A lot has happened in the last few years concerning how pages are built in SharePoint. Web parts are a vital part of this development. Today they are essentially the de facto way of building your modern pages in SharePoint. The web parts range from simple text snippets, news feeds and calendars to integrations with other systems such as Power BI. Fortunately, Microsoft provides a rich eco-system of web parts to help you build your sites and it is a great way to get started with prototyping your new SharePoint site. When you want to organize and centralize the management of your SharePoint content, however, Microsoft’s current default offering quickly becomes insufficient.
The ‘Text’ web part provided by Microsoft is a good example of this. While easy to add and use, it doesn’t offer any way of reusing the content you’ve created across multiple pages in a site. You can, of course, copy the text content to new pages and also copy the pages themselves, but consider the manual work effort when you need to update this content. A user would have to go through every instance of the Text web part and update them individually, without having any way of knowing which pages have had this certain text added to them.
Some might argue that the solution to this problem is to add an entire separate intranet platform to SharePoint and running the entire site in that environment. There is however a simpler, non-intrusive way of solving the problem of centralized management without sacrificing access to SharePoint’s latest and greatest releases or the out-of-the-box components. We figured out that by leveraging three small new web parts for dynamic content, we could enhance the SharePoint experience and work with what Microsoft already provides rather than replace it. This resulted in us developing a solution that we call IntranetPublisher.
The way it works is that we added a new ‘Article’ web part instead of writing content in a text web part. The Article web part has an enhanced rich text editor capable of providing full control of HTML markup and styling. The content is, in turn, not stored on the actual page, but in a central SharePoint list, thus only saving an identifier to the content on the page. This means that when an article has been written, it can be reused as many times as required across the SharePoint site. And, to make life easier for all intranet editors in the world, when updating an article in the central repository it is also instantly updated in every added instance.
With this solution we have centralized management of content in SharePoint that works seamlessly with SharePoint’s out-of-the-box features, allowing editors to focus on the creation of great content rather than spending time on ‘search and find’ and ‘copy and paste’.