Folders in SharePoint are a personal annoyance to me given the many times that I have had to migrate them through tedious folder by folder migrations. This is completely unnecessary if they had been configured using the power of SharePoint in the first place. Categories replaced folders and make administration and management easier for everyone with only a slight adjustment to one’s paradigms.

Gregory Zelfond has listed some very good reasons folders are poor practice in SharePoint. Read his blog here.

Let me add that Microsoft is working to flatten user databases and site hierarchies by offering categories in place of folders.  Even more obvious in this flattening effort is their offering of Hubs to replace subsites (see Zelfond’s other article “No, Subsites are Not Evil“. 

Given the whole idea of Office 365 is to make administration easier to enhance user work and reduce clicking around different sites to find content, this Hubs methodology has a lot of power.  Here are my reasons why you should sue Hubs instead of subsites:

  1. Site Content consolidation.  Instead of maintaining common content and forms on multiple site collections, you can manage it in one entry and pull it down as metadata in multiple hub site Lists & Libraries. This also avoids the potential for misspellings when common content is reentered in each list/library manually which impacts data integrity for future search and change operations.
  2. Permissions are easier to assign using Groups and teams.
  3. Teams can pull content from multiple hubs if they have the permissions.
  4. Security is very strong making each hub site secure in it’s own “domain”.
  5. Subsites use classic templates instead of modern features making hubs sites preferable in the “modern “ experience.
  6. Navigation is easier in hubs sites yet not automatically inherited from the parent site.

Folders in lists & libraries seem intuitive, like filing cabinets.  But this “old thinking” creates headaches for administrators and migrators. Using categories adds more flexibility and administrative options while separating the content.  In a category, a simple plus (+) sign can be clicked on to open the category (the former folder). 

Now you can apply changes to the entire list/library instead of having to go into each folder to apply changes.  This is easily accomplished in the Data Sheet view, which is where you should be making bulk changes instead of item by item (very tedious!). Trust me, your content administrators will thank you!

Read Gregory’s blog. While it came before hubs, it is still relevant and even has a couple updates in it. 

Related article by Greg Zelfond: No, Subsites are Not Evil.

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