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SharePoint Wish List: Does SharePoint 2010 Deliver? - 26 Oct 2009

What we asked for and received, and what's still lacking

Last week, at the SharePoint Conference, 7000-plus SharePoint professionals descended on Las Vegas and enjoyed one of the most exciting IT events I’ve ever experienced. The energy and excitement around SharePoint 2010 was palpable.

Microsoft has done a truly stupendous job of enhancing SharePoint in the short 3 years since v3/2007 was released. There will be a lot to share with you between now and “the first half of 2010” when the product is released. Today, I’d like to share with you what you contributed to this newsletter over five months ago!

On May 4, 2009, I published my “SharePoint Wish List.” It was a list of the top requests I receive as a consultant and trainer—a list of common requirements I was hoping would be met by SharePoint 2010. Many of you added your own items to the “wish list.” My expectation, at the time, was that I’d be able to follow up within a few weeks with the results, but the SharePoint non-disclosure agreement wasn’t lifted until October 19th.

Now, I’m pleased to share with you some of the results. While many of the items in the wish list are not “headline” features of SharePoint, they are what you, and other customers asked for! So, without further ado… the SharePoint Wish List…

Below is my original “SharePoint Wish List” items and the results:

• 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.

o Delivered! You can run SharePoint 2010 for development on a Vista or Windows 7 client. This still doesn’t address the trainer/demonstrator (ISV at expo hall) issue I ranted about a few weeks ago in my Virtualization article, but it addresses the needs of many developers, and Microsoft is to be applauded for this not insignificant improvement!

The integration between SharePoint 2010 and Visual Studio 2010 made even some of the most vocal critics smile in Vegas at Microsoft's SharePoint Conference 2009. The bad news: Few if any of the improvements will help you develop any better in a mixed or 2007-only environment. There’s a very direct “tie-in” between the new versions of VS, SharePoint Designer, and SharePoint 2010.

• 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.

o Improved, but with lots of room to grow. The managed metadata service, other service applications, and content deployment features make it easier to address the challenges exposed by multiple farms; and sandbox solutions address yet other challenges. However, I think that vendors providing content replication will still find plenty of customers for whom SharePoint’s out-of-box capabilities lacking.

• 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 currently provide products with granular-restore functionality, which is an investment worth making.

o Improved. (Many of you also called out SharePoint v3/2007’s backup and restore capabilities.) The features in 2010 are much improved. You can now restore a site, list, or library.

But when you look at the most granular restore task (restoring an individual item or document) and the most significant restore tasks (server or farm restore), there are still gaps in the story, so third party solutions will still be needed in many organizations. Greatly improved, but with room to grow.

• 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.

o Delivered! SharePoint 2010 supports all popular browsers and provides XHTML, WCAG 2.0 AA compliance. Level 1 browsers, which support 100 percent functionality, include 32- bit versions of IE7, IE8, and Firefox on Windows. Level 2 browsers are IE7 and IE8 x64, Safari, Firefox on other platforms. Level 2 browsers will have some limitations in rendering and behavior.

• 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.

o Delivered! We’re talking millions of items in lists, thanks to improvements on the back end and in the management of performance with throttling.

You can find a status report of your requests, and the results of those requests,in the expanded version of this article by Dan Holme, at SharePointPro Connections.

This article also appeared in SharePointPro Connections UPDATE, your free weekly SharePoint report offering SharePoint expert Dan Holme's commentary, SharePoint product news, and IT pro and developer tips and how-tos--in your Inbox every Monday afternoon

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