Five things I love about Sharepoint

Just to start off: Sharepoint 2010 is a giant. You don’t want it to just power your personal website. You also don’t want it to power your corporate website, unless you are also thinking about migrating your intranet to Sharepoint. I’ve been working with Sharepoint only for two weeks and I didn’t like it at the beginning, but this was maybe because some technical issues, which made our platform very slow.

So, here are some things, I think are really cool about Sharepoint 2010:

  1. Ability to open a document from the Website, edit it and save it back to the website.
    I’ve been working long times with google docs. It’s really cool and I love to work on the same documents with other people. Nevertheless, the possibilities are also limited. Google Docs is not a Microsoft Word. MS Office is just about anywhere and I don’t really see big companies banning MS Office as defacto standard. With Sharepoints there’s a good option to finally replace those central file repositories where you always have to watch out not overwriting somebody elses changes. I’m still hoping that there’s eventually going to be co-editing possibilities…
  2. Infopath to create pretty power full form applications. No need to code anything. Just point and click.
    Infopath is a powerful tool. Build a form (that can even look nice), connect it to lists and libraries, build validations and triggers. It’s really easy to use and if you are familiar with «Designing-with-Word» you’ll find your way around. As a Webdeveloper I just wonder what the HTML code looks like. Probably I rather not want to know. Since that form stuff will be mostly used for Intranet applications, it doesn’t really matter.
  3. Sharepoint Designer is just awesome and I’m glad Sharepoint Designer 2010 doesn’t look like Frontpage anymore.
    Sharepoint Designer replaces FTP client and Eclipse (or whatever editor/IDE you’ve been using). This is actually a really cool piece of software. It allows you to administer most of your site, create lists, libraries, content types and workflows. Further you can build Layouts and do all kind of tweaking of your site. The nice thing is: This IDE/Client is built just for sharepoint. Imagine having an Eclipse distribution for Drupal, that’s Sharepoint Designer. One more cool thing: It’s free to download.
  4. Out of the box integration of SQL Server, SOAP or Rest Interface, to display data in lists.
    Microsoft was actually trying to be open… well not quite. You can only plugin to a MS SQL Server, but then with a REST or SOAP Interface you can plugin to mostly any system. I have not done extensive testing on this one, but it does look very nice. You just define the source and then you can start using items that come from that source.
  5. Easy creation of Workflows.
    There is a really nice addon called Nintex Workflows that makes the whole workflow building even easier. But again you can also use Microsoft Visio or Sharepoint Designer to build workflows. This allows creating simple form applications. My first little application I’m working on is an electronic customer satisfaction form. It turns out to be pretty easy with just out of the box Sharepoint tools. Since it doesn’t include any programing it is also very dynamic and can be changed easily.

Having said all this, don’t expect me to be a Sharepoint disciple. I believe, my Anti Sharepoint list is going to be longer (10 things I hate about Sharepoint), but it will probably be more focused on smaller things. In general I have to say: «well done». Plus I’m sure Microsoft is going to earn a ton of money from Sharepoint.

$$$ Sharepoint

I don’t think there are very many big enterprises that don’t have Microsoft technology. At least Office will be on most of the computers. With that you have an Exchange Server plus some Fileservers (maybe Linux?? but probably Windows) and maybe you even have some MS SQL server somewhere. With Sharepoint, Microsoft provides a platform that tries to connect all those application. Good for the user, but also good for Microsoft: Once they are all tied together your not going to split them up just like that.

Lets stop here and have a look at this in more detail later.