Recent SharePoint Updates: Modern Document Sets

Article Updated: July 11, 2019

Series Introduction

As a Twitter, blog, and M365 Roadmap junkie, I spend a lot of time looking at the new features in SharePoint Online and related O365 technologies. Some of these updates are straightforward and just appear, some require early adopters to use the admin center or PowerShell. I have decided to document a few of the new features and how I implemented them.

This series is in no way meant as an exhaustive list of new features. It’s simply a few of the features that I have tracked most closely and/or have implemented in my tenant.

Your Mileage May Vary

I should preface this with a note that the features I am talking about are in my O365 development tenant. This tenant is set to Targeted release, which means that it’s set to get updates as early as (publicly) possible. You may not see all these features in your tenant (even if your tenant is set to Targeted release, as there is a “random order” applied to the feature deployment). 

Articles in this Series

  1. Recent SharePoint Updates: Organization Updates
  2. Recent SharePoint Updates: Modern Document Sets
  3. Recent SharePoint Updates: Creating a List from a List

Modern Document Sets

Document sets have been around in SharePoint for years. When describing them, I generally call them “super folders” or “folders on steroids”. As the name states, they group together “like” documents, and their superpowers include the ability to share their metadata with the files inside them. This helps by reducing the amount of metadata the user is required to provide.

Up until recently, document sets where one of the features that would return the user to the classic interface. I started seeing this feature in my dev tenant around May 15th, 2019.

Enabling Document Sets in a Site

The document set feature isn’t enabled by default. To enable this, go to:

Gear > Site Information > View all site settings > 
Site Collection Administration (group) > Site collection features

Find the Document Sets feature and click the Activate button.

Result:

Once the feature is activated, go to any library on the site, then:

Gear > Library settings > Advanced Settings > Allow management of content types? > Yes

and click the OK button.

From the Library Settings Screen click “Add from existing site content types”.

Add the Document Set content type by selecting it, clicking Add, and then Ok.

On the Library settings page, click on “Document Set” under the Content Types heading, then select Document Set settings. This is where the power of the document set can be applied. In the Shared Columns Section, select “Description” and click the OK button at the bottom.

Return to your Document library and add the Description column to the All Documents view.

Create a new Document Site by clicking the New button and selecting “Document Set”. Fill out the metadata for the Document Set and click the Save Button.

Note: This screen still shows in the classic interface.

You will be returned to the Document library and the Document Set will be showing.

Navigating into the document set will open the information panel so you can view the Document Set properties.

Note: If you get to here and the screen reverts to the Classic interface, the feature is not enabled on your tenant yet.

Note: I am able to edit the properties in this panel (except Name), but if I click “Edit all” and try to change properties I get an error on the Name field saying “You can’t leave this blank.”

At this point when you add or create documents, they will take on the shared metadata.

Note: Document sets do not “default” the shared values. They set them on the documents. This means you can’t change shared values on the documents. They will revert to the Document Set value.

What’s Missing

Modern Document Sets are missing a few features from the classic implementation. These include:

  • Welcome page
  • Capture Version
  • Version History

Conclusion

There are still a few issues to iron out while this feature is in Targeted Release, but I love document sets, and I’m glad they finally made their way to modern SharePoint.

Author: Mike Hatheway

I'm a husband, father of twins, and a digital transformation consultant specializing in Office 365. Generally focused on SharePoint, PowerApps, Flow, Teams, and PowerBI. I hold several Microsoft certifications including MCSD: App Builder and MCSE: Data management and Analyics. I work at Bulletproof Solutions.

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