A few days ago I was asked to try the new solution from LiveTiles based on Office 365 – SharePoint Online mostly. This product is a complete solution for companies with many unique features, which were developed by LiveTiles in last months. From the first point of view, it looks like a really serious product to buy. I was really interested in this product even before any ask for review was sent to me, so I wasn’t waiting for anything and activate my demo tenant which was made for me as a 14 days’ trial version. When I firstly sign in to this tenant I was really surprised about design – I love the dark design with a combination of colors. Something really simple, clear, not common. All this is actually LiveTiles (demo environment). So when I just started to click through this tenant It looks really interesting. It is really similar to for example Contoso demo site from demos.office.com or MicrosoftCIE.
Firstly, I will comment the product because from my point of view this is the most important part and there is really a lot to say. Then I will focus on demo environment because this is the sales point and marketing point of the whole product.
Regarding product itself. You are able to edit every page, you create in SharePoint Online. If you want to do that, you can just click on design button at the top of the page (next to standard pane, browse parts of the out of box ribbon). After the click, there will appear menu separated to categories with really useful parts.
What I really like is that you are able to just drag and drop every component to the page. To whatever part of the page you like. Well, this is really an improvement. Also, every web part has an own menu on the left side (really modern) with nice and useful choices (duplicate, save with custom settings). Also, settings will appear in floating window and with many choices, which normal SharePoint User or Admin only dream about (text size, permissions, etc.)
What is really nice are links and lists parts. As you can see, the links are really nice – you can quickly create own morphing links, Navigation Menu, and other parts – circle or rectangle. The list, on the other side, supports you if you want to create a task list, schedule list or workflow task alert. This is from my point of view one of the most useful features. I managing this on most customers. Most of them have some type of Intranet or document management solution when a lot of workflows are created. Another few tasks from the tasks, some personal schedule and you are normally lost. Solutions where you are able to quickly create some overview? NICE!
Last think, what is real stands for mention is that every web part you are able to drag and drop a simple change size in the bottom left the corner. You have on every page in edit mode grid, for better design possibilities. What I missed was some snap features, because I always need to play a little bit with all the web parts.
The important part is also a training part of the whole solution. There is the possibility of entering the “how to” section, where you are able to look at many videos, documents etc. For first time users, this is really helpful as well as quick “go through” mini popups with step by steps.
Regarding the design of demo environment, Its really nice design, dark one. I still have some points to say. I separated those to pros / cons.
Pros of this demo environment
- Wonderful design, really good work guys! A little bit Contoso demo tenant, but still good! I understand, that customer will make the design regarding their corp marketing of course, but I would like to choose a little bit more minimalistic style. But this is only my personal feel.
- PowerBI reports embed in pages everywhere – nice. I use this as well and it looks really good. +1
- Also, Integration with Office MIX is great – it’s really nice to see new concept integrated. +1
- Integration with Yammer.
Cons of this demo environment
- In HR department, there is a possibility to click on forms. I was interested, how this part is designed and developed. Unfortunately, I was redirected to Dropbox (WHY?? There is OneDrive for Business with the wonderful new design isn’t it?) with ask for login. All other links to files as well. Sorry, but not good here…
- The same con is related to videos in demo tenant. Why there isn’t used Office Video – don’t understand.
- Carrer opportunities in HR Section also redirect me to the LinkedIn site. I understand it, but isn’t be cooler to integrate these pages to SharePoint Online? (WebPage WebPart)
- PowerBI in Executive Dashboard is also made in PowerBI, but this time, there are more reports and for some browsers this is really enough computing at one moment (My EDGE crash on this)
As the summary, LiveTiles is a great product. From my point of view, this is something Microsoft should done long time ago. Possibility of editing the pages and sites are awesome – I understand, that we all are before rolling out of new portal (nextGen portal) but at the moment, this is absolutely best possibility of quickly editing for all the users without deep development skills and time. I hope, that it will continue with nextGen portals as well as it is done at the moment. GREAT WORK.