he much-anticipated release of Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services is not far away. This is the successor to SharePoint Team Services, and the changes go beyond small enhancements. In the new release, Microsoft has unified the way the technologies work. This article introduces Windows SharePoint Services and shows how it truly responds to the need for highly productive and collaborative desktop tools. Additionally, you’ll explore how Windows SharePoint Services work with Office 2003 applications to bring information to users when they need it, and also making it easier for people to work together around common objectives.
As a consultant for several years, I spent a lot of time behind the firewall in many dozens of companies. I observed how organizations do things, from maintaining security, to database management, to document management, and even end-user training. After spending thousands of hours this way, it is not surprising that intriguing patterns began to emerge about how things are generally done and not done.
One of the most consistent and compelling observations I have made is this: documents are one of the most overlooked assets in nearly every organization. Here, the word “documents” is used as a general term for spreadsheets, presentations, letters, memos, maps, images, and so forth. Although it is daunting to think of how to empirically measure the value of these assets within an organization, basic common sense suggests that a great deal of organizational knowledge, power, insight, learning potential, and innovation is contained within them. Yet all too often, they are treated rather casually.
A product such as Windows SharePoint Services is precisely what is needed by many companies and individuals to extract more value out of documents and the way people work with them. Simply put, Windows SharePoint Services let you create Web sites for information sharing and document collaboration, sites that are fully integrated with Microsoft Office 2003 Editions. In this article, you will explore the basic features of SharePoint Portal Services 2003 and discover ways that it can increase personal and team productivity.
Windows SharePoint Services’ Main Features
First, let’s get a general sense of what Windows SharePoint Services do. You already know that the product’s focus is on information sharing and document collaboration. One of the key things Windows SharePoint Services does is to provide Web sites where users can share documents. But few documents are meaningful all on their own. They are usually part of a process, a workflow, a project, or some other purposeful context. Windows SharePoint Services sites are ASP.NET-based sites that, while providing file storage, also provide a way for team collaboration on documents, tasks, contacts, events, surveys, and other sorts of information.
In Figure 1, you can see what a team site might look like. This page is the main entry point for those who work for an entirely fictitious and thoroughly narcissistic magazine called JRDMag.
|Choosing Views by Metadata Properties|
Normal directories are limited in what kind of metadata they can provide, not serving up much more than file name, file size, creation date, read-only attributes, and so on. In contrast, Windows SharePoint Services puts you in control of what information is stored about items in the document libraries. This allows you to do more effective searches and view content in ways that help you do your work.
Figure 2 shows a view of articles that are going to be published in the magazine, their volume and issue numbers, and their current status in the publishing cycle. What this means is that you can create views that let you target the most relevant items in the document library. For example, you can create a view for just one volume number, for one issue, or for a specific status value, such as Acquired. In Figure 3, the view shows only those items with the Acquired status. You can see that in a library with potentially thousands of items, views become increasingly important.