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.

11336813_10152948668481028_4377388462622420538_o

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.

.b

Found this article valuable? Want to show your appreciation? Here are some options:

a) Click on the banners anywhere on the site to visit my blog's sponsors. They are all hand-picked and are selected based on providing great products and services to the SharePoint community.

b) Donate Bitcoins! I love Bitcoins, and you can donate if you'd like by clicking the button below.

c) Spread the word! Below, you should find links to sharing this article on your favorite social media sites. I'm an attention junkie, so sharing is caring in my book!

Pin It

URGENT SECURITY PSA: Stop Using GlobalCitizen.Org – Your Data Is Leaking

I’m a huge supporter of volunteer work and charities around the world. One major inspiration has been Bill Gates who recently came out supporting a site called GlobalCitizen.org.

Naturally, I signed up on January 23rd 2015 to show my support and help out in any way I could. The organization sports an impressive list of partners and seems to be serious enough.

However, I couldn’t. Or rather, I could, but when I logged in, I got the detailed information, including access to reward points for supporting the organization, for someone completely different. I have no idea why, but I was now logged in as a person was called Anuj K of India, born September 17, 1975.

23-01-2015 00-29-14

23-01-2015 00-31-00

Now, this is a very serious thing, both because of the breach of privacy but also because the points volunteers earn are redeemable for real-life goods and services.

The first thing I did was email the group and inform them.

13-03-2015 17-09-16

I’ve blurred out the description of the ‘exploit’ (although it really isn’t).

Several days later, I got a response stating that my inquiry had been forwarded. However, checking a week later, the issue was still present, but now I got logged in as yet another person rather than myself.

13-03-2015 17-10-28

Here comes the shocking bit. I was told that they were aware of the issue and that others had reported the same thing. However, they didn’t do anything to fix it. I offered to help them because I’ve built a number of systems like these myself and could probably get it reviewed quickly, but I got no response.

13-03-2015 17-13-25

I then forgot about it until a few days ago, assuming that they had it under control. But, lo and behold, I logged in, got a clearly faked profile of Arnold Schwarzenegger and today the profile of someone called Rhonda.

08-03-2015 12-40-04

13-03-2015 16-58-59

I should reiterate that I have full access to these people’s profiles, including it seems spending of their reward points (although I haven’t tried completing a transaction, for obvious reasons).

I can no longer keep mum when the organization after one and a half month has clearly neglected securing their users from privacy breaches and loss of reward points. I’ve urged them to close logins and signups until they fix the issue, but clearly they do not care enough.

Which is sad, but the short of it is: Do not under any circumstance log in to GlobalCitizen.org as your information will be leaked to the public, your rewards will be forfeit, and your profile is very likely to be misused.

Pin It

BallAns – A Game About Life to Piss You Off

It’s been a week or so since I’ve published my first game on Android. It sucks. It really does. And this isn’t one of those “oh, you’re too modest; it is really great” type of fishing for compliments; the game is designed to suck.

You see, the game is about life, or rather, the story of how frustrating and futile life can be, as told by a ball. It has been a very cool learning experience for both me and several people that have played and looked beyond the initial suckage.

The Story So Far…

You may be surprised that I built a game to suck, but frankly, that wasn’t my initial intention. I wanted to build a game that showed how humanity is consuming resources until it eventually will run out of resources to survive on this planet.

So I started with a basic idea. Put a ball in a circle and force the player to consume  small trinkets to grow. The more they eat, the larger the get, but the circle stays the same.

featuredBallans

However, I quickly realized that in many ways, this model explains much of the reason why I’ve decided to retire from SharePoint as well. It was always a chase after the next project or version or paycheck. I never took the time to ask why I was doing it.

But then I started realizing that not only was these simple elements telling me about humanity and my own chase for money, it was telling a larger story about how most people live today. And when I put the game out there, the questions I got from people blew my mind and made me realize so much more about how accurately the game described the lives of many people.

The Big Questions

BallAns isn’t a game like other games. Instead, by taking away the distracting elements like points, music, or complex controls, people play a game that in many way mimics life. The questions they then pose eerily mimics the questions of life as well.

Here are some of the observations and questions people have posted.

What’s the Point?

One question a lot of people have asked is a variety of “is there a point to this game beyond getting the next piece of food and growing big?”

Think about that for a second. There are no points in BallAns. There are no levels. You eat, you die, and that’s it. In the meantime, you’re distracted form the inevitable outcome by simple tricks that make you feel like you’re doing something valuable.

There is no other outcome. You can’t win because in the end, no matter what, you die, and when you do, there’s nothing left of you. Surely, the only point there is would be to enjoy the game while it lasts.

But Why Suck?

Another common comment is people stating in various ways why the game sucks. Popular opinions is that the game is too fast and stressful; that you have too little time to relax between having to get the next piece of food.

The esthetics also get bad but oh, so accurate reviews. “I was expecting something that looked stunning, awesome, and magnificent and I got this boring thing that just looks bland”.

Also, people state that the game is very boring very fast. “I play this for a few minutes and then I’m bored. I want to be entertained and have fun; this feels like a chore”

If I was building a ‘normal’ game, yes, that would have been horrible feedback. However, BallAns is supposed to mimic life and when people make observations that are so directly relatable to life itself, that’s actually exactly what I want people to realize.

Why Not Make it Fun?

A very important comment was to the tune of “If the game was more fun, more people would play it! If people stop playing, the game is meaningless!”

You know what? I’d love for the game to be fun. If it was, however, it would be pretty much like every other distraction out there. It wouldn’t make you think about your life, and that’s what I wanted to do.

Life isn’t fun. It’s not about being entertained. You will be stressed out chasing the next paycheck and you’ll always have a bit too little time to get it. You wanted a brilliant thing made for you? Sorry, it will most likely be boring and bland.

I suggested to one commenter that maybe I could put in a couple of weeks of vacation in the game so he or she could enjoy the game then, but all I got was hammered by the downvotes.

Any Reason to Play Then?

To be honest, I don’t expect anyone to want to play BallAns. Most people play games to escape form reality’s hell, not to be reminded about the futilities of life. And seriously, if you play BallAns more than a few minutes, there’s probably something very wrong with you.

However, for those that have played it, they have almost invariably offered insights into life that are very valuable to me, and if you find that you have a few minutes to waste, feel free to download the game on Android. It’s free and has no ads and if it doesn’t piss you off, it will bore or frustrate you to tears.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=net.furuknap.ballans.android

Feel free to leave comments here if you have them too.

.b

Pin It