More information about the Underscore mailing list

[_] Sharepoint UX stories to share?

Topia Russ topiaruss at
Tue Apr 30 20:13:41 BST 2019

Is this of any interest? <>
It’s been around the block, is used widely in FOSS circles. I’m just lobbing it out there for consideration.

> On 30 Apr 2019, at 19:30, Damian Webber <damian.webber at> wrote:
> I think the problem I have with SharePoint is that people just end up using
> it in the same way as Shared Folders. We use it internally where I work and
> we're all supposed to be IT literate but there's no true low maintenance
> method of creating and then finding stuff. The key to good SharePoint
> governance is lots of process and nobody likes that. You can force metadata
> on people but again it needs policing as there's no immediate benefit.
> You could build a front end purely using search - even something like HP
> Idol (Idol onDemand is a lesser known cloud offering) might be useful for
> creating search powered solutions. You'd still need well maintained
> metadata (equals full-time staff to police)
> M-Files is a really good what it is versus where it is solution.
> another alternative is to use something like MarkLogic as a repository
> which is all about the content and not the location, but there's no true
> front end for it - we're building a solution for a medical sector customer
> and I've seen the development figures...... #NoLikey
> *Damian Webber*
> @damianwebber <> | 07590 807 252
> On Tue, 30 Apr 2019 at 09:01, Ben Stevens. <craptiger at> wrote:
>> That’s super useful Damian thank you!
>> To answer some of your questions:
>> Some of the challenges the customer has are that many of the staff are
>> really not IT literate at all, yet still need to be able to find documents
>> e.g. a general Health & Safety Policy document, or an obscure instruction
>> manual for a valve.
>> We did look at manually creating pages but there are currently about 40
>> business areas e.g. Finance, Legal, IT, HR, each with up to 10 document
>> “types” (so far) e.g. Policies, Process.  There are hundreds of “sites”
>> (offices) some of which have documents specific to them e.g. Offices might
>> have docs aimed specifically at “receptionists” and commercial sites might
>> have docs aimed at “truck drivers”.  Then there are the business area types
>> e.g. one branch of the company might sell widgets in shops and another
>> might grow flowers.
>> So depending on what part of the business you work in, you might want to
>> search for a legal document at the Bristol flower growing office, or an HR
>> policy for truck drivers who deliver widgets across the whole country (thus
>> not filtering by location).  There are SO many permutations, and
>> frustratingly (this will probably ring a bell with many of you) I only took
>> over this project once the requirements had already been collated (badly)
>> and the solution / supplier already chosen for me.
>> To answer your other questions, document approval / collaboration /
>> regular content reviews are very important, as is the ability to keep an
>> audit trail of all changes made to any document for compliance.
>> They were also hoping to store document templates in the system to allow
>> users to create records based on those templates e.g. a Word template
>> holiday request form that the user clicks, fills in and then saves back to
>> the DMS.  There are MANY of these, plus up to 100 infopath forms they were
>> hoping to build in PowerApps but now realise they probably can’t.
>> Lastly, just to add to the potential pain - there’s very little in the way
>> of internal support / knowledge so they’re really not keen on too much
>> customisation.
>> Looking quickly at M-Files, it looks brilliant so I’ll suggest we look at
>> that along with some other alternatives.
>> Thank you so much for the advice though
>> B
>>> Message: 5
>>> Date: Mon, 29 Apr 2019 17:11:13 +0100
>>> From: Damian Webber <damian.webber at>
>>> To: underscore <underscore at>
>>> Subject: Re: [_] Sharepoint UX stories to share?
>>> Message-ID:
>>>      <
>> CANzT8VGhN-SOUcP_3Modt6yCWJ8z+VSKERzWJggMxqM4Au8Ynw at>
>>> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="UTF-8"
>>> user friendly SharePoint....
>>> So now that SharePoint is finding its feet in O365 now that the other
>> O365
>>> products are starting to mature, it seems that it's going to be: (1) A
>>> front-end for Intranet pages and (2) A document repository/shitty
>>> cloud-based shared folders.
>>> In time, the SharePoint roadmap will, I'm sure, allow orgs to maintain
>> docs
>>> quite nicely - but not at the moment IMHO. The O365 roadmap is very
>>> cleverly tying folks to the platform especially as it's pretty cheap and
>>> the individual products are being regularly updated.
>>> But before I can suggest ways of doing things better (eg. You could focus
>>> more on making search available in different ways to allow staff to find
>>> stuff as you can set your own 'amazon-style' left column filters to find
>>> content - called 'refiners'), can you share what some of the current
>>> challenges the customer has?
>>> Perhaps your best bet - if you want to stay away from customisation - is
>> to
>>> create a series of 'modern' pages. And use the "Highlighted Content" part
>>> to create views of documents based on your own filters. Now this takes
>> some
>>> time to set up - you need to be wary of the effort to plan information
>>> architecture but you may well get a much richer experience - IF the
>> content
>>> suits the method.
>>> If they have trouble finding content, it's often a fault with information
>>> governance. Content needs good tagging to be able it to be found well in
>>> the enterprise. (don't compare it to web content - good web content that
>> we
>>> look for online is generally extremely well marked up, etc - there's even
>>> plenty of folk here that make a living out of ensuring their client's
>>> content can be found. Also, enterprise always has big issues with version
>>> control and deleting irrelevant content. It's these reasons that Document
>>> Management Systems are not well liked....
>>> I don't know if your customer has a wide range of departments or perhaps
>> a
>>> very high volume of content authors.
>>> Does the customer need to be able to create new documents based on a set
>> of
>>> well maintained templates - is workflow/approval important in publishing.
>>> I designed a custom SharePoint online solution for News content
>> (internally
>>> for the company I currently work for) which looked great and worked well.
>>> The only trouble was that the comms team(s) wanted to add features and do
>>> stuff with the site and unfortunately there was no support for the system
>>> once it went live  - in big firms like mine, the developers move onto new
>>> accounts and there they stay - one of the dangers of a custom sharepoint
>>> solution without a dedicated team of peeps to support it.,
>>> If you have a blank canvas in terms of technology, then look at M-Files
>> for
>>> Document Management. I've had a good look recently and also turned down a
>>> job there (I really like the product but wasn't ready to specialise so
>>> tightly with a single product). You basically store content by "what it
>> is"
>>> rather than (like in SharePoint) "where it is". I liken it to a Document
>>> Management System with the power of a relational database. It takes
>>> management again but that's no bad thing as the effort is always
>> rewarded.
>>> You can also manage content outside of M-Files within M-Files as well.
>> Have
>>> a look at it - there's a 30 day trial
>>> *Damian Webber*
>>> @damianwebber <> | 07590 807 252
>>> On Mon, 29 Apr 2019 at 16:07, Ben Stevens. <craptiger at>
>> wrote:
>>>> Anyone out there with any experience they can share (no pun intended) of
>>>> building a user friendly interface to sharepoint for the purposes of an
>>>> enterprise document management system?
>>>> Currently having a very challenging time with a Sharepoint development
>>>> consultancy who seem to think an out of the box deployment with minimal
>>>> configuration will offer my client a satisfactory user experience.
>>>> As an example, my view (and that of the project sponsor) is that forcing
>>>> our (not very IT literate) users to use the little ?funnel? icon and
>> column
>>>> headings to filter / search for content is inadequate.  Surely it?s
>>>> possible to build a super user friendly front end without totally
>> breaking
>>>> the Microsoft upgrade path (it?s sharepoint 365 / online).
>>>> Imagine if Amazon used sharepoint search / filters rather than their
>> left
>>>> column filters that ask you for Size, Colour, Style, Price Range etc?
>>>> That?s pretty much what we?re being told is our only option and I?m
>>>> struggling to believe it?s really that crap?!
>>>> Alternatively if anyone can recommend any better alternatives that offer
>>>> document collaboration & approval workflows, version control, compliance
>>>> tracking, notifications etc I?d love to hear of them.
>>>> Thanks
>>>> --
>>>> underscore_ list info/archive ->
>>> ------------------------------
>>> Subject: Digest Footer
>>> --
>>> underscore_ list info/archive ->
>>> ------------------------------
>>> End of Underscore Digest, Vol 188, Issue 11
>>> *******************************************
>> --
>> underscore_ list info/archive ->
> -- 
> underscore_ list info/archive ->

Russ Ferriday -- Software Product Architect, Developer, Mentor
Founder & CTO Topia Systems Ltd
topiaruss at  --  +44 7429 518822