Five Things Right With SharePoint

While Mr. Drips got his shots in (and I did my own share of mudslinging) I thought I would take the time to come out with my own spin on this and present the five things right with SharePoint. Feel free to agree or disagree with me, add your own, or go have a protein shake.

1. Quick and Easy Creation and Collaboration

This is probably one of SharePoints biggest features and the easiest to use. Want to get some teams that are geographically disjointed, can't rely on email for communications, and don't have time to set meetings up with everyone? A team site is just what is needed and brings everyone together in a quick and easy way. Where else can you offload site creation with a self-driven service and yet still monitor and be able to throttle users on how much storage they take up (or remind people about inactive sites for those that were just "playing").

Far too many people shun SharePoint because it doesn't do this or that out of the box and expect much more. If you take a step back and look at what you have and not what you don't, you'll find a vast set of resources that can be used for not only simple collaborative team sites but help desks, knowledge bases, employee performance tracking, wikis, blogs, and much much more. While there are physical limitations on implementations, the sky is the limit on your imagination.

2. .NET and Web Services

Let's face it, building business solutions is tough no matter what technology is out there. For the most part though, business solutions are really quite easy. Really. Their hasn't been a complex business problem that I've seen yet. Complicated perhaps. Many moving parts maybe. But actually complex, not so much. When you can start leveraging things like SSO and talking to infrastructure services that don't require complex data models to keep track of simple things, SharePoint just works. Add to that the fact that most of the major large vendors out there (Seibel, SAP, etc.) are giving away Web Parts for your sites to talk to their products.

No longer do I have to hand bomb some crazy ass service to connect to my Enterprise systems. I have extensibility and expandability. With more and more people out there writing .NET components, Web Parts are naturally springing up to solve various problems and fill some gaps people have been wanting the product to do (like RSS feeds). I can now tie my sites into Enterprise tools with minimal effort, attach to pre-built accelerators that provide a piece of functionality, and custom build systems that suite my specific business needs. All from one interface delivered, managed, and secured through the web. That's not so bad.

3. Integration with Office and other Microsoft Products

Open a Microsoft Word document from your hard drive and you'll get the usual gammet of features. Open one from a SharePoint site and you'll have a vast amount of new things that will not only help increase your productivity and put you in touch with teams but it will also give you new things like presence and status. Click on a user column and I can now access my colleagues calendars, availability, and contact information. The fact that the mere presence of a product in my environment and that it changes the behavior of other products is pretty interesting, but I can also leverage this and rather than building custom chat tools or deal with the inadequacies of web editing, just let them use Word. Complete with custom properties I can build views and groupings of documents that should drive people away from the archaic file systems folder heirarchy where I can't group things by two different values.

Throw on top of that a workflow engine out of BizTalk and sophisticated data entry via InfoPath forms (all stored in SharePoint) and I can start building things like automated recruiting systems that get me away from the crazy email and phone based solutions (or custom built systems) just to ensure a new hire has a computer. This can be looked at as an early incarnation if you will of Software Factories in action but stay tuned as it can only get better.

4. Microsoft's commitment to evolving an ongoing suite of tools

Microsoft has made it clear that SharePoint is a key player in the Office space and the tool to enable you to deliver collaborative solutions. Let's face it, Office has been pretty stagnant since it's inception. What great new features have you seen in Microsoft Word in the past 10 years? Collaboration and productivity is becoming the core of the Office Suite now as you just can't get any better with a word processor or a spreadsheet.

SharePoint 2003 was a test-bed for creating the next generation Web Sites and you see this in .NET 2.0 with the Web Part framework being expanded out and SharePoint and .NET 2.0 coming together. This isn't a half-baked idea that just evolved into something large and unruly, these are ideas and concepts that stretch back to the early days and now come full circle to provide a platform rather than a tool or technology. If you think SQL Server is just a database, you probably think SharePoint is just a web site. It's that and much more and Microsoft is behind this for the long run.

5. The SharePoint Community

While I go on and rave about how great this platform is, it does have it's shortcomings. However there are a lot of resources out there. Looking back to when we had SharePoint 2001 and the 5 of us that blogged about it, we now have over 100 dedicated people that are always writing about new things they're discovering, answering questions, and creating new tools. Go on. Go out and ask.

More often than not, the problem has already been solved and someone is more than willing to share. If not, it becomes a challenge for those of us that wish to take up the gauntlet. The SharePoint community is quite large and grows each day but it is a community and a two-way street. A street that you can either play on or help pave. I for one welcome our new portal overlords, you should too.


Comments have been disabled for this content.