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SharePointless One man's experience with Microsoft SharePoint Products and Technologies

Earlier this week I attended the first SharePoint Best Practices Conference just outside Washington, DC in McLean, Virginia. The event was organized by Mindsharp, who at this point needs no introduction (or even the hyperlink) as the leading provider of SharePoint training here in the States, and maybe the world. The conference was partially driven by the release of a fairly new book from the Microsoft Press, MOSS 2007 Best Practices. The book is pretty good, too; much better than the Administrator's Companion that came out around the time of MOSS RTM.

Since my return, many people have asked what I thought of the conference. Overall, I thought it was an excellent first attempt at the best practices angle. Some of the content and presenters left a lot to be desired, but others were excellent. In time, the herd will be thinned, I suppose, so I'm not disappointed. The conference was divided into several very practical tracks, such as CIO, Information Worker, Developer, Systems Administrator, and Information Architect. It's nice to finally see Information Architecture be recognized as enormously important to successful SharePoint implementation. For the last 3 years as a consulting implementation partner, I believe solid IA has been the single biggest factor in creating customer satisfaction. Interestingly enough, SharePoint has suffered a bit of a bad rap because Microsoft tried to sell it as your do-all miracle intranet in a box for so long. The value of IA has long been a hard sell to clients, but all those I've seen invest in it have realized significant business value from doing so.

BecauseI have been working with SharePoint since the dark ages of SPS 2003, I'm fairly well versed in most aspects of the platform. Therefore, I jumped around quite a bit across tracks, participating in those sessions that caught my eye. And since I had a colleague along, we were able to divide and conquer to get the most out of the experience.

Highlights for me:

  1. Evan Burfield's "Business Transformation: SharePoint as the Platform for the Enterprise" - This was a great strategic look at how SharePoint is changing the IT landscape delivered as a top-notch presentation from what I have to assume to be a top-notch consultant. Very well done. No glitz, no glam, just good info delivered well.
  2. Sahil Malik's "Get Rich Quick! Creating Rich UI's in SharePoint" - SMACK!!! That's the sound of Sahil hitting this one out of the park. Sahil demonstrated a great way to pull together several of SharePoint's many hard-core development techniques into a bad-ass custom field type that leverages AJAX to provide a capability similar to Google Suggest. It was like watching a master chef add about 50 seasonings into the ultimate marinara sauce. I have often referred to Sahil's blog over about the last year-and-a-half because he's witty and bright as hell. I was a little upset about him giving away one of my very best tricks. Look this one up in the WSS SDK. Sahil's blog entry barely scratches the surface of what you can do with this bad boy!
  3. Mark Schneider's "Governance and Taxonomy Planning" - So, a few weeks ago I get a phone call just before starting the IA portion of a small SharePoint project. The call is from the client CIO, and he's worried that big words like Information Architecture and Taxonomy are going to make his business people glaze over. And he's right. I mean, how many people want stuffed animal heads in their intranet, right? Oh, that's taxidermy? So I ripped up my primer PowerPoint that I had just printed off and decided to go in with a whiteboard and a dry-erase marker and no big words, the latter at the request of the client. And it worked. But at heart I'm a techie. And while I feel very strongly about the importance of IA in site design and execution, I have a hard time articulating the concepts as something that everyday business people can relate to. Well, Mark did a fantastic job of that. I plan to bookmark his blog, and you should, too.
  4. Sahil Malik's "SharePoint as a WCF Host" - So WCF comes along in .NET 3.0, and we're supposed to be astounded. Yeah it's a good tool, but it gives bad devs even more ways to hose things up. But Sahil is the man and figured out how to host WCF services in SharePoint. Then he shared it with the rest of us.

Lowlights for me:

  1. Mike Ferraz's "Team Development for Delivering Complex SharePoint Projects" - How do you make the worst presentation in the world? Chop up several of Microsoft's slide decks about MSF and regurgitate it almost word-for-word. For an added bonus, you can allude to neat things you might be doing, provide a single slide about that, and dodge questions from the audience.
  2. Daniel Webster's "Search Center Design Best Practices" - This was just bad. The sum total best practice here was really to add a back button in the search center, which the speaker didn't know how to do because he "isn't a developer." Daniel kept saying he was an admin, not a developer or an IA, over and over, then didn't know that to get his VPC to attach to wireless, he had to toggle the drop-down in the VPC Settings, effectively killing 1/4 of his demo. I didn't have the heart to tell him.

So those are my thoughts from the Best Practices Conference. Happy SharePointing.

Posted on Friday, September 19, 2008 10:27 PM Random SharePoint Thoughts | Back to top


Comments on this post: SharePoint Best Practices Conference

# re: SharePoint Best Practices Conference
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Thanks for the kind comments.

<Todd />
Left by Todd Bleeker on Sep 22, 2008 10:11 PM

# re: SharePoint Best Practices Conference
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Dude thanks! :-)

Stay in touch!
Left by Sahil Malik on Sep 25, 2008 9:45 PM

# re: SharePoint Best Practices Conference
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Agreed... Mike Ferraz was horrible...
Left by Dave Townsend on Nov 05, 2008 10:37 PM

# re: SharePoint Best Practices Conference
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D'une manière intéressante quoi que cette information se regardait s'il y avait tout au contraire ? ? Personne ne discute le sujet nécessaire, mais je pense on ne sait pourquoi qu'en gardant les idées nous ne contribuerons pas du touthref="http://narconon.kiev.ua/">Наркотики.
Left by Lili on Aug 13, 2009 10:07 AM

# re: SharePoint Best Practices Conference
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Since my return, many people have asked what I thought of the conference. Overall, I thought it was an excellent first attempt at the best practices angle
Left by Cleaning on Feb 23, 2010 2:23 PM

# re: SharePoint Best Practices Conference
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good post
Left by Homer on May 14, 2010 3:05 AM

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