Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Sneak Peek At SharePoint 2010: My Take

Note: I'm currently working on another SharePoint tutorial on enhancing the Announcements web part on your page. As soon as I finish that tutorial, I will post it.

Recently I attended a Microsoft seminar on SharePoint 2010. From what I've seen in the seminar, there are numerous improvements to SharePoint in this version. The following is my evaluation of the SharePoint 2010, broken down into "pros", "cons", and "questions". Note that I haven't covered every single enhancement - there are so many to mention.


  • Vastly Improved Features for a True Web Communication Solution

    Using SharePoint as a web site had limitations, including the lack of cross-browser support. A SharePoint site looked fantastic in Internet Explorer, but the same site looked "blah" in Firefox or Safari. Microsoft is adding cross-browser support to SharePoint 2010.

    You probably noticed that SharePoint really didn't support embedding rich media without a little bit of effort. For example, I have tutorials on this blog on embedding rich media on a SharePoint 2007 page using the Content Editor Web Part. According to Microsoft, SharePoint 2010 will fully support embedding rich media (including Silverlight).

    Another feature that has been added to SharePoint 2010 is "preview before publishing". In some cases, you have to publish your changes in SharePoint 2007 in order to see the outcome, which is not a good approach. In SharePoint 2010, you will have the ability to view your changes without having to publish your "works in progress".

  • Better Support of SharePoint Development

    If you've done any customization to SharePoint, such as creating custom web parts, you probably noticed that testing and debugging your work is...frankly, what testing and debugging? You usually had to publish your changes to the SharePoint site and test in "real time" on the site. SharePoint 2010 will have Sandboxed Solutions to give the developer a genuine, "protected" environment to test custom SharePoint development without affecting the SharePoint sites.

  • More information on FAST -
  • Dramatically Enhanced Search Capabilities

    From my experience, SharePoint 2007's search capability was adequate, but there was some limitation. SharePoint 2010 will have enhanced search capabilities such as: boolean and wildcard searches, phonetic lookups, and Bing-like capabilities. The best part of the search enhancement is the integration of the FAST search technology in SharePoint 2010. This will help position SharePoint as a valid platform for web communication.

  • Integration with Office 2010

    In a nutshell, SharePoint 2010 plays very nicely with Office 2010. Some of the many integration features include:

    • Ability to take large amounts of data and pivot on those quickly like a spreadsheet (also requires SQL Server 2008 R2)

    • Ability to create workflow flow charts in Visio, import the workflow flow charts into SharePoint Designer, and have SharePoint designer create the workflows from the flow charts

    • Ability to import Office themes to use as themes for SharePoint 2010

    • With the correct licensing, ability to edit Office documents through the browser rather than on the client machine

  • Wizards for Easier Interactions with Databases

    In SharePoint 2007, this functionality required a custom-developed web part. SharePoint 2010 will have Business Connectivity Services that will allow a person to connect directly to a database via a wizard in SharePoint designer. Not only will it display the information, but it can also provide an interface for the person to change the data. (The Microsoft rep demonstrated this with SQL Server, but I would imagine that this could work with Oracle or PostgreSQL/MySQL.)


  • More "Power to the People" May Require Business to Re-Evaluate IT Support

    One of the enhancements that Microsoft is adding to SharePoint 2010 is adding more "power to the people" to make SharePoint an even better collaborative tool. This could make IT management re-evaluate how the IT department will support SharePoint. Based on experience, a number of SharePoint problems that I have to address is problems caused by the user (deleting security groups, setting up a page incorrectly, accidentally deleting content, assigning the wrong security to the site). Since users will have more "power" in SP 2010, IT departments may need to realign their resources to help support the users, even if the user base gets all the SharePoint training that they need. These changes may also affect financial budgets. For example, a reorganization may be required, so people who once fell under the IT budget and headcount may now fall under the business unit's budget and headcount.

  • The Requirements for SP 2010 May Require Additional Cost Investment from Companies

    SharePoint 2010 requires the following:

    • Windows 2008 64-bit SP2 or R2

    • SQL Server 2005 or 2008

    • Office 2010 preferred

    Not all companies are running bleeding-edge hardware technology, and in this economy, companies have tightened their IT budgets. If a company wants to use or upgrade to SharePoint 2010, the company may also need to purchase additional hardware and software if it's not equipped for SP 2010.


  • What about Flash?

    Although SharePoint 2010 is supposed to support embedding rich media on the pages, the one format that the Microsoft representative failed to mention was Flash. All due respect to Microsoft - for rich content on the web, Flash is much more prevalent than Silverlight. It looks like that one may still need to add a few workarounds on a SharePoint page to get Flash to appear on a SharePoint page.

One thing that I haven't mentioned is upgrading. Microsoft has acknowledged that upgrading from SharePoint 2003 to SharePoint 2007 was not properly supported by Microsoft. Microsoft is providing many tools and documents to make upgrading from SharePoint 2007 to SharePoint 2010 as easy and seamless as possible.

I'm getting the impression that Microsoft wants to make SharePoint the "all in one" tool for web communication, and with this version, it appears that they are closer to accomplishing that goal.

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