What's new in social computing in SharePoint Server 2013

SharePoint 2013

Applies to: SharePoint Server 2013

Topic Last Modified: 2013-12-18

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

SharePoint Server 2013 offers an improved administration and user experience, and new functionality for enterprise users to share and collaborate with others in their organization.

Community Sites offers a forum where you can categorize discussions around subject areas, and connect experts about certain subjects with those who are looking for expertise.. Improvements to My Sites include a more intuitive workflow so you can easily develop your personal profile, store content, and keep up-to-date with activities you find interesting.

Video: Social computing overview with Bill Baer, Senior Product Marketing Manager (SharePoint), Microsoft Corporation

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In SharePoint Server 2010 and SharePoint Foundation 2010, you could add a Discussion list to sites in order to facilitate discussions among members of the site. SharePoint Server 2013 and SharePoint Foundation 2013 continue to provide this Discussion list, and now it provides two new site templates named Community Site and Community Portal.

With the new Community Sites templates, you can categorize and cultivate discussions with a broad group of people across different groups in your organization. Community Sites promotes open communication and information exchange by hosting 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. A new interface makes it easy for moderators to 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 use Community Sites or specific community features in the following ways:

  • By using 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 that provides the core Community Site pages, moderation, membership, and reputation functionality without creating a separate Community Site. This is useful when you already have a site, such as a team site, and you want to include community functionality, such as earning reputations.

  • By using the Community Portal This is useful when you have multiple Community Sites that you want to display in your organization. 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.

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 continues to provide the benefits from the previous release. Also, the user interface is redesigned to make it easier to navigate. Additionally, My Sites includes the new Microblog and Newsfeeds capabilities where you can have short, public conversations, and subscribe to newsfeeds..

This section discusses updates to My Sites:

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 content, which are detailed in this section.

When you save a file in Word or other Office 2013 programs, those files are automatically saved in your My Site document library. 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.

In test environments where there is more than one My Site, the program can’t determine the default My Site location to save files.

In this case, we recommend that you synchronize your My Site document library with a local drive so you can access documents offline.

Sharing content is a new feature in SharePoint Server 2013. 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.

Unless you specifically share your files, only you can see the content in your My Site document library.

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.

In SharePoint Server 2013, the Newsfeed page in the My Site continues display the updates of your subscriptions. The newsfeed now includes microblogging, where you can:

  • Participate in conversations by posting comments and replies.

  • Post pictures and links.

  • Use tags (starting with the # symbol) to define keywords for searching.

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

  • Like a comment.

  • Follow people, documents, sites, and tags.

MOSS_2nd_CurrentVerThe new 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.

MOSS_2nd_CurrentVerEach 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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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

These People Settings existed in SharePoint Server 2010 under the My Colleagues section, but they are renamed in SharePoint Server 2013. 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.
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.