OnePlaceMail 6.5 went into public release last week and represents the biggest user experience overhaul we have ever done to the product. This is no light statement, given that OnePlaceMail is already known in the market for it’s seamless, intuitive, and slick user interface.
We heard your pains in deploying SharePoint in your organization; Getting users to save content from their desktops into SharePoint and work on files in SharePoint was the main reason SharePoint deployments were failing or not succeeding as well as hoped.
Our major goal for the release was to drive better user adoption of SharePoint by delivering SharePoint content into Outlook in such a tightly integrated way that users could work with SharePoint content as quickly and easily as they could within their inbox or any other Outlook folder. We also wanted SharePoint content to just “feel” like Outlook content so that user’s stopped thinking about SharePoint as a system that was “out there in the browser” and rather think of it just as content that is “here and available on my desktop”.
So how have we delivered on such an ambitious goal?
Outlook Style View of SharePoint Locations
When a SharePoint location (Library, List, Folder, Document Set or Site) is selected on the left navigation of Outlook, the SharePoint content is presented in an ‘Outlook Style Interface’. This provides for a familiar Outlook experience for the end user when interacting with SharePoint.
This interface provides access to both SharePoint public and private views for the selected location. This includes all SharePoint view capabilities such as:
- Columns – including Managed Metadata, Enterprise keywords, External Data columns, Lookup Columns and all the standard column types
Find SharePoint Content Quickly – Filtering, Sorting, Searching
When viewing SharePoint content you can instantly filter (per character filtering as you type), advanced filtering operations, instant sort on columns.
Searching SharePoint content quick and easy, search within a library or across whole site collections directly within Outlook with hit highlighting and embedded preview.
Preview of SharePoint Content Embedded within Outlook
Providing SharePoint content in an “Outlook Style” that allows user to locate content quickly is awesome, but how do I know I’ve found the right file? PREVIEW. Yes, it’s worth shouting about.OnePlaceMail delivers Email and Document Previews within the ‘Outlook Style Interface’. Where available, OnePlaceMail utilises the Office Web Application Server preview capabilities provided by SharePoint 2010, SharePoint 2013 and Office 365 environments to deliver highly efficient previews. Where Office Web Apps are not available OnePlaceMail will perform local preview of files.
SharePoint Content Ribbon Actions
Access to the selected document Items Properties is available using the ‘View Properties’ action on the ribbon or by performing a ‘right-click’ on an item. The View Item Properties page allows you to further edit the item and initiate workflows.
The ‘Email as Link’ provides the ability to insert links direct to the document(s) or to the Item Properties. If the ‘Document ID’ feature has been enabled on SharePoint 2010 or SharePoint 2013, the links will be generated using the Document ID. This will minimise broken links in the event of a SharePoint restructure or items being moved as part of a records management solution.
There are circumstances where sending content from SharePoint as an attachment is required. OnePlaceMail allows you to use the ‘Email as Attachment’ for one or more selected items.
What about SharePoint/Outlook 2010 and 2007?
It takes time to upgrade to the latest and greatest so not only have we managed to deliver this awesome integration in Outlook 2013, but it is also available to Outlook 2010 and Outlook 2007. We’ve also made it compatible with Office 365, SharePoint 2013, 2010, and 2007 (hosted, on-premise, or hybrid)
My experience of using it over the last few weeks
The impact this release has on SharePoint usability is simply massive. At this start of this release, and even a long way into the development cycle, I was looking at each of the individual features in relative isolation. I underestimated the impact that the combination of all the features would bring to the user once they were delivered in a single package.
I now find it just as easy (and sometimes easier and faster) to work with files in SharePoint than I do with files on my local drive – seriously. I’m finding it’s faster to click through a few files and have Office Web Apps provide the preview embedded in Outlook than it is to fire up Word on my desktop.
Finding content in SharePoint is now simple and fast, I just start the search from the most specific container I think the file might be in (e.g. a site, sub site or library) enter a few keywords and I get hit highlighted results back immediately from the SharePoint search index. I can then do client side type ahead search within the search results as well as sorting and filtering on file type and size. With live preview happening on search results finding content is easy.
During a manual testing session I was trying out opening content from SharePoint (e.g. email messages) and continuing working on them (forwarding, replying etc). I’d run through about 20 minutes of test script when I realized I was in a folder under my inbox and not a OnePlaceMail SharePoint folder. To me, this was a moment of clarity, we had gone a long way to achieving our goal. For the user experience to be so integrated and seamless that you forget whether you are working with content in SharePoint or content in your local mail folders is a fantastic result. As a user I’m not overly fussed about where the content is stored (that’s an IT/Governance decision), as long as it’s easy and intuitive to get to and work with, the back-end storage is somewhat irrelevant.
Release 6.5 is available to download immediately from the OnePlaceMail website.