When I ask someone, “Why is SharePoint great?” I typically hear an answer that relates to that individual’s specific problem. SharePoint is not just one feature, however. Nor is it an application you just install and use. Whether you are a supporter of SharePoint or not, the platform has its place and here’s my opinion on why SharePoint is so great.
The Microsoft Shop answer is: “If you have varied Enterprise content needs,many developers, and you need custom solutions fast, then with its ease of use and flexibility, SharePoint is the tool for you.” This really tells you nothing. For example, I can do ECM in SharePoint, I can have an employee portal, and I can even have an Intranet or Internet site. Those capabilities all sound great, but they can be done on other platforms, so they are not what make SharePoint so great.
The reason SharePoint is so great is that if you understand the basic principles of the platform you can have everything! Like all expert lovers of a platform, I drank the kool-aid, got in too deep, and now I will forever have love for SharePoint.
I will admit that language is not my forte. If you think of language as a platform, one of the reasons I do not get along with words is because language does not follow its own rules and often the rules seem random. When you start to build an application, or a sentence, you have to make sure it’s not a special case with a special rule. Many enterprise applications are full of special cases, special instances, and special rules which affect the way things work. But SHAREPOINT, ohhhhh SharePoint, follows its own rules. SharePoint includes Central Administration, which has Lists, Libraries, Content, meta-data, security, events and workflow. It uses all of the Lego pieces that are the SharePoint platform. What does this mean?
Once you understand the pieces and how they fit together, you can do anything with SharePoint. Some consider this to be a downside because the possibilities seem too great for most organizations. Don’t let this discourage you! SharePoint allows you to look at someone else’s solution, analyze how it was built, and gain full understanding of the solution. I can’t say the same for other CMS and Enterprise content systems, which do not have the same flexibility and consistency of logic as SharePoint.
I know there are a few of you out there who HATE SharePoint or just use it because you are a Microsoft Shop. Some of you may like it for its ability to put control in the hands of the users. Some of you like it because of an awesome third party plugin that’s been added on top of SharePoint. That’s all neat, but the reason SharePoint is great is because the platform just makes sense.