Office 365 – Are content types dead?

I noticed a while back that you can’t select content types in the views in modern lists. It seems to be that users need to be able to create new list columns. At my first moment of thought, I find this actually a bad step backwards, as a good way of organizing your information architecture seems to be less important than ease of use. But then who are we serving? Developers or users?

Next to the missing content types this is also promoting list fields rather than site collection fields. But if we assume that we don’t need to reuse columns  then why would we want content types? This will absolutely be a nightmare if list columns with the same name have been created across 1000 sites and you want to use search to filter on the column values.

For lists not really too much of a problem. A content type could be seen as something that groups reusable fields. Or maybe a special kind of list column. Both are not really needed if we only use list columns. You could even create a column called content type if you really want to be able to group/filter/search content!

And that problem of searching could be resolved if you use templates to create the sites. I could imagine exporting and importing PnP templates and therefore create identical columns, just to keep those developers happy that need to create search based web parts.

So are Content Types  in SharePoint dead?

 

 

 

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Pieter Veenstra

Business Applications and Office Apps & Services Microsoft MVP working as a Microsoft Productivity Principal Consultant at HybrIT Services. You can contact me using contact@veenstra.me.uk.

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  • "But if we assume that we don’t need to reuse columns then why would we want content types?"
    => If we need to create filters (left refiner) in the enterprise search, we need site content content types contains site columns right ? So not using it anymore make us loose this feature of left refiner ?

    • Content types aren't much more than a bundle of columns so that you can reuse the set of columns in a list. As you mentioned, the name of the content type can also be used to filter items by. Why would a column called 'category' or 'content type' not work for this purpose? Even in refiners you could refine by this 'content type/category' column.

      • my bad even list local content type shall show in the search. Yeah site content type is meant for re usability across other lists/doc libs

  • I'm guessing also that designer workflows becoming defunct and Flow coming in that the coupling to content types is unnecessary.

    I feel like SP is moving away from standard information architecture, (see Teams/Groups) so this is another step in that direction. It's not entirely welcome for me as a dev but I can see the logic of the progress MS have made with the technology

  • Hi, Pieter... Where are you seeing Content Type missing? If I edit a View on a Modern list in my tenant, Content Type is available to select. But my page also doesn't look like your screenshot (I don't see columns in a right-hand pane like that), so maybe I'm not in the same place as you are? I'm curious, because I also think Content Types are important, and I was disappointed to find that (it seems) the Content Type Hub doesn't really work for sites created as O365 Groups.

    • Hi Sandy, it sounds like you are using a traditional list rather than a modern list in for example a communication site

      • Hmm, I tested with a List in a Communication Site also, and I still see Content Type available to add to the view. I'm on the list, and I select Edit Current View from the views dropdown. I can select to add the Content Type to the view (though it doesn't look like your screenshot - it takes me to the standard Edit View page), and it displays as expected... Just trying to verify if there's some scenario where it's not available? Or maybe this is a change that's not yet in First Release (which is what my tenant is)?

        • Hi Sandy,

          It looks like the view edit forms have been reverted back to the original update methods. Maybe Microsoft read my blog and have figured out that it was better to fix some issues first ;-)

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