In my second post I talked about trends in web site authoring and left off with one more trend – the growing popularity of SharePoint. Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) is a layer over ASP.net and IIS for collaborative web sites and it ships as part of Windows Server 2003. WSS includes some site templates and the most popular one is the “Team site” which makes it easy for a team to have a site for sharing documents, tasks, calendars, and lists of stuff. Most users identify SharePoint with the Team site experience.
Team sites are an important but small part of what is interesting about WSS. If you look at WSS (and here I’m talking about the currently shipping WSS version 2) with a application builder’s eye, you see the ingredients for creating web apps; built-in support for lists and document libraries with user defined schemas for storage, forms and views for entering and presenting data, a server-side event model for hooking up business logic. The SharePoint Portal Server is an example of a large collaborative web application that is built on top of WSS, and we recently shipped a set of 30 simple application templates for collaborating on WSS for things like project tracking, equipment and room reservations, or managing marketing campaigns.
The plans for WSS as a platform is evolving even further in the next release. WSS v3 is built on ASP.net 2.0 and takes advantage of new capabilities such as ASP.net master pages, web parts, and data source controls. This makes building on and extending SharePoint much easier than v2. In addition WSS has integrated the Windows Workflow Framework which is an engine for running workflow processes driven around lists and documents. These are big advancements in terms of building applications on top of SharePoint. You can read more about WSS v3 on PJ’s SharePoint blog.
FrontPage has supported customizing and building on SharePoint for several releases and adds much more support in FrontPage 12. I’ll talk about details of these features in future postings. You can also read about using FrontPage and SharePoint together on the FrontPoint blog.
Finally, a couple managment notes: I am blocking display of anonymous comments for the moment until I get the feel for whether enabling them is worthwhile. I’ll say thanks for the few encouraging comments I have received and for the questions you sent. I’ll start responding to them in subsequent postings.