SharePoint Sucks – And Here’s Why I Still Love SharePoint (AKA Part 4)

Have You Lost Your Mind?

OK, so by now, most readers, especially those who know me or are regular readers of this blog, probably wonders if I’ve gone complete over the edge. Why would I bash the product I spend so much time using? Are all my previous posts about how cool SharePoint can be just rubbish? Did I wake up an see the Linux light at the end of the very long Microsoft tunnel?

To answer those questions, I would like to quote an ancient Chinese saying, rumored to be one of the first responses ever to a proposal. Hell no!

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve said quite a lot of things about SharePoint that may lead you to think I hate SharePoint. I don’t. Quite the contrary, I love SharePoint. Yeah, it sucks, but so does my wife, and I’ve married her twice. Thankfully, she doesn’t read ancient Chinese.

So what’s going on here? Why the attitude? Well, it’s really very simple. SharePoint does suck. It does suck on the topics I’ve mentioned. Yes, if you don’t set up security properly, and that’s far from easy, SharePoint isn’t secure. I did ‘hack’ Microsoft’s own SharePoint security by clicking on a link posted in public and entering my LiveID. Yes, the workflow engine has the limitations I mentioned. Yes, blogging in SharePoint isn’t really a viable option if blogging is an important thing for you, and it sure as hell sucks if it’s the only thing you want out of your software package.

I’ve focused on the bad stuff in the previous three posts, and these are really bad things. And I also meant that there are a lot of other areas too, such as documentation, validation, compliance, artificial limitations, in addition to the areas I explicitly mentioned.

However, SharePoint excels in far more areas than the areas in which it completely sucks. How much is ‘far more’? To put this in a cosmic scope, let’s say that the suckage of SharePoint equals the size of the… I don’t know… Something huge… The Sun! As in the celestial body, not the newspaper. That’s pretty huge, right?

OK, let me quickly take 2 minutes and 39 seconds of your life, and show you one of the coolest videos I know.

SharePoint coolness is the size of the Pistol star. Yes, I know, it’s nothing compared to the biggest stars, but then again, the SharePoint team needs something for which to strive.

So, in the interest of cosmic balance, since we’re on that topic, I’m going to post a series on some of the true beauty of SharePoint. I’ll focus on the topics that I find to be most important to me, just like I focused the suckage series on the topics that most annoyed me. I’ll show you why I think that SharePoint as a platform is not only the best platform available, because that really isn’t saying much, but also why it is a good platform for future development, on which you can and should build your organizational information infrastructure.

To answer the question, once and for all, of whether I hate SharePoint, let me put it this way: SharePoint, will you marry me?

(answered with a roar of ancient Chinese, I’d guess)


NOTE: This article is part of a series. Make sure you read the entire series to get the full picture, especially the thrilling conclusion in Part 4.

People who just get half the picture are, well, half-witted.

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Bjørn Furuknap

I previously did SharePoint. These days, I try new things to see where I can find the passion. If you have great ideas, cool projects, or is in general an awesome person, get in touch and we might find out together.

14 thoughts on “SharePoint Sucks – And Here’s Why I Still Love SharePoint (AKA Part 4)”

  1. I knew this would come … 🙂

    Very nice articles. Exactly my points of view with SharePoint.

    I really don't like the "all is perfect in Sharepoint"-(MVP)-guys! So thanks for that open-minded writing …


  2. Hi Bjorn,

    Bit dissappointed in the punchline on this blog series, too obvious for me. Sorry. Anybody who has ever worked on SharePoint, including the MVPs know SharePoint has some bits, quite a few actually, which are just crap, but overall, the good outweighs the bad. I don't think you or me are unique in that respect.

    I still think your UI book is awesome though!

    Keep up the blogging, and here's a link to my response to this blog article

  3. Nice try to be politically correct after saying in 3 pages it sucks that somehow there's some sort of glimmer of hope or good with it..because it's a complete fail. After about x years the company will end up ditching it or recoding what they did in SharePoint straight up in .NET after they realized they have built a huge pile of shit inside SharePoint.


  4. This was just a fantastic series of articles… sorry that I only just found it. Anyway, I just wanted to thank you for writing them and also for writing the best book on SharePoint I’ve read. Ultimately though, the suckage was too much for me. There’s a lot of money to be made working with SP, but I want to enjoy my work. I totally respect you for wanting to go above and beyond and plumb the depths of the miserable maze that is SharePoint. I don’t personally have that kind of patience, and using that product makes me feel like Microsoft is having their way with me. But keep on fighting the good fight. You rock!

  5. Was a good article to read, and I guess you have to put in this “cute” little ending to appease the SharePoint lovers (aka mental patients) out there, but you and I both know the truth.

    It sucks big time.

    I can mention way to many times I’ve been caught in hot water with SharePoint, and Although 2010 is a bit more agreeable, its not the light at the end of the tunnel.

    Terrible product , not worthy to be called a platform!

  6. I have ur Book on sharepoint 2007 and that was by far the best book on sharepoint…not sure whether u are planning to do the same for 2010…I read ur articles on sharepoint magazine also and you are an excellent writer.Regarding Sharepoint ..well it has both good and bad points but as far as i am concerned I can forget the bad points and live with the quick response solution it provided.

    Thanks and you rock man.

  7. Just started w/ SP a month ago, and I basically want to commit seppuku. I googled “sharepoint sucks” in a fit of frustration, just to see if I was alone in the universe. Thanks for writing this. It makes me feel slightly less like a moron.

    1. Chooile,

      Welcome to SharePoint, where you have to take the good with the bad or go quite rapidly mad. If you’ve read this series completely, then I think you get the gist of my stance, that SharePoint, although completely shit in many areas, has so many benefits to organizations that it far outweighs the drawbacks.

      I have no idea whether you are a moron, but if you are, then now you are at least a moron that knows a bit more about SharePoint than you did a few minutes ago.


  8. Your “SharePoint Sucks!” posts are accurate. My company is using SharePoint 2010 and it sucks big time. Little SharePoint wikis are sprouting up everywhere, which ensures that specific information will be elusive or non-existant forever. Access permissions, restrictions, and denials are commonplace throughout the system.

    Complaints are rampant: “I can read this, but I can’t read that.” “I accessed this yesterday, but today I can’t.” But more than anything else, people complain, “I can’t find anything!”

    Once again, Microsoft developed a program that is complex, unintuitive, has a huge learning curve, and doesn’t work even after you’ve taken the time to thoroughly study it. SharePoint SUCKS!!!!!

    1. Stevizard,

      From your description, it sounds like whoever set up SharePoint for you did a lousy job.

      Tell me, if you install Office for someone, is that enough to get them to write only good reports, author correct budgets, create only great presentations, correctly normalize all their Access databases, and distribute their work to the correct people and only the correct people?

      If not, why would anyone expect the same thing from a different product?


      1. Perhaps because MSFT constantly lies and pretends that SharePoint will just work out of the box, and pretends that its pale imitations of proper blogging/content management/document management/workflow/SharePoint-feature-here systems actually work in SharePoint? I really can’t blame non-techies for not being able to see through the gibberish that comes out of Redmond.

        After a year of (very heavy) C# and F# development trying to coax SharePoint into providing a role that’s actually useful to the two businesses we’ve been contracted by, I’m reaching the point where I might just take my WPF and data analytics skills and abandon SharePoint development all together. One of the systems we’re trying to provide should be something that SharePoint can do well out of the box: a reporting service with a visio document repository. Yet even with that project I feel we’re fighting an uphill battle against SharePoint. Its laughable semi-denormalized database (AllUserData, anyone?) makes deep reporting on lists basically impossible, and its terrible postback-based, server-side data connections for web parts means that Visio Web Access causes a page refresh whenever it’s bloody clicked. When I find myself rewriting an in-built webpart to use asynchronous callbacks instead of synchronous postbacks, rewriting the lists-based data structure as a normalized SQL database (for in-depth reporting) with a frickin’ Silverlight frontend (because of endless permissions issues and problems with SQL relationships in out of the box ECTs), and spending 90% of the day thinking “this 12 hour task would have taken me 2 hours in MVC Razor, or even classic ASP.NET web forms…” then it becomes apparent that SharePoint provides more problems than it solves. I guess you could argue that I’m just too nooby, or I just need to learn to code SharePoint better, but after a year of working 10-14 hrs per day on SharePoint development, and reading countless MSFT and unofficial guides, blogs, and articles, I have to assume that a well-written system with a well-written API wouldn’t be such a struggle for a smart guy with thousands of hours of experience in its ecosystem.

        As for SharePoint supposedly solving integration issues that arise when you use multiple, specialized systems to provide SharePoint’s functionality, I don’t think SharePoint solves that issue at all. Yes, if you structure your entire business’ information systems so that they’re geared towards SharePoint, then SharePoint solves integration issues, but the same is true of any system. If you have SharePoint and in your business, then integration issues arise again, but this time they’re even worse because now you have two choices for integrating SharePoint:

        1) Write code which uses the (terrible, poorly documented, hilariously slow) SharePoint API to read/write data for integration
        2) Code directly against the WSS_Content database, which MSFT (rightly, because they change its schema) tells you not do

        Which brings me on to my next rant topic: that frickin’ API. Seriously. Were they on crack when they made that, or just suffering from acute head trauma? Even once you’ve gotten it figured out, it’s still abysmal. Let’s ignore CAML (you’ve already pointed out how bad CAML is), and the fact that they didn’t bother to write an OOP wrapper for CAML (so now every SharePoint shop has their own, different CAML wrapper). Let’s just focus on speed. Why is it that the client API takes 2 minutes to return 5000 list items with 30 fields through their own API, but 30 seconds through the WCF service I wrote (returning simple, data-contract based Data Transfer Objects), for querying the exact same WSS_Content.AllUserData table? I sincerely doubt I’m better than the 500k/year MSFT developers, so why is their client API so bloody slow? I could even put up with how abysmally poor the dev experience is with that API if it weren’t so crushingly slow. But it is, so now integration and reporting through the approved route is even worse.

        Last topic of the rant: the sheer number of skills needed to program for highly customized SharePoint installations. Here’s an example project we’ve just completed in SharePoint, where data is taken from Visio and Excel and put into SharePoint lists, and then queried against an external database and presented as reports. Here’s the skills required:

        C#, .NET, WPF (Silverlight), WCF, SQL, BIDS, XML, XAML, CAML, F# (optional, but sure makes analysis easier), VSTO, OpenXML (ClosedXML library helped a lot), ASP, CSS, HTML, JavaScript, SharePoint Client API (ECMAScript and .NET versions)

        Dear MSFT, WHERE THE BLOODY HECK AM I SUPPOSED TO FIND DEVS THAT KNOW ALL THIS?! Okay, I hear you say, breathe, calm down. Hire specialized devs for each part. Say, hire a great data analysis guy who knows F#, XML, SQL and BIDS. Then find a SharePoint guy who can do CAML, ASP, CSS, HTML, JavaScript and the Client API. Now get a Microsoft Office guy who can do VSTO and ClosedXML. Now get a WPF guy to present the data, or just scrap that and present it in the uglier BIDS pages, or as an ASP web part. Great, now that’s three or four highly skilled developers. The WPF guy knows that he can get a $150k/year, quarterly bonuses, job from a bank, even at a late-junior dev level. The data analysis guy can get a similar offer. The SharePoint guy has great web skills, and he’s got startups beating down his door trying to shove nice equity pots down his throat, and the Microsoft Office guy has agencies ringing his phone every hour trying to find someone to go contract for all the little one-time VSTO contracting gigs. So I’d better pay them damn well, so well in fact that they’re willing to put up with all of the various gotchas SharePoint introduces into their skillset. So that team isn’t exactly cheap, and SharePoint development seems to drag on for years. So now SharePoint’s not even any cheaper than its competitors.

        You think you’ve got a problem you can solve with SharePoint. Now you’ve got two problems.


        1. Just came across this series because I, too, have become frustrated with trying to figure out what Sharepoint is good at within the enterprise (beyond resource/file collaboration). Previous CIO already signed an agreement with MS for Office 365 and Sharepoint 2013, yet as I try to get a handle on how we might use it I’m having a hard time finding a good real-world example. (Even MS videos on things like the new Apps model don’t use real business examples.)

          I want to believe it has gotten better since the early days, but disappointed in what I’ve seen so far while looking for primers or examples.

          1. I’m not entirely sure you’ll find any useful scenarios for SharePoint online; the power of SharePoint comes from its ability to adapt to individual and changing needs and that has been stripped away from SharePoint online. The App model is more of a joke to a growing part of the SharePoint community and never really stood much of a chance.

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