Why SharePoint or better yet… What Is It?
This is part one of a many part series where I go through and rediscover SharePoint from a 30-60k level. I’ll get back to the more technical aspects later. This series is to help shoot back what I’ve learned on my journey to SharePoint 2010 that started two years ago when I made the judgment call to go with 2010 rather than 2007 at the time. Prior to jumping to 2010 I looked closely at MOSS 2007 and WSS 3.0. At the time, we had not procured licensing and the research done showed that this would not be a quick project. It made sense to go with 2010.
Some conventions used…
When you see this, it means that a “lesson” was learned that required whatever is being talked about in the box. For example, security can be handled in a variety of ways and really depends on what you have on hand, etc. With SharePoint, and the authentications I faced, a certain security model fit the bill better than others.
‘splaining to the boss…
It’s two, two, two products in one. When talking about SharePoint 2010 a lot of confusion comes out. Why? As a technical person, it is easy to slip back and forth between SharePoint that is the server product and SharePoint that is the Intranet, Extranet or Internet platform. It’s easy to slip into Farms and Governance speak ensuring Metadata is copasetic… What? The boss has tuned out and can’t see what is the bottom line. Ok, so to address what it is…
Collaborate? Manage Documents?
As a developer, source control is near and dear to my heart. Rollback, versions, etcetera all come easily with the right tool. Now this may seem backwards to talk about source control before collaboration but source control is an integral part of that process. NTFS integrates seamlessly with Office tools. What? Says you… Save a document to a public location or give others access to a private location and voilà, document collaboration. Ok, you have to practice safe save and give documents wonky names like SoBigDocumentv1.3.a.b.review.docx. Ok, you’ve got it. Right?
- Check in/out features
- Document libraries
- Managed metadata
- And more…yes, there’s more
If you have not heard of metadata or understand the concept… it’s like when the term paradigm floated around and the buzz was paradigm shift. Metadata is a term being used in a similar fashion today. Many times it is used correctly. Other times, well, you be the judge. In case you are curious… see this link on Metadata. The definition can be expanded from the strict, “data about data” to a more general “data about objects”. Especially in terms of SharePoint.
Microsoft Office Integration
Since SharePoint 2010 is 2010 it goes without saying that the best integration is with 2010. Big surprise there but there is integration with 2007 and 2003 in decreasing degrees.
What products integrate?
- Word, the flagship of corporate documentation
- Excel, if it has numbers, it must be Excel
- Outlook, the bane of collaboration… ok, email is the bane… Outlook is only the tool
- Access, developer’s bane, information workers TOOL
- PowerPoint, Jekyll and Hyde of presentations
- Visio, oft misunderstood and very powerful tool
Of those listed above, Access, Excel and Visio have there own Services in SharePoint.
Ok, here’s a scenario that will help clear up this topic and it ties nicely into SoBigDocumentv1.3.a.b.review.docx… Instead of attaching this document to email(bane) and having the recipient save it as SoBigDocumentv1.3.a.b.review_MyVersion.docx, a link to SoBigDocument.docx (sorry, can’t do anything for the document name…) that is stored in a SharePoint list that has versioning enabled… and voilà, ç’est tout!
I’m sure that SoBigDocument1.2 was never newer that SoBigDocument1.3 right? Never happens, I know but just in case…
Already mentioned but still a hit… Libraries and Lists
Basically, this is where SharePoint stores stuff and provides outside access to the stuff in SharePoint. Ok, we’re done now, next… wait… there is more.
Control that access…
Libraries can be managed. From “who can see it” to “who can create it” can be managed. Already mentioned, versioning, can be for major and minor versions plus you can be alerted to a change.
Where it is…
Libraries! Lists! Organizational structures that group items (objects) into a central container regardless of where they are physically located.
This makes file shares less important in addition, Libraries and Lists in SharePoint support management features, indexing for improved search and destroy, and social features like tagging and notes.
Workflows are also supported (see Visio 2010 SharePoint Workflows or Stage 1 – Paper-based Process Diagrams Using Visio 2010)
Please let there be templates…
Templates have been around a long time. SharePoint is no stranger to templates. Though why the Publishing template is the one to use for personal branding and the blank template is broken out of the box… you will have to ask Microsoft. I’m sure there is a reason and after you’ve played around with SharePoint and gone through a lo of the material, even these will not be blockers.
There are templates for everything… site templates… don’t get me started on Site Templates for site collections…
This is one place, like any framework, that before you click on submit, you’d better understand what it is your are creating.
If you have the resources (a 64bit PC with a minimum of 8g ram, Windows 7, and substantial hard drive) setup a virtual environment. Build and tear down multiple sites. You might even want to try the convert the SharePoint 2010 install so it will work on a Windows 7 PC. Again, it has to be 64bit.
One of these days, I’m going to figure out how to remove SharePoint from my personal system. A big lesson learned, and one that I wished had been put out there is: Start with a Virtual Machine first!
That is all folks…
This is it for part one. Part two will continue on into more about SharePoint with part three getting into setting it up. For some links check out:
Thanks for reading!