SWAY file management

I have looked at SWAY for two weeks now, read the communities comments, and considered the Microsoft feedback.

I am in healthcare, and all of the security and access that goes along with that.  I most appreciated the questions that focused on where the 'file' is stored.  I'm going to assume there is some file, somewhere, in some format.  I too need 'control' over the content and the work product.  If someone needs to ask what I mean by 'control', then step aside and find someone else to reply.  My desires; 1. Use SWAY just like every other Office product meaning I install the app (or 365), tinker for a while, and create a file.  2. A file I store, where I want to.  3. A file just like .xlsx .docx .pptx .vsdx.  4. I will never ever use this application if these three things are not met.

I own my content, period.

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1. SWAY App is available on the store. you can download it. Refer https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/store/apps/sway/9wzdncrd2g0j

2. Don't think so if that is possible.

3. I don't think this is possible too.

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As a business man, with business documents like revenue and operations materials, I can NOT use an application where the content is stored ONLY in the cloud.

My next trip to Paris, yes.  My next board meeting, no.  This is not a business application rather an entertainment tool.

I was hoping for a new, inventive upgrade for PowerPoint.  Is could be, but it is not.  This decision was intentionally made by Microsoft and it is the wrong one.

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Hi Steven,

I appreciate your point of view. I suspect I will not change your mind with a forum reply such as this, but I would like to lay out some of our thinking.

First, it is worth noting that Sway is not a replacement for PowerPoint, nor is it intended to be. We designed Sway to be used for presentations, digital stories, documents, school projects, etc. The fact that you can give a great presentation using Sway does not mean that PowerPoint is unneeded - it is more suited than Sway to many use cases.

As for files, it is not the case that Sway has a "file" in the cloud, the way PowerPoint or Word have files in the cloud when you put them in OneDrive or elsewhere. There are no Sway files, just collections of content, links and relationships in the secure Azure cloud database. That doesn't mean we couldn't find some way to export a blob of data that contained these items to your hard disk - it just wouldn't be as useful. There are reasons we chose the approach we did, and they have to do with expectations of modern tools.

Allow me to first address a few common misconceptions about cloud-based data.

1. "It isn't available offline". When data is based in the cloud, that simply means the "master copy" of the data is in the cloud. Modern apps using cloud storage such as Sway (or OneNote) are able to take that data offline (to view or present without a network) even though there is no file. "No file" does not equal "no offline". Edits can be made on this cached data offline too (in OneNote, not yet in Sway), and synced back to the cloud.

2. "It isn't secure". Office365 is built around securing cloud based data. With the current Sway service you can secure content to your organization. The ability to apply more granular security is coming. Some governments and many reputable businesses large and small store their financial information in Office365 - we wouldn't be building it right if they couldn't. But we also know that some businesses cannot do so for regulatory reasons (those regulations are slowly modernizing), and some people just aren't comfortable yet with the notion. That's fine - *no one* was comfortable with it just five years ago - attitudes are changing rapidly.

3. "I can't control my data". As the owner of the data, you have control over it in the cloud as well. You can delete it, limit access to it, share it, copy it etc. These things are done differently from how a file-based system works, but the capabilities are there. Sway abides by the Office 365 trust center, which includes user’s rights to their content and data. It is worth looking at this FAQ for answers to specific questions you may have.

You may be curious as to why we decided to make Sways cloud based. Here are several reasons (and we keep finding new ones):

1. Your data is always accessible from any device.

2. They are far easier to share. Just send the link (vs attach to email, or share a USB drive). This is a big deal because the total data size in a Sway can be large without impacting your device storage, or exceeding limits in various systems (such as email attachment size)

3. It is trivial to enable people to co-author and work together. Files need to be moved to the cloud to enable this, which is tricky for many people. Most people therefore send email attachments which forks the file and causes a versioning nightmare.

4. We can adapt the amount of data served to viewers on different devices - so phones don't have to get the same size of images or videos as desktops.

5. Documents that contain media to the degree Sways do can become *very* large if all that data had to be packed into a file. It is far more efficient to reference that data on the cloud than attempt to bring a copy of it it into a file

6. We are able to offer a web based editor to edit from any machine - no app install required.

7. Unlike with file attachments, if someone overshares your sway, you can just revoke access to it.

8. We have the capability to offer information on who has accessed your Sway, when, how much they read, etc.

Different people have different needs. We receive a lot of praise from people who are happy to have their data accessible from any device, and happy that we also take care of ensuring they are always working on the up to date copy. These people love that sharing and co-editing a sway is easy, and working with media is lightweight and not dependent on having a high powered computer.

That said, we know this approach is not for everyone right now. That's why Office365 gives you options - work the classic way, or use classic tools in a new way, or new tools in a new way. With Sway we have chosen to not build a new tool that works the classic way, because the benefits of the new approach are so significant that we would rather use our resources to make the tool more powerful.

If you have specific questions beyond what I've addressed in this response, I am happy to take them.

Regards,

Chris Pratley

General Manager, Sway

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I have just started with Sway and had exactly the same question as many others: 'where are my Sway files?'

Your message here is a great answer to the question. It moves our thinking so far forward! The concept is, at first, difficult to grasp if stuck in the old world of files and folders (as most of us will be) but slowly I'm coming around to realising just how powerful this approach is... it's going to take some adjustment on my part but I'm sure I'm going to like it!

Thank you.

Maurice Durbin.

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Hi Chris,

Thank you for providing a detailed explanation of the SWAY concept and its options for sharing. Whilst I initially found this to be a very exciting product, there are still a great many of us who live, work or need access to information in places without an internet connection of any kind. Without some sort of file creation tool to overcome this problem, I’m afraid that the appeal of SWAY will be lost to many of us.

Regards, Martin Standen

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Hi Chris,

I really enjoy Sway, and I am in love with the concept. Unfortunately, I must adhere to government regulations, and as you mentioned before, I cannot use Sway "for regulatory reasons." My organization uses Microsoft products, and we have been using them for the duration of my career. The ease-of-use and dumbing-down of presenting information would help to turn around the "death-by-powerpoint" culture we are unfortunately in today. I believe that Sway is a very intuitive way to just get the information you need on the presentation rather than copying and pasting everything from a word document, and it encourages actual presentation (a lost art). I could be wrong, and I may just be tired of sitting through briefs and classes with 400-slide PowerPoint presentations, but Sway is very refreshing to use and follow along with.

I highly encourage the Sway development team to engineer a way to allow users to pick how they want to manage the Sway information: either by sharing with a cloud, or by allowing the user to save the information for strictly offline use (which would help users conform to government regulations). The notion that "those regulations are slowly modernizing" is simply not true; government regulations when it comes to security classifications and sensitive information is set in stone. Those regulations are not going to change because we want to use Sway. The regulations were written to safeguard and protect information.

The bottom line is: Sway is a great presentation tool. There is a big market that you are targeting but missing due to government regulations. Give the users the power to choose between uploading to your cloud or keeping their information off cloud-based services. Otherwise Sway will never have practical use outside of blogging and story-telling.

Regards,

Steve

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I have just prepared a presentation in ignorance of the need for a cloud connection. There are many places in the UK where that connection is still not possible, either wired or over mobile networks. I can quite happily live with an offline editing capability like One Note. Just how soon will this off line tweak take to be offered to the end user?

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One of the features of the Sway Win10 app (not the web app) is that you can cache your sways for offline presentation. All you need to do is view the Sway once in the Win10 app (I recommend you practice once using the Win10 app in the format and screen size you will use to present). Later you can view that Sway offline for your presentation. There is as yet, no offline edit capability. No timeline for that to share either, sorry.

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I hear your feedback Steve, as does the whole Sway team. And thanks for the compliments about Sway.

Let's separate this into two things:

1. offline use

2. user addressable 'files' (which, implicitly, do not need to ever live in the Microsoft cloud)

The former is already possible in a limited way using the Win10 Sway app (for presentation). Editing will come someday (no specific timeline). This will eventually be similar to how OneNote allows full offline use (even if the document/notebook is cloud-homed)

People often link 'offline' and 'files' in their minds, as though the latter are required for the former. As OneNote shows, and the Sway Win10 app, that is not true. Apps can still use a cloud-homed data source and enable offline including editing, even multi-user editing through cached data.

For the second, that is an implementation choice (a familiar user experience) to enable certain capabilities. And as I discussed above, it also (re)introduces a whole set of problems that not having files (and being able to count on cloud-homing) solves.

Sometimes people have workflow that assumes that files will be attached to messages. Generally, any workflow that is about sharing and collaborating is better done with a cloud-homed version vs forking copies and trying to reconcile changes and comments from many users. So for these scenarios, Sway has chosen its path.

Still others have tools that expect data to be in files (backup, scanners, etc). For these, we (Microsoft, not specifically Sway) are working with tool vendors to enable scanning of cloud services and other solutions to accommodate cloud services. This is the long term

Some customers cannot host data outside their own networks, and not in Microsoft data centers. Many of those customers are OK once Microsoft shows how they can extend their security/auditing bubble over the MS data centers (this is a core tenet of Office365). This approach encompasses far more than Sway - it goes to the heart of cloud computing and the trend is definitely toward change to accommodate this approach.

Others customers (a shrinking minority but one that admittedly will never be zero given govt, military, etc) simply require the data to be on their physical machines in their data centers. For those people the long term solution will be private cloud hosting. We're not there yet.

Why not also allow files? It's a good question to ask. We have lived in that space before, and it is not pretty. Having files that users manage generates a lot of complexity in the user experience, and requires a lot of user training to help them understand how to enable things such as coauthoring. It breaks all the advantages I described earlier. And it's work, which means we can't improve something else. So even though that decision shuts out some people in the short term and a few people for the long term, we have decided not to go that way. There is always Word and PowerPoint for the folks who can't adopt this new way.

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Last updated July 19, 2021 Views 2,069 Applies to: