SharePoint and Mobile Views

SharePoint & Mobile Views: The Ugly, the bad and the good. As we roll into more and more 2013 projects, one of the recurring questions is the ability of the SharePoint platform to render on mobile devices.

The Ugly

Remember the mobile experience on 2010? How navigation, list items and docs libraries were by default the only items displayed? Remember the frustration

SCREENSHOT 1- SHAREPOINT 2010 OOB MOBILE VIEW OF A PAGE WOW! THIS IS ONE NICE WEBSITE

For those that did and are continuing to do Mobile development on SP 2010 here are our options:

Turn off SharePoint mobile OOB redirect (via the web.config file on the APP/WFE servers or Powershell command) to the SP mobile template, use JS agents redirection
Turn off SharePoint mobile OOB redirect (via the web.config file on the APP/WFE servers or Powershell command) to the SP mobile template, use JS to determine width of agent
Create an ASP template, deploy via Visual Studio, pray that you did not break anything (if anyone wants to try this way, see this article below Customize mobile pages on 2010 and if you succeed, please let me know how :))
Most of the time, we were engaging with A or B, which meant that we needed another master page(s) and eventually page layout(s) for the mobile devices experience. Well, 2013 introduces an easier way to get there.

The Bad

OOB 2013 introduces 3 views: classic, contemporary and full screen UI.

SCREENSHOT 2 — SHAREPOINT 2013 OOB MOBILE VIEW OPTIONS IMPROVEMENT? CLASSIC AND CONTEMPORARY ARE THE SAME VIEW WITH A DIFFERENT STYLESHEET AND FULL SCREEN UI IS JUST A FULL SITE VIEW.

These views are definitely an improvement but they are still not what an end user would expect when using a SharePoint mobile interface. The mobile experience was very limited on SharePoint 2010, but this can be justified, as the mobile audience was limited during SharePoint 2010 development. However, this is 2013… I was expecting a bit more.

The Good

Here is the good news:

A — SharePoint 2013 App Market

It is available and runs on Win8, Windows Phone (of course) and iOS. From my understanding, the Android version might come later this year. Though it will not provide the full mobile experience I would like, this is a solution that can be proposed to clients and might be a decent free alternative.

B — Device Channels

This is the real improvement I believe. “A device channel is part of the SharePoint 2013 publishing infrastructure that enables you to render certain site content, style your content, and even change images — while maintaining the same URL across a pool of different devices.”

What does this mean?

It means that you have the ability to control the mobile experience over multiple device types as well as the master page/ CSS combination for each page. What’s more, you can be very granular in order to control the experience by ranking and prioritizing the look and feel redirection. This also means that there is no need to utilize JS redirection and that the URL for browser and mobile will be the same. Finally, device channels panels are available for our use in order to display and render information to a specific type of device only.

If you only have time to read one article on this topic, this is that article.

Resources

Msdn channel designer
overview of mobile devices and sharepoint server 2013
windows releases sharepoint app
planning for mobile (a must read)