RE: SharePoint Opinions

Subject: RE: SharePoint Opinions
From: "Nuckols, Kenneth M" <Kenneth -dot- Nuckols -at- mybrighthouse -dot- com>
To: "Stephanie Erickson" <serickson -at- infinitecampus -dot- com>, <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 25 Jan 2006 08:32:13 -0500

Stephanie Erickson wrote...
> I have been lurking on this list serv for about 6 weeks now and I am
> truly impressed with the knowledge that each of you have. So here's
> first series of questions to all of you:
> Do you use SharePoint in your collective businesses? What is your
> opinion of it?
> I have been tasked with designing and inputing information into
> SharePoint with one of my Developers as a place where internal
> trainers/support desk and resellers can access information. We are
> of the opinion that it is pretty cool but as of yet don't quite
> understand what our users would get out of it or like it... granted,
> neither of us has spent tons of time with it and perhaps our judgment
> because of that.
> Thanks for your time!!
> Stephanie Erickson
> Documentation Specialist/Product Management

I have been tasked with creating several SharePoint sites for the use of
several internal departments in our company. An overall site was created
and I was added with full administrative privileges _to that site_ by
the "keepers of the SharePoint server" (the IT department in a corporate
division several hundred miles away from my office). They own the
server. They have access to all the SharePoint server-side capabilities
and applications. And they're not in a mood to share that access.

With the limited access that I have, I'll have to say I'm not all that
impressed with SharePoint as a tool. I also found the _Essential
SharePoint_ book (Webb, 2005) that I have access to use in the office
almost completely useless and a total waste of time. I read only a few
pages before it launched into all the stuff you could do if you have
access to the applications that manipulate and edit files on the
SharePoint server...and of course all of that is completely useless to
me since I don't have access to those applications.

About the only useful things I'm able to do with SharePoint are to
create some very basic document libraries for several of our Technical
Support teams so they can have easy access to a centrally-located,
online reference tool. It's better than what they had before, but in my
opinion it's not much better than giving them raw disk space on a server
and building some organized folder structures.

With my ham-strung "administrative" access, the main benefit of
SharePoint is that I can create "web parts" (a goofy name that
SharePoint gives to overblown, glorified menu bars) within a site's home
page that help to organize and separate different types of documents (by
process, product, customer type, etc. etc.) that my internal end users
can quickly use to find and retrieve the document they need to help them
resolve whatever issue they're working.

As such, I'm seeing SharePoint as something even less complete than a
"document management" tool--it's more like a "document organizer" that
has some discussion board and announcement and task capabilities built
in. As the "Church Lady" would say, "Well now isn't that special..."

I believe SharePoint is _capable_ of doing a lot more than I'm able to
do with it, but much of that potential capability seems predicated on
being able to access and manipulate files directly on the SharePoint
server. With the limited access I've been given, I'm not even able to
create and save customized site or page templates (believe me, I've
tried), which really limits the usefulness of SharePoint as a tool for

I'll throw out a question of my own to the list: Presume for a moment
that I'm somehow able to convince the powers that be to give me the
access I need to use all of SharePoint's capabilities. In that case
would it possible to use a tool other than SharePoint's own limited RTF
web editor (the only tool my access allows me to design pages with) or
MS FrontPage to design and build web page templates? What I'd really
like to do is be able to create a completely empty and unformatted
webspace on the SharePoint server and then use third-party development
tools to build, create, customize, organize, and lay out web pages using
designs and templates over which I have complete and total control, and
simply use SharePoint to control user access to that space.

If I could get that kind of access and control over my own little
SharePoint realm, it might prove to be a useful tool for me--our group
is getting demands to produce a lot more truly web-based and online
documentation for our users. Right now, SharePoint just seems like a
band-aid solution--it's a way of posting links to electronic versions
paper-based documentation that are stored online.

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