Content Service Add-ins for SharePoint & Office 365 – part 2

This is part two of a three-part series of how add-ins can improve content services in SharePoint & Office 365. Part 1 of this series covered content creation and how Live Publish helps users simplify this process. This article covers content coordination and how to better manage metadata during the lifecycle of content in SharePoint.

Metadata is at the heart of content types, and content types are what makes SharePoint, SharePoint. The reliance on good metadata and taxonomies to drive business value on a Content Services platform like SharePoint is key.

Metadata’s primary purpose is to help “Coordinate” content. In his article (SharePoint evaluated as a Leader in latest edition of The Forrester Wave™: Enterprise Content Management), Chris McNulty, senior product manager on the SharePoint team, talks about coordinate as a key area of SharePoint’s Content Services features.

InfoPath’s role in Coordinating SharePoint content is no more

It is always sad when I hear Microsoft deprecating another of it is wonderful products like InfoPath. Don’t get me wrong, InfoPath was far from perfect but in terms of a form tool, it was incredibly powerful. One of the main reason I was sad to see it go was because it was the document panel for the Office products and SharePoint. The document panel using InfoPath was a good create experience for the user as it bought the need to coordinate and classify in to the document editing process for the user.

In Word 2016 (and the other Office products), the document panel in under the File | Info menu. I don’t really find this as usable and not a nice user experience. This combines the Word document properties with the SharePoint metadata (and in my opinion is very confusing).

Also, sometimes, when there are mandatory fields, the experience of using this just doesn’t work. The Word properties feature does not always support the SharePoint metadata and you are sometimes dealing with pop-up dialog boxes redirecting the user to web file properties screens.

New Word SharePoint properties panel – looks cool!

Microsoft have released an add-in to allow you to modify the SharePoint meta-data and Document properties. This is great and a very nice transition from the InfoPath document panel. This is only available for Word 2016 (as of July 2018). Please refer to Chris McNaulty’s post at TechCommunity for more information.

Live Publish – our document panel feature

At Qualitem, we strive to make the user experience easy and intuitive. We have a need to include a Document Panel into our product set, so that’s what we did. Our document panel isn’t trying to compete with Microsoft’s Word SharePoint Property Panel, we needed a panel to support our publishing process. This allows users to profile and classify their content at the same time they want to publish it. This supports our one-step publishing process and everything can be done within the panel, rather than saving the content and then updating all the metadata as a separate step. Please refer to the image in this article as an example of what our metadata support looks like.

Live Publish is a content services publisher and consequently we need to support metadata. This is not just for our SharePoint plug-ins; every content system we publish to needs to support metadata of some sort. We have introduced the Document Panel feature in to our Word Add-in to allow metadata to be managed directly within the Word document. The user is then able to publish the metadata along with the HTML content to SharePoint (classic or modern pages) – that’s right, modern page publishing is now supported (I’ll be covering this in my next article). Our document panel support for metadata can be seen in the image above.

Modern page publishing

In my previous article I covered the create experience of a Content Services platform like SharePoint and how the classic experience is difficult and simply too technical; it is getting better with the new modern experience. The create experience is critical for driving user adoption.

In my next and final article on Content Service Add-ins for SharePoint and Office 365 series, I will cover how Live Publish now supports the SharePoint world of publishing Modern pages for publishing pages, wiki content and news posts, so look out for that.