This week Microsoft is releasing Office 2007 SP2 and the stellar Windows 7 client and server platforms. Then there's going to be a big push toward Office 2010--a push that began earlier this year and picked up big steam with Microsoft's recent announcement that Exchange 2010 would be released the second half of 2009. So, I thought it would be interesting to ask you: What items are at the top of your wish list for Office 2010 and SharePoint 2010? It might be too late for Microsoft to add them to the 2010 products, but we can use our experiences with the 2007 products to build an intelligent list that we can compare against the list of features that Microsoft announces for the 2010 products over the coming weeks and months. Let me know your thoughts by emailing me at [email protected]. I'll publish a list of reader perspectives in an upcoming issue and, if possible, include some of the solutions that Microsoft is actually planning for SharePoint 2010 and Office 2010. And Microsoft will be starting development of the next version of Office soon, so maybe our voices can be heard for Office 15.0.
In no particular order and based only on what is hot on my mind today (a mind that changes regularly), here are my top five wish-list items for SharePoint 2010 and for Office 2010.
- Creating a development environment. The development environment is a pretty pathetic story right now. Disparate toolsets and the fact that you have to develop on a SharePoint server prevents would-be developers from even getting going. Bamboo Solutions proposed a method to run Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) on a Windows Vista client, but Microsoft needs to come out with a better (and supported) solution.
- Replication (or duplication). Anyone who is not a developer (or who is, but has not yet learned how to create SharePoint solutions) knows how tough it is to get stuff from staging to production, let alone to duplicate stuff between sites, site collections, web apps, and farms. Trying to get your small business's intranet to reflect consistent branding (i.e., a consistent look and feel) isn't easy without cracking open Visual Studio. The same problem exists with custom content types, custom form pages, yada yada. Fortunately, several third-party vendors (such as those listed below) currently provide solutions for SharePoint replication.
- Granular restore. SharePoint doesn't let you recover deleted items, lists, libraries, or sites on an individual basis. Significantly greater rollback occurs when you restore an entire site collection. Several vendors listed below currently provide products with granular-restore functionality, which is an investment worth making.
- Better cross-browser capability. Only Microsoft can deliver better cross-browser capability and is beginning to do so in SP2 for Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 (MOSS 2007). Microsoft also announced its intentions to provide broader browser support in future products such as Exchange 2010, so there's good reason for hope here.
- Better scalability in lists, libraries, content databases, unique ACLs, and document size. Only Microsoft can architect SharePoint for greater scalability. Given Microsoft's push to provide "software plus services" and to satisfy enterprise customers, there's again good reason for hope here.
- Fix Word's numbered and bulleted lists. It's pathetic that after 15+ years of Microsoft Office, Word's lists are still unmanageable by mere mortals. The way Word implements list styles is broken badly and needs to be completely rethought. Users are tired of seemingly random changes in list indentation, numbered lists that can't begin at the desired number, and other list behavior oddities that require endless tweaking or a "remove and reapply" approach to fix.
- Allow Access forms to be published as front-ends to SharePoint lists. There are enough users who understand Access's form designer, so wouldn't it be nice if an Access form could become a custom form for a SharePoint list? Sure, users could learn to use InfoPath, but training and change-for-the-sake-of-change are deployment blockers.
- Improve Outlook integration with SharePoint for offline use of SharePoint data. Outlook 2007 was light years ahead of Outlook 2003, but the offline document library had a couple of big problems: check out and updates. Microsoft needs to either fix these problems or provide a solid "take SharePoint offline" feature that doesn't require users to learn Groove, which is more complex than necessary for users who simply want their SharePoint data available offline. Colligo Networks (see below) is a leader in delivering this capability today.
- Fix Outlook's all-day events. With SharePoint, you can create all-day events that are associated with a calendar day, regardless of what time zone you're in. Why can't Outlook? Why do birthdays shift by hours and start covering two days when I travel?
- Improve the integration of Office and SharePoint when using forms-based authentication. Client integration using forms-based authentication is tough. We've found workarounds, but they're just that--workarounds. The rumor mill has it that there might actually be a fix in Office 2007 SP2. I haven't had time to prove or disprove that rumor yet, but it's an exciting prospect!
Do you need some of the items on these wish lists today? Among the vendors that provide solutions to some of these problems are AvePoint, Colligo Networks, Infonic, Metalogix Software, Quest Software, RepliWeb, and Syntergy.
I Want You!
Don't forget to email your wish list to me at [email protected].