100 million licenses and 4,000 partners later, Microsoft thinks they have a handle on this SharePoint phenonemon (news, site). There's been a lot of talk about the next release, much speculation. Now Microsoft gives us a bird's eye view into what SharePoint 2010 is really going to look and behave like. Time to take a little tour.
Okay, so you go away for a couple of days and a sneak peek on SharePoint 2010 hits the wire. Considering the number of people who have been waiting for this moment, it may have been worth it to wait a day or so to get a glimpse of the community's thoughts and views on what they have seen.
A New Way of Looking at SharePoint?
Remember how Microsoft envisioned SharePoint 2007?
Well, the world of SharePoint has changed, slightly:
If you compare these two diagrams, what you see is that it becomes less about the technology capabilities (i.e. content management, collaboration, search, business intelligence) and more about how these technologies support the user or the business: communities, content, insights.
Does this mean there's a big difference between SharePoint 2010 and SharePoint 2007? Time will tell. But if you watched the overview video, you'd see things have certainly improved in many instances. Here's what we took away from the overview of SharePoint 2010.
Microsoft says they recognize the need to support multiple browsers such as Safari and FireFox. The video even demos SharePoint in FireFox, so you know it's not all talk.
You first saw the introduction of the ribbon UI in Office 2007 and although it took a little getting use to, it grew on you. That ribbon UI is part of SharePoint 2010. It's contextual, so it changes as required and it grays out the options in the ribbon that you may not have access to.
SharePoint 2010 Ribbon UI
Of course, if you don't like it, you can choose to use the old UI from SharePoint 2007.
Now SharePoint will have real dialog boxes, instead of redirects to another web page with your dialog box options. The background is grayed out when a dialog box pops up. Much more in tune with the way web applications work today.
Live Preview & Themes
The ability to set a theme for your look and feel within SharePoint is improved. Included is the ability to take your PowerPoint theme and upload and apply it to your SharePoint site.
If you are modifying a web page, you now have Live Preview capability, so you can see how the change will look before you actually accept it.
SharePoint 2010 comes with out of the box Silverlight web parts, making the inclusion of Silverlight apps much easier. Note the change to the how you can select new web parts for your pages, much improved.
SharePoint 2010 - Silverlight Web Parts
Empowering the Business
There are a couple of different ways to look at SharePoint 2010. Although the developer perspective is important, maybe the most critical is how it makes the lives of business users easier and lets them do more without the need for IT assistance.
Use Visio 2010 for documenting and describing business processes? Now you can publish those diagrams directly to SharePoint with the back end connection remaining intact. So the view of the diagram is real time. What's nice about this capability is that not everyone needs to have a license for Visio to see the diagram.
SharePoint 2010 Visio Integration
It's still free, but looks very much improved with new modeling capabilities and enhanced workflow.
SharePoint Designer 2010
Now if you are one of those who worry about the power SharePoint Designer provides the power user, this may worry you more. We need to get a closer look at this tool to see if any of these concerns have been eased. This overview doesn't provide that warm and fuzzy feeling.
Business Connectivity Services
The evolution of the BDC, the BCS is very much improved enabling you to connect Line of Business applications, web services and databases to SharePoint easily using the new SharePoint Designer, as well as Visual Studio 2010.
SharePoint 2010 - Business Connectivity Services
You can even take this a step further and connect your Office 2010 applications to the BCS providing a tightly integrated connection with business data.
Take your SharePoint content offline with the SharePoint Workspace (formerly Groove), a rich client to work with while you aren't connected.
SharePoint 2010 - Workspaces
The addition of FAST to SharePoint gives a much improved search experience. Microsoft says their goal is to help you get the "right results on the first page". Those results include not only SharePoint content, but possibly business data and people -- the Rich People Search Function from SharePoint 2007 will comes with SharePoint 2010.
Despite this look into the SharePoint 2010, it seems to be very quiet so far in the greater SharePoint community. Sure, lots of people are pointing to the videos, some even saying things are looking pretty good, but we've haven't been able to dig up any real reviews or thoughts.
Perhaps many are waiting until the CTP arrives sometime this fall before they dig and really say what they think. Or maybe they are waiting for even more details to come from the SharePoint Conference in October. Truth is, although this is nice look into SharePoint 2010, much of what they talk about we already knew was coming in the first place.
There are three video to look at. This is just a snapshot of things in the overview video. Discussing Developer and IT improvements deserves its own article. Stay tuned.
Editor's Note: When you've finished with this review, head over and read about some of the IT professional and developer changes for SharePoint 2010.