OK, by now, regular readers have read my “SharePoint Sucks – And Here’s Why” series that I wrote just prior to SPC09, detailing, and you’re clever enough to deduce this, why I think SharePoint sucks. As was revealed in the final part, however, I don’t hate SharePoint, I love it. Now, it’s time to show you why I love SharePoint.
I’m doing this in step-by-step mode. I’ll tell you, in no particular order, of one thing I absolutely love about SharePoint. I’ll tell you why, and if you disagree, let me know. Send me an email at furuknap<[at]>gmail.com or shoot off a comment to this or any other blog post.
So, without further ado, here’s the first thing I love about SharePoint.
If you have been reading this blog for a long time (which makes you a rare individual, but I thank you nonetheless) you may remember that I wrote a post just over a year ago, listing my 8 favorite SharePoint development features. Perhaps surprising, I listed the documentation as my single most favorite feature or SharePoint.
Why did I list the documentation as the most favorite feature? Well, the documentation sucks. In fact, I listed it in the previous series as one of those things I wouldn’t mention, but that still sucked. It sucks so bad, actually, that quite a lot of my book Building the SharePoint User Experience details errors, omissions, or problems in the documentation.
Note: Since then (August, 2008), the documentation has improved, by quite a lot, actually. Apparently, someone at Microsoft bought my book and learned to read, because many of the issues I mention in the book are now fixed. There still are issues, but all in all, it’s beginning to come together, just in time for a new version to appear.
So, will we be back to square one with SharePoint 2010? I don’t think so. The documentation at this point is still based on beta, but it’s looking good. Microsoft obviously saw how bad the lack of decent documentation was for the reputation of WSS3 and are now focusing on avoiding that for the next version. Does that mean it will be perfect or even good at launch? I don’t think so either, but I could be wrong, and even if I’m not, it doesn’t matter.
So, if the documentation is bad, or anything below good, why do I love SharePoint because of the documentation? It’s because of my inner child.
You see, the biggest benefit of the documentation is not that is is the end-all of all knowledge about SharePoint, but that it inspires and encourages exploration. I find myself wandering through the SDK, reading about classes and features, imagining how cool it would be to have endless time to write code to utilize these new discoveries. I can envision how I would have written a certain feature or an application page. I can see how Microsoft has been thinking, and I can explore new ways of improving on their ideas.
When I was writing BSUX, I spend hours every day, reading the documentation. I did so for several months. If you have not sat down for a few hours, just randomly opening SDK pages, you have no idea about all the hidden gems that lies within. I encourage you to download and begin reading today. Not the 2010 stuff; that’s still too incomplete to be awe-inspiring. Get the latest downloadable SharePoint 2007 SDK, and just jump in.
It’s like the Wikipedia curse, only for SharePoint geeks. You start out looking at how you can add new features to a solution upgrade (hint: you can’t) and end up having redesigned, in your mind, the entire content type management system. Then, I often fire up a SharePoint code test project in Visual Studio and explore objects using IntelliSense.
I have worked with software development for the better part of my life (meaning more or less continuously since I was 8 years old). I have worked with more platforms and software products than I care to remember.
Did I mention I did some rather heavy ASP.NET development in Perl? Ah, you didn’t know that Perl could do ASP.NET? Well, neither did most of the Perl community. I think, at most, about 10 people in the world really worked with Perl and ASP.NET at any point in time.
My point is, most of these platforms have been a chore, with no cohesion, no underlying philosophy, no clear goals. Working with these systems and platforms have been more of a burden than pure fun. That’s why I always used to have ‘pet’ projects that weren’t required to become anything as opposed to those projects that I had to do to put food on my table.
That all changed with SharePoint. Not since I started writing my first BASIC programs on my C64 have I had that child-like desire to learn and explore. I feel like a kid again, discovering a whole new world, so filled with wonders and new discoveries that I often stay awake until the wee hours of morning, trying to digest all the good stuff.
SharePoint has given me back that child-like joy, and that true desire to learn, and for that, I absolutely love SharePoint.
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