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What does SharePoint actually do?

This has got to be the most number of cliches I have ever read in a single web page:

http://www.microsoft.com/office/sharepoint/prodinfo/overview.mspx

"seamlessly connects users"
"The portal facilitates end-to-end collaboration"
"Put Information to Work"
"all of which enable the portal to grow with your organization’s needs"
"enables organizations to aggregate, organize, find, and provision SharePoint sites across the enterprise"

I read that page 3 times and I still don't really understand what SharePoint is or does.

Matthew Lock
Monday, June 28, 2004

Sharepoints a portal

A really really big, really really customizable portal

Dan G
Monday, June 28, 2004

What like MyYahoo?

Matthew Lock
Monday, June 28, 2004

It’s the result of mid level managers interpretation of top level managements decision to get them an intraweb, so basically its just a steaming pile of poo that sucks resources.  One of the saddest points I've noticed is when a company instigates an intraweb using sharepoint is that the rest of the company are then forced to use it thus not only consuming a great deal of company time but also mentally abusing the staff.
To those of you that recommend sharepoint, may an insane amount of homosexual elephant men masticate jelly beans underneath your gold plated scrotum.

FistyTheFerret
Monday, June 28, 2004

Er, to the mild flame above, was that v1 of sharepoint or the current version? sharepoint is far from perfect, but it does some things well. like let people share out documents in document libraries easily. create task lists, etc.

check out http://www.sharepointtrial.com/ . They have some cheesy flash movies, and also you can sign up for a free hosted trial.

mb
Monday, June 28, 2004

By now Philo is probably fed up with us, otherwise he would have written a brilliant explanation.

Michael Moser
Monday, June 28, 2004

Philo actually sleeps once in a while. :-)

SharePoint is a portal, something like a corporate My Yahoo. It's targeted towards collaboration and information sharing.

FWIW, we use it inside Microsoft. When I have to give a presentation, I just hit the search, look for, say, "Sharepoint ppt" and get hits on SharePoint slide decks from all over the company.

It's not a panacea, and won't cure cancer. But it can provide a great backbone for hanging information on.

Philo

Philo
Monday, June 28, 2004

ANd to add to Philo's comment.  What sold it for us (besides that it is now free), is that non-technical users can create sub-sites, say if they want a site to collaborate on a meeting or on a document of some sort, and they don't need to bother the IS team (specifically me) to do it.

We initially implemented it to facilitate sharing info in the IS department, but we are in the process of rolling it out to everyone.

I must admit that the thing can be a bit puzzling to program for at first though.  I felt like I was banging my head against a wall for the forst three days until things finally clicked.  That may just be my own stupidity though.

Steve Barbour
Monday, June 28, 2004

You know, Philo, you should talk to Microsoft marketing.  If your blurb was on the Sharepoint site instead of the Chinese menu of Business 2.0 cliches, they might sell a lot more licences.

Seriously, do they ever consider the backlash against empty marketing-speak?

Justin Johnson
Monday, June 28, 2004

Hmmm. I start working a a new company on Thursday (http://www.mint.co.za) They are a Microsoft Partner, and they  do Sharepoint implementations.

You guys are making me worried!

Gary van der Merwe
Monday, June 28, 2004

You know what really helps sharing?  A shared drive with file permissions.  I guess that concept is totally foreign to people, but it's practically free, it's fast, and it's cross-platform compatible.  Why add layers to something so simple?  You still have to have policy management with any other tool, and if you don't have pm no tool is going to fix that.

Devin
Monday, June 28, 2004

BTW, I recommend Scot Hilliard's SharePoint book (APress) - if you have to work with SharePoint, buy it and just sit down and read it. It's a great ground-up introduction to SharePoint concepts and technologies.

Philo

Philo
Monday, June 28, 2004


From what I saw (last Aug), Sharepoint seems to be entirely Microsoft-centric, which makes perfect sense as it's built for a relatively homogeneous environment.

My company was trying to implement it across all the client sites.  Unfortunately, there are some client sites (such as any DoJ facility) that do not allow IE to be used on their systems due to security issues.

KC
Monday, June 28, 2004

Thanks for the recomended reading Philo.

I am actualy realy looking forward to working there.

Gary van der Merwe
Monday, June 28, 2004

"What sold it for us (besides that it is now free)"

Where did you get the Portal Server for free? The underlying technology is free, but not the actual portal code.

Brad Wilson (dotnetguy.techieswithcats.com)
Monday, June 28, 2004

WSS or "Sharepoint Services" are free in Win2003, "Sharepoint Portal Services" is NOT free. 

I've never used the portal, but at (recently) former employer we used WSS running on a SQL server (not MSDE, which also works, but has some limitations) for the entire company's documentation, task tracking and release scheduling (posting).  Works great, very useful and as easy to back up as SQL server.

<sigh/>
Monday, June 28, 2004

Uh, SharePoint is completely browser-based, and with the exception of some Office integration, all its functionality is HTML/JScript/DHTML.

I've run a demo in Firefox. There are a few glitches, which I have sent back to the product team, but nothing that can't be worked around.

In addition, the SharePoint search engine uses the iFilter interface, which is an open standard - you can get iFilters for Notes databases, PDF, TIFF, DFX, and others.
SharePoint data views can hook web services, XML documents, or any ODBC database. Web Parts are written in .Net, but that means you can present any info you can hook with a .Net assembly (hint: anything with an API)

Philo

Philo
Monday, June 28, 2004

I have never looked at it, but the it seems to do what Phil G was doing with the ACS quite a while ago.

http://openacs.org

Tapiwa
Monday, June 28, 2004


"I've run a demo in Firefox. There are a few glitches, which I have sent back to the product team, but nothing that can't be worked around. "

Just don't try doing this with SharePoint v1. It took an otherwise attractive page and made it look like someone vomited a rainbow on it.

Not that matters for my client, it's an intranet and they are standardized on IE but I was curious as to how it looked with Firefox. Other than the massacred display and the continual prompting for authentication, it worked great. :')

Mark Hoffman
Monday, June 28, 2004

What are the main differences between Sharepoint and wiki-based collaboration tools?

John Rusk
Monday, June 28, 2004

System-imposed structure.  Which is both a good thing and a bad thing.

Jeremy Dunck
Monday, June 28, 2004

A wiki is like a big room of whiteboards that anyone can go in and write notes on.

SharePoint is like a building full of empty bookcases and bulletin boards that you can go into to file your books (or put pointers to other shelves). There are ACL's for who can go into which room and do what in that room.

Then throw a big ol' smart search engine on top of each to help you find what you're looking for.

Philo

Philo
Monday, June 28, 2004

"Uh, SharePoint is completely browser-based, and with the exception of some Office integration, all its functionality is HTML/JScript/DHTML."

Philo,

Is this really correct? Our college district has been trying to run a pilot program using the SharePoint portal, and I was asked to act as one of the test subjects. I tried to connect with Linux, Solaris, and Safari on the Mac, and none of them got anything except an "unauthorized" Web page.

I was able to connect to the server using my office mate's PC, but even with IE 6, I couldn't edit files, for instance. It looked to me like it was not only Windows/PC centric, but it didn't really work on Windows unless you had Office 2003.

I'd sure like to be able to tell the IT staff "Yes it should work, regardless of the user's platform, but you have it configured wrong." I just don't know enough to say that though.

--Steve

SG
Monday, June 28, 2004

Steve - I've tested specifically with Safari, and it should work fine.  It sounds like something on your implementation is not allowing a user authentication - this could be from any number of issues.  If you're still seeing problems with IE 6, I'd guess that someone's been in playing with the install and crossed some wires.  Unfortunately, since it's so easy to set up and modify, lots of people do so without reading anything about how it works, and you get a worse than broken portal - you get a partially broken one. 

Now without Office 2003, you don't get some of the cool features like a datasheet view in your browser, but that doesn't drop usability - just shortcuts.

Unfocused Focused
Monday, June 28, 2004

Woohoo, I can share files!  What is this 1996?

Wayne
Wednesday, June 30, 2004

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