This week saw the release of Microsoft’s latest version of SharePoint – 2010 - into the sweaty hands of developers and systems engineers across the world. While some of you you may be (correctly) nonplussed by this, those of us in the SharePoint community have been waiting for this moment for quite some time. Before you shout the words “geek!” or “nerd!” let me explain why this is important to me, and possibly why it matters to you too.
Improved Document and Records Management
SharePoint 2007 gave us an opportunity to collaborate on and manage our documents in a sensible way. Document libraries to store documents in, with file versioning and file locking with check-in/check-out and document approvals. There was even a rudimentary records management system, but it wasn’t very highly regarded by the records management industry.
SharePoint 2010 builds on this with more robust records management functionality, such as multi-level file plans, unique expiration and disposition, out-of-the-box metadata based classification, in-place records management and unique and persistent records identifiers. There are tons of other records management functionality in there too, more than enough to satisfy the needs of most organisations.
SharePoint also has much better handling of folders in this version too, which I am sure our users here at UWE will be pleased to see. Folders are now first-class citizens in SharePoint, both from a permissions perspective and from a records management perspective.
FAST People Search
The FAST search product has now been brought right into SharePoint 2010. It allows us to do things such as “faceted search” so that you can refine a search based on a set of metadata or refiners. This is critical for research and analysis applications where precise counts on facets are important decision making criteria. (You can see examples of deep refiners on FAST ESP powered sites like scirus.com and dell.com.)
Visual document thumbnails and previewer Web Parts will be out-of-the-box with FAST Search for SharePoint 2010 to help users more quickly judge what is relevant in a search result list. This includes a graphical previewer for PowerPoint presentations based on Microsoft Silverlight that allows users to quickly find the “one slide” of interest without having to open up the entire presentation.
The social experience is very important to most users these days. Office 2010 and SharePoint now work closely together to provide a whole raft of services.
One of these features is the new activity feed that tracks a user’s interactions with SharePoint. In Outlook 2010 you can now view other people’s activity feeds by way of the Outlook Social Connector. This is extensible through the Office SDK, and this has been used already by LinkedIn (and soon Twitter and Facebook)
Screenshot taken from http://blogs.msdn.com/outlook/archive/2009/11/18/announcing-the-outlook-social-connector.aspx
Used in conjunction with the MySite, this gives you a really rich way of interacting with colleagues both in your department but also in the wider organisation. Really share knowledge.
The other thing that Outlook and SharePoint 2010 have is the ability to share and manage multiple calendars. Now you can have Exchange and SharePoint Calendars on the same page, with overlays, and colour coding. Room bookings anyone?
Many people use PowerPoint, and love it or hate it, it has become a standard in the business world for delivering presentations. The problem is that some users have problems with accessing PowerPoint remotely, so people have often resorted to products such as Live Meeting, GoTo or Webex to show a presentation on the internet.
Now that won’t be necessary, we now have the PowerPoint Broadcast Service. Free of charge, you can now present your slide show over the internet for up to 50 users simultaneously.
Many users at UWE will be familiar to InfoPath. We have been developing lots of forms that were previously paper processes (and we were as surprised as anyone when we found out how many processes were STILL paper based) and deploying them as InfoPath 2007 or web based replacements. InfoPath 2010 will give us even more integration with SharePoint 2010, with the ability for our users to develop and create professional web forms.
Multi Browser Support
This is a really good direction that Microsoft has been going in for quite some time, and with 2010 we finally have what they call Tier 1” support for Firefox. It’s not that SharePoint 2007 didn't work with other browsers, it did, but it sometimes was a pain especially when it came to documents. Now that has gone as it is now much easier to open, edit and view Office 2007 and Office 2010 files from Firefox. And it is much improved for Safari too.
Ribbon Bar and better Navigation
One of the biggest gripes that our users here have is the navigation in SharePoint and the utilities on the top link bar.
The ribbon makes life much easier when you are in document libraries and lists, pulling together all kinds of commands that were spread out in several different place before. The ribbon changes depending on what area you are looking at to give you targeted commands.
Navigation is improved in SharePoint 2010, with the ability to create navigation hierarchies based on taxonomy. What’s that I hear you cry? Well, you can now create menus based on tags that have been applied to documents. In fact you can also base navigation on defined search terms using the FAST search engine (faceted search again). If you are involved in research, this a valuable set of features.
When Can We Have It?
SharePoint 2010 is available, well, from last week. Here at UWE we are committed to bringing it to most people before the end of this year (2010) so keep watching this space for updates!