Using the word SharePoint

If you say SharePoint 2003, my respected colleague down the hall from me, Mike Fitzmaurice, won't be very happy. You see, SharePoint 2003 really doesn't make sense; it doesn't mean anything. Tell that to the authors of Microsoft SharePoint 2003 Unleashed - incidentally, a good book.

When people use the word "SharePoint" in a standalone fashion, they usually refer to Microsoft SharePoint Products and Technologies - a phrase that is acceptable. Microsoft SharePoint Products and Technologies is the umbrella term for:

1. Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services, sometimes shortened to Windows SharePoint Services or even SharePoint Services or simply WSS.

2. Microsoft Office SharePoint Portal Server, sometimes shortened to SharePoint Portal Server or even Portal Server or simply SPS.

If SharePoint isn't a noun, then what is it?  It's an adjective. You can use it when describing something. Proper examples of usage include: SharePoint site, SharePoint expert, SharePoint Web Part, et cetera. You just can't, technically, say "I deployed SharePoint". It doesn't mean anything.

Now... having said all of that, I personally have no problems with the way people use the word SharePoint. At the end of the day, as long as you get your point across, it works. But, my colleage Fitz does get a little peeved :-)... so, the next time you use the word SharePoint, you may want to think about what you're really trying to say.

Comments (7)

  1. Mike Fitzmaurice isn’t the only one who is peeved.

    Every time I see a message from someone in a public newsgroup saying they are running "SharePoint" I (mentally) scream and more often than not ask them which of the four SharePoint products (including the two back versions) they mean.

    Theoretically you ought to be able to look at the newsgroup they are posting to to work out which product they are using, but in fact with most people who post to the old STS newsgroup not actually using STS at all and lots of people posting to the WSS newsgroup who are actually using SPS 2003, you can’t make any such assumptions.

    While I’m writing this – by all means Windows SharePoint Services or WSS but not, please "SharePoint Services" (which could be either STS or WSS) and certainly not "SS" which will certainly offend some people out there.

  2. Christoper says:

    This shorthand confusion is the fault of MS marketing. Both WSS and SPS centrally contain the term Sharepoint and some variation of the root Serv-. Why couldn’t WSS be called TS 2003 or something more sensible? It’s like calling the next version of Excel "Word Excel Spreadsheet Tool", and then getting annoyed at people using it the wrong way.

  3. John says:

    I agree with Christopher that the naming confusion is the fault of MS, but for different reasons than he listed.

    Beginning with .Net, as far as I can tell, MS has tried to describe products as experiences. This makes sense to a degree, but most normal people (techies included) do not relate to tools in such a way. When describing what a circular saw does, most people will say, "it cuts things into smaller pieces." The layman can grasp this. Yes, a circular saw can do more, but you have to first give a person something solid to build on.

    So, experiences are hard to grasp if you’ve never experienced them before. Now, take an unexperienced experience and compare them to other unexperienced experiences. A normal person is likely to think "WTF are they talking about? Just tell me what the damn thing does and how what one thing does is different from another thing."

    MS doesn’t own this problem – there are many websites and pieces of software that are just as or more guilty.

    So, cut people some slack when they try to make sense of your tools by ascribing them names they can deal with.

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