I already talked about why some people don't like SharePoint. Now let's talk about why I like it:
- 1. SharePoint is a great site templating engine - you can built a certain template once and next kick it off to your end users so that they can built thousands of sites/workspaces with it. Remember to take a look at SharePoint – it’s all about making the right design choices – when to use custom site definitions before you start clicking around creating templates though.
- 2. It's all about Features - Once you grasp the concept of SharePoint features you can go ahead and built whatever you want on SharePoint. SharePoint is both a product and an application platform. The modularity of these features and the possibility to activate them later on in a project make SharePoint an interesting platform for agile development. Check out Features in MOSS 2007 and WSS 3.0 for additional details.
- 3. SharePoint solutions to make your admin your friend – From time to time, you will see some friciton between developers and operations people. Developing something is not that hard but then you need to get it deployed. In custom development this is one of the tasks which is quite often hugely underestimated. For SharePoint developers it is kind of mandatory to think about how to deploy stuff since there are a lot of files going in a lot of different places on your server. Once you get the hang of building SharePoint solution file for your customizations, everything will get deployed quite nicely on your whole farm. Take a look at the ten commandments for SharePoint development – SharePoint solution deployment is mentionned twice and not in vain.
- 4. InfoPath 2007 and Forms Services are great - it is amazing how easy it is to build electronic forms using InfoPath 2007 and then distribute them to your end users using browser-enabled forms. Quick warning though: deployment may be tricky and some manual steps will be required from your admin. Let’s hope that the story gets better in SharePoint 2010.
- 5. Strong integration with Office 2003/2007 - the things which you get for free in SharePoint are amazing. Integrated editing of Office documents, easy exports of SharePoint lists to Excel, taking documents offline in Outlook (2007 version only ...), two way sync of contacts and tasks in Outlook (again 2007 version only …). Remember Office is one of the most used applications worldwide so think about the integration story.
- 6. Easy branding and custom layouting - yes, there are some obstacles with regards to SharePoint branding –the master pages built in are not a good starting point and the CSS files might seem a bit bloated. But still – changing the look&feel is still quite easy. Learn to Know your master pages inside out.
- 7. I don’t have to write code for everything – when building something in SharePoint you don’t need write code for everything. This might seem shocking to some devs … take a look at Demo: a six-part series on getting the most out of SharePoint Designer. … I expect quite a lot of improvement in this area with SharePoint Designer 2010.