At a very high level, SharePoint 2007 can integrate with Office 2003-2010 to some degree. But in 2010, we are finally seeing a larger acknowledgment that users enjoy working from Outlook. Office, and Outlook in general, is still the command center for many firms, and there’s no reason to change that part of your corporate culture.
The SharePoint framework is marketed by Microsoft as having a collection of building blocks that will allow end users to create advanced no-code business solutions without the need for high-end training. If you’re using Office 2010 and SharePoint 2010 together, then you’ll be able to work with composites even more than you could in the past.
With Business Connectivity Services, BCS (the new BDC), you’ll be able to take advantage of a powerful new ability, CRUD. CRUD stands for create, read, update and delete. With this new ability, your users will be able write back to external data sources from SharePoint and certain Office apps.
One useful scenario would be connecting your users to an external SQL table containing business contacts. Rather than bringing this data into a SharePoint list, you can leave it right in SQL. Fire up SharePoint Designer to create an external data source to this table, and you’ll be able to associate this data as a contact once Outlook touches it.
This is all possible by utilizing external content types in SharePoint. A user can then make changes to the contact (that will appear as a regular contact in Outlook), and the changes are immediately reflected in the SQL table.
A big push in SharePoint 2010 is the end user’s social experience. Last month, I wrote an article, 5 Ways Social Networking Has Improved in SharePoint 2010, outlining some of the new features that SharePoint is bringing to the social media game.
One of those features is the new activity feed that tracks a user’s interactions with content in SharePoint. In Outlook 2010, you can now view other user’s activity feeds by way of the Outlook Social Connector.
What makes this feature attractive is that it’s completely extensible through the Office SDK. In fact, LinkedIn has already developed integration, so you can see LinkedIn activity right from within Outlook. You can safely assume that Facebook and Twitter will be next in line.
Screenshot taken from http://blogs.msdn.com/outlook/archive/2009/11/18/announcing-the-outlook-social-connector.aspx
This is one of my favorite new features in Office 2010, and it relies on the SharePoint framework. Everyone at some point in their career will use PowerPoint to deliver a presentation. It is the industry standard, and it allows you to quickly create a professional presentation in minutes.
But accessibility has always been an issue for remote users. Up until now you needed Live Meeting, GoTo, Webex or some other meeting tool to show your presentation on the internet.
Without further ado, I introduce to you the PowerPoint Broadcast service. Free of charge, you can now broadcast your presentation over the internet to up to 50 users simultaneously! You literally are just clicking on the “Broadcast Slide Show” button and picking where you want to broadcast to.
This is where SharePoint comes in. You can either broadcast this for free over the internet courtesy of Microsoft’s servers (Live ID required), or you can broadcast to your own SharePoint PowerPoint service app. All this requires is that you have Office Web Apps 2010 installed, turn on the PowerPoint service application and then create a SharePoint site with the broadcast site template.
Although not part of the main Office suite, Visio is being brought into the forefront in a big way. Coupling Visio’s powerful interface for quickly mapping out processes and SharePoint’s workflow capabilities, you can now design a workflow in Visio and then import it into SharePoint Designer for configuration. You can also export a workflow from SharePoint Designer into Visio, so you can quickly document a current workflow in production.
Visio 2010 includes a new template specifically for SharePoint, and it comes preloaded with the most common actions that you will use in a typical workflow. This makes it really easy to quickly map out a process, export the drawing as a .vwi file (Visio Workflow Interchange) and then import it right into Designer for tuning.
Read about another cool feature in my recent article, 5 Cool Things You May Not Know About in SharePoint 2010, that allows you to view a workflow in your browser by using the Visio graphics service.
The popular form creator app has also benefited from an upgraded integration with SharePoint. You can now edit SharePoint list forms right from the SharePoint ribbon.
Simply click on the list tools menu and you’ll be able to customize the form on the fly from within InfoPath. The quick publish option allows you to -- you guessed it -- quickly publish a form to a SharePoint site. Just make your changes to list, hit quick publish and you’ve just saved yourself a lot of work.
This may sound like a brand new product for you, but it’s really just Groove 2010. Not only is this product much better, but it’s named better too.
Just as before, SharePoint Workspace allows you to cache SharePoint content locally for offline usage. An upgraded client tool, more sync options and better performance are all things you’ll benefit from OOTB.
You can initiate a sync right from the actions menu in SharePoint, and it will immediately launch SharePoint Workspace.
From here you’ll have the ability to sync the entire site or specific sections of the site. Take yourself offline, and you’ll be able to use the new client app to drag and drop documents into libraries and make changes to existing documents for synchronization later.
Just a Few More Reasons to Love 2010
The tighter Office integration is just one more more reason to love SharePoint 2010. Need a few more?