Friday, June 29, 2007

SharePoint Designer Sparks a Question

We've been so heads down here at TeamDirection that we were unawares of Microsoft releasing ShareDesigner (download the free trial). Very interesting. I really like the intent behind it-- empowering normal people with the ability to create and modify SharePoint workspaces. This fits right along with our philosophy and I think they've done a nice job. (OK, the general UI experience still feels a bit 'techie' to me, but I am a techie and I *love* the features).

But it did give us something to think about. Our most recent release now supports creating SharePoint workspaces for your projects based on SharePoint templates. To do this we adapted our philosophy and introduced a TDCreate web services to be installed on the SharePoint server. While we thought it would be nice to work with SharePoint templates without having to install anything on the server, we also thought it might be important for SharePoint administrators to know how people are using the servers and what the 'high value' pieces are. As a result, we thought the TDCreate web services, on the whole, was a good thing, and could serve as a platform to build on in the future if we introduce our own web parts.

The SharePoint Designer, however, uses a combination of Front Page extensions and SharePoint web services to create subsites without additional installs on the server. Which got us thinking: would this be a better way to do things? I think our answer is 'maybe'.

I absolutely love the inherent simplicity of the client doing the work without tweaking the server. On the other hand, Front Page extensions are different than WSS and MOSS web services, and it seems quite possible that a SharePoint administrator, in the interest of security, would turn the Front Page extensions off. But if Microsoft will be pushing SharePoint Designer, it must mean they will also be pushing for the Front Page extensions to be on.

I think the ability to work solely from the client will be too tempting, but we should keep our current TDCreate web service. Call it the 'best of both worlds' approach. I believe we will put in support for Front Page extensions when working with SharePoint, but keep the TDCreate as an option just in case an administrator turns off the Front Page extensions.

Am I rambling? Sorry, but you're reading the thought processes in action.

1 comment:

Toby Getsch said...

FYI, I've found it very important to note that FrontPage does not work at all w/ WSS 3.0. SharePoint Designer is required.

Also, there are no "FrontPage Extensions" w/ WSS 3.0. The site is either WSS 3.0 or it's not. And, for the most part, SharePoint Designer is backwards compatible w/ managing older FrontPage or SharePoint sites.

(Sorry if my comments recently are too beefy. Your last few topics have been spot on for what I'm doing all day during my day job.)