Sharing – simplified

Gaurav Doshi is a program manager on the SharePoint engineering team, focused on user experience.

One of the reasons I love working for Microsoft is the pervasive culture of giving. Everyone I know here is involved in some non-profit volunteering activities.  I too do work for a non-profit, managing a group of volunteers in India who provide education and primary health care to underprivileged kids.
We regularly exchange a lot of information: photos, videos, budget documents, receipts and legal stuff. We collaborate on presentations, edit videos and create hand-outs. Currently, all this is done by email, and as you can imagine, it’s a mess. Our stuff is scattered. It’s common to lose updates from people and versions get out of control quickly.
SharePoint is ideal to sort this mess out. A site is a perfect place to store everything related to a project. I can easily share the site with people in our organization, or with volunteers who are external users. I can collaborate with anyone, anywhere to create presentations and edit videos – without ever losing updates. 
If you’re familiar with SharePoint, you may have heard of permissions, groups and inheritance, but “sharing”? That’s something new! It’s incredibly simple and yet very powerful. Let’s walk through it.

Sharing a site

Sites are meant to be shared with people. Sharing a site is simple in the new version of SharePoint. On every page of the site, there’s a “Share” button in the top right corner. Just click on it, type in names of people you want to share with, and hit enter. That’s it, you’re done! SharePoint still uses powerful concepts like permission levels, groups and inheritance to provide this experience, but you don’t have to understand those concepts anymore to accomplish everyday tasks like sharing a site.
The people you just shared with will get an email invitation with a link to the site.
If you’re using Office 365, you can invite people outside your company. Just type in their email addresses, and they too will get an invitation.
Part of sharing is also understanding who can see something. If you want to find out who is already on this site, you can check that easily as well. Under the “Settings” menu in top right corner, click on “Shared with” and you’ll see the names and pictures of people who have access to the site.

Sharing a document

Sometimes you just want to share a single document, not an entire site. You can upload that document to SkyDrive Pro. It’s not shared with anyone at this point. When you’re ready to share, click on the “Lock” icon next to the document, and then “Invite People”, type in names and hit enter. As you invite people, the “Lock” icon now changes to indicate that document is shared.
You can also share individual documents within a site by selecting “Share” on the document callout.

When you share a document with people outside your organization, by default, they need to sign in with a free Microsoft Account (formerly known as a Live ID). But if you uncheck the “Require sign-in” option, they won’t have to sign-in. This will be ideal for me when I want to share a handout for a fundraising event. Anyone I share with can forward the link to others. I can take the link and put it on my Facebook to advertise my event and so on. Whoever gets the link will be able to access the handout without signing in.

It’s worth noting that administrators have control over certain sharing settings, like the ability to share without requiring sign-in.

Access requests

If you have used SharePoint, I am sure you have seen this at some point:

In the past, when you hit access denied, it was a dead end and there was nothing you could do about it.
In the new version of SharePoint, when you try to visit a site or a document that’s not shared with you, you’re no longer stuck. Instead, you can explain why you need access, sending a notification to the site owner. Once the owner approves your request, you’ll be notified by email. It’s no longer a dead end; it’s a door with a doorbell on it!

I can’t wait to start using SharePoint 2013 to store and share everything related to my non-profit work. How will simple sharing improve your everyday tasks: putting together proposals with a vendor? Working with partners quickly and securely? Collaborating across organizational boundaries?
Try the preview of SharePoint today, and give us your feedback!