We’ve got to come up with a better way to catalog Web Parts — any ideas?


I get asked “how many Web Parts exist” all the time.  The question drives me crazy. I understand why.  Portal vendors cite the list of available portlets they have on hand as strategic selling points.  They want to cite the equivalent number for SPS.

But the question is harder to answer than it seems.  As I pointed out earlier today in Web Parts ⊃ Portlets (that’s the superset symbol, by the way),  Web Parts aren’t just portlets.  In addition to that:

  • We focused on helping you develop Web Parts, not on helping you buy Web Parts from us.
  • Microsoft doesn’t maintain a massive service organization that pumps the deliverables from customer engagements right back into the sales channel.
  • We make no attempt to channel or corral the the development community so that customers wanting Web Parts have to go through Microsoft to get them.
  • Some of our biggest Web Part partners sell environments for generating Web Parts, not individual Web Parts themselves.  DSP’s tools have been used to generate thousands of individual business intelligence-focused Web Parts.  FirstRain has tools for producing many, many different kinds of specific Web Parts.  And there are many other good partners that do the same thing.  And when you factor in FrontPage DataViews, the number goes through the roof.

We know that there are as many, probably more, Web Parts than there are portlets for any other portal vendor, but we need to be able to prove it.  We need a way to list every Web Part in existence.  I am very, very open to suggestions.  I’ll tell you what’s been tried that hasn’t really worked to date:

  • We maintain a Web Component Directory at http://www.microsoft.com/sharepoint/downloads/components.  It was intended to provide a Yellow Pages environment for administrators and power users.  It includes Web Parts, but it includes other things as well.  The unit of enumeration is companies’ solutions, not individual Web Parts.  We’ve supplemented it with a list of all known Web Parts that are in the box when you get several MS products, but that kind of confuses matters.
  • There are developer-to-developer Web Part projects or samples on http://www.gotdotnet.com and other sites, but there’s no attempt to provide a comprehensive list.
  • There are some third-party for-profit sites like http://www.gotsharepoint.com and http://www.msd2d.com that offer catalogs of Web Parts, but there’s no attempt to provide a comprehensive list, either.

So let me ask you:

  • Is there a community site out there that tries to do this already about which I might not know?
  • If we went about changing either the Web Component Directory or our GotDotNet presence, or created a brand new site devoted to the purpose, would you list every Web Part you’ve written there (the name of the Web Part and either a URL or an email address would be all you’d need to provide)?
  • Would you be willing to host such a list?

Let me know… I’m tired of answering that question with an explanation instead of a number.  I want to wipe the smirks off our competitors’ sales and marketing people.  Please help me do that.


Comments (13)
  1. I own the domain SharePointDevelopers.org and was planning on creating such a list. The problem is time (as always) and finding a reliable yet reasonable host. (I want to host the site on WSS, so plain shared hosting won’t work.)

    You can contact me if you want to help kick-off this site/community. phs AT schaeflein DOT net

  2. Jeff Cate says:

    We would be glad to host a comprehensive list of Web Parts at http://portal.sharepointsolutions.com.

    Off the top of my head, we would probably add a new subarea under topics named something like "Web Part Directory" or whatever you would like. It would then appear right on the home page in the standard Topics navigation web part.

    How does this sound?

  3. Bil Simser says:

    Mike,

    The profiliation of Web Parts is just about the same as that of all the SharePoint resources out there. I attempted to rally together everyone to stop creating their own SharePoint resource list and amalgamate them all into a single place where anyone could update them. That hasn’t worked out quite the way I wanted but Web Parts would be the same.

    I think the Web Component directory is a great place, but maybe it’s too much to ask everyone to only go to once place to get stuff (Microsoft or otherwise). The problem of centralized component repositories is universal and while there are a lot of efforts that have been successful at gathering together collections, there’s also someone who goes off the starts a new community minded site that forks off from the original one. I think it’s just human nature.

    Maybe extending the capabilties of the Web Component directory would be useful (I find the search to be rather useless and paging through everything to find stuff is boring). RSS feeds of updates, maybe a way to slice up and search the list of components by more meta-data classification would make it more useful. In any case, they’ll always be someone who wants to play outside of the sandbox.

  4. Mike Walsh Helsinki says:

    I already have a limited number of web parts listed in section VII of the WSS FAQ (www.wssfaq.com and wss.collutions.com). The first one was listed in June 2004.

    I concentrate on free web parts and ‘free if you accept something’ web parts, though, because as this is a *WSS* FAQ I feel that most people running WSS (rather than SPS 2003) sites don’t have the budget to go out and buy web parts.

    I don’t claim that I have all the free ones either but I do the best I can.

  5. Kevin Dente says:

    I’ll add that in this interim WSS/ASP.NET 2.0 world, identifying WebParts for Sharepoint vs WebParts for ASP.NET would be helpful. I know eventually they’ll be the same, but not for a little while.

  6. SharePoint, SharePoint and stuff says:

    SharePointPodcast-2005-03-21 5,6 MB

    Intro

    Cebit-Nachlese

    WebParts und Tools

    Mike Fitzmaurice

  7. Tim says:

    I like the IBM gallery:

    http://catalog.lotus.com/wps/portal/portal

    The nice thing is that they capture multiple pieces of meta-data to sort and filter by.

    Plumtree’s is just ok:

    http://plumtree.com/products/integration/portlets/

  8. We have the domain "sharepointwebparts.com" registered for such a project, and have been sitting on our hands waiting for the demand to be strong enough. We do intend to create a free-for-all directory of web parts (commercial, shareware and freeware) on this site as a contribution to the community, a’la SharePoint University.

  9. Jason Parks says:

    Hi Mike,

    You know, the http://www.asp.net site is pretty intuititve and it’s format would fit a sharepoint resource site perfectly…

    Just an idea that you probably already had

    Jason

  10. Jason Parks says:

    Hi Mike,

    You know, the http://www.asp.net site is pretty intuititve and it’s format would fit a sharepoint resource site perfectly…

    Just an idea that you probably already had

    Jason

  11. NigelBridport says:

    How about a portal that trawls for web parts (dwps) and then provides a web service or rss feed to expose them?

    I don’t think we would ever get anywhere trying to host them all centrally but if we could gather the information and expose the locations to them (ala Portal Server data aggregation), then I think we could get further.

    Just my 2p

    Nige.

  12. SharePointPodcast-2005-03-12 5,6 MB MP3

    Intro

    Cebit-Nachlese

    WebParts und Tools

    Mike Fitzmaurice…

  13. SharePointPodcast-2005-03-12 5,6 MB MP3 Intro Cebit-Nachlese WebParts und Tools Mike Fitzmaurice über

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