Some quick notes about modern SharePoint Online Site Designs

What are Site Designs?

Modern SharePoint Site Designs are a step above modern themes in SharePoint Online. When a site is provisioned, the site design script is executed. The script can do many things including setting the theme, updating the navigation, even creating columns, lists, and libraries within the site. It is essentially the modern way to apply site templates.

When can you use site designs?

  • When a new site is provisioned.
  • Run a site design script on an existing modern site.

What actions can be applied to a site design?

  • Create a site column, content types.
  • Create a list or library.
  • Apply a theme.
  • Set the site logo.
  • Update navigation.
  • Trigger a Microsoft Flow.
  • Install a deployed solution.
  • Set regional settings.

More information can be found here:



Newsletter Digest in SharePoint Online

One of the new features rolled out recently to SharePoint Online is the ability to create a newsletter digest. It’s possible this has not rolled out to all tenants yet. If you do not see the option, you may get it before long.

How to use the newsletter digest

Add your News web part to a modern page. If you have a few news items added you should see a “See All” link.

 Modern News Web Part
Modern News Web Part

On the All News page you should see a list of all of your news items. In the toolbar there will be a “Manage Posts” button and an “Email a news digest” button. Obviously, click on the Email a news digest button.

 Modern All News Page
Modern All News Page

After clicking the “Email a news digest” button, you’ll be able to select the news items you want to send and then click “Next”.

 SharePoint Online Newsletter Digest
SharePoint Online Newsletter Digest

Next, you are given an option to name your news digest, enter the recipients, and any additional text you want to include. Click the Send News Digest

 Name your news digest
Name your news digest

The recipients you entered will receive a nicely formatted email with a digest of all of the news you selected.

 SharePoint Online Newsletter Digest Email
SharePoint Online Newsletter Digest Email

Of course, this is a very manual process. Somebody would need to routinely select and send out the news items they want to share. There could also potentially be some limitations that wouldn’t be obvious initially. Some of the questions I have are: How many recipients can be included? How many news items can be selected?

How to quickly navigate, execute commands, and search using Microsoft Teams

If you have many teams and channels that you frequently access, rather than using the sidebar to browse items manually, you can quickly navigate to them using the search bar.

Using the search bar for navigation

You can navigate to several different things using the search bar including:

  • Teams
  • Channels
  • People
  • Apps, such as Planner or OneNote

How does it work?

  • Click on the search bar, or use the Alt-E keyboard shortcut.
  • Start typing the name of a team, channel, person, or app. You don’t have to type the entire thing.
  • Once you see what you want in the list, click on it or use your arrow keys to select it and click enter.
 Start typing a team or channel name and it will instantly appear
Start typing a team or channel name and it will instantly appear

Using the search bar for commands

In addition to navigation, you can use the search bar to execute some commands in teams. Commands are executed by starting with a slash “/” and then typing or selecting a command.

Here are some example commands and their uses:

  • Change your status by typing /away, /busy, /dnd, or /available.
  • Spy on your colleagues by looking at their recent activity by typing /activity followed by the person you want to see. You will be taken to a page where you can see the recent things they posted, which you also have access to view.
  • Type /files to see a list of the most recent documents you have been working on. And then quickly reopen that file.
  • Type /unread to immediately see all of the activity that you have not read yet.
  • Type /who, followed a question like “who is Joes’s manager?” or “Who knows about Nintex?” and you will be presented with the information you requested.
  • Quickly start a chat with someone by typing @ immediately followed by the person’s name, click enter, then directly type a short message and click enter again to send it.
 Type @ followed by the persons name and start typing
Type @ followed by the persons name and start typing

Here is a list of currently available commands:

 Current commands available in Microsoft Teams
Current commands available in Microsoft Teams

Using the search bar to search!

And if you wanted to, you can even use the search bar to search for content. How about that? Just type anything into the search bar and hit enter. You’ll see the results in the sidebar grouped under either messages, people, or files.

If you have many results, you can narrow your search by clicking the filter icon in the search results. You’ll be able to refine your search by date, specific teams or channels, or even specific people.

 Search filters
Search filters

How to use JSON to add a clickable button to a modern SharePoint list view

In the SharePoint modern list and libraries views, you can pretty easily add custom formatting and even custom buttons that, when clicked, take the user to other places or trigger other actions.

You can find all of the details about how to do this here. Here is a quick breakdown.

  1. Create a column or choose a column that will be used for your button.
  2. Open the button properties in the list settings or content type settings.
  3. Enter the JSON in the Custom Formatting box.

Here is an example snippet that you can start with.

   "elmType": "a",
   "txtContent": "",
   "attributes": {
      "target": "_blank",
    "iconName": "OpenInNewWindow",
        "class": "sp-field-quickAction",
        "href": {
         "operator": "+",
         "operands": [
            "{enter your site here}/Lists/{list name}/DispForm.aspx?ID=",

Of course, the URL can be anything you want. In the above example, I’m linking to the item display form of another list and passing in the ID of the item I want to view. In this case, the item in the field I am using contains the ID of the list item I want open. This can be helpful if you have multiple lists that reference each other or use a lookup. You can also use this approach to trigger Microsoft Flow or other workflows.

The “OpenInNewWindow” is the name of the icon I’m using. You can add your own icon or choose from any predefined icons from the Office UI Fabric site.

Again, you can find some great documentation with many examples provided by Microsoft here