Online Web Chapter and CodeUse the above links to download items for the book. Included is the complete code examples as described in the book and the Online Web Chapter that covers the Business Data Catalog (and related code).
While this book is focused specifically on all things SharePoint, it is also intended to provide a guide to using SharePoint as an application frame work and really utilize its full potential. Having been in the business for a few years, I’ve seen a lot of changes in the world of applications and development. I’ve seen methodologies come and go, whole forests of trees wiped out by a new buzzword and even languages thought to be immortal no longer mentioned.
Over the years, much of the progress in development and application platforms has not been as major as it seemed at first. For example, we all thought Java would shake the world. You might say it did but that’s the point, it did, it’s over and we’ve moved on. I’ve seen this over and over and it seems that most of the time, we still end up doing the same sort of things but simply using re-worked tools and languages. In fact, many times these innovations simply added a new layer of complexity canceling any possible benefit. As developers, we’ve needed new tools for quite a while now and maybe Microsoft’s been listening.
In the past 5 years or so, there has been somewhat of a quiet revolution in the development of software applications. “Portal technologies will be the new application platform” was a statement I made in my WatchIT.com presentation back in 2002. Even though I saw it coming, it is amazing where we are today. Not only have portals matured into full fledged development platforms, they’ve brought the enterprise and the office together and finally, IT isn’t the only player in building applications.
As the proliferation of portals became more intense during the initial boom of the web, designers building sites and applications saw that reuse and time to market were becoming a critical aspect. In addition, designers and web hosting companies saw that they were spawning a new industry of pre-built web sites in which “mom and pop shops” could be setup quickly - the most successful of this being eBay® and the derivative Blog spaces like MySpace™. As the business model of such enterprises matured, so did the tools used to create the sites and applications; new products emerged that enabled users to develop and deploy sites using prebuilt tools such as eBay uses today. In fact, eBay is a perfect example - while a portal itself, eBay subscribers can setup their own “portals” using eBay’s tools.
At the same time portals were catching on in the web space, the operational side business was equally busy trying to find ways to pull together enterprise information from back end systems like CRM, ERP and Business Intelligence Systems. This began the start of the Application Server concept first implemented by Oracle, BEA’s WebLogic® and IBM’s WebSphere®. The concept being that a single “application server” acts a “go between” for transactions and communications between various applications and databases. Since the server handles inter-application communications, operational and transactional data can be captured and stored for analysis, reporting, etc. These application servers all provide some form of user interface to access the information and reports that provide either a web-based delivery or accessible by 3rd party tools used for reporting such as Business Objects® and Cognos®.
In the background, the concept of web-based applications and enterprise information systems began to merge into a more generic platform for all types of portals. Early out were a few technologies like Plumtree® (now Aqualogic®) and Hummingbird and in a very short time, there were dozens on the market. Many of the portal-related technologies were innovative at the time and formed the basis of what we have today. For example, Plumtree introduced the concept of Gadgets (later renamed Portlets) which is functionally synonymous with what we call Web Parts used by SharePoint and .NET today. For all of those available however, most were too focused on the specific vendor (like Oracle’s tools) or too generic (like Aqualogic not including key elements like content management).
While Microsoft had a few feeble attempts in portal technology initially (the 2001 release of SharePoint Server was a bust), it did approach the concept in a slightly different way. While all of the original technologies focused on pulling enterprise data to the desktop, Microsoft was focused on pushing out content from the desktop with such early tools such as Site Server and later Microsoft Content Management Server. The major difference was a focus on enabling the users to manage sites and information and move that effort away from IT. While a terrific concept, Microsoft still didn’t offer much to the enterprise outside of ECommerce.
In 2003, Microsoft made a major advance with SharePoint Portal Server - the first portal technology to provide enterprise wide tools out of the box such as search, common user management and content targeting. In a major overhaul, Microsoft brought together their FrontPage technology and their Project Central Team Sites product and created a user-based interface that provided end-users with the ability to design their own sites and create their own content. They also threw in some advanced features like database storage for documents and a slew of out of the box list types (web parts) that required no coding or development. Keeping with their original idea of linking the enterprise to the desktop and desktop to desktop, Microsoft integrated it tightly with the Microsoft Office Suite enabling users to publish content from an Office application directly to a web site. For all its benefits and mainly the low price, SharePoint Portal Server 2003 started a boom in popularity as organizations of all sizes began to use the technology.
Now with the release of Windows SharePoint Services Version 3, Microsoft has created a true application and development platform targeting the needs of business and the business of development. On the application side, WSS is a complete application development platform in which to build web sites, ECommerce sites, WIKI Sites, collaboration portals, desktop applications, remote applications and pretty much any kind of application you can think of. In fact, all of Microsoft’s applications are now either integrated with or built on top of WSS. For developers, this is revolutionary since the tedious development of an application is now gone and time can be spent on functionality.
This ladies and gentlemen, is what we’ve been waiting for.
Who this book is for
Ideally, anyone who is interested in SharePoint Technologies and the Microsoft Office SharePoint Server system in general should get some benefit from this book, but as a technical reference it is primarily the designer and developer that will get the most out of it. However, to create a balanced approach across the technical spectrum, the content is intended to provide the following benefits:
· CTO, Technical Managers and Directors
o Will be able to grasp the true power of Windows SharePoint Services and where it can benefit in Information Management, Enterprise Content Management and Collaboration
o Understand the use of key elements including the Business Data Catalog, Content Types and Key Performance Indicators
· Technical leaders
o Will understand the underlying technology and foundation for MOSS development
o Have a better understanding of working with development aspects and knowing where to configure versus develop
o Will understand how to develop using the SharePoint technology
o Understand key aspects of SharePoint including ECM, Building Web Parts, Creating Work Flow and Event Receivers
· Professional Users
o Will be able to utilize the power of the SharePoint Designer tool to customize SharePoint and create custom workflows
o Will understand the conceptual use of SharePoint technologies as a prelude to learning development
How this book is organized
The basis of this book is to provide a technical reference for SharePoint’s features and functionality and also focuses on what you do in the order it should be. While certainly not an end all, this is a complete primer for getting started and a quick reference down the road. To setup the logical order, we start out in the area of defining what you are trying to do with SharePoint, then move on to the “technical” steps - planning the install, installing, configuring, administrating (the user side) and on extending SharePoint (the developer side). I tend to read cover to cover - hopefully you will find this easy to do.
Planning and Preparation
Chapters 1-3 cover SharePoint Architecture and some of the business aspects to be taken into account when considering using SharePoint. Whether you are CTO, project manager, developer or designer, this provides an extensive overview on the technology.
Chapters 4-7 will cover the raw basics - hardware and software requirements, installing the software and how to configure it for the first time. The format of this is in a checklist style to help with covering all of the steps and make it a good reference for later.
Administration and the User Interface
Chapters 7-16 cover the true operational use of SharePoint from Administration to using the out of the box features, including enterprise features like Content Types and the Business Data Catalog.
Design and Development with SharePoint
Chapters 17 and on will focus on the real world development aspects on development using SharePoint Technologies including building web parts, event receivers, creating custom work flows and using the SharePoint object model.
NOTE: Web Chapter 1 on the Business Data Catalog and code related to the book can also be downloaded from the McGraw-Hill site.
© 2007 – Sterling International Consulting Group