SharePoint – Vision Not Included

The SharePoint online community has been abuzz with discussion over a recent article by Mike Drips. In his article he points to what he considers 5 major flaws or shortcomings within SharePoint. Personally I was amused by Daniel McPherson’s reply article titled “Only Five Things Wrong with SharePoint”. My friend Bil Simser also had a good followup post on 5 of the good things about SharePoint.

There has been a great deal of discussion about the article. Heck even Scoble has mentioned it and he never talks SharePoint so frankly I wonder if there is really anything else I can offer to the conversation other than pointing out that everyone is entitled to an opinion, no matter how absurd their expression of it might seem. I know I’m Canadian, it’s really as nasty as I can get.

When you pour your heart and soul into a technology , you cannot help but rush to its defense when those around you fail to see its potential. It’s as if someone just tore a piece out of your best friend – you can’t just stand there and watch.

But the truth is, when you work with SharePoint (or any technology) you really need to accept the fact that some people just won’t get it. They won’t see the power of a system that right out of the box offers a team complete power of collaboration using tools that they are most familiar with. (Browser and Office) They fail to realize how powerful it is to free your key developers up from boring tasks such as electronic form creation and internal data tracking systems to do things that truly challenge them and reward the company. They fail to realize that for a relatively low investment SharePoint offers an extremely amazing suite of tools that can be even further extended to map directly to an organization’s business processes. And it may not entirely be their fault. But no matter how hard you try, no matter what you show them, sometimes it’s just not gonna click. That’s fine though.

Why is it fine? Well for every one person I come across that doesn’t get it these days, there are five more that do. When I was at Tech Ed a few weeks ago my head was spinning with the number of people that were hyped on SharePoint. It was the single most talked about technology by far in the areas I visited. Team System was next. People are really starting to get just how powerful information can be when it is accessible and available to everyone that needs it.

Don’t get me wrong. I have my issues with the current version as well. I have a OneNote file that outlines just about every complaint or feature idea I have ever had. I also intend to have a wishlist posted on a new site I am launching soon with some help from Shane and some others in the community that will collect everyone’s wishes so that we can submit them to Microsoft for review. Why not share them right? In fact here are a few of the problems I have with the current version now:

Multilingual Support – My clients need it. I work with organizations that require equal representation of the French and English languages. Two separate sites for a team to collaborate is not acceptable. Some people have found ways to work around it through custom development but I would really like to see some formalized support for this in V3.

Ghosting / Unghosting of Pages – I know there are very good reasons never to allow someone to open a site in FrontPage. But some forgiveness would be nice. At the very least I would like to have the power to work with Data View Web Parts directly on a page and not have to unghost it from the server. Whether this is through FrontPage, the browser or another tool, just give me access to what is an extremely powerful feature of SharePoint.

Top Level Portal Area URL Names - Why only 20? Or better yet why is it every client I seem to work with appears to have 20+ unique companies or divisions that require a better url that http://superserver/c14/marketing. I know its for scalability reasons but I wish we could have more. Twenty just isn’t enough because no matter how hard I try, some people just can’t accept http://superserver/c14/marketing as the url for their divisional site. And well, I can’t blame them.

Document Versioning – I like the versioning in a WSS document library. I just wish the Shared Documents library from a standard team site had it enabled by default. Minor detail that has caused many people I know major headaches. Again something that can get resolved easily through custom dev but I fail to see why it wasn’t enabled by default. Also what gives with the versioning and metadata being lost whenever a document is moved to another workspace or library. Especially when publishing a document from a document workspace back to its original location. Our company developed a tool that has proven to be quite popular to resolve this but I am still amazed we had to.

Event Handlers for Lists - I’d really love to see this in the next version. It would make so many templates that we develop for clients to help them with tracking of their business information so much more powerful. In the latest version I have used InfoPath in cases where a custom SharePoint list would have been equally acceptable for the sole purpose of being able to use an event handler.

Again proof that no matter how much you love something, you can always see room for improvement. The same goes for my dog, excellent and reliable companion but darn I wish she would learn to get on the ball and cook us supper while we are at work. Wouldn’t hurt her to do a load of laundry or two once in a while either. I also wish my 2002 Cavalier could climb 6 foot snow banks so that I would never have to shovel again.

But I also see plenty of good things in SharePoint and the Office System that completely cancel out the perceived shortcomings. Things that allow me to be a hero to my customers because I can with great confidence walk through their doors and know that I am going to help them with their problems. I love that I can improve the way they communicate and collaborate with one another by not having to change how they do their work or the tools they like to work with. I love that we can consistently over deliver just based on what the platform already gives us. And I love that I am surrounded both at work and in the community by people that have this same vision and commitment to this wonderful technology that I do and that things will only get better from here. And I even accept that not everybody gets this yet but I do know I am grateful for those that do. You have the vision. You get it.

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7 Responses to SharePoint – Vision Not Included

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  3. Bil Simser says:

    As always Amanda, well put. Great post and looking forward to the new site!

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  7. mp3 blog says:

    nice to hear you again Amanda.
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