The Pros and Cons of SharePoint “Modern”: A Kiefer Assessment (Part 2)

As many organizations that use SharePoint consider the “Modern” experience, it’s likely that you’ll need to put together a list of “pros and cons” to justify your decision to make the move from “Classic” to “Modern”. This blog will be helpful for organizations that are considering Sharepoint “Modern” experience vs. “Classic” experience.

Microsoft is making significant investments in the “Modern” experience. You can learn more about the “Modern” experience in this technical article published by Microsoft.

In our last blog, we provided you with our assessment of both “Classic” and “Modern” and listed out things you might consider before selecting SharePoint “Classic” or “Modern”.

In this blog, we highlight the pros and cons of the SharePoint “Modern” experience as it stands today, out of the box.  Work-arounds, which exist in the community (such as SPFx web parts exist to address “Modern” problems), are not included in this comparison. This may help in your assessment of SharePoint “Modern” and understanding the differences between “Classic” and “Modern”.

“Modern” Pros

The major selling points of the “Modern” experience can be summarized as follows:

  • “Modern” attempts to decouple services from SharePoint, paring the framework back to what it does best, Content Management, and encouraging the use of other products for tasks (Planner), discussions (Yammer/Skype), Team collaboration (Teams), graphic web parts (Power BI).
  • “Modern” pages use “React”, so they update in real time, performing more like an application rather than a web page.
  • Hub sites allow a much more dynamic way of organizing content, which can be composed by business users as opposed to a central organization.
  • Search uses the Microsoft Graph, so search can span Office 365 (but there are limited customization opportunities). Search results are more relevant to the person searching than “Classic” SharePoint search
  • “Modern” has a similar look and feel across office applications (Teams, Planner, SharePoint, etc.)
  • “Modern” has a consistent look and feel across form factors (phone, tablet, desktop)
  • “Modern” has a consistent look and feel across browsers (Edge, Chrome, Safari, Firefox)
  • “Modern” can download multiple documents at a time
  • “Modern” can add files as links rather than storing the document.
  • “Modern” has a responsive design that is ADA compliant
  • “Modern” gets constant Microsoft Updates (Bug fixes and Features)
  • “Modern” employs an easier metaphor for editing pages, adding sections to pages, and adding web parts to pages.
  • “Modern” wants you to have a flatter organization of sites
  • “Modern” contains many new “drag and drop” features
  • “Modern” has conditional column formatting.
  • Power users cannot customize pages in “Modern” to the same degree as in “Classic” (this can also be a Con depending on your organization)
  • Developers (or Dev/Ops) are required to create (or install) SharePoint Framework web parts. (This can also be a Con depending on your organization).
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“Modern” Cons

The drawbacks to the “Modern” experience can be summarized as follows:

  • “Modern” has very limited branding capabilities.
  • “Modern” web parts are not mature.  Examples:
    • A news web part can filter a type of news article but can only show up to 8 items.  It does come with a “See All” link, however that link does not respect the filter applied.
    • Web parts do not have a facility to limit data through a query string.
    • “Connecting” web parts (Dynamic data) not well supported (but this is emerging)
  • No audience targeting with “Modern” web parts (some web parts with targeting are coming)
  • No page filtering web parts. (Can’t filter list values based on URL value).
  • Limited connection between web parts. (More connections, “dynamic connections” increasing over time)
  • The “Highlighted Content” web part (rolling up information from other sites) only shows 8 results, and filtering is weak.
  • Classic web parts do not go on “Modern” pages.
  • “Modern” web parts do not go on “Classic” pages
  • “Modern” pages do not “Print” well using the browser’s “Print” function.
  • There is no “Search Center” or ability to customize the search experience
  • Many users have complained that pages have too much header information (“Above the fold”) and to get to data the user must scroll
  • Document Sets have yet to be implemented in “Modern” (coming soon).
  • Over 75 “Classic” web parts are not supported in “Modern” including:
    • Script Editor Web Part
    • Calendar Web Part
    • Project Summary Web Part
    • Filter Web Parts
    • Charting web parts
  • Do not have much control (yet) over the way data is presented in web parts, such as the number of records, the visual display (cards/list), just the view.
  • No page layouts (coming soon?)
  • No Row-based formatting. (Microsoft has been testing this feature for over a year and it has yet to make it into the product).
  • Power users cannot customize pages in “Modern” to the same degree as in “Classic” (this can also be a Pro depending on your organization).  No easy way to add a “button” or include simple JavaScript (this can also be a Pro depending on your organization’s philosophy).
  • Developers (or Dev/Ops) are required to create (or install) SharePoint Framework web parts. (this can also be a Pro depending on your organization’s philosophy).
  • “Modern” functions (such as the default “Copy Link”) can do more than just copy a link, depending on the user’s security level.  If the user has contribute rights, “Copy Link” creates custom permissions on an item.
  • “Modern” sites do not necessarily “play well” with other sites.  Example: When adding an image to a subsite’s page, there is no facility to connect to a parent’s image library.
  • Blogging is not supported in “Modern”

We hope that you find this assessment of SharePoint “Modern” is helpful and that you have a better understanding of the pros and cons of SharePoint “Modern”.

Our team has experience with both the SharePoint “Classic” and “Modern” experience and we’d be happy to discuss your business needs. By understanding your needs, we can help you decide what SharePoint experience would be best for your organization. Contact us!

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