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Technical Solutions for SharePoint Server 2010

Enhanced User Experience in SharePoint 2010

Posted by Chandrasekaran C N on June 6, 2010


Hi All,

This post describes some of the new and enhanced user experience in SharePoint 2010.

In SharePoint 2010, the user interface is totally enhanced that of MOSS 2007. Most of the user actions are implemented through AJAX and JavaScript, so that user does not wait for server round-trip for every action that he/she performs.

One of the common drawbacks in MOSS 2007 as mentioned earlier is there is no consistency look and feel for application pages and site pages because both are using different master pages. This inconsistency leads the user out of context when they navigate between application pages and site pages. This inconsistency has been addressed in SharePoint 2010 having a single master page for both application pages and site pages.

Another important user experience is to load resource files such as .js files, .css files on demand, i.e., those resource files will not load at one shot rather it will load when ever it is required, to boost the page performance with less payload. On demand loading is achieved by having multiple js files and css files instead of having a single large js file and css file as in MOSS 2007.

SharePoint 2010 user interface is now adhered to accessibility compliance since almost all the pages in SharePoint are driven by CSS and div tags and not html table tags.

Apart from above user experience enhancements, following items are also included to enhance the user experience

Ribbon User Interface

Ribbon user interface has been introduced in Office 2007 products such as MS Word, MS Excel, etc., and has been a huge success in terms of user experience, reduced space to occupy almost all the functionalities/actions.

SharePoint 2010 uses the same ribbon user interface concept with a lot of additional functionalities.

SharePoint Ribbon UI

The ribbon user interface in SharePoint 2010 is very flexible, security trimmed and contextual actions based on SharePoint artefacts such as libraries, lists, list items, pages, etc., Authorization i.e., security trimming based on user’s permissions and contextual actions are built-in feature of ribbon user interface.

The order of a ribbon user interface is Ribbon -> Tabs -> Groups -> Controls.  SharePoint 2010 ribbon user interface is based on XML and all the actions are performed using JavaScript page component. The flexibility of ribbon user interface is that we can extend the ribbon UI to create our own custom actions that perform additional functionalities. We can create tabs, groups, controls

One of the major advantages of ribbon user interface is it caches to increases the performance of the page. Controls that are added through non-filtered custom actions are also cached along with the out-of-the-box controls.

Dialog Framework

One of the major UX flaw in MOSS 2007 is navigate to different pages to perform normal actions. This leads the user out of context and because of these navigation, one or more post-backs happen. Also, this navigation requires more clicks, which is again non-compliance according to accessibility standards.

This flaw has been addressed in SharePoint 2010 by having a dialog framework, which pop ups a nice modal dialog within the page itself and greyed out the parent page as shown below. This reduces the post-backs and the users are within the context of actions they performed.  Users can resize the dialog to full screen so that dialog utilizes entire screen size in order to view better. This dialog also has the ribbon UI associated so that user can perform actions within the dialog itself.  Like ribbon UI, we can extend the dialog framework to create our own custom dialog framework.

Status Bar Messages

SharePoint 2010 newly introduced the status bar and notification messages for confirmation and processing information. This increases the user experience to show the messages/progress without interacting users and within the context.  The status bar is used to display persistent messages to the users such as showing confirmation messages, tasks pending details, etc. The status bar is displayed below the ribbon user interface. Also, the status bar can display pre-configured background colour based on the importance of the messages.

SharePoint 2010 internally uses the status bar to display important messages to users, administrators. We can create our own custom messages to display on the status bar with the help of JavaScript API and also, we can set the priority to those messages depending on the importance.

Notification Messages

Notification messages will be used to display transient or semi-transient messages to the users which last for 5 seconds by default. These notification messages will include HTML elements and also support for links/icons. SharePoint 2010 internally uses these transient messages to display any processing messages such as Loading…, etc.

These notification messages are displayed underneath the ribbon user interface at the right hand corner of the page. We can create our own notification messages to be displayed with the help of JavaScript API.

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