Why Jeff Teper Needs to Get me Back to SharePoint

Don’t worry, @jeffteper, I won’t come back to SharePoint. Not because I don’t think you can do awesome things but because I’m doing game development now and I’m having more fun than a warehouse full of barrels full of monkeys. Oh, and I’m doing it in Costa Rica. This is, I’m not joking, our meeting room at the Lobster Cave.

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SharePoint used to be fun, and may be again, but not this much fun.

But let me get right to the point for those who do not know: Jeff Teper has come back to head the SharePoint team at Microsoft after being promoted just a year ago, a sign, I said at the time, of the death of SharePoint.

Hang on… If he was promoted out of the SharePoint team back then… And he’s back now… Does that mean he got demoted again?

Jeff’s first and perhaps most challenging task will be to get me to do SharePoint again.

But You Just Said…

No, I’m not coming back. But Jeff needs to make me, or more correctly, people like me come back to SharePoint. Those that left in the past couple of years. Whether those are developers, architects, customers, or community supporters.

Because the SharePoint community has been bleeding badly. You may not notice it but people have been leaving en masse. Even those you think do SharePoint are sometimes doing so solely because having it as part of their title still pays a salary, but they secretly look for ways to do other work, or even actively do other work.

This is a huge, huge problem for Jeff and one he needs to solve because the community is one of the most important reasons SharePoint became such a success.

Read: Why I Love SharePoint Part 2 – The Community

The SharePoint community in the olden days built tools that were orders or magnitude better than what Microsoft did. Carsten Keutmann singlehandedly built WSPBuilder and SPManager, tools that completely changed building solutions for SharePoint and maintaining them afterwards. He did so for free. Awesome stuff like that doesn’t happen anymore.

The tech bloggers are diminishing, as does the collective intelligence of the community. The level of questions asked in open forums is going down, which means that on average, the SharePoint professional sucks more these days than they did just a few years ago.

Jeff needs to change this trend because SharePoint is massively complex and without a vibrant community that is passionate about the product, it will die.

Read: Four Reasons Why SharePoint is Dying

So How Can Jeff fix things? I have some suggestions.

Stop the NDA Madness

I’m a vocal opponent to non-disclosure agreements where the existence of such NDAs hurt the people they are originally intended to support. The Edward Snowden case is a typical example of this; the behavior of the US intelligence community was deemed to be detrimental to the US population.

The SharePoint MVP community is also under similar NDAs and it is hurting SharePoint. Up until the public release of information about the removal of design view in SharePoint Designer 2013, MVPs were actively recommending using SharePoint Designer for tasks they knew full well would not be possible in the next version.

Why? Well, they had to. They can’t leak that the next version of SPD completely takes away such an important part and they can’t stop recommending people use it because they’d ask why and the MVP would be forced to lie, avoid the question, or otherwise protect Microsoft rather than its users.

They should have been allowed to speak openly about this and if so, it would have saved the customers a lot of strife.

Note that I’m not saying the decision was wrong. I support the removal of the design view. I just think that the customers who spent time developing solutions that depends on SPD may have benefited from this information being public sooner.

Read: I Was Wrong, Kill the SharePoint Designer Design View

Release Faster and When Announced

I’ve also previously complained about whereas Microsoft in general has adopted an approach of making new version of software available for testing immediately, the SharePoint team refuses and still has often a year from the announcement of a new version and until anyone is allowed to see anything.

Read: SharePoint 2016 Like it Always Was

Jeff needs to drop the time from talking about a new feature or version and until people can start using it from years to minutes or hours at the most. This is the way Microsoft works now,  and it is the way it should work. It gives more feedback in the vital early stages, early insight for better customer decision making, and an overall better public image than the secrecy that dominates the SharePoint team.

And you know what? It seems it’s working. Originally, Microsoft had said there would be a beta version sometimes late this year (2015). Now, shortly before Jeff Teper came back, Microsoft announced a public beta mere months away and far sooner than people expected.

Of course, Jeff has known for a while that he’d be demoted coming back again, so I’m fairly certain he had some say in the early release.

Well done, Jeff! Another notch in your hero-belt.

Stop Feature Creeping and Fix Problems

SharePoint has major issues. Technical issues that have been around for years. Apparently, before SharePoint 2013, there wasn’t time to fix the design view in SharePoint Designer.

Well, why didn’t you cut some of the new features that nobody asked for, like the app model? Nobody wanted that. It didn’t work then and it doesn’t work now, as evident by Microsoft’s decision to kill the app model and rename it to the add-in model to get people to use it.

Read: SharePoint App Model Solves Non-Problems Only

Rather than getting new bloat to an already bloated product suite, fix what’s already broken. Stop adding new stuff until you’ve stabilized the current version. I mean, why is there no way to remove the Recent items in QuickLaunch? Nobody asked for it but you felt you had to add it and now there’s no way to get rid of it without mucking about with CSS.

Oh, but one thing remains. The most important thing.

Jeff, if you read only one thing, read this:

Don’t Kill SharePoint Foundation

Look, we know it’s not bringing cash. We know you want to kill it. You’ve said there won’t be a SharePoint Foundation 2016 (or rather, Bill Baer said so).

You know what? SharePoint Foundation needs to be there so that you attract people. It is an awesome place for people to learn about SharePoint so they get sucked into the money vacuum called SharePoint Server.

If that’s not your goal, then I think you’re really agreeing with me that SharePoint is dying. That’s why this is your most important decision, Jeff: Everyone is watching. Kill SharePoint Foundation and you effectively declare that you don’t want people to learn and adopt SharePoint.

Microsoft in general agrees with me, which is why they are releasing things like the free web based Office suites and Visual Studio Community edition; they suck in people to entice them to remain loyal.

Be like the rest of Microsoft, Jeff, because they have turned around and are awesome now and the SharePoint team hasn’t been up to snuff for a long time.

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