the command center of your SharePoint spaceship. Here you’ll find the SharePoint newsfeed, featuring conversations with the people you care about and updates about important content. You can view and edit your profile to manage the way you appear to others in your organization. And you can view the list of people you are following and those following you.
The “Newsfeed” hub is also a place for lists, libraries and other apps for your personal use. For example, you’ll find the Tasks app already installed. This app aggregates all of the tasks assigned to you anywhere in SharePoint or in your Outlook mailbox (assuming you are on Office 365, or your administrator has configured Microsoft Exchange). You can add other apps as well, such as a blog or a picture library.
If you had a My Site in previous versions of SharePoint and used it for things other than documents, you’ll find the contents of your My Site in the “Newsfeed” hub as well.
For years, people have used Microsoft SkyDrive to store, share and sync their personal files. With SharePoint 2013, we’re bringing you a professional-grade version of SkyDrive, integrated with SharePoint. This hub is your spaceship’s cargo bay, where you carry your most precious payloads.
The SkyDrive hub is the single place to store, share and collect all of the files you care about. From “My Documents,” you can create new Office documents, upload files with Drag and Drop, or manage the files in your collection. The files you upload are private by default, but it’s simple to share them with people or groups in your organization, or anyone on the internet. We’ve also created a folder called “Shared with Everyone.” When you place files in that folder, they’ll automatically be available to all of your coworkers.
In addition to your personal files, the SkyDrive hub displays the collection of documents you’ve followed, recommended documents from across SharePoint, and (in Office 365) the list of documents you recently opened on any device.
SkyDrive is more than just a hub you can visit in your web browser. In future posts, we’ll talk all about the exciting features SkyDrive Pro has to offer on your desktop or mobile device.
Sites are places to work together with different groups of people. Sites are the building blocks of SharePoint, which means that they are often as numerous as stars in the sky. It’s a lot to take in! Enter the Sites hub: like the starship Enterprise, your SharePoint spaceship is equipped with a transporter room, capable of beaming you directly to the sites that host the most important data, content and conversations.
If your administrator has enabled it, the first thing you’ll see in the Sites hub is a button to create a new site, followed by a search box. Try searching for sites before you create a new one. You might find that the site you need already exists. When you create a site from the Sites hub, you’ll automatically follow that site, so you can easily return to it later.
Moving down the page, there’s a set of big tiles representing sites that your organization’s administrators have chosen to promote. These might point to important internal portals or tools, or perhaps to your CEO’s blog.
Below the tiles is a list of sites that you’re following. No longer do you need to memorize URLs or scrawl them on post-it notes stuck to your computer monitor. When you discover a site that is interesting or valuable, follow it! You can find all of the sites you’ve followed in this central list, available whenever you use SharePoint. We’ll also make some suggestions about other sites that may be relevant to you.
Communities are a special kind of site built for bringing together large groups of people around a shared topic or interest. If your organization uses communities, you can move from the Sites hub to the community portal: a page which surfaces the latest and greatest open communities.
We’ve worked hard to ensure that the SharePoint universe revolves around you. Use the “Newsfeed,” “SkyDrive,” and “Sites” hubs to guide you as you explore the brave new world of SharePoint 2013.