Practical uses of SharePoint
Hopeful by now you are over your fear of SharePoint and are ready to get into the practical uses. While with SharePoint you can do many things, I tend to break it down into 3 main areas of use: Content presentation, Social networking, and Document sharing.
First let’s look at content presentation.
Content Presentation is when your primary focus is to relay information. Being an Instructional Designer most of what I construct in SharePoint is for content presentation. I need learners to accomplish whatever the said objective is. Now I may use a variety of mediums such as Flash animations, video, text, and games but it is still presenting content. Most websites today are content presentation based, as are books, magazines, and most traditional media. In future blogs I will get into using the bread and butter of SharePoint WebParts, the Content Editor.
The second area of use is Social networking, this phrase over the past 5 years has become a crucial part of our web lexicon many wonder what was the use for the web before? SharePoint social networking is great for one main reason it is simple. Anyone can set up a blog, wiki, or forum without one line of code. Well, they don’t write the code SharePoint does, but it does it automatically. How great is that. You might say but yeah I can use other forum sites or blogging sites why do it in SharePoint? There are several answers to that one, if your site is already SharePoint based you don’t have to link to any other outside sources. Very handy if your site is an internal site. If you use several sites you can link a social page to any of them without having to worry about what ever languages the sites use not playing nicely together. No additional API code. If you are a programmer API code is not a problem but most people aren’t. Last you can still use your Twitter or Flicker or whatever feeds right into SharePoint with a little code.
And last the reason most business and agencies buy SharePoint, Document Sharing. I will spend a lot of time in the future dealing with this topic, but for most of you this is the reason SharePoint exists. Email is so 20th century with SharePoint you and your colleagues can work on document jointly from a shared location. Many of us have worked on projects in small groups that were formed just to work on that project. Those documents, whether its word documents, or code snippets, or video can be housed in a central location for easy access, which is where SharePoint comes in. Individuals can be granted permissions on a document, library, or site basis to have access to the documents. And multiple versions of that document can exist of the documents as well safely stored away. People will also have to check in and out documents and SharePoint will show you the date, time, and who last modified the document. Yes, that means you know right who to point the finger at, very handy. SharePoint’s document share capabilities work great and there is almost no limit on the variations you can set up once you have some experience.
All right those are some of the practical uses for SharePoint; the next topic we will tackle is the great and powerful Content Editor WebPart. If this was a video you would hear thunder and see me rubbing my hands together maniacally.