Straight to the (Share)Point

10.15.2010 »
Tech
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More and more companies are migrating their intranets to SharePoint, which is often a huge undertaking as well as a very substantial expense. The question I hear a lot as a SharePoint developer is, “why?” It’s an excellent question, and there’s an equally excellent answer (or, more accurately, answers).

Though SharePoint isn’t right for everyone, the shortest and maybe best answer is that SharePoint enables multiple users within an organization to update and maintain their sections of the intranet, without having to rely on developers and programmers to make the changes for them. This streamlines what can otherwise be a complex and time-consuming process, and helps ensure data is up to date and accurate. From my point of view, the bottom line is that it saves time, which means it saves money in the long run.

SharePoint is a massive platform, not a software package, which uses an array of different technologies. It incorporates a variety of other Microsoft components, including a SQL database for storing content, the .NET framework to write codes, and Internet Information Services for running its websites. Not every company will want SharePoint’s extra components but each company can benefit from their features; features that offer great opportunity for growth.

In the market, there are other great Content, Document, and Web Management systems; however, SharePoint is the one platform that has superior integration with other top Microsoft products. Furthermore, SharePoint is expanding with a 2010 version.

“The capabilities of SharePoint 2010 work together to help your company quickly respond to changing business needs. Using SharePoint 2010, your people can share ideas and expertise, create custom solutions for specific needs, and find the right business information to make better decisions. For IT, SharePoint 2010 helps you cut training and maintenance costs, save time and effort, and focus on higher business priorities.“ http://sharepoint.microsoft.com/

As an Administrator for SharePoint, the 2010 User Interface (UI) has particularly changed for the better. For instance, instead of each click taking you to another page, which requires a screen refresh, SharePoint 2010 now has more dynamic scripting which allows you to enter in the information and submit instead of loading 3 pages to complete the same task (less clicks). Also SharePoint 2010 now offers the Ribbon functionality to administrators, which is similar to each new Office Programs (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint). This will allow administrators to customize their own tool bar for task they repeatedly do, thus increases efficiency by reducing time and cost.

Something else I often hear from developers and programmers is that SharePoint is a complex development environment. I admit it does have its challenges and a fairly steep learning curve, and there are things that take longer in SharePoint than on other platforms, at least in the initial build. Net, SharePoint isn’t designed to be easy for me or my fellow developers. It’s designed to be easy for the users. While this means you may incur a higher upfront cost in creating the sites in SharePoint, you may get the payoff in the lower maintenance costs.

As a Developer I am very excited to use Visual Studio 2010 with my Windows 7 box! SharePoint 2010 now has a sandbox installation on a Windows 7 machine; this means every developer can have their own environment. Before, we had to rely on Community Tools to develop on a proficient cost/rate, now all SharePoint 2010 extension is in Visual Studio 2010. In short, this option simplifies the overall process for development, deployment, and debugging for developers.

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