First and foremost, I have a lot of respect and regard for the SharePoint blogging community. Wow, what a bunch of highly intellectual, effective and generous people who are willing to share their knowledge for the greater good of all developers having to work with SharePoint. Hats off to you.
But, have we, the SharePoint community, lost the vision?
SharePoint is all about collaboration. About empowering the end user to manage content, files, meetings, projects, lists and whatever other content they challenge us to provide a way to manage. It is about taking the HTML coder out of the daily support grind of updating web pages. It is about providing an online store for project, meeting and document information that the end user can manage and maintain themselves. It is about the users. Project managers, business analysts, sales guys, HR reps, and all the other employees in positions in areas other than development. These people do their jobs, but that doesn’t mean they are web savvy or spend their entire day working with the World Wide Web.
And yet we hand them a tool for collaboration, that while has many great features, like all products has room for improvement. We hand them this tool and shove them off into the deep end. We then get a support call from some guy in accounting that needs some weird data call from a list that he and three other people will use. Or a request to add a time stamp for some action in a document library. We toil away, triumph by providing a solution, then happily blog about it and share it with the community. And that is cool! I am sure someone else will be able to use that unique code for that unique requirement somewhere.
But where are all the great web parts, tools and add-ins for SharePoint end users? Why is there not a huge store of independently created web parts that greatly improve existing SharePoint functionality to help out that end user? Or that provide a solid use that could be used by hundreds of installs? Seems like we have admin tools out the whazoo to help us, the administrators, but what about tools to help the end users? I mean, they way outnumber us. Plus they are less web savvy and need the help more than we do.
It is easy for me to sit back and say hey we need more web parts to help the end user experience for SharePoint. But I can’t walk the walk. I am not a developer. I can’t build stuff, I only make things pretty and usable. And I don’t have a great treasure trove of ideas for custom web parts or tools for SharePoint either. But as I watch the days go by, I see all this custom code created for SharePoint for a specific odd issue or task, and so rarely see something come out for the greater good of SharePoint and its end users. So I ask myself, have we lost the vision of SharePoint? Have we forgotten that it is a collaboration tool, and is targeted for people who aren’t as web savvy as we… so then should we not work towards making it a better and easier tool to use for the end user? Are we too caught up with the day to day to see the big picture?
I don’t know the answers for sure, but it seems like there is a lot of focus on ‘here is my exact problem, how do I get my exact solution’. I don’t see a lot of ‘here is an area in SharePoint that needs improvement, how can we make it better?’ Is this mentality even being exercised in-house with our own SharePoint environments? I think if it were, we would see more additions for SharePoint to help the end user experience.
I have no great closure for this long spell on my soapbox, this is just my opinion and something that has been bothering me for awhile. I know what I need to go do is quit flapping my lips and go start thinking of ways to make SharePoint better.