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Monday At The SharePoint Conference

What I learned today at the SharePoint Conference:

  • What is SharePoint? Even Microsoft cannot define what SharePoint is. Ballmer said he is asked this by customers “all the time.”
  • SharePoint is a platform. However, during the Q&A Ballmer said, in answering a question regarding SharePoint Designer 2010 supporting SharePoint 2007, that this is a classic dilemma regarding “operating systems.” In addition, he said that Microsoft views SharePoint as “kind of” operating system (“platform” was used extensively this morning)
  • SharePoint will always favor Windows technologies. In the Q&A (again, best place for unscripted remarks), Ballmer made it clear that SharePoint will always support Windows technologies better. The questioner said he was using SharePoint with teachers, who love their Macs. In my opinion, perhaps the only major politically incorrect moment of the morning keynotes.
  • FAST search. This is the branding for the high-end search SharePoint will provide in it’s Enterprise Edition. This isn’t just search, its FAST search. This seems clear as mud to me. However, I cannot think of a better alternative.
  • Doesn’t Microsoft sell Visio and PowerPoint? At two "Overviews" today (Search, ECM), neither Microsoft speaker had a diagram explaining high-level concepts, instead each used screenshots of SharePoint administrator tools. I suspect the non-developers in the audience (“the masses” as in “ECM for the Masses” the title of one of the overview) were lost at this point.
  • We’re all developers, right? The Microsoft speakers seem to assume we are all developers. In fact, the first demo during the keynote this morning was the most technical one.

Tomorrow’s topics:

  • Business Connectivity Services. This may be the most innovative “new” capability in 2010. It is the evolution of the Business Data Catalog in (BDC) 2007 but appears to be more fully baked into SharePoint and can be used in many places.
  • FAST Search deep dive. I am interested in learning more about the processing FAST does as it is ingesting content.
  • Coexistence of SharePoint with file shares. SharePoint appears to be having more success replacing file shares than collaboration or document management solutions that came long before it. This topic is starting to show up in more of our client dialogues.

This Week’s SharePoint Conference

It looks like this will be a busy week. Microsoft execs announced some of the changes coming with the new version of SharePoint in their keynotes this morning (press release below). Here are some things I will be looking for in SharePoint 2010:

  • Ease of use. The current UI is clunky and takes far too many clicks. Adding the Office ribbon UI to SharePoint should go a long way to address this. But, will remnants of the old UI remain?
  • It appears that the MOSS name is gone. The successor to WSS is SharePoint Foundation 2010. Whenever someone from Microsoft said “SharePoint” they never meant WSS. Based on the agenda, SharePoint Foundation isn’t getting much attention either.
  • How much of a threat to the current SaaS WCM market will Microsoft be? From the release below it looks like SharePoint Online is expanding to handle Internet-facing websites. Should CrownPeak or Clickability worry?
  • How thoroughly integrated is the new Business Connectivity Services (BCS)? I’m especially interested in seeing if/how the new FAST-based search capabilities in SharePoint will leverage BCS. However, this has implications across the entire platform.
  • How much of a role will SharePoint play in addressing the “document as a web page” paradigm? The Office web apps are a good start but will they support wiki-style linking and management of large document bases? Or, will documents simply become cloud-based but still standalone?

Ballmer’s keynote address highlighted features and capabilities such as these:

· A new ribbon user interface that makes end users more productive and customization of SharePoint sites easy

· Deep Office integration through social tagging, backstage integration and document life-cycle management

· Built-in support for rich media such as video, audio and Silverlight, making it easy to build dynamic Web sites

· New Web content management features with built-in accessibility through Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, multilingual support and one-click page layout, enabling anyone to access SharePoint Server sites

· New SharePoint tools in Microsoft Visual Studio 2010, giving developers a premier experience with the tools they know and trust

· Business Connectivity Services, which allow developers to connect capabilities to line-of-business data or Web services in SharePoint Server and the Office client

· Rich APIs and support for Silverlight, representational state transfer (REST) and Language-Integrated Query (LINQ), to help developers rapidly build applications on the SharePoint platform

· Enterprise features in SharePoint Online such as Excel Services and InfoPath Forms Services, which make it simple to use, share, secure and manage interactive forms across an organization

· The addition of two new SharePoint SKUs for Internet-facing sites, including an on-premises and hosted offer

Microsoft Unveils SharePoint Server 2010 and Showcases New Functionality

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