One of the major controversies of SharePoint 2013 is that SharePoint Designer 2013 Design View is gone. I’ve previously written why this is a good thing for SharePoint developers, but I wrote it in a sarcastic manner and concluded that I hoped they took it back.
I was wrong. Note the date and where you were, this may be a pop quiz in future schools.
I take it back. Not the whole blog post, but the point about bringing Design View back. Kill the damn thing, right now.
Note: I should mention that I wrote the original blog post before I went on a two week vacation, so although it’s published just a few days prior to this post, it’s actually several weeks old.
Why SharePoint Designer Was Wrong
When SharePoint 2007 came out, or at least a couple of years later when SharePoint Designer became free of charge, the SharePoint power users of the world celebrated in any way they could. Finally, they had a way to translate their combination knowledge of business and SharePoint to build powerful business solutions without having to become too technical.
Ostensibly, that’s a good thing, so the surprise was huge when the SharePoint 2013 preview came out with a severely wing-clipped version of SharePoint Designer 2013. No longer could power users drag-and-drop web parts or complex queries onto a design surface and expect visual aids in configuring the functionality. Now, it is all source code view, and you need to write code to make magic happen.
And that’s a good thing.
You see, SharePoint Designer was a failed experiment. Power users, not to mention end users, aren’t capable of handling the power without extensive training. The result is what Jeff Teper called “the MySpace effect” or something along those lines; sites were customized and modified without thought for proper development practices, leading to failed implementations and a bad name for SharePoint. Microsoft had to do something.
In 2007, Microsoft bet that power users would be able to handle the power of SharePoint Designer. Granted, there were lots of failsafe features in place to prevent the most major catastrophes, but users are users and tend to work actively to circumvent those limitations.
One example is how users circumvented the dangers of loops in workflows. In fact, I’ve even myself written about how to create loops in SharePoint Designer workflows (in SharePoint Designer 2007 Workflows, if you’re wondering), even though I know from decades of experience how dangerous loops are. More times than once have I received distress calls from people who have done it wrong and taken down entire farms of SharePoint servers.
In SharePoint Designer 2013, Microsoft takes a stance and essentially say that “we were wrong, power users are not capable of handling development”. Power users now have to either learn how to use and write code or they need to limit themselves to what they can do through the first tier of development (meaning web parts and web based development).
Or, they need to get a new job. The days of the power user may be gone, or at least have the “power” part of the title removed. Now you’re either a developer and you write code, or you’re a user.
This Is a Good Thing!
You may be surprised at this, or even think I’m again being sarcastic, but I’m dead serious.
The lack of design view is a bold and correct move for SharePoint. Being a SharePoint developer, SPD or not, is not a casual pastime, but requires extensive training and knowledge. Turn the power to create over to non-trained people and you’re on a path littered with landmines, barbed wire, and undetonated munitions. It can be and has proven to be, a very dangerous place.
With Microsoft’s wing-clipping of power users, SharePoint will be less susceptible to bad development. Organizations will have fewer problems (albeit also fewer options), and when they do decide they need to do development, they will need to go to people who are more likely to have a proper developer background, which should provide more efficient and stable solutions too.
Of course, power users will scream their lungs out about the unfairness of Microsoft’s ultimatum. No longer can they float on easy (but dangerous) tools, and those unwilling to learn are upset about the bad news.
However, for SharePoint, it’s good news. For the customers, it’s good news. That means it’s good news for Microsoft too, even though it is a bold and risky gamble.
So, kill the design view, once and for all. Fix the basics first, and let the professionals formerly known as power users order new business cards or go back to whatever it was they were doing before 2007.
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