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Wiki page editing improvements in SharePoint 2013

Posted in [Uncategorized], [SharePoint 2013], [Wiki] By Tom Castiglia


Getting ready for Microsoft’s SharePoint Conference 2012 next month, I’ve been testing out the new App Dev model in SharePoint 2013 for the last few weeks.  But tonight, I decided to start digging into the out of the box features of SharePoint 2013 and comparing them to SharePoint 2010. 


I decided to focus on the wiki page editing features, since this was one aspect of SharePoint 2010 that was universally disliked by every SharePoint user I know.  My hope is that Microsoft will greatly improve the wiki editing functionality in SP2013.  Thankfully, I have found some critical improvements within the wiki editing experience.  Although, I have not yet completed an exhaustive analysis of the wikis in SharePoint 2013, this article will focus on one major improvement that I noticed right away.


One Major Problem with Wikis in SP2010…


On numerous occasions, I’ve found content residing in some MS Word document, that I need to post into a SharePoint wiki page.  Like all of us, the documents I have, typically include rich formatting such as styled headings, numbered lists and bulleted lists and potentially, various fonts and colors. 


However, wiki pages have their own default styles, provided natively by SharePoint.   For my purposes, I’m not concerned about changing the native styles provided in SharePoint’s wiki pages.  However, I do need to have consistent formatting/styles throughout all wiki pages.


The problem in SharePoint 2010 is that when I copy/paste formatted content from MS Word into a wiki page, SharePoint tries to preserve the original formatting from the MS Word document, rather than convert the formatting into the wiki’s own style. 


For example, say I have an MS Word document that looks like this:





If I copy this content from MS Word into a wiki page in SharePoint 2010, it looks like this:




Although not identical in format, its clear that SharePoint attempted to retain the formatting from MS Word (and it comes fairly close). 


Now, I’m sure Microsoft thought it would be helpful to users for the wiki to retain formatting from MS Word.  But the moment you start to edit your wiki content within SharePoint 2010, you realize what a problem this is.  For example, here is my wiki page after I started typing more content directly into the wiki page:




As you can see, the new headings and paragraph text utilize the native styles provided by SharePoint’s wiki page.  So if I want the formatting of my new text to match the text that I copied from Word, I’d have to break out some JavaScript and CSS customizations to the wiki pages, which is not realistic for ad-hoc wiki editing.  So the only realistic solution, is to go through the content that was copied from MS Word, and highlight each section and select the desired formatting option. 


While this would be trivial for a small amount of text, if you need to do this with a large document, it will be far more time consuming than you likely planned.  In at least one case, a client of mine opted not to use a SharePoint wiki simply because the time that would be required far exceeded what they felt was reasonable.  For my company, and some of our clients, this is one reason why wikis have not been seriously adopted in SharePoint 2010.


So, what about SharePoint 2013?


For my test, I simply I copied the the same sample text from my Word document into a wiki in SharePoint 2013… here is the result:





In this case, SharePoint 2013 disregards the formatting from Word, and simply applies its own styles for heading and paragraph text.  So now, when I start editing or adding new text, the format of the new text is identical to the text that I copied from MS Word:




This is a huge improvement and makes SharePoint wikis much more useful.  However, the issue addressed in this post is one of several known issues with SharePoint 2010 wiki pages.  I’ll need to spend some more time seeing what other improvements exist in SharePoint 2013 wiki pages.  But for now, its nice to see that this specific problem has been corrected in the new release.


If you have experience using wikis in either SharePoint 2010 or 2013, please drop me a comment about your experience using it and let me know of any tips or tricks to make it work better.  You can find me on twitter @tomcastiglia.  Hope to see you at SPC2012.


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