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What's new in social computing in SharePoint Server 2013

SharePoint 2013

Published: July 16, 2012

Summary: Learn about new features and functionality for social computing, such as My Sites, feeds, Community Sites, and Community Portals.

Applies to:  SharePoint Server 2013 

The social computing and collaboration features in SharePoint Server 2013 offer an improved administration and user experience, in addition to new functionality for enterprise users to share and collaborate with others in their organization.

The introduction of Community Sites offers a forum experience to categorize discussions around subject areas, and connect users who have knowledge or seek knowledge about subject areas. Improvements to My Sites offer a more intuitive workflow for users to develop their personal profiles, store content, and keep up-to-date with activities of interest.

Video: Social computing overview with Bill Baer

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Communities

In SharePoint Server 2010 and SharePoint Foundation 2010, you could add a Discussion list to sites to facilitate discussions among members of the site. SharePoint Server 2013 and SharePoint Foundation 2013 continue to provide this Discussion list, but also expand on the discussion concept by introducing two new site templates named Community Site and Community Portal.

Community Sites offer a forum experience to categorize and cultivate discussions with a broad group of people across organizations in a company. Community Sites promote open communication and information exchange by fostering discussions among users who share their expertise and use expertise of others who have knowledge in specific areas of interest.

With Community Sites, you organize discussions in categories. Visitors can view the discussions and become members if they want to contribute to those discussions. Moderators manage the community by setting rules, reviewing and addressing inappropriate posts, marking interesting content as featured discussions, and so on. Moderators can also assign gifted badges to specific members to visually indicate that the member is recognized as a specific kind of contributor in the Community Site, such as an expert or a moderator. Each Community Site contains information about member and content reputation, which members earn when they actively post in discussions, and when their content is liked, replied to, or marked as a best answer.

You can deploy Community Sites or use community features in the following ways:

  • By deploying a stand-alone community   With a stand-alone community, you can create the Community Site at either a site collection or a site level. For example, you might create a community in a divisional portal if you want to facilitate discussions among members of the division and use the community categories to keep things organized.

  • By activating community features   You can activate community features on any site, which provides the core Community Site pages, moderation, membership, and reputation functionality within the existing site without creating a separate Community Site. This option is useful when you already have a site, such as a team site, where you want to include community functionality, such as earning reputations, without having to direct users to a separate site.

Additionally, when you have multiple Community Sites that you want to display to users in your enterprise, you can deploy the Community Portal. The Community Portal is a search-driven page that surfaces SharePoint site collections and sites in the SharePoint farm that use the Community Site template. Users can visit the Community Portal to discover popular communities and to search for communities that they might want to join. The Community Portal relies on enterprise search for security trimming, and displays only Community Sites for which a user has at least read permissions.

For more information about communities, see Overview of communities in SharePoint Server 2013, Plan for communities in SharePoint Server 2013, and Create and configure communities in SharePoint Server 2013.

My Sites

In SharePoint Server 2010, My Sites provided a central place for users to store personal and shared documents, in addition to promoting their user information and expertise, tagging content, and communicating with others by using the Note Board. Through people search, users were able to connect with one another and benefit from expertise of others in their organization.

In SharePoint Server 2013, My Sites continue to provide the benefits from the previous release. However, the user interface is completely redesigned and modernized to give users an inviting and intuitive experience. A key change to the user interface includes a simplified and unified navigation experience for your own and others’ My Sites. Additionally, My Sites contain the new Microblog and Newsfeeds features. These features allow users to engage in short, public conversations, and keep up-to-date on activities from content and people in which they are interested.

This section discusses improvements and new functionality to the following areas of My Sites:

My Site document libraries

In SharePoint Server 2010, each My Site contained two document libraries: personal and shared. Items stored in the personal document library were restricted to the My Site owner, and items in the shared document library were shared with everyone.

In SharePoint Server 2013, My Sites include several improvements to saving, synchronization, sharing, and moving of content. These improvements make My Sites a more robust solution for users to store and work with files in the SharePoint environment.

Saving and synchronizing content

When deployed, a user’s My Site document library is the default save location for files saved from Office 2013 client applications. A discovery service identifies the user’s My Site URL and offers it as the default location in addition to other locations available for saving files. This promotes the workflow of storing files in the user’s My Site document library where items can be managed, governed, shared, and moved. This helps reduce the amount of content that is stored in other systems, such as in email or on personal drives.

note Note:

In test environments where users have more than one My Site, the discovery service is unable to determine the default My Site location to use for saving files.

Users have the option to synchronize their My Site document library content with a local drive to enable offline access to documents. This option encourages the use of the My Site document library for storage instead of the users’ local drives because it offers flexibility for users to work with documents in both online and offline scenarios.

Sharing content

SharePoint Server 2013 introduces the concept of sharing for all document libraries. This concept is leveraged by the My Site document library to ease the process of collaborating with other users on content. Sharing is based on the same permissions infrastructure as SharePoint Server 2010, but simplifies and improves the user experience. By using this simplified experience, users can specify permissions for a specific document without having to understand the inheritance model.

By default, all content that is stored in a user’s My Site document library is restricted to the user, and other users cannot see content unless it is shared with them. If the user wants others to collaborate on a piece of content in that library, the user can share the content with specific users or groups, and select the permission those users or groups have to the content.

Even though the sharing process is available to all document libraries in SharePoint Server 2013, My Sites include a sharing hint, which displays all the users and the permissions for a specific piece of content. This makes it easier for users to see at a glance what they are sharing and with whom.

Microblogging and feeds

In SharePoint Server 2013, the Newsfeed page in the My Site continues to provide an aggregated view of activities from content and people the user is following. However, the feed is improved with new microblogging functionality that enables users to do the following:

  • Participate in conversations by posting comments and replies.

  • Post pictures and links.

  • Use tags (starting with the # symbol) to define keywords that users can follow and search for.

  • Use mentions (starting with the @ symbol) to tag users in posts and replies.

  • Indicate agreement with comments and replies by clicking Like.

  • Follow people, documents, sites, and tags to customize their feed.

In SharePoint Server 2013, a new in-memory cache known as the Distributed Cache (which uses AppFabric for Windows Server) maintains the Newsfeed. AppFabric is installed and configured as part of the SharePoint Server 2013 prerequisites. For more information about SharePoint Server 2013 prerequisites, see Prepare for installation of SharePoint 2013.

This feeds infrastructure better supports the read and write operations generated by users’ activities and participation in microblogging. The feeds API is extensible, which enables scenarios where activities can be added to the newsfeed or consumed by other applications programmatically. For example, you might develop a new application for users to check in to locations, such as a building, and broadcast their check-ins to their feed by using the feeds API.

In SharePoint Server 2013, each My Site requires a document library for microblogging and feeds. This document library contains a microblogging list that maintains all of a user’s posts instead of maintaining them in the My Site Host site collection as in SharePoint Server 2010. This means that activities are persisted indefinitely and no longer limited to 14 days as in SharePoint Server 2010. The Newsfeed page displays the aggregated view of recent activities that are maintained in the cache, whereas the user’s profile page displays all activities maintained in the user’s microblogging list.

Deployment and configuration

The planning, deployment, and configuration steps for My Sites are much the same as in SharePoint Server 2010. For more information, see Plan for social computing and collaboration in SharePoint Server 2013 and Administer the User Profile service in SharePoint Server 2013.

This section describes the considerations for upgrading My Sites from SharePoint Server 2010, and new and updated settings for My Sites in SharePoint Server 2013.

Upgrade considerations

If you upgrade from SharePoint Server 2010 to SharePoint Server 2013, there are special considerations for My Sites. Make sure that you upgrade the My Site Host site collection before you allow users to upgrade their individual My Sites in SharePoint Server 2013. This ensures that the server software and database changes are complete so that users can start the upgrade of their individual My Sites successfully. Upgrade of a specific My Site occurs the first time that a user opens an individual My Site. An upgrade request is queued until the My Site upgrade is completed. While the upgrade request is in the queue, users can continue to use their My Sites though the sites will appear as they did in SharePoint Server 2010 until the upgrade is completed. Following upgrade, users see the new user interface the next time that they visit their My Site.

Central Administration changes

SharePoint Server 2013 includes several changes to the User Profile service application settings in Central Administration to support new My Sites functionality.

Configure permissions for personal and social features

The Manage User Permissions page contains new and updated settings for the User Profile service application. You can select one or more of the following permissions for users and groups that you want to grant permission to personal and social features:

  • Create Personal Site (required for personal storage, newsfeed, and followed content)   This permission enables users to create personal sites to store their documents, newsfeed, and followed content.

  • Follow People and Edit Profile   This permission enables users to follow people from their My Site and to edit their personal profile.

  • Use Tags and Notes   This permission enables users to use the Tags and Notes feature from SharePoint Server 2010. The Tags and Notes feature is provided primarily for upgrade purposes so that users can continue to access the tags and notes they created in the previous version of SharePoint Server. However, you might also use this permission to enable users to leave notes on documents in SharePoint Server 2013.

Configure microblogging and following settings

Central Administration contains new settings for User Profile service application administrators to configure microblogging and following activities:

  • Enable microblogging e-mail notifications   On the Setup My Sites page, under E-mail Notifications, select Enable newsfeed email notifications if you want users to receive email notifications that relate to their microblogging activities.

  • Manage Following page   On the User Profile service application administration page, under My Site Settings, click Manage Following. From the Manage Following page, you can configure limits for the number of people, documents, and sites that users can follow from their My Site.

Configure policies for privacy and people

Central Administration contains new policy settings for the User Profile service application and My Sites. These settings appear on the Manage Policies page of the User Profile service application. There are two new sections that display privacy and people settings. You can select a specific policy to change whether the policy is enabled, the default privacy setting for users, and whether users can override the setting from their own profiles. In SharePoint Server 2013, the Default Privacy Setting for policies contains only two settings: Only Me and Everyone. The additional settings from SharePoint Server 2010 of My Manager, My Team, and My Colleagues are removed. Setting a policy to Only Me sets the default behavior for feed events to off, whereas setting it to Everyone turns it on. If you allow users to override the setting, they can choose whether to change the default behavior on their individual profiles.

The following are new settings under Privacy Settings:

  • Following a Document or Site on My Site

  • Tagging an Item on My Site

  • Workplace anniversary on My Site

  • Following a Tag on My Site

  • Updating “Ask Me About” on My Site

  • Rating an Item on My Site

  • Following a Person on My Site

  • Posting on a Note Board on My Site

  • Job Title Change on My Site

  • Posting a new blog post on My Site

  • Birthday Celebration on My Site

The following are updated settings under People Settings:

  • People on My Site

  • Auto-follow people from team

  • People Recommendations

note Note:

These People Settings existed in SharePoint Server 2010 under the My Colleagues section, but they are renamed in SharePoint Server 2013 because the concept of colleagues is now changed to people. Additionally, the People on My Site setting now defines the default privacy setting for all people a user follows, instead of individual privacy settings. This means that when you set the privacy setting to Everyone, everyone who accesses a user’s profile can see the people whom that user follows.

note Note:

My Sites are private by default. There is a privacy setting named Make My Sites Public that an administrator can use to make all users' My Sites public by default. The Make My Sites Public setting is located in the User Profile service application under Setup My Sites. Even if an administrator configures any of these policy settings, these policy settings are overridden if the Make My Sites Public setting is selected.

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