Introduction

Over the past few months I’ve been involved in many discussions about SharePoint Hub Sites. What I’ve found is that majority of the people involved in the discussions were confused about what SharePoint Hub Sites are, what they do and what they do not do. In this article I will explain a little more about Hub Sites, what you get and call out specifically what you will not get.

Site Architecture

Before we begin, it is important to understand the structure of sites in SharePoint. The terminology can be somewhat confusing as it can mean something different given a different context. Since this article is all about modern sites I will use site and site collection to mean the same thing.

All modern sites are site collections, in SharePoint. This means that each has its own set of features, security, theme, site columns, content types, etc.. By hubbing those sites, they still remain their own entity but with connections between. The following sections will call out the pro’s & cons along with some of the common misconceptions.

Search

By default: Searching has two levels of scoping, within the current site and within the tenant. Tenant level searches everything you have access to.

SharePoint 
X Exit search 
robot 
tenant' 
site 
Organization > SideNavDemo 
All 
Files 
Sites 
News 
We found O results for robot. 
Try looking elsewhere 
p Search all content for robot

After hubbing: Searching now has three levels of scoping, within the current site, within the hub, within the tenant. Searching within the hub level will find documents in any of the hubbed sites that you have access to.

SharePoint 
X Exit search 
tenant 
p robot 
hub, 
site 
Organization > Departments > Marketing 
Files 
Sites 
News 
Y Filters 
iconfinder_robot_emoticons_smiley_4927752 
Marketing > Shared Documents 
You modified 3 minutes ago

Navigation

By default:  Each site has it’s own navigation. Communication site have a top navigation and Team sites have a left navigation.

After hubbing: A new navigation is added above the header but below the suite bar. This is the hub site navigation. All sites that are hubbed will receive this navigation. This creates a consistent top navigation across all sites within the hub.

SharePoint 
- Home Marketing 
Marketing 
Home Documents v 
p Sear 
Site contents 
Edit

The new navigation is just a collection of link that you must adjust manually. Newly created sites will not be auto added to the hub navigation and the navigation is not security trimmed, however it can be audience targeted [Releasing April 2020].

Common Misunderstandings:

  • The hub navigation displays all the sites in the hub – No the navigation is a simple list of links that you manually have to maintain.
  • The hub navigation is security trimmed – No the navigation is not security trimmed, however sites are still security trimmed so you can see the links but you would be blocked from the site if you do not have access.

Security

By default: Each site has it’s own security and permissions. As an admin you need to grant access for users and groups to each site individually. It could be possible to have access to the hub and not a hubbed site.

After hubbing: Nothing changes. Security still must be granted to each site individually.

Common Misunderstandings:

  • Permissions from the hub site rolls down into the hubbed sites – No each site within the hub has it’s own security. Permissions applied to the hub do not apply to the hubbed sites.

Branding

By default: Each site can has their own branding. To be crystal clear, in modern sites, branding equals:

  • Theme – General colors
  • Header – Layout [Standard or Compact] and Background
  • Navigation – Menu Style [Mega menu or Cascading]
  • Hub Navigation Logo – the logo located in the hub navigation

After hubbing: Each site within the hub will receive the all of the items from the above list.

Common Misunderstandings:

  • All branding customization will be applied to sites within the hub – No only theme colors will applied to sites within the hub. Branding customizations can be applied via features and no features are automatically applied by hubbing a site. This means that any application customizer that you built to adjust the branding further or inject functionality will not be automatically roll down into a hub site. Each hub site maintains its own collection of features and you must activate/deactivate these individually
  • Hubbing does not inherit the footer or site logo – I can’t believe it doesn’t do this hopefully it will in the future.

Content Rollup

By default: Sites do not share information with each other directly. You could use a search based web part to find and display a particular type of content across all sites within your tenant.

After hubbing: The Highlight Content web part can be used to aggregate various content from within the hub. News Articles and Events can also be aggregated up to the hub site.

Common Misunderstandings:

  • You still must have access to this content within the hubbed site it came from, otherwise you wouldn’t see it.

General

Below are a list of a few other considerations that important to know:

  • Hub site do not share site columns or content types
  • You cannot hub a site to another hub site

Summary

I think hub sites bring some much needed functionality to logically organizing a bunch of disparate sites together to form an intranet. In my opinion this is where modern SharePoint sites are failing. We need to be able to organize them together to be able to travel between and across them as well as locate information in each. This is exactly what hub sites solve. I hope this article shed some light on some of the edges. Hub wisely my friends!

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