Heads up! The App Bar and Global Nav are on the horizon

We first heard about the SharePoint app bar at Ignite, but thanks to the latest SharePoint Community Monthly Call, we got to see how the new global nav fits in with the app bar and what all of us can expect as Microsoft rolls it out to Microsoft 365. Keep reading to catch the highlights from Melissa Torres’ presentation!

The coming-soon SharePoint app bar is a thin, light-grey bar that will appear on ALL of your SharePoint modern sites (communication and team sites). There are four icons – a home icon (which can be changed to a custom logo), a site icon, a news icon, and a files icon. This release is meant to assist end users as they try to find their way through SharePoint.

Screenshot of SharePoint site with app bar

These icons show at the bottom of a site in mobile view.

Screenshot of mobile view of SharePoint site

The sites, news, and files icons open panels that are meant to bring up the user’s “stuff” more easily, so that they can quickly jump to the files they were working on recently or the sites they were accessing recently.

The news panel will show suggested news – and keep in mind that news from your home site will be emphasized as authoritative news, as shown in the screenshot below:

Screenshot of news panel with home site news emphasized

The home icon will take the user to the SharePoint start page – however, it is also configurable so that you can use it to build a global navigation menu for your tenant. Yes – what we used to have to do with SPFx extensions to build a tenant-wide global navigation can be done out of the box once this rolls out! You can also add a custom 20×20 transparent logo to replace the home icon as you configure the global nav.

Screenshot of global nav

The global navigation configuration is directly linked to your SharePoint home site. It can be configured to either use the home site’s site navigation or hub navigation—these different options were specifically offered so that you can choose how you want to use site navigation and hub navigation on your home site and intranet. Just like site and hub navigation, you can have up to three levels of navigation links.

FAQ

We are sure you have a lot of questions; just as we did. So, here are some answers around Microsoft’s new App Bar and Global Nav:

  • When does this roll out?
    We didn’t hear a specific date, but it sounds like this will go out to targeted release very soon.
  • Can I opt out?
    The app bar is an integral change to the out-of-the-box SharePoint experience. However, there will be a Powershell script that will let you temporarily turn off the app bar until October 2021, if you need that time to prepare your users for the change!
  • Can I add more icons to the app bar?
    Currently, the app bar is not extendable, although the Microsoft team is considering ways to allow developers to hook into it in the future. For now, you only have those four icons, and you cannot add to or remove them apart from configuring the “home” link to use a logo instead.
  • Will this show on my classic sites?
    The app bar will show automatically on all your modern sites, but not your classic sites. Microsoft will be releasing code in the future that you can add to each of your classic sites that will show the app bar, but it is not yet available.
  • What if I don’t have a home site configured?
    The home icon will take the user to the SharePoint start page if you don’t have the global nav configured. If you would like to configure a global nav, you’ll have to start by creating your home site—see our roadmap below.
  • Will this affect my existing custom SPFx header or footer?
    Your SPFx header or footer should still work fine, but we don’t yet know how the layout will be affected by the app bar on desktop or mobile. We have our ears to the ground for when Microsoft releases that information!

Your App Bar Roadmap

Now that you know the app bar is coming, what do you need to do to prepare?

Do you want to leverage the global nav? If yes:

  1. Set up your home site, if you haven’t already. (Don’t know what a home site is? Take a look at this blog post.)
  2. Decide if you will be using the home site’s navigation or hub navigation to populate the global nav. You can start building it out to work for a tenant-wide navigation, and configure your home site to hide it if you need to.
  3. Begin using your home site for important news posts.
  4. Prepare your 20×20 transparent PNG file that will replace the home icon.

But what if you already have a global nav through your tenant-wide custom SPFx header? You can choose to keep the home site link as the default to point it to the SharePoint start page. Or, you can set up a very simple global nav that goes to your current intranet page or home site. This will keep you from having to maintain your menu in two places. You may also want to consider if you want to change your SPFx header in the future so that you can make use of the OOTB global nav feature instead of your custom header.

Even if you don’t leverage the global nav, you’ll want to prepare your users for when the app bar appears. Explain that the sites, news, and files buttons are meant to help users to jump to their stuff more quickly.

Need more time to prepare? Be ready to run the Powershell script that will temporarily hide the app bar, and use the time before October 2021 to get ready!

If you don’t yet have a UAT site for your organization, this is a perfect example of why you might want to invest in one today. Having a separate UAT site would allow you to turn off the app bar on your live site for now and play with it on your UAT site to make sure you know the ins-and-outs before implementing it for your users. Take a look at our blog post about the benefits of UAT sites if you need more convincing!


Are you excited about Microsoft’s new App Bar and Global Nav? Could you use some help preparing for the change? Contact PixelMill and we can help you put together a personalized roadmap for your organization!

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