Today was day #3 of the SharePoint Conference. It's about 7:00 in the evening, and I'm in the "hands-on labs" with about 200 computers and a handful of eager attendees who stayed late to work on SharePoint and Office labs. I earned my way to the conference, you see, by volunteering as a lab proctor, which is a pretty good deal if you think about it!
In addition to the content, it's been very cool to run into a number of my clients here. One of them very aptly compared the conference to a double-decker tour bus, where you get to see the sights in just enough detail to know which attractions to go back and visit later.
When I came here, I thought I was really starting to get the hang of all this new technology, but every session I attend makes me realize how much I still have to learn. "Office System 2007" - the combination of the new client and server - are truly vast. It's like the tour bus is covering the whole United States, and I have dozens and dozens of attractions to visit in depth.
So here are a few of the highlights...
I knew that the new Business Data Catalog (BDC) allowed you to declaratively connect line-of-business systems into SharePoint, but I didn’t know the full extent of it. Instead of developing custom code to connect SharePoint to business applications, a single XML configuration links business data in a number of useful ways which are pervasive within the SharePoint environment, including:
- each BDC “entity” – a customer, product, order, or whatever – gets its own profile page, which displays the details, in a similar way to a user profile page
- SharePoint search can return business data along with documents, people and other information
- the entity becomes a data type which can be used in lists and document metadata
- the entity can be included in user profiles, so you can connect people with their accounts, products, etc.
- built-in web parts can be used to browse the business data from any site
The old SharePoint scaled really well; the new one will scale even more both in terms of both server and storage capacity. We got a sneak preview of the new scalability test results, which will eventually be publicly available as a white paper.
Publishing forms to the web, or even to Outlook, with the new InfoPath client is much easier than I thought. I’m looking forward to digging into the new forms server!
The “My Site” feature – a site for every user – is expanded in 2007… and it’s also possible to create additional “My” sites, such as “My HR”, or “My xxxx” where you can fill in the blank and create personalized sites on topics of your choice for every user.
These are just a few of the things I discovered here… and the tour bus is just getting warmed up!
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