A Small Delay in Making New Channel Tab Available
In May 2019, Microsoft posted Office 365 Notification MC180213 to tell tenants that a refreshed version of the Teams Files Channel tab was rolling out (the new tab was also featured at the SharePoint North America conference that month). The Files channel tab is the interface between Teams and SharePoint Online and it’s an important part of the Teams collaboration story. Tenants expected to see the new tab in June 2019, but it never showed up. Microsoft isn’t saying why the tab was delayed so much, but the need to improve performance might be the reason why.
Old Files Channel Tab
In any case, the good news is that the old Files Channel tab experience (Figure 1), complete with its advantage of simplicity and disadvantage of missing functionality, should soon be no more.
New Files Channel Tab
The new experience delivers a Files channel tab (Figure 2) with more functionality. You’re able to pin documents to the top of a folder and use features like check-out and check-in. Unlike the old tab, the view is customizable. In Figure 2 you can see that I’ve added columns to display retention labels and sensitivity labels (still in preview for SharePoint Online) and that values for these labels appear in the view. You can also see that a date column is formatted using colors.
Sharing is Caring
The Copy link option picks up the work spearheaded by OneDrive for Business to have a common sharing experience across Office 365. When you create a link (to the folder belonging to a channel). It is a sharing link of the form https://office365itpros.sharepoint.com/:f:/r/sites/O365ExchPro/Shared%20Documents/2020%20Edition?csf=1&e=zXeeRZ (Figure 3).
The type of links that can be created depend on the organization’s sharing policy for SharePoint Online, and include:
- Anyone with the link (Anonymous sharing). This type of link will expire if the organization configures a link expiration period for anyone links. You can set a password for the link so that those who try to use it must also know the password, and you can set the link to allow editing.
- People in your organization. The link can be read-only or allow editing.
- People with existing access (like team members). These people use the access they already have to work with the content in the folder.
- Specific people. You enter the email addresses of the people you want to allow access to the folder. You can make the access read-only or allow editing.
After you create a link, you can copy it to the clipboard and share it with intended recipients using Teams or email.
What’s Missing in the New Tab
Mostly when I work with SharePoint Online, I use the browser interface. The Teams channel tab is fine for day-to-day work, but I miss a couple of features that I use extensively.
- You can’t access the version history of a document.
- You can’t edit the properties of a document to assign a retention label or update custom properties.
- You can’t share an individual document. Maybe it’s an attempt to force people to share documents in chats or channel conversations, but that’s a warped perspective because most Office 365 (and other) users don’t use Teams.
The easy workaround is to use the Open in SharePoint option to perform these and other actions, like access to Power Automate (Flow) and Power Apps. Although I understand why the Teams developers have chosen to keep the tab simpler and less cluttered than the SharePoint interface, I’m sure there will be some who are disappointed that the new channel tab is not equivalent to what’s available in SharePoint.
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